Monday, May 25, 2015

The Muse Party Blogfest

Hi all! Just because I felt like doing something a bit different, today, I decided to take part in Sarah Foster's Muse Party Blogfest.

Basically, it's a virtual party where writer's and muses go. Or characters, if it comes to that. I'm dragging a character along, because he's been veeeeery vocal while I've been editing the book he's in. (If you'd like to join in or to see who else is at the party, click here.) Now without further ado, time to get going.



Misha: *Checks outside while she finishes getting dressed. Stifles a laugh because Darrion's scowling while leaning against her car.*
Darrion: *Tugs at his collar, so not into this casual-not-taking-weapons-with outfit, but Callan and Kaela both insisted, so...*
Misha: *Heads out as soon as she's done.*
Darrion: *Brightens slightly.* We can still skip the party.
Misha: What? No. I said we're going and just not arriving is rude. Besides. I didn't get dressed for nothing.
Darrion: *Looks her up and down* Well...you do look nice.
Misha: ...Thanks.
Darrion: And I do so appreciate you not trying to make your dress match my shirt.
Misha: *squints, trying to figure out if he's being sarcastic. Goes with... not.* Yeah. Not the matchy matchy type. *Gets into the car.*
Darrion: *mutters* Thank God. *Takes two bottles off the car's hood and gets in as well.*
Misha: Says the guy who spends more than three quarters of his life in uniform.
Darrion: *Sing song* Not the same.
Misha: *Little shake of her head. Just drives.*
Darrion: Are you sure you have time for this? I mean--
Misha: Do not bring up all the editing I have to do. It'll get done.
Darrion: *Tiiiiiny smile. Secretly loves winding her up.*
Misha: I should have invited my muse. *Glances his way.*
Darrion: Now why would you say that?
Misha: Or maybe I should have brought Gawain. He's always a hit at parties.
Darrion: *Peeved* I can be a hit at parties too, you know. We're friends for a reason.
Misha: Okay... What are we going to sing for karaoke?
Darrion: *Scowls*
Misha: See? You're too uptight for strange parties.
Darrion: And yet, I'm a great conversationalist.
Misha: If you can resist hitting someone. *Groans* You're not going to hit someone.
Darrion: *Scowls* Why am I coming with you again?
Misha: Because you won't leave me alone, remember? You follow me around everywhere.
Darrion: Right. *Crosses his arms, making his shirt strain at his shoulders.*
Misha: What party game are we going to suggest?
Darrion: Is Quin coming? We can maybe tie him up and--
Misha: Don't...
Darrion: *Grins* We only need to stop somewhere for sticks.
Misha: Gaaaaaaaah you're incorrigible!
Darrion: *Chuckles* You love me for it. *Seriously thinks about a game that's actually safe for everyone to play*
Misha: Musical Chairs it is.
Darrion: ...
Misha: *Explains*
Darrion: Oh...kay?
Misha: It'll be fun.
Darrion: If you say so.
Misha: What's in the bottles?
Darrion: Mulnich for me and... since you definitely can't handle mulnich, liquid chocolate for you.
Misha: *Grins* Enough to share?
Darrion: *Nods*
Misha: *Grin widens* And that is why I love you.
Darrion: *Little smile back.*
Misha: *Sighs when they arrive at the party.*
Darrion: *Frowns at the entrance where people are milling around.* No one's seen us yet. We can still escape.
Misha: Oh for the love of -- *Gets out of the car.*
Darrion: *Follows* Can't blame me for trying. You know I don't generally do well with crowds.
Misha: Nonsense. You're charming. You're good looking. You'll be the heart and soul of the party as soon as you smile.
Darrion: Exactly what I'm not looking forward to.
Misha: ...You realize becoming King means you'll deal with crowds for the rest of your life, right?
Darrion: Worth it.
Misha: *Can't argue with that* Well...if you really don't want to go... I'll just go alone. Just...try and stay out of trouble, okay? *Heads in.*
Darrion: ...*Sighs and catches up to her at the door, hooking her arm through his.* This is worth it too.
Misha: *Beams and kisses his cheek, then looks around for people she knows.*

Friday, May 22, 2015

How to Work on Multiple Projects

Every time I update on my goals and people see how much I actually want to get done in a month, there’s at least one person who says that he/she doesn’t understand how I can work on so many projects at one time.

So I thought some of you might find it interesting if I explain.

At one stage, I used to work on only one project at a time, but even then, never quite. If I was working on one project and another idea came up, I’d postpone that idea until I finished the rough draft of my main project. In other words, I’ve pretty much worked on at least two ideas since half way through Doorways. (In case you missed it, Doorways was split into two halves for a publishing deal and I generally refer to either half by their individual titles.)

I’ve never worked on only one project from conception to final edits. I guess my brain just doesn’t work that way. Usually I’d take a few weeks off from one project before starting to edit it. In that time, about a month or so in, I’d start another project. Only rarely, though, would I work on another project while drafting another.

NaNoWriMo 2012 made me reconsider this. That year, I’d written an entire rough draft in two weeks, but it came short of 50k words. And because I hadn’t had time to think about something else to write and had only two weeks left, I had to give up.

Then in 2013, I started to think of how much writing time I actually lose because of the time I take before starting that second project. Worse still, I’m prone to writer’s block while drafting and in those times, I’d take weeks without writing anything while my mind figured out whatever was keeping me from continuing a story.

When November came, I decided to work on three projects: One main project and two others that I can skip to in case I wrote myself into a corner with one. It worked a dream. In fact, I think I almost hit 60k words in that time, and finished the rough drafts by the end of December.

Then came my five year goal, and I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone by running writing and editing projects concurrently. That, as it turned out, works even better for me.
How do I do it?

I always work on different genres to separate the stories in my mind. 
E.G. I have an epic fantasy, an urban fantasy, a contemporary romance, and a dystopian pipelined for rough drafts. For edits, I have the first two books in the same epic fantasy series as the one I’m drafting, a historical romance and a mythology retelling. Very little chance of confusion for me because everything looks and feels different from everything else.

Everything has a priority list.
I’ll pick one rough draft, one rewrite and one edit at a time and then I don’t work on anything else unless it’s done or I get stuck.

In case of getting stuck, I’ll pick something else to work on until I get unstuck. 
It usually happens without much conscious thought from my side.

I never shelve anything indefinitely.
If something doesn’t work and I can’t figure out why, I might move it down the priority list, but I never remove something from it. This prevents me from having a ton of unfinished projects in my wake.

Speaking of which, I write down any shiny new ideas I might have and add it to the priority list.
And then I go right back to what I’m actually busy with.

I use spreadsheets to keep track of how many words I’ve written, rewritten and/or edited in a day, month and year by project.
I also have a spreadsheet calendar where I outline each of the goals I set for the month, so that I can see if I’ve been neglecting anything when I shouldn’t.

On any given day, I pick what I want to focus on.
Sometimes, it’s to edit, or to write a chapter, or to rewrite. I never move onto another project unless I’ve finished that task (or get stuck).

I wouldn’t be able to work on the projects the way that I do unless I had that priority list and a way to track my progress. Without them I probably would just end up going back to working on one or two projects at a time.

Now you know my secret.

Do you work on multiple projects? If so, how do you go about it? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Objectives

Hi all! Before I get started on today's post: 

As you might know, I'm currently looking for people to help spread the word about my books' impending book releases and reviewers. If you'd like to help me out, please feel free to sign up for any and/or all of the three lists I have up for the purpose. 


Right, and now today's shameless plug is over and I can get started on today's topic. 

Objectives



Today I'm sharing one of the big secrets on how I actually finished the books I'm publishing done. Ready? Brace yourself: 

I got my objectives right. 

See, once upon a time, I made the same mistake as a lot of writers out there. I said: "I want to be a writer!" 

Which is great, but really, I became a writer the day I decided to sit down every day and write a few words. (Really, that's all it takes. Being a writer and being anything else aren't mutually exclusive. All it takes is to have a regular writing schedule and sticking to it.) 

That did not mean that any books were getting done, though. 

Because no, writing every day doesn't guarantee finishing a book. I've already written about it elsewhere in the series, so I'm not going to go into it again. 

The point is that it takes commitment and dedication to finish a story. Not to becoming a writer. 

To finishing the story you're working on. 

That's the objective you should be concerned with. After that, your next objective should be to finish edits. After that, to take some sort of action toward publishing your book. (Be it self publishing or finding an agent/publisher.) 

Et voila! You're a writer anyway.

But now you're a writer with a book to sell too. 

All because you put your focus in the right place. 

How do you approach your writing career? Do you set short term goals? What's your goal at the moment?  

Monday, May 18, 2015

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter

This is probably going to get quite a few people upset. You know...in the same order of upset as "I don't think hard selling on Twitter sells books." 

The thing is just... 

Well. 

I don't like newsletters. 

At all. 

Not even a little. 

In fact, even if I once upon a time subscribed to them, getting one in my inbox immediately spikes my blood pressure. 

Which is why I've now taken to not signing up to them anymore. Sorry to everyone who's asked, but when it comes to newsletters, I'm definitely not your target audience. 

And yet it seems like everyone swears by them. 

And just when I get sold on the idea, I get one of those danged things in my inbox and there goes all the convincing. 

So here are the reasons why I don't like the idea of a newsletter: 

1) If I've created an online place where someone could just go to check out for updates (which I now do), why must I send a newsletter? 
2) Given that I have blogs and/or writing gigs for: writers, readers, spec fic readers, women, people who like reading about someone taking charge of their lives, AND interior freaking decorating (yes, really), I honestly don't see what the heck a newsletter would add. More than that, I don't know what I'd even put in the newsletter. Other than HEY! By the way... I have a new book out. 
3) And if "HEY! I HAVE A BOOK OUT!" is all I have to ever say in a newsletter, that's pretty much equal to (in my mind at least) hard selling on Twitter. 
4) Given the sheer volume of people now swearing to newsletters, I'm really wondering if my newsletter would even make a dent? 

BUT! 

That said, I know that sometimes, it's not just about what I like. Marketing is about doing things the market likes. 

Except: Does the market even really like newsletters? 

So please do let me know your thoughts. And your reasoning if you are using newsletters. 


Friday, May 15, 2015

Just a quick check-in.

I was going to post something I'd written a while back about how I actually work on multiple goals at a time, but I haven't had a chance to visit any blogs since Wednesday, so I don't think it would be fair to subject people to a long(ish) post.

And although it's only 8:30 pm at the moment, I'm exhausted.

It hasn't actually been a really tough week, but I think the change of season has caught up with me with a cold or something draining my energy.

I'm thinking that going to sleep now and sleeping in will probably help me get over the slump. On the other hand, this will be yet another day where I haven't continued final proofreading for The Vanished Knight. 

Or any of the other writing, critique, publishing and/or editing related things I'm supposed to do. And today is half way through this month.

How strange. I thought May was supposed to be my month off.

Anyway. I'm a bit frustrated at the moment. I want to get The Heir's Choice online for pre-orders too. Because until I do, I'm a bit hampered in my marketing efforts. (Hard to point people anywhere when I don't have anywhere for them to go to.)

And my problem is that I'm not getting the blurb the way I want. It's seriously frustrating, because I'm great at helping other people with their blurbs.

My own, on the other hand, are constantly kicking my ass.

So I'm thinking I should just go sleep and start again when I'm refreshed. No point to trying to edit while sleepy.

How are you doing? Do you also have trouble with your own blurbs?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: New

See? I told you I'd actually write about things not related to the two books I'm about to release into the wild. Can't help it, honestly. I know posting only about my books makes me a bore. Heck, it bores me to be so boring.

BUT! This is my shameless marketing plug for those of you who've missed recent events. Firstly, I'm still looking for people who'll spread the word, so if you'd like to help, please click here. Then, The Vanished Knight is back on Goodreads and available for pre-order. Click here for more info. 

Right. Now that's done. Time for the proper post.

New


If you're still new to the writing gig, you're probably approaching the whole thing with stars in your eyes. It's a wonderful feeling, that liberal sense of endless possibility mixed with the delusion that your muse is actually your friend.

In this time, you're going to find that you're very productive. You'll be able to churn out hundreds or thousands of words every day while you're exploring the characters, world and story.

If you're a veteran to the fiction writing gig, you'll be writing like a madman-or woman, trying to get as many words down as possible while the going is good.

Why? Because for most of us, the feeling of "newness" wears off around the time we hit the middle of the story. (The exception to this being those writers who can write 10k words per day, every day, for a week. I know exactly one such writer.)

The sucky thing about the newness wearing off at this particular point is that usually, the middles are the hardest parts to get right. Because the middle will usually be where you discover plot holes. The middle is where you'll find that your goal is too weak to sustain a story. Where you'll find that the stakes aren't what they should be. Where other characters start clamoring for the title of "Main Character".

So exactly when the newness fades (and perhaps because of it), we're faced with the harsh realities of our story. Mainly, those realities circle around the fact that the story really isn't as good as we thought. (More on this later.)

Either way, the middle is arguably the place where most people lose steam and give up.

Don't. Be. That. Person. 

Remember when I said that you need discipline more than inspiration? This is where the change happens. Once the newness is gone, you need to find it within yourself to keep going.

But while the story is new, get as much writing done as possible. The more you get done, the more momentum you have. Which in plain English means that the more you've written, the less intimidating the rest of the required word count will look.

So whatever you do, don't procrastinate while your story's new.

Because newness has a fixed expiry date. And your time's ticking.

Anyone here capable of huge word counts in a day? Do you also have your writing slump when the newness wears off? By how much? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Vanished Knight: Now Available for Pre-Order


Hi all! 

Okay, so I was totally planning to write some other things last week, but I've been away almost every day since Tuesday. 

The good news is that The Vanished Knight e-book is now out on pre-order at the following places: 



The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven. By the time she’s sixteen, it’s ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another. 

Her thirteenth foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not. A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world. There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died. 

Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born. To cover their tracks, they’d lied about everything. Even who they really were. 

Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan’s trapped in a race for life and death. Walking away isn’t an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim. 

In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible. Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with. 

One with a taste for destroying her life. 

Add it on Goodreads

Also, I'm still looking for help with getting the word out. In particular, with the cover reveal (which will actually be more of an excerpt reveal) and reviews. But I'd also love to get more blog tour stops too. If you'd like to help, please click here for more information. 

Anyone excited that The Vanished Knight is almost out once more? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Vanished Knight Has a Blurb

Hi all!

For those of you who missed it, I'm publishing the first two books of The War of Six Crowns on 31 July. 

If you can/would like to help, please click here for more information. 


Today's news: 

The Vanished Knight has a shiny new blurb: 



The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven. By the time she’s sixteen, it’s ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another.

Her twenty second foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not. A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world. There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died.

Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born. To cover their tracks, they’d lied about everything. Even who they really were.

Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan’s trapped in a race for life and death. Walking away isn’t an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim. 

In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible. Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with. 

One with a taste for destroying her life.


Let me know what you think! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

HUGE Announcement and I Need Some Help

Okay. Deep breaths. Those of you who stopped by on Wednesday have probably seen this already:

 


It was supposed to be just one quick taster to tide you over.

But. You know how I kept saying things haven't been falling together right? How I would just keep plodding along until things did fall in to place?

Well. They have.

Just not in the way I'd expected. Which is why it took one unexpected royalty payment from my former publishing house - more than a year after I got my book rights back (Although, that wasn't their fault. The Post Office of South Africa was on strike for most of 2014. I kid you not.) to make me realize that it had.

To illustrate:

I needed to find a way to learn how to format my books and got given an AMAZING step by step guide. (More on this later.)

In my time off, I've basically been editing. So basically, I have one round of edits left to make sure the continuity is kept constant, followed by proofreads, which will probably happen in pen.

ISBNs I've had since last year.

So all I needed were the covers.

Well. The one you saw. Now, I present to you:



Which means that, except for nailing down the back of the book copy, I basically need to decide on my release date. 

Ahem. *Cough* July 31 *Cough*

Seriously, then, I really need exactly one thing: Your help.

Unlike last time around, I'm giving myself three months to set up my blog tour, marketing etc. And I'm thinking of doing the set-up differently.

To make things easier for me AND you... Please see the pages above. Blog Tour, Cover Reveal and Review. Inside will be a linky list and an explanation of what the entry entails. Don't worry. No selling or buying of souls just yet.

You're welcome to enter more than one activity, if you'd like.

So what do you say? Anyone want to help?