Row80: The Initial Plunge

31 12 2011

These are my goals for my Row80, the first round of the New Year, and my first round ever! (For more on Row80, follow the link.)

1 – I will use the Dvorak keyboard layout exclusively by February. This will cut my writing in half, at least at first. I am making this change in order to extend my years of typing life. I do not anticipate that this change will take too long, as I am using it to write this post. And yes, it is a painfully slow process, as I started working with it yesterday. I got the idea from Holly Lisle’s blog (which I love, incidentally).*

2 – I will finish the first draft of my current WIP, likely getting it to 80-90k words, though it could run to 100-120k, as it’s a fantasy (though I have no idea how I’ll do that, given how painfully slow I’m typing this post. What in the world have I gotten myself into??!!) That equals 500-750 words/day, not counting worldbuilding.

3 – I will blog at least 1x/week, plus two Row80 check-ins, and post one book review/month.

4 – I will be on twitter 6 days/week, 2x/day, to continue building my network, and FB as I remember to do it. 😀

5 – I will allow myself to work on my other book if the spirit moves me.

* Conversion is easy on a Mac – go to system preferences/language and text/input sources and choose “Dvorak”. It will show up next to the battery monitor at the top of the screen. Then you can go here for a tutorial.

Links: Self-pub? or not?

21 12 2011

Shelli Johnson’s post on that little word ‘try’ stemmed from a lecture with a neurologist, who emphasized that the words we use affect our mood (and I’d add, health!).

Unlike saying you’re trying or will try,saying you’re doing or will be doing something equals commitment.

And what does that have to do with being a writer? “I’m trying to blog twice a week.” Yep. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been on vacay… um. Yeah. You see the result! I haven’t blogged twice a week, because I didn’t make the commitment to do so. More on commitment when I join up #row80 in January.

On to self-publishing! Or not self-publishing! Or something!

I’ve enjoyed reading many differing points of view on self-pub – not that I have anything worth self-publishing right now, you understand – and I’m no closer to making any decisions, which is probably a good thing, as self-editing is not my strong suit.

Derek Haines’ lively blog gifts us with this post which documents his experience with offering a free e-book on Amazon. In short:

Be very prepared to receive a lot of bad reviews along with the good and understand that this is the price you will pay for offering your work to the world for free. Of course while most readers will understand it is a gift, there will be many who will not, and take pleasure in writing a venomous review.


Then the Synaxis Chronicles blessed us with a two-part post: Why it’s Foolish Not to Self-Publish.

The key to success used to be having your book prominently displayed in brick-and-mortar bookstores.  Let me tell you a secret:  That’s not even an issue anymore!  We’ve entered an era when a smaller and smaller percentage of books are sold in bookstores.  Think of it like this:  When was the last time you went down to a record store and bought a vinyl LP so you could listen to your favorite music?   See the point?  The same thing is now happening with books.

The post enumerates the problems with traditional publishing, and emphasizes the positive aspects of self-publishing.

I was heartened by Robin Sullivan’s post on the successes that mid-list authors are having with self-published e-book authors.

High volume combined with good revenue is providing self-published e-book authors five and six figure yearly incomes allowing them to quit their “day jobs” and make a living by doing what they love most–writing.

That’s just what I wanted to hear!

Roberta Trehan’s post on the New Media Melee follows on a post by Anne Allen on Amazon reader reviews- just go to the latter and read it first.

And so, after reading Anne’s blog post, I got to thinking — are there any strategies that we can trust, when it comes to author marketing? The answer is yes…

My fav tip is number 3: Just Because You Build It Doesn’t Mean That They Will Come

Do any of these posts resonate with you? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be around from time to time over the holiday, and much more after the New Year. Which brings me back to the first link: I won’t be trying to be around – I will be around!

Sticking a Toe Back in the Water, and Worldbuilding

8 12 2011

Yesterday (or was it the day before?), somewhere 40k feet above the Pacific, I brought out my NaNo novel one more time, and it was next to impossible to get back in the groove. I went back several thousand words and re-read to the end (which isn’t the end at all), and jumped back in… and was completely uninspired.

It isn’t my intention that this turn into a whinge, so I’ll get to the point. I stopped working on the story, and turned my attention to the beings and the world that are my setting.

Late last week I had an idea – why not set this novel on earth… but in the Eocene epoch? First – why the Eocene? Because I was basing a large mammal (the sarkkussan) in my novel on the Andrewsarchus, which lived during that time. But that created a problem, because the Eocene falls after the K-T extinction event, which resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs. The Umgonnan are rather saurian – dragon-like creatures – so wouldn’t they be extinct, too?

Um. well. No. Not necessarily… because it seems that they are some kind of proto-bird, and the saurian progenitors of the birds survived the K-T extinction event. So far so good.

If I choose to set the novel in that epoch, then the physical world is built. Simply surfing around Wikipedia I can learn about the landmasses of the time, the way the climate was, the way the climate changed over time, they way plate techtonics shaped the world during that epoch… everything. And last week I was in Half-Price Books selling some books that I needed to ditch, and I found a 5th edition of a textbook on all the above for $10 – the 6th edition goes for $130.

All that being said… I’m still not sure that’s the way to go. The Umgonnan are not based on any actual Eocene creatures (after all, they have eight limbs – four legs, two arms, and two wings!), and using actual historically verifiable denizens of the forests and plains of their planet might doom the scientifically-minded reader to confusion.

Since that is completely unsettled in MY mind right now, I started writing a detailed physical description of the Umgonnan, clarifying for myself exactly what it is that I’m seeing in my mind’s eye. I enjoyed the process, easily writing 1500 words, which morphed from a simple physical description to an outline of 2000 years of cultural history, and the relationship of the four main culture groups of the ‘people’. I plan on continuing that process in the coming days, as well as using Holly Lisle’s book on Language Building to make naming things easier.

What do you think about using a prehistoric era as a setting? How has worldbuilding worked for you? Are you able to get back into your Nano novel after setting it aside for a while? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Post-NaNoWriMo advice, from the blogosphere

4 12 2011

Yippee!! Fritos and KitKat bars for everybody!! Streamers and noisemakers, confetti everywhere!!

You just won NaNoWriMo!!! 50k in 30 days WooHOO!

Ahem. Now what?

In my case, finish the bloody novel. It’s nowhere near done, as I didn’t do any worldbuilding before I started, because I didn’t decide to participate until 9:30pm, Oct 31, 2011. I was originally going to set the novel in 600 AD among Germanic tribes, but people who read historical fiction expect that there be some historical accuracy involved, and I had less than 3 hours to do any research. Then I remembered Avatar and the Na’vi, and boom! But what do Umgonnan eat? Bother. Time for worldbuilding.

There is no shortage of good advice out there for Nano writers, whether ‘winners’ or participants, and since this is my first time out, I’m not going to stick my neck out and make a fool of myself. So here are some post-Nano links that work for me.

First out: Chuck Wendig. I ❤ Chuck, and you might, too… IF you aren’t offended by coarse language. Don’t click this link if you are, because I guarantee you’ll be seeing red and unfriending me on Facebook and unfollowing my blog and my twitter feed… You get the idea. Just don’t do it if the F-word bothers you.

Chuck’s exhortation to Just. Write. is brilliant, vintage Chuck. IOW, just because you finished (or didn’t), don’t get the idea that you’re done. You aren’t. Miles to go and all that…

And for more specific advice, I like Victoria Mixon’s post on 23 Questions to ask yourself at the end of NaNoWriMo. I can see spending several hours contemplating that list, and there are links to four more of this editor’s posts on beginning a novel. I’m sorry I didn’t see those before now… though if I had I might have been too cowed to even begin. But now that I know I can do this, I’m ready to learn how to do it better.

Daniel Swensen’s post on Writing Through the Wolf’s Hour, deals with the ‘crippling doubt’ that every writer has about his/her work from time to time. I look at my ‘novel’ and think “Eeep. No one is going to be interested in this shit!” Well, maybe, maybe not. It’s nice to know that we all are host to those fears more often than not.

This will be my last post for a couple of days, as I’m heading out on vacation on Tuesday, and tomorrow is packed. I meant to get this post out on Friday, but as you can see, it’s Sunday evening and … here it is. I hope you guys have a good week, and I’ll see you on Friday-ish.

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