Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Finding Time To Write In Three Easy Steps #WriterWednesday #amwriting #goals #inspiration #findingtime

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” -- Robert Louis Stevenson

 And that's exactly what you're doing when you write, whether it's a grocery list or participating in NaNoWriMo, planting seeds. Unless you're going for instant gratification via social media or blogging, when you write something it takes time for it to pay off. But no matter what or why you're writing, you need to get the writing done first.

Which leads me to the following list, my release schedule for next year:

Rise of the Deva'shi (Parthalan #3) - February 2017
Changing Fates (Changes #3) - April 2017
Gallowglass - June 2017
Golem (Parthalan #4) - September 2017
Bride of the Gallowglass (Gallowglass #2) - November 2017

Well, that's certainly ambitious.

There are lots of reasons why 2017 will go down in history as Release Madness, the main one being that three of the above titles are extremely close to completion (they don't need more than a final edit/proofread and finalized covers), and the other two are very close to final draft status. Still, that's a helluva schedule, and I'm not even mentioning my DDJ (Dreaded Day Job), wrangling the Wonder Twins and Wonder Dog (the parrot is above our shenanigans), or grad school. So how the heck will I find time to write?

Simple: I will make time.

Honestly, that's really all it comes down to. Whenever we have something we're passionate about, be it writing or woodworking or running marathons, we find the time to do it. We all get the same 24 hours each day; some of us choose to use them wisely, others binge on Netflix (says the girl who watched 2 seasons of Daredevil in four days. What? It was, um, research.)

Here's how I find time to write:

I write at the same time every day. For me, that means after the Wonder Twins get on the bus, and my husband goes back to bed. This gives me about an hour of peace and quiet per weekday. Of course, I can write at other times, but having a set schedule is very helpful.

I strive to meet my word count. usually my word count is 2000 per day. I don't hold myself to that if I'm in deep edit mode, since I'm often deleting while writing, and keeping track of all that is maddening.

I take days off. Forcing yourself to write is not the way to create compelling stories. I get much more quality work done when I take breaks from writing, and 500 good words beats 2000 filler words (that will likely get deleted) any day.

That's how I do it! How do you find time to write? Tell us in the comments!

 Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! 

The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Kind Of Pencils do You Use? #WriterWednesday #amwriting #inspiration

In my never-ending quest for blog post topics, I asked my husband what I should write about today... and I got the title you see above you. And while I initially dismissed his idea, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Artist need tools to create, right?

 But I don't want to talk about traditional writing tools, like pencils and notebooks and word processing programs. I want to talk about the tools that make writing possible, tools that you can use to smash through writers block or jump start your inspiration. one of the tools I use for this--and I have many--are newsletters.


I subscribe to a wide variety of newsletter, some because they're writing related, some for inspiration, and some just for fun. Below are a few of my favorites.

 Travel + Leisure: This is a list based newsletter, which features things like "25 Waterfalls To See Before You Die" and "Top Ten Towns For Foodies". It's a great way to get inspiration for a scene, or research a location without leaving home.

 Tasting Table: Features a wide variety of world cuisine, and has restaurant and chef profiles. It's fun learning what's eaten for breakfast in Sweden, and how chefs create those amazing meals.

 Atlas Obscura: As the name implies, this newsletter features some of the strangest and most out of the way stuff on earth. I've read articles on Spring Heeled Jack , a church decorated with dragon bones, and a unicorn skeleton. Now that's some inspiration.

 What tools do you use for inspiration? Tell us in the comments!

Heir to the Sun is available here:

 My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22:

 StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors! About these ads Occasionally, some of your visi

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

It's Not Too Early To Talk About 2017 Goals, Is It? #WriterWednesday #goals #amwriting

Last week, I talked about the goals I wouldn't be achieving in 2016. That led me to make a list of twelve possible goals for 2017, and by making it public with y'all, I have accountability. Um, eek.

While not all of these are specifically writing-related, they will all propel me toward my ultimate goal of leaving the DDJ (that's Dreaded Day Job, a term coined by Nick Stephenson), giving myself the time and space to devote to my writing, and living a simpler, happier life with my husband and the Wonder Twins. 

And Maggie, the Wonder Dog. (Don't tell the parrot I couldn't find a picture of her.) 13094379_1019973338090052_2862874367491170561_n                     

Without further ado, here is my 2017 goal list:
  1. Increase readership - because let's start the list with a crap ton of work. More detail to come on this.
  2. Have a beginner homestead up and running by 12/31/2017 - Did I tell you I'm attempting a homestead on my city lot? Stay tuned for more info!
  3. Pay off LTG - LTG is this stupid creditor that's been hanging around for YEARS. I only owe them about $1500, so 2017 will be the year to make that disappear.
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained when I started working from home - I can do that in a year. Right?
  5. Double my email subscribers - tripling and quadrupling would also be acceptable.
  6. Read 100 books - because good writers are readers first.
  7. Do twelve new things with the Wonder Twins - new fairs, new museums, the sky's the limit here.
  8. Make 2 extra car payments - a big part of the plan to leave the DDJ is to reduce expenses, and ditching the car payment will definitely help.
  9. Stay current on all expenses - again, all in the name of reducing costs and not needing the DDJ
  10. Restart my craft business - BWT (Before Wonder Twins) I used to make and sell jewelry and paintings. Now that the kids are in school, I have the time and space to restart that portion of my life.
  11. Learn how to bake bread - because who doesn't want to be able to whip up a fresh, crusty loaf of bread?
  12. Finish The Chronicles of Parthalan to book 6 - finish as all in a rough draft state, not finished as in published. I'm not that crazy.
Okay, so that list is a bit...daunting. But you know what? I can do each and every item on that list, and each item will propel me closer to my ultimate goal of leaving corporate America behind, and giving me more time to devote to my writing. It's easy to say "I will write more" or "I will submit more often", but sometimes you need to do some background work before that's possible. If you want to write more, first you have to find the time to write.

Will I ever be a full time writer? Honestly, I don't know--but I can't wait to find out.
 Do you have any 2017 goals yet? Let us know in the comments!

  ProvostHeirToTheSun Heir to the Sun is available here:

My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22:

StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What Happens when You Don't Make Your Goals? You Keep Going, Of Course #WriterWednesday #amwriting #goals

About a week ago I started prepping my blog posts for 2017, including my yearly writing goals... And that got me to thinking about my 2016 goals, and one goal in particular that I am not going to achieve. I'd planned to release five novels this year, but that just won't be happening.

I started off strong, and released Changing Scenes on January 5. The Virgin Queen released on April 5, and Copper Veins FINALLY came out on July 27. And then...crickets. The other two titles I'd intended to release this year were Changing Fate, the third installment in my contemporary romance series, Changes, and Rise of the Deva'shi, the third Chronicle of Parthalan. After I was done being mad at myself for not making these goals, I took a step back and tried to figure out what happened.

In the case of Changing Fate, there were a few things going on. In all honesty Changing Scenes came out way too quickly (Changing Teams released October 29, 2015, and Changing Scenes hit the shelves on January 5, 2016), and I never got the chance to properly promote it.  Add that to the fact that I have two other currently-releasing series, am querying a fourth, am in grad school full time, and have the Wonder Twins, husband, and pets to wrangle, and, well, I think you know why Changing Fate isn't coming out until next year. Oy.

The situation is a bit different for Rise of the Deva'shi. Even though this is the third Chronicle of Parthalan, it was originally released back in 2009. (Long story. Someday, when y'all have insomnia, I'll tell you all about it.) So it was supposed to re-release this year, being that Bellatrix Press picked up the entire series. Everything was lined up, and then... well, I did a thing.

I was supposed to hand over the manuscript to the editor by August 1. In the meantime I'd been reworking and tweaking away, and I kept getting stuck on this one section. It didn't really fit with the overall tone of the book, and our hero, Aeolmar, was behaving out of character. There were some good scenes in that passage, and some awesome bits of dialogue, but in the end it had to go.

So, the day before the manuscript was due, I cut 24,000 words.

Yes, twenty four THOUSAND.

As you can imagine, this turn of events meant that the manuscript was delivered somewhat later than promised, hence the delayed release date. But you know what? I'm glad I chopped out that part of the story. Now my editor is concentrating on the actual meat of the novel, not trying to make a few bits of dialogue and weird scenes fit into the overall narrative. This means that when Rise of the Deva'shi is released, it will be a stronger story. Since I took my time with Changing Fate, it will be a stronger story, too.

Your take-away from all of this is DON'T RUSH YOUR WRITING. I don't recommend making huge plot changes the day before your deadline, either, but if you need more time don't be afraid to ask for it. The story takes as long as it takes. And you do want to put out the best story possible, right?
 ProvostHeirToTheSun  Heir to the Sun is currently on sale for 99 cents here:

 My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22:

StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Writer Wednesday - Things To Consider Before Submitting Your Manuscript #amwriting #amediting #WedmesdayWisdomForWriters

Hey there writers! Today I'd like to discuss things that you need to have ready when submitting your manuscript, but many writers overlook. It's easy enough to do, since we typically spend so much time polishing our work to perfection, but every item I've listed below is absolutely essential, if not for the initial query then for the final product. Of note, these guidelines are for fiction projects. Nonfiction book proposals are a whole different blog post!
  1. A tag line, also called a hook or a log line - your book will need something catchy that draws the reader in.
  2. Front cover - while no one's expecting you to send in cover mock ups--in fact, many publishers actively discourage it--you need to have a clear idea of how you'd like the cover to look. Otherwise, if the publisher asks you for suggestions and you reply that you're cool with whatever they come up with, you might be stuck with an image that doesn't properly represent your book.
  3. Back cover - the text on the back cover--usually referred to as the back cover matter or blurb--is your one page opportunity to convince a reader to pick up your book. It needs to be concise, interesting, and leave enough clues that the reader needs to read the book to find out what happens. It's your first opportunity to make that all-important emotional connection with your reader.
There are many more items we could discuss, but these three items--tag line, front cover and back cover--are the meat of your final product. Now let's see some of these concepts in action, using one of my books, Heir to the Sun, as an example. Below is the cover, tag line in bold, and the back cover matter:

  A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm... b3177-magnetWhen Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.

 Caol'nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol'nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol'nir joins Asherah's rebellion.

 What Caol'nir doesn't know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.

 Now as to how the awesomeness we see above us came to be, I started with the tag line. I wanted something simmering with tension that would draw the reader in. As for the back cover matter, I wanted to give the reader the barest taste of the plot, and the core issues our heroes are trying to solve. And as for the amazing cover by Veronica Jones, I knew that I wanted an action scene, and I knew which characters I wanted to feature.  I provided Veronica with the character descriptions, and gave her a few scenes to pick from, and voila! There you have it, the three things I plot out long before my manuscript is complete.

What work-ahead items are on your list - marketing, platform building, ordering swag? Tell us in the comments!

Heir to the Sun is currently on sale for 99 cents here:

 My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22:

StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Writer Wednesday - Take Care Of Yourself #WednesdayWisdomForWriters #amwriting #wellness

Recently, I was discussing con crud with a writer friend. What’s con crud, you ask? I assure you, it’s just as gross as it sounds.

 This ailment got its vivid name because it tends to pop up among conference and convention goers a few days after the event in question has ended. Typical symptoms include congestion, cough, and a general feeling of malaise. I know, makes you want to sign up for even more conferences, amiright? 

For years I thought that con crud was the inevitable result of being packed into a hotel or other public facility, breathing in the same recycled air as hundreds if not thousands of others, subsisting on stale coffee and cookies, and sleeping less than usual. Many anecdotal cures promise to cure the crud, ranging from taking high doses of vitamin C to eating raw garlic. They never worked, at least not for me.

 But what if con crud wasn’t inevitable? What if by making a few small changes to my pre-con routine, I could avoid con crud altogether?

 This called for science, and its buddy, research. In true mad scientist fashion, I used myself as a test subject.

 I put my plan in motion shortly before I attended Necon this past July. During the week leading up to the event, I slept a full eight hours every night, and took at least one nap per day. I doubled my water intake, eliminated alcohol, and made sure to consume vegetables and protein at every meal. Basically, for a week I behaved like a normal healthy person, not my usual overstressed, pretzel-munching, coffee-guzzling self. And guess what?

 I didn’t get con crud!

 By resting, keeping myself hydrated, and eating as well as I could manage, I got my body into the best condition it could possibly be in BEFORE the con. While at the con I still drank the stale coffee, and I didn’t sleep nearly enough, but I didn’t get con crud. In fact, after four days at Necon I didn’t even have my usual post-con fatigue. In short, I felt great.

 So, what does this have to do with writing? Quite a bit, actually. First of all, your creative impulses are a higher level function than talking or moving around or breathing, so when you’re not feeling 100% your body naturally diverts resources and energy to where it’s needed most.  If you imagine your creative process as the top 10% of your energy, you can (probably) visualize what I mean. And have you ever tried writing when you’re sick or tired? It’s not easy.

 Therefore, the better shape we keep ourselves in, the better our creative output will be. I’m not saying you should live like a monk, and ingest nothing  but spinach and water and sunlight. Just take the time to take care of yourself, and know your limits. If you have a big event, a deadline looming on the horizon, or are taking part in a writing challenge (ya’ll didn’t think I’d forget to mention NaNoWriMo, did you?) be cognizant of your habits. You’ll never make your word count if you’re too tired to type.

 Do you have any tip on avoiding con crud? Tell us in the comments!

 I'll be at Whipowill Stables for their open house on September 18, selling books and playing with horses. Learn more about the event here

. StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Writer Wednesday: It’s Time To Talk About NaNoWriMo #writerwednesday #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

Here we are on the last day of August, with summer winding down and the kids returning to school. Right now I'm looking ahead to November, specifically NaNoWriMo. Knowledge I've written about NaNo before, but here's a description in a nutshell: You write a first draft of a novel (50,000 words, which breaks down to 1,667 words per day) in 30 days, during the month of November. Hence, National Novel Writing Month = NaNoWriMo. Sounds daunting, right? Actually, it's totally doable, and I should know. I've been participating in NaNo for years, and I always make my word count. My personal best is 66k in 19 days, but there were a few extenuating circumstances there: I didn't pay my cable bill, and I had no internet for half the month. It was a wonder Facebook survived without me. Lesson the first: reducing/eliminating distractions has a positive effect on word count. The other tip I can't stress enough is getting all of your pre-work out of the way before November 1. What is pre-work? Well, your outline, for one. Also, if your story concept needs any sort of research--be it places, dates, obscure languages--do it now. when November 1 hits you want to hit the ground running, not get bogged down reading semi-factual Wikipedia pages. Lesson the second: research now, write like the dickens later. Something else I do to keep me on track is engage a NaNo buddy. Your buddy can help you by critiquing plot points, helping you out when the story hits a rough patch, or just by commiserating and sheering you on. My NaNo buddy this year is Barry *waves* and we've already had a few chat sessions to talk about our projects. He's working on a horror novel with a fricken' AWESOME concept, and I'm going to cobble together a retelling of Medusa and other Greek myths. Which means that our projects will never, ever be in competition for the same venue. Side benefit! Lesson the third: get a support group/person/houseplant. There's no need to go it alone! Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is tough, but any serious writer can make this goal. If you feel like you need a challenge to get yourself back on track, or just want to revel in writing something new, I say give NaNo a go. You might surprise yourself. afe12-frontOh, and that 66k I wrote in 19 days? It's a real book - Changing Teams! Check it out here!   See that, if I can win NaNo, and get the resulting project published, you can too :)   Are you planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me in the comments!