Wednesday, April 5, 2023

#IWSG That first

 Hello and welcome to another voyage into the minds and psyches of insecure writers everywhere!

Check out the other blogs!

Today's question, from the amazing minds behind this blog hop, "Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you?" hit me, so that's what I'll be posting today.

The first book that I completed was actually not the first that I published.  (I also have another that was lost to time that never got past the three-quarter mark--we don't speak of it ;)).

My first completed book was the original version of Essence of Chaos. It was MASSIVE, weighing in at over 650 pages.

I loved writing it. I loved the characters, the story, everything. Once it had gone through some edits, I tried submitting to agents--this was in the dark days before self-publishing became a thing.

Got requests for the full a few times, good feedback, but always a pass (yeah, size did come up a few times--it was called a door-stopper.).

I finally put it aside, as I wasn't ready to re-write the entire thing, and started a few new 'first-in-series' books. (Including The Glass Gargoyle-- which just celebrated eight years out last month!)

After getting a few new books published, I started taking apart Essence of Chaos. It lost over 200 pages (to be fair, I had chopped out about 75 before the re-write) and was much stronger.  

After a false start with a cover artist, I found new ones and LOVE my covers.  Essence of Chaos came out in 2021, the second, Division of Chaos in 2022, and the final in the trilogy, Destruction of Chaos, comes out this summer.

This book means a lot to me, and will always have a very special place in my heart. I'd envisioned a traditional book career when I started it, but now am extremely happy with my indie career and getting my stories out my way (with a LOT of professional help ;)).

What was your first book?

Happy IWSG day!!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

IWSG: Balance


Happy IWSG Day!

This is the day we all dust off our blogs, fears, and insecurities and chat!

Come join us!

Today I wanted to talk about how to know if you’re taking it too easy on yourself, or going too hard. (No, I don’t have solid answers—that’s why I’m insecure about it. šŸ˜‰)

Background on me. I started self-publishing in March 2015 (Yay—just realized this is year eight! Still confused šŸ˜‰). Up until Dec 2020, I was also working full-time in a soul-sucking job.

I’m telling you this so you don’t think that I’m living a magic life being a full-time writer—I am now, but got 14 books out while working full-time (to be fair a few were either done, or close to being—they all needed edits).  I fought for my writing time then.

In Dec 2020, the university I worked at offered a buyout for some of us who were within retirement time for them. Not a great deal, but I found I liked my sanity and peace of mind, so getting out was the best option.

Switching to full-time isn’t as easy as folks think. When you’re used to fighting for writing time, and now you don’t need to, it can leave you fumbling around.  I also think that my evil day job’s evilness motivated me to write those books!

Plus, while I hated the job, I enjoyed many of my coworkers and guess what you don’t have as a full-time writer? Yeah—co-workers. No cheery chats as you come in, no lunch time complaining sessions. I still miss it and them.

Then there is the 'how am I going to be a full-time writer' question? So many options!  Once I got over leaving the EDJ (Evil Day Job), I started looking at how to work my writing business.

I’ve been in the work force a long time, so having two days off a week is normal for me.  I know some writers write every day, but I need those two days off. I now have one business day as I realized that I get thrown off way too easily by business stuff and having those issues on a writing day doesn’t work.

I have my schedule. I’m giving myself time off, a full business day, annnnnnnnnnnnd I still feel squished.  I think there’s an issue of pushing hard as a full-time writer to show folks (even if only in your head) that you are WORKING. And I think that’s what’s happening.

I was with a fellow author last week and we were talking about what we were doing. I told her my general year plan. Then said, or not. But laughed, indicating I was planning on pushing myself regardless.

She looked at me and said, “Or you could take a few things off your plate.”

I brushed her off with a “I’m fine.”  But those words hit me. I think I’m pushing so hard because I need to prove I can do it (and money, never forget money—it’s crass, but my retirement is far too small to live on).

Now I’m not sure what to do to balance things.

I have a few days off coming up, so I’ll do some thinking.  Like my adding my business day, I need to find a way to adjust my mindset and working habits. Without compromising my goals too much.

How about you? Full or part time—what do you do when you think your goals might be overwhelming you?


Have a great IWSG day!


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

#IWSG--Covers, art, and being Indie

 Welcome to the monthly jog around the writing world, known as the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop! 

Each month a question is offered (optionally) for folks to contemplate. Today's was asking about covers.  As an indie author, specifically do I make my own?


That's it. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

Kidding. As usual, I have things to say ;).

I was an art major for three years, and while I can have a decent eye for layout, I know my limitations (and they are massive-LOL). I have always gone to the pros for my covers. (The exception is my Quarterly Planner--that's all me with a photo I took of Tintern Abbey last year ;).

A good cover artist understands your genre, and hopefully has examples of other covers they've done in it. Some cover artists do only photo manipulation, some paint over photo manipulation, and some are doing either digital or old school illustrations. 

They also understand text, placement, good fonts/bad fonts, kernelling, etc.

It's more than just good art.  I have seen some authors who are also artists do amazing work on their own covers. I've also seen train wrecks that made me want to wash my eyes out.

My goal with my covers is to get across the genre (fantasy/SF/steampunk), to indicate it's female led, and to show it's character focused. (On the whole, people on covers indicate character focus, huge landscapes, spaceships, etc usually indicate more plot focused--not true all the time, but often.)

I have worked with some amazing cover artists: Aleta Rafton, Julie Nicholls, Joolz & Jarling, Deranged Doctor Designs. All of them have worked with me to make the cover eye grabbing. 

People DO judge a book by its cover. For me as a reader, unless it's one of my auto-buy authors, my first level of interest in a new book is their cover. Then I read the copy, then a peak inside. Doesn't matter if it's online or in a bookstore.

I tell new indie authors to save for a great cover and a great editor!

My current covers are all on the bar to the right, but here's one I got done a while ago, that I'm still working on the book for. But I love the cover!  This was done by Deranged Doctor Designs (photo manipulation only). 

Have a great IWSG day and if you have questions about which artists did which of my covers, just ask :).  

One of the reasons that I LOVE being indie is control over what my work looks like :).

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

#IWSG Planning world domination!

 I'm BACK!

Welcome to the wonderful and amazing world of insecure writers everywhere!

And the start of a new year ;).

Today I wanted to talk about planning...for world domination. Or at least just to keep things on track. 

I have a confession, I love calendars. Planners too. It feels good to see my goals mapped out and ready to go. BUT, it also means the goals need to be workable and have a good chance for success.  Saying, "I will write ten massive books this year!" is great, but there needs to be a method behind it.

First-- is the goal feasible? If you didn't get out 9 books in 2022, probably not. 

Secondly--are there steps in place to make it work?  I make an Estimated Word Count for each month in my planners (have two ;)).

It's based on my average word count per hour/day. I actually work in 2 hour blocks, and can hit 2k in two hours (not really 1k an hour, as I re-read the prior day's work in that time too).  I do two blocks on each writing day (five days a week)...therefore a week with no other tasks (like editing, etc) can give me 20,000 words.

I use that EWC, subtracting editing days, travel days, etc, and figure out the EWC each month.

Then each quarter. I've found the quarterly system works best for me, so I'm now ONLY planning one quarter at a time. More room for pivots if something veers off course.

Knowing my EWC, allows me to estimate how many projects I can complete in that quarter.

Thirdly--how dedicated are you to this?  Not everyone has to be "ALL the words, ALL the time!" Understand your long term goals and your own personality.

Lastly-- make sure you PIVOT. Making huge goals and missing them can be devastating. Unless you have a plan in place to see where you jumped the rails. Tracking your mood, health, other issues next to your word count can help see that.

Aim for the stars, but allow for some bounces.

How do you plan? Goal set?

It's nice to be back-- Happy IWSG Day!