Getting Back To It
2016 was a year, and I'm soooo glad it's over. Things are looking scary for 2017, but I still have writing stuff that doesn't change regardless of how the year goes. Last year sucked in that regard too: word count was abysmal, submissions dropped off until towards the end of the year, and so on. Taking care of a baby just sucks up the time you think you have. Well, grandbaby is back in the care of his mother (lots of reasons I'm not going to go into here), which means I need to get back to all the things.
Currently I'm working on a new series in Alden with CHOSEN, book 1 in the Uncrowned trilogy, and trying to sort out the plot of a new trilogy in the CHARMS world. SHADES OF GREY takes place on the opposite coast, but I'm having trouble sorting out the plot. Finally went back to the basics of my plot building, dumped my old outline attempt, and am trying to do a sketch outline to sort out the ending. Hoping the restart helps. I had similar issues with ASSASSIN'S and CHARMS, each for different reasons. ASSASSIN'S was a learning novel: I had trouble finding my way through to get to an ending. CHARMS actually needed a whole different plot entirely, as well as some other tinkering. I've kept the old idea and am hoping to work it into the series, but it just wasn't a good place to start Randi's story. Heck, even Randi, the main character, changed a lot from the original idea. Most of the story for SHADES works, I'm just having trouble tying it up at the end, which is something in the middle of the story itself that's not working.
TIRS is currently in the hands of alpha readers, and there's no rush on it unless CHOSEN gets picked up (and even then, not that big of a rush).
At the end of last year, I sent out both CHARMS and ASSASSIN'S to a bunch of agents looking for fantasy. So far, no bites, but still poking around. A check of the agents that I needed to wait on yesterday showed none of them were open yet, as were none of my top picks for small presses. What I need to start getting out again is my shorts. And along those lines, I probably should come up with some fresh short work. Shorts aren't my natural length, and not something I'm overly thrilled with working on, but I can do them, and with everything I have already published at least once (with a few exceptions), it's time to dive in again. I have some short story ideas I've been ignoring that I can dig up. But we'll see how that goes.
So, I've got plans and just need to put my nose to the grindstone. Heck, I had plans last year, but there was a lot of time issues. With the baby care now reduced to babysitting when mama works and reducing my workout time a bit, I've got a little extra time to actually get things done.
With all that in mind, my writing and reading goals this year are:
» 500 words a day (up from 250)
» finish CHOSEN draft, possibly to a third revision
» get SHADES replotted, outlined, and possibly to a 0 draft
» read 45 books
» get TIRS to submission ready (only if CHOSEN gets picked up)
Them's some decent goals. Now to accomplish some of that. ;)
Annual Goals, Heroes of Ehlarayn, In Progress, Journeys, Life Stuff, Novels, Shades of Reyn, Short Stories, Uncrowned
Nine months is a long time for a journal to go quiet, and a lot contributed to the problem for this one. There's a reason I prefer putting most my journals and whatever on my own sites, and it was the switching of the service that Journeys was originally on that started the mess. Journeys was on Vox. I liked Vox. Was great, but it was good enough for a free journal service. Then Six Apart purchased Vox and eventually moved it to Typepad. I tried it but hated it. Unfortunately, about the same time as all that, my host for Alden.nu disappeared. There were problems on the site and he wouldn't respond to emails at all. When I finally found a new host, moving the site and getting everything else functioning first took precedence. Journeys is a nice blog to have, far more focused than most my other journals, but it also tends to mirror stuff from the LJ. So when it came to getting the site back together, Journeys was last on the list.
But it's back now. I need to switch a url over LJ for the feed, but that's about it.
A lot has happened in the last nine months, including a few discoveries on how I work and how I need to work, which is what Journeys is all about: writing, growing as a writer, and learning as a writer.
Assassin's Choice is done and has been on the submission-go-round since July 2010. I truly believe A.C. is well written, but I know epic fantasy is a hard sell, so the rejections have been expected. I've queried approximately 50 agents, am waiting for responses from about half a dozen, the rest have been rejections, though a few have been the kind of rejections that encourage a writer—the personal responses with please submit again or the "nicely written but doesn't fit what we're looking for" kind of thing. It's been difficult finding agents that even take epic fantasy—most want paranormal or urban, and I keep looking to see if anyone new has been added tot eh list, but I suspect I'll have to make a decision about what to do next very soon: trunk it, send it so small presses, or attempt to self-publish. I'm leaning more strongly towards holding onto it until something else publishes or small presses. On the one hand, I believe int he book and want it out there, and a small press is no longer as stigmatized as it once was; on the other, I think it deserves an in the store shelf. I probably won't trunk it completely. New agents come up all the time, and epic fantasy could celebrate a rise in popularity, so it's just a matter of continued persistence.
In the mean time, I'm working on other projects. Quest is slated for revisions as soon as Charms is being submitted, which I hope will come this fall, but we'll see. For now, Quest and the rest of the Alden books will be background projects, things to work on when I have time, and books that may have a better chance of publication will take the foreground. As much as I love the Alden stuff, the genre is on the outs, so I need focus elsewhere for now. This means Phoenix 1 has been set aside as well. I seem to do best when working only on one Alden novel at a time.
Blood Charms is in its third revision and is generally going well. My hate phase with it was quite short, actually. I've worked up the synopsis and query—not so pleased with them—to start getting them in shape for submission time. The current revision is going fairly well/quickly. I know I have at least two more rounds to go though: one to work int he world building better and to bring out the MC's emotions and one after beta readers. As well as it's going, I'm very aware that I may not have it submission ready until the end of the year.
One of the things I discovered is that there are times when I REALLY need new words. Since nothing I'm currently working (or in my to work on queue) is new words, I picked up a YA project that I dropped sometime back when I was working on way too many books at one time. By doing so, I kind of inadvertently figured out what works for me when writing novels. I need three in progress at the same time: one that's the main focus Charms, one that's secondary and that can be put aside as needed Quest, and one that's new words Music. I don't necessarily work on all three at the same time, but I need all three available. That may change if one becomes published, but for now, it's what works for me—it keeps me working on viable projects while not dumping things I love entirely and gives me a place to work on new words when I need to.
I've been submitting my short work, but it's still not a priority for me. I haven't developed a new short since I finished "Pretty Things" in April 2010. I've considered some ideas, but they just haven't developed into anything. And, really, they're generally not worth the effort for me—they suck time and energy that can go into the novels and then sell at low paying markets. I'd really rather not make myself crazy with it.
That being said, I've sold "Into Stone" to Golden Visions (should still be online now), "Presence" to AnthologyBuilder, and "Gift of Writing" to Library of the Living Dead for an antho. I also had another acceptance, but in the end the editor released it when I questioned some of the editing despite a discussion over the process that would allow my input. I'm disappointed that the editor decided that his idea of editing was "what I say goes no matter what your concerns are". I've had that done before and pulled pieces over it or refused to sell a short over it. And, honestly, there were only two or three changes he made that I wouldn't accept as is—they changed the voice and focus in those places in ways I didn't like. The short will likely sell somewhere else. Another interesting note on that group of acceptances, it took "Gift" nine years to find a home. Persistence can pay off.
It's been a busy time in other ways as well: health, home, husband's education/job search (he found one!), but I think I'll avoid overwhelming readers with all that. I'm sure I've missed something here. Nine months is a lot of time to cover. Here's hoping it doesn't happen again any time soon.
The move is done. Journeys is officially in its new home.
Heroes of Ehlarayn, In Progress, Journeys, Personal Insights, Publishing Process, Short Stories, The Shunned
Still Having A Hard Time Getting Here
Yea, I know, what a title. lol
Anyway, despite having a problem doing regular updates on what is supposed to be the "official" author blog, things are going pretty good with the writing.
I was going to start the final polish (based on beta reader comments) on Assassin's Choice this week, but that's been moved to next week. A new reader popped up and will have it back to me by Wednesday. I have 2 other readers I'm waiting to hear from. If I don't by Wednesday, I plow forward anyway. I did do some work on the first chapter and submit during Dragonmoon Press's open submission recently, but it was rejected as expected. I'm pretty sure even if they liked it, 124k was just a bit daunting...and it was their preferred word count plus another 25%. I had to give it a shot, though. I would really like to be a part of DMP. ;)
Book 2, Quest For Ehlarayn, is moving along a bit more slowly. Until book 1 sells, making the Alden books a primary project doesn't make much sense, but I do want to get them done. So for now, they're my alternate projects and I work on them on the weekends. Really, way too slow for them since they're intense in terms of the amount of work they need to begin with, but a better use of time unless/until one of them sells and brings them to the forefront work wise.
I may write because I love to write and I have all these stories in my head, but I also want to be published. For the latter, you need to work on new projects until something sells. Fortunately, I have plenty of new something to keep me busy. ;)
The other major project right now is Blood Charms, and it's going much better now that I've freed myself to step outside of standard urban fantasy boundaries. I actually got to about chapter 7 while trying to stay rigidly in the genre, but I was getting less and less comfortable with it, and the crits weren't too enthusiastic. Scratched that, started over, let myself move inside and outside the boundaries of genre as I need to, and it's not only going better for me, but the crits are more positive as well.
The sort stuff, eh. Have been buried pretty deep in the novels, for one. And right now, with other issues going on in the personal life, time has become a little more pressing. It's been a lot harder to do as much. Strangely, the weekly word counts are still going okay, even without the revision words from A.C. Third, still only one sale for the year, so not encouraged to put more time into stuff that's not getting me anywhere and is costing me more than I'm earning. Still dabbling, still submitting, just not as invested in them. Honestly, novels are my best length. I've mastered the short story, and now...just don't need to keep torturing myself with it.
Am trying to get to some work on the author site, but that too seems to be one of those things I have a hard time with these days. Really do need to make some updates, but I suspect another move might be in the offing soon. NOT looking forward to that at all. But if things settle out at home, I might make a preemptive strike and move before the trouble I see brewing occurs. Besides, I'd rather have the site somewhere where I feel it's safe instead of someplace where I'm worried about it all the time.
And that's pretty much it. Maybe that's why I don't write here with overall updates much. all they are is writing and more writing with the occasional personal or web thing thrown in. Hopefully soon I'll have other exciting updates to share. ;)
Heroes of Ehlarayn, In Progress, Pushing Boundaries, Short Stories, The Shunned, Web Stuff
Good Weeks Rock
I know all this up energy I've gotten since freeing myself to focus on my writing will eventually be interrupted bad a bad day or two, but right now? Totally enjoying this energized, motivated, "this is what I should be doing" feeling.
And it shows.
This week, between new words and revisions, was a 13k week. I can't even begin to remember the last time I had a 10k week, much less a 13. Even days I have to run around and do domestic things like grocery shopping and picking up medications have been productive writing days. The Phoenix building draft is now over 51k, I just finished a new version of A.C.'s chapter 33 (two chapters combined, lots of cuts made, and not so much revisions as rewrites—it'll need another go before I do my v5 polish), and just finished the outline for a new project, Blood Charms. I've also been tinkering with a short, "Pretty Things" and submitted 2 others.
I think the personal changes are helping too. I wake up tired, do my workout (3 times a week), and have the energy to get to writing even if I woke up tired.
Next week, I'm bumping up my count goal to 1k/day and 6k/week. This is for new words, and I'll be sitting there for a bit until I'm sure the habit has reformed. Shouldn't take too long. I've already learned to do the new words first or my time gets eaten up by other things. I just have to remember not to forget Phoenix in the process of working on the new project.
And speaking of domestic duties...must run out and get milk and eggs. Writer or not, being a mom never ends. ;)
Flight of the Phoenix, Heroes of Ehlarayn, Rewards, Short Stories, The Shunned
A Few Quiet Weeks
Between personal stress at home, work, weather, and a few other things, not much work has been done on my own writing recently (note previous entry). However, I have finally reached the current halfway mark in Assassin's Choice in terms of chapter numbers. I may be past that in actual word count because there's a huge chunk towards the end of the book that may get cut. Phoenix Rising also got a nice, healthy word count addition this week--I now have a Friday buddy that I meet with to work on "alternate" projects. Hopefully meeting with her every week will help keep me on track with it.
In publication news, two of my short stories are now available on AnthologyBuilder.com: "In the Blood" and "Intended". One of them even received positive comments from the site editor. I need to update the site to reflect that, I suppose. ;)
There's little else to post about really. I'm ruminating a new Meta and considering writing a new article on critiquing (yea, like we all need another one--but this one comes from something I realized about the crits I receive and how I react to them). I'm still working on a short, and, yes, it's very odd for me to plod my way through a first draft of a short like this. I just finished a S. L. Veihl book and have one other novel and an omnibus lined up for me to read. For work, one manuscript has been returned to the author for round 2 edits, and the second manuscript is about done with round 1.
I did start trying out a new hard copy method for tracking my submissions. It's going to take a bit to get all the old stuff in the columnar book...and I may end up having to do it all over again because I'm not so sure I like it. I like the idea of a book and the information I'm trying to keep (in general), but the book is a bit...big. I'm thinking of making my own template then having it copied and bound at Staples. We'll see.
And...that's about it. Told you it's been quiet.
Flight of the Phoenix, Heroes of Ehlarayn, Life & Writing, Short Stories
Work In Progress 2008
We had a wonderful holiday, but I'm glad it's over. My oldest daughter and her family came down on Christmas Eve and spent a few days with is, middle daughter was over for the day with her boyfriend (who left right after we ate), and the kids father was out for about a week or so. The gift pile was just scary, even taking into account there were a lot of people doing the giving and a couple of extra people receiving. Not much writing done in December at all--just too busy. The kids went back to school on January 3, and I've spent most of this last week trying to catch up on a few things. But now it's time to get back into the groove...or to find a groove to get back into. ;)
My first priority is A.C., which I want done and out to beta readers by November. It's a late date, but I have the current v4/v5 combined revision I'm doing to finish, then some major changes for one of the characters to make in a v6 revision. I'm keeping a to do list for v6 as I work through v4/v5. Most of it is nit picky things, but I'm changing the race of a character (dropping the previous race completely out of the Alden world) and that will require some larger changes. I suspect beta readers will find places where I missed things. ;)
I'm also working on Phoenix Rising. The notes draft is going pretty well, but is minus notes and I suspect has some redundancy. I'll finish it, print it, make notations of what needs to be fixed, and revise the notes draft before moving on to the building draft. I need to work on world building for it (and A.C. as well). I've also got Stolen Priest out for me to look at, but it's a pretty low priority for me right now.
Nine shorts are in various stages of being worked on: "A Single Parent In A Married Relationship" (essay), "Blood Whispers" (Vampire), "The Reckoning" (SF), "Gift of Writing" (Supernatural), "Magda" (??), "Iris" (SF), "Rebuilding After Rejection" (Article; being updated), "Promises" (Vampire), and "Fairy Dragon" (brand new Fantasy). Most of these are in various stages of being revised, although "Fairy Dragon" is so new the rough isn't finished. Several are a couple of years old, which is my problem with shorts--they aren't a priority for me. They'll eventually get done; I'm just not one to impose deadlines on them since they tend to get pushed aside more frequently for other things.
The only other project to worry about is fixing Alden.nu. I tried to give it a start this morning, but there's a problem with the MT install, so I have to wait until the fella who handles the server gets back online to fix it for me. Alden.nu will take awhile to get back together anyway--most of the areas that have problems have to be restored page by page. That's a lot of pages to have to get back online.
Goals for 2008:
» 450,000 words
» Finish A.C. and get it out to whole book readers
» Finish Phoenix rough draft and revisions to v3
» at least 1 professional publication (no, I never learn)
» finish "Letters", "Single Parent", and "Blood Whispers"
» write 6 new shorts
» read 1 book a month
The only thing I'm worried about on that list is the 6 new shorts, but the rest should be quite manageable. :)
Goals & Progress, In Progress, Life Stuff, Novels, Short Stories
Yes, I've been gone for a bit. Went to Hawaii to spend time with the oldest and to see my grandbaby born. I got back March 8th, but have been pretty out of it. The time change didn't help any either. Still, some progress has been made, and now I'm pretty much ready to get back into the daily writing thing -- made easier by the fact that I'm taking a break from work. We don't know how long of a break yet. I don't want to go back to subbing, but don't know if not working will remain feasible for us, and it's not looking like a full time permanent position is coming my way any time soon.
So, in the mean time, I'm going to enjoy my writing time.
Finished: "Painted" Submitted it to F&SF. We'll see how it does. I have 2 other new stories in progress: "Iris" and "The Reckoning" plus all the old stuff that's still in progress. I'm not too sure about "Iris", but I do believe that "Painted" and "Reckoning" have a good chance of pro sales. I'm also still waiting to hear from Hitchcock's about "Cameo." I'm hoping the delay in response is a good sign.
Under A Blood Moon is moving along nicely. The notes draft is almost 40k, and I've already lined up a alpha reader. The timing will be good. She wants me to wait 3 weeks, which gives me a deadline for finishing the building draft. She can read it over with all its warts and comment on the story while I add the bits I need to to complete the rough draft, which is the next phase. I'm still enjoying it immensely, with the exception of the world building. I'm just not used to writing something where things are still so vague.
I've finally picked up Assassin's again as well. Because what I've been doing in terms of the revisions hasn't been working, I've dumped v4 and v5 (as far as each of them got -- no more than 10 chapters) and gone back to v3. I see some compromises in the language coming, but the goal is to reach something close to what I want without taking a week to a full month per chapter. Good thing this is my learning novel. Probably an even better thing that I'm determined to finish the sucker, publishable or not.
I'm alternating writing time with house cleanup. The husband and I have decided to go ahead and do some work on the house even if it is a rental, starting with a deep clean.
All of which makes this a busy, but exciting, time. I'm enjoying my time off.
In Progress, Novels, Short Stories
Through the Critiques
Awhile back on Meta, I wrote about how we authors respond to critiques and the attitude that I thought we should take with them. I rarely see a critique as harsh anymore, but I do often disagree with the comments made. As the author, that's my perogative. But those comments can get frustrating when you read them, then read them again when applying them to the story in question.
Early on, I found a way that allows me to take into account what I want to use from a crit without having to reread the comments that don't work for me. I use green, yellow, orange, and pick highlighters, and a black marker. As I read through the printed out crits the first time, I go through and mark them: green for good stuff, yellow for things to consider, orange for more serious issues or issues that are repeated, pink for must change (such as spelling, missing words, etc), I leave comments that don't really help or bother me alone, and I black out anything I don't find useful. When I go through the piece I'm working on, I highlight the portions readers have pointed out in blue and make notes in the margins (unless it is a mist change, then I make those changes). My final pass before typing up my changes is to go through the piece myself, highlighting in green and making changes that incorporates what I see the piece needing and anything in the reader comments that I think works. When I've made all the changes I want, I type them up.
It seems like an invloved process, but it's become pretty much second nature to me. It gives me time to think about the changes being suggested and allows me to skip over comments that aren't all that useful to me or that frustrate me for one reason or another. When I'm going through that second read to make notes on the piece in question, I have gotten in the habit of skipping everything that's not highlighted. And, yes, I do note the positive comments on the piece as well. We all need to know what's working. ;)
So, "Painted" has been marked with my reader comments and is now ready for my personal notes. This story is one of two recent shorts that I actually am rather excited about -- I think "Painted" and a short tentatively titled "The Reckoning" are two of my best short stories to date. "Reckoning" is soft SF, something I've actually played with before. But "Painted" is supposed to be Magical Realism, a genre I've always wanted to try, but haven't been too sure I could pull off. According to the crits, I did pretty good.
Process & Craft, Short Stories
I do tend to work on more at once than I should. In the past this has been particularly true of my novels. The problem has been that I'ma slow writer -- if I work only on one thing at a time, it would still take a long time for anything to be done, and that can be very frustrating. Nothing done feels like nothing accomplished. The fact that something is accomplished doesn't change how it feels. Then there are the issues with the ADHD. I'm easily distracted, have problems with finishing, and get bored quickly. Meds help, but they don't remove the symptoms. They do help with management, however.
Over the last few years, I've developed a management system that takes all this into account. It's been generally working pretty well for me. I work on one new Alden novel at all times. This is because I have more planned for Alden than any other series. But the writing for Alden is even slower than other writing, so I also work on one non-Alden novel. This second novel is my "weekend novel" -- it gives me a break from the harder to write Alden work without taking over my writing time. Shorts and poetry tend to go faster, but aren't as important to me as my novels, so I work on those on a more haphazard, as can bases.
My current works in progress . . .
Novels In Progress/Revision:
» Assassin's Choice - In Revisions
» Under A Blood Moon
» Stolen Priest (novelette) - In Revision
Assassin's Choice :: The novel I developed my novel plotting process with and the novel I've worked on the longest (because it took me 15 years to realize I can't write in an organic manner. Currently in process: revisions 4 & 5.
Chosen :: This is the first book in the series that actually started it all. I set it aside because I wanted to make sure I had the writing style for Alden down before I wrote it. Now i'm working on the building and rough drafts, which will be set aside and revised at some other time. Currently in process: the outline.
Under A Blood Moon :: The first Randi Kayde novel, inspired by another book (in the sense of "I can do better than this!"). This is my first attempt at anything in the Crime/Mystery genre (with a fantasy foundation, of course). Currently in process: the outline.
Stolen Priest :: I gave in to "fan" pressure and wrote thise novella for a favorite character in assassin's Choice -- Dimas. Currently in process: revision 3.
Shorts In Progress/Revision:
» "Ravani's Dance"
» "Gift of Writing"
» "Rebuilding After Rejection" *
» "He's not Broken"
» "Where the Power Lies" ^
» "The Lies of Power" ^
» "Fallen Kingdoms" ^
» "Sayia's Price" ^
» "Birth of the Phoenix" ^
^ = for an Alden anthology; * = published
» "Too Much"
» "For the Children"
» "She's Grown"
» "Worked Out"
» "A Political Statement"
» "Soured Meat"
» "My Season"
Poetry tends to sit the longest. It's also unusual for me to have so much at once as I'm not a big poet. In all honesty, novels seem to be my natural length. Shorts actually were quite a struggle to learn, but I did eventually get them down to some degree. Every now and then I still get a critique that says something to the order of, "this should be a novel." I generally resist the temptation. I have too many novels planned as it is.
In Progress, Novels, Short Stories
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