Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know. I’ve been gone for a month. I’ll tell you what happened. Frostburg. That’s what happened. My alma mater. I went back, after over twenty years, to a Homecoming.

Goodgawdalmighty. I am not the sprightly lass I once was. That one weekend wiped me out, and I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

That is such a sad statement, but there it is.

Enough of my woes. On to the important stuff. Catrin’s Grimoire is going to be a December release, rather than November. Because life. After the last month, I completely understand why writers lock themselves away from everything. It would be nice, but you know, kids want to eat and stuff. LOL.

In the Inspiring Others category, Have You Made Your 2016 Goals?

Why not?

It’s nearly December. You need to think about what you want to do next year. What idea is burning a hole in your brain, and won’t leave you alone? What new series do you want to do? How are you going to improve your marketing?

Writing your goals down, and sharing them with someone else is one of the most effective ways to make sure you meet them. The only goal I missed this year is my November release. I’m annoyed with myself, but one of the things you MUST do when self-employed is put a time limit on beating yourself up for missteps, and make plans on how that won’t happen again.

So the next post will be focused on goal setting. I’ll put mine out there, and welcome you to do the same.

And I wish you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the things that make life great. What you’re thankful for – and what’s not to be thankful for when there’s a Dancing Vader?

I love this.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/keAhk3Lz6E8“>[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keAhk3Lz6E8&w=560&h=315]

 

Self-Pub – The First Steps

Ok, so if you read my last post, aka, The Long Ramble, you’ll know that my journey to where I am now wasn’t an overnight event. I had to be coaxed into self-pubbing.

Let’s start with Your Book. Is it done? And by done, I don’t mean you’ve written ‘The End’ and popped open your favorite adult beverage. I mean, have you had someone (NOT MOM!) read it, looking for flow? Do you have a beta reader? Someone who will firmly but clearly offer you constructive criticism?

If not, you need it. One of the ways I bridge chapters or scenes that are giving me grief is trot them into my critique groups. When most of my two groups say the same thing, it’s time to look over the whatever it is. Good example of this – of my most current WIP, both my Tues and Thurs groups wanted place and timeline clearly laid out. I’ll tell you the truth – I did a flashback within a flashback.motherofgod

Yeah. It’s all gone now. BUT – in the flow of my writing, it made sense at the moment. You need someone else to tell you – HEY! NO!
–But nicely.

You should be able to go back into your work, and read it, and think, Hey. Wow. I don’t really suck! (Or is that just me? I’m always surprised that I like what I’ve written when I read it as a proof on my Kindle. Usually because I’ve been working hard on various parts of it, and I don’t have a sense of the whole.)

Have you had someone or a program edit it for you? We all think we’re Shakespeare, twisting and manipulating words until the audience is just right in the palm of our hands, and a lot of times, it’s true. But not always. So you need someone, or at the very least, a copy editing program, to tell if you the sentences make sense. Personally, I have an editor, and she does both developmental feedback and line editing. We won’t go into our disagreement over the Oxford Comma. Yes, it’s a thing. Prior to writing a book, I had no idea.

If you’re on a budget, and who among us are not? – I have found three programs that are FREE – and will offer you help and suggestions.

EditMinion
ProWritingAid
ClicheCleaner

These are the three that popped up when I looked for software. At the same time, this came up as well, and I love her idea of using all three:
http://virginiaripple.com/paid-and-free-editing-software/

At this point, this is where we are:

  1. Finish the book
  2. Have it edited, both developmentally and copy.

Once you’re there, what else should you be doing? My opinion? Go forth and find a cover artist. At this point, you might not have spent anything, particularly if you’re on the budget plan. Here’s where, and once again, this is MY opinion, you’re going to need to spend a little.

Your next step is to find a cover artist. If you’re on a schedule, while your book is being edited, go look for a cover artist. Take your time, email some of them, ask them what their policies are, ask for a sample contract. Here’s what I look for in my cover artist:

A) Ebook version
B) Print cover and facebook banners/posts
c) How many edits/revisions will they allow?
D) Do you own the cover? Can they use the cover elsewhere (I recommend strongly that you make sure you own the cover – that is, the image generated by your contract with them. A lot of images are available for purchase and use – but you and your artist will arrange them in a specific manner for your work. THAT piece is yours. Although you may want to allow them to use your work in their portfolio.)
E) What is their payment policy? All at once, before the work is done? After? Half now, half later? What is their guarantee that you’ll be happy?

Remember, they are artists, just like you are. If they do work for you, they should be compensated. I had an artist I worked with that I didn’t end up going with. I still paid her for the work she did. Anything else is inappropriate.

There’s also Canva.com, if you want to fiddle about on your own. Having done this for my pen name…be wary. But I use Canva for a lot of promo stuff – I make my own banners, posts, business cards, postcards, etc. Back to that in a moment.

At this point, you’re here:

  1. Finish book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed

Now comes the tricky part.

The….BLURB.

I watched a video from H.M. Ward where she likens your book to a three-legged stool. Your book is the seat, and the cover, sample, and blurb are the legs. Any of those are not on par, the stool will not hold up.

I like that. So look at the blurbs in the genre you’re working in. What are they doing? Longer? Shorter? Personally, I start long, and then go short. I just got a blurb review recently, and I am in the process of redoing all my blurbs. It’s worth it.

Think about it. When you’re browsing, what catches your eye? What makes you click ‘Buy’ on a book?

So back to the Canva. Check it out if you haven’t already. Canva is a great resource for the DIY side of indie publishing. I made business cards, postcards Facebook banners, pics for my Facebook author takeovers, and anything else I can think of with it. Canva doesn’t cost a thing unless you use their elements. I generally don’t need to – although like anything that doesn’t cost, there are limitations. But for me, it works nicely. It’s something to check out to see if it can be utilized as part of your toolbox.

At this point, this is where we stop for the time being.

  1. Finish Book
  2. Get it edited
  3. Have a cover designed
  4. Write up your blurb

This is already long enough, so I will be back in a few days to talk the next steps: Hitting The Publish Button.

launch

In the meantime, work through those first four steps.

Onward and upward!

Back from the dead

Well, good grief.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. WTH? I was being better than that. Well, here I am, back and repentant. It’s been a busy week. In all honesty, I look at how I scheduled life before I stopped working outside the home, and wonder how did I get anything done?

Enough whining. Tonight, I want to talk about why you publish, and how to make the decision. In order to get there, you’re going to have to go back to 2013 with me.

face-palm

Settle in. This is a long one.

I had just joined RMFW. Gone to the Conference. Pitched my first agent, and gotten a request for a partial.

I was On. Fire. Guuuurl, I was gonna land that agent (my Dream Agent, btw) and become an overnight success. Sent in my pages, and within a month, I’d heard back from the agent. Thanks, but no thanks. Nice note of rejection, but a rejection none-the-less.

So I joined Query Tracker, and started the round robin. I don’t know now how many rejections I have based on who I queried, but in early 2014 I sure as hell did. However, I was still confident that even without Dream Agent, it was Gonna Happen.

I was also in the midst of critique group change. The one I belonged to was not a good fit, and I landed in the Tuesday group I am still part of. The moderator of that group, with whom I am great friends with, and I were on the same journey. Finished book, doing edits, working on something new, and querying.

Then the moderator went to a conference, and came back all a-gog. She’d heard one of the biggies in the indie world speak. She laid out facts, contract specifics, and most importantly, money.

I’ll never forget the talk we had after that Tuesday meeting. It changed my life. Literally. I went and did some reading on the author she’d heard speak. It was Courtney Milan. If you haven’t read her thoughts on indie publishing, I recommend it. Then I did the Bad Thing. I put ‘indie publishing’ into the Google browser.

Er.Mah.Gawd.

The first person I found was Hugh Howey, the indie darling. I’d read his Wool trilogy without knowing he is an indie, but now I did all sorts of online stalking on his journey into publishing. I remember sitting at my netbook, and just having to lean back at the sheer overload from what I was reading. (I have to tell you all I met him at Dragon Con last year, and WOW. He’s really a nice person, and very passionate about self-determination in the publishing world, which I love. He also has an amazing blog @ wayfinder.com. Its worth reading, particularly, if you’re like me and in addition to being an indie writer are a passionate sailor. The boat envy I have….oy. Anyway)

Which led me down a rabbit hole, but I pulled back, and concentrated on my own work. I finally, FINALLY, put Novel #1 under my bed and stopped querying it. Focused on something new, because the way to get better is to write something else. Came up with an idea for a new series. (That is Sisters Of The Curse, in case you were curious. LOL) Worked all summer and fall last year on Thea’s Tale, and getting better at my craft. One thing my critique group taught me was that I needed work on my craft. I started reading craft books, going to classes, LISTENING to those who might know something more than me.

That’s important, boys and girls. There’s always someone who knows more than you. Go find them, when you have a question. LEARN. Good lord, you can google anything. I’ve learned the most random things from Google. There is no excuse.

And I finished Thea’s Tale. SO now…the thing was done. What then?

Revise, have beta reader read it, and revise some more. Then once more, and then – Get an editor. Don’t take just anyone. Interview them. I am lucky – I know my editor, and she’s not only a fantabulous editor, she’s part of my target audience. So she can tell me what doesn’t work for the audience I’m going for. Give the book to the editor, and leave it be until s/he sends it back. While you’re waiting, find a cover artist. I know there are people who say DIY, but I disagree. I think having someone who is a professional (even if you’re one) but is not emotionally invested in your book can give you a more balanced view of your cover. JMO, however, and you’re welcome to disagree.

Work with your artist. I pride myself on my ‘artistic eye’, but you know what? Every single idea I shot to my artist (see my earlier post about those two amazing ladies) looked like shit. Let’s not pull punches. My ideas looked like shit, when the ladies took my idea and did exactly what I wanted. So I started telling them what I wanted theme-wise, generally, and let them do their job. Guess what? You can see the beauty of what they came up with.

Then we come to the hard part. I did all of the above -and now I have this book waiting on a pre-order, and I don’t know what to do next. So off to Google I go. Because I have to dip my toe into the waters I fear the most in this process – the marketing waters.

Gack.

To me, marketing is the shark tank of my business. Who knows the best things to do? What will work for me? It worked for Author X, and this worked for Author Y, but Author Z does it this way – it’s enough to make you go crawl into bed and put the pillow over your head.

But, my dear reader, you cannot do that. Your book will fall to the floor, and wither and die. You must find a way to get your book out there, in front of readers.

My first suggestion, knowing now what I know? (Lordamercy, what a difference a year makes!)

  1. Write a series, and PLOT that business out! I’m telling you this as a lifelong pantser who is finally moving to big girl land and doing some plotting. Read Take Off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker. Your world will change. Promise.
  2. Publish the first three in your series FAST. I’ve seen recs to wait and publish them all at the same time – I didn’t do that. I’ll have four out in a six month period, and I’m starting to see a bump from multiple books. At the start of 2016, I’m going to release in that ‘all at once’ method, and see how it works. LOL – I promise, you’ll hear about it. Whether you like it or not.
  3. Pick your social media – and be HONEST with yourself on what you’ll use – and use it. Post 80% of value content for those reading your stuff. That means NO PROMO – of you, or anyone else. I won’t lie – I have done more than 20% promo at times, and no more. I love talking self/indie publishing, so that, and the crap that interests me – that’s what you’re going to get. I also am on Twitter, and FB – but that’s it. I decided those three venues were the ones I wanted to invest in, and that’s all I’m doing.
  4. BE NICE. In my search for marketing, I have come across so much stuff about authors and other creative people not being nice online. Guys, if you’re here (and I don’t mean you, Mom) and reading this for some little bit of education, you want to be successful with your creativity. Negativity doesn’t sell, and in this day and age, it NEVAH goes away. EVAH. Even if you delete what you posted 2 minutes ago. I think you can disagree, even discuss passionately with people – but be respectful.
  5. Respect those who work with you. As I mentioned before, hire an editor. And a cover artist. Get some beta readers, or a critique group. Even if you don’t agree with them, respect them. They’re taking the time to help you improve your work. Hear what they have to say. No one says you have to agree. But listen. They might be right (see my earlier comments on my cover ideas ALL looking like shit. To the last idea, folks.)
  6. You’re a business now. Treat yourself like one. Get a coupon folder, and put ALL receipts in it. That’s the first step – to train yourself to not toss things. But get that little folder or you’ll just die with all the little bits of paper. I met an agent who said she took pics on her phone of the receipts – I think I’m going to train myself to switch to that. Makes it easier for record keeping and transition to Quick Books or the like. Read about taxes for the self-employed. Keep track of your mileage. Become a LLC. I haven’t done the last one yet, but that’s next on my list. Because this year, I have to add author stuff to the tax info. To say I’m nervous, even after years of being self-employed, is an understatement. I’m sure you’ll get a post tax filing post outta me.
  7. Engage with people. Now here I’m just meandering off into Lisa land. I have seen the little prawny bump in my sales. I’m not doing a lick of promo right now, mostly because I am working on three different WIPs, and I am reading and planning for a) the next promo push; b) all the things I have to do for some of my marketing; c) those three WIPs, and d) reading and compiling better ways to try and market. Seriously, that’s what I’ve been doing since mid-September. I’m also really involved with my writers organization, and I work with the self/indie published folks. Helping others. Sharing what I know. Seeing if I can help all of us market more – and I really and truly believe that is why I am seeing the sales bumps. Because I’m out there not promo-ing for me – but working with and for others. I’m engaged. It helps that I am working on a topic near and dear to my soapbox and heart. So find your passion outside of your work – and get to it. LOL – I know, easier said than done. What with all our free time, right?

I think that’s it for now. Look for more from me as I continue on this journey. I love indie publishing, and I love the path I’m on. I think it’s a path with room for everyone who wants to be on it.

When I first heard about self/indie publishing – it struck a chord in me that nothing about publishing had prior. Nothing. I can’t explain the feeling of wonder, of total amazeballs, that I could Do. This. Myself.

Sure, I’ll make mistakes. I won’t do a pre-order again unless I have hordes of fans emailing, and the damn thing is done, and just waiting on edits. But guess what? *I* get to do what I want. I get to try things, and have the choice of failing without worrying about whether my publisher will drop me. They may have some rather harsh language for me, sure. But that’s it. After the harsh language, we go back to the drawing board.

You need to consider what calls to you. I had this discussion at the Gold with another writer, and she is 110% in the traditional publishing camp. It’s where she feels good, where she feels called to be. I think that’s fantastic. I’ve said it before – this is a great time to be a writer. We have choices. We can be where we are because that’s where we want to be.

For me, that’s indie publishing.

If you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll answer as best I can. I’m certainly no guru – but I know what I’ve done that works, and what hasn’t. I;m always happy to share.

Ahhh! Almost forgot. Go RIGHT. NOW. Start reading Kboards Writers Cafe. The amount of sharing of info on that will be mind blowing. And it will put you on the path.

Time for Goals

While it’s not the end of the year, I have hit a number of my goals, and feel it’s the appropriate time to set more. One of the things that kept me on track was the fact that I posted my publishing goals on here, and FB, and while I don’t flatter myself that I have a reach of any significance, I put my goals in writing where others might see them.

To me, that made me accountable.

I’m on track to release Catrin’s Grimoire in November. I’m really excited – the story is going well. Perhaps there was a bit of plotting in there…LOL! Probably. I have been a panster for so long, it’s weird to plot.  Anyway, it’s on track and going well, which is the important thing.

There’s one more book after CG, so what do I do then? There may be one healthy novella, but I’m not committing to that. I’ve been considering what to do, and how to actually write it down and give myself a realistic set of publishing goals that go until the end of 2016. So with that, I decided I want to work on other series.

Staying in the fairy tale realm, I am going to write a true romance. Sisters Of The Curse was not a romance, per se. The romance was a subplot, but none of the stories had romance as their main story arc. For this series, it’s going to be a trilogy, and it will be a true romance. I think I’m going to use the legend of the Goblin King – not Jareth and Sarah, unfortunately.  I do love their story, but I want to create my own Goblin King. So there’s one.

Then, I want to do a shifter series. I LOVE shifter books – and my faves are wolves. So look for a Pack series. That will probably be five books. I’m still fiddling with the outline of the series. I know everyone and their mom has done wolf shifters, but I love shifter romance, and the wolves are the ones I keep coming back to. So there you are.

Finally, I talked with my Beloved. He’s not a reader. Thankfully, Darling Boys take after me, because I feel like not loving to read is missing out on one of the most creative things man has ever done. Reading has been such a major part of my life. Anyway, he has one series he likes to read, and I asked him, point blank, what was it that drew him about that particular series. He said, I can imagine myself as the MC, and see how I could survive in the circumstances in the book.

That was really eye-opening to me. I had ideas of why he liked that series, and none of mine were right, LOL. So that started me thinking, and I think that will culminate in a dystopian series of some sort. That’s my newest series idea, and the one that is closet to infancy, so the detes are fuzzy.

First step towards a destination – plotting the journey there. You’ve now made it through my Step One. The TL; DR version
1) Finish Sisters Of The Curse with Adelaide’s Tale, sometime in January 2016
2) Five book Pack series – wolf shifters
3) Goblin King based trilogy
4) Dystopian story – may be a trilogy? Not sure yet.

I’m up to eleven books for next year. So I’ll stop. That means I need to be publishing every month. It feels REALLY. REALLY. SCARY to put this in writing. That’s a metric ton of writing on my part.

BUT – in order to get somewhere, you have to decide to go. This is me announcing my decision.

Back to writing.

ETA: I have been thinking of nothing else since I made this post. In the next month, my goal is to firm up my publication schedule. I’m one of those people who do better with a deadline. My editor, the long-suffering Rachel, may not be as thrilled. I shall bribe her. With Cards Against Humanity addition packs.

Look for that by end of October. I’m interested to see what I come up with, too!

The Evil Voice Within

We all have it. None of us want it. What do we do with it? (A little Buffet-inspired intro to start your read here.)

One of the things I’ve been chatting with other authors recently about is that dreaded Voice Within. Or as I call it, the Evil Voice Within. You know it. The one that takes your self-doubt, insecurity, worry, fear, whatever that go-to negative emotion is, and makes it a fire-breathing dragon.

A real, live dragon, who’s in a bad mood, snarky, and rampaging around in your head. dragon

I want to evict the %)^$@^&%, but he always finds his way back.

Why is that? We’re doing something amazing. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can write a book. Most of us can start, and get part way through, but finishing the thing? That’s a feat. I should know. My thumb drives are littered with sizable works that are not done. Writing it is only the first part of the whole thing.

Then, one must finish it. After it’s finished, you really need to read the thing again. For content. To see if it’s something you want to let out into the world. To see if you need to take your hacksaw and weed-wacker and do shaping and pruning. To see if you love it when you read it, or if you cringe. Hint: If you cringe, you don’t need to trash it. You may need to just leave it for a bit, and then come back and do some revising.

All along the way of the aforementioned journey, you have to listen to Mr. Snarky Dragon. Telling you all his stuff and nonsense, tossing in his one liners when you’re least expecting it.

So how to get around him? Everyone, no matter what you do, occasionally comes up against that dragon. I think authors have a particularly assy dragon, but I’m willing to admit possessing a bias.

Here’s how you do it. You ignore it. Tell it to )%$^#%^ off. Go read a good review. Go look at your latest craft book (folks, you need to be reading them. I am the worst about actually doing it, and now that I have, I am kicking myself for dragging my feet before).

Plan out your next marketing campaign. Then go and visit the social media of your author friends. Talk about their awesome cover, or let them know what you loved about their book. Discuss ways to market, talk about how to ramp up something for the holidays.

See where I’m going with this?

Own that you occasionally give Snark Dragon space in your head, and then move on. Know that you can and will be successful, and it will probably take some time. It’s also going to take work. Hard work. Sadly, I’ve yet to meet any authors who have that lovely cabana boy offering them grapes with nimble fingers and an adoring gaze. Or if they do have one, they’re being verrrrry low-key about the whole thing.

poolboy

We can all aspire to a pool boy, so to speak. We just need to get our minds around it.

But Lisa, you cry. I love me a good Ryan meme, but that’s a meme! I see no Ryan, nor any grapes! And certainly not peeled grapes.

Here’s what I do:

If I’m frustrated with a particular work, I walk away from it. I leave it to simmer on its own, and I go do something else. At this exact moment, I have a WIP I’m writing, another WIP I work on when I’m tired of WIP #1, and I am outlining a new series. So if I get caught up and stuck, I have something else to do. Not everyone can work on more than one project at a time, so if you can’t, get out of your chair, and go for a walk. Take the dog. Go look at nature. Hang out with your kids. If you feel you MUST be doing something, get a digital recorder, and talk out your story issues. Sounds silly, but it works. I also find if I’m stuck, a long shower helps. I think a lot in the shower. It’s relaxing.

If I find that my book sales are not where I want them, I go and look at what others in my genre are doing. Not to give SD ammo, but I want to see if they’re doing something I’m not, and ought to be. I am an avid reader of promo threads – forum threads where people write up their marketing plan for a set period of time, and then report on it. Reading the successes and challenges of others not only gives me ideas, but it reminds me I’m not alone on this journey. That’s important for us.

I said it earlier, but go read a craft book. I am a dedicated pantser. I don’t like to plot – or at least, I didn’t think I did. However, I’m reading a lot about increasing your output, and all the people I see who are doing it right, and creating success are doing so while using some pre-writing organization. So it’s worth considering, in my opinion. It can help you to get out of the corners we sometimes paint ourselves into.

Finally, I realize that no matter how much I love this career, I’m going to have some off days. That there are going to be times when it’s just going to be sucky. I am more thin-skinned than I ever realized, but putting myself out there as an author is forcing me to toughen up. To know that I am doing the best I can, that I don’t see this as a scheme, but as a long term career where I wish to put out commercial quality content for essentially the rest of my life. And that the one day where Snarky Dragon gets free range head space with me – it’s ONE DAY.

So kick your dragon back to his cave, and know that you’re on the right path. Even if it turns out not to be the right path in the long run – that’s the beauty of being a writer, and an indie writer in particular. We can change. We can shift focus. We can adapt.

And we will succeed.

Now go write.

Post Con – The Mondayest Tuesday

today-is-the-mondayest-tuesday-ever--1c84b

So it’s the dreaded post Con. Blech. It’s always a let down. I love Dragon Con. I get to see friends I don’t see most of the year, and go to panels that are talks by actors I love, or meet authors I fangirl over, or craft panels that discuss various aspects of writing and the business therein. Such was the case this year. I hate to see it end. Plus, my costumes were kick-ass. More on that later.

My husband and kids are the sweetest. My husband said, It’s good to have you back, and both kids wanted to snuggle a little extra last night because they missed me. The feels, ya’ll.

On to business. One thing I noticed is that there is a divide still regarding self-publishing, and that makes me…verklempt. Self-publishing is a good thing for ALL. If you publish traditionally, you have options, and the freedom to look to other avenues if your publisher is not doing right by you. I know it’s not that easy, but it’s an option, and ten years ago, it wasn’t. Options are good things, regardless of whether or not you take them.

As an indie author, I was unhappy and annoyed to see the large swath of opinions re: self-publishing dependent upon the programming track I went to. I attended a panel on marketing via the Electronic Frontiers Forum, and it was excellent. Even though there were folks were working within the traditional system, they were happy for options. In the Writers’ Track, it didn’t seem to be the case. There was what seemed to me to be a more negative mindset about the indie publishing industry. I have, in the past, asked for more self-publishing focused panels, and I suppose this technically met the bill – but it sure didn’t stick to the premise of helping people understand their options.

Let me lay it out for you. The gatekeepers have shifted. It used to be if you wished to call yourself an author, you had to find someone to let you in. Now, you can walk yourself through the gate, and get to the garden on your own.

Do you need to be as professional as possible? Yes, indeed. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. If you are not seriously skilled at graphic design, hire a cover artist. Check the contracts with all these folks, and READ THEM. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to. One of discussions I saw that all participants felt passionately about was regarding cover art. Do you own the art, or do you merely license it? What rights does the artist, the creator, have in regards to further use of your cover? It’s something to consider. It’s taking IP and who owns what to a deeper level.

The thing about doing it yourself is that you do it ALL yourself. But to me, that’s the best thing about it. You do it all YOURSELF. See the difference there? I’m a closet control freak. I like to be in charge. Yes, I admit it. Of my work – I definitely want to be in charge. I want to make the calls for me. Will I screw up? Probably. We all do as we are learning.

The best part of Cons for me are meeting people like you. After one of the craft panels I went to, I was talking to one of the presenters, and they suggested we repair to the bar to continue the conversation. It was an amazing hour, talking craft, word count, genre, business, marketing, price – I am so very thankful that this person took the time from their schedule to help along someone who has lots of questions. That meeting alone left me with a professional high that hasn’t worn off yet.

We’re a solitary lot. We sit in front of our screens, and let the creativity flow from our head to the same screens. That’s awesome for your readers, but you need to get out from behind the screen, and talk to other people like you. Go hang out in a place where there are TONS of people who are just as nerdy and passionate as you are about stuff.

And for me, it solidified my thoughts on being an indie. Last year, I was at Con as someone who hadn’t yet published. This year, I have three books out. My perspective has changed slightly, from how I listen to what I’m hearing. But my thoughts on this path haven’t.

Why? Because I have looked at the options, talked to people on both sides of the options available, and still feel this is the best option for me. That’s the hard part – figuring out which is the best option for YOU. The more I explore, the more I feel this is it, and I’m where I ought to be.

If it weren’t for self-publishing, I wouldn’t have these options, and I can tell you I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I could be somewhere better, or worse. I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be here.

I just got the trade copies of all three of my books this week. Come back from Con, and books are waiting. It doesn’t get much better. I’m headed to the RMFW Gold Conference this weekend, and I’m really excited. That’s nothing but writers, and people at all stages of the business. The potential to meet and talk and learn is enormous. Explore other options, hear things that have worked for others and see if they might work for me.

There’s always something to be learned – and now, like I mentioned, we as authors have OPTIONS. Seek them out. See what resonates with you. Try out some of the options. You may fail, you may not. But you won’t know unless you explore – and having self-publishing as one of those options is a good thing.

That’s the takeaway I’d like to see – that sure, you can self-publish – but here are the pros and cons, and here are the pros and cons of publishing traditionally. Weigh them, and see what’s best for YOU. Not me, or anyone else. Once you hear that, weigh it. What can you live with? What do you think will be your struggles? For me, it’s solidifying a marketing plan, and time management. I’ve been trying to write this damn post all day and keep having distractions. *What? A squirrel??!! Quick! Let’s go – oh, look, fun FB post!*

It seems to be an either/or with some factions on both sides, and while I am passionate about my decision, it’s MY decision. There is no other option for me that will be the best. Having the ability to discover that and see what will work best for you is truly marvelous, and one of the things I feel makes this such a great time to choose to write as your career.

And now, in a totally unrelated subject, most of the costumes I wore this weekend. I need to snag one other pic because it’s my interpretation of Dean and Sam’s Impala, and who doesn’t love Baby?

Until then, I give you the Tardi Sisters and the 7th Doctor, me as Potassium in the Parade of Elements in the DC Parade, and my Battle of the Planets/G Force/Gatchaman Joe/Jason the Condor costume. (I love this costume beyond belief. I would call it George if it didn’t already have a name.)

Now get to work.

thedocntardis fabana sapfab

lisajason

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.

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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.