Happy 2018! I know a lot of you have had a tough year for various reasons. Here’s hoping that the new year will treat you, and the world in general, a million times better.
Personally, I think the best word for my 2017 was “hopeful”‘…
In May I wrote here about how I had beaten my months-long writer’s block. Points 4 and 5 were about two flash fiction pieces I’d written. Several months later, both of those pieces sold–my first sales to markets outside of our co-op publishing venture here at Turtleduck Press. Score!
I started a cycle: keep an eye on upcoming themed calls for submission (anthologies and the like), use the themes as inspiration, write a story, submit just before deadline, repeat. It worked really well for generating stories (though somewhat less well for selling them), and for a while I was on a roll.
In September I decided to finally see a health professional about wrist pain I’d been struggling with on and off for years. (Don’t shoot me! I kept thinking that I’d be fine if only I could do more exercise on my own, or find the right stretches…or if I did see someone, they might tell me to STOP WRITING.) I now have a diagnosis and exercises I would never have thought of on my own. Things aren’t at 100% yet, and they may never be–I’m still working on the right combination and frequency–but they are much better.
At the same time, I …
Continuing with my theme of things I am thankful for, I want to talk about writing.
I realized today, as I was contemplating what I am thankful for this year, that I am thankful for the gift of words.
It’s not something I consciously think about much, because I have literally been writing my entire life. But it is a true gift, and I am thankful for it.
I’ve always said that I wanted to touch people with my words, be it poetry or novels. And I have, because people have told me.
When I was a member of Job’s Daughters, the youth group I was involved in from the time I was fifteen until I was twenty, I was promoted to the state chapter, which was a great honor. My job was to be a pen pal to the girls in Missouri (this was before the Internet. Wow, I am really showing my age!). So we wrote back and forth and sent each other stuff. For the big State convention, there was a contest to see who had the best depiction of their assigned state (and an essay). I made a cool map of Missouri and made it into a collage with all the stuff I got over the course of the year. And I wrote an awesome essay.
Well, I won. And was asked to stand up in front of hundreds of people and read it.
Apparently, I made some people cry. I had touched them that much.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m prone to long periods of not writing fiction. These tend to be accompanied by self-flagellation and an existential crisis: if I’m not writing, who am I? Then comes depression (or sometimes that happens first), which makes it even harder to write, and round and round I go.
The only way to break the cycle is to start putting down some words.
This, obviously, is easier said than done. It’s intimidating, especially if you’ve been away from the blank page for a while.
In the past I’ve tried fanfiction, though it’s not normally my thing, or played around with a completely different genre–not to try selling, just to play with. This time, since the beginning of the year, I’ve gone through several different stages. It’s working, so I thought I’d share…
1. First I resurrected my own blog. It’s not fiction, and doesn’t completely fill a need for me in the way writing fiction does. But I do blog with an audience in mind, and putting together coherent opinion pieces or travel posts is good practice in writing down the words, finishing a piece, and shipping.
2. Then I branched out from non-fiction and started writing the smallest possible thing every day. On some days, they were fragments of stories that didn’t and probably won’t go any further, but mostly they were haikus. I’m not trying to become a published poet, so I was writing …
So, over at my blog, I’ve been doing some nonfiction series with the thought that the posts will be expanded into a series of books. (Well, actually, I plotted out the books two years ago–writing them has been another story, of course.) The most recent series has been about using consistency to build a writing habit, and, oddly enough, writing the series has done a huge amount to remind me how things are supposed to go.
So it’s been helpful for everyone! Yay me.
I think it’s easy to let your good habits falter without realizing you’re doing so. I think this can be especially true for writers because every step of the process and even every story works a bit differently, so it’s not a steady habit like “work out first thing when I get up” or “drink a glass of water with every meal.”
When I planned my series, I picked topics I felt I understood, that I felt I could help people with, so writing the consistency section has been an eye-opener, because despite my best intentions, I’ve let my consistency go lately as well.
So it’s been an exercise in practice what you preach. I’ve set myself some triggers (i.e., actions that symbolize it’s time to write) and have picked a daily time (first thing in the morning, getting up a little earlier) and it’s working really well for me. I’m finally making the progress that had been eluding me the past few months.
And I …
Happy New Year, friends! I think the world in general has had quite enough of 2016. Here’s hoping for better things in 2017.
On a personal writerly level, I had a very mixed year. I released my first published novel (co-authored with Kit), which was amazing, and then dove into a months-long promotional campaign for it, which was interesting and educational and sometimes fun, but not so amazing. (Except the two book launches. Those were pretty neat.) One of my co-workers at the day job bought my book recently, and today she walked past and waved it at me with a bookmark in it. That was also pretty neat.
But the promo campaign has been over for months, and I’ve written almost nothing since.
You may or may not be a writer, but I’m sure you know this about habits: if you let them drop, the longer you’ve been away from them, the harder it is to pick them up again. They start to feel big and scary and insurmountable.
I’ve fallen into that trap before. For months. And writer who are not writing? Not the most pleasant people to be around, let me tell you. For starters, they tend to mope around and complain of existential angst, while their family members (and sometimes, the writers themselves) wonder why they can’t be content with normal diversions and enjoyable things like regular people, or alternatively, how it can be so hard to make stuff up with one’s brain. …
Today I am super excited because I get to unveil…
What is it, you ask? It’s our next release, an anthology of longish short stories by three Turtleduck Press authors, plus a sneak peek at our next novel. (Never fear, KD Sarge—our fourth author—hasn’t gone anywhere. Look for her next piece right here on December 1!)
And yes, each story features outer space. And at least one princess.
To be honest, I had a lot of trouble with mine. I didn’t want to go the route of Star Wars, with a grand space opera, since I only had the length of a novelette to work with. Next I ran through some classic Star Trek rip-off ideas and abandoned those as well.
But then what? How to reasonably put a princess in a space setting and give her an adventure…oh yes, and a romance?
Luckily, I already had a space setting—the steampunk ‘verse featured in The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station. It’s based on an alternate nineteenth century where a powerful source of energy, called ether, enabled humans to invent space travel more than a century early. Lots of fun…but I still wasn’t sure how to use …
It’s been almost a month since City of Hope and Ruin was released, and guys, I’m discovering that the marketing phase of a book can be pretty intense. I’ve been doing some sort of promo (or networking for future promo) just about every day, while trying not to annoy my social media friends and followers too much. That’s a lot of brain cycles. Especially because it’s all new to me. I’ve been learning about book marketing for quite a while now, have done some already for Turtleduck Press, but this is a whole ‘nother level.
Of course, it helps immensely that there are two of us — our marketing power is doubled. Or even more, because Kit and I are in vastly different parts of North America, so we can each hit our respective local bookstores/libraries/conventions. We even managed to co-host a virtual launch party on Facebook. (We had lots of Q&As and some fun discussion, which you can still read at the link.) It felt surprisingly festive, and was a great way to celebrate our release date together despite the best attempts of geography to keep us apart.
I also held a local launch party at my favourite bookstore — one of those “dream come true” moments (except that Kit couldn’t be there). How did it go? Here’s the short version:
In actual words: I did a reading, then a Q&A (and people asked great questions), and finished off with a signing.
I have also had …
City of Hope and Ruin is out! Hooray! It’s out and it’s lovely and people have been so great about telling us how excited they are or how much they liked the book and we are very thankful for all you lovely people.
And now I am free! BWHAHAHA.
I mean, of course, there’s still lots to do on CoHaR. Marketing things, reviewers, guest posts and blog tours, the Goodreads giveaway which starts tomorrow, etc. We’ll be at it for months. But the frenetic pace of the past year, and specifically the last five months, is done with.
Of course, now that I find myself with freedom, I once again find myself confronted with a slew of options. What to work on now? Do I work on anything? Do I catch up on all the reading I didn’t do while ear-deep in revisions?
At the beginning of the year, I made myself a spreadsheet, and on said spreadsheet I made a list of all the writing projects I wanted to accomplish this year, as well as what I felt was a reasonable amount of time to expect them to be done, and which months would include what projects, etc.
Let me tell you how that’s gone thus far.
I had a bunch of “smaller” projects slated for January-March. Marketing tweaks, short projects, etc. Not one of them has gotten done.
I had that I’d finish the mostly finished draft of a different story March-May. In my infinite …
I’ve written before in this space about my struggles with feeling like an imposter. Like I’m not a Real Writer, or not really meant to be a writer, or never going to be a writer.
Well…it looks like I was wrong. Because this is a real novel. That I wrote. (Well, that I co-wrote. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this post tonight if it weren’t for Kit. The power of a co-author cannot be underestimated, guys.) It looks real — the cover art looks pretty darn official, and Kit did a phenomenal job with the interior formatting — but in a week or two it’s going to be in my hands, and I’m going to have to believe it really is real.
And I’m having a real book launch, and people I know are excited to read it (which is oddly terrifying), and it has its very own Goodreads page.
The funny thing is, I’ve been an author for a while. For the past five years, I’ve been steadily writing short stories right here on this site — you can find them under Freebies and in every anthology we’ve done — as well as a lot of blogging over here. And as for how long I’ve been a writer…well, since I learned the alphabet, pretty much.
But somehow a novel is different.
(It’s not the first novel I’ve written, not by a long shot. But it is the first one I’ve published. Again, …
Siri here. We have a special post-Easter treat for you today. Because it’s the fifth Tuesday of the month, you’re getting a guest post from fellow writer Dianna Bell. Dianna is an Aussie who writes primarily fanfiction, and she’s here to share some ways in which lessons from fanfiction can apply to writing original fiction as well. Pleeeease welcome…Dianna!
This guest post feels like all my writing: I have a plan, but no idea how to start so that the words in my head hit the screen. How about I just wade in? I write fanfiction, and there are things I’ve learned from it that could apply to all writing. (Supposedly I also write original stuff, but I’ve had more luck in the last few years with fanfiction, and in any case that’s probably another blog post. Which may be a while coming, because I’m a guest. )
Dismissing fanfiction as ‘not writing’ is wrong.
It’s true that characters, locations and more come ready-made; however, I’d note that I’ve never seen this argument made against people who redo fairy tales. I believe, whether fanfiction or original, a story boils down to a “what if” statement. No matter how much they started with or had to create from scratch, each writer has that moment when the “what if” comes to them, and they write down the story which follows from it.
Uh, what’s a fayth?
I’m writing a Frozen Fantasy X fanfic currently; I’ve replaced the Final …