Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’

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?

Advertisements

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?

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

So, both the Landsquid books and the nonfiction books are lower down in the priority for the next week, since the Fractured World anthology is coming out in about a week and I have Things That Need Doing (I am in charge of the back cover copy, the inside formatting, and the cover, and somewhere along the way here I have obviously taken on too much responsibility).

But that doesn’t mean I’m not working on them still. I finished the rough draft of the Landsquid book and have drawn most of the pages, and I started researching how one goes about submitting a picture book to publishers, and I have learned things.

I have learned that, apparently, you take the text of your picture book, put it in manuscript format, and send it off. And…that’s it. No artwork. No illustration notes.

Which…what? What? There are a ton of books written and illustrated by the same person–how did they submit? I have pages in my book where there are just pictures and no text–how is that represented in the manuscript format? Is it? Or does what text there is have to stand on its own?

I guess the idea is that publishers want the option to hire their own illustrators for projects, and so they’re more likely to accept a book without any artwork baggage. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind someone else illustrating. I am a competent artist but I’m under no illusions about being amazing. I just can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.

(If anyone knows, please share your wisdom! I’m also going to look into my local SCWBI chapter–it’s been probably 5 years since I last did anything with them and I don’t remember anything–and see what’s what there.)

The journal class continues to be MIA. I emailed a follow-up last night but have not heard anything. Bah. Bah, I say! Meanwhile I’ve gotten a ton of emails from this company advertising OTHER classes they want me to buy, and I can’t say I’m motivated to ever buy anything from them ever again.

(I have Lifetime access on another class I bought from them four years ago, and I went back through it last week, since I also bought that class for the nonfiction series, and it’s not in a great state. Links going to the wrong information, missing information, etc. So.)

I did find a possible alternative, if it comes to that. The other teacher I follow who’s offering a journal/workbook class has a standalone workbook on the subject for $10. It’d probably be better than nothing, but I am waffling. It sounds like part of her class/workbook is figuring out what the workbook should be about, and I’ve got that part down. I mostly want formatting info.

Also, I’m working through How to Think Sideways, which is a class offered by Holly Lisle. I bought it for a lot of money a long time ago (probably 10 years) but never got all the way through it, and I’ve always wanted to get my money’s worth out of it. So I’m going through. I’ve made it past the lesson that tripped me up the first time, and have a ton of new story ideas, which is…well, not terrible. But I’ve got to get some stuff done before I start new things.

(Now, Holly is a woman who maintains her lifetime access in a way that is actually useful. Plus she updates the courses instead of making a new course and then expecting you to pay again.)

(I’m sorry, I’m just really Not Impressed with journal class company right now.)

But, yes, the anthology must be done. If I can swing it, I hope to finish the print formatting today and get the cover done. We’ll see, though, because everything is taking longer today than it should.

How are you doing, squiders?

Plugging Along

Well, squiders–Lord, is that more yellow? auuughhh–there’s been nothing past the initial contact on the journal class. How long do you think before I ping them? Tomorrow? Or do I need to wait until next week?

(I did check out the other teacher’s class, but it’s $100 and I’m especially not spending $100 on something I have already paid for.)

(Also, it’s my turn to make playdough for the smaller, mobile one’s class, and Goddess, there is nothing I hate more in life than making playdough. We picked yellow, which was a mistake.)

(Also, how am I allowed to make playdough but I am no longer allowed to make cute snacks? Is it because we can pretend the kids aren’t eating the playdough?)

I mean, it’s probably no skin off their backs if they ghost me. It’s not like I can call my credit card and ask them to take off some charge from two years ago. Also, I think I paid with Paypal.

So cross your fingers for me, squiders, that I hear from them soon and that it is good news.

I’ve also collated the posts for the first three books (story ideas, common writing mistakes, and outlining) and put together a list of other things to do:

  • Cover design
  • Find reviewers
  • Create freebie for email list (if you want on my author-specific list, it’s here)
  • Check picture permissions and make sure to attribute them
  • Add thank you pages to the backs of the books
  • Research categories and pricing

I’ve been so busy thinking about writing/revision I forgot about the publishing aspect. Ahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Except now I’ve done that, hooray.

I mean, I still need to do the writing/revision but now I have the big picture in mind.

(If you’ve made workbooks/journals previously, squiders, what software did you use? And did you use normal binding, or a coiled binding, and if you did a coil one, where did you publish it?)

(Stupid missing class.)

Also, it’s the end of February and so I find myself needing to think what I want to spend the next month on. The nonfiction books, yes. They will get done come hell or high water. Four years is more than enough time to spend on a project. But then there’s so many other options–the landsquid picture books (going okay, just procrastinating, which is silly, because it is silly to procrastinate things that are your own ideas that you want to do), maybe a new adult project. I should do some editing on other books, but I’m not feeling motivated. And I’d like to get more feedback before I do anything drastic.

Things to ponder.

Spring looms, squiders. Any plans?

The Dangers of Procrastination

Oh, squiders. I have run into yet another road bump in the nonfiction book writing process.

It has been my intention to release workbooks with some of the nonfiction books (so far the idea generation and the multiple project books, but perhaps more as I continue to finalize things) and, seeing how I’ve been working on this project for about four years now, I bought an online class two years ago about how to make journals and workbooks with the intention of using it when I was a little further along in the process.

Well, now I’m further along, and I’m ready for that class, so I logged in to the website I bought it from and…

Nothing.

It’s not there.

There’s a note on the member dashboard about classes older than 2016 (though I bought this in 2017, so that shouldn’t be an issue), but other than that, everything is blank.

I’ve contacted support, but they seem a little confused about the whole thing too. There was the implication that it would be difficult to prove I had bought the class at this point in time but that they would try (I think they might have rebranded a bit since I bought the class).

I mean, I have my receipt, so hopefully everything should get worked out eventually, but I could have, in theory, done the entire class by now. And it’s hard to focus knowing I don’t have access to something I’m going to want, especially since the first book in the series has an accompanying workbook (or will, eventually).

Do I look for another workbook class? Another teacher I follow actually just put one out, but I am loathe to pay money for something when I have already paid for something similar. I mean, I could probably figure out how to make a workbook–I’ve certainly formatted weirder things for publication–but sometimes it is nice to have someone else do some of the work for you. (Especially if you’ve already paid for it!)

Anyway, this is an argument for doing projects quickly and consistently, I suppose. (Though this has always been a side project, so…)

Anyway, I’m kind of at a loss about what to do. Do I work on the books and come back to the workbooks (and try to remember what exactly was in each specific book)? Do I wait and work on marketing and publishing plans and hope they find the class for me in the next 24 hours? Do I flail around and work on something else entirely (admittedly what I have been doing)?

Well, I’ll have to figure something out. How are you doing, squiders?

Nonfiction Books and a Green Mars Update

Hi, squiders! How are you doing? My washing machine is leaking out the bottom and I’m trying to figure out if I need a new one, but it’s kind of a two-person job (one to tilt the washing machine, one to look under it) so I will have to wait until I have another adult to solve that one.

I know we’ve had a lot of media updates lately, but I wanted to let you know that I am working on the nonfiction books. I’ve re-ordered them for release based on the steps of the writing process, so they’re looking like this now:

  1. Finding Writing Ideas
  2. Common Writing Problems and Fixes
  3. Outlining
  4. Writing Consistently
  5. Writing Around Life
  6. Working on Multiple Projects at Once
  7. Submission and Publication

I wrote 6 first, as part of a training course I was taking at the time (kind of wondering if I should go back through the training course real quick), so I’m using that as the format for the other books. Plus, you know, the rest of the books are mostly a collection of blog posts at the moment.

So I’ve started working on the Writing Ideas book, adding in new material and streamlining the posts so they’re not repetitive, make sense, etc. I planned a workbook to go with that one (and also the multiple projects book) so I need to work on that as well.

Any thoughts on the publication order, squiders? I can’t decide whether Outlining should go before Common Writing Problems. Also, if you’d like to beta any of the books, let me know.

Also, I know we were supposed to discuss Green Mars as part of our Mars Trilogy readalong, like two weeks ago–or was it longer?–and I haven’t mentioned it recently, but I am working on it. It’s just slow going. The viewpoints are a little denser than the first book, which makes sense in context, but requires me to pay closer attention when reading.

Also I got eaten by Gemina. (If you’re not reading the Illuminae series and like science fiction + weird typography, you’re missing out.)

So, anyway! Green Mars is still coming, the nonfiction books are making good progress, and I’m feeling pretty good about how February is going in general, even with the sinus surgery.

I hope you guys are feeling pretty good too.