November updates

Yeah, I’m not going to make the 50K word target for NaNoWriMo.  Between a due date just before the beginning of November, one just after, one at  the end, two chronic illness flareups, and Thanksgiving Break starting for the kids before my office hours were actually up, I lost a lot of productive writing time.   I am, however, happy with what I’ve accomplished.  I’ve finished a long-unfinished project, and am almost finished with a second one.  But I am going to come in something like 20K words short.

I have determined that it’s dang near impossible to write when the kids are home, so I’ve figured out a game plan for that: I’ll break tail writing while they’re actually in school, then edit and revise what I’d planned for the scheduled publishing dates while they’re not.

So.  Finished works: I’ve finished Detritus.  It’s novella length.  I’m planning on setting that aside until my children’s Christmas Break starts, then Kindle-only publishing it in January.  It’s non-genre drama.  Bit more fitting for the same readers that liked my Survivors than those that read my urban fantasy.

I’ve also nearly finished Normalcy Bias.  I’ve got one more story to go in that one.  Currently, it’s sitting at a bit longer than Survivors, so I will do a paper copy of that one.  I’m talking to my current cover artist about what might work for it.  She does some incredible work, and I think her normal style will work really well for it.  I’m planning on releasing it in March.

Yes, you read that right: March.  I’m planning on attempting to do an every-other-month release on my work.  Key word here is attempting.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage, but I do have enough ideas for it to work.  I think, if I can’t manage every other month, I can at least do quarterly releases (every third month).

I will be also doing reading on how to figure out the self-promotion thing without an actual budget for advertising.  I tried doing a separate page on FB for an author page, but FB wanted me to pay them to boost the posts.  And I couldn’t figure out a lot of what I was supposed to do to get it out there in the first place.*  Clear as mud.  They do the same with the links I post from Amazon: if I don’t pay them, they bury the posts.

I’ve looked into advertising with Amazon: “You don’t pay unless someone clicks on your link.”  But I don’t have the budget to do that, either.  And it’s been so long since I’ve been active between learning to manage health issues and teaching that my stuff isn’t showing up in the “people who purchased this also purchased that,” either.  And I’ve got six reviews on one of my works.  And that’s the most I have on any.

So, if anyone who reads this has any recommendations on books for me to read about how to do this whole self-pub/self-promo thing successfully,** I’m all ears.



*I had a professional writing teacher that had us building a mock website for a pretend charity as an assignment.  She reminded us “Keep it simple.  Anything you do to help the user can hinder the user if they can’t figure out how to use it.”  Something that web designers keep forgetting in their “improvements.”

**”Successfully” is relative.  My income was low enough that my standards are very low for my definition of “success.” 

Writers’ Block

At some point, everyone who writes must deal with a case of writers’ block.  I’ve found that in my case, the key to getting past it depends on figuring out what the root cause for the block is, and coming up with a strategy to deal with it.

And yes, I’ve found that different causes require different strategies.  The suggested “just sit down and write” is part of it, but is so simplistic that it tends to make it worse because you’re not sure how to even get started to “sit down and write” to get past the block.

I say “simplistic” because, at root, yes, you do have to sit down and write.  It’s how and what you’re writing that determines whether it works or not.

For example, I’ve found that the most common causes for writers’ block for me is that I get so far into envisioning where I want the story to end up that I lose track of how I’m supposed to getting the characters there.  Other times, I have a character that DOES NOT WANT.  Doesn’t want to go where I want them to go, get there in that way, or do anything.  I’m taking the story in the wrong direction.  And sometimes, I get overwhelmed/intimidated by the scope of a story and freeze.

I got stuck on my current (but nearly finished) project for THREE YEARS.  Partially because I’d envisioned the beginning and the end, but couldn’t get the middle to gel, and partially because, when I tried to write the middle, I tried going in the wrong direction.  So, I figured out where it started feeling forced, backed up (cutting 4K words), and took it in a different direction that was going to end up in a different place in the character’s story–no more “How am I going to get the characters from here to there?  And better yet, he’s finally listening to the older character that does no better  in their given situation.  And yes, I did do a lot of long hand drafting.  Had to, to figure out which direction the characters wanted to go in.

Then, there’s the other issue with rude plots barging in, demanding to be written RIGHT NOW, thank you…then getting bigger, more complex, and broader in the ideas and story line.  That story (2/3  of the way finished) got intimidating real quick.  When I started feeling like “I can’t write this one,” I’d sit down and write a short story.  One in no way related to the piece of fiction kicking my butt.  And then, I’d plot just the next arc of the story, then flesh it out.  Sometimes, it would be done long hand, because looking at the page/word count down in the bottom left corner got to be a bit much until I had the next scene, the next chapter, the next plot arc finished in first draft, and ready to be transcribed.

Yes.  I am saying that if you feel overwhelmed by a big project, get blocked, or find yourself procrastinating, break it into smaller chunks and just do the little chunks (they add up).  This does translate to more than writing.

Yes, “just write your way through the writers’ block” is a good, basic piece of advise, but is way too simplistic to work in the same way for every person.

This is how it works for me.  Your mileage may vary.


National Novel Writer’s Month…November.  I’ll have papers coming due twice during the month, grabbing my attention and focus twice.  Interrupting writing productivity and thought processes.

This year, at least.

I think I’ve come up with a strategy that will allow me to get at least something done, if not a whole novel written in a month.  I have, at current count, about four projects unfinished: The Schrodinger Paradox, Detritus, Lost (a vampire story), and Normalcy Bias (collection of short fiction).  Instead of trying to get a whole new novel plotted out and written, I’m going to finish as many as I can over the course of the month, between 5 day long grading binges.

I AM aiming at around 50-60 K words done, minimum.  I don’t have a whole lot to go on the first two projects, or on the last one.  It’s Lost that is going to take a lot of focus and uninterrupted writing time.

So far, I’ve got a lot planned.  I am aiming at a lot done.  I will be aiming at a lot more–say, every other month something new finished and coming out–in 2018, for as long as I can keep that up.

I think it’s going to be fun to see what I can actually accomplish.

And no, I won’t be constantly whinging about writing this month.  And I won’t give updates unless/until I actually finish a draft of something.

I may go into something I’ve learned about the writing process itself, but that will be as far as writing about writing goes.