Welcome to February, everyone! As fitting for the wintry month, we’re currently in the middle of an absolutely beautiful snowstorm here in Chicago, where we’ve gotten maybe three of the potential twelve inches until Monday. I’ve got a shift at work that’s going to likely be slow due to the double whammy of storm and Superbowl (which hit us HUGE yesterday; the store had it’s highest grossing day since it opened last year, even bigger than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and opening day), but then it’s followed by two glorious days off in which I intend to get a whole heck of a lot of work done. Especially since the arrival of February gives me two more things to focus on:
1. Finish Heartless and have it ready for beta readers by March 1st. I’m about 80 pages to go on the draft, and then I’ve got to type it all up and get a bit of an edit in, but I want to get it to beta readers by March so I have lots of time to work on the book before the August release. It might be a lot to squeeze in, and I might move the beta-reading to April, but we won’t know if I try.
2. Alpha reading another work. I’ve gotten the docs for a book I’ve offered to cover in red (and anyone who’s had me beta knows that I like to make a manuscript bleeeeeed), so I’m resolving to look over at least 13 pages a day so I can have it finished by February 25. Which shouldn’t be a problem at all…(She says now).
Also, with a new month comes a new Featured Story from World Unknown Review. This month, it’s Robert Robinson‘s memoir piece, “Sheba.” Give it a look and, if you like what you read, consider following Robert’s blog or picking up a copy of the review.
Definitely excited to add these to the focus for this month. What have you added to your plate for February?
Now that I’ve pretty much officially moved into the boyfriend’s apartment (the cats are settled, so that makes it legit), this next week or two is going to be about getting all my crap moved over (no easy task, as there’s significantly less room here) and finding myself a new routine that works around sharing my time and space with someone else. In a way, Friday’s post about breaking from the tyranny of the clock was borne from this exact thing. He likes to sleep in, and I feel bad waking him, so I no longer set an alarm clock (except in cases where I have to be up well before when I would naturally awaken). The only schedule I have to work around is my part-time job, which only accounts for 25 hours a week on a busy day, so things are getting very “go with the flow of whatever” around here. I like that I’m not as concerned about time, but I still need a structure around which I use my time wisely. That’s where my RoW80 goals come in real handy, and these updates help keep me on track so I don’t waste away too many days in this new laisse-faire approach.
Let’s break down what’s coming into swing now that I’m coming into my own at the new place:
Goal One: Promotion. With the exception of one day, I’ve actually been finding venues to promote Soulless pretty consistently, some free, some paid. It’s still to early to determine which venues have been the most beneficial so far, but I do know that I’ve already made more with Soulless than I have with Bowlful of Bunnies. I’m sure the higher price tag on the former might have something to do with it, but it confirms for me that the approach has been solid. I’d like to shift a little more focus onto promoting the World Unknown Review more aggressively, too, so I’m going to start tracking Soulless‘s progress a little closer. If it’s taken a jump up from the previous day, I’ll promote WUR that day. If it’s taken a dip, I promote Soulless. If it’s about the same, I’ll go with which ever one I feel needs the next venue. A little bit of a balancing act, though I feel it’s a little crazy to be nitpicking at them this closely. However, I like that kind of approach, as long as I’m mindful of when it starts to become a little obsessive.
Edit: Literally two seconds after I posted this, I received emails from both Goodkindles and One Shot Pitch that my ads with them went live! So it’ll be interesting to see tomorrow if they did any good. You can check them out here and here!
I might even do a little promotion for BoB coming up here soon, especially since I discovered /r/wroteabook on reddit.
Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m still going to use the excuse that I still haven’t unpacked one of my notebooks that helps me keep track of what I’ve submitted where as the delay on brushing up some stories to send out, but, really, I haven’t had the mind-set. I’ll get there. Some August 31st deadlines are moving in quickly, so I might just buckle down next week and see what might work where, or if I can pull something out of thin air before those submissions close. I pushed myself to finally get “Flesh and Feathers” (those of you who have read Bowlful of Bunnies might recognize that one!) to The Maine Review‘s Rocky Coast Contest, so hopefully that gets the trend of submitting more going along.
Goal Three: Medeline. Not a chapter a day, but I’m getting at least a page a day, just as I expected. One thing that happened with this project that’s kind of exciting is that I’ve started writing some of the scenes out of order. That’s right. The habitually beginning-to-end L.S. Engler is playing around with the idea of writing scenes all higgly-piggly then trying to put them together in the end. This project is the perfect one to play around with this, though, as, really, since it’s based on a short story, I only have a few major points to hit, and the rest is essentially filler. So I can really play around with which scenes help the main story, which are useless, which can fit in where in the timeline…it should be pretty interesting, as I’ve never written like this before, and it gives me something to write while I’m at my part-time job, since my efforts to write short stories in the downtime there haven’t been very successful.
I’m also traipsing through Fallon Brown‘s manuscript, hopefully offering lots of helpful advice and encouragement, while also cheering on my fellow RoWers, who you can find here. How’s everyone else doing?
Things have been a little quiet on my side of the Intrawebz this weekend, despite having the weekend off from my part-time job. Having miraculously been giving a block of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, I took advantage of an actual weekend to hold a very timely yard sale to get rid of some of my junk before I move into a much, much, much smaller apartment with two more roommates than I have at the moment (plus two more cats and a rat). Yeah, I’m moving at the same time I’m planning on releasing a book; that was smart. But, considering that The Slayer Saga: Soulless comes out THIS FRIDAY, I’m back to my usual grind, and back to finalizing the coding so that it’s ready and raring to go on August 15th, which is what this RoW80 update is essentially about.
See, the funny thing with me and deadlines is that I tend to hem and haw a lot in the week before hand, then bust it out last minute. I work best with a deadline, but the thing with Soulless right now is that, yeah, I have so last minute touches here and there, then the coding, which I can bust out pretty quickly, but, other than those things (which I can’t help put off), I’m all set. I just have to click a few buttons. Also, I have Thursday off, too, so whatever I don’t manage to do these next few days, I can devote that day to brushing things up. Unless the boy and I go to the zoo. Because we’re terrible vegans and love the zoo. We’ll probably go to the zoo.
…and then I’ll stay up way too late finishing and poking and prodding, and remembering exactly why I’m so adamant about a deadline when I decide on one. Because if I don’t stick to it, I will never feel it’s ready. Will Soulless go out into the world imperfect and flawed? Ohgodyes. Is that okay? Totally. I will release it into the ether to do its own thing, with its imperfections and flaws and what have you. And the world will go on, and I’ll move on to the next thing, and, soon enough, two books will become three, then four, then five, and so on.
I’ll bet it never gets any easier, though. I’ll bet I got through the same cycle with book thirty as I do book three. At least, I certainly hope I do; that thrill and excitement is part of the wonderful thing about this writing thing, that awful, terrible, wonderful, excited, glorious tumble in your stomach and flutter in your heart as you agonize over not having done a better job while simultaneously glowing over all you’ve accomplished.
This post is going into rambling territory, and I’ve got one more chapter to finally finish (LOL) and infuse into the main document, so I’ll leave you all to it and get back to work. If you get the chance, check out my fellow RoWers here and see how they’re doing.
Happy writing, everyone!
I’m almost wondering if I should forgo RoW80 updates until Soulless is out, since there’s not a whole lot to update with considering I’m just plugging along with the last touches on the book (which actually includes a whole new chapter…ten days before publishing. Nice). Not a whole lot of excitement in Update-worthy material, but I’ve pretty much got the print version ready and now I’m going through that excellent chore that is formatting for the ePub. It’s a damn good thing I like coding…
Brushing it up this last time has made me feel a little more confident in the text itself. It’s not spectacular, no, but it’s at least entertaining, especially if you like those pulpy sci-fi/fantasy type books like I do. I think the real problem is going to be people assuming it’s something it’s not, and then either being upset about that or just not getting what I’m trying to do. If you’re not familiar with the genre, it probably seems pretty stupid. But we’ll see. Time will tell. I like it and it’s going to look gorgeous on a bookshelf, and that’s ultimately what matters most. That, and it’ll get more than Bowlful of Bunnies out into the world.
At the pace I’m going, balanced with some of the moving prep I’m doing, the garage sale I’m going to have, and working, I should have this ready for electronic format by Sunday. Knock on wood. That gives me a good solid five days to do any final quirking and touching before next Friday rolls around and it’s time to make this available to everyone. Exciting stuff in general, just not very exciting for RoW updates. You’ll likely find more excitement over here with my fellow RoWers, so check them out.
Effective immediately, all of my RoW80 goals are being put on hold, so that I may focus on one single, solitary, gigantic one: the August 15th release of The Slayer Saga: Soulless. It’s kind of hard to believe, but I’m less than two short weeks from making this project live for the public to enjoy and consume. I’m still sort of dazed that it’s going to be happening soon; I’m sure I’ll be dazed well after August 15th, too. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
That said, the next few check-ins might be a little quiet for me, as I’m temporarily brushing aside everything else so I can focus on what needs to be done with Soulless before it hits the scene, because I’m still editing for crying out loud (hi, there, perfectionist writer with not nearly enough time or planning skills). I’m hunting people down and seeing what I need to do to help get the word out there. I’m checking in on every “before you publish” checklist I can find and figuring out what I totally screwed up on and what can still be done. I’ve got Soulless on the brain, and everything else is just going to have to wait.
(Knowing me, though, I bet you anything that this is the time where I somehow manage to churn out some amazing short story out of fricking nowhere. Then again, that’s totally wishful thinking to the max right there.)
Again, if anyone’s interested in doing a feature, let me know, and I’ll get in touch with you about a plan. Also, if you’re interested in doing a review, I can see about getting you a free copy. I’ve just ordered the proof with expediated delivery, just in case, so I’m thrilled to see how Ingrid’s beautiful cover look in the flesh, and, more importantly, but a lot less fun, how the interior is settling so I know how my margins and font size should be. Tuesday seems forever from now. SIGH.
Well, while I’m in the Full Speed Ahead mode on this particular goal, perhaps you can hop on over to some of my fellow RoWers and see how they’re doing? You can check them out here!
The past two days have been…interesting, if you couldn’t tell by the fact that my RoW80 update is a day late. Aside from my minor meltdown and applying for a perfect, bigger-than-expected, totally-in-love-with-it, vintage ’20s apartment (which I am waiting to hear back from with bated breath; the guy said he’d get in touch once all the paperwork is done, “probably” yesterday around six, but no call. If I don’t hear from him by five today, I’m pestering him. I want this apartment so bad.), I also went on a spastic rampage and almost changed the entire ending of Soulless. Let me offer a word of advice to my fellow authors: if you start having a grand scheme to change your book dramatically, stop and take a shower first. I was able to work out that what I have going on now makes way more sense, that the new idea was cool on the surface but would never work in the grand scheme of things, and I saved myself a lot of heartbreak by thinking about it first. That was a close one. I’m still probably going to cut one of my favorite parts from the book, but I’ll still be using it, just later in the book.
I was kind of a mess (again!) yesterday waiting for that call, but since it didn’t come in, I had to grapple with disappointment and fear that he didn’t like what he saw on the credit checks and decided already not to rent to us. I reasoned with myself and told myself he was probably waiting on a reference or something like that. Then, someone was talking about meditation on the radio, and I reminded myself that I’m living far too much in the future right now, neglecting the fact that the true path to happiness is to live in the moment. So I’m focusing on that right now, looking at the present, paying attention and enjoying what is going on now, and not worrying about what may be. I can’t control any of that. But I can control how I make today count, no matter what may be ahead of me.
But we’re not here for me to vent out all my nervous excitement and worry and hope about an apartment. We’re here for a RoW80 Update! Here’s my goals and how they’ve been coming along these last few interesting days:
Goal One: Soulless. Did I mention how I almost completely changed the ending? Yeah. That was interesting. It’s so surreal to change so much of a book before it’s published. I feel very good about the changes, but I really feel like I’m flying in blind, and I can’t thank my beta-readers enough for opening my eyes to some real big issues. I’m learning a lot, too. Next time, give yourself more time before the deadline and the beta-reads. You’ll want a second round, more than likely. The entire tone of the book has changed, some of the “bad guys” turned into good guys, and one character even completely changed genders. I’m almost a little glad I gave myself a deadline when I did, because if there were more revisions, I might change even more of it completely.
Also, I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to put together my back cover blurb. When you’re writing pulpy apocalyptic zombie fiction with a side of steampunk, it’s really hard to describe it in one paragraph without sounding super cheesy. Maybe I should just put “Pulpy Apocalyptic Zombie Fiction with a Side of Steampunk.” I’d read that if I saw it on a back cover.
Goal Two: Short Stories. The Torn Pages deadline is coming up fast, so I’m really focusing on finally getting that story out, especially now that I have a new concept that I think is really cool and interesting. Other than than, I’m brushing the dust off my list of contests and submissions to keep an eye out for the next deadline.
Goal Three: Heartless. Heartless is at a little bit of a pause right now There’s a scene in Soulless I’m considering moving out of the first book and into the second, and whether or not I do that changes a lot of what I’m working on right now, so it’ll be a day or two before I decided. Until then, it waits.
Nothing too exciting, as you can see. Most of my energy is going decidedly into Soulless, as it should. It’s almost ready to go into formatting, but not quite yet. So I better get back to work. If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by here and support my fellow RoWers!
Shhh. Quiet. Do you hear that? That soft little breath of a sound, like a sigh? That’s my world coming slightly back together so that I can return to focusing on what really matters and not stressing the fuck out about everything. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m still stressing out. But at least now I can stress out and also manage to get stuff done. So here’s my RoW80 check in for this beautiful Wednesday at the start of a comfortable stretch of glorious days off (and no closing shifts!!). Here’s how my goals have managed to get back on track yesterday and this wonderful, wonderful morning:
Goal One: Soulless. The edits have been daunting, and, for a while, I was really worried that these rewrites would be as messy as the first draft, making it a pretty much moot point, but, no. I believe what I have in Soulless now is a much better book by a significant margin. Really, the key is good old KISS – Keep It Simple, Shithead. I have a clearer perspective on what will be happening in the next books, too, which is helping me understand what’s important and what’s not. I’m a little bit past half-way, that rough, murky middle I’ve complained so much about, and I finally feel it’s something worth reading. Full speed ahead to the end!
Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m still kind of itching uncomfortably about two stories that I think may actually have a chance (how is it that a month seems to be forever when it comes to this goal, and not long enough for the goal up above?), and I’ve really been putzing around on some new material, but I hope to make some head-way these next few days. I’m going to try to wrangle in and focus on my Torn Pages story, once and for all, and get it in well before the deadline. Or right at the deadline. It will be turned in, though, dammit.
Goal Three: Heartless. As excited as I am about all the pieces falling into place, Heartless is lagging a little bit, too, as I struggle to juggle my writing time between this and the previous goal. I’m making myself write a little bit before bed again, which is helping me get back in the groove, so, hopefully, this will be plugging along as usual, too.
So, I really feel I broke some ground with my main goal, and, though the other goals have been dwindling, they haven’t been fully neglected. These next few days will really help me out, I think. How’s everyone else doing? Did you get a chance to check out some of my fellow Rower’s posts here? ‘Cuz you should!
Yes, this is Monday, and RoW0 check-ins are on Sunday, but I wasn’t around much Sunday because Saturday, I went to Exit. Exit is a really seedy, old, late-night (or is it early morning?) punk bar in Chicago, and it’s pretty freaking awesome. The title of this post comes from an epic exchange where a very, very, very drunk friend attempted to keep the night going by proclaiming that everyone wanted to go to Exit, when no one wanted to go to Exit. However, today, my boyfriend’s roommate leaves for this soul-searching hippie commune adventure in Missouri, so we needed to send him off in style. Especially since we’ve all get bets placed on whether or not he even comes back.
Now, ever since I hit thirty, like a friggin’ switch, I haven’t been one to drink much. I like wine and froofy cocktails, a few microbrews and hard ciders, but that’s about it, and those aren’t usually the offerings that go good with an outing to Exit, so I didn’t really drink much (plus, booze costs money, which I don’t have). Half the time I’m there, I’m just watching whatever B-horror-sci-fi gem they have playing on the TVs (alas, no sci-fi horror this time around, though. Dumb & Dumber and Fists of Fury, though…). It was also pretty quiet since it was a rainy, rainy night in Chicagoland. Still, for someone who’s usually in bed by eleven, a sojourn to Exit means a night way past my bedtime. Plus I worked that evening, so my brain just wasn’t in this whole writing biz. Which is fine, because I’ve been trying to let myself be okay with the fact that there will be days when I don’t write, and the world moves on.
That said, there’s not too much to report on except the usual steady progression of my goals. I’ve really settled into a rhythm that works for me, with most of my work being done at the beginning of the week, and things going a little looser during the weekend. Here’s a slightly closer look at how things transpired.
Goal One: Soulless. Now this one has been a little interesting, because I’ve had to make a lot of changes with how things were happening in light of the new chapters and the fact that what I had before wasn’t really that great. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new events of the first big battle are as effective to the reader as I hope they will be and that motives are much clearer now. I’m almost to the half-way point of this edit, which is extremely exciting, and today also marks a month until it’s release. It’s going to be a very busy 30 days!
Goal Two: Short Stories. This one has been giving me some trouble, as might be expected when I’ve got “revision blinders” on. But work has been deadly slow during my shifts, so I’ve been scribbling away at my Torn Pages submission. The biggest problem is that I keep coming across a lot of really fantastic prompts I want to take advantage of, such as Chuck Wendig’s @YouAreCarrying challenge. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to stories right now, it would be a full-on battle of Muse vs Deadline going on over here.
Goal Three: Heartless. It’s a good thing I went back and decided to rewrite Heartless from the beginning, because all the changes I’m making in Soulless are changing what I thought Heartless would be, and all for the better. Before, it was just a “transition” book where I didn’t expect a lot would happen, but the recent change of a character from a bad guy to a good guy and the development of another character has helped me put together a firm plot for Heartless that it didn’t have before. I’m pretty stoked to write it now, especially if the reception on certain characters once Soulless is out. The readers who like that particular part of the book are going to love the second book. It’s so great seeing a series come together like this.
So, there you have it, not my usual productive Monday, but I’m pretty much caught up and ready to bring it back on Tuesday. For as behind as I feel, it was really good to just have some time off for a little bit and enjoy myself. If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to drop in on my fellow RoWers here!
I’m starting the think that the worst thing about being in the last stages before a new book come out is that you get tunnel vision, and all you really see in front of you is that book and its release. For that book, that’s a good thing. You need that tunnel vision to make sure you reach the end. For other things, though, like blog posts or other stories or even networking, it’s not nearly so good.
Right now, I’m in an awkward point in the process where most of my energy needs to be expended on this project, but it’s still too soon to really start promoting it and talking about it and planning for the blog tour and what have you. I’m not spending a lot of time writing other things, I’m not spending a lot of time visiting as many blogs, I’m not even spending that much time reading. It’s mostly a lot of editing and rewriting and a few little games and fun here and there to keep myself from going insane. Which means i don’t really have much to talk about here in the blog. Oh, sure, I’ve let go of the fact that I don’t need to be posting every day. Most of my readers know I’m elbow-deep in revisions. But I still like I should post something, even if I’m not sure of what.
(Notice how the “I want to post, but I don’t know what to post about” topic is always a good fail-safe).
Does anyone else feel like they get total blinders on when they’re nearing the end of a big project? Do you just accept them and put the petal to the metal until you reach the finish line? Or do you have anything you do to help engage yourself in the wide world outside your WIP? I’d love some thoughts and insights, as usual, especially if it helps me engage in something beyond the endless editing.
(Edit: This is my 666th post. I wish I’d have done something spookier. So, I’m also throwing it out there for you, dear readers, to share something spooky in celebration of my 666th post).
I always feel a little funny about the first RoW80 update of a round, usually because it comes up so quickly that you haven’t really done much or gained any traction on your goals. So I thought about skipping this one, as I only posted my goals on Monday, but I really didn’t have much else to post today, so here it is, anyway. A rather tiny little update, though, typically, Monday and Tuesday are my most productive days. So let’s break it down, as usual, shall we?
Goal One: Soulless. With the new chapters added, editing is going really smoothly, right on schedule and keeping a good pace. I have to admit, one of the cool things about editing a chapter you’ve done well is feeling so proud when you come out of it thinking, “Man, that was good!” The fact that I’m still tweaking here and here shows how much work is still left to go, though!
We’re honing in on a cover, too, so I need to start thinking of my back-cover blurb to send to my artist so we can get that finished, as well. I want August to get here just so I can show you the amazing work she’s done with a Cover Reveal! It’s very unique and different, yet also a classic throwback to the Gothic horror I loooove. Granted, I think it might be a little “misleading,” as many people feel the cover for Bowlful of Bunnies is, but, meh. I likes what I likes.
Goal Two: Short Stories. I thought up a little yarn for Weird Bard’s Torn Pages contest. It isn’t very good and it might not even really fit the theme or what they’re looking for too well, but it ends July 31, so it’s worth a try to pull something together. If anything, there’s another story to add to the revolving door of pieces to keep brushing up and sending it, and then gathering all together for my own book if no one else is interested in finding a home for it. I really want to push to get a lot of new stories out this round, so I think I’m off to a good start.
Goal Three: Heartless. As messy as the subsequent chapters were, I really do love the prologue to Heartless. Something about a little girl being a bad-ass will always be awesome to me. Plowing along on the slight rewrite of the prologue, and then the challenge of the rest of the book will come along. I’m excited to implement some of the ideas borne from the new chapters of Soulless, though.
How about you? Are you hitting the ground running this round, or are things off to a slow start? Either way, you can catch up with everyone else by checking their posts here (which I highly recommend you do!).