Monday Mayhem

I didn't have a blog post planned for today, so I'm just going to fly by the seat of my pants this week. How about a little free-writing this morning? Normally, when I free-write it comes out like a journal or diary entry. That's not going to help me come up with any ideas. 

Not that I need any more ideas right now. I have a whole pile of stuff that I've started and set aside. I need to figure out what to do with those projects. Right now, I'm revising a novel that I wrote a long time ago. I want to say it's been at least ten years ago. 

Some things I've noticed as I've been revising that piece are:

  • it's not as bad as I thought,
  • the parts that have been heavily revised are the worst of it,
  • and don't ever throw away your rough draft. 

Some of the revised parts were so bad that it made my head hurt to even consider revising them. Since the latest version had veered so far off course from my original idea, I cut some scenes and replaced them with the original scenes from the rough draft. 

I literally, cut them out of the notebook I originally drafted it in and glued the pieces to printer paper so I could put it all in place. I'm surprised at how little I really had to change the rough draft portions. 

Which brings me to my next thought. I think I over-revise. At least I sure did on this piece. If I recall correctly, I did 7 revisions before I put it away, frustrated with it. I did something similar with Alaskan Recovery. I wrote the draft, then I revised and got another idea for Cari's character.

For those of you who haven't read Alaskan Recovery yet, I don't want to include any spoilers, but I will say that I wrote 100-150 pages of story that was essentially backstory. I spent years trying to figure out the best way to combine the two "stories". In the end, I cut the 100-150 pages of backstory and ended up back to the original story. 

I need to remember this with my upcoming projects. I don't want to spend ages revising and tweaking stuff that isn't necessary. I'm not saying that I can't add details and nuances in revisions, but I do need to ask myself whether or not I'm adding to the original story, or just obsessing with my characters and making my life more difficult than it needs to be.

So... now you can see how my mind works when I just let it go. I worry a lot about what I'm doing. Whether it's right, wrong, or just a waste of time. I think with my fingers as I type. And sometimes, I just need to see stuff on the screen to solidify it in my brain. 

There really wasn't much point to this blog post, other than I said I'd post every Monday. So here I am, posting. ;)

Keep on keeping on.

I've been trying to figure out what readers really want to see on my blog. I doubt most of you really care about my struggles to deal with software or computer issues. I suspect only a handful of you care about my writing process, and I KNOW there are lots of blogs out there with more helpful advice for writers than this one. So really, what is it that you guys visit my blog for? I'd love to know so I can provide something interesting for you to read. I need some direction. Tell me what you'd like to see.

Since I'm here, I'll share a bit of what's new in my life.

Professional: I'm a full time writer now. Well, as full time as a person can be with 3 small children, 2 dogs, 3 cats, a husband, and too many hobbies.

Health: I've lost about 15 pounds in the past 6 months and have never felt better. If you'd like more details, let me know!

Family: We had our third child (our second daughter) in August 2013. She's currently teething and cranky. Our eldest child (our son) is going to start 4K in September.

Pets: We're holding steady at two dogs (Dogues de Bordeaux) and three cats (all rescues).

Writing: I'm currently working on edits for Letting GoAlaskan Hope, and an unnamed novel. I also have several ideas I'm mulling over.

An update on some projects...

Alaskan Hope has been sent off to the editor. I'm sure she'll have a ton of suggestions for me, but at least I'm moving forward with it. Letting Go finally resembles a cohesive novel. I had a lot of trouble getting it to work the way I wanted it to, but I think I'm there with it. Again, much work needed, but the hardest part is done. My editor intends to start working on that the first week of January.

Now, I'm trying to decide where to go next. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. I have a very rough idea to work with. But I'm excited about it.

That leaves me roughly a week to find something else to do with my time. I'm not sure what that's going to be. There's plenty of chores I've neglected which I could do, but... I think I'll look over my list of writing projects and see if any of them speak to me. I'm sure I have something in the trunk-o-writing-junk that can be salvaged.

A general update on... things

I see it's been nearly a month since I posted anything. Well, you probably didn't know, but I've been hiding out in the mountains of northern Idaho, near a historic silver mining town, gathering berries and story ideas, while avoiding the people who wish me dead. No, seriously, I'm still where I always am, doing what I always do. I've just being some prioritizing. In case you didn't know, I'm currently awaiting the arrival of my third child, who is due to arrive almost any day. My belly makes it hard to use the laptop (my lap seems to be missing). And it's uncomfortable to sit for any length of time at my desk to use the external keyboard.

I also have returned to work after six months of being laid off due to lack of work. While it's the same position I held before, with the same company, some things have changed in the six months, which leaves me struggling to do some things that used to be simple. It's good to learn new things though.

Other than that, there's not much worth discussing from my personal life.

If you're curious about the progress of my writing (and really, why else would you read my blog), I have been plugging away at my revisions on Alaskan Hope. I have also shared it with a couple of friends who are telling me all that's wrong with it. They think they're hurting my feelings, but I LOVE all the information and feed back they've given me so far. (Thanks Jennifer and Shelia! You ladies ROCK!)

And now, this is where I admit the truth. I'm so far behind my self-imposed deadlines, I don't have any idea when it'll be available. Right now, I'm forcing myself to focus on making it as wonderful as possible instead of being done as quickly as possible.

Please be patient. I honestly believe it will be worth the wait and will be much better than my previous books.

Alaskan Hope Update

cover design_Alaskan HopeAfter much deliberation and procrastination, I'm writing this post to let you know that work on Alaskan Hope is going to be postponed. I've struggled with the story from the first day I started working on it, and to be completely honest, I'm just not enjoying the story at all. I've tried to get myself excited about it in a variety of ways, including having the immensely talented Lori Gnahn create a cover for it (isn't it gorgeous?). I've told myself I can't work on anything else until I get Alaskan Hope done. And I've pretty much beaten myself up daily for not being interested in working on it.

It's not just a case of startitis (starting many projects and not finishing them), there's something fundamentally wrong with what I have completed so far on the manuscript and I can't figure out what it is. So, rather than push through and write 65,000 words of a story I don't love, I'm just going to set it aside for an undetermined amount of time.

When it does get completed, you'll be much happier with the story than if I did it now. I will be much happier with it if I wait until I figure out what I don't like about it.

I'm currently working on a rough draft that may or may not ever amount to anything. It's my project for this month's Book-in-a-Week challenge. (So far I've completed 40 pages of my 100 page goal.) When I'm done with this week, I'm going to sort through some of my other projects and see what's floated to the top of the pond. I have a few different stories that I'm contemplating revising. I suspect one of those will be the next to be available.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Alaskan Healing Interview!

I feel so important! Darcia Helle of Quiet Fury Books interviewed me after reading Alaskan Healing. Make sure you check out the interview and show Darcia some appreciation for tolerating my presence long enough to ask me some questions! If more questions are posted in her comments, I'll do my best to answer them.

While you're on her website, check out her books. I've read two of them (several more are on my "must read soon" list) and she is masterful with suspense.

There's a coupon code for Darcia's readers to save 25% off Alaskan Healing at Smashwords. If you know someone who is considering a purchase, have them head over to Darcia's blog and grab the code! The code is valid until November 1st.

Alaskan Healing ready for re-release

I did it! Alaskan Healing is ready!

I managed to learn how to format my book (Alaskan Healing) for Amazon KDP, Createspace, Pubit, and Smashwords and have them all uploaded and ready to go before my self-imposed deadline. How awesome is that?

I received yet another proof copy today of the printed version. I made a couple tiny changes and I'm happy to let it "go to press." After that, I was confident I had all my grammatical mistakes fixed, and finally have the correct punctuation included. I'm happy with the formatting and the layout.

It looks like a really awesome book, and I owe a lot of that professional appearance to my cover designer, Lori Gnahn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lori.

After I was completely happy with the Createspace version, I used that as the starting point for creating the other documents. There are little things that are different for each of the other epublishing sites I chose to use.

So, I saved a copy of my Createspace document, removed the headers (with page numbers, title, and author's name), removed some page breaks, made sure I had the proper Smashwords front matter included, and uploaded that to Smashwords. No errors! Woo-hoo. It's almost like I know what I'm doing.

Then I saved another version for Barnes and Noble's PubIt (for the nook). I removed the mention of Smashwords from the front matter, saved and uploaded. I previewed it on their site and again, no errors!

On to Kindle publishing. I used the nook version of my document, saved as html in Word, uploaded, and previewed. What was I so nervous about?

Now, I wait. Createspace can take up to 48 hours to approve the documents. Amazon, Smashwords, and PubIt all have their own reviews and other things to do before my book appears on their sites.

I have to admit, I was really excited when Alaskan Healing was first released in September 2009, but right now I have this weird feeling in my stomach and I'm practically giddy with excitement. Not because I think I'm going to make more money as an indie author, but because I did it by myself (with some guidance from experienced indie authors).

My sense of accomplishment is through the roof right now. I am so proud of myself. I better get my butt back to work so I can feel this way again in a couple months when another of my novels is ready and loaded everywhere.

Hey! Did I mention that Alaskan Healing is ready for its re-release?

I'm a top ten producer for Book In a Week

I finished September's Book in a week Challenge about a week ago, but haven't had a chance to share my results because I've been so busy. Since I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did, here ya go. I managed to finish 70.5 pages in one week. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Granted, the seventy pages aren't all that great. It's very, very, rough draft material, but it's more material than I had at the end of August.

For the first five days, I focused on Alaskan Hope. I estimate that I completed 55-60 pages for that rough draft. I assume that makes anyone waiting for a sequel to Alaskan Healing happy.

The last two days, I focused on the yet-unnamed-hockey novel. While 15 pages isn't a lot, it's, again, fifteen more pages than I had for it in August.

How did I write 70.5 pages in 7 days? I made myself do it. There were a few days that I wrote absolutely nothing, but I made up for it on the other days. I set the goal for myself and told everyone that it was my goal. I'm stubborn. I didn't want to tell anyone I failed. So, in the end, I spent a LOT of time over the weekend, doing nothing but writing.

Once I got the kids to sleep, I stayed up waaaay too late, writing as much as I could so I'd achieve my goal. And I did. With 20.5 extra pages.

If you think 70.5 pages in a week is a lot, I have to tell you, I was the 10th top producer for the month. That means nine people wrote more than I did. Some of them were in the 200+ page range. I don't want to sound like I'm bitter, but I speculate those people don't have two small children running around, plus a dead website during the week.

I doubt I'll ever be the top producer for Book in a Week, but I'm definitely going to try to stay in the top ten each time I participate. It's a good way to push myself to achieve bigger and better things.

More changes

I haven't posted lately because I've been swamped. First off, as you can see, my website is different. For some reason, the other template decided to quit working with some of the plugins I wanted to use in the future. So part of my being too busy to post was me redoing my website. I'm quite fond of the new look and layout, so I guess it was time well-spent. And maybe I should thank the other layout for crashing?

I've also been busy with the big change that prompted all of this. As of October 1st, I will be an indie author (independent, self-published, and whatever other names there are for it). After an amicable parting with my current publisher, I've been busting my butt, trying to get everything ready to re-release Alaskan Healing.

I found an artist to design a new cover. Isn't it awesome? (Thank you, Lori Gnahn!)

I learned how to format for CreateSpace, so you'll still be able to purchase a bound copy of the book. I also learned all about epublishing, so Alaskan Healing will be available on a variety of ebook platforms.

The past two weeks, I've been proofreading, editing, and making minor changes to Alaskan Healing. The story is the same, some words are different, a few grammatical errors were corrected, and some punctuation issues have been rectified. I have read every word of this book five times in the past two weeks.

As you look at the cover, you'll see that there's a new line, "An Alaskan Healing Novel." Yes, there's going to be more than one. As previously mentioned, I'm working on Alaskan Hope, which I hope will be ready by Spring of 2013.

I know that's a long time to wait for a book from an author if you really like the author, but don't worry. I intend to have a different book out by December 1st, so you can buy a copy for yourself as a gift for the holidays. It's not a member of the Alaskan Healing Family, but I think you'll enjoy it still.

I'll do my best to keep you entertained.

 

Time to write

Once I have my idea and an outline, I start writing. I've used different software for my rough drafts, but I essentially do it the same way no matter what software I use. Often, I don't write my novels chronologically. I just pick something from my outline that I feel like writing and I write. When I run out of ideas for that scene, I pick another one and I write it. Sometimes when I'm writing, I think of another scene or occurrence that I want to include. I continue in this way until all of my listed scenes are written.

Then I let the story sit for a bit and go back to read through my list of scenes. When I did this with Alaskan Hope, I realized I just have one plot line. It's boring; you don't learn anything about any of the supporting characters and there's only one problem the main characters are trying to solve. It's repetitive. No one wants to read 200 pages about a pair of characters trying to overcome one problem.

I moped. For twenty-four hours, I beat myself up about how awful this idea was and how no one would be interested in reading it. I had to do something to make the story entertaining. I found myself back at the pre-writing stage, brainstorming ideas that I could use to add depth and interest to my story (aka "how to make my characters suffer").

After deciding what "problems" my characters would have to solve, I then made lists of the steps in each of those problems. I've interspersed those "plot points" into my original outline and will be writing those scenes. So while I said the rough draft was done, it's currently only about half done.

Starting Monday, I'm participating in September's Book-in-a-week challenge. My goal is 50 pages of rough draft. That will be about a third of the remaining scenes I need to write for Alaskan Hope.

Idea creation

I've used different methods of coming up with ideas over the years. When I used to write every day, and had lots of story ideas, most of my ideas came from my dreams. I'd wake up and wonder, "What happened to that guy/girl/dog who chased me through the corn field/pushed me down the stairs/joined me in the shower?" So I'd write what I remembered of the dream then just write whatever came to me. I was just writing the story so I could learn what happened. I enjoyed this method as it was fun for me to learn the story as I went along. However, it wasn't very organized. Sometimes I'd end up with an entire notebook full of words, but it didn't have a plot or any real point. However, I learned more about my characters and if I really wanted to, I could consider those stories prewriting now and pick the kernels from the chaff and outline it into novels. I started Alaskan Healing for a class I was taking online with the wonderful Loree Lough in 2006. It was the night before the class started and I was supposed to have an idea to work with. I'd procrastinated and procrastinated some more, thinking, "Damn. I hope an idea shows up otherwise this class is going to be a waste of money."

Grumbling about my muse's refusal to cooperate, I sat my butt on the couch to watch tv with my husband, he flipped the channel to Deadliest Catch and I said to myself, "I wonder why there aren't any women on any of the boats."

Aha! I had my idea. Thank you, Ms. Muse.

I wrote the rough draft of the hockey novel I am currently revising (no title so far) during National Novel Writing Month in 2006. I followed part of the Snowflake Novel Writing Method, but the initial idea came from watching too much hockey. (Blasphemy! There is no such thing as too much hockey!)

In August (2012), when I finally started working on Alaskan Hope (the next Alaskan Healing novel), I wasn't sure what I wanted to write. I had a good idea who my characters were going to be, but not what they were going to do. I used Freemind mind mapping software to get a bunch of ideas on paper/screen and sorted through those ideas to find the main "what happens to them" of the story.

 

There have been other various ideas between the hockey novel and Alaskan Hope, but I don't know that they'll ever amount to anything, so I didn't mention them in this post.

My writing method

  For anyone wondering how I write, the answer is simple: haphazardly.

For years, I've just sat down with my pen and paper and started scribbling, not really caring whether it amounted to anything presentable. I wrote to entertain myself.

I'd say I was quite prolific. I wrote an entire story in one weekend, multiple times. But, they would take a LOT of work to ever become presentable. I tried outlining things, but never enjoyed it. I wrote so I could learn what happened to my characters. The story unfolded as I wrote.

With the constraints I have on my time (full time job, two children under the age of 3, two dogs, three cats, various hobbies, husband, etc) I can't just muddle around until the story reveals itself and I feel inspired to write. I need some sort of plan to get me to the point where my fans have something to read and quit hounding me for a few minutes. (Just teasing. I love to be hounded. It makes me feel like my stories are enjoyed.)

Here's a quick look at the method I've developed so far. (Yes, I know it's not the order recommended by most "how to write a novel" books.

  1. Idea
  2. Outlining
  3. Rough draft
  4. Character sketches
  5. Setting info
  6. Add details to rough draft
  7. Revise until I'm happy
  8. Proof
  9. First reader
  10. Edit
  11. Proof
  12. Shove that baby bird out of the nest and pray it flies (to the bestseller list)

I'll expand on each step in the future, explaining how it worked for Alaskan Healing, and other novels I'm currently working on.

How does your method differ from mine? I'm always looking for new ideas to adapt to my process.

 

 

Progress

I just spent about 7 hours in the truck with two kids and my husband. My husband drove and I entertained the kids for the first half of the trip. It wasn't very pleasant with the cranky monsters, but I did some pre-writing and made progress getting reacquainted with my characters. Yes, I admit it. This book (working title: Alaskan Healing Sequel), Alaskan Hope, has some of the same characters as Alaskan Healing. I'm not sure I'd call it a sequel, since it doesn't have the same main characters. Don't worry though, it's based in Alaska, and the main characters in this book were in Alaskan Healing.

On the return trip the kids slept, my husband drove, and I got most of an outline worked out, plus some ideas for future books. (I guess it's a good thing my hubby hates to be a passenger and does most of the driving when we go anywhere together.

Crazy as it is, I even bounced some ideas off my husband and he gave me an idea. When I first heard his idea I said (to myself), "Nah, that wouldn't work at all." But then I started thinking about it and it WILL work.

It'll work great plus give an unexpected twist to the story.

Now I'm thinking I need to plan a long road trip for every weekend. And maybe I should talk to my husband more.