Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Not Over #CampNaNoWriMo

I met my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo this weekend! It's a good thing, too because I woke up this morning in one of those moods that's not particularly good for getting a lot of writing done.



Anyway, it was a goal of 25k which is really only half a novel. And I technically ended up with a whole novel because that's where the draft came to a natural end. Book #2 of the trilogy has a drastically short first draft, but that's just the way I tend to write. Most writers suffer from overwriting. I suffer from underwriting. Oh well... it's nothing I can't fix during the revision process.

And I'm not done yet. Since April isn't over and I still have a third book to write, I started right in on it yesterday. This one has a much longer, more detailed outline so I should be able to get a full-length draft out of it.

Oh, and don't forget to help support NaNoWriMo and all the great things it does for writers by visiting my donation page. You still have plenty of time to contribute!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rain, Rain It's Okay...

April showers have been abundant this year. It's kind of weird when the dark clouds roll in and make it seem like it's almost evening in the middle of the day. It's a great atmosphere for writing though, even if all of the rain can be a bit inconvenient.

I took the weekend off from Camp NaNoWriMo. I didn't necessarily need a break from writing because my mind is still fully focused on the plot, even when I'm away from the computer. In fact, I'm less than 5k away from meeting my goal! I mostly took the weekend off to work on that all-important Next Step, whatever that may be. I explored more marketing avenues for Unfolding Life and worked on the early stages of my marketing plan for the trilogy. I don't want to be caught off guard with the next project, so the earlier I get started, the smoother the transition from unpublished manuscript to published novel will go.

I am still looking for more Amazon reviews for Unfolding Life, so if you want a free PDF of it to review, just let me know by dropping me a line through the contact form on the bottom of the sidebar. The more reviews I get, the more advertising options I will have with the discounted/free ebook newsletters.

So what are you working on this week?

Monday, April 06, 2015

Taking on Camp like a Champ

I'm just a few hundred words from hitting 10k on my Camp NaNoWriMo project for April. Short of making a Vine doing a happy dance, I can't begin to express how thrilled I am about this. I won't just say that it is all hard work--honestly, when I get on a roll, thousands of words pour out in just an hour. There are two major factors to this new-found success at just simply writing: I'm working on a project I am absolutely passionate about, and I have a new mindset. I'm not letting negative vibes into my life anymore. There's just no room for them.

My camp project is book #2 in my trilogy series (titled For Another Day, if you were interested), but writing the first draft of it is just a very small part of all of the effort that's going into the series. I'm writing by day, revising book #1 by night. And after these revisions are done, I'm going to need some beta readers, so if you are interested let me know. I'm still wrestling with how to categorize it, but the one that fits best right now is suspense. I plan to have the revisions done by the end of the month--that would put me on a schedule of a late summer release.

Oooh.. can't you just feel the excitement in the air?!


**SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME**

I'm still raising money for NaNoWriMo this month so that they can keep doing these great writing programs and more! Just head on over to my donation page and check it out.

Oh, and spring cleaning has arrived. So why not help me clear out my bookshelves by picking up a great book from my Half.com store?

I know you want some new reading material, and spring is a great time for haiku! Pick up your copy of Unfolding Life today--also available at Amazon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Camping with a Purpose This Year

So many of us just go through the day fulfilling our own wants and needs. And when we don't get those things, the world can turn pretty dark. That's when it becomes a great time to help someone else and support things that work to give to others.

I'm doing something a little different for Camp NaNoWriMo this year. I've created a sponsor donation page to help support the cause because NaNoWriMo and the camps in April and July have been a lifesaver to me. Without these yearly events, I may never get as much writing done as I would like to. Goals are important, and these events help me meet and surpass my writing goals, even if I think I can't write another word.

I have a relatively small fundraising goal of $500, but I know that even this much can help with getting the opportunity for stories and creativity into the hands of children and adults that can do amazing things. This fundraising will also keep me on track by encouraging me to reach or exceed my goal of 25,000 words for this session of camp. This partial novel will end up being part 2 of my trilogy, which can only bring me closer to getting all three parts completed.

I whine too much about my own shortcomings and what I think I want out of life. So, it's time for me to put all of that focus onto something good for someone else for a change. If you can contribute, please do. If you can't right now, please spread the word or just drop by the page to leave a message of encouragement. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Publishing Year One: Hindsight


**Note to readers: I rewrote this post five or six times. Half of those posts had a positive spin, half went into the other direction. My attitudes about writing and publishing fluctuate on a daily basis. While this post may not be the most positive, know that I do still have moments of unfettered hope about the future of publishing my work. Ask me again tomorrow and the outlook may not be as bright.

Regrets—I have a few. 

It’s a big deal to publish a book no matter how you go about it. But the biggest lessons from it all are the things you have learned while you were standing right in the middle of all that planning and stress and hope. 

There were many things I could have done differently, starting with choosing a completely different form of writing to publish. Haiku is great, but half the world scoffs saying it’s easy, others say that it’s so challenging each one is a masterpiece in simplicity. I’m definitely walking the middle road on that topic, but creating a book of free verse poems or a novel would have probably provided a better vehicle for sales. 

That being said, the book is what it is. I could have tried different ways to advertise the book. I could have given out more free copies to avid readers. I could have made sure that paperback version and the ebook version came out on the same day. I could have just thrown money at the problem with paid advertising and paid book reviews (which I would never recommend). I could have simply waited and waited and waited until maybe someday, finally a real publisher or agent saw some talent in my work. But I didn’t wait around. I self-published because it the best way I knew how to get it out there at the time. 

A Career Changer?

The big question I know that I had at the beginning of this process was whether this would significantly change my career in any way. I’m very open about what I write, how I go about it and the struggles I have trying to make it my life’s work. But even I have to admit when I send a short story or some poetry to literary journals, Unfolding Life is never mentioned in the cover letter or the short bio. Self-publishing still has a stigma because the quality is unregulated. I will tell you this—after spending the past seven or eight years reading A LOT self-published work, the ratio of good-to-bad is about the same as traditionally published books. That’s because it is all about the reader’s perception and how they emotionally connect or disconnect with each story. Yes, formatting and grammatical nightmares are much more common in the self-publishing space, but even a great story can overcome all of that (think of your favorite trilogies-now-blockbuster-movies set). 


Lessons Learned

Learning throughout this process did give me one thing that I don’t regret—it made me happy to know what to expect for any potential future projects. Will I continue to self-publish? Maybe. I would still love to have a traditional contract with a major publisher, but I also know that the contract negotiations would be fierce—I’m no fool when it comes to royalties on ebooks. 

Will I continue to write? Come on. That’s like asking me whether I will continue to breathe. 

My motivation for writing will never change—it entertains me and I can’t think of anything else I would rather spend my time doing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I actually spend enough time writing—it takes a lot to cut through the demands of trying to make a living (not always succeeding at it) and trying to convince everyone around me I’m not at their beck and call just because my office is located where I live. Then when there is a time to write, I feel so guilty that I’m doing something people consider unimportant the anxiety starts to block out all of those ideas that seemed to be good in my head, but once on the paper seem like a whole lot of nothing. 

My motivation for publishing will need to change if I ever want to enjoy the process again. I can’t think about it as just doing this project to get to the next project. Right now I’m still in the mindset that if Unfolding Life had made more money, I could have hired an editor for my novel In Another Life. And if that project sold enough copies, it would give me the money to hire an artist for my comic book project. With the profits from that comic book project, I would be able to finally find a way to shoot some of the short films I’ve written. It’s a vicious cycle, but I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable. It’s not like I thought about making a full-time living from a single book. I’m certainly not that na├»ve. I just wanted to reinvest the profits in future projects which may or may not have led to the one perfect project that finally provided the means to write full-time.  

The self-publishing world will absolutely crush me if I dwell on getting paid what I think my work is worth. Yes, I do believe that writers are more than entitled to make a living from writing alone. And by alone I mean no parent, sibling, spouse, sugar daddy, trust fund, anyone or anything else providing additional financial support. This background support is often hidden by both beginning and well-established writers. Very few actually talk about struggling, which leads me and their audience to believe that they don’t. But they won’t tell you that—they’ll lose their starving artist street cred. 

Most consumers (and *ahem* those who hire freelance writers for their businesses) do not believe that writing can or should be a full-time job, and they certainly don’t want to pay a writer what they are worth. I can’t say I blame them. I am that consumer. The ONLY ebook I have ever purchased is my own to fulfill giveaways and review copies. I have hundreds of books on my Kindle and my Kobo that I downloaded for free. I haven’t bought a physical book in the past three years—I’ve been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to write reviews in exchange for free books, so I am that consumer. Unless the book seems like it will absolutely change my life, I’m a little reluctant to pay for it. I don’t have the resources to make as many book purchases as I want, and there’s your full circle—if I made more money writing, I could buy more books. 

So I get it. I get why this project was not what I would consider a success. 

I’m smarter for going through the process, but I’m also realistic. Whether any future writing will ever see the light of day is a serious question I’m still struggling with. I know that hard work is the key, but when you feel like you have given it more than your all and it still brings no results, you have to keep asking yourself whether it is worth all the time, effort, stress and guilt for not spending time trying to be better at making money instead of keeping focus on being creative.

Previous drafts of this post were a lot more positive, but that attitude made it feel like I was lying to myself and to everyone else. I'm disappointed in the sales numbers. I’m frustrated that even though I know a whole lot more about online marketing than most first-time writers going into this, I still couldn’t get the project in front of the right audience. I’m angry that it feels like there’s some secret to success that I just haven’t figured out. 

Right now, I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t want to spend the next six months working hard on another writing project only to have the same outcome. The future of my career as a professional writer in any capacity is uncertain, and it’s not a feeling I like carrying around each day. It’s decision time and I still don’t know where I’m going. I know that wherever it is I have to move forward in some direction, with or without writing projects in my hand.