The Last Book

I ordered the last book on Ingram for my story, The Art of Science. My contract was over in January 2018, and while the rights had reverted to me, I have been stuck staring at books available through online sellers and I felt I couldn’t do anything else with it until that last book sold.

So only one was available – buy now! The book arrived today. It’s a bittersweet moment, knowing it’s really out of print and only available secondhand. I still have no idea how many my publisher still has – she said she’d tell me a number and offer them for me to purchase but she never replied back to me about it.

Staring at that envelope, knowing the last book is in there, I’m not sure what to feel. It’s a bit more real. That book was a huge journey for me. I learned a lot in the process of getting it out there and then again once it was out.

I have worked hard with writing since then, but I haven’t worked hard with publishing. I have two small children – though they’re both in school now. I finished a draft last week- and it left me a little bit at odds, now what? I shouldn’t just be waiting for my readers to get a little farther in before jumping back into the edits.

One mistake I made last Monday was digging into the drafts that I have, and printing out a couple that I hadn’t. Some of them were learning experiments and some of them are worth fixing. Which led me to my brand and my platform and what I’m willing to focus my time on for edits. Planning is hard. Taking that time to examine the daily schedule and what it is that’s calling me is a difficult venture. I’ve been feeling the winds change around me and I’m trying to be ready to go in new directions.

I do mean directions. It isn’t just one thing that’s come to a tipping point. It’s about three that I’m recognizing, and there are probably a couple more that I simply haven’t acknowledged yet. Occasionally there’s trouble in just knowing the change is coming, and anxiety is rampant when it’s an unidentified change and you’re not sure when it’s coming or where it’s going. Luckily I’m a yoga teacher and I’m getting a good practice to be mindful and present in this moment and make good choices as they come.

Wish me luck.

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April

I finished the second draft* of my current book. I need a little bit of a break, and sometimes this is when I start to look at my other stuff.

I have a bunch of books. Few of them are finished. Part of me taking time right now is just figuring out where I am in the fifteen novels I have attempted, and whether I’m willing to put more work into them. (At least two of them I’m considering myself done with.) But the rest? I pulled out two. I read one, I’m making notes in the other, and I fell in love with both projects again.

When things are rough and I’m not sure where to go, it’s nice to just take time to remember my joy in creating. Soon I’m going to pick up the novel again and make it work.

*Note: while I’m calling it a second draft, it had a rough draft, then I gutted the middle and added more things, then for that ‘second’ draft I changed POV and smoothed the plot. I’m pretty excited about where it’s going, but I also ended up with about a novel’s worth of short stories from other characters’ point of view. It’s an interesting journey.

Editing… Writing… No, Editing…

I keep thinking I have an entire list of all the things I want to work into that book I’m working on, and then I think of one more. The latest addition is something I have been playing with because of one of the writers in my group.

I’m not sure it’s a great idea, along with half the things that come up during the twisting of an idea into something readable.

I’ve been itching to write something new. Something different. I love reading tweets about writing and writers- and so often they reference that plethora of ideas from that creative phase.

Why can’t even phase be that creative? That creativity is the part that allows me to push forward and through a rough draft. The editing is always harder, where it steals my focus and forever tangles my thinking of the story threads.

Since it can’t, I’ll celebrate the milestones. I’m still editing this book, which makes it the longest I’ve stuck to that project. I’ve been doing my 750 words for over 6 years, and will be hitting 2200 days in a row sometime this week and three million words not too long after that. Also, I read a book in two days (I’ve been in the car a lot recently not driving) and I’ve been reassessing my ideas about whether or not I write horror.

Of course, horror brings me back to the book and that newest story idea. I’ll leave a plot line somewhere in my parking lot for a short story when I need a break. It might even be horror.

A List of Names

When starting an story idea, I need a name. Not necessarily for the story – a placeholder will do. It’s that meat of the character, and while it sometimes changes, that name also takes part of what it is to be that character. There have been days I poured through the name books or the name sites and tried to find just the perfect sound, the perfect feel, the perfect meaning.

Did it matter to my readers if her name was Paige or Hannah or Claire? Maybe not, but it definitely mattered to me. Connecting to that character meant I had to figure out which she was, and the way she interacted, and how she fit into the book.

Some character are named faster than others. In the current book, my main character is Lorelei. She has been since I thought of her, and she’ll stay that way. Her pilot wasn’t so easy, managing a few variations until I found what I wanted. No one in my writer’s group has complained about the names yet, though I’m still working through some of those details.

During this rewrite, I’ve had to change characters from their own stories to an outside viewpoint- Lorelei’s. It’s an interesting switch, because in the first write I didn’t know which viewpoint I needed to tell.  It makes for a lot of digging between characters when you have to see each one of them from every other character’s perspective. It’s not an exercise I do with every book.

When characters no longer spark something for me, I can’t pretend to give them justice. Those first started novels from junior high and high school still have names that spark something, though not enough to connect with or finish without completely restarting the projects.

Maybe on days like today, when the novel just won’t and the rest has been done, I could just look for a list of names to try to make something with. I found Sia lately, which I wasn’t familiar with, and who knows what that’ll come out to be.

Where do you look?

Writing is a solitary path. Often it’s just me and the book, staring at each other over the keyboard. Not all of us are meant to follow solitary pursuits, and as a writer I find myself in a group to remind me why I do it.

It’s cold here in Iowa. So cold it feels like we closed the Midwest for a time. No one seems to be talking about much else, whether someone had to go out or not, and when there might be school in the future, and how we might go to school until when we miss this many days.

Luckily, we live in modern eras where we can do it all online if we must. We connect on a daily basis through apps and we can video chat and even – like last night – run meetings watching someone else’s screen for a tutorial on something new. (I got a crash course in canva!)

There’s more to a group than just the writing for me, though. It’s also about keeping up the momentum on my book, which has stalled, and reminding myself that there are reasons to pick it up again. They remind me they want to read it, and they make me remember what I love about these characters.

I keep thinking, this week my kids will be back in school and I can focus on my book. Maybe that’ll be done in June, too, when the landscape’s less a frozen tundra. Winter’s never been my favorite. I experienced it through the front door as I let people in or out, but I didn’t venture into it. Maybe next time.

Since I had extra kids, I pressed them into helping me organize my games. I found the pinkest deck ever: 0130191246

If there’s a pinker deck, I hope I never run across it. I’d feel compelled to buy it for my daughter, who fell in love with this one.

New Year: Deep Thoughts

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Yes, sometimes it is all madness in my brain. I’ve been thinking about the new year a bit, what i want to accomplish, what i think is important, and what i want to focus on.

So, today’s randomness: Why is it we’re focused on the sun side of the equation? Why is the new year arbitrarily only a little bit off from the winter solstice? Is it a mistake, or just an arbitrary day to say was first?

Why is it the Chinese New Year starts somewhere in January or February, depending on the moon? Why do some celebrate a new year starting around Halloween, and others celebrate several different new beginnings?

No one said it had to make sense.

I’m 93k into my current novel rewrite. I’m going to finish it, but I’m not sure when. It’ll help the kids go back to school Thursday. Tonight is for my random ‘new year’ thoughts and what I think I might accomplish other than this rewrite.

More Rewriting

I’m over halfway through my novel rewrite, but I just want to be done. I keep underestimating how much is left, and how long it’ll take me to finish it. Holidays provided an interruption, too, and I always forget about that.

I still worry about where this ought to be, and where that could be, and if this will be the right structure when I’m finished. Then I physically count how many pages are left to go through and I know I need to complete a lot more.

Today I’m staring at a conversation between two characters who are not my POV character and trying to figure out how to put that into my POV character’s view. It’s something I don’t want to lose in the rewrite.

Most of it has come together in a way that I like, that seems better than the last draft, that tells the story I hope to share. There are a lot fewer notes about in brackets and all caps that dotted the first draft. (I think there’s only two.) It’s been hard to stay focused on it, but I’ve been working on it nearly every day for the last few months. Will it be another month or two until I finish?

I feel like I’ve hit that second hard spot- where I’m ready to go on to another project and just let this one sit. That’s the hardest part about sitting down to write with it every day – that I just don’t want to continue with it but start on something else. Except I’m still sitting down to write it. What do you do when you hit those blocks?

At least when I’m finished writing for the day, I get to beta-read a friend’s novel. Can’t wait to promote it.

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Yes, I nearly always rewrite with a copy of the old draft near me. For some reason physical copies help me move through the process, and no matter how many times I tell myself it’s the same digitally I stall.

Post-NaNo Loveliness

I managed 50 000 words in November. Barely. I finished the very last day, which has never happened in all the years I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo. (That’s eleven, if anyone else is counting.)

Barely still counts. My draft is still going, rewriting all of that thing is taking a while. I passed 75 000 words today. I had to take time to figure out where my antagonists have been heading, and where they need to end up, but it’s going to end up where they’re supposed to be.

This draft started out as a huge struggle. I didn’t think it was working. I couldn’t focus on what was going right in it because I was so worried about what I lost from the previous one. I’ve never taken such a large project and tried to change so many things in a draft at once: POV, plot structure, and world-building.

I know the world-building isn’t quite all there, but it’s coming together a lot better. I’m excited to sit down with this book every day (and I work on it almost every day). Other than that, I’ve gotten far enough – over halfway – to see that what I gained might be more than what I lost in this draft.

Probably also good to note that every time I bring those other characters in the room, I know the secrets behind their eyes. I just wish I could share more of them. And that, as what my writer’s group reminded me, is what short stories for novel promotion are for! So when I finish this draft, and that might even happen this month, I have even more to work on.

Good thing I really love this book.

November

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’m rewriting a book. It’s never an easy process, and I’m at that point of wondering whether it’s going to have to happen again. On a first draft, I really write whatever comes to mind despite that outline, and it’s only when the words are down that I see what goes and what doesn’t.

Yes, I do the same thing with short stories. They’re just shorter.

My family took a long car ride today, and I had both my binders, both my notebooks, and my tablet for reference. It’s amazing the things that simply roll out of my memory for this book and the things that I think I ought to know but I have to look up every single time.

My writer’s group is taking a look at parts of it, and I find they love most of the characters I love, and they hate a few things that I’m sure need to happen, and all of us have to remind me often that it’s an ambitious project.

One of the best parts is my early-morning writing buddy. We write together every November, sometimes at what I would normally think of as an insane hour. We write across time zones and genres and anything else that might get in the way. It’s one of the best parts of November.

I’m excited to see what this book looks like after the rewrite, though. It’s more focused on where that conflict needs to go.

I have the quiet part of the evening to look through that zero draft to figure out what I’m going to rewrite tomorrow.

Writing Goals

I find it hard to write goals. It isn’t that I don’t have them, but I find it much easier to meet goals when they’re on short pieces, and right now I’m in the middle of a novel.

It’s gotten to the point, though, that I’m really excited about it. I’m not usually the kind of person who looks forward to editing and rewriting. But something happened with this book, and I can feel it coming together. I’m almost at the end of act i in the rewrite. I’m not sure if I ought to stop and describe more (my biggest issue in the story, it seems), or if I ought to make sure the structure works through to the end.

Other than that book, I have three short stories from this year that need to be sent out. One has one rejection and one has two. Certainly not enough to give up on them. And the newest one might be my favorite of the three.

Then I look at the short stories I’ve been writing, and sometimes I want to ask when it all became so creepy.

Other than that, I’m working hard on a writer’s group. I’m excited about the entire group, and I’m really interested to see where it goes. That’s the other reason rewriting has been fun – they’re reading my book.but I’m also reading theirs, and I’m seeing a lot of great things happening there.

I’m also looking hard at where my time goes while I’m finding time to rewrite. My part-time job and kids’ activities take up 20 hours every week, which doesn’t include my drop-off and pick-up from school (another 5 hours).

Lately I’ve been cleaning my office and creating room on my desk for that novel-in-progress. It’s helped me get there and sit down and actually do the work. And anything that gets me to be able to sit down and focus definitely needs to be repeated.

So, goal: one novel and three short stories, ready or already out by the end of this year. I should see if I have the idea to write one more by year’s end, too.

Also, the recent rains have made several roads near me look like this. Hoping it’ll dry out soon. dreamstime_xxl_95997192.jpg

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