Accomplishments of 2014

 

infantinsomnia cover final copyTime to look back at the year and see how I did on my writing goals for 2014.

What I Did That I Planned

  • Published “Infant Insomnia” as an e-book single
  • Wrote 2 Drafts of Silent Scars
  • Published an e-book (and POD) cookbook with recipes from The Rice of Life

What I Didn’t Do That I Planned

  • Wrote another draft of “The Treasure of the Gods” (Now “The God’s Blessing”) I did get over half way done with this.
  • Wrote another draft of “Lightning Born” (I knew this was a stretch anyway)

What I Did Instead

  • Wrote 4 drafts of “Sarimanok Feather”
  • Wrote and published “Curelom Riders”
  • Wrote 1 draft of “Settling With Sea Serpents”
  • Wrote 4 drafts of “Changestone”

Total number of rejections received in 2014: 6

All in all, it was a quite productive year.

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Sarimanok Feather is an Honorable Mention in WOTF!

Sarimanok Feather banner

I entered “Sarimanok Feather” in Q4 for the Writers of the Future Contest. This is a prestigious international writing contest, open only to those who have not published professionally (definition given in the contest rules). The results are in, and “Sarimanok Feather” is an honorable mention, meaning it placed in the top 10%.

This is pretty much what I expected with this story. “Infant Insomnia” placed as honorable mention in this contest before, so I knew my writing was at least that good. Also, the judge has said that longer works do better than shorter, due to the fact that longer works just have more time to “wow” the judge. Since “Sarimanok Feather” is on the short side, I didn’t expect to get finalist. I did at least hope for a semi-finalist placement so I could get judge’s comments on the story.

Ah well, it only takes one “yes” for a story to find a home.

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Results

 copy-The-Gods-Blessings-copy.jpg

This month’s writing went really well! It was great to see my word count jump on “The Gods’ Blessings” to triple what it was when I started. I am a bit concerned that I’m not going to hit the 70K that I thought I would with this draft. I’m cutting a few chapters I hadn’t anticipated on. But it’s for the good of the book, and there’s still room to expand it further, as some of the new chapters need a lot of fleshing out.

The days I missed my writing goal were due to my son breaking his arm, and then traveling for Thanksgiving. The stretch goal was nice, but I think I would have written more if it wasn’t so far above the minimum goal. There were several times when I just stopped writing after hitting 600 because I didn’t think I would reach the stretch goal. In the future, I would probably just set the stretch goal at 2x the minimum goal instead of the over 3x this goal was.

Here’s the stats for the month.writing goal Nov

  • Minimum Daily Goal: 600 words
  • Stretch Daily Goal: 2,000 words
  • Minimum Monthly Goal: 15,000 words
  • Number of Days Missed Minimum Goal: 6
  • Number of Days Hit Stretch Goal: 6
  • Total Written: 24,154
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NaNoWriMo 2014 Goal

The Gods' Blessings copyI have never been able to complete NaNoWriMo. This year, I have no desire to start a brand new novel. But I do have a novel (“The Gods Blessings”) that needs a lot of work. It may be v 2, but I am still rewriting every single word. Even if my writing hadn’t improved in the time since I worked on v 1, there is a lot of description to add, and lots of scenes that need to be ripped out and replaced. So I think this could count.

However, I honestly don’t think I have the time to hit 50,000 words in one month. My 3 kids take up a lot of time. I don’t write on Sundays, so I’d have to write an average of 2,000 words a day. I have a hard time seeing that happening.

But I think it’s good to stretch. So, here’s my plan. My absolute minimum goal is to write 600 words per day. I feel comfortable with that rate. What changes this month is I won’t let myself get on Facebook or Twitter until those 600 words are in. If I don’t hit it, I have to make up the deficit the next day before I can get on social media. For every day I manage to hit the 2,000 words, I will reward myself with $1 to spend on music.

I’ll report back at the end of the month with how it went.

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Changestone v 3 is Completed!

Changestone banner copyGoing back to “Changestone” was a nice change of pace after “Silent Scars.” I found that I kept a lot of the same wording this time around, just deleted things here, and added things there. Made this draft go fast. Though it also helped that with one kid napping and another at school, I had much fewer distractions than last time I worked on this.

I still need to cut 6% in order to get it under 1000 words, and then I think it’ll be ready for submission. I need to let it sit for a bit first, so I can look at it with more perspective.

  • Started October 31, 2014 1:00 pm
  • Finished October 31, 2014 3:00 pm
  • 1,062 words
  • Amount of Spanish: 2 phrases, 1 word
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Silent Scars v 2 is Completed!

Silent Scars Heading copyIn November 2012, I first got the idea for Riak’s story. And I did not want to write it. I spent nearly two years and over 105,000 words writing around it, and it still did not go away. Then a few months ago, I started to have bouts of depression. I thought to myself, “Well, this will give me good insight for Riak’s depression.” As I started to catalogue what I was feeling, the depression went away. The third time this happened, I thought to myself, “Ok! I’ll take the hint. I’ll write your story.” So I started, and the depression hasn’t been back since.

This version of “Silent Scars” was gut-wrenching to write. It’s about a character that goes through four months of hell, and then suffers PTSD, which includes flashbacks. Those 105,000 words included Riak having those flashbacks, but it was always from another character’s POV. This time, I was in his POV, before he’d learned coping skills. So much pain.

The ironic thing is that I wrote “Lightning Born” in order to not write “Silent Scars.” Now, I think I need to get “Lightning Born” published in order to publish “Silent Scars.” The best shot at traditional publication for “Silent Scars” will be as a companion novella, as very few magazines will take something this length. But here’s the other difficulty. The genre for “Lightning Born” is YA fantasy with mystery. “Silent Scars” is NA romance with incidental fantasy. So I wouldn’t be surprised if “Silent Scars” ends up just being self-published. But I’m going to wait until “Lightning Born” sells to do it. Then their sales can bolster each other. Besides, I still have a lot of polishing to do with both.

The stats:

  • Started September 5, 2014
  • Finished October 30, 2014
  • 21,437 words long (4.12 x the size of v 1.1)
  • 4 parts
  • 21 chapters
  • 2 POV characters (2/3 the number of v 1.1)
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Speed vs Craft

Changestone banner copyI recently read The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and was quite impressed with it. As it discusses the lives of the boys who rowed crew, it also discussed the person who made their racing shell – George Pocock. When Pocock was making his first boat for a race (he was the rower) his father gave him some advice. “No one will ask you how long it took to build; they will only ask who built it.”

That struck me, because I believe it’s also true in writing, at least for this stage of my career. It seems the only people interested in knowing how long a story took to write are other writers looking to learn the craft. They’re not going to be particularly impressed by how many or few hours went in to it. Most readers, if they like my stories, will only be interested in following my career so that they can read more.

And so, my time right now is spent on learning craft. I don’t care how many drafts it takes to get a story told as long as it gets told right. Speed can come later once I’ve mastered craft. Right now, if I were to focus on speed, my craft would suffer, and I won’t earn as many readers.

So, I will stop fretting about how many hours have gone into “Changestone” and if that means I will be able to earn minimum wage if it sells. Because I won’t earn anything if its not the best I can make it.

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Changestone v 2 is Complete!

Changestone banner copyI was up early this morning with a teething baby, so I decided to finish another draft of “Changestone.” The most common feedback I got from my last draft was that I needed more description of my narrator, and that the ending was flat. I’m not surprised that I need more description, but I was surprised that some people took quite a while to realize that the narrator was a dragon. So, while I never say what color she is, hopefully I’ve made it clearer now what creature she is and her relationship to the humans.

As for the ending, I had to cut a darling to make it work. What I had before lacked tension and punch, although the final line had a fun dash of humor to it. So I changed the situation to have more immediate danger, and Alvaro’s reaction. It feels more solid now, but it wasn’t right for Alvaro to ask to go flying again.

I’ll get some opinions on the changes, and then it’ll be almost ready to go on submission.

  • Started: September 11, 2014
  • Finished: September 12, 2014
  • 1,028 words
  • 91% the size of v 1
  • Amount of Spanish: 3 phrases, 1 word
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What I Learned Self-Publishing My Cookbook

IMG_2225For the past month, most of my time has gone into editing my cookbook “The Best of The Rice of Life: Over 70 Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Nut-free Recipes.” (Available now  in print on Amazon and Create Space, and as an e-book for Kindle, iBooks, nook, Kobo, and Smashwords) I’m glad its done, and I’m glad I self-published it, because I don’t think it would have found a place in the traditional market. But it has made me even more positive that I want a traditional publisher for my novels. It was so much work formatting, and editing, and checking everything, and I would rather have somebody else do all that work so I can write more. Sure, I could have hired somebody to do that, but there’s also the time in finding such a person.

Anyway, I learned that Sigil is an awesome tool for e-book editing. I am definitely using it more in the future. Future tips – don’t try to do any linking within the document in Word before importing to Sigil. I had to redo it all. Same with the pictures. Word shrank them down farther than I wanted.

As for formatting for Create Space for the print version, it went a lot easier than I thought it would. The trickiest part was getting the page numbers to work with the double columns of the index. I also learned that I know nothing about formatting things to make it pretty. The text is very plain vanilla, as I used all the defaults for paragraphs and headings. It works, but a professional would have made a difference.

And the timing I used worked well. While waiting for the proof copy to arrive (which took way longer than I expected), I worked on formatting the e-book copy. They were ready to go by the time the proof copy arrived, so everything was ready to go at the same time. Except for the fact that the print copy will take 3-5 days to show up on Amazon.

Now, on to my next project!

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Changestone v 1 is Complete!

Changestone banner copy

I finished editing my cookbook, so I wanted to do a quick revision for “Changestone”. Upon rereading v 0, I found that the thing I needed to change the most was the fact that the voice was wooden. I was just telling what was happening without any personality or emotion. Hopefully I got that across this time. To increase interest, I also added in a bit of action. Because with all the mentioning of pumas I did, I had to have my narrator face off against one. 🙂

Now to see if this story makes sense to anybody else. 🙂

  • Started: August 18, 2014 9:04 am
  • Finished: August 18, 2014 1:14 pm
  • Number of breaks to feed/clothe kids: at least 3
  • 1,127 words
  • 112% the size of v 0.
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