A New Year, IWSG…And Some Sort of Plan

Today was spent doing two things I love: being in pajamas and watching Parks & Rec. I did start off by writing, but I’m going through the second draft of my second book *really* quickly and it’s making me nervous, so I figured I’d stray away from the computer and watch early Chris Pratt and laugh at (one of my heroes) Amy Poehler. Not a bad way to start 2018.

Of course, one of our water pumps broke during the night and Batman was super not happy having to go out in sludgy, wet (feels like) below frozen temperature to do something with the pipes. I really have no idea. My chores include laundry and keeping the house up to a clean-enough level for livability. But apparently, we can’t do anything that involves major washing and a freeze is supposed to come through on Thursday so that put everything in a really positive mood for the new year. Hence Parks & Rec.

But I did carve out two hours to sit and work on 1.) this amazing blog post and 2) more of BTN. I’d like to say I took the whole day off from writing, but those days are few and far between and I always end up feeling kind of bad about myself when I do, except when I absolutely can’t write, like when I’m at Disney or on an awesome vacation. Today, unfortunately, is not one of those days, so let’s get to that question for IWSG:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

A plan would be nice, wouldn’t it? I’ve been kind of doing my own thing, which is a nice way of saying I don’t know what I’m doing. At all. The only part that I’m comfortable with is the actual writing part – and that sometimes is too much too. Forget marketing. Forget putting together any sort of plan or schedule to get things done in the smartest way possible. My current strategy is: write something awesome and when I think it can’t get any more awesome, make it available to others. Super cutting-edge—I know—but it’s all I’ve got.

So. 2018…this needs to be the year of change. The year I maybe do a little more to get my work out there. At the New Year’s Eve party last night, fabulous Shelby again raved about my books and told me I don’t give myself enough credit. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I’ve been doing no marketing because I don’t think my books are good enough, so I subconsciously don’t want people to read them. I don’t know. It’s just a guess. But if I’m going to be in this business (and I really want to) I need to treat it like a business. I need to be doing more. I need a plan.

And it’s coming together nicely 🙂

What about you? Do you have a plan? Do you think your writing is good enough to be marketed?

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

Goals and Things

First off, let me start by wishing you a Merry Christmas! /Happy Hanukah! /Happy Festivus! /Merry Kwanza! /Happy Holidays! (Did I cover everyone? I hope so.)

How were the holidays for you? I hope you didn’t kill anybody and that you had plenty of excuses to escape from your relatives. I won the lottery by catching the plague a day before my four-day break, so it’s been lots of drugs, coughing all night, a full body ache and a constant battle with an evil sea-bitch to use my voice. (I totally won, but it hurt like a mother every time). Other than that, I had a marvelous time 😊 I hope you had a good time with your family or friends or whomever you chose to share your holiday with, even if it was just yourself. 😊

Okay, so apparently 2018 is already knocking which is good because Januarys are typically a great time for new beginnings (although October also seems to work) and I’d like to make some changes. Some of them are health wise: not be such an Oreo fatty and be more active with Appa. Like, actually exercise with him and Batman instead of watching Appa exercise while Batman and I eat junk-food. So, big one right there. Other things I want to change include my bank account and the email Bank of America sends me every week to make sure—in case I somehow missed it—that I’m pretty much broke from Sunday to Thursday. But, I’d also like to take positive strives in my writing.

So, here we go, 2018 writing thing I’d like to change:

Main Goal:

  • Maybe not be so terrible at marketing

That’s right. ‘Not Be So Terrible At Marketing’ shall be the numero uno goal of 2018. I’m fully expecting to still suck at it, but I’m hoping to have more failures under my belt which means more things I’ve tried which is more than I’m doing now (which is nothing.) Aiming for *slightly* more ripples than the still water I’m standing in. Goals!

How do I do that?

Realistic (and more specific) Goals:

  • Keep up with the Wednesday posts. Seems reasonable.
  • Maybe put up a video once or twice a month. Not sure what the content would consist of other than me being my wonderful fabulous self and talking about writing and life and things (oh, and promoting my new series—obvi) That could work. I hear people like vlogs and I’m not totally Quasimoding-it, so maybe I’ll try that.
  • Start a newsletter. I probably should’ve had one of these for a while now, but I haven’t. I have no excuse other than I just haven’t. Like the vlog, I’m not sure what I would say other than talk about the series, my work and maybe something to do with the craft of writing. I’m just weird with commitments, but I guess by this point, I’m pretty committed (but shouldn’t be committed. Big difference.)
  • Make friends with/support other Indies. I’ve kind of backed off a bit for no other reason than that I’m using the time to write. Or to not be on my phone. But I did enjoy meeting other indie authors (shout out to BookBorn and IWSG!) and I need to get back into it. It’s mutually beneficial and there’s so much to learn from each other.

There are other things I could/should probably list here, but I’m being realistic with myself. If I pack too much on, it’ll seem unattainable and scary and I’ll look the other way and grab Oreos and cry. Because that’s what I do. So. Yeah. Small steps equate to large steps equate to things actually happening.

P.S. I sent BTT to a few BETAs! Yay! Would you like to BETA read my latest YA contemporary romance featuring a musician (the answer is yes)? If so, please reach out to me! I’d love to get a few more opinions 🙂

P. P. S. My books are free on Smashwords until January 1st. This is another me doing something. Telling you I enrolled in a giveaway. So, if you’re at all curious about my books but can’t afford the monetary risk (which hey—I get! Ms. Betty Broke over here) you can check them out for totally free (use coupon EY100. And there are *bunches* of other good books to discover as well!

P.P. P. S. I have to share some pictures of Appa because I don’t think people realize the CUTENESS level of my baby 😊 And I haven’t posted lots of pictures of him recently… so here you go.

Loves the window down car ride.

Who’s handsome?

I’m a sexy bitch.

My view from the computer.

 

P.P.P.P.S. Reasons I love Batman: he knows things like what P.S. stands for so I know which letter to multiply. (Does that make me stupid that I didn’t know that? I don’t care. I love that he’s so smart.)

Not Quite A Query

This post had, like, a bunch of different starts. There was kind of a depressing one, and then a sad/disappointed version (thanks, FCC) and then one centered around our work Christmas party. Don’t we look cute?

My love of Home Alone. His love of Seinfeld.

But I think I’m going to keep it writing-based. BTT: I’m officially sick of it. Someone, please, take it from me. Take it and (hopefully) enjoy it and tell me what I need to do to make it better. Because, like most Disney movies from the 90s, I have every word memorized. (Not a good thing.)

So, to keep from further eye-twitching, I’ve decided to focus on writing the info part—because that still isn’t done yet. I’m not really sure when we’re supposed to be writing the query, besides right before we query, but I should probably have one on standby, right? For like, BETA readers who want to know what the book they’re agreeing to read is about. I scribbled this down at work today:

“After what happened three years ago, Autumn Sommers knows to avoid Alex Wolf. But when a school assignment brings them together, she’ll be forced to move beyond their past—with the one person who can’t seem to forget it.”

Stupid, right? And kind of vague.

It’s a first draft, people. Seriously, this part is sometimes even worse than the actual writing. Because you’re writing about something that you know EVERYTHING about, so it’s hard not to want to say absolutely EVERYTHING that happens. I mean, how do you take this ginormous adventure and squeeze it into a few sentences? It feels damn impossible. But you’re supposed to do it. And if that wasn’t fun enough, you have to make yours so *amazingly* seductive that it’ll pull average Joe Schmoe reader from someone else’s book to yours.

So now we ask ourselves: what’s the most exciting/important things that the reader needs to know? For me, personally, it’s the ‘incident’ that happened—you guessed it—three years before. Then it’s the fact that my protags are being forced together. The tricky thing is that the conflict doesn’t necessarily center around the ‘incident’ – not entirely. It exists in the background, but I’m unsure how to describe the other events by saying “this happened” and “that happened.” No one cares what happens. They only care if you make them care and the only way to do that is to hook them in. So… let’s try this:

“If she could, Autumn Sommers would forget that day on the bus. But since she sees Alex Wolf at school, she can’t. Now, after three years without talking, the two have been paired on a class assignment. How will she get the A she needs when she’s partnered with the only boy who refuses to talk to her?”

A little better, but not by much. I’m telling you guys, THIS is the real fun part. For all of your readers and *super non-writers* THIS is the part that makes us want to scratch out our eyeballs and pick up the bottle because OH MY GOD DOES THIS PART SUCK. And this isn’t even the query, folks. It’s just the hook paragraph. That sum-up (I’m totally forgetting the technical name), that few sentences that make you want to buy the book.

But I shan’t give up!

Attempt Number Three:

“If she could, Autumn Sommers would undo that day on the bus. Then Alex Wolf wouldn’t glare at her all the time, and they might actually be friends. Now that they’ve been paired on a school project, Autumn will need to forget about what happened three years earlier and hope Alex does the same. But neither one expects what comes next.”

Eureka! Still needs to be reworked a bit, but at least we’re onto something. 😊 At least there’s potential!

Alright, I’m off to go reread some more of what I’ve written for Book 2, which isn’t totally terrible. I’m excited by this, guys. I am. So I’m going to hold onto this feeling as long as I can. What is it called again – hope? Yeah. I think it’s hope. Hope this may actually be something.

Maybe.

Don’t Stop Believing

I actually had something really cool happen recently 😊

So, the series I’m known for *cough the only one I’ve written cough* (and displayed here on the right panel for your viewing pleasure) is my Sci-fi Romance thing that I haven’t touched in—eh—maybe a year. The fourth book was published in 2016 and I still haven’t written a word of the fifth and final one (sorry Batman, Jolene, and now Shelby). I’m telling you all of this because I’ve been so wrapped up with BTT that I kind of forget about pushing the series, so when a mutual friend discovered that yours truly pens fiction, she bought them—and has been texting about them non stop 😉

I know that sounds like, who cares, right? GUYS. When someone is consistently gushing over something YOU did, asking questions, making predictions and overall pulsing with excitement, it’s great. It’s like, validating. Like, maybe I don’t totally suck at this writing thing. Maybe. (Probably still do, but it’s nice to have someone disagree.)

Second cool thing? That sad, sad little 0 units sold record I had going was SHATTERED with 4 sold units. Yeah. Four! All to the same person, but still. Someone is PAYING to read my stuff. IS there anything cooler than that? (The answer is no, by the way. No, nothing is cooler.)

*HAPPY DANCE ENSUES*

Seriously. I’ve been so caught up in loving/hating BTT and wondering at what point do I stop torturing myself with the same few paragraphs and finally shove it into someone else’s hands that I’ve completely put my main project, Arizal Wars, on the back-burner (for like, a long time now. Probably too long).

I started writing it in 2011 and needed a break around 2015, when I wrote Rozmarie & Josiah. I had one (semi) fan ask about the fourth book and I got right back to it. After that, it’s been all BTT, developing this series since I couldn’t stop writing it, but I need to get back to my first one—my baby—and finish the fifth and final book.

If someone could just give me endless time or the winning lottery ticket, I promise only to use it on provisions so I can keep surviving long enough to do all the creative projects I want. Okay? Please? Genies and fairy godmothers are also welcome. Nothing shady, people.

ALMOST There, IWSG

I’ve started spot-reading the last version of BTT. Big deal, guys. BIG deal.

So, I finished reviewing my latest draft in record time (Yay!) which means it’s onto the next phase: spot-reading. Picking an arbitrary passage and just reading it from there. Not worrying about what came before or what comes after, but paying attention to how the section reads. How it sounds. If it sounds polished or if it sounds like it’s writing. And guys, *so* many times I find that my writing sounds like writing during these spot checks. It’s embarrassing. To be this far and still hear my ‘writing’ voice and not my ‘reading’ voice. But that’s why we go mad reviewing our work—we always find ways to improve it.

Since I’m planning to show this thing to people sometime soon, I have to make it as polished as possible. Even if that means starting to hate the thing because I’ve read it so many times that I know the damn thing by heart. That’s when you know you need to push it away and work on something else for a while (like when I took a break to write the second book) because you go cross-eyed reading the same passage for the forty seventh time and then wonder if, maybe on second thought, the thirty fourth version might have been better.

I’m hoping to get this out of my hands—and into others—by the new year. I started a tradition of doing my resolutions in October (and apparently it works because I haven’t missed a single post since then) but I know everyone will be more focused once the holidays are behind us. It’ll give them less of a stress on time and me a bit more opportunity to hunt down all the ‘writing-sounding’ passages and rework them.

December’s Optional IWSG question!

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I don’t think anything. I worked my butt off on this (and other) projects and yeah, if I had limitless hours, I would’ve submitted to a few contests. But I made the most of the time I had working on a project I love. Why would I change that? 🙂

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

This is Me Doing Things

You know how sometimes you read your stuff and you’re like, God, this is so stupid?

*Smacks head against keyboard*

*gets drink from kitchen*

*puts drink back because hangovers are evil*

*stares at the computer*

*questions life choices*

*eats Oreos*

*watches HGTV*

I’m at this part of the cycle when I can either go forward or stop. Stopping doesn’t seem to do anyone any good so I might as well keep going even though I’m pretty sure the whole thing is crap. I know it isn’t, but parts of it are and I’m focused on them.  Also: this is my first contemporary YA romance which means the structure is extremely different than the sci-fi/fantasy I’ve written. Those have tons of action while this piece moves at a slower pace and now I’m questioning it’s boring-level. There are no monsters, evil dictators, spies, or wild centuries-long secrets that come to fruition. It’s just (mostly) two people in a strange situation that find love.

Which is like, every YA story minus the love-triangle and the exciting dystopian/paranormal background. I’m not even sure why I wrote it. I didn’t intend to. I was actually starting to write this really awesome fantasy thing (and will probably still) but I kept switching documents to write this other thing and somehow I’ve got it fully fleshed. I don’t think I was even planning to show it to anybody. But it’s two years later and now I am and I’m at that shit-yourself-stage because it’s so unlike what I’ve written and I’m terrified that it’s stupid/boring/lame/just like everything else out there.

But I’m going to do it, guys. I’m going to look for some BETAs  soon and just do it. I could totally not, leave it on the computer and be done with the thing, but where’s the fun in that? As terrifying as this part is in the process, I’ll feel like a real tool if I did all the work up until this point to just stop now.  Carpe Diem, right? Life is made for us to do things.

So I’m doing things.

All About That WIP

This is a writing post! 😊

Sorry—not doing Nano but I applaud and commend and totally admire you number-fetish freaks out there taking on this crazy and intense challenge! Bravo! I am sticking to my usual 7:30-9:00 writing slot. I wish I had more time, but alas, my never-ending-energy-dog demands constant attention and with him, my boyfriend who wants to know what I’m doing in here. (He knows. He’s just lonely, which makes me sad and so I stick to my strict stop-writing-at-9:00 rule so that everyone in the family has adequate attention. *Cough *Appa* Cough *Batman*)

But back to writing! Yes. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately and I figured I should share some updates with those of you interested in how the process works. How my process works, at least.

Okay, so I’m on official edit/revision 5. That means that this is the FIFTH draft I’m comfortable with saying I’ve re-worked. There were two or three previous drafts—the ‘inceptions’ I call them. That’s when the story was first forming and there were different conflicts and names… almost like it was a whole different book. BUT it isn’t! That’s what I want to scream at baby Pansters to understand. Even if something drastic changes, it super doesn’t matter. Things will always change and typically for the better. So, I’m really on my like, seventh or eighth draft and I’m finally getting there. To a place where I wouldn’t mind someone else reading it. This is the part when plot and conflict and every other piece is present and accounted for, so I’m paying attention to sentence structure. How am I going to make it sound?

I’m at the sound part, guys. The SOUND PART. Big deal. That means all the big stuff is taken care of and all I’m focused on is the sentence structure. So… after this draft, the WIP will be in the ready-for-someone-to-read stage. AKA: the shit-yourself stage.

*my least favorite*

Life of a writer, am I right?

P.S. Posting once a week isn’t terrible, although Wednesday seems to come around really quickly. I don’t get how people do this multiple times a week. And have a job. And have a significant other/dog/both AND have an actual WIP to get done AND have a social life. I’m tired just thinking about you.