Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 and goals

At the end of this week, we lose another year. Which means we're all going to make HUGE changes this next year, turn our evil (or just plan lazy) ways around, and somehow find world peace.


Folks seem to fall into two camps-the "I'm going to only eat tree bark, grass, and leaves until I lose this 10 pounds" (or for writers- "I'm going to write 10,000 words a day and finish 10- 380 page novels in 2016!"). And the "resolutions don't work" crowd.

I'm somewhere in between. I do think that goals are a good thing, without them (and sticking to them) I wouldn't have two books out, be closing in on book 3, and getting the cover made for book 4. And the start of a new year has power and promise. Beginnings are always a magic time.

But, I also think it's too easy to make all sorts of insane goals for yourself (or others- ummm, just don't do that. Please.). Then you fail and hate yourself. I had a friend who would start a diet, then when she went off it just a little, would go WAY off it for the rest of the day, because, well, that day was blown-right? Nothing I said convinced her otherwise.

I'm adopting a new mindset. A month at a time. A week at a time. A day at a time. I still haven't pounded out next month, but it will have a monthly goal for all the areas I chose to work on (no more than two at a time). Then be broken down by weekly goals. Then each morning, I'll take a few moments to relax, and think what I want to get done that day. 

No punishments, and if I don't get a specific things completed, I still stay on track with the idea as a whole. It's not an all or nothing approach, it's a every little bit helps approach. The more you stretch, the further you can go.  Right now stretch as far as you can to your side. Then come back and try it again. Most likely you'll go a tiny bit further that next time :).

What about you?  Goal setting? No goals?  Any motivation tips for folks staying on goals?

Have a wonderful and safe New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The year in wrap up

So next week I want to talk about  plans, goals, dreams for 2016--but before that can happen, I really need to wrap up 2015. At least in my head.

This was an amazingly good year, and an amazingly sad one.

 I reached my dream of getting my books out into the wild in March.  I was hoping for the first three books to be able to come out this year, but yeah, full-time outside job...not sure what I was thinking. 

But, I did get The Glass Gargoyle and The Obsidian Chimera published. Never would have happened without a ton of amazing folks- those listed in the book, and the others not listed who were just there to help keep me going. Thank you.

Writing is hard. Very hard. Self-Publishing is also very hard. But holding those books in my hand, reading the reviews, having folks email me about how much they loved them and where the heck is book three?!  All of that makes all the hard work worth it. I love that other folks talk about my drunken faeries like I do.

I loved meeting folks at RT in May, and at the two book signings at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in August and December. It was so exciting to have people want MY autograph on a book and that they wanted to read said book.

That part of 2015 was wonderful, scary, nerve-racking, and amazing.

The sad part was the loss of my mother in August. 

She was 84, and had always lived her life as she wanted it (a nurse called her "fiercely independent" after a bit of a pause). She never wanted to be in a home or have a care-giver and she did that. She didn't read fantasy (a serious mystery reader- and rapid one at that-she taught me to love books) but was very proud of my writing. She was the cheerleader I spoke to every morning on the phone before work. She was mom.

You never get over losing a loved one, you just incorporate that loss into your life. It's still very raw and close, but I am still writing and getting books out because that's what she wanted me to do. 

So right now, look back over your year, find the wonderful parts and the heart-breaking ones, and embrace them all. 

And go hug your loved ones and have a joyous Holiday!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Defining a series

The first thing many folks ask after finding out you wrote a book, is, “is it a series? Are there more books?” Now one might think that is a simple question, but it really isn't. Just what is a series?

  • Let’s start at the top with the -ology’s – trilogies, etc. These are most often found in Science Fiction and Fantasy and are really a single book, (granted a few thousand pages long in some cases) broken up into smaller chunks. The primary characters are the same, but each book not only has its own arc, but feeds into and develops the overarching arc for the series. All aiming toward that final big finale.

Readers need to read them in order unless they are the type of person who starts a book in the middle and hops around. From a writer’s standpoint, even a pantser needs to know the end game. It’s one thing to madly dash through an entire book making it up as you go, but you’ll never pull off a big series without knowing where you’re ending.

My Lost Ancients series was going to be two trilogies. But I realized the timeline from one to the other didn’t really have a gap, and the dividing of them into two trilogies was forced. Aka- they should be a single larger series. There could have been some fear in there too- three books, then “something else” is less scary than diving into a 6 book series right at the start of my publishing career (but I’m good with it now ;)).

  • The other, often very long book series is the shared world. These can live in the SF/F (think Dragonlance, etc). Multiple authors, different characters, same world. But you are far more likely to find a shared world series in Romance, with a single author, but something tying all the characters together. This could be a werewolf clan, vampire family, witches’ coven, siblings of a large family, or location based like a town. Something connects all the protagonists in each book, BUT for it to be Romance with a capital R, there is a HEA at the end of each book, and therefore a new couple in the next book (Urban Fantasy falls into the “ology” category as it usually doesn’t have a HEA at the end and the same couple continues on through all of the series.)

Readers can read these out of order, since each book is not really contingent on the previous one-BUT it often makes for a better experience if read in order.

  • Then we have the open ended series. These are very often found in Mystery (the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is an example) but is also found sometimes in SF/F (The Myth series by Robert Asprin). These have the same primary characters, and while may end up with a big finale ending, they aren’t really aiming that direction. Each book is very inclusive, and again- it’s nice to read them in order, but probably not crucial.

So if you’re writing or reading a series, you should know what type of book you have going J. And, as a reader myself, PLEASE AUTHORS put which number the book is in a series on your cover! I know trad pubbed folks don’t always get a say in that, but if that option is there- take it! Saves a lot of pain for the reader (and the bookseller ;).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#IWSG: NaNo Failure

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Day! Writers from across the galaxy join on the first Wednesday of the month to shout our hopes, dreams, fears, and wishes into the void and support each other-join us!

Yup, another NaNo has come to a close, and I did not win. 

Now, to set this up (so you can appreciate the tragedy ;)), this was my seventh NaNo, and only second failure. The other failure was really more of a never-even-got-going one, not like this- a so-close-but-no-cigar- failure. I ended with 46,938 words. But that was on Sunday evening, after a 2,400 word day. Monday just didn’t happen, and I already knew it wasn’t going to be a finish year. Now, understand, per their site I have finished 302,044 words in my years doing NaNo (and waaaay more than that outside of it ;0)).

I am okay with this failure.

This was an emotionally hard month for me, and I sorta thought of aiming for just 30,000 words (yeah, the competitive NaNo spirit shot that idea down after day one ;)).
Plus I kept missing days for various reasons which ended up causing me to do super heavy sprints to try and catch up. My right arm’s chronic tendinitis decided to go all acute on me, and I popped something in my left wrist November 30th.

Because I didn’t pace myself, I didn’t “win” and I injured myself. SIGH.

BUT!  I still count this as a win for me and the book: 

1) I did a lot of words, many of which I’ll keep. I ended up with a very interesting plot twist that just keeps leading to more twists as I go- had I not been in, “just get something up there!” mode, I might not have jumped where I did.

2) I learned I can be okay with not winning ;). (Big step-LOL- although my constant losing in Words with Friends may have broken down the wall on this one).

3) On the way home yesterday, I was in story-head. You know when you’re reading a book, and you can’t wait to get back to where you left off?  I had that with MY book! Lemme tell ya, it was awesome to realize the story I couldn’t wait to dive back into wasn’t what I was reading, but what I was writing ;).

4) I had a fun time. NaNo for me is fun, racing with folks, meeting total strangers who are just as twisted as you are, the smack talk. I had a blast.

So, yes, I lost- but it was way worth it ;). I’ll be back next year!!

What about you? Did you NaNo this year? How was it? Have you hit whatever writing goals you had for this year?