Thanks to Fall being around the corner, my energy is at top level, so I get to amp up my work load again. The main goal is to write like hell until late Spring when the temps start rising again, so I’m less frustrated during forced downtime. After I finish Kevin’s synopsis, I’ll be switching back and forth between YA wips and novellas. Juggling two pseudonyms is definitely gonna be an experience. Errands have wiped me out, so this’ll have to do it for now.
Oh God, there’s finally a light at the end of Revisions Tunnel. It probably wouldn’t have been so hellish if my back hadn’t gone out on me and then gotten exasperated by sitting shotgun on an eleven hour road trip to Indiana. These last two months have been awful painwise, but binging sports anime on Crunchyroll and eating quite a lot of cupcakes and ice cream for meals pulled me through it. It was nostalgic revising Kevin while convalescing because Sebastian was also a story completed during months trapped in bed. The familiar anger at my body for it being the reason why I couldn’t get more done, feeling comforted by the glare of my laptop screen as I managed a few lines of words or fixes. I could have lived without reliving those memories, but maybe that’s why I could bounce back quickly. This happens so many times that it’s almost normal to me now.
My neck does actually feel like that sometimes.
Unfortunately, pain doesn’t bring clarity. The set-up of Kevin’s ending has bugged the shit out of me because of too many similarities with Sebastian’s ending, and unless I figured out how the damn thing was supposed to play out, fixing other parts affected by that scene would be meaningless. Then this weekend came, I was in a lot less pain, and the new set-up just about walked in front of me in a trench coat and flashed me. So you’re gonna see less of me on Twitter for a while, and the soft deadline for Kevin’s edits to be finished is mid-June. Hard deadline is July. You’ll probably see another progress report in about two weeks, so I’ll have more of a handle on where I’m at in editing and can figure out a new schedule for working on my YA novels. *Sigh* My kingdom for a cyborg body that has a built-in frappuccino machine that provides drinks while I write.
Sort of. This past year I’ve found my groove. At least for now. My mojo comes and goes, but this has been the longest streak yet. I’ve been jumping around three stories, and none of them are backtalking me right now. The key for me is not thinking about speed or wordcounts. Those thoughts add too much pressure which forces me not to think of the story first. I do work on a random wip during downtimes, but I’ve got into the habit of not naming them unless I KNOW they will be finished in the next couple of months. All part of the ‘No pressure’ strategy I’m following. And yeah, this mindset is hella different than from when I was unpublished. I believed selling wouldn’t change how blasé I was compared to when no eyes were on me, but I was wrong. As for the three tales in question:
Veiled Dancer(formerly known as Royal Persuasion) – went through a huge revision and added about 15k after I said I was done editing it.
Family Of Lies: Kevin – has not encountered the ‘Sequel Blues’ yet, rewrote the ending, and the back half of the middle still requires some planning due to a heist where Kevin is getting much deserved payback against a troublemaker sibling. I definitely see a lot of editing for the beginning to add in more of Luke’s voice. He was hard to nail down because guilt for the weapons a warlord forced him to make made him cautious about opening up to anyone. That’s why Kevin is so perfect for him. The Orwells do so many fucked up things that Kevin isn’t shocked by Luke’s past and thinks it’s hypocritical for him to be judging anyone.
The Strongest Sword – I expected a portal Scifi/Fantasy YA would be a pain in the ass to write, but after the first two hellish chapters, this baby is rolling along. It helps that the mc, Ryan, has a charming confidence about him that let’s him jump back on his feet no matter how many times I knock him down.
Every day will be a Willy Wonka wonderland of writing mixed with extravagant meals that I finally have the time to cook.
So…much…pizza. At first, having all day to write is wondrous, and I’m all ‘Yay for all the awesome meals I’m gonna make like I’m a friggin Iron Chef’. But then days became monotonous routines of waking, eating, break, writing, break, sleep, writing.
After two months of this, I questioned whether I made the right decision and perhaps I should return to the temp job. Witches For Hire screwing up my writing schedule by demanding to be rewritten didn’t help my confidence either. Since I’ve gotten behind, cooking has taken a back seat unless it’s simple pasta dishes and baked seafood. I’m also on a first name basis with the workers at Thai and pizza places in my area. My joints cried uncle from the weight gain, so I started dancing again. A few weeks into intense booty shaking, I had less belly and more writing. It turns out that what I really needed was a hobby. When my first royalty check arrived, I bought some workout clothes, shoes, and drawing supplies because I figured, why not two hobbies? My daily routine is still wonky, but I don’t question my choice to go full-time anymore.
I somehow formed the mistaken belief that being able to write at all hours of the day meant quickly achieving the perfect ability to translate what’s in my head on to paper. Reading reminds me that no matter how many hours writers have to work, no one achieves perfection even when they create amazing story and characters. I also had to redefine what I considered personal writing failures. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, that’s okay. My writing schedule doesn’t have to be strict, and there’s still a mental need for days off.
What I was probably turning into.
My editing is still too slow, and that causes a traffic jam in upcoming wips. Witches For Hire rewrite is finished, and I’m 2/3 into its final edit. The Orwell who’s rushed to the front of the line while aggravating as many villains as he can is Kevin. He’s a wonderful character to release stress with because he cares even less about authority than Sebastian, is a strong enough fighter to perform the offhand backhand, and plays the family fixer before any trouble his siblings cause reach catastrophic levels of needing James’s or Diana’s help.
This move will always be hilarious to me.
I have this weird hang up about my writing voice(mostly childhood asskickings for being myself). I can understand why people like it in my blogs, but I have no idea why it’s not stupid in my writing. Blogging for me has been for goofing around anonymously, so I see strong voice as being meant to be there. Stylistically, I know being a weird goofball churns out my best writing, but I still have to remind myself that it’s okay and a fairy won’t appear out of nowhere to rap my knuckles for letting loose while I write.
Bring it, giant writer!
On to the next hang up. I’m having trouble finishing my last round of edits on my current wips. I look at them and think there’s too much wrong with them, so why bother? Then the lightbulb came on this morning. Because this is my first time editing so many stories at once, I don’t have the mental dividers built yet like when I’m writing. I’m looking at the character development issues in one wip, the plot issues in another, and telling myself that I suck at everything.
This is horrible. That is horrible.
So, instead of combining all of my Inner Editor’s criticisms into a Captain Planet of negativity, I’m hammering my brain to only see a single story’s flaws.
Brain, don’t be this guy.
And now, I invite you to relax, pull up a chair, as I kindly present: Sebastian
Sebastian Orwell did the only thing a smart wizard could do when he stumbled upon the wounded Crown Prince: he healed him and dumped him in a tavern where he could continue not being Sebastian’s problem. Unfortunately, the prince isn’t content with being alive, and he hunts Sebastian down to thank him personally. Not only is Sebastian stuck with the prince’s unwanted affections, he’s also confronted by growing evidence linking the assassination attempt to someone from his father’s past.
Lord Orwell is a lot of things: thief, liar, drunk, and all around horrible father, but Sebastian knows he’s no murderer. In order to prove it, Sebastian has to keep the prince alive long enough to discover the truth—a task made considerably harder because the idiot prince prefers wooing Sebastian over securing his own survival. On top of everything, Sebastian needs to save the day without revealing his magical powers and the real reason he hides his appearance.
Sebastian had no intention of playing the hero, but whoever is stirring up shit in his country will pay for destroying his quiet life.
Linky here. This book has been in my noggin since 2012, and I’m glad to see it real and available for pre-order. It officially comes out on March 18, but go on, you know you want to click that buy button.
On to writing news. I’ve been editing my ass off on a couple stories, but unlike Sebastian, I haven’t been able to see where their final finish lines are. So, my brain took a back seat, and I searched my feelings like a Jedi to come up with three rules:
- Do I care about my characters all the way to the ending?
- Do I get lost in the story when I’m supposed to be editing?
- Does the ending make me feel like a satisfied reader?
These rules will probably find space on my wall somewhere, so I can remember my end goals. Now I leave you with today’s celebratory song.
I am totally singing this in my evil scientist voice.
Sorry for the silence. I’ve been working in my mind how I was going to announce something that took me a while to realize. After November, I was writing every day, all day, and mostly taking eating/bathroom breaks. It wasn’t until the end of December that the light bulb went off in my head. I had transitioned into being a full time writer. I think it took me a while to see it because I expected the jump to be huge. But there was no fanfare, no epic dilemma of ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’, and it came as a Eureka moment as I was eating Cocoa Puffs and scanning through edits at five in the morning.
Ask me about world hunger while I eat sugary greatness!
Then I went into panic mode. How do I stay full time? Should I search for an agent again? I need a new desktop. I need to sell, sell, sell! End freak out. Next came practical mode. I would look at my work and think, That’s not good enough, try again. Luckily, I got pissed at myself because I was breaking the number one rule; keep writing fun. That shook me back to my senses. I whipped out an off-the-wall werewolf story I put aside while editing my sold story. My brain raced with crazier ideas for it, and I returned to my old self.
Being full time is a gamechanger, but that doesn’t mean that writing has to feel like a job. So, I’m drawing a line in the sand. From conception ‘til contract, my stories are for my enjoyment. After I sign the contract, business mode on. I’m probably going to freak out and mess up again, but I think this is the right choice.
My career plan has also been amended. The publishing world is too fluid to make long term decisions, and it’s easier to think things through one day at a time.
Writing is like having this dude quiz you with riddles every week. He is a jerkass.
Totz my sexy dance song.
The hurdle of this month is finding balance between ‘Hells yeah, I’m going bonkers with this first draft’ and selling a story. They are not jiving together the way they should. Concentrating on publishing has meant that I rack my brain trying to finish a rough draft(Witches for Hire stopped fighting me and is finally finished), or I can’t see my writing as publishable when I focus on having fun. This post is to remind me that I can do both and stop being a dingleberry about it. If anything is too off the wall, I can fix it. I’m experimenting with a few new habits like doing WipOfTheWeek instead of BookInAWeek(total failure by the way because my cold rebounded). This way I can relax, and maybe ease up to adding more pressure on myself until I’m working with full mojo again.
I know all about mixing business and parties.
Levelling up is my religion!
Of course by my own hand because if something feels easier, I gotta up the stakes. So, the plague is slowly dissipating, but I’ve hit a slowdown. The easy thing to do is rest a few more days, but, eh, fuck it. During this week I’ve run into writing advice that would be great for Healthy Me and insane for Drippy Sinuses Me. Some of the advice is from Aleks Voinov about productivity, and an old blog post about a writing challenge called Book In A Week.
Since I don’t have anything to lose with Sebastian’s edits almost wrapped up, I’m tackling the Book in A Week challenge while also finishing Witches for Hire that got stalled by my plague. That’s the thing I love about writing. I’ve spent days coughing up a lung, but I never forget there’s always more I can do.
I’ve been making adjustments to my writing career plan and thinking about how weird it is that my almost neurotic brain latched on to something like writing full time. It’s the kind of job that fills you with self-doubt because unlike a regular 9-5, you don’t have a manager standing over you every day letting you know when you fuck up. There’s also no guarantee of sales or even if you sign a contract, that your book makes it past the finish line(admittedly rare snafus/publisher meltdowns but still). This plus branding and writing style on my brain got me thinking that building a writing career is like playing a reverse game of Jenga.
Instead of that nice solid block tower, you start out with the leaning tower of Pisa. This represents your odds of making it to your final goal. It looks pointless to start playing, it’s unstable, and you’re going to get a big fat ‘I told you so’ from loved ones when you fail. An idiot like me looks at that thing and says ‘I can do it.’
Next up, juggling chainsaws!
If you get a few blocks in the right spaces, you end up with a stable base. This is the section of the tower you get right by researching the publishing world and finishing your first story.
Real talk, totally where I’m at.
Then you build a better structure by having your name out there and people looking for your work.
Next is the ‘Scalzi’ Tower. You’re pretty comfortable that your career isn’t going to fall, and you have a good idea where the rest of the blocks go.
The ‘I wish and secretly hope for’ goal.
Then there’s this mofo. This is the Martin/Rowling/King/Roberts Super Tower. They did the impossible and beat the whole fucking game. Sure they’re still writing, but they’re pretty much bedazzling their victory towers now. The cool thing is that watching success stories helps other writers figure out where to put their blocks. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m looking at all the towers around me, and I’m learning.
The ‘super drunk writer’ goal.