Thursday, November 8, 2018

Nanowrimo - Progress

When participating in Nanowrimo the target daily word count is 1667. I have fallen below that successfully everyday so far. As of yesterday I was only at the 4,000 mark. I am planning to get at least another thousand words written today before I go to sleep and will be up early tomorrow to write more but I still struggle to see how I will catch up to where I should be by the end of the day tomorrow (15,000 yikes!).

If I can get to at least the 10K mark and continue to add between 1,000 and 2,000 per day until next Friday then attempt to once again play catchup I may have a chance. This year is somehow quickly becoming the most difficult of all my attempts for Nano. I have overcome obstacles and issues in the past. I have only failed once and it was due to medical concerns but I am finding this year to be more difficult than any I have had in the past.

I know most would say it is because I have taken on too much. I am planning a holiday party which involves planning, baking, decoration making and setup. I need to update the event page on Facebook and get a better idea of how many people are coming. I need to shop for all items needed and being to assemble everything so I am ready to go when the time comes. That is a huge undertaking but one I could not be happier about at the moment. I also have fantastic help so it isn't like that project is being done alone.

I have three signings this month, two on the same day. (Yes I know, I suck at scheduling) One of those I am the point person for and I also have a meeting with the group in charge of two of those signings next Friday so part of my writing time will be dedicated to planning the signing for books already finished while I attempt to finish another. Speaking of events, I have the Marine Corp birthday party this Saturday. My boyfriend is a Marine veteran and I will be proudly attending the party with him as well as spending party of Veteran's day with him as well if I am not working. My work schedule plays into it a lot because I work 5 days per week and cannot write much on breaks and don't get a lunch so trying to add a quick thousand words there is nearly impossible. Not to mention there is no where for me to put my computer while I am working.

If, as I mentioned I am not working on Veteran's day I will be with him for parts of the day but I will also be running a 10K in the Rock N Roll Marathon series down the Las Vegas Strip then attending a friend's birthday cookout. There is just so much to do.

And yet, none of these stand out as the reason I am struggling to get caught up. I am struggling because this book is somehow not connecting with me the way the first two did and the way the fourth one already is. I know many things about the last book in the series but there are events that will transpire in book 3 that will set up book 4 and so I need to write this one first. The characters are just stifling me though. they give me the bare minimum and reveal practically nothing. But I am determined. I will find a way to break through. I am 4,000 down and only 46,000 left to go!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Nanowrimo - Day 5

Technically today is day 5 of the annual writing challenge Nanowrimo also known as NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. If you participate from the beginning to the end and only do the minimum for each day to reach the 50,000 word goal you would produce 1667 words per day and today you would cross off the first 8835 words. I am not there.

I am not even close to there. I am working on my first thousand words because I was unable to write the first 4 days. I have been brainstorming and am doing my best to at least reach somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 before I head off to my day job and will do my best to add at least as much before I go to bed tonight. I have never been one to follow the amount for the day and with the exception of last year when battling two jobs and some major health issues, I have also never been one to quit.

My first year I worked on a story I had kept inside for nearly a decade. It was great to have the push of the words count updater and doing the online groups to keep me motivated. The second year I didn't have any ideas of what to write. I didn't make the decision to participate until November 8th officially and by then I searched through a folder of writing snippets I jot down to use from time to time and found a short story I wanted to extend into a full length novel. I managed to finish with a few days to spare although it has present ed trouble for me in the editing and rewrite process and is still collecting dust on my shelf.

The next year I was working on the first book in a series. I had been driving back from a camping trip and was so connected with the main character she took control of me and told me the entire outline of the first book. It was so intense I had to pull over for lunch and write it all out on napkins. That was in the middle of the summer and I was chomping at the bit all autumn until November 1st to get to work on that story. The last two years I participated I ave worked on books 1 and 2 in my voices series. Last year I attempted to do book 3 but as I mentioned there were reasons I couldn't. This year I am doing tok 3 instead. With any luck I will complete book 4 when Nanowrimo is done and the series will be complete.

I know people who as sticklers for doing the word count for the day, starting on time, and not venturing outside the parameters much at all but there are a number of ways to be successful and even if you don't hit 50,000 words by the end of the month and instead only get to 30,000 or so that is still so much further than you started out. it is about being passionate and dedicated and celebrating any successes you accomplish.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Nano Prep

Last year I sat down and declared my novel for the annual Nanowrimo challenge. I planned to work on the third book in my Voices series but working everyday between my two jobs, trying to keep up with family and personal obligations and dealing with my struggling health made it an impossible venture. It was the first time I have ever had to pull out of participating and it was something I thought long and hard about before officially deciding. However, in the end, I knew it was the best move for me to make.

I write outside of the Nanowrimo challenge. I will admit I do not find time to focus on writing as much as I would like other than during November, but I do work on it from time to time. It had been my intention to get past the health issues and get down to one job and then go back to write book three so I could begin working on the rewrites and edits for the trilogy that I believed the Voices series to be. The health issues continued unfortunately and I wasn't able to get down to one job until June of this year. Even then I was battling some health concerns though those have mostly cleared up now.

So this year as I was considering if I wanted to attempt it again I talked it over with my boyfriend who is one of the major sounding boards for everything I do. We talked about some of the things I have been doing to improve my health such as training for a 10K and riding in a charity bike ride, both of which I will be taking part in over the next two weeks. It is something I need to continue doing in order to keep my health on an upward trajectory. So that is a time concern to be take into consideration, not only do I need to set aside the time for the run (one day) and time for the ride (3 days to get to and from California) as well as making time in the mornings to get to the gym in order to stay healthier.

The next thing to think about is the three signings I need to make time for. Two of the signings are on the same day which is one less day to take away from writing but it makes for one long and full day. I am also preparing for a holiday party I will be hosting for the Las Vegas authors the day after Nanowrimo officially ends. I will be baking all of the desserts (19 of them) and making the decorations / putting them up in the front and back yards plus throughout my house. So all of those things are more items I need to have in my calendar along with the five days a week I work. Writing this month was starting to feel impossible.

Yet when we talked it over he mentioned me has seen me complete Nano when I didn't start until November 9th and had no idea what I was going to work on. He has seen me complete a novel while working two different jobs and pulling back to back doubles. He knows it is a passion and he has faith I can do it. Not only does he believe in me and how much I love writing but he knows it is an escape for me. When all those other things make me feel overwhelmed and I start getting emotional or frustrated it is a way for me to clear my mind and focus on something I enjoy.

I know the story I will be working on. I have the basic idea and know the ending I am working toward. I now know there is a fourth book that is the actual end of the series but I am excited to get into book three and hopefully when I am done I can jump right into the last book and finish the first full series I have ever written. Bring on Nanowrimo 2018, I am ready!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Two Different Sides

Ok, ok, I know, I've been gone a while. Close to a month, I know, please don't throw things at me. I have been busy with writing stuff I swear. I finished the editing and publishing work for my latest book Just Deal With It which was an adventure and a half. I have also been working hard to set up a launch party for it. In Vegas that can be a challenge. There are so many things happening all the time that you want to find a time and place that will have people but not have to battle a full social schedule in order to find a time to do it.

I managed to find a weekend that wasn't fighting Labor Day, other book signings, still close enough to the publish date to be relevant, and gives me time to work hard on the other book I am releasing this year, Fish. Fish will be out in mid-October and while I am excited to share another of my Sharing Strength characters, this book is hard to write.

Just Deal With It is a fun and funny group of stories form my experiences over the last 8 years as a dealer working here in Las Vegas. The casino world is definitely one I could never compare to anything else and the people watching is second to none. People bugged me for years to either do an open mic night and tell stories about the crazy things I have seen or write a book so others can get a taste of what my "day job" is really like. As a writer I decided the latter was the way to go. That isn't to say I won't myself with a mic in my hands eventually as well though.

Fish on the other hand is a labor of love because it is difficult to write, discuss, or even describe. I can say the theme is extremely relevant in today's society right now, sexual assault. The main character is a sweet, innocent girl who is always there for her friends and never wants to let anyone down. She is from a strict, sheltered household with parents who do not always approve of their daughter's friends because some are more "fast life" than Rachel. When a rape happens the entire world turns upside down for Rachel and her friends as moving forward seems impossible.

Minor topics in the book also include bullying and high school society as a whole but the center of the book is dealing with the sexual assault. I have openly discussed in the past that I am a domestic abuse survivor but I do not talk about the times I was raped often. They were a result of the mental state was lived in after my abuse and while I am using much of the emotion I experienced while working on Fish the story is completely fictional. Rachel is a part of me and I'm a part of her so I cradle her in a loving embrace in my mind. Sharing this story will be painful and emotional but it is a topic we need to be talking about so I want my sweet Rachel to stand tall and do what she needs to do in order to lend her voice to such a painful subject.

Now if I can just make the mental switch from the fun and laughs of Just Deal With It and get focused I can get Rachel off to the editor and back to work on the Voices series.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Pushing Through

Today I finished the final edits and formatting for my book Just Deal With It. The book is all about the town I live in, Las Vegas, from the casino dealer's point of view. Everyday when I go to my day job there are things I am sure to hear. From "Are you the cooler?" to "Winner winner, chicken dinner!" and of course "You're killin' me smalls", somethings are a given. I always like to share some of the experiences I have had doing one of the most fun jobs I have ever worked.

A few years ago I was joking around with another dealer as I walked out to my car after my shift. She asked if I ever thought about writing a book about the things I have seen while working in a casino. The truth at the time was that I had never considered doing so. I just enjoyed making people laugh with my random stories. I remember looking at her and rolling my eyes saying, "Oh yeah what a great idea! I could call it Just Deal With It and we could all have a good laugh at the inside joke." She turned to me after pushing the elevator button smiling.

She waited until we were almost to the top then asked when I would be publishing it. I laughed not realizing she meant it. It would be over a year before the idea would find any friction in my mind. While attending the San Diego State University Writers Conference I was again telling the tales of the casino to make people laugh. An agent overheard me and asked for an exclusive first read of the book I was pitching. What followed was an amusing twenty minute discussion about how he could possibly read something I was;t actually writing. He convinced me to think about it and gave me his card and a deadline, should I decide to follow through.

The next part was frustrating. Another dealer, whom I considered one of my best friends, has always had the dream of being published. I went to him to ask if he would consider co-authoring the book with me. He was ecstatic. We began working on ideas and layouts immediately but as time went on nothing came from his side. I missed the deadline waiting to see what wonderful stories he would include. After a year of pushing and getting nowhere I had to face reality, it was all on me.  That meant the book would be shorter than I originally planned but I was ok with that. I would still make it as fun as I could and share the stories I had always seen bring a smile to people's faces.

In the next few days I will be uploading the manuscript for publishing and the official release date is set for August 26th. It is the anniversary of the day I left my previous work for the casino I have called home for the past six years.  I cannot wait to introduce people to my world in a more meaningful and entertaining way. It was a journey to get here but well worth every step.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sharing Rachel

Last night as I was driving home from work I started thinking about why I am struggling so much when working on Fish, the book I will be releasing in October.  I know the main points of the story and the dialogue will flow as it should when I get to those points in the story. I have a playlist set up for the novel Sharing Strength and Fish is simply the novella prequel to Sharing Strength so everything seems to be in order. So why is it so damn hard?

For one thing, Rachel is not the main character in Sharing Strength. She is important. I would even go so far as to say her role in the book is vital to the story. However, she is not the main focus. The playlist is for overall mood and leaning more toward the main characters Kyle and Jasmine. Ok, understanding that I thought about Rachel and came up with several songs that work specifically for her. Now she has her own playlist. Things should be easier, but they aren't.

Rachel doesn't have the easiest time in Sharing Strength. Her trials and tribulations are emotional and at times painful. She is that character that tugs at my heart strings and knowing everything she deals with in the novel I wanted to give her some dignity in her novella. The problem is, the prequel is the book that explains how she became the person she is in Sharing Strength. I have to put her through even more to get her to the point she is at the beginning to the novel. I cry for her because of everything about her. Her age, just sixteen almost seventeen years old. She is struggling with her parents, her friends, even her teammates on the swim team have a tendency to make things difficult for her at different points. She has been sheltered and so when adversity arises she has no idea how to handle it.

She comes from a strict upbringing with the focus on religion. She is the epitome of a "goody two-shoes" and holds onto that even when rumors and bullying start to make her appear otherwise. Rachel is someone who fights to prove she is the person she says she is but every time she falls down it gets a little harder to get back up. She doesn't want to give up. She wants to heal from every time she has fallen, been kicked down or thrown, she is just having trouble finding that hand to help stand her up and dust her off when she needs it.

Fish is the second novella in the Sharing Strength series but because Survivor was based on a true story and only parts of Rachel's personality and experience come from a real person it is more difficult to write. I know she will step up and share the story if for no other reason than she wants to help, even if it is as a fictional character reaching out to a world beyond her own.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Newsletters

Last week I watched a webinar about book marketing. There were a few things I already knew but a few tweaks I could make to existing strategies which may improve visibility and sales. One thing mentioned repeatedly was newsletters. Using them, and doing so effectively, can be a major difference in your marketing effectiveness. I have chosen to look at newsletters from both sides, as a creator and as a subscriber.

I do have several I personally subscribe to that cover everything from cover art designs and writing programs to simply reading about what other authors are releasing or giveaways they are doing. It is a fantastic learning experience to see what authors similar to myself are doing along with ways I may be able to make those ideas more personal for my work. Because of this I have a huge influx of information everyday. I have fallen behind but for the sake of getting my writing career back on track I will be going through all of the emails this week, taking note of the newsletters I find value in and getting rid of ones doing nothing more than pushing products or services I don't see myself using.

The goal is to not only be caught up but using the information I gain each week as I go through the new emails. I want to find a way to connect with the information most useful for my writing then customize the marketing strategies and hopefully share my experience with other beginners like myself.

From a creator's point of view I am working to find what information to include, what is just filler, how to make it personal and fun, and of course how to track the effectiveness the letters. The webinar discussed ways to grow your subscriber list as well as how to include a pieces of information to help the reader know you and make it more personal for them at the same time. I have sent a few basic email newsletters but armed with this new information I am hoping to switch to a new service in the next month or so and begin to improve my reach so I may begin to see a growth in my writing as a business.

Part of that growth will come also from understanding the market so as I go through my current subscriptions I will begin deleting ones that not only hold no helpful information but will replace them with newsletters and blogs by authors in my genres and more closely related to my personal goals. As I continue to learn more I will be sharing the trials and triumphs here. Also if any of my readers have things they would like to see included or other authors have advice I would welcome any contributions to be considered.