Crunch Time

So. This weekend.

Here is my To Do:

Finish Newsletter and post before 9/1 (almost done, waiting on one thing) (Did I mention this bad boy is 29 pages this month? 29 pages, people! All member driven content! Yay!)
Make sure all print copies of three books are going to be here in time for Conference
Get the last minute things for Dragon Con
Pack for Dragon Con
Obsess over list of what is needed for Dragon Con
Clean the house
Make schedule list for when I am gone
Grocery shop for the week
Laundry – mine and kids

Where am I in this list?

Laundry working. Newsletter nearly finishedDONE. Scheduled and archived to boot. You can’t tell but I’m laughing like Dr. Doofenschmirtz right now.

dr__doofenshmirtz_and_perry_dance__animated__by_jaycasey-d5cr4ua

To do list for DC made. House is getting there. One final thing for the printing and I should be done. This may involve a call to the POD company, however. I’ll make the schedule and plan the meals later tonight, in between getting house and laundry ready.

I might actually be out of here in a timely fashion, rather than a mad, wild-eyed rush.

Not counting my chickens, or anything. There’s still three days before the plane takes off, after all.

One week to go.

Until Dragon Con, that is. Not anything on the radar of most of America, I’m sure. But for the geeks in the crowd – It’s Nerdi Gras, baby!

On deck are the Tardis costume – along with the lovely Sap, of course.

CThomasHowell

I do not believe there will be a C Thomas Howell in the offing this year, however. Sadly. BTW, how is it the guy looks even better older than he did younger? Or is it that I am just older? Nah. Never mind. Not going there.

I’m testing three new costumes. One is my Chiquita Banana, which I will be rockin’ for the DC Parade, in the Parade of Elements group. As Potassium, the banana is a must.

Then I am trying out my Supernatural Baby costume –  I’ll post pics.

Finally, there is my awesome, amazing, fantabulous incredible G Force Costume. I’m Jason/Joe (what his name is depends on when you watched it). I have the boots and gloves, and am waiting on the dress and cape. Got the helmet and other accessories.

helmet

Just to give you an idea of the amazing awesomeness.  The entire costume looks like this:

charactor_joecondor0

Except I’m wearing a dress instead of that unrealistic body suit. So I’ll post pics of that too.

And in honor of the one week countdown, I’m getting things done. All the house stuff, kid stuff, groceries, schedules, NEWSLETTER!, and books. Yeah. Two books out this week – One Night At The Ball is live now, and Casimir’s Journey on 8/31. In print, even. I’m all sorts of motivated.

Now I gotta go find a hat for my banana.

Craft talk from Ursula K. LeGuin

shownotell

I read about my craft regularly. While I’m pleased with my progress over the last year, I am in no way anything other than a noob at this gig, and I don’t pretend otherwise.

Another writer brought this site to my attention – Ursula K. LeGuin did a Q&A blog where she answers questions about craft. How fabulous is that???? You can find it here:

http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/08/10/navigating-session-1/

You need need need to read the entire fifty questions. She is just marvelous.

One of the questions I really liked was about Show vs Tell. I hear the groans now. We ALL know that phrase, have said it, have heard it in regards to our own work. I personally am quite familiar with it. I rarely meet exposition I don’t like. But I think this question, and the answer, are a wonderful way to approach it. It’s something I’m finding now that I am three works in. Sometimes, you gotta tell. Because it’s a story, and you’re telling it.

Paige: I have been writing fiction (fantasy, light sci-fi) for several years now, and my question is the age old one about showing not telling. My narrator is telling his story through a journal that shuffles back and forth in time. How can he tell his story without “telling” as much as showing? Thank you for any advice or guidance you can offer.

UKL: No matter what sacred laws the Moseses of the Iowa School of Writing handed down on their stone tablets, the fact is, stories are not shown, but told.

Movies show stories, graphic novels (partly) show stories, but we story-tellers tell them.

“Show don’t tell” is good advice for beginning writers, and for preachy writers. And it reminds us all not to lose the onward pace of our narrative among infodumps.

But if your narrator has a complicated story to tell, let him tell it. Let it be as concrete, as visual, as vivid as possible, of course. Keep it always moving forward (or in your case, sometimes backward!) — in any case, moving.

Showing can be quite static, after all; but telling always involves moving on.

There you have it. From a pro’s pro. (Or is that prose pro? LOL, not enough sleep last night!)

There’s also this tidbit, which I 110% subscribe to.

UKL: How can you judge how well the first page of a story works until you’ve done a first draft of the whole story? There’s no way you can tell until the whole thing is, however roughly, there.

And then, more often than not, you find the first page, the first several pages, are just throat-clearings. Necessary preliminaries. Clearing stuff out of the way. Circling around, nose to ground… till finally you pick up the scent and you’re off into your story like a bloodhound on the track.

So then when you revise you throw away the whole beginning.

If you don’t trust me, trust Chekhov. He said you can always throw away the first three pages of a first draft. I didn’t believe him till I tried it.

Goes along with my editor’s recent comment that the first chapter is hell, and then things calm down from there.

thor-with-beerNow back to work. If the above doesn’t inspire you – holy friggen forearms! – I got nothing.

Havin’ an adult beverage…

tumblr_m6wh7b2bV91rziwwco1_500 In March-ish, I laid out a schedule for myself. I had just left my job, and was looking to validate my decision (with the full support of Awesome Husband) to write full time. It was S-C-A-R-Y.

So off I went on my lists, and May, August, and November were set for the first three books in Sisters Of The Curse (it was at that point referred to as ToTT – Tales of The Twelve). I even had the names, although I will admit I played around with book titles a little, just to see if I liked something else better. I didn’t.

Here’s what I actually accomplished.
May – Thea’s Tale (Book One)
June – Three shorts in the Pen Name – approximately 30k words
August – One Night At The Ball (a SOTC novella)
Casimir’s Journey (Book Two – with Amazon now, out 8/31)
Part Four of the Pen Name series

And…uh…four newsletters for the writer’s org.

I am SOOO looking forward to September. I have a newsletter, as I always do. But other than some Pen Name thoughts – a new series, I’m thinking…we’ll see. New MC is in her infancy right now. I don’t have a ton scheduled.

Good thing – I have Dragon Con (WOOOOOOT!)

ringo

And then the Gold Conference for RMFW.

tumblr_inline_mh3nr7yp701rw9er3

So September is a busy month. Almost as busy as the gifs in this post.

But I’m really pleased because I set a goal in a field that for me, up until this year, had been a hobby. I have all three of my works on Amazon right now, and there are people other than my mom who are getting them, and ENJOYING them. It’s nothing short of astounding, and incredibly humbling.

Today, I slept in after doing the morning-drop-off stuff, and I feel like a nearly new person. I’ve hit my deadlines, and I’m not in the weeds, for the most part.

It feels good, and today, on a Friday, that is something to celebrate.

So have an adult beverage, and put your feet up. For the night.

Let’s talk reviews

I bring this up because on writer’s forums, there’s always a post or two that is discussing reviews – how to deal with great ones, what to think of harsh ones, etc, etc. I generally feel that people are allowed to review as they please. I DO feel that if the review attacks the person, rather than the work – eh. That’s a little much. You’re not reviewing the person. You’re supposed to be reviewing the work or the product. I know that’s the focus for me when I write reviews.

We all have a stereotype of what we think of reviewers. The sort of image that is often presented is something like this:

reviewer

In reality, reviewers, because I am also someone who reviews books, are more like this:

giphy

People review because they feel strongly about something. Good or ill.

I got a critical review recently, and of course, like most people, I have to look. I was a little nervous, honestly.

Ya know what? It was totally fair. And the reviewer – well, critical reviewers should take note. This person pointed out what they didn’t care for about the book. What they felt went against the standards for the genre, and what their problems with the story were.

They also threw me a nice compliment, so that’s good.

I read it, and then read it again. And I did something that I never, ever thought I would do when reading someone not liking my baby. I shrugged. Why? Because the comments were fair, and I knew there might be readers who felt the way this reviewer did. I’m totally good with a critical review that is balanced. Since this is the first time I’ve faced such, I didn’t know what I’d think/do/how I’d react.

I will also tell you, I went and look at the way in which I categorized my story, and the reader was correct, I wasn’t hitting the standards for one of the categories. So I changed it. Because it was a legit comment.

So the lesson for today? If you are not at a point where you can stay away from reading reviews, make your shocked face and then read it again, with an open mind. You may find there is just as much to a critical review as there is to a positive, glowing review.

To me, it’s no different than when I sit in critique group and hear what didn’t work for my crit partners. It’s hard. It’s hard not to jump up and defend our babies. But not all work will resonate with all readers, and I am glad they took the time to offer a fair, balanced critical review.

I also need to shout out to the wonderful reader who reviewed my book on two sites, and then put it on her blog! Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! Again, another thoughtful, critical review from someone who obviously knows the genre and is a dedicated reader. I LOVED it.

Last piece of advice for my fellow authors – DO. NOT. ENGAGE. This is something that I also see discussed. Just don’t do it. Reviews are generally not for us, the creator. They are for fellow readers, to let them know what’s what. We are just fortunate enough to get to read them.

Oh! One last thing – thank you to ALL my reviewers who have not posted spoilers. I read reviews of books I’m considering, and I don’t like reading spoilers in the reviews. I’m always thankful to read a review of my work or anyone else’s that doesn’t throw out the plot surprises. Or, a nice warning at the beginning of the review.

So there’s my PSA for today. I like to share with you all as I move through this journey of becoming a FT author. Not there yet, but every day is one step further down the road.

Now go write!

State of the Fab world

If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, you’ll know that my nickname within my family, and particularly with my sister (SAP, for the record), is Fab.

I’ll tell you the story, and get to the point of my post tonight. My sister has this friend, and the friend is goddamned fabulous. I mean, seriously so. I love her fabulousness. So she gets being fab. This friend and my sis were talking and my sister is the endless font of Lisa stories. She tells me it’s because her life is not as cool as mine.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. We’ll let it go.

Anyway, somehow, they are talking about how one gets some reality and perspective once one gets into the 20s. I was still dumb as can be, but it was better than when I was in my teens. And my sister tells her friend, “My sister said, Oh, hellz ya. I was totally and utterly convinced of my own fabulousness in high school. College was the first step down off my self-appointed pedestal, and then, it went down from there.”

The friend laughed herself silly, and The Fab was born. *sigh* Now, I’m The Big Fab. That’s an addition from my BIL. Everyone is a big something. It’s not the state of the union on the size of my backside, LOL. At least, I hope not.

In the Fab world, I’m in editing. I’m playing hooky right now. I know it’s because my editor can’t look at it immediately, so I have been just doing a little self care, R-n-R. Sometimes I need that. I’m also writing, because Casimir is due…shortly.

In yet another discussion with my biz partner, and editor, the story has taken a twist. That happens when I have longer conversations with them. Thankfully, it’s happening before I have to do major revisions.

This month is even more Fab than me at my most Fab (usually late night at Dragon Con – just sayin’. If you see me there, say hey. I love Dragon Con. It’s less than a month away. YAY!) – One Night At The Ball is nearly ready to go, and Casimir’s Journey is almost there. Two books in one month. I’m psyched.

Then, Dragon Con. God, I love it more every year. If you haven’t gone, it’s worth it. It’s like no other con I go to. Then, my regional writer’s conference. There is something about being around other people like you, who do the same thing you do, who understand your head-desk moments that is like crack.

And then, Catrin’s Grimoire is out in November.

I’ll be starting a new series towards the end of the year. I’m looking at Dec/Jan for release. That also got a major plot revamp (thank you, Monica!) and I am really excited to be able to get to that.

I’ve also been getting requests to talk about what I’ve done to 1) get myself published and 2) to get myself out there, even in the little bit that I’ve done. I love sharing, so I am working on a massive doc for those who have asked. LOL, careful what you wish for.

I know I stand on this soapbox frequently, but one of the things I adore about the indie world is the sharing. I would not be where I am right now, even in my small state, if it were not for the generous sharing of others. It’s shaped my course, and helped me figure out what I want to do, set goals, actually consider a strategy for my career – which are priceless.

There you have it in under 750 words – the State of the Fab Union. Summer is almost over, so if you, like me, found that your normal schedule of production was disrupted by that thing called life this summer, school is nearly back in. Time to get the calendar out and set your schedule so that you are prepared. If you already have – good on you! You’re ahead of me.

See you later this week!

And just cuz, a Dyson gif – I’m a huge Lost Girl fan, and the cast will be at Dragon Con this year. Kris HR is a really nice, really TALL guy. This is hilarious.

Dysongif

Let’s talk fun!

The weekend is here. That in and of itself is fun. Everyone relaxes a little. Not that the Darling Boys and I aren’t relaxed. They’re still on summer break. But even Dad gets to relax, and that’s a good thing.

It’s warm, but my A/C is working great. Since our A/C went out two weeks ago – this may not seem like a big thing, or fun, but when your house sits in bright sun all day- a good A/C is priceless.

I am nearly back on track for the writing schedule. That makes me so very happy, I don’t even have enough words to express it. One of the best things about indie publishing is that you set your own schedule. Once you write it down, IMO, that’s the schedule. SO – I’m nearly there in regards to where I planned to be before I got derailed by summer.

We had an amazing, fabulous, unbelievable Southwest trip this summer. Drove like mad people, but saw some parts of the US I hadn’t seen before, and Darling Boys certainly hadn’t seen. They loved it, and still talk about it, which is what it’s all about. We ended the trip with a full day in Glenwood Springs, which is where most vacations should end. Or Mt. Princeton, or Pagosa, or the like. Hot springs are a gift from somewhere on high to the humans here on earth, no matter what time of year it is. I am so fortunate that we live in a place where we can visit a hot springs within a couple of hours.

School for us begins early – so I’m looking down the tunnel to the First Day Of School. I find I will miss the Darling Boys. Will I be more productive? Oh, to be sure. But I’ll miss them. Miss snuggling, taking the dogs for a walk, teaching them how to cook something simple, or serve themselves in the kitchen (as one who was woefully unprepared for the feeding of self, I don’t want my kiddos to struggle with that).

Watching them become young men. Where has the time gone? My little Darlings are growing up.

I couldn’t be more proud.

So hug your Darlings, and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Writing News…Sort of.

This has been one amazing week, from my POV as someone who wants to be a successful career writer. On a number of levels, but the one I wanted to share was the artistic side – and NOT my own. My covers.

I am SO fortunate that my first cover was done by Karri Klawiter (you can find her at artbykarri.com). We had some scheduling conflicts, so I had to look for another artist. I was really nervous, because Karri got my vision. You don’t know how hard it can be until you have to describe the feeling you want with your book cover until you’re sitting there, staring at the screen, trying to decide what to say.

Anyway, I was on the hunt. I happened to be on Kboards, and I found a couple of other artists. I emailed a few, and the one I ended up working with was Aria from Resplendant Media. http://resplendentmedia.com Who knew? I am one of those lucky people, in this respect, where lightening strikes twice. Aria also gets my vision. She has created some amazing covers and I am so, so thrilled! Let me show you how lovely my ladies and gentleman are. I mean seriously, even my crazy Catrin is fab.

The top two – are out. Thea’s Tale is free for a few more days, and Casimir’s Journey is on pre-order. One Night At The Ball will be released shortly. Catrin’s Grimoire is coming in November.

When you find someone that hears your voice, and can make your voice into a visual, it’s like a dream come true. And for me, it’s happened twice. I am a lucky, lucky lady.

TheasTale_ebook_Finalcasimirsjourneytype1A

catrinsgrimoireprevonatbtype1b

Blather

I sat here, taking a break from WIP, because I finished the previous WIP, and sent it off to my editor post-haste. I’m already regretting it, in spite of revision-ing for two days straight. I found my notes re: developmental discussions, and there’s more that needs to be in there. *sigh*

Couldn’t figure out what to title this, because late night is when I do a lot of my musing, and poking around on Facebook and Writer’s Cafe. I felt like letting some of my brilliant late-night thoughts out into the great wide world. (stop laughing.)

After some more chin-stroking (were I a guy, I’d have a goatee that I stroked whilst thinking. Not that I want one – just were I a guy, I’d have one), what I want to share with you are my thoughts on being selfish.

I’m an author. Not really successful at this point, but I’m working on it, and feel good. More than that, I’m a stay at home mom. That latter job is a recipe for losing your life.

I have to back up a bit. Before I met my husband, I didn’t think I would get married. I had a few false starts in the “We’re getting marrrrriiiieeeeedd!” department, but that’s all they were. When I met him, and I swear to god, I came home and told my mom, I knew I was going to marry him. True story. First night we met. Took me a month to get to meet him, because he completely ignored all my flirtation.

Since I was determined I was too much of a high-maintenance individual to find A)Someone who’d put up with me and still love me and B)Someone I’d love and want to put up with, I wasn’t planning on having kids either. Believe it or not, given how rabid I am about my kiddos, I was okay with that. Can’t miss what you don’t know.

But once we got married, and had been married a while – and folks, we got married and moved onto a 38-foot houseboat – and were there for two years – we started talking about kids. We weren’t sure we wanted them, but it was on the table. We decided it was time, and moved off the boat. I will say, we both still miss waking up living on the water.

I found that being pregnant, people fuss over you in the craziest fashion. Once you HAVE the baby, you get nothin’. Nada. Bubkes. It’s all about that squiggly bundle of joy. I remember thinking, I am more than Darling Oldest’s mom. While I thought that, I didn’t go any further.

Then, we had Darling Youngest. And I, for the first time in my adult life, stopped working. I became a SAHM.

OY.

I was happy to go back to work several years later. I LIKE work. Why? Because I am Lisa. Not just Mrs. Mani, or Darling Boys’ Mom. I was ME.

And there it is. I think we all struggle with that – with still being ME. Because once we get involved with others, and bring little people into the equation, we lose the ME. It’s not for negative reasons – it’s a good thing to want to give to those you love. But, and this is just MPO, and completely anecdotal, I think we lose all sense of balance.

There MUST be a balance of give and ME. You can’t lean too far in either direction. If you give too much, you begin to harbor resentment, and the things you are resentful over pile up, and it takes less and less to activate that resentment.

Conversely, you go too much in the ME direction, and the other people living with you begin to resent the hell out of you.

For me, finding that balance feels a lot like the never-ending tightrope. I love my family. Marrying my husband and having my Darling Boys are the three best decisions I’ve ever made. Also, taking my husband’s advice when we decided that I would once again be a SAHM to focus on my writing was equally amazing. I’ve never been happier with my professional life. And I don’t even go into an office.

I have a lot of people that I know/like/admire/etc who seem to be experiencing marital discord, and those that I talk to – there seems to be that lack of balance between the give and the ME. I know I’ve watched the demise of relationships before my husband that fell victim to that.

When if we were taught, Yes, you must give, and you must put yourself on that list of people who are given to – we’d be happier people. In my humble, unlearned opinion.

I hate to see the discord. As someone who has struggled with ME vs what I think I’m supposed to do, I’d bet that struggle has a great deal in the reasons for discord.

So the TL; DR of all this – it’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to give to those you love – as long as you put yourself on that list. It’s okay to want to be YOU.

jenuis

Publishing 101

Since I self-published, and am actually talking with people I know about it (it’s a weird thing – you get sort of shy, and don’t always tell people, because you’re tooting your own horn, and we’re taught that is not the best, but in order to be successful, people do need to know about you – regardless, I’m telling people about my writing without an ounce of shame) I have gotten a lot of questions about the hows and mechanics of the entire thing.

I’ve thought about writing a post about it, but frankly, I’m still too “in” it, if you KWIM. I know there’s a forest, and I try to remember that, but my POV is a tree. Maybe 12. So I am borrowing the words of another, and I really like this.

People, ANYONE can publish.

ANYONE. You just have to want to do it.

IMO, you need to decide why you’re doing it – is it a family thing, a cookbook? Memoir? Something with a specific, limited audience? Then not everything you read about re: indie publishing applies.

But one thing does – I want anything I publish to be commercial quality work. That means I have a good cover – one that tells the reader what this is about, and gives them a hint on the story – and genre, if you’re writing as a career.

Get the thing edited. I’m not wretched, but my editor still sends me comment boxes of ‘WTF????’ at times. See above for the whole forest/trees analogy.

And read this below. It’s a great article, not a long, drawn-out read, and it gives a starting place. At least, I think it does.

http://authors.choosybookworm.com/pen-pals-community-indie-authors/

Happy Writing!

ryanscenememe