Friday, October 26, 2018

NaNo Prep: Do you even NaNo, bro?

It is that time of year again!

No, not Halloween, though that's cool. Not pre-Turkey Day or pre-pre-whatever wintry holiday is on your calendar. I'm talking about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.

'Tis the season for writing hundreds and thousands of words each day. It is a serious challenge - there's a reason we only do this once a year - but it does have a purpose. Getting ready for the challenge is only the first step, but it is an important step.

Why Should You NaNo?

Having a writing challenge is a great way to push through a writing slump. Or to get that first novel finished. Or get the latest novel finished. Or to get another work done for your backlist. Whatever the WIP, the result is the same - you have a built-in challenge and support system for getting it done.

And the support system is great. Even if you aren't writing a novel. You can find a group in the forums who write poems, comics/graphic novels, screenplays. You can find people who are writing children's books, novellas, collections of short stories.

If you are a student, there's a group for that. If you are a parent, there's a group for that. If you are an older author, there's a group for that. If you are a young author, there's a group for that.

Prefer tea over coffee for your liquid stimulant? Group. Want to write a western fantasy? Group. Live in Antarctica? Group.

Any issue you might have with time, with life, with plot or characterization, you can find others who are going through something similar. So get your writing on and join me!

NaNo Prep

Whether you are a pantser or a planner (like me), you might need to do some NaNo Prep. It could be getting the title and general idea nailed down in your head. It could be a full outline.

Here are some other ideas:

  1. Research for that historical or other setting you have in mind.
  2. Plan a murder... you know, that one in your story.
  3. Get some snackies to stash for quick energy when you are in the zone and don't want to stop for lunch/supper/midnight pizza run.
  4. Make sure you are stocked up on your fav drink.
  5. Create a vision board with pics of buildings, characters, and/or scenes.
  6. Make a playlist for your writing.
  7. Learn how to shut off your computer's internet. Also, the easiest way to mute your phone.
  8. Plan meals - especially important if you have kids and a hubby who expect you to do stuff during NaNo. Planning meals will streamline grocery shopping, and you'll always know what meat to defrost for supper. #Winning
  9. Make plans for family events, such as Thanksgiving, before the writing starts.
  10. Have fun!

Rock it!

Don't forget to enjoy the process! Join groups, get into word sprints, go to write ins, and get that 50k on the paper/screen. This is about achievement, not "doing it right" by someone else's standards.

Just get it written.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Code-Switching in Writing

Code-switching is a term often used in liberal circles to describe how (usually) minorities change the way they communicate in their own communities versus mainstream situations. In this case, I am using code-switching in its broader definition: the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation.

People use code-switching all the time in their lives - you don't use the same words, jargon, slang, etc. when you are talking to your friends, your family, or in a business situation. Sometimes, it's about fitting in with a group. Sometimes, it's a matter of how easy it is to communicate. Sometimes, it's even for emphasis. Capische?

But what does this have to do with writing?

Writers can code-switch, too, not just by using slang or other language words, but also by choosing how formal they are with grammar and colloquial phrasing, or even using a specific vernacular.

It's like, you gotta have a kinda voice when you talkin' to casual peeps or they get all up in your face 'bout how snotty you come across.

Alternatively, certain personages require a level of formality and adherence to formal grammatical practices that are often--but not always--agreed upon. Sadly, the assumption of the universality of these grammatical rules is not quite factual.

Right-o. There's some things that are seen as being more common then they really are. People have some wack perspectives about what's right and wrong, or correct and incorrect. And, most of the time, it doesn't even matter, except for how you want to come across, which is completely dependent on your audience, not some style book.

However, don't be fooled into thinking that less formal means less structured. There are now classes people can take to go over the very real and firm rules around African American Vernacular English (formerly known as Ebonics). Another fascinating dialect with similar characteristics to AAVE is Creole in the New Orleans area.

It is important to note that code-switching often involves using English that will make style-strict editors twitch. A good editor will acknowledge the code-switching involved in writing particular genres and with character POVs. If you are writing urban fiction, you probably don't want to use a formal (read: white, European, upper-class, historical) format. If you are writing high fantasy with royalty and ancient secret societies of wizards, etc, you will want a more formal writing style.

However, you also want to skew your non-dialog prose towards the formality level your target audience is familiar with. I recommend keeping the non-dialog formality level within one or two steps of the dialog of the main character(s) for consistency.

Blah, blah, blah. What could my point possibly be?

Well, because English has outright stolen borrowed so much from other languages (like Old Norse), it has rules that only apply maybe most of the time, backwards syntax, and a whole load of non-English words from literally random other languages. English is hard. Native speakers get it wrong all the time. Those with a degree in English but not linguistics get it wrong all the time. Even those who study the linguistics side of it get it wrong ALL THE TIME.

I used to joke that I used up all my language slots to be really good at English (cuz I'm not great at learning other languages despite trying... a lot). I still say it, but it isn't so much of a joke now. English is just hard.

Yet, people in the writing communities online throw hardcore shade if someone makes an error, even in a non-writerly, non-business situation. I seriously got into a discussion about whether a dangling participle was acceptable for an author in a FB post. SERIOUSLY?!?

You would think that people who know how hard the making of the words is, the people who grok the evil conspiracy of aut
o-correct, the people who literally spend money to correct their errors... THOSE PEOPLE would be a little more lenient about "teh" in a post someone makes about their kids driving them crazy after a day at the park.

Come on, authors! We can do better. We can be better. We can cut each other some slack and acknowledge that a dangling participle is linguistically appropriate in common vernacular. We can back up off the lack of an Oxford comma in a tweet. We can accept "gonna", "cuz", "kinda", and "prolly" as casual, easily-understood shortcuts in a world of smart phone keyboards and *instant* messages.

And sometimes, we just don't want to go back and fix the stupid little error on a social media post about kitteh wut can haz skritches. Cuz KITTEH!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dark Heroes and Why We Like Them

Everybody loves an anti-hero these days. Whether it's the massively successful Deadpool or the growling, scowling Wolverine, heroes that kinda aren't are huge.

But why?

Perhaps it's the frustration with the rules and laws that so many people see in their lives.

People get busted due to technicalities while others walk free due to loopholes. Laws that are unfair or unjust may be passed, or fair laws may be reinterpreted in ways that no one anticipated. Whatever it is, there is an undeniable growth in people's anger and fear about the Law of the Land and how it is enforced. Even if you don't agree with that assessment.

We've all had something unfair or unjust happen to us. We each have had that one person who used the rules to hurt us or someone we cared about. We've all had our Umbridge to deal with. We all know what it's like to want to get revenge on someone who was only technically right.

Perhaps it's the freedom that the vigilante style promises. The Merc with the Mouth can say pretty much anything he wants to, and consequences are temporary at best. How awesome would that be? We spend a lot of time thinking about how what we say will affect us, usually through how it makes other people feel. Whether we agree with such consideration or not, it can be stressful.

Perhaps we want to be able to dispense justice where none is available. The Punisher was able to give "untouchable" criminals what they deserved. Of course, that was by his determination. If more people did that kind of thing, they'd likely start hunting each other down. Which might be amusing...

Perhaps we are just sick and tired of having to process so much, care so much, invest so much with so little return. Maybe we would rather not give a damn, like so many anti-heroes do in their own lives. Maybe we want something so sweet and pure that it makes us want to care again, like so many anti-heroes encounter.

The point is, we live in a world with a lot more gray than black and white, perhaps more than ever before, or perhaps that's just the perception we have. Who knows?

Either way, we have a very dark and nihilistic view of the world, right now, as a society. Our heroes and protagonists are reflective of that, and we want our heroes and protagonists to reflect some secret, closely-held part of ourselves.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

3 Fantasy Series (and 1 Non-Fantasy Series) That Inspired the Runespells

There are a few series that directly inspired my writing of the Runespells series. Whether it was how the characters talked or the way the magic worked, the following series helped me develop what became Too Wyrd and the rest of the Runespells books.
  1. The Dresden Files - This one is pretty obvious - I talk about it a lot. The truth is, the Dresden Files solidified a really vague concept in my mind by showing me what a good magic PI story looked like. While I didn't end up doing a magic PI story, that was the original idea, and I left a lot of the elements of that style in the series.
  2. Stephanie Plum series - This may seem a bit out of place, but having a woman main character in a mystery/thriller series was a bit of a new thing when I was developing my concept (around 15 years ago). The first book of this series, especially, showed me a woman who didn't need to be the romantic interest to carry the story.
  3. The Rowan Gant Investigations - MR Sellars did a spectacular job bringing in Pagan beliefs and magical realism for his paranormal PI series. The story arcs with the individual books, as well as the series arc, were so well done, I couldn't help but learn a bunch about plotting by looking closely at this series.
  4. The "Dark" Carpathian series by Christine Feehan - Speaking of plotting, nothing has shown me the power of plotting series arcs like this series. It's a paranormal romance series with over 30 books, and the overall series plot is still rolling strong. Looking at how the hints in the beginning build into full plots in later books is a thing of authorial beauty. I've picked up a lot from reading this series, and I recommend it for a good series arc example.
Those are my selections for series that have inspired me. I will be posting more, focusing on individual books, and things that inspired other of my works.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

"A Time & a Place" in Counterclockwise: A Time Travel Anthology Released

My story, A Time & a Place, is a prequel short for the M.A.G.U.S. Chronicles. I will be releasing the first of the series, Threadreader, early 2019.

Tianna is a Timesinker, a fae-blood magecrafter with the ability to travel through time. Her journey begins when she is caught in the cross-fire of a battle between magecrafters, but it doesn't end until she learns how easy it is for a timesinker to cause both the beginning... and the end. The enemy crosses her timeline more than once, but can she be on the winning side every time?

Grab this anthology to get a great assortment of stories, and to get your taste of the M.A.G.U.S. Chronicles!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

New Challenge and Website Forum

I've begun a rather intense challenge. I've set up a schedule to make 13 publications in 24 months. That means writing around one novel or short story every 2 months for two years.

The good news? You can join me! Maybe just for a few months, or for the whole 24 - your choice. Post your updates, chat about hiccoughs and life stuff, and get a bit of accountability in my new website forum, Writing Talk!

Sign up today!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Creative Writing Coaching - Do you need it?

Writing a novel is hard. Period. It is a lot of work with virtually no feedback during the process. While some people prefer the void when getting the words down, others need someone who has realistic understanding and expectations of where you are in the process. Sadly, as supportive as friends and family can be, they don't always know that a first draft isn't going to be a clean story.

This is where you might want to consider a writing coach.

What is Creative Writing Coaching?

Well, it's when you pay someone to encourage and advise you on your creative writing project. A good coach will be a sounding board, throw out some ideas for you to use or to launch from, show you the value of each step of the sometimes painfully slow writing process, and get you to keep going!

When do you need a writing coach?

You can use a coach when you first start, to help you learn the ropes and make sure you don't get discouraged by the whole, daunting process. You can also use a coach on your 50th novel to keep you on track, because we all need that at times.

While you usually want to get a writing coach in at the beginning of a project, in the idea stage, you can hire a writing coach at any time during the process. Be aware that a coach may require an additional fee or (paid) time to get caught up if you hire them halfway through.

What should you look for in a writing coach?

  1. Communication Style While a coach who is familiar with your genre is helpful, the point of a coach is to advise you on the more general writing process. So, it is more important to find someone whose communication style resonates with you.
  2. Experience in Format/Length You should look for someone who has experience writing the length of stories that you are working on. A short story plots and writes very differently than a novel. Many coaches have worked on writing various lengths of story, but you'll want to make sure the one you are looking at can do the format you need.
  3. Availability Be upfront with deadlines, and make sure the coach you are looking at hiring can work with that schedule. Rush jobs may warrant a rush surcharge to make up for the coach having to rearrange other aspects of their schedule.
  4. Accessibility This is how the writing coach plans on communicating with you. Most coaches use primarily text based communications, such as email, instant messaging (IM), etc. However, some coaches will also offer regular voice or video conferencing via phone, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. If you prefer to be able to speak to the coach, it may be a priority to find someone who can do that.
  5. Pricing A lot of factors go into pricing. A coach who is in high demand will likely charge more, as will a coach with years of experience. A coach who offers more in accessibility may charge more simply to cover the costs of any software needed to maintain that accessibility. While writing coaches, like editors, are an investment in your writing, you still need to find someone within your ability to pay them.

How do you find and hire a writing coach?

The best way to find a coach is by word of mouth. Ask your favorite editor or writer(s) if they know any. You can also ask around your writing groups, IRL or online.

Another way to find coaches is to google it. There are dozens of listings through writing journals, publishers, organizations, etc. The disadvantage here is that you don't know anything about them, and listings may be outdated.

Once you find someone, take the time to talk with them about their services. Pay attention to how quickly they get back to you, and how well they communicate with you. This is a good indication of how they will do the same while rendering services.

Lastly, don't forget to leave a review! As with authors, editors and writing coaches love having customers leave feedback, which they can use to promote their services. Even a few sentences is awesome! You can also ask if they offer any referral bonuses or discounts!

Good luck!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Goal Setting - A Go Indie Now Live Panel

I was honored to be asked to join this panel discussion on GoIndieNow! It's a great channel with TONS of resources for authors and recommendations for readers!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Minutiae of Life is Not a Failing

There is so much going on with the average life, many people feel as though their free-time is virtually non-existent anyways. When you throw in self-employment, working at home, kids, or financial distress (and the lack of flexibility to "buy time", such as ordering out instead of cooking from scratch) into the mix, it becomes exponential.

Generally, authors will have most or all of these factors working in their lives. It drags on your psyche, making it harder to focus on details (such as grammar) or to be creative. This means that an author's job just got more difficult.
Don't get me wrong. Most careers have their own version of this. This isn't a whine about how tough it is for an author. It's a reassurance.

Authors (and other creatives) often struggle with confidence in their abilities. The slow nature of sales can compound this. The lack of concrete responses to marketing doesn't help. All-in-all, there is a reason for stereotype of the alcoholic writer.

Trust me on one thing, though. None of that is a reflection on your value or skill as a writer or as a person.

We need to hear that more often. No matter how much we feel as though we are failing, it really isn't much of a metric. The history books are filled with artists and authors who were considered failures right up until their deaths.

So, if you are reading this, you aren't dead - you've still got a chance to make it. Keep writing!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

I've been getting so many reviews recently, I'm barely able to keep up with them all! There is no way I could have posted each and every one, so I'm going to just give you some links instead.

All-in-all, not a bad collection of reviews! I hope you check them out, particularly if you've been eyeing one of my books. The assessment of another reader might just be what makes up your mind!

If you are an author or reviewer, you can see the different kinds of reviews that people leave. All are completely valid (yeah, even the occasional 1 or 2 stars). If you aren't sure you can do reviewing, this should help you see that anything at all is a good review - it's the second best way to love your author!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Honoring Reader's Preferences

I’ve talked a lot about writing elitism. This time, it’s about perspective.

I can’t go more than a few days without seeing something ranting and railing about how “some readers” won’t read present tense, or 2nd person perspective, or other less common tenses. Mostly I find that it is done by writers who are pushing to have their own writing style “accepted” by more people.

I get it. Sometimes we write stuff that is a bit too far off the beaten path for the mainstream. I understand that frustration.

I like big “but”s.

BUT, when a writer does this, it doesn’t often come across as “oh, look, you should give this a chance.” It is more of a sneering, looking-down-one’s-nose rant about how the plebs just can’t understand how much they are missing. In case the point was missed, most of these call people some degree of stupid, narrow-minded, or uneducated. Because they prefer certain styles of writing.

Take a moment to think about that, from the reader’s perspective.

Any time a writer pushes the idea that you are some kind of fool for liking a specific genre, for preferring present tense over past (or vice versa), for liking the Hero’s Journey storyline format… they are insulting you for having a preference.

The funniest part is that most will backtrack and say things along the lines of “if you just give it a chance.” Funny, because people who read, tend to read a LOT. They have preferences because they’ve read a LOT. Most are willing to try new things, but few are willing to try something that they’ve tried (and disliked) before.

As a reader, I have preferences. If something sounds particularly good but is outside those preferences, I’ll still give it a go. That doesn’t change the fact that it is up to the author to make me want to leave my preferences.

One million new books every year are published. These books cross all genres, all styles. It is not up to me as a reader to throw out what I like and don’t like each and every time just to give a book a chance. It is up to me as an author to make people interested enough in my work to give it a chance.

That’s how that works.

It is also up to me as an author to accept that my style of writing, POV choice, 1st/2nd/3rd person perspective, etc, may not be what an individual reader enjoys. Accept it, and move on to the next reader, who likes the type of book I’ve written, or is at least interested in it enough to give it a chance.

My writing is not important enough to trump your right to have preferences and opinions. And vice versa.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Covers and Cyber Bullies

I awoke today to find that another person in the author community has been sent private messages telling them to kill themselves over book covers.

That's right, I know more than one person who has been the victim of this kind of bullying. And the reasons for it are incredibly ridiculous.

First, let me wax philo-something over book covers. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Yeah, I'm old. But more importantly, I grew up in the hey-day of bodice-ripping romances. Maybe that's why I'm so unconcerned with whether someone's cover looks similar to another's. Back then, that's how books identified their genres.

No joke. You could tell what kind of story you were getting based on what was on the book cover. Spaceship over a planet? Hard sci-fi, likely male MC. Barbarian with a sword and sexy chick kneeling nearby? High fantasy (maybe soft sci-fi), male MC, romantic subplot. Fabio looking guy hovering over woman half-undressed?  ROMANCE! Background has a castle? Historical romance. Background is a ship? Historical romance with pirates! Fabio wears a kilt? Scottish historical romance. Fabio wears boots? Western romance...

Seriously, you could change the shirt and hair color and background just to change the covers of the romances. There were maybe three or four positions that the couple were in, but everything else was virtually identical.

Now people sit there and talk about how a different image was used, the font was changed and THAT'S ALL... and I have no idea what the deal is. It's not the same cover. The hype over unique covers is so weird.

ONE MILLION new books are published each year. That means, since I started actively publishing my books, THREE MILLION books have been published. That's a lot of covers. And many of them are going to look similar. In my opinion, for genres, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

To be clear, I'd love to see more diversity in book covers - but I'm looking more for racial, size, gender (non-sexualized women, please, for the love of whatever deity you hold dear!), ability, etc, etc.

Book covers can only be so original before all the originality either gets used, or becomes nonsensical. Let's get over that particular issue really quickly.

NOTE: the quality of a good book cover seldom has to do with originality. Just because I'm not huge on making totally original covers doesn't mean I don't want GOOD covers. It's a different metric altogether.

Now, for the bullying aspect.

To those who would send such a message, I'm just going to say this really loud and clear:
If you get so hyped up over a book cover mimicking other covers that you are willing to message the creator/author to tell them that their career is over and that they should KILL THEMSELVES over YOUR issue regarding their book cover, they aren't the one with the issues.


A book cover.

To those who have had such messages sent to them, I'm going to say this:
Screenshot those messages. Do NOT mark out the name of the sender. Share it.

Yeah, I get it. The person who sent such a message may have had a point or a reason, or whatever. Yeah, most people might not even care about the message they sent. But some of us in the authoring community are more than willing to restrict access to people who would go there.

In other words, if you want to take your possibly correct stance to the point of telling someone to kill themselves, you may find yourself with a MUCH smaller author/promo network. That is a line, and there WILL be consequences.

I don't care how much you feel righteous about your stance on someone else's work. Don't cross that line.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

It Ain't a Problem for Me

Here it is, another day, another post on what is and is not “real” in the world of writing.

Sometimes it’s the oxford comma. I can take it or leave it, so long as the meaning is clear. Sometimes the meaning is clear because of the ridiculousness of the alternative in context. Silly me, I trust my readers and fellow humans of brain-having to be able to figure that stuff out.

Today, it is “ain’t”. “Is ‘ain’t’ a word?”, a metric ton of posts and memes call out to me. Well, let’s see. It is a series of syllables with a known and discernible meaning, which can and is used widely in a language.

Seems like a word to me.

All my snark aside, the question that is REALLY being asked is, “is ain’t ‘legit’?”. The larger question is, what, as writers, do we “allow” as REAL, TRUE, and LEGITIMATE in our language.
And that’s so elitist.

Let me break this down.

Historically, “ain’t” is an actual word that was used as proper English for quite some time. Po’ peeps picked it up and BOOM! It’s “just” slang and illegitimate, now.

Regionally, “ain’t” tends towards conservative areas with high poverty and low education. Also, some trend towards areas with high non-white demographics.

Linguistically, the English language, like all living (not dead) languages shifts, grows and changes with use. People LIKE to come up with new ways of saying things, adding depth and nuance to their meanings. Because there is a subtle emotional difference between scary and terrifying. This means that there are colloquialisms and regional dialects. “Proper” English tends towards East coast and upper class.

Saying “ain’t” isn’t a word is classist. It’s racist. It discriminates by region, generation, and education.

Plus, writing only in “proper” English comes across as pretentious, pompous and pedantic. See what I just did there. You may have to look this crap up, now. :P

If you are a literary writer, well, everyone has their own thing. I don’t like reading OR writing literary fiction. Unless it’s science journals and other non-fiction. For my fiction, I love genre fiction. Easy reading, yes, but then there is more possibility to engage in emotional metaphors, satirical social commentary, etc. because people don’t really necessarily want to dedicate brain space to grand philosophies AND grandiose language at the same time. Not for entertainment reading.

Plus, it’s hard to convey universal experiences when you write like an East Coast Prep School Silver-spooning Yacht-sailing Trust-funded… person. Just my thoughts.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Different Strokes of the Pen

Different writers have different ways of writing.

Some people throw a whole bunch of words out, then edit up to a dozen times, doing rewrites and changing the order of scenes. This type of writer usually writes faster in the beginning.

Some people write much slower, resulting in a cleaner first draft. They often have less rewriting, because they are more methodical in the initial writing.

In the end, each of these takes about the same amount of time to write and finalize their books, with generally the same level of quality, depending on the skill level of the writer and their editor(s).

I am very much the second type. NaNoWriMo is a very real challenge for me because I tend towards slow, methodical writing. I end up doing maybe five rounds of edits, max, but the initial writing is emotionally draining for me.

Now that NaNo is done, I’ve still got a bit more to write on The Chains That Bind, book 3 of the Runespells series. Then I will take a few days off to recover from the emotional trauma… lol.

Once that is done, I’ll run through the first round of edits and send it out for Beta Reading. While I’m waiting for those to come back, I’ll be working on one or two other projects, one of which will be determined by my patrons on my Patreon page! (Check it out HERE)

In 2017, I put out 1 novel, 1 novella, a collection of short stories, and 4 short stories in anthologies. In 2018, I’m going to shoot for 2 novels, 1-2 novellas, and up to 3 short stories in anthologies. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author's Hierarchy of Needs

I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs lately, and how it applies to writing.

In the interest of context, here’s the deal. I am a full-time author. My husband just came out of a year of schooling to be an electrician. Due to some politics and technicalities, and some bad luck and bad timing, he’s been having trouble finding a job that is more than just temporary. He is currently working in manufacturing, which isn’t a bad job, but not at the rate to support a family on a single income.

I’ve tapped out our resources pretty thoroughly to get us through this, but we are doing a lot of extras: plasma donations, free/reduced food options, and I’m looking for a job that will work with my kids’ schedule. It would be either prohibitively expensive or functionally impossible to find the type of childcare we would need for most jobs I could get quickly, so it’s going slowly.

That said, we are doing okay, but there’s a lot of time and mental energy going into keeping us going until we break through this very short rough patch. Which brings me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Essentially, this theory states that humans can only really focus on one level if the lower levels are being met. It’s not completely exclusive, but it makes sense. The first level is immediate safety. You probably aren’t going to ponder your spiritual development while being chased by a lion. (Why is it always a lion in these scenarios? Why not a rhino or a wolf?)

The second level is food and shelter. If you are safe for the moment, you can plan on these things. Then you can focus on larger safety issues, such as environment and neighborhood. After that is interpersonal relationships, such as family and friendships.

Next is self-esteem, or the ability to believe you are worthy. Self-actualization follows, covering your place in society. Ie, career, status, etc. And finally, self-transcendence, which is the personal spiritual experience.

Since only a threshold has to be met at each level, you can have some deficiencies in a lower level while still focusing on a higher level. But if those lower levels are threatened in some way, the focus gets drawn to them again and again.

Anyways, this is probably why I’m having so much trouble prioritizing NaNoWriMo this year. It’s not that writing isn’t as important to me, it’s that I kinda have to make sure we can pay rent before I can focus on my career.

This leads me to thinking about authors, pirates and self-care.

Pirating books is pretty bad. Authors don’t make much as it is, and anything that is taken from them makes it less likely for them to be able to meet their own basic needs. If they can’t do that, they can’t focus on the making the words stuff. Knowledge is free, and most authors are willing to do giveaways, etc. But it’s something that the author CHOOSES to do, based on their own risk-benefit assessment, financial ability, etc. Stealing from them is just that: stealing.

Authors also need to spend a certain amount of time and mental energy on self-care. People like to think that writing is easy, and in many ways they are right. But writing novels that are well-crafted, interesting and meaningful? Well, that takes skill, mental energy, and technique that has to be developed over time. By the time an author puts out their first decent book, they’ve already put in years of practice, reading and studying writing skills.

I think authors should put more emphasis on knowing their own worth, and the worth of their works. But, at the same time, readers need to put more worth on the books that they love so much.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year!

It’s that time.

New year, new writer. It’s time to assess what’s happened and make goals for the coming year.

My assessment is pretty constant. I have issues when I don’t keep tabs on my psycho-emotional barometer. So this is easy for me.

2017 sucked in so many ways. On the personal life front, it was a roller coaster of hope and disappointment with a distinct trend towards the decline. It’s been so bad that, even though it’s true, I’m hesitant to say it looks like things are going to be improving. I’m talking days of crying from depression and fear.

I blame my husband, but that’s a different set of thoughts. (And, no, he’s not abusive or anything. It’s just a crap situation mostly due to timing and luck.)

On the professional writing front, I marketed my first book and put out my second. Sales seem to be climbing steadily, if very slowly, and I see this as a sign that my books will continue to grow slowly but steadily. I can live with that. At least the arrow is going the right way.

Biggest frustration: just when I promised I wouldn’t be missing any more vlogs, my built-in camera takes a nose-dive. But I got a spiffy new camera for the holidays, so I’ll be back in a jiff.

As for my goals, I’m looking forward to completing at least 3 books in 2018. I’ll still be working on sales and vlog and patreon, etc. So, I guess I haven’t been beaten down!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodreads Changes Their Giveaways

If you are a published author who markets heavily online, you’ve probably at least heard about the changes to Goodreads’ Giveaway service.

If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown: Goodreads just took away the free platform for hosting giveaways of a book. It was a decent platform, but only worked for print books, not ebooks, so it still cost the author to get the print book and ship it.

Now, they allow ebooks, starting at the low low cost of only $200, give or take a five-spot. If you want all the bells and whistles, which weren’t that impressive to me, you can do it for $600.

I wish those were typos, but no. We are talking about paying to giveaway books at rates only previously seen on BookBub, and the BB has specific and dedicated mailing lists PLUS you can list a book that is not free.

Seriously, Goodreads? I’m not sure what idiot thought this would be a good idea, but I can’t think of many authors who are going to drop a couple Benjamins on giving away a book on a site that doesn’t really do specific listings.

I don’t know about you, but my days of doing Goodreads Giveaways are OVER.