NaNoWriMo

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise know as NaNoWriMo.  I have never participated in this before but decided this year I would.  I had planned to write a SF novella, but after a couple of days being stuck on that, pulled out my old first novel, the love story I had tried to write two plus years ago, and decided to revisit it.  The NaNoWriMo rules say no previous words, so this likely won’t count for credit.  I have copied a few dialogue sections from the old novel, but mostly rewritten everything else.  In any case, I don’t care.  I love this story and believe it deserves to be told, and I’ve learned a lot about my craft since I first started to write it.

One of the refreshing things about it is the switch from my usual genres.  Having crafted science fiction and fantasy novels and dozens of speculative fiction short stories since giving up on this novel, I was getting burned out.  All I’ve written and read has been those two genres.  I feel very refreshed to be stepping away from that for a bit, and I hope that freshness carries over when I return to speculative fiction after this novel draft is finished.

9452 words in three days.  3 whole chapters.  Feeling pretty good.  I can tell the structure and writing is much better than the last time, although I definitely will need to do some more drafts to work on the descriptive prose and emotional arcs.  First goal is to get the story and basic character arcs down.  Once I know the themes, all the rest can fall in place much more easily.

Likely I’ll take another pass at my fantasy novel before revising this one, but then I’ll have to move on to a sequel for “The Worker Prince” as I prepare for its publication.  I will want to get that done and to the publisher by the time the book comes out next Spring so I can stay on schedule with that series for one book a year.

In any case, it feels good to be writing daily again.  It’s taken some time away from job hunting and editing, but I need to do this for me.  Almost five months of barely writing has really left me depressed and discouraged about my writing career.  Professional writers can’t afford that kind of time off and if I want to reach that goal, I can’t either.

I’ll keep you informed as I keep chugging along.  Whatever the case, it’ll be nice to have three novels instead of one by the Spring next year.  I just hope these two have better luck helping me get an agent than “Worker Prince” did.

For what it’s worth…

AUTHOR’S TIP: Playing The Waiting Game

I think one of the hardest parts of being a writer is the waiting. You wait to hear back on submissions, wait to hear back from beta readers, wait for checks to arrive, wait for books to arrive, etc. And if you’re anything like me, waiting is probably not your forté. So what do you do to get through it?

Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Keep multiple projects going. Once you send out the latest manuscript to your betas or a slush pile, get to work on the next one. Okay, you can allow yourselves one evening to celebrate your satisfaction, but, after that, back to work. After all, even if this one gets accepted, careers don’t happen on one submission. You have to keep building your business.

2) Regard it as a business. All too often I meet writers who talk as if their writing is a hobby, yet act as if acceptance or rejection is something their life depends on. I have few friends whose hobbies are so important to them. If you’re that invested, it’s not a hobby, so stop pretending it is and treat it like a business. Work on your craft, including writing classes, reading a lot, studying what other writers do and how they describe their own craft and struggles. Set up a database for you submissions and your income and expenses. Treat it like the business you want it to be.

3) Blog about it. That’s what I’m doing and it’s therapeutic. There are lots of people going through the same thing and sharing with each other is an encouragement and learning experience.

4) Remind yourself that finishing and submitting your work puts you a step ahead of many others. Lots of people say they are writers or want to be, but only those who actually write, complete it and submit it have the chance to actually make it as professionals.

5) Offer Reader Incentives. This one won’t work with the markets you submit to, but it might work with your beta readers. Of course, it all depends on your budget. But think about running little contests with your betas for the person with the most helpful notes, the quickest response time, etc. You can offer everything from gift certificates for a cup of Starbucks to writing lessons or services. It might be a way to keep your betas motivated. After all, if they’re not writers, they probably don’t realize how hard the waiting is or how important their input is to your success.

Everyone’s situation is unique, so I’m sure you can think of better ideas than I can. See what you can come up with to make the wait time pass more quickly. Whatever works for you might not work for me. The point is to use the time to further your career, instead of regarding it as holding you back.

Good luck with your writing.

For what it’s worth…

Write Tip: Making Perfect Bound Arcs With Create Space

After almost a year, nine drafts, two independent editors, a series of beta readers, two critique groups, and a few rejections, I was tired of looking at the word file that was my novel’s manuscript. I still believed in the story and characters and felt good about my writing though. Both the professional editors I’d worked with and the betas had raved at about, as had my crit group members. I’d polished and polished. But still had not achieved what I wanted — holding the finished book in my hand.

Then I remembered the process I’d used to self-publish my short story collection using Create Space. If you format the cover and book interior yourself, there’s no set up cost. And if you don’t click “Submit For Publishing,” Create Space never releases the book to Amazon or stores. This could be the perfect way to get to that next phase, I thought.

I went through the manuscript again and polished it some more, addressing a few issues I discovered with the main character’s arc, polishing and tightening words and sentences and making sure it was ready. Then I sent it out to two betas for corrections and final notes.

After their notes came back, I implemented them into the manuscript, made a copy of the Word file and started reformatting the copy to meet Create Space’s instructions for the interior of a 6×9 trade paperback. Locating a free temporary cover image off the web, I trimmed that down and used Photoshop to fit it into Create Space’s cover template. Then I sent both files off to a friend who was experienced with Photoshop to double check and polish.

When they were ready, I sent them to Create Space for file approval.

Up to this point my total cost: zero. Much cheaper than print cartridges and paper reams would be.

A day or two later, after Create Space approved the files (which took a couple of tries with the cover because Create Space’s instructions aren’t any more understandable than anyone else’s), I ordered a copy for proofing.

Looking it over, I made a few changes, resubmitted the files, and, a week later, had another proof.

What a great feeling it was to finally hold the book I’d dreamed up 25 years before in my hand looking like a real book. Oh sure, I still had to find a publisher, but at least I knew it would look good that way, and reading the paperback was much easier than reading a backlit .doc file.

Since I never submitted for publishing, Create Space never released the book for sale so no one except me and Create Space even know it exists. I sent a few copies to faithful betas and a couple of reviewers and then submitted to small presses.

Now I am awaiting word from two who are interested in bidding for it. Altogether a very useful tool for getting professional looking book copies inexpensively. Total cost per ARC: $7.50 + shipping.

For what it’s worth…