I have a few things going on at the moment. For one, trying to get Faebourne ready for publication in August. For another, I’m waiting on responses to Hamlette from five places that are considering it. And then my short story “The Zodiac Clock” is likewise on submission to four places.
I’ve stopped submitting both Hamlette and “The Zodiac Clock.” If Hamlette doesn’t take, I’ll most likely self-publish it. Probably the same for “TZC” though I’d maybe try to write a few more stories and package it as an anthology.
I’m also waiting to hear from conferences where I’ve been put on lists to possibly be a featured author. I love going to conferences, but I’m at the point that I can’t justify the expense—particularly if there is a lot of travel—unless I’m at least contributing and being acknowledged. Still, I also recognize that I’m not as well known as some authors, and conferences want known names that will draw a crowd. At the same time, it’s a bit like the book marketing and publicity Catch-22: publishers put their marketing dollars behind authors who already sell. You’d think conference-goers would maybe get tired of the same handful of authors at each event and instead look for some new and interesting names? Or not.
I try not to be bitter, but I’ll admit a certain amount of frustration. People will say I should hide that side of me, but I believe in being real and honest about the hardships of being an author. It’s not all glamor. A lot of the time it feels like scraping and elbowing your way through a densely packed crowd.
So why call this post “A Handful of Water”? Because that’s also what it feels like: trying to hold something in your hands that leaks through. It’s fluid, and it’s running everywhere. I’ve got so much going on with submissions and my WIP . . . It’s hard to hold on to it all sometimes. And maybe I don’t have to. Maybe the only person who insists on it is me. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, but . . . I feel worthless otherwise. All I have to offer the world is me and my work. If that’s not enough, then I don’t know why I’m here.
I prefer to set goals rather than make resolutions. Here are my goals for 2018, along with deadlines so we can check back in periodically during the year.
- Finish Changers 2. Deadline: 1 March
- Find an agent for Hamlette. Deadline: 1 May
- Lose 15 lbs. Deadline: 1 June
- Finish Faebourne. Deadline: 1 September
I’d also like to get started on Epiphanies, and certainly if Hamlette sells and an agent or publisher wants the next book in that series, Epiphanies would get bumped up the list.
For Changers 2, I have a great writing group that’s helping me get through it. For the weight loss, I’ll be participating in a study with 23 and Me that will ensure I stay active, plus I’m tracking my calorie intake. I’ve lost 6 lbs already, but do need to lose about 15 more to reach my ideal weight.
As for Hamlette, I have a number of queries out and some partials that agents have requested, too. Now that the holidays are over, I hope to start receiving responses (ideally of the positive kind). However, if I haven’t achieved this goal by 1 May, I’ll probably start planning to self-publish this book.
Of course, using the new year as a jumping off point is entirely arbitrary. You can wake up any day of your life and decide to make a change or set goals of some kind. But I think psychologically a new year is a nice feeling—the sense of a clean slate and starting fresh.
How about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions? What do you hope to achieve in 2018? I’d love to hear all about it!
I’ve been making a mental list of things to put on my 2018 calendar. Most of these are not writing related, but they’re things to look forward to.
February – San Francisco Writers Conference; The Book of Mormon
March – Monty Python and the Holy Grail + Q&A with John Cleese
July – family vacation in NYC
Those are the big things, the events that are already scheduled. There is also a chance we’ll be going to Paris over the summer, but that’s not settled yet.
As for writing, I’ve mentioned my goals for the year before, but to reiterate:
- Find an agent for Hamlette or else prep it for self-publishing
- Finish Changers: The Great Divide
- Finish Faebourne
- Write Epiphanies
I’m giving myself through April to find an agent for Hamlette. If I don’t, I’ll self-publish it. I’ve had a couple of agents pass on it but say they’d like to see Epiphanies when it’s done, which is why it’s on the list. I should get going on it, but I do need to finish Changers 2 and Faebourne as well. Hopefully I’ll have more editing jobs, too.
What are you looking forward to in the new year? Any plans? Goals? Tell me all about them in the comments!
Find this list and more here.
- What didn’t you complete this year? Is there a chance you will finish before year end? If you don’t, this task will likely be at the top of the following year’s list.I didn’t finish Changers 2, so yes, it’s at the top of my list of goals for 2018.
- What things worked and didn’t work for you this year? If you have one, did you get your newsletter out on time? How did you do on the social media platforms you frequent? Is it time to think about dropping any and focusing your efforts in one or two places?Attempts to build my newsletter didn’t work. Social media was relatively stagnant. I think it’s time to focus mostly on getting more stuff written and published.
- What do you hope to achieve in terms of writing and publishing? This is the fun part where you get to document in black and white what you will be writing and decide on deadlines.To finish Changers 2 by May. To finish Faebourne for an October release.
- Is there any area or special skill set you’re interested in that you could take the time to learn to enhance your personal development? This could be learning a new programme or researching a genre you may be interested in learning to write.
I want to learn to use Scrivener more completely. I have it and have tinkered with it a bit, but I know I’m not using it at its full potential.
- In all of the figuring you do, don’t forget your personal life. Do leave yourself some wiggle room to try some fun activity that’s new to you or simply time to work on being a better you!I have one great vacation planned and hope to add to that.
Well, with Hamlette finished it’s now time to turn back to Changers 2 and Faebourne. I’m fortunate in that I have a writing group to help me focus on Changers 2. I have a second writing group to which I may bring some of Faebourne. That’s really one of the only ways to get me writing sometimes: hold me accountable. Weekly writing groups/deadlines definitely help.
Of course, with the holidays upon us, groups may not meet as regularly, and it can be difficult to find time to write when there is so much else going on besides.
Sometimes I get more motivated to write when I already have a cover for my book. That means I’ve invested money, you know, and therefore need to finish the book. Plus, a beautiful cover simply excites me. I want to have the book to go with it so that I have a reason to plaster it everywhere. (Yes, I know, I can do a cover reveal but then what? Once you have a book to market, you have so many more ways and reasons to show off that cover.)
Still, for books I’m hoping to sell to an agent or publisher, paying to have a cover made ahead of time makes no sense. So I do really need people to crack the whip over me to get me going. I can be such a lazy writer, especially this time of year. I need that external pressure. If no one else cares whether I’m writing, why should I?
The work is its own reward, sure. I like to write (most of the time), but I’m easily distracted. Yet I was always a good student, always had my work in on time. I was in journalism, and there was nothing like the high of getting something in at deadline. But I can’t set my own deadlines because I simply don’t take them seriously.
What about you? If you’re a writer, how do you stay motivated? If you’re not a writer, well, how do you stay motivated for anything you do? I’m always curious about what keeps people going. Internal drive? I have some, but it doesn’t always get me all the way to my goal. I usually need a push along the way.
I know, I know, there’s still more than a month left of the year! I shouldn’t be so eager to close it out, right? But I’m always a lot less productive in the final month of the year. Between the holidays and my birthday and the kids out of school . . . It gets harder to get anything done, at least in terms of writing.
So with the fair certainty that I won’t magically be finishing another book in the next 30+ days, I want to look at what I did accomplish this year. Because it’s quite a lot, and listing it makes me feel better about myself and the coming laziness.
In 2017, I:
- Published Brynnde, which went on to strong reviews, good sales, and won a cover design award
- Republished my Sherlock Holmes stories as a collection and simultaneously put out an audiobook version
- Finished Hamlette
- Edited books for paying clients
- Wrote a short script for an indie director
- Had a short story accepted to a fairy tale anthology; it was released earlier this month
- Wrote and published a new Sherlock Holmes story (really a Moriarty story)
That’s a pretty productive year, especially for me, someone who isn’t a very fast writer.
However, I didn’t accomplish everything I originally had on my list for the year. Though I made progress with Changers 2, I still haven’t finished it. So going forward, these are my goals:
- Finish The Great Divide (Changers 2)
- Finish Faebourne
- Write Epiphanies
- Write Merry/Annette (title subject to change)
Wow, that’s a lot of work. Deep breaths. I can do it. Might take a while, but it can be done.
How has your 2017 been? Do you think you’ll accomplish anything in the last month? Are you already looking ahead to 2018? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!
Yesterday, for no real reason, I started writing about my life. Here is some of what came out:
The decision of whether to go buy candy was always a big one because at any time the sno-cone truck might come by, and if we’d spent all our money on candy we wouldn’t have any for sno-cones. A sno-cone was fifty cents, and you could get extra syrup or a cream syrup topping for another quarter. The thing was, if for some reason the sno-cone truck didn’t come on a given day, you may have waited in vain when you could have gone and bought candy. It was a constant internal wrestling match, and it started fresh every morning.
I’m still torn over the spelling of sno-cone. But that’s how I recall it being spelled when I was a kid. Anyway, I like it better than “snow cone” or “snowcone.” In Southern Louisiana they call them “snowballs.” But I want to be true to my childhood, and where I grew up we said “sno-cone.”
In writing, little things matter. Every word lends a style and feeling to the work.
So I had originally planned to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Alas, I was overly ambitious on that point. I’ve only just finished a manuscript and released a short story, and every time I complete a major project (or two), I need a few days of down time. But NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow for any down time at all. Add to this the fact that I’ll be away on vacation in a couple weeks, and it just doesn’t seem fair to myself to attempt NaNoWriMo. I’d only be setting myself up for failure, disappointment, and unnecessary guilt.
Still, I’m cheering on all of you who are devoting yourselves to writing this month! I know for some, NaNo is the one time in the year you really do focus on the craft. If so, good for you! Since I write—or should be writing—all the time, my year is just one writing month after another. And while I see the value in dedicating myself to a project that needs to be finished (*cough*Changers2*cough*), November just isn’t going to work for me. Maybe I should pick another month for that kind of focus, though there’s something to be said for knowing a lot of other writers are in the same boat. An externally imposed deadline works way better for me than one I set for myself.
Anyway, I refuse to feel bad. This has been a very productive year for me, and my best in terms of book sales since 2012. This year I:
- Released Brynnde
- Compiled and released my Sherlock Holmes stories as both ebook and audiobook
- Attended a fabulous workshop in France
- Finished and found an agent for Hamlette (in large part due to the aforementioned workshop)
- Had a short story accepted to an anthology
- Wrote and published yet another short story
That’s a pretty big year in terms of writing and publishing! Or it is for me, at least. I’m not a fast writer, so to have done so much in one year is major for me. That said, there are still a lot of things waiting in the wings, not least of which is Changers 2. Also, Faebourne, which is another Regency romance like Brynnde, and Epiphanies (the follow-up to Hamlette).
At the moment, I’m workshopping what I have of Changers 2 with one of my critique groups. I’ve started Faebourne but am not very far along, and Epiphanies is only an outline. I have my work cut out for me! But I won’t be doing any of it via NaNoWriMo. Not this time. I’m going to take a little breather and then jump back in—when I’m ready.
29. What’s something that’s creepy in your WIP?
Well, there’s a ghost. But it’s not a very creepy ghost. I think the second death in the manuscript is creepiest. It happens off the page, and the main character sees it on the news, and I think it’s probably one of the creepiest situations in the book.
Yesterday I started this little list, too. So let’s do five more answers.
6. Favorite place to write.
London? When I can get there. Really, anywhere I can get away. I love retreating in order to write. But I do most of my writing in Little London, which is my home office. You can see a video of it on my Facebook page.
7. Most overused word.
My thesis advisors pointed out that I used “just” a lot. I don’t know if that’s still true; I try to be cognizant of it. I think I use “was” too much. A lot of my revisions and edits involve going back and trying to remove as many of those as possible by replacing them with stronger verbs.
8. Most overused punctuation.
Depends on the genre! When I was writing The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, I definitely was fond of my semicolons. When writing young adult, I tend to possibly use exclamation points more than absolutely necessary.
9. Long or short sentences?
Again, depends on genre. My upmarket work has much longer sentences than my YA. Romance is in between. But truly, a good book will have a variety of sentence lengths and structures to keep in interesting.
10. Plain or purple prose?
Fairly plain. I do embroider a bit now and then, but that’s usually because I’m following a character’s thoughts. Thoughts can be complicated!