Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

WriYe and Social Media

Catching up, catching up, lalalalala, where is the month going?

Do you use social media for your writing life?

No.

I mean, I do vaguely. When I blog, it copies the link to my Twitter and my Tumblr. But that’s literally about it. I don’t Facebook, I don’t Instagram, I don’t actually interact with anyone. Social media is one of those things that the marketing books say you should be doing, but I find it really unnatural.

I did try to do it more, back in the day–schedule posts, keep up with mentions, etc. Used HootSuite, which is a nice program. But there’s only so many hours in the day, and I don’t have enough or enough brain power to care most of the time.

Are you happy with the way you’re using social media in regards to your writing?

Hm. Part of me wants to say no–that I know I’m not utilizing social media like I’m supposed to, that perhaps all that’s standing in the way of me and breakout success is the number of times I post on Twitter.

But I really don’t care. Did using social media more (and correctly, as per the marketing gurus) help? I mean, yeah, a bit, in terms of followers and networking. But did it ever really connect to book sales? I wouldn’t say so.

A lot of the networking opportunities I have gotten have come through the blog, actually–people seeing my writing here and reaching out for one thing or another. Maybe they saw my post initially on social media, but maybe not. I don’t know.

So, while I guess I’m not “happy” about the way I’m using social media, I’m also not upset about it.

Why or why not?

Oh. Reading the whole post is important, people.

Here’s the deal. For two or three years, I did social media as I was supposed to. I reposted things I thought would be of interest to my ideal reader. I posted several times a day, and I responded quickly when someone mentioned me or responded to something I had posted. I discussed news items in the SFF world, talked about movies and books I liked, reached out to similar authors and collaborated where I could.

Did I get some success from it? Sure. Some. Not a lot. Not enough to justify the amount of time I was spending on it.

Cuz, at the end of the day, while your social media presence can help (or hurt, if you’re a jerk), if you don’t have the books to back up what you’re doing, you’re not going to get anywhere. I don’t put out multiple books a year, and thus far I have no series. It’s hard for me to attract and keep readers. And the way to fix that is to focus more on writing, and worry more about marketing when I have things to market.

Anyway, squiders, hopefully that doesn’t come off as too bitter! Bottom line is that the social media stuff didn’t work for me because I didn’t have anything to link it to–but it might work better in the future when I have other things out.

Any thoughts on social media, squiders?

MileHiCon Loometh

SQUIDERS! MileHiCon is NEXT WEEKEND omg.

They’ve moved it to the first weekend of October rather than the fourth, and I am apparently unprepared for this change. But at least now it’s not going to interfere with Halloween activities some years.

Anyway, I’m behind on preparation. I mean, it’s not a lot–most stuff I just carry around from year to year with little variation. And it’s my own fault panel-wise, I’ve had the schedule for, like, almost a month. I’m moderating another editing panel this year (whee, must have done a good job last year or something) and am also on a panel about how far horses can travel, which I think is about realistic travel in fantasy, but I’m not 100% sure.

It’s in person this year too! I’ll admit that makes me a little nervous, but they are requiring masks and you get a special Vaccinated! ribbon to hang off your name tag if you’re vaccinated.

(I do love my con ribbons.)

Anyway, hopefully this isn’t a horrible mistake. The Critter Crunch is on again this year, and the larger, mobile one has expressed interest in going (also building his own robot, but that ain’t happening before the con), but I think I’m going to wait and see how safe I feel the con is before I commit to taking him. He’s not old enough to be vaccinated and with how dumb some people are about everything, I want to be safe.

Emotions suck. I’m excited for the con, yet scared. Luckily it’s not that big of convention, in the great scheme of things, so it could certainly be worse.

In other news, my favorite coffee shop is open for inside dining again, provided you show proof of vaccination, which is fine for me. As an added bonus, the vaccination requirement has a bunch of people up in arms, so I don’t have to worry about those people being in said coffee shop.

Anyway, here’s my normal to-do list for the con, for my own use so I can find it again later:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

I feel like I’m forgetting something. Hold on, checking previous years’ lists.

Oh, yeah, business cards. I never remember my damn business cards. Oh! Credit card reader! Good job, past!Kit. Very on top of things.

Has anyone been to a con recently? Tips you would recommend?

Already Distracted

So, yesterday, my spouse woke up and was extremely upset about his lack of camping and specifically backpacking this summer. And I said, “Look, we’re super busy this month, so the only day we have to go is, well, today.”

So guess who had to go backpacking out of nowhere yesterday.

(Also just after we booked the campsite we got a freak hailstorm, which shredded all our plants and also flooded our basement, so we got out of here late to go backpacking. Yesterday was…something.)

So we talked Wednesday about World’s Edge being done finally, and how now I need to either revise Book One or outline/write the novella I owe Turtleduck Press or both.

And then I proceeded to do neither.

One because choices are hard, but, two, because I have two writing books out from the library. You see, a month or so ago I was going through some list of recommended writing books, and I thought I might actually read some of them.

But not now, no, that would be crazy.

So I put some on my To Read Later lists on my library card, or downloaded some samples to my Kindle, but there were two that my library did not have/were not available on the Kindle, so I decided to request these through my state’s Interlibrary Loan program, with the idea they would show up at some point but probably not soon.

(It’s been a year on my request for The Man Who Was Thursday. I know it’s still in the system because I check with the librarians periodically.)

So of course they came immediately.

They are The Story Grid, which is a revision technique, and a book called Plot Perfect, which is about plotting, as the name implies.

Now, the issue with Interlibrary Loans is that you get a single renewal. Six weeks and then they go back from whence they came, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And from last year when I was attempting to read a writing book a month, I know that it is not fast to go through a writing book. You have to sit and absorb them, or sometimes do exercises. You have to try out the content, or what is the point?

Anyway, I’ve started working through The Story Grid. It proports itself to be a system that allows you to pinpoint what’s wrong with a story so it can be fixed in revision, which sounds like a lovely idea, and maybe will be helpful with my Book One revision.

I’ve mostly just made it through the set-up part of the book (because backpacking) but hopefully we’ll get into the process here soon. I admit to being a bit skeptical that this or any system is going to be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, but here’s hoping!

My revision process works pretty well in general, but I’ve already run Book One through it once, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

So, it’s kind of like I’m working on my revision? Very kind of.

But it does throw a wrench into things, because I do still need to get to my novella and if I’m going to try out a new revision technique, it may mean that it’ll be longer before I can switch projects. I mean, you don’t want to stop something new in the middle. That way lies madness.

Sigh. Dang it, occasionally efficient library system.

Have you tried the Story Grid technique, squiders? Thoughts on stuffing both projects into my schedule?

Also I just realized we’re less than a month from MileHiCon. Oh no.

No, no, I’ll worry about that next week.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

Pondering a Series Bible

I’ve heard about series bibles before, but I’ve never really considered making one. A series bible, for those unfamiliar with the terminology, is a document where you keep all your information relating to a series, such as character information, worldbuilding, plot summaries, etc.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know I don’t tend to write series. In fact, aside from my trilogy and the Fractured World universe, I’ve never written multiple stories in the same universe (aside from little scenes here and there for my own edification). So while series bibles have sounded interesting, they’ve never seemed like they would be much use to me.

However, today I was working on one of those little scenes I mentioned above. These are little vignettes related to the main story that aren’t meant for any specific except to help me flesh out character and worldbuilding. Most of them are backstory, though some of them are scenes from alternate points of view. But, anyway, I was working on one related to the trilogy, since I’m still running it through the critique marathon and will be working on it again shortly.

And I ran into some issues where I couldn’t remember some of my worldbuilding. Or if I’d done that particular worldbuilding.

And then I had to do said worldbuilding, which slowed down the process, and made more work of random little scenes than I wanted.

So maybe it wouldn’t hurt to consolidate all my notes in one place, where I can find everything when I need it. I mean, I do this for individual books, so it makes sense to move all the stuff from the whole trilogy into one place, right? Or copy it over, maybe, so the information is still in place for the individual book and I don’t have to dig through everything to find it.

Have you guys used a series bible? How many stories are necessary in a world before you start up a bible? What do you use?

(In the interest of full transparency, I do have a bible for the Fractured World stories. Because the Fractured World is designed to have multiple authors telling stories in it, I made a governing document so that everyone’s worldbuilding is consistent.)

Being Limber

I’ve been so excited for this week, squiders. The small, mobile ones are back in school (cross your fingers) and I have hours to myself every day to Do Things. And I thought I was going to be so productive! Writing, drawing, editing, you name it, it was getting done.

But here it is Thursday, and I haven’t written at all, I’ve drawn and inked (and half colored) a single picture, and I’m not really sure what I’ve done with the rest of my time.

(I am on top of the critiquing marathon, so that’s something, at least.)

Like today! Today got off to such a great start. I got up and started this blog post, then took both small, mobile ones to their respective schools. And then I picked something up from one of the schools, and ran errands at Target…

…at which point I realized I was 15 minutes late for my blood donation appointment.

I think a lot of it might be because my spouse has been like, oh, great, now you can fertilize the lawn and call the concrete company and clean the kitchen and figure out the doctor and so on and so forth. And I feel like I need to do his stuff, since he asked, but I also resent his taking up all my time with awful chores that were his in the first place because he’s the one with the skills that match those (talking on the phone makes me anxious), so I just mess around and nothing’s getting done.

I realize, of course, that if I would just do things and not stress out about them, things would get done.

ANYWAY

As you might imagine, I’ve been a bit high strung this week due to the difference in preconceived ideas of how the week was going to go versus how it has gone. But it is what it is, and instead of stressing about it, I’ve got to adapt.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. As the meme goes.

Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that things don’t go according to plan most of the time, and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Be limber. Be flexible.

Normally over the summer I wake up early to write before everyone else gets up, but I can’t do that now unless I get up REALLY early. Which might still be a possibility. My first thought was to write as soon as the small, mobile ones were out, but that’s a really convenient errand time since I’m already out.

I might pick a time and try stopping what I’m doing and going then. Or just whenever I get home.

Anyway, it’ll get sorted, at least until the next schedule change, and then we’ll have to start all over again.

Oh well!

How’s your week going, squiders?

Thoughts On the Writing Journal

Well, it’s been about two months since I started my writing journal, and, as I know this is a recommended writing habit among writers, I thought it might help to hear how it’s going.

I’ve talked about it quite a bit lately, but in case you’ve missed it somehow, a writing journal is kind of like a normal journal, except you focus on writing-related things. A lot of people write a couple of pages in them first thing in the morning.

You can plot out bits of story, draw maps, keep track of bits and pieces that were interesting but don’t fit in what you’re currently writing, do backstory, etc.

I will admit to some trepidation about the idea, mostly because it’s on paper.

Story time!

A million years ago, I had a spiral-bound steno notebook that I used to take with me everywhere. I’d plot in it, write segments of stories in it, do worldbuilding, etc. Kind of like a writing journal, except I just kind of worked wherever and it wasn’t a consistent practice.

(Actually I had two. I still have one of them–I think–which is falling apart at this point and is covered with many, many years of Nano stickers.)

I used to keep it by my bed so I could write down dream ideas in it. One night, I had a dream that would eventually be turned into Shards. I woke up, and wrote down everything.

And the notebook went AWOL. I mean, I never saw it again. To this day, I have no idea where it could have gone. I thought we’d find it when we moved, that it would emerge from wherever it’d fallen or whatever, but nope.

It’s been over ten years since that notebook disappeared. I did go ahead and write Shards, obviously, but I’ve always felt that I missed something from the initial idea that would have been really neat.

(Not that I dislike Shards or its world at all! Just that I am aware that what I ended up with from the vague memory of the dream is not what I would have ended up with had I had access to my original notes.)

So the idea of having a notebook where important ideas are stored and which is not backed up elsewhere makes me a little anxious. But, on the other hand, I think much better on paper, and I have almost always plotted and worldbuilt on paper. There is something about drawing and writing things out by hand that gets my creativity flowing.

I will admit I am not using it consistently. I’ll go for a few days at a time then take a few days off, normally to catch up to where I’ve gotten idea-wise. But when I do use it…it’s amazing. Aside from the realization that I have been actively avoiding my main goal for the last five year, it’s just been great for figuring out the next bits on World’s Edge and working through other things.

So I guess I do recommend the practice, with the caveat that any really important things might be worth copying over to a back-up somewhere.

What do you think, squiders? Do you use a writing/creativity journal? What practices do you find work for you?

WriYe and Getting Started

Oof, squiders, sorry I’m flaky this week. My basement has flooded TWICE in THREE DAYS. At least we’ve figured out the problem this time, as opposed to two days ago when we thought we’d figured the problem out and were obviously wrong.

(God, we’d better be right this time.)

Did you know if you have a wet/dry vacuum you can just vacuum up water? For some reason this is very strange to me.

ANYWAY.

Normally I like to leave the WriYe prompts til a little later in the month, but man, this has been a week, and I’m too tired to figure things out otherwise.

Describe your writing beginnings. How did you get started?

I started writing when I was about eight, and mostly because my mother was a writer. Emulating her and all that. This is back in the olden days, when we had CorelWrites and WordPerfect and you had to know the key shortcuts to do things. Or sometimes I wrote on an electric typewriter.

I started, like many people, using my favorite things as a base, changing a character here, a premise there. I had some picture and puzzle books I made my own versions of, plus I made up roleplaying situations for me and my cousins to do based on my favorite shows and video games, and I made a fashion book based on the Wizard of Oz, and other bizarre creative things only children ever think of.

I mainly focused on roleplaying throughout my teens, aside from writing a few short stories and starting a dozen novels that never went anywhere. In college Nanowrimo started, and that’s when I switched more to writing from roleplaying.

What was your “a-ha” moment that made you realize this was something you wanted to pursue?

So I started doing Nanowrimo in 2003, which was fun! I really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the friends I met through the event. But I mostly only wrote during November. I would finish my drafts slowly throughout the rest of the year (my last year I snuck off to a tea shop called The Tea Spot at least once a week, where I wrote and ate scones and also fancy chocolates) but it was just a hobby.

In 2006 we moved to California, where I knew no one. I didn’t have a job for the first few months and I was super, super depressed and isolated. I think I’ve told you guys this story before.

Anyway, I recognized that things were going poorly and decided that I needed to do something to keep me occupied, and I decided that I wanted to write full-time and maybe try to do something more formal with everything, so I joined a bunch of writing groups (some of which I still belong to today, including WriYe, actually) which gave me some much needed social interaction and got me going on something until I got a job and started to find my place in my new home.

And here we still are, I guess. Nothing big. Just a decision, once upon a time.

Anyway, pray for my basement, squiders. If nothing else, then for my state of mind.

See you next week!

WriYe and Writing Tips

How’s it going, squiders? I did put my first chapter of my trilogy up for the summer marathon and hence have fallen behind on my other writing stuff, since part of the deal is critiquing other people’s stuff.

Of course, this is week 7 out of 8 of the marathon, so everyone else is several chapters into their stories and thus far I am mostly confused. Oh well.

I hope to finish a serial story bit for TDP either tonight or in the morning, and then it’s back to World’s Edge full speed ahead and whatnot.

Anyway, let’s do the July blog prompt over at WriYe.

Quick! Name your top 7 writing tips of all time.

Seven feels like a weird number to me, but, uh, okay.

  1. Make time for writing. If you don’t plan your writing in (and I find the earlier in the day the better) it’s hard to get to it.
  2. Don’t focus on perfection in a first draft. Worry about getting the story done before you worry about whether it’s any good.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. That way lies madness.
  4. Also, don’t make your goals dependent on other people. Madness lies that way too. Plus it just makes you frustrated. I guess that’s more of a life tip than writing specifically.
  5. All progress is good progress. Sure, 100 words a day doesn’t feel like much, but it’s still better than nothing, and even planning gets you closer to a finished story even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere right now.
  6. Don’t get weird with speech tags. Make sure it’s something you can actually do with your mouth.
  7. When revising, do big picture fixes before easier polishes. Nothing sucks more than spending a bunch of time on a scene that gets cut out.

Why those 7?

Uh, cuz those are the ones I thought of? I’ve actually been avoiding this prompt, because it has felt very intimidating. Are these my best writing tips? Probably not. But these are kind of general tips that are useful in most situations.

And a lot of them are good outside writing too! So, yay me or something.

How are you guys doing? Thoughts on my tips? Tips of your own?

Re-Evaluating Writing Goals

Well, guys, I’m back from camp, and, in theory, I can rev up my engines, or some metaphor that makes sense.

Last week we talked about my writing journal and also how it’s July and my word for the year, Polish, just has not been happening. The idea being that I would use said writing journal to look at my goals for the year and either figure out how to re-focus on Polish or change the focus for the year to be something that fit in better with what I’m actually working on.

However, it turns out it’s kind of hard to get going on re-evaluating your goals. So, eventually I decided to ask myself a pointed, direct question:

What do I want, more than anything else?

If I can only accomplish one thing, what do I want it to be?

And the answer was that I want to get my fantasy trilogy published.

Which led me to the revelation that maybe the reason that I have my fingers in so many pots is because I am avoiding working toward this particular goal.

Hold on, let me see if I can clarify.

I have been working on the Trilogy for SO LONG. It’s been 17 years since I wrote the first draft, 22 since I first came up with the idea. I have written the first book, in its entirety, three times. It holds a special place in my heart as the first book I ever finished, and at this point I know the characters like I know my family. It’s near and dear to my heart.

BUT when something is so important to you, it’s hard to put it out there, to be rejected. So I think I write other things, work on other projects, because if they fail, oh well. Or maybe I’m putting other things out there because if they work, then it shows that I’m good enough, my stories are good enough, and I can risk putting out the Trilogy.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m all over the place–other novels, trying out new genres, working on the nonfiction stuff–because I’m avoiding fully committing to the Trilogy and potentially getting hurt.

Oof. It was a realization, I tell you what.

It seems logical what I should do now. If the Trilogy is what really matters to me, I should switch over to it. “Get the Trilogy published” isn’t a good goal, because as we’ve talked about before, any goals that rely on other people are frustrating and leave you without control, but “Polish the Trilogy and get it ready for submission” is a perfectly good goal.

But I’ve got to tell you, dropping the defensive behavior is not easy. When I even thought the idea it made me wildly anxious. Landsquid knows how long I’ve been doing this. Years, at least.

So I’m going to compromise with myself. I’m going to take steps toward the main goal. There’s two weeks left of the summer critiquing marathon over in one of my writing groups, so I can at least get feedback on the first and maybe the second chapter. I have beta comments from previous critiques that I’ve already put into my document. So, in theory, I should have enough feedback to get going on the next step after the end of the marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m still going to work on finishing this draft of World’s Edge. It’s the same world as the Trilogy, so it’s arguably related. I’ve got a couple of commitments that need fulfilling as well–the next part of a serial for TDP, and a novella that needs to be written over the next few months. Those need to be done.

But I’ve got to finally commit to the Trilogy–really commit–or it’s never going to go anywhere.

Blah. Scary. Stupid journal, revealing all my deepest secrets to myself.

Anyway, how are you?

Ah, Summer

I hate summer. Sorry. I really do. It’s hot, and I despise being hot. There’s no rhyme or reason to the days, there’s too much going on, there’s too much going on and yet it’s too hot to do anything…

Also it thunderstorms but so rarely rains.

ANYWAY, this is a long way to say I’m sorry about missing last week here at the blog. I blame it on coming back from a 16-day road trip (I hope you liked my story ideas!) and then immediately having to teach songs/dances to children for three hours a day.

When you dance outside for three hours a day, in the sun, it takes a surprising amount out of you. I honestly don’t know what I did any afternoon last week.

And I apologize again because this will probably be the only post this week. There’s the off-chance I’ll manage to put something together, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Writing-wise, June was, well, not impressive. Most of that is because of the 16-day trip immediately followed by the dancing. I think I managed 1100 words during the trip, on a few mornings where I snuck out of a hotel and found a coffee shop.

For June I also started working on a writing journal, but I ran into issues pretty fast. It was great the first few days, planning out the long-term and immediate next parts of the draft of World’s Edge. Then I planned out the blog posts for while I was gone, and I did a couple entries about being frustrated about my current lack of writing time, and one about a mystery short story idea.

But then…it got weird. Because I wasn’t working on World’s Edge actively, I kind of ran out of things to talk about. I mean, I could plan out a wealth of short stories, or things along those lines, but without doing the writing part, it felt like spinning my wheels. So that kind of died off too.

But now we’re back, and after this weekend, things should settle into something of a routine, at least enough that I should be able to get momentum again.

It’s July now, and I signed up for 10K for Camp. This is my sweet spot–I can almost always get 10K for Camp Nanowrimo–though I’d like to finish my draft. We’ll see. My first couple days of the month were very productive, and then there was birthday madness that I won’t bore you guys with.

I think I will use my journal for refocusing my year. If you remember, I picked Polish for my word for the year, with the intention of editing the drafts I have sitting around. And here we are, halfway through the year, and aside from poking impotently at Book One for the first couple of months of the year, I’ve made no progress along those lines.

So it won’t hurt to re-evaluate and see if I can refocus on something else. Or see if there’s a way to switch gears. Things to do in the writing journal.

Oh! Did I tell you guys I finally submitted my Landsquid picture book to a few agents? Thus far nothing’s happening over there, but it does feel like a threshold has been passed. And I’m debating signing up for a spot in the Art Show at MileHiCon in October, if I can put together some nicer pieces.

So many plans, not enough time, too easily distracted by YouTube.

Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well! Do you hate summer too? Got any big plans?

See you next week, if nothing else!