Book baby thoughts

So in two short weeks, my literary baby will be heading out to stand on its two little feet. Like any parent booting the kid out, I’m nervous.

Now that it’s finished, I know it. I KNOW it. My editor asked me a flurry of questions the other day. I knew the answers to every single thing. Some of it wasn’t anything that was in the story, but it was part of the arc that I knew. Know. By heart. After the amount of time it took to get those details sorted, that is a thrilling feeling. I’m all atwitter even as I type it.

Like a child, I know so much about Book Baby. I know the whys, and there are things that are non-negotiable. No, my character will not be buying a vowel (I used medieval spellings for some of my characters names. I’ve gotten a little…flack for that). No, I will not change that name. (Another character.) There are things that when I’ve gotten suggestions to change I think…eh. It doesn’t change what I want to share and makes the work flow smoothly, so sure. Why not? There are other things I get absolutely stalwart about and WILL. NOT. CHANGE. I’m always surprised by both.

And while the writing of it was a solitary thing, the getting the book out there is NOT. Not at all. My editor has been invaluable. My bestest critique partner has been as well. My critique groups (I have two, I know, I know, but they both kick ass, so there it is) have shown me things that I wouldn’t have considered. They’re also completely unafraid to tell me the truth. It’s couched in the criticism sandwich, but they say it.

I’ve wanted to finish and publish a novel for…oh…years. I did some serialized bits last year, but it’s not the same. Technically, it is, but it sure doesn’t feel the same. I’ve been in a daze since I concluded that I was done. And ready for the editorial eyes to latch on like a lamprey.

I was reading a blog somewhere else – it was Hugh Howey, I think – and he said that he never wanted to lose the joy that came from publishing something new. I agree. I never, ever want to lose how wonderful this feels. Of course, being able to speak coherently in full sentences would be nice, but I’ll live.

So if you have that novel lounging around in your head, waiting to get out, time to get to it. I won’t lie – getting this finished – to the point where I was no longer saying, ‘Oh! Just one more thing!’ is not easy. But it is easily one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.

So there it is. tl;dr – Go write your own Baby.

Late Night Rambles

What. A. Week.

Kids are back in school, thank god! and oh, how I miss them! Seriously, trying to keep to my writing schedule with the shorties around is going to take some work once summer hits. And it’s not like I toss them bread and scare them off with evil glares and fist shakings.  We do stuff. This spring break, we skied. Oh my lord, the best snow hit just in the last week… and I am on a deadline. I MUST find a way to get a day up there….ah. Ehem. Sorry. Got distracted.

Anyway, scheduling for summer is something that will take some consideration. Right now, we’re considering camps, LOL. Can I be squeal-ly mom for a moment? My oldest wants to take the week long sailing camp! I am so excited! He and I got out in October and had a wonderful afternoon, and we saw kids his age heading out and he was instantly intrigued. I am thrilled that at least one of my kiddos is going to (hopefully) love the water as much as I do. The younger one wants to do roller hockey. I’m totally in favor of it, as long as there’s a mouthpiece. And drama. Whatever they are interested in. We’re still searching for the thing they really love to do. I didn’t find mine until my twenties. So if they don’t, it’s fine.

Okay, enough with the distractions. I dumped quinoa on my work space this week. An entire bowl. And I was all pleased with myself because I was going to finish reading something and eat and be ready for a conference call. Ha ha! Not quite how it went down. But the quinoa is gone.

Here’s the baddie – I lost 7,000 words this week. I don’t know what happened – it’s like I didn’t even work that particular day. Nothing I worked on saved. And I saved throughout the day. I searched for the lost work, but no joy. It’s a bit alarming. On a positive note, I rewrote everything that I lost, and it was tighter, and had a better flow (like how I’m doing that?) and I moved myself into the next piece of Exciting Plot much more easily than I expected to. So that’s good.

My turn-it-in-or-you-get-banned date to Amazon is this Friday. I’m going to make it, and be in good shape, but Amazon is sending an email a day, and it makes me nervous. But I’m glad they send out the reminders. If I was still working outside the home, I’d need it.

Speaking of which, how did I get anything done when I was working? I am glued to a schedule now, and I don’t have to do anything other than shop, the errands, and some doctor appointments. All things I did when working. But I try and put in at least five hours a day on writing/writing related concerns, so I think I get edgy when I feel other non-writing things intrude on my work hours.

What else? Oh. I LURRRRVE my editor. She is a copy editor by trade, but as she reads the genre I’m writing, I asked for a reader POV. Her comments are hilarious. I scrolled through just the comments yesterday. At one point I was practically crying. And yet she swears she doesn’t like to write. But she’s so funny!

I joined another critique group. It has a different vibe than my original group – which is not bad. I really like it. It’s why I decided to keep going when they invited me to stay. I am so fortunate that I don’t have the words to express how fortunate I am. I have two groups of talented writers that I get to work with. I can tell you that even with the looming deadline this week, I’ll come home refreshed and stay up too late after each group. Because you leave there fizzling with ideas. It’s marvelous.

So I’m off. Just took a break because I can’t make my girl go where I want her to. I figured a break would be good for both of us. Maybe she’s a little less sulky. Maybe I am too.

writers block 2

Using Tech…for everything

Sooooo……I have been getting myself together, so to speak. As you might have noticed via the Welcome page, my book is FINALLY about to be released. AKA I FINALLY got off my duff, wrote the thing, and took the steps needed to get it out into the public eye. Let’s be honest here. I’m the only one holding myself back.

However, there is a road block. And it’s technology.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some techie stuff. Not that I USE it as much as I should, nor do I maximize the technology available to me. I am well aware of my shortcomings. But good grief! The things one must learn to set up an internet presence – I used to think it was easy peasy.

To an extent, it is. But then, you get into specifics. And certain pages/software/programs are not friendly with others – which means you must find a go-around to accomplish what it is you want. It means for every item on your To Do list, there are four or five more items in subheadings underneath.

However, I do feel that I have come to a place where I look out over my internet playground, my massive presence (stop laughing!), and feel pretty damn good. As much as I love tech, I remember when the first personal computers came out. We didn’t have computers in the classroom when I was in school. You took a separate class for Computer Science – even in college. I had a desktop in college, and I was considered fortunate.

Now, my kiddos use tech to sign in each morning, order their lunch, communicate with their teacher (seriously, my kids have Google accounts so they can send Docs back and forth to the the teachers), communicate with each other, with me – and these kids are not in junior high! It’s amazing.

I’ve tried to embrace it, and I think on a slightly deeper-than-superficial level I have. But learning what I need to do business primarily online has been like going back to school. This means pulling out my reading glasses, and reading the How To pages several times over to make sure I am doing it right.

Usually I am not. At least the first time.

But I get there.

Today, my kiddo asked me, since his iPhone was offering an update for an Apple watch, when he was getting his. He was taken aback that no, it didn’t come automatically. Tech to the school aged generation is something completely different than it is to my slightly older Gen X self. It’s not as automatic to me, whereas to my kiddos, they don’t even see it as a thing. It’s just there.

I’m sure my parents felt the same when I moaned and carried on about where was my boom box, and how I just needed one.

boombox

(Have a cookie if the dude carrying the box means something to you as well!)

Thoughts on Publishing

So my publication date is just under 2 months out. I’m so excited, when I can get a chance to think on it. I am awash – awash, I tell you, in things that need to get done. (Gratuitous plug – See my Welcome page for my gorgeous cover of Thea’s Tale, the first book in the Sisters Of The Curse series. That is a real woman used as the model. She is HAWT. Seriously.)

Edits, fiddling, edits, more fiddling, and the big one – Marketing. So I have done what many before me have done – headed to Dr. Google, to see what I might find.

One of the reasons I have decided to go indie is because I love the idea of charting my own course, steering my own ship, captaining my own destiny (I think I miss sailing!) – even if I don’t have insta-success. I look at this as a marathon. Part of that whole chart/steer/captain thing is how to prepare your book to be read by the crowds and how to get your book to them.

There are many authors who are willing to help you with this. I have found an absolute wealth of information on the Writer’s Cafe in the KBoards forums. There are pros and cons as there are with all public forums but you can lurk and read to your heart’s content. I highly recommend it. You’ll learn a lot, even if you never make a single post. The authors there are wonderful. And they discuss everything, so poke around.

Compare that with the services you, as an indie author, might need. There are some services you should pay for if you can’t do it yourself. For me, that was a cover. I can barely manage Paint. Another is editing – I love commas and long sentences. I also love to begin sentences with ‘So’. I need help. I don’t mind paying a reasonable price for it.

Here’s where Dr. Google comes in. Do your homework. If you need a cover, go and seek out cover artists. Read the KBoards, or Absolute Write, and see what other authors are paying. Same with editing. Or blog tours, or whatever aspect of publishing assistance you need.

As I have been working through the things I need to do, and need to know, the scams I come across are wretched. Absolutely wretched. Most of us get into this with a small budget. We don’t have tons of cash to throw, and have to manage it carefully. So do your homework before signing up for a service that promises to do it all for you. As referenced above, I have a few things I am absolutely paying for. But others – I am doing it myself. I’m still going for commercial quality and a professional product. That doesn’t mean I have to pay tens of thousands to someone to get that.

This was brought on by reading some of David Gaughran’s blog posts. He’s a great resource if you are going indie – and he consistently champions ethics in the author services industry. Go read his blog. You’ll find lots that will be useful.

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

This is kind of a ramble, I know. I mentioned that I am overwhelmed, and that’s not an exaggeration. I keep reading that there has never been a better time to write, and I think that’s probably true (I’ll give you more of an update on that after I publish). I know that I have been able to find out more about the mechanics of it, and how to make it happen for me than I ever thought possible.

The tl:dr shortcut – do your homework. Don’t just throw money at it. See how others have done it before you. See what may work for you.

And keep writing. Today was a bust (I was hauling some tasty items that I scored on the local yard sale site) but yesterday, and Wednesday – 16,000 words. Shoved my girls across a bridge of hell in terms of plot. It left me wrung out over the keyboard, but hey! More words, and the girls are now where they need to be.

Rebooting the writing…thing.

So what a shift from the last time I was posting! It’s amazing – before I was married with kids, I worked two jobs, usually six days a week. (As a recreational activities instructor, your day job is awesome, but the pay is not. A second job, usually restaurant oriented, is required.) I thought, and I remember this, how hard can married/parent life be? (Stop laughing.) One job, your husband is a team player and a partner in the hellish list of chores, and you come home from work and get it all done in a jiffy! Pretty sure, although I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I also saw the birds from either Snow White or Cinderella flitting through with ribbons.

That is SO not the case! My husband is totally a team player, and a great partner. Yet there are some days we both come home and don’t care that the kids want cereal for dinner, or that there is not a representative from the fruit and veg category on the menu that evening. I should feel like a bad parent (or as we call it in my house, MOTY/FOTY – short for Mother Of The Year/Father Of The Year). I’m usually too spent to muster the energy for that much guilt.

I still have a day job, and it’s not writing, sadly. I actually love my day job, and it’s both demanding and rewarding. My kids are demanding and rewarding. They’re kind of a day job, too.

So where does writing fit into all this? Well, late in the evening, when everyone has settled, and the kitchen is tidied. When my brain is still going, even though I know I have to get up to hit the grocery store tomorrow morning. We’re low on jelly, and that doesn’t fly at lunch time.

It’s hard, though. My head, up until the last week, has been full of what I’m working on right now. I got, finally, something to replace my 47 pound dinosaur of a laptop, a Surface tablet with the fun light up keyboard. Which means I take my writing with me. I have to mention, the last purse I bought was purchased with being able to carry the Surface around in it.

So if I’m stuck somewhere waiting on something (like the vet’s office for the mysteriously sick senior kitty) I pull it out and work. I have a running doc just for ideas. It’s invigorating! I’m pulling all the little minutes I can to work and ease that cracked out hamster in my head.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I was reading in one of my forums a post from a mom who just can’t find the time to write, and I remember thinking, I get that. I totally get that. It’s why I’ve gotten crafty in my pursuit of time to get stuff out of my head into some written form.

Something else that motivated me as well was finding the right critique group. I used to go to one that met twice a month. It never felt amazing or creative, or any of the things I’ve heard from other writers about their groups. Then I met the group leader of my current group, and gave her group a try. It felt like the difference between night and day. The members write in different genres, are all passionate, and all enjoy helping one another. We meet weekly, and I’ve missed it for two weeks due to summer stuff. Boy, do I miss it.

So if you’re struggling, just find a way to squeeze it in. Easier said than done, initially. For me, the kick in the pants was getting a work station, so to speak, that I didn’t need a sherpa to carry around for me. I still have my dino HP. I need to transfer a bunch of documents from it to the new one. It still weighs 47 pounds. LOL, not even my kids want it, because it’s an older model than theirs. But in thinking about it, working with that thing was a weight in more ways than one.

Once I cast off the weight, so to speak, and became more flexible in what “work time” could mean, I got more productive. Then I surrounded myself with really great creative energy, and the brain and output has increased tremendously. So if you’re struggling, and I was for a time, look at what your weights are. What is it that slows your progress, or puts roadblocks up, figure it out.  That in and of itself can take a few days.  Then find ways to either remove the roadblock, or get around it.  Either one will work.  Whatever takes less energy and allows you more time to write, or do whatever it is that fills you creatively.

Because even though putting One. More. Thing. Into my schedule fills my schedule up even further, I am happier.  Happier that I’ve made time in my life for something that is just mine.  Don’t we all want that?

Ride the plot bunny! Updated

Last week, I was taking a shower. When I can, I take showers after the kids leave, so I can take a long one that is not interrupted. I usually have work right after I drop them off, so it doesn’t happen often.  When it does, I hang out until the water becomes warm instead of hot.

That was the case last week.  I was standing under the water spray, musing on who knows what, when the plot bunny ran up and banged his head against the shower door.  Before I could even say what the hell, about twelve more arrived.  They ran noisily about my bathroom, chattering and tumbling and falling over one another.

Not always being one to take the signs and go, I got out of the shower, kicked the closest bunnies away from me, and got on with the day.

But there they were.  In the rear view mirror on the way to work. In between patients. While I was driving in between appointments. All day, the bunnies hung around. And they went from the twelve or thirteen that I began with to oh, say, forty or fifty.

For anyone who is not familiar with the term ‘plot bunny’, let me elaborate. It’s a term that I first came across while reading fanfic, and while this is not fanfic, the idea applies.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” –John Steinbeck

plot bunny is a story idea that refuses to go away until it is written. The term’s origin is unknown but is known to predate NaNoWriMo. Because plot bunnies tend to multiply quickly, the term is thought to be related to the oft-quoted John Steinbeck quote about ideas and rabbits.

http://www.wikiwrimo.org/wiki/Plot_bunny

 

So yeah.  There I was, with this thing right behind me, dogging my footsteps.
I gave in.  I started writing. I started Saturday night, and last night, Wednesday night, was the first night I took a break (in between all the real life responsibilities) and went to bed at a decent hour.
For any of you that do NaNoWriMo, it’s fifty thousand words in thirty days.  I have written over thirty thousand in four days.  Finally, the plot bunnies have scattered a bit, and there’s only a couple grazing round the laptop table.  Languidly, so I’m not really in fear for my life at this point.  Or my brain frying and falling out of my ear when I’m not paying attention.
But Lisa, you ask, what did the plot bunnies want? Was it any good? Was it fanfic?
It wasn’t fanfic.  It’s a whole ‘NOTHER story.  As you all may remember, I am editing Novel #1. I have Novel #2 nearly done. I have started plotting Novel #3, which is the sequel to Novel #1, and then here come the bunnies. So what I have worked on for the past four days is Novel #4.
I used to read posts from people making crazed statements such as the paragraph above, and think, you’re full of crap. I am struggling with Novel #1, how in the hell do you manage four at the same time?
Now I know. It’s because the plot bunnies take up residence, and refuse to leave or move on until you write it down.
Is Novel #4 good? I don’t know. I am on Rough Draft, which means all I have corrected is the spelling as I have gone along.  It’s not my normal genre, either.  It’s women’s lit, chick lit – basically a romance? I write urban/contemporary fantasy.  This is a new one to me.
Bunnies aside, I love this story line.  And scenes that might usually give me some fuss just fell right onto the screen. For good or ill, this thing had to be written.
If a plot bunny should sneak up on you, go  on.  Ride it.  See where it takes you.  I’m in an editing class right now, and one of the exercises we recently did was to write uninterrupted and sans editing for twenty minutes.  I did all right. When I chatted with the instructor, I told her I wasn’t sure of the quality, but I’d rather start with something on the page to edit than be sitting there staring at a blank one.
So the next time a bunny parks itself next to you, demanding some writing time, go ahead and see where it goes. Worst case scenario, you trash the scene. But you never know.  It may just be awesome.
UPDATE: I am currently reading this story, Novel #4, to my critique group.  They are enjoying it as much as I am enjoying writing it.  So the moral of the story is, go with the bunnies and see where they take you.