Progress – May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018

Oh, shiny!

That describes this week. At least partially.

I started off pretty good. Then I read a blog and it’s accompanying comments that irritated me. It was a writer’s blog by someone I respect, and even though my name wasn’t mentioned I felt as if this writer was taking a shot right at me and some of the things I’ve been saying on my blog lately. I felt as if I was being told that I was completely wrong, I’d never make it as a professional writer, and I might as well give up and quit wasting my time.

I really wanted to fire back with venom, but I listened to the wise little voice inside me which said not to, that I shouldn’t take on this battle, especially since who knows what inspired that writer to start taking fire. Did I really want to play Whack-A-Mole? No, best not to pop up my head.

Let’s face it: I’m probably not even a blip on this writer’s radar. Why take it so personally?

But my irritation stayed with me all day. Later that evening, still unable to shake it, I sat down with one of my oracle card decks and asked why I needed to have that experience.

I got two cards. The first said to remember that Love was the best teacher. The second said to view the situation with Love and see what it was trying to teach. So I did just that. I asked myself why I had to get angry over the lesson being spoken in this blog. Why was it hard for me to accept? Did I view it as true but I couldn’t admit it to myself?

I got an interesting answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Progress – May 7, 2018

May 7, 2018

Can I just chalk last week up under the category of “Strange & Bizarre” and move on?

Yeah, let’s do that.

But because of events of last week, I haven’t quite been feeling myself. I’m okay, but at the same time, something is off. It’s like an annoying slightly pulled muscle, the kind where you twisted your ankle or something and it hurts just mildly enough to let you know it’s sore.

Yeah, it’s weird.

And, it sent me into designing covers mode. You saw the cover for Tangled Magic. After I finished that cover, I went back to the cover design for the 6th Loki novella. I hope to have that finalized this week. I also have design ideas for Dragons of Wellsdeep and Walk the Path (what I am going to call the 2nd Onesong book — more on that in a moment). So here I am with stories I’m working on and covers already in process. I have to admit that it feels a little strange and bizarre — in my new processes of being more prepared for the publishing side of the work, it just feels weird to have titles and covers so early, before the manuscripts are even completed. That’s just unnatural for me. I’m glad to see it, but there’s still the part of me that’s screaming, “BUT WHAT IF YOU CHANGE SOMETHING?” I hate it when the critical voice shouts at me, especially in all caps.

As most of you know, I started Onesong as part of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month held in November). I finished the 50,000 words and had almost a complete novel. Afterwards, I realized that I really had two novels that I’d been writing at the same time – an interesting feat that probably is also under the category of “Strange & Bizarre. Half the novel was Rivic’s story, which I had titled Onesong. The other half was part of a novel I’d actually been writing nearly 25 years ago now. I only have a portion of that manuscript — most of it has been lost to time, mail, bad events, floppy drives, who knows. I still have the general plot in my head and I was trying to recreate it without having to suffer the agony of rewriting a book I should still have — yes, I do have another one of those stories (a complete manuscript called Enchantment’s Flame of which I have only the first three chapters of and which probably suffered the same fate as the one previously mentioned. I’ve tried to rewrite this manuscript based on what I have and new parts I want to add and it’s frustrating. I have cried over the loss of this manuscript.) So, yes, I was subconsciously rewriting a new story which would take over my heart and allow me to release the old draft like a dying phoenix to let the new rise from the ash. Honestly, when I realized my Nanowrimo manuscript was really two, that previous metaphor is exactly how it felt. Oh, it was painful making the split because the stories were like conjoined twins who shared organs.

I haven’t even gone back to the section that I’ve split off yet because I don’t know how much patching I will have to do. But if I’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that I can sew Frankenstein’s monster back together and make it live.

I’m really not sure how I like the idea of conjoined twins being compared to Frankenstein’s monster in regards to my manuscripts, but it feels appropriate.

After a discussion about what the title of the first book for Onesong should be, and agreeing that it had to be Tangled Magic, I soon realized that of course it had to be called Tangled Magic because it’s twin book was already called, Wild Magic. Yes, that’s the title of the story I’d started writing 25 years ago. And, I have this feeling that once I sit down to write it, the manuscript will be of similar length and needing divided into two books. I don’t know what the series title will be, but I’m certain that the second book in that series will be Blaze the Path.

Onesong               Unknown series title

Books #1:   Tangled Magic                 Wild Magic

Books #2:    Walk the Path                Blaze the Path

I know the missing information will fill in.

I suspect, even though I haven’t started designing them yet, that Wild Magic and Blaze the Path will also have similar covers to the Onesong stories. Oh, and before you ask, yes, Wild Magic and Blaze the Path take place on the same world as the Sacred Knight and Onesong stories. The Wild Magic story is about a set of Plenelian twins. (And now you begin to see why I say that the analogy of conjoined twins is appropriate – grin.) And, if you’ve been following Sacred Knight and understand who the Plenelians are and what the deal is with twins, then you begin to see the inherent conflicts in this story. Oh yes, this is going to be fun.

What I don’t yet know is if Wild Magic is before Onesong or after it. I know my brain has been working on it because over the weekend it was spitting ideas like slinging mud at a barn wall to see what sticks.

See, the main issue I have with placing Wild Magic is that I know I have to allow room for Elliot’s story. (You ready for this tangle? Strap on your seat belts and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position because this is going to get messy otherwise.) You see, Elliot’s story is actually the aforementioned story called Enchantment’s Flame. I have the general plot, again, stuck in my head. Both Wild Magic and Enchantment’s Flame started off as fantasy romance stories. Both had major plot issues. Both had publishers request them from my synopsis and sample chapters and both were rejected. Enchantment’s Flame was written first. Wild Magic I was just finishing as the idea for Quest for the Three Books came to me (and yes, that also use to be a fantasy romance, and Keteria was the heroine in the original drafts). At the time, none of them had any relations in their stories.

But then I realized I was working with three timelines in the Sacred Knight series and it all exploded. Suddenly, I knew that the castle that was in Wild Magic was actually in Dubinshire. I also knew that the continent where Enchantment’s Flame took place was on the same world as Sacred Knight. When Ithanes mentions (I believe) in To Birth a Destiny about his father taking him to the northern continent, that’s the setting for Enchantment’s Flame, which I’m now calling Elliot’s story.

So, I’m essentially rewriting my own books, taking them out of fantasy romance to be this colossal, epic, sword and sorcery fantasy which is bigger than me most of the time. In those moments of overwhelm, all I can do is stand back, breathe, and remember to take one step at a time.

Yet its frustrating because I can’t just fix up two of these stories that I’ve already written.

But after a week of doing whatever I can to avoid working on Let’s Make a Deal (a story about an ice nymph that I wrote about 20 years ago), I can say that it’s not always easy to rework a story you wrote so long ago. If I was smart, I’d write a blog about that someday soon.

This has been an exceedingly long post, so let’s get to the numbers, shall we?

Fiction words written last week: 3,561 words

Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written:  2,785 words

Score a big #4 for my weekly word count streak.

Writing month to date total:  22,718 total words for April, 5,756 words for May

Writing year to date total: 124,251 words

Drawing/painting last week: Zip, zero, zilch – I so need to get back to painting though.

Audio: I spent 3 hours editing audio.


Head games we play with ourselves

May 1, 2018

Yesterday on my blog, I mentioned a problem I was having.

Here’s how it started:


I have Mystery of the Stardust Monk completely ready to upload to distributors for both ebook and print. Completely ready. As I said, I don’t want to be unprepared when going to publish something again. So, everything is ready.

Guess what I can’t do.

Yep, you got it. I can’t even click the “Add new book” button on any of the distributors. I’ve tried. I log into my account, then I sit there staring at it.

This is such a dumb problem to have. Dumb, dumb, dumb.


I wrote it all out, but then I decided to make this a separate blog entry. Partially because the progress post was getting long, and second because there’s a lesson in this that I want to share (as well as remember myself when I need a good kick).

Let’s pick up where I left off:

Okay, maybe some backstory is needed here. Mystery of the Stardust Monk was supposed to be my March release. Didn’t happen. I skipped a March release because I had too much else going on. Now that it’s ready, I though, okay, June release. Then I put out Prince of the Ruined Land (as you all know) and I got “challenged” to have the next book in the series out by July 1st. There is no way that’s happening, especially with my current lessons. But, silly me, I thought I could push it for Onesong. Irregardless of how I split it, I could have book 1 out by the last week of June, so that it would be out by July 1st and still fall into my traditional publishing day of Tuesday. I think there’s a part of me that’s trying to see if I can do it. Challenge accepted! Except, I don’t want to be pressured. I don’t want to have two releases that close together. There’s a lot going on in my head about this, both from a writer and a publisher point of view — which, if you’re going to be an indie writer, you must hold onto both hats at once sometimes.

So I sit with this dumb problem.

I thought might get a handle on it when I finally had Onesong written, but there’s still so much to contemplate. Plus, a cover that needs a decision when I have 8 various versions of the mock-up (all of them frustratingly fun!). If it weren’t fun, I’d have to quit doing this because, grrr, at the moment none of this is worth what I’m putting into it. Whenever I once again think about all this, I teeter on that edge of thinking dangerous thoughts which have no good end.

See, it’s a dumb problem. I write for myself, but sometimes I like to challenge myself. I have learned hard lessons and want to learn and grow from them. I think about my readers and I want to make them happy because my job isn’t done until the story is finished and someone reads it. There is so much work to be done (all by myself at the moment) to publish a book and make sure people know about it. I’m invested and so are several loyal readers. I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to disappoint myself. I want to enjoy the ride.

But now, I’ve basically tucked Mystery of the Stardust Monk away under my bed, or in a drawer, or the closet, for publication later. No one gets to read it.

To me, that’s depressing, and if I were a reader, I’d be disappointed knowing the writer was intentionally withholding something from me.

Logic says that I should set it up as a June release or a May release to go along with Eggs at Play, since that’s a children’s picture book. But Logic’s friend, Fear, says I should wait because it might be better to save it for a month I don’t have anything else to release (like in March when I went without a release because I had too much going on). And their arch-rival, Reality, says that no one gives a damn so just put it out there!

Dumb head game.


That’s where I ended the original post, but now I’ve given myself some clearance to think about it and I want to dive deeper.

That’s all it really is. A dumb head game. It’s the publisher hat trying to dominate the writer child-self. After all, the artist-child is wild and irresponsible. The publisher must control and regulate that artistic side because she might throw a temper tantrum and nothing will get done. We have those new lessons for the publisher, remember? I think it’s the publisher getting all steamed up about having regulations placed on it. Now it’s second guessing itself. Wow, it’s not even the publisher trying to focus the artist, but the publisher trying to swim in a brave new world. Now that’s a mind trip! Wow. I don’t think I would have realized that if I hadn’t moved this off onto its own post.

It is the publisher hat fear that demands that I be regular and consistent in putting things out to the world. To look at Reality’s argument that no one really cares when it comes out as long as the reader has the story available when they want it is really the truth. Anticipation is one thing, and it’s a great marketing tool, but should be used appropriately. A novella? Probably not the best thing to get people anticipating (unless it’s Loki, of course, but that would be the exception because he’s already got a fabulous fan base). But right now, no one cares when I put out a novella. And I don’t treat my books the way a traditional publisher would — that it’s fruit that spoils in 2-3 weeks and must be pulled from the shelf. We’re not in that era any more.

I guess I must ask myself the big question:

Am I ready to release Mystery of the Stardust Monk now?

No. Surprisingly, no.

But it’s not longer a dumb head game problem. I literally do not feel like putting it out there yet. I think about it and I feel my energy drain.

Does my publisher hat have a process that it must trust too? It must. Both hats sit on the same head.

Maybe this problem isn’t as dumb as it looked. Maybe it’s not simple either. Maybe it’s not a problem either. Maybe it’s must my inner knowing tuned into something bigger than myself that I will see when the moment is right.

I do feel like I have to trust the emotion running through me. It says, not now, but soon. Soon I will be able to get on all the various sites and upload it. This might be a continuation of the lessons I am learning. Maybe it is about when to let go. It certainly is about letting the publisher hat trust the process too.

What was disguised as a head games ends up being a clever little lesson. Look at that.


How much I have learned

April 27, 2018

If you read my Monday blog post, then you know that my plan was to work on editing a short story called “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Lets Make a Deal front cover small

Cover and layout copyright © 2018 by Morning Sky Studios
Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios
Cover art copyright © Zegers06

 

Now mind you, I wrote this story about 20 years ago and it has been hidden away in a drawer for that time. Not that I didn’t think it was good or worthy, but it just didn’t have a market. Or so I felt.

Thank goodness we are living in an entirely new age now!

I have been working on it this week, and boy am I glad that I didn’t get it published. Or even try to. I’m also glad I didn’t just scan it in and slap it out to book form.  Read the rest of this entry »


Struggle to write or write to struggle

April 26, 2018

To those who are readers and not writers, please stay with me. I am mostly addressing writers in this blog post, but I hope it gives you a little insight, plus I have thoughts you might enjoy at the end.

While I was on Facebook within the last week or so, an ad for a writers’ conference came up. The following quote led the ad:

“I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as a dying friend. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.” — Annie Dillard

I literally stopped and sat there staring at it, dumbfounded. Seriously, people felt this way?

I went to look at the comments and so many people agreed with the quote. I really wanted to blast back with my own comment, but I refrained. (Especially since the little voice in my head said, “Don’t you have a blog for that?”)

I have struggled with books, yes. I have even struggled to write when I was at a strange season of my life (hormones?). I have ripped them to shreds and pieced them back together again hoping that no one would realize that I had created Frankenstein’s monster. But I have never had a book lie there dying while I am praying for it to live.

That, to me, is writing to struggle.

That kind of sentiment says, “Flail me now because I’m not worthy. I must be tortured and tormented. I am ‘an artist’ and I must suffer for my art.”

Here me loud and clear on this: that is a myth and if you are following it, get off the path now and go find something you enjoy!

Seriously.

Life is too short to torment yourself. You are meant to thrive, not survive in a bog. If you aren’t having fun writing, if you aren’t giving it your heart and soul while screaming with your hands in the air, then neither are your readers.

Now, I realize that Dillard is a literary author, but my point remains the same.

Struggling to write might mean forcing yourself to put your butt in the chair and do the work. It might mean getting through tasks so that you can sit down. For me, a lot of times, it means waiting not-so-patiently for that next moment when I get to write. I will snatch every spare moment I can. I’ve been known to write while standing in the line at the grocery store because I need to write NOW.

But writing to struggle is a whole other thing. Put your hand to your forehead and sigh. Oh, you are such a martyr. A victim. Fall to vices like drugs and alcohol because that’s what writers do, yes? I write, therefore I starve. Come, gentle reader, I will hold your hand while hoping you will recover. Aren’t we pathetic? Sob, sob. Choke, choke.

Yeah, please, lie down on the path now and let me step over you.

No, I don’t carry such ‘romantic’ ideals about writing. My vice is coffee because I like it and I like to have a cup (hot or cold) beside me while I write — it’s just a brain thing. I don’t write to be cherished forever and ever. I don’t want people having snooty discussions about the ‘meanings’ of my books (not to say that I haven’t already heard some quite inventive ones, and some of them might have been intentional). I write to tell a good story. I write to entertain, I write to give someone an escape and an adventure.

If you want to write, the choice is ultimately yours, but do know your reason for writing. Do you choose to be the drama queen who gets little done because you’re too busy letting your story be a victim to your tragic accident  of deciding to write a book? Or do you want to go from ride to ride, getting new and different thrills each time?

Readers: now I’m going to address you as I promised. Let me ask you which you think is better. Now, I do believe literary fiction can be quite fun, so I’m not going to nit-pick at literary fiction, which is usually the one that gets hauled out as an example of dramatic writing where writers are known to struggle. But, I think you know even in a genre (that’s your categories like romance, sci-fi, fantasy, western, etc.) fiction when a writer’s heart isn’t in the story they are telling. We’ve all seen flat stories. I bet you can name several. That is the novel as a dying friend where there is no hope.

Don’t you want hope?

Don’t you want people to enjoy reading the story with you?

Don’t you want to root for the characters?

I do. I also want more people to read and I think that one of the reason that people don’t like to read is because they think every book is this snooty piece with lots of ‘meaning’ to it that it takes an English teacher to decipher for them.

I, for one, want people to pick up one of my books, have a great ride, and decide they want to reach for another adventure (whether it is mine or another writer’s). It’s the story that counts. It’s always the story.

Notice in the quote that Dillard says book. Not story. That too may be a critical difference. She knows she is writing a book and I focus on telling a story (then I rip the book to shreds and put it back together – grin).

So, am I going to the writers’ conference? Heck, no! If that’s their ad, then I am better off staying home and writing my next story. The attendees at that conference can sit around and wonder why they aren’t writing. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing it.


Progress – April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018

First I lost my daily word count streak, and now my weekly word count streak tumbles.

There’s just been too much going on. So I must learn from this experience and move on. It’s all I can do.

What did I learn? Mostly that when I plan a publication date, I really have to look at other factors in my life that can put me behind. Even though I’d set the publication date for Prince far enough in the future, I didn’t think about having extra work hours, taxes for three people, and having to put my book back together because I couldn’t trust my instincts about the story to begin with and what a landmine that would be. Okay, that last one I couldn’t have foreseen, but it should have been a “what if” factor. Read the rest of this entry »


Talking Heads

April 6, 2018

As I’m finishing up with Prince of the Ruined Land, I’ve only had a couple moments to work on my comics. When I went to open up the next page I’d sketched out some time ago, I got the very laughable reminder that sometimes things just don’t work out.

I opened up this page and said, “WTF! Talking heads!”

MS5 Pages

Even with the placement of the dialogue, I couldn’t justify any of this to myself. There in the 3rd panel, she’s supposed to be doing this little head turn to glance away. Really? Didn’t I just do that on the last page? Maybe it was two pages ago.

Anyway, I got a laugh at myself, then I made the page invisible and tried again.

Failure is not fatal.