Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Update

1. I hit the upper tier of my word count goal this week- 4k! Unfortunately, I *still* didn't write for as many days as I would like. I would really like to add in another two days per week. I've found, when I'm not under deadline, that 1k is a good comfortable goal, but that when the heat is on I an write as much as 3k-4k in one day. I'd like to find a balance in between the two, so that I'm writing 2k even when I don't have a deadline.

2. Reading- no time to read, although I did find a YA SF book I'm dying to sink my teeth into called Glow. I swear my TBR pile is going to crush me one day. I tried for a little bit to get into The Night Circus, but so far it's failed to hold my interest. I have to admit, I am kinda getting over the whole paranormal thing, and am eager to see my writing (and reading tastes) go in new directions. I've had this dark SF book kicking around for a while now. I even have some of it already written, and pretty much the whole thing plotted out. It's just a matter of finishing my current projects first before I jump into it. (Beware seductive plot bunnies). Have also thought quite extensively about a contemporary YA, but none of that summer love stuff. Nope, in my contemporary YA universe, people have serious problems. Like mental illness and alcoholism and poverty and stuff. 

3. Editing- I'm involved in this massive editing project right now. It's taking up quite a bit of time because it's just so long, but it's also the sequel to something I've read before, so I'm eager to see how it ends. The end is just so . . . far away. But I will get there, and all will be well. Incidentally, I've noticed that all this editing is really helping me with my own writing- I'm catching more mistakes, and things like repetition and pacing seem to be getting better on the first go. 

4. Marketing- I still have no idea why, but my two Indie pubbed books are on week two of being on bestsellers lists on Amazon. The two books together are consistently sitting on five different bestseller categories, and this during a time of year when I'm supposed to be experiencing a slump. The only thing I can figure is that the two books are ties to the serial I'm currently writing for my publisher, and that's generated some extra interest. Still haven't touched the price points, and I'm sure that helps some too, although I do plan to raise prices one day in the not-too-far future. 

5. Totally random aside: they are laying fiber optic cable in the neighborhood, which I'm happy about because it means another cable company is moving in. (For years there has only been one provider for the whole area). That's wonderful- competition in the market is going to be a healthy thing, and who knows, maybe we'll even switch services after years of the tyranny of one company. However, it does mean the internet may be going in and out some, which sucks. They also tend not to tell you when your internet may go out, so that's a double suck. But hopefully such interruptions will be miraculously few in nature. All of this is to say, if I drop off Facebook or can't be reached on chat, just shoot me an email and I'll get right back to you. I'm not ignoring anyone on purpose!

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how the week has worked out. Hope everyone else is having a good week, and I'll see you all next check-in, if not before.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stress and Writing

This one will be brief, I swear. I've got too much to do still. I was pretty much a failure at writing this week. I have been under a ton of stress lately with things that are completely life related, and I discovered I have a much harder time writing when my stress level is high. Not impossible, just not as easy or fun. So I didn't write this week until today. Ok, wait, that's not true- I did maybe five hundred rough words sometime earlier this week. I can't even remember when.

 But today, I knew I had to get this chapter knocked out, since I do have a deadline. I sat down and wrote a total of about 3500, bringing me closer to my weekly goal of 4k. The problem is that it is yet unedited, and I know I will probably wind up cutting 1k or so words from it. I guess we'll see on Sunday how it went. The real disappointment for me was that I ddin't get in as many actual writing days as I would like. Word count is one thing, but I envy writers who have established writing days. I think it would make me more productive, but most importantly, I think it would make me feel like more of a professional. This week has just been a real disappointment with my goals, because to me, sneaking in a very fast 3500 rought draft just isn't a good foundation to build a career on. So here's hoping the rest of the week goes better! How about everyone else? How did you do this week?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading, Writing, and Rock n Roll: Sunday Update

I always think I'm going to keep these posts brief, and then I wind up going way over that. So today I'm not even going to pretend! Also, I found this neat picture I've been playing with in Photoshop. It has nothing to do with anything, except that I like it cause it's cool, and it inspires me somewhat. Just wanted to add a pretty to this post!

Writing: I finished that 2600 word chapter earlier in the week, and would you believe it? My editor had no problems with it whatsoever. It posted on Friday with no corrections of any kind! I don't think that's ever happened before. So that made me happy. Since then, I've had mixed luck: I wrote roughly 500 useable words yesterday, and another 1163 in freewriting. The freewriting morphed, as it so often does, into something even more useful: a detailed outline for the next chapter (or maybe even two). So we'll see how that goes- I'm planning on working on it today, right after this post. Oh, I supose I should add up the total: 3100 useable words this week, which is closer to my 4k goal, but not quite there. I also didn't write on as many days I would have liked, but that's ok, there's always next week.

Editing: Had the pleasure of editing a charming little book that will be published by CQ in the coming months. I hesitate to call out individual authors that I edit; I'm not sure why, but it feels like a violation of privacy, which is why I am so often close-mouthed about my editing life. But this little story by the amazing Thea Gregory just made me want to crow- she's one to watch if you like sci fi.
I did pull out an old ms of mine- The Ressurrection of Blake House- which is supposed to be a short, romantic ghost story, definitely aimed at adults. Every now and then I'll pull it out and tinker with it, in the hopes that there is something I could do to salvage it. But I had to admit, yet again, after hours of playing with it, that it just isn't worth saving at this spoint in my life. It would take more effort than I could put into it, and I had to admit the sex scenes were just... cardboard. That's not really my genre, after all, so maybe it's for the best. It's always sad to have to completely trash a whole project, though.

Reading: Finished all three books in Melisa Pearl's Time Spirit trilogy. I posted about this for the last ROW80 update- the first book, Golden Blood, is available on Smashwords for free right now. Well, I loved it so much I had to get the other two: Black Blood and Pure Blood. They were fairly quick, easy reads, but this didn't detract from the quality of the writing. I also read Chelsea Fine's Sophie and Carter, which actually made me cry. If you're looking for a good sentimental YA contemporary romance, you can't go wrong with this one. It also was short, and I finished the whole thing in bed before falling asleep. I love it when I can kill a story in one shot; it makes me feel less guilty about the other things I should be doing. Like writing!

Writing music: I look for very particular things in my writing music. It has to be upbeat enough to keep me feeling energized, but it also has to be able to blend into the background for when I get really immersed in the writing. I found this one awesome band out of Asheville, NC called River Whyless, and they have their cd on sale for "name your price," so you can literally buy it for $0. They call themselves "Baroque Folk," but don't let that fool you; it definitely rocks along.
Incidentally, I had a writing teacher once who told me he liked to listen to jazz when he wrote, and that was one way he could tell how intensely he was writing. He'd take a break or come to the end of a section and realize he hadn't heard half the album, and that was how he knew he'd been lost to the muse.

Book marketing: I don't know why, but two of my books have been in the top 100 in five different categories this week. I mean, these are books that are two years and a year and a half old, for crying out loud. They've always been my best sellers, but had settled down in sales for a while. I just kind of expect that with backlists, you know? So that's why I have no idea why they've taken off this weekend, but boy am I grateful. They're both full length novels priced at 99 cents, and I'm toying with the idea of raising the prices, even though that will most likely mean a rankings drop. Eventually, I'm going to make the first book totally free, since the third and final book should be out this fall. I tend to not experiment with pricing too much, and would love any insight people have into the matter.

Well, that is my epic update. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and here's to an even better week to come!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday the 13th Giveaway!

Here at The Ides of March we love Friday the 13th- it's kinda spooky and lots of fun. So what better time for a giveaway? A Rafflecopter giveaway, no less. And we all know how much I love the Rafflecopter. The prize is a digital copy of the awesome Nina Post's One Ghost Per Serving- what a great title for Friday the 13th, right? So without further ado, here's the blurbage:

 Possessed by Rex, a mischievous spirit, Eric Snackerge’s life has careened out of control. Losing his scholarship and getting blacklisted from the legal profession are just the start – now his best-friend-turned-enemy is in danger of stealing away his family, too. An unusual contest may be his last chance to make his daughter’s dreams come true. But he’ll have to overcome his own self-doubt — not to mention the seemingly impossible odds — in order to achieve that goal. As Eric and his ghostly companion soon learn, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweepstakes. When the sponsors begin dispatching spy cameras, attack helicopters, and the kitchen sink – all to make sure that Eric doesn’t get any further – it becomes clear that the contest is only the first phase of a much larger, sinister plan to spread a supernatural pathogen throughout the food supply. Do Eric and Rex have what it takes to foil the villains’ plan and protect the Snackerge family from becoming the next victims?

 And don't forget the Rafflecopter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Update and Free Book Giveaways!

Got up unreasonably early this morning, and I'm really tired, so I'll keep this brief.
Word Count:
Monday: wrote about 1100 words, some of which I wound up ditching. This is because I started out freewriting, and then the freewriting kind of morphed into an actual draft while I was doing it. It's amazing how often this happens when I freewrite. I should change the name to freedrafting :)
Tuesday: wrote another 2200 words, many of which I ditched. See freewriting/ drafting above! But after I pruned and nurtured, I wound up with a chapter I was pretty proud of. It's currently off at the editor's and I hope she likes it as much as I do! But then, isn't that what we all want from our editors?
Grand total: I wound up with a roughly 2600 words chapter. This leaves me halfway to my goal of 4k, two chapters per week. I've already written two days this week, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to write today, I'm that tired. There's always Thursday and Friday, and then I will have acheived my goal of writing more days per week. But then who knows- I may surprise myself and get a second wind! I also wrote another 600 word proposal for an anthology I've had kicking around in my head. It felt good to get it out of my head and onto paper, which is, of course, the first step to making it actually happen. More on that later, if the powers that be like my idea.

Editing: working on a story that I absolutely love so far. Yay to the amazing Thea Gregory! It's such a treat to edit a book that's right in sync with my tastes and genre.

Blogging: I haven't missed a ROW80 check in yet! And I plan to do a Friday post, because it's (drumroll) free Starbucks day! So I think I'll do a Friday Finds post. But I just wanted to give a head's up to everyone that Starbucks will be giving away free Refreshers chillers from noon to three on Friday.

Reading: I hardly ever do this anymore, because of the writing and editing obligations. However, I picked up this free book through the Smashwords sale that's going on, called Golden Blood. It's about a family of time travelers, and of course it's YA and there's a love story element. I'm barely halfway through, but I'm loving it so far. Then I checked and saw it had two sequels, all priced at $2.99! What a way to hook a reader, right? It makes me think about going free with my first book, and charging more for the sequels. It's a strategy that I know is working for some friends of mine, so maybe I'll give it a whirl. Eventually. At any rate, be sure to check out the Smashwords sale! Also, there's a big free book drive going on through the IBC if you have a Kindle- The Heat Wave Free Par-tay. I've participated in this program before, and also use it to gobble up free books every time they have one, so be sure to check it out!

I did say I was keeping this brief, didn't I? Oh well. maybe I'm perking up and I'll get to that writing after all. Hope everyone is having a great week.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ROW80: Finding a Rhythm

A really productive week so far. It's not just the word count, which has been rockin' along. It's more that I'm getting back into the swing of things after having been out of them for so long.

Some of you may not know I wear another hat- that of an editor at CQ Press, who've also published my books. (The publishing part came first; the editorship followed). They're a great bunch of folks over there- as supportive and nice a group of people as I could ask for. So this is totally not their fault, but for a while I lost sight of the fact that I had to be a writer first. I let the editing consume me and neglected the writing. And for me, that's a kind of slow artistic death. I forgot what happens when I don't write- it's not pretty. I get cranky and depressed and am, in general, not the best me I can be.

So I had to do some life restructuring. For me, that meant learning to say no, and letting go of some professional affiliations. It also meant trying to find some balance in my personal life- I've had a sick family member, and that has taken up some time, too. All of these are things people struggle with everyday, I know, but I really let myself lose sight of what's important for a while there.

So, for me, what does getting back into the swing of things look like? Well, let's start with word count: I wrote: 1200, 700, and 2600 words this week, spread out over a three-day period, for a grand total of (eek! math!) 4500 words. This falls well within my range of 2k minimum, 4k hopeful. Yay! I made my upper limit during the first week! I am thinking a new goal for the rest of the challenge is to increase the number of days I write, while keeping the word count where it is. Instead of three, let's try at least four this week, just as a test, and I'll see how it goes.

Happy writing, everyone! This is a blog hop, and you can catch up with the other participants here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Check-In

Happy July 4th, everyone, for those of us who celebrate the holiday.
Just wanted to do a quick check-in. I have a words count of:
Tuesday: @1200 words, although this was on a WIP that's not part of my goals. It was still fun to write!
Today: 685 so far, and hopefully more later on. I have  a deadline for a story fast approaching, and I've got to whip out a chapter in a couple of days. It's going well so far, although I suspect it will need some editing when done. Maybe even lots of it, but the words are flowing like water (albeit rough water), and that's always a good thing.
Grilled out today, and now we're going to shoot off some fireworks. Today was also the day we discovered the new puppies hate fireworks. They've been barking up a storm. But other than that, a pretty good day. Hope everyone had a good day too, and I'm looking forward to our check-in on Sunday. Hopefully I'll have a lot more progress to report.

This is a blog hop! Check out the progress of the other participants here!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why I Can't Live Without ROW80

So, I tried sitting out this past round, and let me tell you, it was an abysmal disaster. Not that I didn't get things done- I managed to finish a serialized novella (Daughter of Glass) that will be relased as an ebook through Curiosity Quills Press. I almost finished the third book in my Chronicles of Nowhere series, and then realized it just wasn't a good enough end to the series, and had to back track with it. I am currently serializing the third Angel's Edge book, Blood Redemption. The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive, although I know there are fans who want it yesterday. (Sorry folks, I'm doing my best here.) And in the meantime, they can read for free until it comes out in final format.

But I missed out on a lot of things by sitting out of ROW80. Here are just a few:
1. Accountability
I'm the kind of person who needs to tell on herself every now and then. If I don't, my issues, whatever they are, tend to fester. This is doubly true with writing. I need to admit when I'm getting off track, otherwise it just becomes a messy downward spiral. ROW80 gives me that space, along with a whole group of people who can call me out when I need it, or encourage me when I need that too.
2. Support
ROW80 is a really thriving community of writers of all levels and types- beginners, the almost there, those with several books under their belt, the self- or indie- pubbed, and the traditionally published. I really missed the twice-weekly support and encouragement of these fine folks. Some of them have even become good friends.
3. Blogging
I really slacked off on my blogging. ROW80 makes me sit down and blog at least twice a week. This past round, the one I sat out? I was lucky to update once a month. I love blogging and miss it. I think of it as both a personal journal and a way to stay in practice with my writing. Not to mention staying in touch with readers and fans! So I'm looking forward to the twice weekly check-ins. And who knows- once I'm back in the habit, I'm sure I'll do more than just the required check ins.

So now that I'm climbing back into the saddle, what goals do I have planned for this round?
1. Word count
Probably the most important thing ROW80 helps me with. I'm doing a serial right now, so that forces me to write a chapter a week. I usually aim for roughly 2k words when I write chapters; that just feels like a good natural length for me. Usually I wind up going over that, but a couple of times I've come in under. So that's a bare minimum goal- 2k a week. However, I also have another book I'm working on, so I would like to see about getting my output to 4k a week or more. This is something I'm willing to feel out at this point. I'm also an editor and a mom and just starting back with the ROW80 routine, so I don't want to overdo it. That's the other beauty of this writing group- you can change your goals if they aren't working for you.
2. WIPs
I'm going to continue with Blood Redemption, obviously. However, my big goal this round is to finish the third Chronicles of Nowhere book. I'm sick of pounding my head into the keyboard over it. Hopefully this group and adherence to my goals with get me there without the forehead bruises!
3. Blogging
Blog at least twice a week for the check-ins, but try and include a Free Friday post of some kind. Also, by participating in the blog hop that is such a core feature of the group, I'll be able to read other's blogs more than I have been.

I think that's it for this first post of the new round. I'm really glad to be back!
Oh, and one last shameless plug: the first two books of the Angel's Edge series are free now on Amazon, and will be tomorrow too. So snag yourself some free boks if you haven't read them! And thanks for dropping by. Oh, and here's the link to catch up with the rest of the group. See you Wednesday!