The Quick and Dirty

So where have I been and where’s that book I promised you – a year ago?

Truth of the matter is, my dear dedicated reader, that it’s been a long nasty road that I’m not done traveling yet and I can confirm has been seeded liberally with landmines.  The gist of it? I picked up a part time job because editing is expensive. Various important appliances (computers, cars, you know the things I need to live) have broken down and been jury rigged into a state of “please don’t die just yet.” My grandmother has had a stroke, recovered and gone home, had another and resigned herself to hospice care for what will very possibly be the rest of her life. Mom made great strides in her own health that all came crashing down like a castle of cards as soon as her mother got sick and I didn’t help matters much by immediately catching a flu so bad it reminded us both that people can still die from the common cold.

It’s been bad, dear dedicated, and it’s likely nowhere near done being bad just yet. While I’ve been occupied with all of that I’ve gone and let this vital lifeline grow dangerously thin and that’s not helped matters one bit. A writer that isn’t writing is a very unstable and hazardous person indeed. So in the interest of getting healthier (while still recovering from that monster flu) I’m preping “Toxic Ash” for paperback release and working on the rewrites of “Tasting Ash.” It’s slow going, a little like an athlete that’s been out of competition for a long while, gained a bit of a gut and a lot of self hate, before finally starting to train again more for their sanity than for any love of the game itself.

I don’t love editing. Editing is a very special kind of hell that’s only true competition is the dreaded formatting for paperback publication that will come next. But there’s a very special kind of healing magic to be found in reading your old work over again. A kind of wonder and ego boosting pride to read a few pages that aren’t half bad and realize that maybe you don’t suck half as bad as the mangled manuscript you’ve been wrestling with off and on for a year has led you to believe. That maybe, just maybe, you can polish this old turd into a diamond after all. You’re not entirely sure of the exact alchemy you’ll have to perform, to transform turds to diamonds, but there before you is the proof that you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again and again and again.

Probably.

So long as you can just keep with it long enough.

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“Writers Write” Is That Really Too Much To Ask?

I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo and polishing off a novel I’ve been struggling with for about two years now but something was making the rounds of my independent author feeds the other day that rubbed me such a wrong way I stopped what I was doing and took a minute to reply that turned into an hour and several paragraphs. Ain’t no one got time for that shit in that format so I had to snip it out and bring it here.

Basically it’s the idea that the golden rule of being a writer, the simple life affirming maxim that “writers write,” was just too much. Inspiring guilt and angst in people with *gasp* actual lives and responsibilities outside of their writing.  Because failing to write, every day, every second. Every. Possible. Moment. Brings with it such horrible feelings of guilt and sorrow.

I don’t have any problems with the phrase “writers write.” There’s nothing in that short phrase that sets your potential pace; it simply, succinctly, draws you to put words to paper; again and again, put words to paper.

Your pace is your own, there are some well renowned novelists that couldn’t manage more than a single word a day, maybe a paragraph a month. Do you think they sat in front of their blank pages staring at them constantly for the entirety of that time? No. They lived their lives. They went to work, took care of their families, went to war or walked across the country. Did they feel guilty for every moment that they weren’t putting words on paper? Who knows, most of them are dead now so we can’t ask but I highly doubt that they did.

If the phrase, “writers write” is causing you some distress it’s because of your own issues with how much you write. It means you know you could find time to write a little bit more often but you’re not, hence the guilt. If you’re really doing all you can and truly don’t have the time for your writing, there won’t be room for guilt.

However if you know you could have written but instead you watched another episode of your favorite TV show, read another chapter of someone else’s work or did something else that’s trivial instead of feeding the beast within you that is your writing, then you’ll feel guilty. You’ll feel guilty because you betrayed yourself, that phrase didn’t betray you. “Writers write” didn’t set the bar so high that you couldn’t help but fail to meet it, that would be you doing that. So stop, reevaluate and either put that bar someplace you can actually reach or stretch and make sure you meet your own expectations.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 5 p.m. and I’ve got two thousand more words to get out of my head and onto paper.

How?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions that sum up simply as “how?” How do you write a whole novel? How do you write a series? How do you self publish? How do I book cover? Sales how!?!

Simple questions often have a complex answer that seems discouraging but shouldn’t. I can, and  have, outlined pretty much all the steps in writing a novel and/or a series and how to format for epublication. I’ve outlined how to do it for as little money as possible (though there’s no real way to do it completely for free, you have to have at least one editor and they will cost you) but still I get asked “how.”

So I’m thinking of setting up an ecourse to help people through the process, step by step though of course that brings up all kinds of new questions. Like what do you want/need to know first? Besides write the damn thing; I’m sure there’s something hopeful independent authors are really struggling with and want to know how to do right off the bat.

Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll try to come up with something to help. Now back to work on this massive bloody novel.

 

Look Ma! No Hands!

I’ve been having a few nagging pains in my three of the fingers on each hand. When that pain progressed to my thumb and wrist I started to worry and when I woke up one morning and realized the fingers on my wright hand were swollen like sausages – I realized it was time to take an extended break from writing anything.

Since then I’ve iced, braced and rested till the swelling and pain has pretty much gone back into a more manageable box. Of course now that I’ve got my normal dexterity back I’m not taking it for granted! Right up till the point where I had to put everything I love on hold so I could heal and perhaps manage to keep on doing it a little bit longer, I didn’t really hold much truck with the idea that even writers get occupational injuries.

In my mind, carpal tunnel was something other people got. Something other people had to worry about because they worked their body to the limit, twisting it all out of reasonable shape. But of course, I was different.

I pay attention to my body. I don’t push it too far. I hydrate like a fiend. I rest and stretch and do yoga; even when i felt the first twinges in my wrists while moving through upward and downward dog I just wrote it off as a mistake in my technique. Serious repetitive motion issues were for other people – not me.

Funny thing is I’ve worked my hands into a pretty bad state before – and I probably will again. And again. Until one day I can’t recover with a few days of book rest and lots of bracing. Not because I’m unaware of the risks and not because I’m not trying to be careful but because it’s a hazard of the occupation. Thankfully I know enough to stop as soon as things get bad and wait till I’ve healed but I’ve seen lots of writers and artists who push themselves past that point until they need surgery to be honest I might have been one of them if I thought for a second I could afford to let my body get that far gone. Right now the cost of stopping to recover is a lot more reasonable than the risk of pushing through till I don’t have that option.

Ah well, lots of rambling to explain where I’ve been and why I’m slow with updates on “Tasting Ash.” Funny how at one point this month I honestly thought I’d be done with the novel by the 30th. Now I know I’m only about halfway done with the manuscript. Thousands of words to go before I sleep.

Wow, That Was Fast!

And we’re back.

A lot faster than I had originally expected too. Kind of makes my head spin all the stuff that’s gone down in the last few days to make this possible. I did so much more running around town than I’m used to, got so much more exercise and sunlight!

And absolutely no writing done.

Some people can write a bunch of novels and have brilliant and involved lives complete with kids and friends and two or three jobs. I’m the hermitage type that can be alone in the woods for years and still only crank out a single novel or two. I want to be faster and more dedicated but it’s time to face facts, that’s not how this works for me.

Now things are back to normal-ish and I’d love to promise I’ll finish up “Tasting Ash” this month and move onto formatting but I know better. I hope a more unflappable concentration is something I can get with lots of practice, gaining more writing muscle by pushing myself to write more under more distracting conditions. Because right now it seems more like a hard coded limit that I can’t increase I can only learn how to work around.

A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

“There’s No Such Thing As Magic”


Hamartia by Junedays on DeviantArt

Here I am, deep into book three of the Eldritch Elysium series, “Tasting Ash,” and I’m already coming up against the great thorny caltrop I laid down to wreck myself in “Toxic Ash.” I knew damn well that in a story dotted with shape shifting boyfriends and their poisonously beautiful sister and an old lover suffering under a debilitating curse that sooner or later I’d want to just toss in a little of the old razzle dazzle and let it explain away all my ills.

So I made sure to state it clearly once and for all so i couldn’t go back and add in a big ol sorting hat later on. Now that Ash is stuck deep behind enemy lines and is learning far more than she ever wanted to know about Caine, Caliban, Jeb, Klyde and Ophelia’s very messed up heritage I really really wish I could just wave a magic wand over the whole thing and call it done rather than wading through science journals and websites looking up the minutia of science that explains only half of anything and only half of the Corporation for that matter.

Because while there might be no such thing as magic, there certainly is something going on that’s beyond the realm of science. It’s in the gap between the first Helen’s brain surgery and impregnation, it’s in the extra bit of DNA that makes Ophelia kin to Blanche and it’s running lose and unfettered in the halls of the Corporation where scientists work in their pristine labs to distill something monstrous useful mundanity.

I feel a little like the parent, diligently informing their child that there’s no monster in their closet or under the bed–while checking the bars over the windows and doors as well as the handgun under their pillow. A monster by any other name is still gonna kill your ass.

Now go to bed.