December 1, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Hindsight Rather Than Foresight

Final word count:  50,203
Words this week:  3,181
Average words per day:  1,591

Slow and steady once again “wins” the race. I broke my three-year-long “losing” streak (although any year during which my word count is greater than 0 cannot truly be considered a “loss”). During the first two weeks, it looked doable, but not a slam-dunk. A steady stream of persistence and, mostly, 15-minute word sprints did the trick!

NaNoWriMo 2018 Winner

As for the story itself … yeah, well. At 50,203 words, it’s not a complete novel, so I have plenty of room in there and steer it back in the direction that I had originally wanted it to go. One particularly interesting thing was that it was supposed to be Rusty’s story, but Elizabeth ended up being the made point-of-view character. I’m not quite sure how or why that happened. The muse, as I think we all know, often has a mind entirely of her own.

Until next year … Thank you everyone, as always, for your support and friendship.

November 29, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Week Four

Current word count:  47,022
Words this week:  15,752
Average words per day:  2,247

This week’s word count ended exactly where I needed it to in order to ensure a reasonable chance at “winning” this year. The Virtual Write-In helped a lot and accomplished its goal for me: putting my word count “above the line” going to back into a work week for the final five days.

The story progresses. Well … the perhaps the word count does, but I’m not so sure about the plot. I have written myself into kind of a hole. So, far almost nothing has taken place that harkens back to my original story idea. (Yeah, don’t read the summary on my NaNoWriMo page; it is not nearly that story — at least not yet.

One more week to go!

November 22, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Week Three

Current word count:  31,290
Words this week:  11,605
Average words per day:  1,658

This week’s word count is not quite where I would want it to be (I usually set a goal of 1,800 words/day, just to make sure to have a buffer for less productive days), but I will definitely take it, as it puts me within (relatively) comfortable range of hitting the 50,000-word target for the end of the month.

The story continues to move along. There is no new action happening and we are finally starting to get some hints of the concept on which I based this entire story. I think they are coming off as a little too obvious, but I can fix that in any rewrites. Also, as tends to happens pretty much every year, the ending of the story came to me about mid-week. As always, I’ll keep that in my proverbial back pocket for days when the muse deigns to be stubborn.

Until next week . . . Thank you everyone, on this day and every day, for your support and friendship.

November 15, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Week Two

Current word count:  19,685
Words this week:  12,529
Average words per day:  1,790

This is way better progress than I had at this point last year. Again, I am pleased and surprised by this word count, as I am rapidly approached what I expected to be my word count for the entire month.

The story continues to grow steadily, but things are finally started to happen. I still haven’t gotten to the part that sparked my idea for the story in the first place. I don’t know whether to be concerned or pleased with that (from a word count perspective). Surprisingly, I suffered very little from the Week Two Slump. However, Star Trek: Discovery being released on Blu-ray this week was not appreciated.

Until next week . . . Write long and prosper!

November 8, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Week One

Current word count:  7,156
Words this week:  7,156
Average words per day:  1,022

This is far better progress than I had at this point last year. In fact, I am rather pleased and surprised by this word count, considering all of the other demands on my time this week.

The story is growing slowly, but steadily. I don’t feel blocked yet at this point. At least, I have ideas for some scenes that need to come up next. I think those should get me through Week Two. Week Three could be a whole other … um, well … story.

Until next week . . . Write on!

October 31, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Report: Keeping in Character

Yes, it’s already NaNoWriMo time again …

Until early yesterday, I barely had a clue what this year’s novel might be. Then I remembered a story that has been occasionally, albeit persistently, all year. After the absence of a few years, I am returning to the space opera universe of my Emerald Flight series.

Back in 2014, I was inspired to tell the backstory of the Tactical Officer, Lieutenant Geoffrey Hawkes. This year, it’s time to tell the tale behind the Chief Engineer, Russell “Rusty” Rayna. Although I did not originally create the character, I always had an idea what some of his real “story” was. While some of it was directly referenced in an earlier story (well, actually, teleplay), “Derelict Duties”, that describes his first encounter with Captain — then a young lieutenant — Devereux, his entire his personal history has never been fully explored before.

I hope I can do Rusty’s character justice. And thank you, Lisa!

You can, as always, track my progress here.

August 19, 2018

WorldCon 2018 Report: Day Four — The Paths to Publishing

The publishing market continues to evolve with new technology, new business models, and an ever-changing ecosystem of publishers, booksellers, and distributors. Professional writers looking to profit from their work have more choices than ever. How do you choose between pursuing an indie career or a traditional one? What are the benefits to working with a larger publisher? What are the opportunities available if you do it all yourself? Panelists will discuss the paths to publishing success, how to decide between the options, and the factors that go into making the decision.

Panel: SL Huang, Amanda Bridgeman, Scott H. Andrews, Wesley Chu, Linda Nagata

  • Self-Publishing
    • What do you like to read?
    • Reading short stories vs. novels: “Nibbling on a cracker vs. gorging on a steak.”
    • Be at the point where you’ve actually written something; there’s really no point in doing it sooner
    • How much time (patience) are you willing to invest to do traditional publishing?
    • short fiction is a great way to learn the craft; however, it’s a completely different muscle than writing a novel
    • it’s easier to go from traditional publishing to self-publishing than the reverse; it does happen, but those instances are actually quite rare
    • if you’re not patient, you probably shouldn’t be a writer (particularly if you want to go the traditional publishing route)
    • “There is no easy path.”
    • self-publishing takes a lot of time and mind-time
    • “You have it love it.” (all of the aspects of self-publishing)
    • “Even with traditional publishing, you will get stuck with a lot of the promotion.”
    • “At the end of the day, it’s your book and your career.”
    • It can get frustrating with traditional publishing to get the promotion that you want
    • “Being in control can be very satisfying.”
    • “We don’t see the back end of things with traditional publishing.”
    • “The path of a career in writing is littered with dead associates.” (I think he meant this metaphorically)
  • Agents
    • “An agent is like dating.”
    • at the end, it’s a business relationship
    • “You need to value yourself.” (Don’t stick with a bad agent.)
    • Some agents wear many hats
      • some are editors
      • some are contracts
      • some are sales people
  • “We are declining and depressed industry.”
  • audiobooks are harder to produce outside of the U.S. (because some countries don’t support the royalty-share model)
  • Misconceptions (about self-publishing and writing)
    • “It’s not a mean to print money.” (Sure, some writers get fantastically successful, but you probably won’t.)
    • “If you’re writing for the love of it, you’ll be far happier.”
    • “If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it.” (about writing)
    • “If you need alcohol to write, don’t write.”
    • need an inner drive
    • “When you’re contractually obligated to write, then you’re a writer.”
    • “Everybody in their life has one good book in them.”
  • Social networking
    • if you have no social network presence, then write more books
    • can be very valuable for making connections
    • use it as just another tool in your promotional toolbox
    • you do need to monitor your time on it (vs. actually writing)
  • Promotions
    • email newsletters are the best, but take a lot of time
    • BookBub is a great way to sell lots of copies at a low price
  • How to tell a bad agent
    • want money up front or a reading fee
    • they don’t treat you with respect
    • they ignore your messages
    • people keep bad agents because they believe they must have one
August 18, 2018

WorldCon 2018 Report: Day Three — Which Road to Publication?

The road to publication has splintered into many twisty paths. Options have never been greater for aspiring authors, but navigating the choices has never been murkier. Where do you start? Indie, traditional publishers or small presses? What about Amazon and Kindle Unlimited? A panel of authors from indie to Big Five publishers—and everything in between—maps the routes and outlines the pros and cons of each path in the brave new world of publishing.

Panel: Jennifer L. Carson, J.L. Doty, Tod McCoy, Jonathan Brazee, Jack Skillingstead

  • Issues an author should consider
    • have a goal
      • sell books
      • win awards
      • make a living
    • to sell  100 or 200 or 1000 copies of a book is a lot of work (indie publishing)
    • how much do you want to put into the non-writing work?
      • sometimes you have to pay for the expertise
    • be aware of external factors that can influence sales and/or promotion
    • You can tell how large a publisher is by how long it takes them to get a book out
    • Yes, people really do judge a book by it’s cover
  • How much control? How much effort?
    • particularly for traditional publishing, there is an established methodology
    • it’s hard to sell 100 … 200 … 1000 copies
    • it’s easy to sell 10,000 … 20,000 copies, once the momentum or demand has built
    • How do you do the latter? No idea. Not even the “Five 5” know for sure.
    • traditional publishing and self-publishing aren’t that different in that regard
    • be the best writer you can; find your own voice
    • work hard on writing more books; focus on production
  • Self-publishing
    • review the fiction
    • look for a cover
    • editing
    • formatting
    • cover design
    • copy editing
    • know the difference between the different types of editors
    • consider hiring a designer
    • the hard part is everything after those
    • marketing
  • Money
    • average royalty from a traditional publisher for a paperback book is 50-75¢
    • ebook royalties might go as high as 70%
    • How? No one knows for sure. (See the recurring theme here?)
    • A lot of independent authors go with KDP Select to maximize their revenue, but this puts them exclusive to Amazon
      • Amazon is still trying to stop the scammers who manipulate the page-read system to earn money
    • most self-publishers go print-on-demand (POD) for printed editions, otherwise they have to store and ship the books — more time taken away from writing-related tasks
    • shipping costs eat into your profits
    • most booksellers wanted guaranteed return rights if the books don’t sell; this can kill the independent author as they end up paying for shipping both ways
    • you can expect to pay
      • content/developmental edit: $2,000 – $3,000
      • proofreader: $300 – $500
      • cover design: $200 – $6000
  • Essentials skills (even if you have to hire out for them)
    • copy editing
    • cover design
    • in general, a copy editor should be able to turn your average-length book around in about 2 weeks
  • recommended self-editing process
    • write
    • wait 2 years
    • edit
    • repeat for 25 years
  • the odds of your first novel earning out? Not likely.
  • books that do take off tend of have a “halo effect” on an author’s other works — so make sure you have some to benefit from this
  • “When someone tells you how to sell books, that’s how they did it.”
  • Not every thing that works for someone else might — probably — won’t work for you
  • the fundamental difference from the item above is: You didn’t write that book
  • “Success can’t be predicted from working your ass off.”
  • When you self-edit (or have a bad editor), “You are who you came in as”
  • People want to re-hire editors who made them better
  • getting published with a mainstream publisher has a cachet associated with it, but there is often little other advantage for a new or niche author

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