Progress – January 14, 2019

I’ve still been working on the story about Martias and Steigan heading to the Palin Wars which I referenced last Wednesday. I’m trying to slant it so that a reader could pick it up at any point in the story, even before reading Quest for the Three Books, without much in the way of spoilers. So far, so good.

It is a little strange because while I have known Martias’ motivations for quite some time, I hadn’t every really thought about where his head would be at when he and Steigan ran away to the Palin Mountains. We’ve “chatted” about how he felt when he first arrived at the Temple, and even how he felt when he was nominated for the position of Holy Sapere, but I hadn’t really needed to know how he felt along the way on that path. So, this provides me with interesting insights into his character.

I also love his view of Steigan. I’m so use to being in Steigan’s head, where he is always so noble and upstanding. Let’s face it, even when he had no memories, I knew who he was because I knew how he’d act on instinct alone. Admittedly, that might be why I’m having issues working on book 5 (The Missing Thread) because Steigan’s headspace is so messed up that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. That, and the fact that I have no idea about Keteria waking up. I know when I write the correct scene, I’ll know it. It just hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, that aside, it’s fun to see what Martias thinks about and what he withholds. Steigan is cut and dry. He speaks his mind. Marias, he refrains. Again, that’s not something new with Martias — I’ve known he doesn’t always tell Steigan everything, but I see how he is event the trickster character in his own mind. It’s fun.

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Thoughts on Secret Thoughts

Let me begin by saying that I don’t suffer from impostor syndrome. Absolutely not. No way.

At least not until the moment I step up to the canvas and begin painting. Then, all bets are off.

For the last couple of years I have been asking myself just what is wrong with me. I have all the confidence in the world when I’m writing, and heck, even when I’m narrating. But I would just turn myself inside out when I thought about drawing or painting. It use to not be that way. Call it “beginner’s luck” or whatever, but I started off feeling successful with my newly discovered art skill, but as the years went by, I felt more and more like a fake, a fraud, and a hack — a full-blown impostor. It ground me to a halt. No matter how many times people told me that my art was beautiful (and I only believe about 50% of the people that tell me that), I didn’t believe anyone. This reaction made no sense to me.

I, like everyone else, don’t like to be judged or criticized. I know this is part of it, but I realize that there’s a certain amount of exposure that comes with creativity. I’m all right with it in my writing. But my art… it just feels different. I don’t even think I can explain it.

I have no schooling in art, writing, audio engineering, or acting. Oh, I’ve taken a class here or there, gone to a few conferences, read lots of books, and bloody well jumped in and started doing the work figuring out what I need to know as I go along. I have no fear; I know I can learn anything I need to know. I’ve even taken painting classes with Jerry Yarnell. But for some unknown reason, not being school in art, art history, color theory, etc., really bugs me. I have taught myself about artists I’m interested in and can identify their work on sight. I may not know everything about them or their work, or even their creation process, but I can say that about many writers too. Why do I not feel worthy of being an artist? If it’s just a matter that I haven’t put in as many hours as I have for my writing, why can’t I drag myself to do more, to practice?

I realized toward the end of last year that I really needed to work on this, especially if I was going to get back to painting this year. So, I focused on some articles and books for writers about overcoming self-doubt.

There’s still a part of me that venomously hates that word, especially in reference to me: self-doubt.

Now that I’ve spat the awful taste off my tongue, my search took me down some very strange places, places I really didn’t feel I belonged. At least not when I took it from a writer’s point of view. I got into things about intelligence and creativity, multiple talents, creative anxiety, etc. I’m still working my way through some of it. But, in my search and while I was looking for my next audiobook to listen to while I walked, I came across The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young.

While this book is geared toward women, it also addresses men and the impostor syndrome. It is not slanted to creative types — Valerie Young works more with students, professors, and professionals. I have many people in my life who I really think would benefit from listening to this book.

It was very hard for me to listen too. I kept thinking, “This does not apply to me!” I suspect this is what many women I know would say if I suggested it to them. I kept having to round myself back and remember that I was not needing this for where I was confident, but where I was weak, where I did feel like an impostor in my own life. In trying to stay focused on this and knowing that I was seeing where I felt other people needed to know about this book, I realized that deep inside, many women felt small and insignificant. I kept thinking about all the quotes that speak to the fact that if you feel fear about something, that is the direction you should be heading in.

I have long known exactly where my own feelings of inadequacy came from. So when Valerie describes coming to understand your Crusher, the thing that gave root to the impostor syndrome in your life, I already knew mine. I could feel it.

Now for me, because of how my life has gone, I could see oh so clearly how I overcame this Crusher, which could have stopped me from telling stories, and gave me the confidence that my writing has today. It was sheer, dogged persistence that I could reject my Crusher in regards to writing. But art was always so different. It was clear to see how that became my impostor path.

I didn’t agree with the whole book or the exercises to help, but how much of that was coming from the extreme self-directed part of me I don’t know. I did bookmark a few questions and places that I thought would be helpful if I started feeling like a fraud again. I really do want to conquer this irrational side of myself. It’s holding me back from achieving my goals.

Are you being held back because you feel unworthy or because you feel like an impostor who is waiting for someone to find you out? If so, this book might be worth your read.

All hail Loki!

She's smiling because it's Loki!

Even among fans of The Loki Adventures, this is one of the favorites. I am very pleased to announce that it is now available as an audiobook. You can find it at the following locations:

Audible – U.S. 

Audible – UK

Audible – France

Audible – Germany

Google Play

Nook Audiobook

Kobo Audiobook

Audiobooks.com

Scribd

Playster

This is only a partial list. More audio outlets (including libraries) may also have the audiobook. Go find Loki and let him make your day.

Progress – January 7, 2019

I’ve spent the day working on a story called Alexander’s Den. I wrote the story a couple years ago and it spent all year in submission with a magazine I was hoping would publish it. The story was apparently very close, but not quite. They were kind enough to give me a few comments on it, so I’ve been looking at the story again in light of their comments. What I found was a whole bigger problem. I had actually fractured the story in many different directions, which makes their comments make sense. So I’m trying to cut away everything that isn’t part of the story.

My son also took me to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse today. What a brilliant use of the hero’s journey. They use so many elements and mix things up very well. Bravo!

Other than that, I’ve been trying to get words in and do some painting. I showed some paintings here last week. I did also work on more planning for 2019, built some spreadsheets, tinkered with the one that I use to log my production and time on, and set up other things to help me keep track of progress. Oh, and I worked on website items, including one for my audiobooks. That one isn’t anywhere near completed yet, so I can’t show it to you yet. Soon, hopefully.

Speaking of audiobooks, I’m throwing out all that I’ve recorded on Manifest the Magic. I bought a channel strip which, once it’s in, I need to add to my setup. I’m hoping it improves the mixed results I’m getting. I’m just not happy with what I’m getting because every now and then I get these metallic sounding artifacts. It’s kind of frustrating. Anyway, I hope this helps. My next option is to get a new microphone. Baby steps. Anyway, I thought that when I get the channel strip in and set up, I might try recording Oxygen just to see how it sounds. That should be short and fast. Then I can get back to Manifest the Magic.

Well now, let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Fiction words written last week:  2,952 words.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  3,116 words.

Daily word goal reached for 149 days! Weekly word goal reached for 24 weeks.

Writing month to date total:  4,714 words

Writing year to date total: 4,714 words

Drawing/painting last week: Completed 2 paintings last week for a total of 34 linear inches. Also finished repairing the canvas for “In Living Color,” my lotus in the clouds painting.

Audio: I spent almost 4 hours recording and editing audio, all of which I’m probably pitching out. I might be able to salvage the voices — we shall see.





Progress – 2018 official

Last year I gave a report for the 2017. I thought I’d do the same this year, just to wrap things up, even though I feel (as I’m writing this sentence) that it won’t be nearly as impressive as last year’s post. I did a lot in 2017, considering it wasn’t a very good year personally with my dad passing away. I’m sure that bleed into 2018, but maybe as I look back, I will find something to surprise me. So, let’s reflect now on 2018.

I’m running this a bit late so that I could get in all my numbers for the 31st. I wanted the year full and complete. I was going to add that I usually write during the turning of the clock to the new year, because I was told many years ago that you should be doing what you want to come in the new year at the striking of 12. Because of that, there might be a few words that I’ll transition into 2019, but actually I probably should be editing. 2019 needs to be the year of reviewing what I’ve already written. I have a lot of work to do there. So, let’s move on.

Let’s start off by talking about the numbers for the last full week of 2018.

Words written in the last week of December: 6,668 words of both fiction and non-fiction. Sorry, I forgot to write these down the breakdown before I set the sheet up for this week, so that’s all I’ve got.

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  1,354 words today, because today all I’ve been doing is writing blogs. No fiction for you today!

Writing month to date total:  28,761 words

Drawing/painting last week: I continued working on those dang space paintings which I keep swearing I’m done with. I started playing with some acrylic fluid medium and am really enjoying how it enhances the depth of them. We’ll see how it looks when they dry. I really wanted to finish them in 2018 since that’s when most of the painting was done. I’m hoping I’m there. I also have been repairing the canvas of my lotus painting. It’s almost done. I’m thrilled because I’m not even done and the scar has nearly vanished. Pictures coming; I’ve been documenting the process.

Audio: I spent 6.6 hours last week recording and editing audio and just over 2.6 hours today. I did manage to get Fall’s Confession uploaded, so even though it won’t come out until 2019, it’s a 2018 complete. Check that box off! I have started recording the voices for Manifest the Magic and I’m ready to get started on editing the first couple of chapters.

So how did the year turn out overall?

Let me start by saying that it’s been another not fun year. In fact, I kept trying to hire an assassin to kill 2018 in its infancy. Toward the end of the year I was commenting on how fast it was going and my son replied with a comment akin to, “Well, Mom, you kept saying that you wanted to throw 2018 back and the universe knew that it couldn’t do that, so it just fast-forwarded the year for you.”

Timey-whimy, whibbly-wobbly. That’ll teach mean to wish the years away!

Of course, it certainly didn’t help matters when my websites were hijacked by the hosting provider who refused to give them back. Fortunately I still had access to my dashboard, which allowed me to at least buy new domains and redirect my websites with forwarding. But because I wasn’t sure I’d get my websites back and that my forwards would one day stop working when the websites were taken offline, I had to go back through my books and get everything pointed toward the new websites, which also had to be built on a different platform away from my original host. I had to set up new email accounts and get all my accounts all over the Internet as well as newsletters I wanted to make sure I continued to get. Honestly, I got quite a bit of all that done, but not all. I made phone calls to the registrar of the domain and to ICANN, all who had their hands tied because of the privacy settings on my domains so my name wasn’t associated with them. I wrote letters, sending them certified. I went looking for an attorney to start suing to get my domains back.

Then one late night in October, I decided to do another Google search on the company and found a post from a guy who was experiencing exactly the same thing with the hosting company, but he reported that he’s called the registrar and after about 10 minutes on the phone, got his domains back under his control. Needless to say, the very next morning, I call the registrar, found out they were authorized to return the domains to those who could provide the invoice for the domain purchase, and, well, it wasn’t 10 minutes but maybe more like half an hour, I had my domains back.

I swear that was the first thing in 2018 that went right. That same week other things started falling into place. I think I had finally turned around the series of unfortunate events that had started in 2017.

Lesson: DON’T EVER LET SOMEONE ELSE CONTROL YOUR DNS RECORDS!

Now I fully understand why I had to become an indie author/publisher. I had to have control of my copyright — the publishing industry is rampant with intellectual property thieves. Whether it’s your domain name or your copyright, it’s your intellectual property and it can be taken from you if you don’t keep control of it. Don’t ever think a contract is going to keep you safe, especially if you go with the one that is offered; it’s not written for your benefit. I learned that when I was fighting for my domains and really dug into the contracts I had with the hosting company. I had literally tied my own hands. Only because of the hosting company’s non-response did I have any leg to stand on. Literary agent and publishing contracts are not for your benefit; they are for the agent or publishing house. Let that be your final warning.

Because of this whole fiasco, I initially bought 4 extra domains, not including the .net versions of my domains so that could move everything over. Three of those domains are something I had been thinking about for a couple of years, but I hadn’t taken action. I still didn’t get to do anything with them because of the time needed for rebuilding and relinking everything. But I hope that in the next year, I can do something with them.

I currently have 10 domains. My previous webhost lost out.

And the DNS records are under my control!

Sorry, that was kind of long winded, but it took a lot of my time and energy, which meant things didn’t get done. When I’m writing and sending emails or certified letters (for which I don’t get to take the word count on!), rebuilding websites on a new platform so I could establish redirect links, or I’m having to update the web addresses in my books and republish, new words aren’t getting written and the words that have been written aren’t getting reviewed.

I knew it was having an impact on my writing and art, but until I wrote these words, I don’t think I had really considered how damaging that loss of time was. No wonder I lost my daily word counts for a while and why I couldn’t even manage to get the weekly counts in. In looking back at the data of my spreadsheet, I see that my days started to fail when I first discovered that my websites were having issues and I wrote my initial demand for the sites to be unlocked and transferred. Then, things really crashed as I scrambled to build new sites. My word counts once again pick up once I had the websites and redirects in place.

Seeing the devastation in the numbers, it’s amazing I managed to hit my yearly word goal. And it’s little wonder that my drawing and painting took a side seat.

That reflection was probably good for me. It tells me that I can get back on track all around.

Let’s see what happened.

Writing year to date total: 338,586 words. This is pretty close to what I achieved last year. So even though I had lowered my daily word count, I still hit over my 300,000 goal. I have more on this below in my reflection and goal area.

My best month was January at 36,294 words. My most productive days were Sundays, followed by Saturday. Third most productive days were Wednesday.

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Progress – December 17, 2018

Adventures this week have been… oh, look, SQUIRREL!

Yeah, something like that.

It feels like two or three things have been going on all at once. Someday I swear I will learn to focus.

It’s just been challenging to get my words in this week, though I have been painting. It seems like that’s what I really want to be doing this week. It’s making me really consider making my word count next year into a rolling word count like I’m doing with my painting. There’s a little part of me that keeps saying, “You’ve already accomplished your word goal for the year. Give yourself a break and paint.”

Then there’s the other part of me that says that I have over 125 days into my writing streak. Do you realize how long that is of getting a certain amount of words in every day? Yeah, 125 days. Just because I have overflow one day doesn’t mean that I can just apply that to the next day. That’s not consistency!

It’s like the fight of the good shoulder angel and the bad shoulder angel. I’m tired of the constant blabbering in my head.

“But you’re doing it with your painting. Why not with your writing?”

Argh!!! Painting is different, don’t you understand that? What if I couldn’t count the words until the novel was completed?

“Maybe you’d finish more if you did that instead of bouncing between projects.”

BANG HEAD HERE!

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Progress – November 26, 2018

Last week was a busy week. It was perfect week.

As I said last Monday, my son had come home from college for the holiday. It was great having him home (of course). He hung out with me, he hung out with his brother, we all hung out together — it was a whole holiday hang out party.

While enjoying his company, I finished the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki and got it uploaded. That meant I also had to design the cover for that edition too. I do hope that in a couple of weeks I can report that the audiobook is available.

Meanwhile, I also started on editing the audio I recorded for Fall’s Confession. I also fixed the errata I found in Fall’s Confession and re-uploaded it.

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