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To Do

The remainder of my year promises to be very busy. Here is my working to-do list:

  1. Write a guest blog post. (Deadline: 29 Sept)
  2. Finish Hamlette. (Deadline: 30 Sept)
  3. Edit this one project for a client.
  4. Edit this other thing for a friend.
  5. Edit this thing for my mom.
  6. Finish Faebourne.
  7. Finish Changers: The Great Divide.
  8. Keep working on Sel & Am.

The client’s project is open ended at the moment but naturally takes precedence over work I’m doing for friends and family.

Then, of course, there is all the non-work stuff: kids’ school events, doing things like laundry and dishes and grocery shopping. There is my physical therapy (I’ve injured my right shoulder), which eats into my time. I’m trying not to resent it. After all, I want to be healthy and well! I just also want to be productive and write.

So, again, apologies if I’m spotty with my blog posts. But I’ve got a lot going on and I hope you’ll find it was all worth it when my next project(s) are released!

Moving Forward

Remember that it’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes. In writing and in life. We live in a society where we think we must be perfect and feel like we’re being judged constantly. Maybe we are. BUT. As Methos once said, “We’re none of us perfect, MacLeod.” Expecting ourselves—or anyone else*—to be perfect is holding the world to an impossible standard. Have high standards, yes, but not unachievable ones. Otherwise your life will be one long disappointment.

*Be sure you’re not judging others harshly, either. Focus on your own work and don’t worry about anyone else’s. If someone wants your opinion, be grateful they think you’re worthy, and then be kind. Honest, of course, but focus on the positive.

Semifinalist

Well, my original television pilot Hunting Victor Frankenstein made it as far as the semifinals in the Creative World Awards. Unfortunately, it was eliminated at the finals. I’m still really proud of the script, and hope it can one day find a home somewhere. It’s written more for network television than cable (and Fresh Voices did call it “worthy of network consideration”), but I do think readers and producers are more interested in cable-style scripts these days. Everyone wants a deal with HBO or Netflix or FX or something, which HVF just isn’t that kind of material. So that may have worked against it.

Mostly I’ve been focused on my prose projects these days, but I still harbor tiny hopes that some of my screen work will one day be produced.

WIP

Bea and Gwendolyn found us then, and Liam used the distraction to slip his arm out of Rosalind’s hold. “Hey, ladies,” he said, and my heart wilted a little as his eyes lingered on Gwendolyn. She wilted, too, as though trying to make herself smaller under his gaze.

Why do cute boys have to be so dumb? Can’t they see who wants their attention and who doesn’t? Then again, maybe it’s a matter of who deserves the attention. Rosalind certainly didn’t. But while Gwendolyn may be the most kind-hearted person in the world, she surely didn’t warrant Liam’s unwanted interest. For someone who’d been so sensitive to my needs minutes before, Liam sure was being stupid about Gwendolyn’s. I’d like to believe it’s because he and I had some special bond, but I think attraction makes guys’ antennae malfunction. They see something they want and can no longer discern what the girl wants. It’s no excuse for bad behavior, of course. Men shouldn’t be catcalling or cornering women who don’t want their advances. Just something I’ve noticed, how even normally good guys can make really stupid choices if a cute girl is involved. I wished Gwendolyn would say or do something to put Liam in his place, though. Knowing Liam, he didn’t want her to be uncomfortable. If anything, he was bending over backward to make her feel special. Which made her uncomfortable.

What a mess.

Fine, I’d do it. “Liam,” I said. “Don’t stare. You’re freaking Gwen out.”

His mouth dropped open. He looked at me, then at Gwendolyn. “Am I? I certainly don’t mean to.”

Gwendolyn looked up, her eyes full of hope that her ordeal of tolerating a gorgeous university student might be nearing an end.

Why did we always want what—and who—we couldn’t have?

The Adventures of Sel & Am

So I’m putting up this little serial story one piece at a time. You can find it here. I’ve always really envisioned it as a manga, but I can’t draw.

Seladion and Amaurodios, if you’re somewhat new to my blog, are Ninatat, which are akin to angels. They exist as part of my parageographic project AElit. You can read more about that in this old post. AElit is something I’ve developed over time and keep meaning to organize into . . . I don’t know, but something. My graduate thesis danced along the margins of it, and I may yet rewrite that and publish it.

Sel & Am, though, are two characters close to my heart, and while their stories are something of a side project at the moment, I hope in time others will come to love them as much as I do.

WIP Wednesday

Most of you know I’m writing like mad to finish Hamlette. This is for One Line Wednesday:

The thing about having the Prince of Wales glowering at you and trying to get you to walk toward him at the same time is that when he’s glowering at you like that the last thing you want to do is walk toward him.

Death of a Newsletter

I’ve made attempts to build my newsletter, and I still send one out every month, but I think I’ll be ending that soon. Despite many authors insisting that newsletters are the best way to find readers and sell books, I’ve never seen much ROI. I did what many do and offered giveaways and free, exclusive content but . . . As soon as people signed up and got whatever was being given, they unsubscribed. Maybe I don’t have a knack for it. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong. I don’t know. But with so many outlets to choose from and only so much actual time, I have to be picky about my tactics. I enjoy posting stuff for my Facebook followers, and I even enjoy Tweeting now and then, or posting the occasional Instagram photo. I like blogging here, and reviewing on spooklights and Goodreads. That is, I think, more than enough. When you consider my editing jobs and, you know, actual writing, I stay plenty busy! And based on interest, or lack thereof, readers have shown me my newsletter is the least of my efforts. They’d rather I do other things in other places, and I’m happy to drop the excess weight.

If you’ve been following The Adventures of Sel & Am, well, I hope to find another venue for posting it. Right now it’s not a particularly active project, more of a side hobby that I’m tinkering with. I have so many other things that need to get finished, and I want to be able to do right by Sel & Am, both of whom I adore. Seladion in particular would surely be angry if I were to let him languish, or worse, be sloppy with him. Their adventures span centuries, too, so there’s lots to tell. I promise I’ll do so when I find the right home for them.

ETA: I did put the first part up on Wattpad.

The Order of Parts

Writing has a lot of steps. People who don’t write don’t understand that. Sometimes people who do write still don’t understand that. So I thought maybe I’d break it down a bit.

1. Writing
2. Critiquing
3. Beta
4. Editing
5. ARCs
6. Release

That’s a simplification. In truth most of these stages loop.

You write, and you get your critique group to read your writing. Then you rewrite and get it critiqued again. You keep doing this until you feel like you’ve got something worth showing your beta readers.

Note the difference between critique partners and beta readers. Your CPs are going to be other writers and people who know about things like grammar and punctuation. Your betas are going to be people who just like to read. They may know when something is misspelled, but that’s not their chief function. Their job is to tell you whether your story is confusing at some point, if they notice a major plot hole, if a character is annoying—all the things you talk about if YOU read a book and have issues with it. That’s what they’re going to do to YOUR book. And it’s as fun as it sounds but also really necessary.

After your betas have ripped your baby to bits, you get to fix all the problems. Then you can do another round of critiquing and beta reading. Then, when you’ve finally crawled back from your beta round with minimal pain, it’s time to hire a professional editor. You may also at this point begin exploring cover artists if you don’t already have one.

Your editor may find more issues (a good editor almost always will). After you’ve edited and polished your manuscript yet again, and once you’re relatively sure it’s as good as it can possibly be, you can start looking for ARC readers and advance reviewers. These people are NOT meant to give you feedback so that you can fix the book. They’re meant to tell other people whether or not the book is any good. If they say it’s not, then something in the previous steps went horribly wrong. Or you’ve tapped the wrong audience to read your ARCs. That’s actually also possible.

Finally, you can release your book into the wild. Yes, let it go. Try not to hover. Don’t pin all your hopes on this one title, no matter how much time and effort you’ve put into it. You should be getting on with your next book at this point. Looking forward not back.

“What about marketing?” I hear you asking. And of course that is important, but that’s another post for another time.

2016

If you follow publishing news at all, you’ll have read that the Association of American Publishers announced revenue was down 5.1% in 2016 (from 2015). Adult fiction declined 0.9%. But children’s and YA grew 5.9%, and almost 90% of those sales were in print.

My current WIP is a YA novel, and I won’t give it to anyone who won’t do a print copy. In fact, I’ve decided I won’t give any book to anyone who won’t give it a print run. If that means I self-publish, so be it. I’ve had more success with my self-published books anyway.

Some of it is simply that I want my books to be, well, books. Sure it is. I think many authors want that. But some of my motivation stems from the fact that it’s much harder to market just an ebook. I can’t show it off at conferences or put it on author tables for people to peruse. No one browsing a bookstore or library is going to stumble across it if it’s only in electronic format. And I can’t do a Goodreads giveaway for something that isn’t a physical book.

Also, ebooks fell 16.9% in 2016 from 2015. Almost everyone I talk to who reads prefers actual books. Many will read ebooks if they have no other choice, but most still show a preference for the “real” deal.

Yes, yes, a book is a book no matter its format. I agree in theory. I also read both physical books and ebooks. More and more books are only in e-format, so . . .

But if I examine my own behavior, I will almost always reach for a real book over trying to find something to download. My Kindle is full of books I may never read because I’d rather have a physical book in my hands. This article talks about how we don’t take in information the same way from a screen as from a page, which explains why some of us have such a strong preference for the printed word.

I don’t think ebooks are going away, and I’ll continue to put my books out in e-format as well, but I do feel as though I’m cutting my potential market short if/when there isn’t a physical book on offer. So often at author events I’ll have a my printed books on the table and a sign posted presenting my other works (ebooks). And people will point at the sign and ask, “Do you have this one?” And I have to tell them it’s only online. Then one of two things happens: (a) they take my card and say they’ll look it up, which may or may not ever happen, or (b) they say, “Oh, I don’t have an e-reader.” Either way, I’m left with disappointment and so, in a sense, are they. And I don’t want people walking away from my table feeling disappointed.

“So don’t post about your other books,” you say. But I don’t think that’s fair to me, curbing my ability to showcase my work. I write a lot of different things, and don’t want readers to miss out on something they might enjoy, might even be looking for.

“Print books don’t sell.” I hear that a lot too. But they can and do if you find the right places to market them. I don’t sell as many print books in a year, possibly because I don’t attend as many author events as so many other authors I know. But I find my print books to be great for giveaways and to get my name under people’s noses in a way ebooks just don’t. Readers still prize a physical book above an electronic one. For as long as that’s true—for as long as my readers would rather have a “real” book—then as an author it must necessarily be true for me, too.

It’s Official: Meet Narcisse

I’d post a picture, but I’ve yet to find anything that quite fits my mental image. Narcisse is the leader of the Felidae Clan. Ze is Black Asian and gender fluid (hence the pronoun). I keep wanting to write “he,” but that would be impolite, and I think ze might bite my head off—literally.

The Felidae are a large Clan with many subgroups over various territories. Narcisse rules the branch settled in the South. Think Louisiana bayous or Florida Everglades and you’ll have the right idea. This group are pumas (you may say “cougar” or “mountain lion” but they do not).

Narcisse is both father and mother to zis people. Ze will act in whatever way is necessary to keep the Clan safe and content. If that means nurturing and mothering, ze’ll do it. If it means fighting and disciplining, ze’ll do that, too. The one thing all the Felidae know: Don’t cross Narcisse.