Thursday, January 17, 2019

Choices Choices

Have you ever had that special project you couldn't wait to get to work on? You know the one. It sits there calling to you, telling you how much fun it's going to be, how much of a difference it will make. It could be building a birdhouse with the kids, redesigning a room in your house, even just trying a new recipe. Something you thought about, prepared for, and now all you want is to jump in feet first. We all that the special thing that gets our hearts racing and can't wait for when we can get going on it. For me,  that special thing is writing.

Like most authors I have more books in my head than I will ever have time to write. Just sitting here right now I can think of six novels that are drafted and need to be edited / rewritten, three more that are in some stage of the first draft, three novellas that need to be completed before one of those novels can be released, and a total of four series I am somewhere between outlining and publishing. At the moment I am working to complete a series that is extremely emotional, serious, and personal. I don't expect them to become big sellers but the characters deserve their voices to be heard. Even if I knew only a handful of people would read them, I would still complete the series. At the same time, being such emotional subjects makes them difficult to write and puts me in a sort of funk. All of this combined with intriguing characters, plot lines, and a recent breakthrough for the series, I have a different project that I am just dying to sink my teeth into.

Right now, as mentioned above, I have four series I am working on. I have the Sharing Strength series which is the emotionally charged, PTSD based series I started years ago but am still slowly working to complete. My Voices series is half written and once the fourth book is done I will be doing a full series rewrite and edit in order to make sure everything flows correctly from beginning to end. This series is fun, has a killer playlist (no pun intended for those that know the premise of the series) and has been revealing at every stage of the process. My newest series has an unknown number of books and is in the murder / mystery category. It is the first fictional series I have tackled based here in my current home of Las Vegas and I am very excited to put my newly minted detective on the case.

None of those series compare, however, to my Syn series in terms of personal thrill. This is the first one I ever conceptualized as being a series. I had spoken to more authors than I can count about the benefits of writing a series to keep readers engaged and to develop a story and the characters into on ongoing adventure. I needed something with multiple parts to base a series on, and due to my own personal fascination, I decided on the seven deadly sins. I meditated (yes I meditate) and allowed the characters and the story to come to me. At first nothing happened. I thought I made a bad choice but then one day while driving back from a camping trip while my boyfriend slept in the passenger seat next to me, a voice spoke up inside my head.

Her name was Persyphone Syntel and she had a story for me. She spelled out the entire thing, beginning to end. That year I wanted to participate in Nanowrimo but I was working two jobs and fighting terrible health issues. Because of Persephone's insistence and clear storytelling I still managed to complete Nano and the first book in a seven book series. I put it on the shelf for later editing and there it has sat for far too long. Less than a week ago I had another shove from Persyphone, telling me something I desperately needed to know for the series and now I am so distracted by it I can barely focus on what my original writing plan was supposed to be.

In my mind I decided I would finish the Sharing Strength series, then the Voices series, then work back and forth on the Syn and Casino Murders series. Of course the characters have other plans and want me to work on the second half right now and just forget about the first two series. There are also some stand alone books sprinkled in there as well currently getting pushed aside. How to focus and actually complete things when the shiny new toy is always calling instead?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

To Team Or To Independent, That Is The Question

There are many things we like to think we can on our own and in many cases we are right. However, what if there is something you want to achieve but have no experience? Then the best idea can be to partner with someone that can help you learn the ropes. In my case, that was when I began publishing my debut novel almost 5 years ago.

I mentioned in the post yesterday that I had an instinct to not go through the Indie company because I didn't know anything about them. I expressed my concerns to them but they assured me they had ample experience in publishing and I would be working with a top notch team. Again as I mentioned before, the team was not exactly what I had hoped for. The editor missed typos and never mentioned the stiff dialogue. There was a minor plot hole no one mentioned and being my first novel I didn't catch it either. The cover was amateur at best and needed the most work. When I discovered the "publisher" was actually just a girl who went on the self publishing site Createspace and published my book instead of me I was furious.

It took quite awhile for me to create a plan of action but one of the first things I did, after addressing my issue with the two girls who formed the supposed company and had by this time plot up over what at the time speed like petty teenage differences of opinion, was to call Amazon and have the book unpublished. I have now taken the things I learned over the last few years and used them to revise the story, fixing the formatting and typing errors along with having someone I can trust fix the cover to make it something I am much more proud of.

Last night I updated everything and submitted it through KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing for my non author friends, and waited eagerly for the review process to be complete. This morning I got an email asking me to resubmit to prove I have the rights to the story. I immediately resubmitted the book and just a few minutes ago I got another email telling me I now need documentation proving I have the rights to my own book.

I am the author. I have always had the rights. However because I allowed another person to hit publish in the past I am now fighting with Amazon to prove I can publish my own book. I always recommend finding people you can learn from but like I mentioned previously, I had apprehensions about working with this group. I should have followed my instincts. Never ignore your gut feeling in situations involving things that are your work or reputation. This is now the third time I have discovered being involved with her was a problem and hopefully the last one I will have to spend hours fixing. Believe in yourself, your heart and mind will lead you in the right direction.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Revised Edition

I have seen posts from other authors on social media talking about when to stop editing. It's true, we could rewrite and edit to our heart's content and somehow with all that work we could still be unsatisfied with the finished product. There are always things we can find to change, tweak, or redo completely. As a whole, writers tend to be an insecure group. We are always trying to make everything perfect but the fact that we can't please everyone all the time is a difficult concept for us. Our work is a part of us and we are putting our heart and soul out there to be judged.

Sometimes, however, it is important to realize there are major changes needed. In my case it was my debut novel Never Give Up. I had started out submitting for a traditional publisher but after I received my umpteenth rejection letter I decided to look for another route. I joined a number of Facebook groups and started looking for suggestions when I saw a start up Indie company who was accepting submissions. I was so excited someone wanted to publish me I ignored my instincts and jumped at the chance to work with them. I allowed their editor to go through and suggest changes. They then created a cover and formatted the book for me.

Having never published anything before I was unaware of just how many problems the book possessed. The formatting contained double spacing and the wrong margins. There were typos and major issues with the dialogue. Even the cover wasn't done correctly. It was pixelated, the color was blurry and blended with the wording, and the font was wrong for the genre. It was something I had to take almost a year to handle both physically and emotionally.

I have now redone the cover and rewritten the story. It will be released once more in a few days and I am glad I had the opportunity to fix a number of the problems. I know given the chance I would just keep working to fix the problems I find but I think at some point we invent problems instead of face the possibility someone may not like our work. Fingers crossed when it releases it finds the same story acceptance it enjoyed before while also being something I can be proud of in style and quality.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Years Goals - Writing

As an author this seems like the most obvious set of goals. However most people would think my writing goals is simply a list of the books I want to write this year. While this is, in fact, a major part of the goals list, there is so much more to writing. While I have my list of books to write including Voices 3 and 4, Fish, and Crash, I also have to think about the editing, beta reading process, publishing, marketing, and signings.

While I am working on Fish I have to be thinking about the cover image. I already know what I want the cover of both Fish and Crash to look like to but there is still the issue of finding the images, having the covers made, fitting them to the books once the stories are formatted, and coming up with the synopsis for each. Voices is a 4 book series that is half drafted but I am intending to submit those books to a traditional publisher I met with at a writer's conference.

The traditionally published books need to be written and edited then submitted through the query process. The editing will need to be just as rigorous as what I put my Indie books through but I will also have to adhere to specific styles and word counts while going through the writing and final editing. I have another book I am planning to submit for a traditional publisher but it will be a different publisher and therefore I will be going through a different publisher and will be working with a literary agent. This book, The Last Piece, has been written but there is still going to be a rewrite as well as several edits before I begin sending out the queries.

Fish and Crash will both be written, edited, published, and promoted by me this year. They are additional books in the Sharing Strength series which will be complete once I get Combat completed I will begin the final rewrite on Sharing Strength and have my first series completed and available.

Along with these books I will be doing a full rewrite on my book Breathe and releasing it in the second half of the year. It should be available at the last major signing of 2019. I have five major signings along with a number of local events this year. I am a committee member for a group of local authors and will be handling some of the social media responsibilities along with booking more signings for us as the year progresses and will be looking forward to seeing the response to the new offerings I have to share. Writing does include writing the actual book, but there is so much more that makes this career choice so crazy. I love every minute of it.

Friday, December 28, 2018

New Years Goals - Reading

Several years ago I was scrolling through Facebook on a break at work. It was during the long week stretching between Christmas and New Years Eve. I came across a picture showing a list of categories  for a reading challenge. There were book categories like A Classic Romance, A Book Your Mother Loves, A Books With A One Word Title. Altogether there are fifty three books once you go through the entire list. I had been looking for a way to expand my reading horizons and thought this challenge would be a great way to branch out.

As an author I understand the importance of reading. Not only do I love to read in multiple genres, and have discovered authors through this challenge I had never considered before, but I also write in a number of genres which means I need to keep reaching out from both a reader and writer perspective. There have been a number of books I questioned choosing as I made my way through them. Judge me if you want but it turns out I am not a fan of the classics. Pride & Prejudice as well as The Count Of Monte Cristo both took forever for me to complete. I never was able to get into the story.

I never believed reading those books were a completely bad idea though. There were things I was able to learn from those stories including story flow and pacing that I can incorporate into my own writing. I keep trying to find new books and authors I can learn from and so every year I attempt the challenge again. I have yet to complete it. Last year I even added a number of writing craft related books on top of the fifty three books of the main challenge. I read fast enough to get through the entire list and still pick up a few books from authors I have enjoyed but there are some categories I struggle to get through as well as dealing with life getting in the way can make completion beyond my grasp.

I have already gone through the categories and cleared the books I was able to get through while adding in the new titles I intend to read in 2019. I am excited about the things I will learn this year and looking forward to sharing the books as I read them throughout the year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

New Years Goals - Fitness

I mentioned in the last post I was focusing on a number of different goals including reading, writing, fitness, and professional. I know it seems like some of these are less than author-like, but I think a big part of keeping my focus is staying well rounded. Today I have been going through the ultimate goals I have for fitness.

Originally I was planning to attempt my first Spartan Race obstacle course but all of the ones located in my part of the country happens to coincide with book signings I have already agreed to do. I am still looking forward to taking part in one in 2020 but I will be signing up for that before I set my signing schedule. I will be using the second half of this year to work on getting myself in shape to handle the obstacles as well.

Last year I ran in my first 10K and while I can honestly say I hate running as an activity, that particular race was one of the most fun events I have ever done. I also love the distance cycling events I have done in the past. I will be continuing to train for the 10K again as well as a few 5K events along with 4-5 cycling events and possibly a trail run during the course of 2019. These activities take time away from my writing and publishing but they allow me to keep my health the best it can be. It also gives me something I need for writing as well, time to let my mind drift and develop storylines organically.

When I run, and when I take out my bike, I always listen to music. I have a playlist I use when I am training because the songs are motivating and can keep pushing me when I am too tired to do one more lap at the track. When I am just exercising to get in shape and not training for anything in particular I listen to playlists specific to the book I am working on. That allows me to get lost in the feel of the book. I have also been known to let my kind wander while I swim at the gym. No matter what type of exercise I'm doing, it's nice to let my mind go and the story takes over.

I have learned I can't run or bike without music. My mind will not venture off to writing because I will only focus on my breathing, or lack thereof. My running friends have told me to just run without music and eventually I will be able to let my mind go but I think using the book playlists is the right way for me. As I make my checklist for the upcoming year I have included a weight loss goal, things like classes to try and flexibility / strength levels to achieve but most of all I am looking forward to seeing how the improvement in my physical abilities translates into improvements in my writing life.

Friday, December 21, 2018

New Years Goals

Yep. It's that time of year again. New Year's resolutions are upon us once more and as usual I am being less than traditional. I gave up on the resolution thing years ago. Instead I adopted the idea of making goals to work toward and accomplish throughout the year. I always have writing goals on my list and a reading challenge to attempt. There is usually a fitness goal or two and something to do with my professional life whether that be writing related as well or connected to the day job.

This year I will be attempting the trifecta once again as I tackle an aggressive publishing goal, work hard to achieve my fitness and competitive goals and look into making an addition to my working life as I return to my love of performing.

Writing this year, with any luck and determination, will see leaps and bounds as I move forward. My writing goals include drafting the 3rd and 4th books in my Voices series, drafting / editing / publishing the rest of my Sharing Strength series, revising my stand-alone novel Breathe, and outlining Sabrina which is the prequel to Never Give Up. On top of writing goals I will also be attending far more signings in the upcoming year so I need to make sure I am keeping up on my inventory levels as well as consistently releasing new books and staying on top of my packed schedule.

Fitness related goals this year involve making a dedicated effort in the gym so I can stay healthy as well as get in shape and stay in shape so I can enjoy the performing in my part time job (I love the theater), and being able to participate in more 5Ks, the 10K at the end of the year, and more biking events that I always enjoy. I had planned to try and compete in my first Spartan Race this coming year but all of the ones near me are during time I am already scheduled to do book signings so I will be focusing on my running and biking for now and start the obstacle training toward the end of the year.

I have made my reading challenge list for this year and I have to admit many of the books from this past year are still on there because I lost track of my reading in 2018. I am looking forward to the fresh start now and have already accumulated several of the books so I can get started on my reading and have reserved a number of others from the local library. As long as I can keep from losing my motivation I think 2019 will be a very productive year.