Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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!)

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One of Those Weeks

It’s been one of those weeks, squiders. Where you can’t find any time to do anything around everything else you need to do, and then, when you do manage to find time, it turns out that something is either missing or wrong.

(I’m talking about the week ending today, not the week that started Sunday or Monday. For clarification.)

First, there was Nano, when I came to the realization that people where having planning parties and whatnot, and I hadn’t even come up with what I was writing yet. (The beginning of September seems like forever away from November, and then all of a sudden it’s not.)

We talked about that last week. But what I didn’t tell you guys was that it took me FOREVER to find that first chapter. I knew I’d written it, there were even excerpts on one of my writing forums, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it. I knew it wouldn’t be on my desktop or laptop as neither have been in use long enough (the desktop is about three years old, after the last one ate it, and the laptop I stole from my husband about two years ago after my own laptop’s battery could no longer hold a charge at all), but it wasn’t on my back-up hard drive. And it wasn’t on my old laptop after I dug it out and got it operational. And it wasn’t in my Google Drive, and…

I eventually found it on an SD card I used to use both for back-up and to easily move stories between desktop/laptop. My current desktop doesn’t have an SD card slot (still annoyed about that) so I stopped using it.

(And yes, I have backed it up now.)

Then there’s the nonfiction stuff. I’ve been working both on a new SkillShare class and the books, with the goal of having both published by the end of the month. They’re related, with the book being about finding story ideas and the class being about setting up an idea storage system.

On the book front, I need to make covers for the workbooks, and, as they need to be paperbacks, I need to make wraparound covers. So I went in to get templates only to find that the pocket idea book I made is smaller than KDP will print a book. And I used Canva to make said idea book, and I can’t resize it unless I upgrade to Premium.

(There is a 30-day trial, so I may just go ahead with that and make sure I get all the covers for the entire series done in those 30 days.)

I’d also like to make a printable PDF version of the workbooks that people who buy the paperbacks can download and use, or possibly provide an ebook version with the printable PDFs somewhere, but I’m not 100% sure how to do that without making Amazon grumpy.

On the class front, I’m having the worst time with filming. I did most of the PowerPoint voiceovers, only to find that because I was congested you can occasionally hear me breathing. (I might be able to cover that with background music, but I can’t decide if that would be weird to have or not.) And I filmed one of the talking head segments (in two pieces, because one is of my face, and the other is a demo section down on my desk) and they’re both weirdly corrupted. They both have a half second where half the video goes all colored and pixelated. And of course they’re in the middle of a sentence, making it hard to cut or fix.

Not sure how to deal with that. I don’t particularly want to re-film those segments (because they’re long), and I have no guarantee that it won’t happen again, potentially worse. My camera is probably dying and will need to be replaced. Hooray.

And then there’s costume issues, notably that I need to cut a section off the glasses and haven’t managed it. (What the heck are these things made of?)

But I did sit down this morning and pound out a complete, workable plot for the City of Hope and Ruin sequel (which, no, you haven’t heard about lately, because Siri and I have been having the worst time and frankly took the summer off). It took me about three hours to go through everything and organize it, but it happened, and I am cautiously optimistic that Siri will also like it and then we can get this dang book written.

So maybe things are turning around.

How are your projects going, squiders? Thoughts on video editing and/or background music?

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

I’m going to do Nano this year, squiders.

(NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and this is its 20th anniversary, which is insane. My first one was 2003, the fifth year it existed, and there were only about 3000 of us. Now there’s hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Madness!)

I’m really, truly going to do it. I’m going to sign up, I’m going to maybe go to write-ins, and hopefully I am going to get my 50K and win.

I haven’t done so since 2014.

I did Nano every year 2003-2011, but then the small, mobile ones arrived, and it’s been near impossible to get the focus/time necessary to do so since then.

The years I didn’t do it, I always tried some sort of unofficial challenge, which has traditionally failed miserably. There’s something about the energy and community that surrounds Nano that makes it infinitely more doable than trying on your own.

But I’m going to do it. And I’m excited for it.

Of course, the first step is to pick a story. I’m behind on that–one of my writing groups is already doing planning parties for their stories–but it IS September, and this is traditionally the month I pick what I’m writing and then proceed to do nothing until Nov 1 hits.

In 2014 I made a long list of various novel ideas and then slowly whittled them down until I was left with the Space Dinosaur story. Most of those other stories are still on the table.

Yesterday I started going through my idea file, which quickly became unwieldy, because there are a TON of ideas in there and a lot of them looked pretty dang good, and the thought of adding more ideas onto the other list (which has 16 perfectly good ideas on it anyway) was terrifying, so I gave that up.

It’s all moot, really. I feel like I should be making an informed decision, looking at my options and logically deciding which story to write, but the fact of the matter is that I’ve already made up my mind.

The looking at ideas and lists is all for show.

I knew before I started looking at lists and ideas that I wanted to work on a story project related to a story I’ve already written. I have a couple plotted out for Shards, sequels or prequels, and those were very tempting, because I’ve been writing short pieces in the Shards universe lately for practice. I’ve got some other sequels as well, but the first books in those still need work before they see the world, so it’s maybe not the best to work on succeeding books that might never see the day.

But even that list is just for show.

You guys know about my high fantasy trilogy that I’ve been working on forever. About eight years ago, I had an idea for a “prequel”–but not a true prequel. A story set in the same world, about 700 years earlier than the trilogy. Almost five years ago I sat down and wrote the first chapter. And now, damnit, I’m going to write the freaking book.

I’ve already done a lot of work on it, actually. Most of it will take place on a sailing ship, so I did a lot of research on types of sailing vessels (how big, what era, whether or not they’d be able to make it across an ocean the size of the Pacific, how many crew, how much they could hold, etc.) and drew several pictures of rigging and whatnot, because I remember, when Hidden Worlds came out, a family member noting the vagueness of sailing terminology in the section that took place on a ship.

(Which is fine in context, Margery, the MC, knows nothing about sailing terminology. But for this story, where the sailing portion is much more substantial and the characters–though not the viewpoint character, at least at the beginning–much more experienced, I need to know my stuff.)

I will need to do some better plotting and work on my character arcs, but hey! We’ve got time.

I’m trying something new here as well, as I typically do with Nano stories, and that’s a non-protagonist narrator. That’s always been the plan, since I first conceived the story. Think what’s-his-face in Wuthering Heights, or Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories. They’re there, they’re telling the story, but they’re not driving the story.

Could be a disaster, but we’re going for it anyway.

I re-read that first chapter this morning, and I am excited. It’ll be fun to explore a different section of the world I’ve spent so much time in, I’m already super in love with the main characters, and it will be interesting to try something new and see how this story unfolds.

(I may need to do some conlanging before we get going, though, and that is not my strongest skill. Oh well.)

Got other non-protagonist narrator stories I should look at, squiders? (Especially anything more recently than 100 years ago.) Doing Nano yourself? Anything else interesting going on?

Decisions, Decisions

Good morning, squiders!

If you’ll remember, in February I finished up my serial scifi story in one of my writing communities, a story I started in January of 2009 and hence had been working on for 10 years.

(I really should back it up in a word document and see what the final word count is. I’d bet it’s about 70K or so.)

I don’t think I’ll do anything with the story–it kind of feels like I’ve spent enough of my life on it already, and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily worth the time to revise and so forth to try and publish it.

Plus it wasn’t my favorite story idea to begin with. I just felt like I needed something, a story I could work on periodically for said writing community (you’re supposed to post at least once a month), and so I put it together off a weird dream I had once.

I requested a few months off after the completion of the story, which I was readily given, but it’s now six months later and I find myself at a crossroads.

A couple, actually.

The first one is: do I want to stay in this community?

It’s a LJ writing prompt community that I joined back in 2006. In 2006 I joined a lot of different writing communities–I was fresh out of college and living in a new state where I knew no one except my significant other, and I found myself falling into a depressive spiral. So I threw myself into writing as a coping mechanism, which worked pretty well, all things considered. I made a lot of friends, many of whom I still talk to today, and it’s really the point where writing went from a hobby to a more serious pursuit.

And the community has generally been great. The other writers are talented, so it’s nice to read their stuff, and the feedback and encouragement I’ve gotten over the years. And it has been a good way to ensure I’m writing somewhat regularly, especially if life has been otherwise problematic.

But is it still helping me meet my goals? Would it be better to use the time I spend every month on something else?

The community has quieted down lately, too, with only a half dozen people actively posting, if that.

The second question is: if I stay in the community, what do I write?

Do I start another novel-length serial story, posting 600-1500 words a month for the next ten years? Do I actually rely on the prompts and write little drabbles and shorts that I may or may not want to do something with? (That’s what I did for the first few years. There’s some I like, but not enough to do anything with.)

Do I use it like the RaTs system on WriYe and focus on writing drabbles in universes that already exist?

Do I go for a serial, but something shorter, something designed to only last a year or so?

I’m not sure. Nothing’s jumping out at me. But I feel like I’m reaching a point where the decision needs to be made.

Thoughts, squiders?

Looking Back at 7DN

Good morning, squiders! I hope you’re doing well! I’ve been sick, which has not been awesome, but I think I’m on the mend now.

I mentioned a few times that last week WriYe was doing a challenge called Seven Day Novel (or 7DN for short) where you’re got a week to write a novel or novella (WriYe has a 15K minimum) which I decided to take part in, both because I’ve had this scifi/horror novella I’ve been wanting to write, and as kind of a test to see if Nano would be doable this year.

And the results are…mixed.

You obviously have 7 days for 7DN, but I only ended up with 4. I knew Sunday/Saturday were unlikely to be usable and so had only planned for 5 days (with 3K a day), but Friday I woke up with really bad vertigo and hence lost it too.

An added issue was that I have a story for an anthology that I’m also working on, which takes precedence because Deadlines and so forth.

So, in the end, I ended up with 6.5K on the scifi/horror story, plus another 2.5K on the anthology story. So 9K for my four days, which is not bad at all. Obviously not quite at the goal, but not bad.

So I think I will do Nano this year. I haven’t tried since 2014 (and I did win that year) mostly due to the small, mobile ones, but it wasn’t too hard this past week to get 2K+ words a day, and school will be back in session in November (except for Thanksgiving break, but oh well).

Of course, making that decision now has come with some unintended consequences. Mostly ones of the “YAY I GET TO WRITE A NEW STORY WHICH ONE SHOULD I WRITE” variety.

Which…no, brain. We’re not there yet. We’ve got to focus on the current projects first. We can pick a story idea in October, or maybe late September if I’m feeling generous.

(Though…maybe this is the year to try my non-protagonist narrator story? I’ve technically written the first chapter already, but I’ve had it planned for close to a decade now and I should probably get on it.)

(No, bad Kit. Focus on your current stuff.)

Got too many things going on as it is.

I might try running the 7DN challenge again on my own. Maybe once a month or so? It’s a good way to get a word count boost, and I think it’s good for your soul to do some creating in with all the other administrative and logical things (revising, marketing, checking contracts and doing market research, etc.).

Anyway, quite pleased with the experiment overall, except for the getting sick part. And now on to other things for at least a little bit.

How was your weekend, squiders?

WriYe and Experience

Happy Wednesday, squiders! My week’s off to a pretty good start–getting a ton written, which feels amazing. I’m really enjoying my 7DN novella, which is a scifi horror story about a falling apart space station. Also finishing up a story for an anthology. But I’ve written more this week than some months this year already.

Anyway, new month, new WriYe blog prompt.

We’ve all heard “Write What You Know”. What do you think? Truth or fallacy?

I wrote a blog post about this back in 2016 while I was working on the blog tour for the release of City of Hope and Ruin. That post is here. But basically, I think this idiom is one that’s not very well understood. People take it very literally, like, “I am a college student, so my characters must also be college students” or “I have never jumped out of a plane and so my character can’t either.”

Which is wrong, sorry.

“Write What You Know” means that you should pull from your own life where applicable to help make the situations and characters in your book feel more realistic. You may not have faced down a dragon, but you’ve been scared before. You may not have lost a child, but you’ve been sad before.

So, yes, I think it’s true. But I do think you need to understand what it’s really saying.

Bonus:
Do you write what you know?

I mean, I write 95% speculative fiction, so, kind of?

Going back to what I said above, I try to make the feelings and tone throughout my stories as realistic as I can by drawing on my own feelings and experiences, which is really the best you can do, I think.

Luckily, there are not really evil mechanical people or haunted space stations or immortal archnemeses to deal with in my life, for which I am eternally grateful.

Hooray for Flash Fiction

In the interests of full disclosure, this post was supposed to go up yesterday. However, we lost power for several hours and nothing was charged, so you get it today instead! (Sorry.)

Hi, guys! It’s the end of July (now the beginning of August), however the heck that happened. I have had a very good couple of weeks since we stumbled home from our road trip. I’m finally feeling a little more like myself, and I’ve gotten quite a bit done.

I finished the last nonfiction book, and am currently putting together betas for the books/workbooks.

I made three finalized drawings for the Landsquid picture book as examples for an illustration portfolio (so now I only need to type up the manuscript and put together a list of places/agents to submit to, and then…I think I’m good to go?).

And I wrote the middles and ends of five short stories for my flash fiction class. While the class wants you to aim for 500 words a story, the first two are around 1000. That’s on purpose, since I’m submitting one to an anthology and planning on using the other one as a freebie for my newsletter, so I wanted them to be a little more substantial.

I’m pretty pleased with all five stories, truth be told, though two of them are only borderline spec fic and so I’m not 100% sure what to do with them.

But, best of all, I wrote.

If you remember, after certain traumatic events back in May, I was having a really hard time with fiction. So having five completed short stories feels really nice.

And since we’re into August now, we can talk about plans for this month! Or at least for next week, because that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. WriYe is doing a challenge called 7DN (or Seven Day Novel), where you write a minimum of 15K of a novel in a week. It must be a new project, and it should have some semblance of a complete arc.

I’ve got a horror/scifi idea I’ve been poking which I think would be perfect for the challenge, so I need to outline that here in the next few days. And I think the challenge will be a good indicator of whether or not I can give Nano a try this year.

How did July go for you? How’s August looking?