Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’

I Have Made a Decision

Good news, squiders, I have made a decision about which story to use for the Luddite challenge.

(Also, How to Submit and Publish is now live! Hooray! Success! And I finished the presentations for my next SkillShare class, so I just need to record the videos.)

(I’m getting a ton of new students over at SkillShare. I assume it’s because everyone is bored and learning new things due to being stuck at home, but it’s cool all the same.)

Anyway! Last week we talked about the Luddite Challenge and how I’d picked out two potential stories, yet neither of them was working.

(The Luddite Challenge, as a refresher, is where you handwrite a story instead of using your normal technology.)

I poked both stories some more and even discussed them with a friend, but they still weren’t working. (One was planned out but I wasn’t feeling it, and the other had so many potential ways the story could go that I couldn’t pin down an actual story.)

So I gave up on both of them. Another time, I guess.

I poked around in my Google Drive, where I have several stories in various stages of planning, as well as lists of premises that could be stories if I poked at them, etc. And I found one!

So, way back in 2014, Turtleduck Press put out an anthology called Under Her Protection. The idea was to write fantasy stories where the girl saved the guy rather than vice versa. My story for the anthology, Drifting, is a fairy tale-esque story about a girl who goes through a portal, like many in her family before her, in an attempt to rescue a prince.

Under Her Protection cover

When the anthology was coming together, the editor asked me to expand the ending a bit–just a few sentences–but I ran into an issue. When I tried to expand, instead of getting a few sentences, I got a whole novel.

(Not, like, specifics. But sometimes an idea will blossom and I can see the general shape of it and how long it will take to form into said shape. A little annoying because they don’t generally come with enough information to start writing.)

So the ending stayed put, I wrote down some notes about a potential sequel novel, and then I went off on my merry way.

I’d honestly forgotten about it, though it is on my massive list of novel ideas that I glance at before each Nano (normally before choosing something completely different), but when I found it again, it clicked.

I re-read the original story, wrote down some notes and a very vague outline, and started writing.

So far so good. And it feels great to get back to a story I’d always meant to write.

Fingers crossed.

How are you doing? Anything coming together for you?

Book Sales and Updates

Hey, squiders. I smashed my thumb in the car door on Sunday, and let me just say, that hurts a stupid amount. Like, it’s some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and it’s not even broken (though I suspect I may lose the fingernail in the coming weeks). What the heck, thumb.

At least I can touch things again, though, without it sending sharp waves of pain up my entire forearm. I mean, seriously.

But, anyway! On to more interesting things.

Smashwords is doing their Read an Ebook Week sale this week, so you can get Hidden Worlds or Shards for half off!

(Man, I still can’t believe HW is ten years old. Madness. Older than my actual small, mobile ones.)

The nonfiction books and workbooks continue apace. The sixth is currently up for pre-order and will be released next week.

I’m actually really excited to have this one coming out. It’s the first one I wrote (and so was not blogged and is completely new content) and the one that made me think about doing the series in the first place. It’s about working on more than one project at a time, and how to make sure you’re not wasting time and energy waffling about what to work on or wishing you were working on something else.

(And there’s a workbook that goes with it.)

As we get to the end of the Writers’ Motivation series (at least for now, and at least in book form–I’m working on my next SkillShare class at the moment, about how to set goals and stick to them), it is interesting to look back on the exercise. It’s a project I started on a whim because I took a webinar back in 2015, and it’s cool to finally see it out in the world. There’s one more book (about submission and publication) for now, and then we’re done!

(Here are the books again:

…and the workbooks:

It’s a lot of books, all the way around. Always neat to get to the end of a project.

What have you been up to, squiders?

The Fickleness of Creativity

Ah, squiders. Life, amirite?

If you recall, back in May we had a fairly traumatic experience (I didn’t specify at the time, but it involved guns and schools. An unfortunately American phenomena that has personally affected me three times in my life, the first and the third times almost exactly 20 years apart.) and I…shut down. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even read.

I did manage to get back working on nonfiction projects after a few weeks–my Skillshare classes, my nonfiction books and workbooks–but fiction took a lot longer.

Well, now, facing a major medical issue (surgery on that tomorrow)–it’s not me, but a member of my immediate family–I’ve found its the opposite. The fiction work is going great. I’m making great progress on my scifi horror novella. (I should give it a title.) But nonfiction?

Yeaaaaaah, nope. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. I got Writing Around Life out, as scheduled (and, believe me, I understand the irony) but I haven’t touched the next one (How to Write Multiple Projects at the Same Time: A Quick, Easy Guide to Project Management and its related workbook) or started on the slides for my next SkillShare class (about setting and achieving writing goals).

There’s still time. And there’s deadlines, which is always helpful. But man, there is no motivation there.

(I wonder if the fiction would be going as well if I were editing instead of writing. Probably not. Different sections of the brain and whatnot.)

But, hey, I know it will be okay. This too shall pass, and it’s okay to take time when you need it.

Fingers crossed that all goes well tomorrow. I’ll see you on Tuesday.

Trying To Keep With It

Last week I laid out my tentative plans for the month. As we discussed, December’s always a bit of a pit for me, creatively-speaking. Too much other things to focus on, burnout from November in one way or another, a new year and new possibilities looming…

…and yet, I always try. Maybe one year I’ll take the month off and just…watch Christmas romances on Netflix or something.

(I’ve actually read two Christmas romances in the last few weeks, so…)

As a reminder, here are my goals for the month:

  • Write an additional 15K on my Nano story. Historically it has been hard to keep going on the Nano story post-Nano, but every time I hold out hope that this is the year that it actually happens.
  • Put out my fourth nonfiction book (this one is on writing consistently) and its associated workbook.
  • Finally finish updating my email list and its automations.
  • Start drawing now–don’t wait til January.
  • Read 4 additional books, which will get me to my yearly 50-book goal.
  • Outline next SkillShare class.
  • Start programming again.

We’re a week and a half in, so how are things going?

  • I’ve written maybe 300 words on my Nano story. I mean, the month is young, 15K is ten days of 1500 words, but…well, we’ll see.
  • The pre-order for the fourth nonfiction book is up (here) and I’ve made the cover and gone through my beta comments for both it and the workbook. Next step is to do the final edit on both and write the book descriptions.
  • I finished updating my list! My automations are going, I’ve fixed a few bugs, I’ve managed my audiences, and frankly, made more progress in the last week than the other two years I’ve had the list. (If you’re interested yourself–I’ve got the list streamlined by different books, with free short stories for each–click “get updates” in the header up above.)
  • I started drawing! I took a class on making any animal cute, and am currently working on a coloring class.
  • I’ve read five books. And I’ve got more than half the month to go! This might explain why writing’s not really happening.
  • I’ve picked a topic for the next SkillShare class–planning writing time into your schedule–but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
  • I did a practice exercise in Python, but the test program kept rejecting it. Finally looked at the solution, and for the life of me, I don’t see the difference between my program and the solution. Which is about how programming typically goes for me, which is perhaps an indication that I’m barking up the wrong tree.

I bought some watercolor pencils off of Amazon on Black Friday, but I don’t think they actually are. Watercolor pencils, I mean. I used them to color the tiger and the squid, and then I tried to activate them on the tiger, which, as you can see, did not happen. (It mostly smeared things about.) So now I’m just using them as normal colored pencils, and my mother gave me a set of watercolor pencils she’s not using at the moment.

(I tested them and they work as expected. Lesson here is to not fall for Amazon’s lightning deals, though I needed colored pencils so it’s not a complete loss.)

(I mean, they came with a paintbrush and everything, they just don’t work. I don’t know.)

I’ll force December to be productive yet! How’s your month going? I’m actually fairly on top of holiday things too, which almost never happens.

I’ve Been Busy!

Sorry for the single post this week, squiders, but it’s for good reason! The first books for the Writers’ Motivation series are out! And despite the many technical issues, I also got my new SkillShare class up and published.

It’s been exhausting.

(I also finally bought boots for my costume. Hooray!)

But now I have lots of things to share!

Let’s do the SkillShare class first. This one is called Story Writing: Keeping Track of Your Story Ideas and is about setting up an idea storage system for writing ideas. It’s available here and is about 25 minutes long.

(I think I’m going to need to get a new camera before I film any more. Also apparently our local library has a recording studio you can rent out, so there’s something to ponder. But I’m not even going to look at the next class til December or, more realistically, January.)

And the books! Yay! (If you recall, I initially started working on the nonfiction books back in 2015, so I am so pleased to finally have them completed!)

The first book, How to Find Story Ideas: A Quick, Easy Guide to Making Sure You Have the Ideas You Need When You Need Them, is live and currently on sale for $.99, and the second, How to Outline for Creative Writing: A Quick, Easy Guide to Finding the Level of Planning that Works for You, is currently on pre-order for $.99 and will go live on October 22, which will give people time to pick it up before Nano if they so choose.

Both the companion books to the Finding Story Ideas books have also gone live (it did take the workbook the full 72 hours Amazon warns about). I waffled on the covers for these for a bit, but decided to go stay with the same cover image as the Finding Story Ideas book and then slightly vary the colors within the same color scheme so it’s obvious that they go together, but are not the same book.

(Sorry, I got distracted by my Amazon author’s page.)

Moving forward, the plan is for one book to come out a month, so Common Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them will be out mid-November, and so on moving forward from there until all seven books are out. (Though the last book, about Submission and Publication, could still use some tweaking, so if you’d like to beta that one, please let me know!)

And now, my next priority is being ready for MileHiCon next weekend (I’m on some more scientific panels and I’d like to do some research so I’m up to date on things, as well as the normal con-prep shenanigans. Oh, and the costume, of course.) and then beyond that, prepping for Nano. And then Nano!

How are you? Keeping busy? (Hopefully not as busy as me!)

Playing With Covers

Howdy, squiders, how’s it hanging?

I’ve been fairly productive, all things considered, mostly on the nonfiction front. I have my second SkillShare class ready for filming (yes, even the PowerPoint slides part), and I spent some time today doing research on nonfiction book covers (specifically writing how to books) and then making some.

I’d thought I’d show you guys the covers and see which ones you like (if any) or what elements are working. The idea is that I’d use the same template for the entire series, switching out titles, subtitles, and images as appropriate. Oh, and colors.

Anyway, what do you guys think? My spacial acuity isn’t the best, so I need all the feedback I can get.

How are you guys doing? Any big news on your end?

First Class is Up!

Happy Tuesday, squiders! I hope you’re all having a lovely day! (I am because I just got a short story acceptance, hooray!)

We’ve been gone on a road trip (but thank you for all the lovely likes and comments on the foundational book posts I set up before I left–and I did want you to know that I found Alien Secrets yesterday. It was on a different bookcase than expected, but other than that it was pretty dang obvious. Whoops.) but I’m back now.

(We went on another National Park tour, this time hitting Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater National Monument, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, and Yosemite. Lovely trees, sequoias. I’ve had a fold-out of one from National Geographic on the wall next to my computer for years, and now I’ve seen that particular tree in person.)

Right before we left, though, I put my nose to the grindstone and got my SkillShare class done.

I know we were all skeptical, but it happened.

I have a membership to a chain gym called the Row House (I rowed in college and have occasionally rowed with the local adult team, but like many other things in life, having small, mobile ones makes things more difficult) and for some ungodly reason they got rid of the 6:30 am class (perfect timing! I go while the spouse is still home and then he can go to work immediately after I return) and so now my choices are 5:15 (butt early, though about the time you’d be on the water if you were actually rowing) or 7:00 (done too late for spouse to get to work). Or, in theory, later in the morning, but then I am responsible for the small, mobile ones and have to put them somewhere.

Alas, the 5:15 normally wins.

(I am hoping they bring back the 6:30 once school starts but am starting to give up hope.)

The good thing about working out at 5:15 is that I am home by 6:15, and the small, mobile ones don’t normally roll out of bed until about 7:30.

Perfect time for filming, it turns out, except that it’s still a little dark out so lighting is a little problematic.

Long story short (too late), I had a lot of early mornings to myself right before we left, so I got everything recorded and/or filmed, and got the class uploaded the morning we left.

So, I wanted to share it with you! I’ve got two links–the first will let you watch the class for free. I’d love it if you do–I won’t get paid for it, but more eyes on the class will help it become more visible in searches, which will be helpful overall.

The second link will offer you a free month of SkillShare Premium (very nice, I did it back in November, and you can do any class you’d like, as many at a time as you’d like, and not hard at all to cancel before they charge you) and get you to the class. I get paid for the class this way, you get free classes for a month, but I understand that commitment is difficult and not everyone is up for it.

The class is called Story Writing: Premise vs. Plot, and explores what premise and plot are, how they’re used, and what the differences are between them.

Free link

Paid link

I’m starting to work on the next class, which will be on tracking story ideas so you can find them later. I think the next couple will probably focus on story ideas, since that will be the first book released.

Almost done with the submission nonfiction book now, so a reminder that if you want to beta any of them (and/or their associated workbooks), just let me know!

Anyway, good to be back! Please look at my class! I’d love feedback so I can improve things for the next class.

(Although I need to buy a new or fix my microphone because it fell apart in the middle of recording and I had to duct tape it back together, which is working with varying levels of success.)

Writing a Synopsis When You Don’t Even Have a Book

Afternoon, squiders. The big, mobile one has ANOTHER virtual school day today. I am considering strangling whomever decided that making a parent stay home and teach their child instead of doing a delayed start like EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT was a good idea.

But anyway.

You guys know I’m working through a writing class right now. Well, it’s billed as a “career class,” to also talk about building a writing career and marketing and so forth. And on I go, through the lessons, because I do think it’s beneficial to try everything at least once, because you never know how it’s going to go and what’s going to work for you.

My current lesson is about writing submission material–queries, synopses, etc.–before you have a book. Her (the teacher’s) point is that sometimes you’ve got to sell a book you haven’t written, so knowing how to write these before the book is done (or even started, in some cases) can be beneficial, especially if you’ve already sold a book or two and have editors/publishers who trust you and your work..

It’s an interesting process. A few lessons back we were supposed to outline our stories, but I had a really hard time with the method she wanted us to use (and ended up using a different one after I tried and tried to get the other one to work), and the lesson after we were supposed to start the story. So right now we’re sitting with an opening and a vague (or more detailed, depending on the type of outline we made, since it was open to how many plot points you wanted to do) outline and working on these submission documents.

(My synopsis has issues. But then, they do when the book is written too, so, whatever, I guess.)

I’ve heard authors recommend doing this before writing the book before, but not as a submission/selling too–as a writing tool. The idea is, by having to figure out the core conflict/theme of your story and the main plotline necessary for queries/synopses, that you do yourself a favor by knowing that information before you ever write a word on the page. That it helps you focus on what’s important and makes your story more coherent.

And maybe it will. It will be interesting to see. A side benefit of the experiment, if you will.

In other news, the nonfiction books are going well (though I realized I forgot a section in the common writing mistakes one and had to go back and write it). I’m working on the consistency one now, and also considering putting together a workbook for it. This book is the shortest of all of them, for whatever reason, but it looks like I left more sections post-blog to write than I did with the others, so that may be why.

Happy Thursday, squiders! I’m reading Once & Future right now, which came out last month, and am enjoying it greatly. It’s not a great work of literature, but it is fun, and sometimes it feels like everything takes itself so seriously these days. Are reading anything fun?

Finally Moving

Hooray for April, squiders. The consignment sale is over, the festival is this weekend (and will happen whether or not I do anything specific), and we can focus on being as productive as possible in these last few weeks before it’s summer break.

Some things that are happening:

  • I finally finished the story idea workbook of doom, and I edited the entirety of the outlining nonfiction book, including writing a few new sections.
  • I outlined a new Landsquid picture book and fleshed out more on a second children’s book series (though I’m unsure whether to do it as a picture book or an early reader).
  • I started writing a new novel. I have also realized that said opening scene is bad and have plotted out a new one that is MUCH better, but that’s pretty standard for beginnings.
  • I got through three lessons in my writing class.
  • I’ve outlined a potential class for Skillshare and now need to look at how I want to film/edit it.
  • (WordPress won’t let me get rid of this bullet, so please disregard this aside.)

All in all, not too shabby. But, of course, there’s always more to be done. WriYe is actually proving to be a bit of a distraction here, because I have the three main things I’m focusing on–nonfiction/workbooks/now Skillshare classes, Landsquid picture book(s), and writing class–and some of the monthly challenges are VERY tempting.

For April, for example, the genre stretch sounds awesome–a mix of a college setting with slipstream elements. I definitely want to write something for that. And there’s the addition of a challenge to brush off and improve a project that you’ve abandoned.

The last thing I need is to go into a major revision process. I’ve done so much revision lately that I’m a bit burnt out on the whole thing. But…I think this actually predates the blog…I had a younger YA story I adored. I polished it, I queried it, I entered it in contests–and it never went anywhere, and eventually I shelved it and moved on to other projects. But I still think about it sometimes, and maybe…maybe I could do it justice now? Maybe I could fix it and it could go out into the world?

God, it is tempting. But, goals! And previous commitments!

So I’ve made an agreement with myself. If I get the nonfiction books edited (and any additional workbooks/journals created), then I can read through this YA story. No pressure to revise it or anything. Just read it, see what state it’s in, and see how much work it would take to fix, if it’s fixable. Maybe look at the comments I got from various agents and contests to see what other people saw as problems.

So we’ll see. There’s still 5 more nonfiction books and at least 1 workbook, and April isn’t a very long month.

How is your April going, squider?

Workbooks and Journals, Oh My

So! It turns out that said journal class I had? Not a class so much as a collection of demos of how to make journals. Ah, well.

And also, the whole thing is kind of obvious in retrospect. There are some good pointers and tips, certainly. But the class is for making journals in Canva (I love Canva, I like to make book covers in it, though sometimes they prove too complicated–To Rule the Stars was made in Canva, for example, but Love Shines Through had to be done in Photoshop) and Canva has changed how it works over the past two years (madness, she says sarcastically) so the actual physical journal making isn’t as helpful as perhaps it would have been.

That said, I’m 14 pages into the first workbook (each section has different exercises, so it’s kind of slow going) and made an entire 98-page journal in about an hour this morning.

Title Page of the Workbook in Canva

Kind of fun. A little aggravating. I just realized one of the fonts I’m using I also used on the To Rule the Stars cover so that’s a bit funny. (It’s a nice font, though, so I’m not sorry.)

I’m not making amazing progress on anything (I got T-boned by a car running a red light last Friday, so a thoroughly-annoying amount of my time has been dedicated to that).

(Everyone is okay.)

But I am done with the major revision on the first nonfic book. And assuming it doesn’t spawn any more companion books (the journal came out of nowhere when I was doing my final organization of the book and workbook, as did a freebie that I still need to make), the workbook should be done by the end of the week. And then it’s on to Common Writing Mistakes (no companion books, hopefully), and then Outlining (probably not a companion book?), which should go a little faster.

How are you today, squiders?