Screaming Into the Void

turn-cover-creditsMy NaNoWriMo word count is 2,234. That used to be my daily average, but that’s all I wrote for that story in the first half of the month.

I’m not giving up.

In past years I’ve been better prepared and had greater resources than I do now. I also have other writing commitments now, namely the monthly short story for The Cities of Luna and the weekly chapters for The Flip of a Coin. Now, all those are in the same universe, which makes my life somewhat simpler, but still they are all different storylines, and my OCD brain dislikes jumping from one storyline to another. This NaNo has been an exercise in doing that, and although it’s been difficult, it hasn’t been impossible. Still, I prefer to have just one story to concentrate on at a time. And to eat dinner out every other night. And have someone else vacuum and do the dishes. And…

Well, I ask too much. For now. Perhaps, in future years, I’ll be able to luxuriate in those little things that make life and writing so much easier.

Now, the Shouting Into the Void part…

On the blog, I can see how many views and visitors I get even if they never leave a comment. On Amazon and Smashwords, I can see how many stories I’ve sold. (Still a very low number every month.) The serial I put up on the All For Science site is more difficult to judge because although I’m a contributor, it’s not my blog. Gee, it would be nice if I got little messages from random strangers reading the story telling me how much they like it, but that’s highly unrealistic. Even if there are a handful of people who feel that way, they probably won’t send me fan mail.

I feel like I’m shouting into the void. I release my stories, but only with minimal promo, which means they get lost in the avalanche of other stories available for readers to enjoy. I firmly believe that the series can find its audience, but it simply hasn’t happened yet. I want to put the energy it deserves into promo, and give the series its best chance of success.

That won’t happen until after Christmas. I had originally hoped to have a collection of The Cities of Luna available for this holiday season, but I realized months ago that it was an unrealistic timeline. I plan to do a kickstarter in early 2017 and have the print version of the collection ready for Spacefest in the spring.

My ROW80 goals are always NaNocentric in the fourth round. This week, I haven’t made the goals. I’m hoping to turn that around, though, and even if I don’t get caught up, I want to feel like I’m back on the wagon.

And maybe, just maybe, next year’s NaNoWriMo can be one where I’m well prepared ahead of time and can enjoy all the extra little supports like going out to eat and having someone else do the housework.

Maybe.

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Luxury of the Mind

Grumpa, Grandma, and the family from 2010

Grumpa, Grandma, and the family from 2010

A few years ago, NaNoWriMo was complicated by an emergency trip from Vermont to North Carolina because my father was going to have yet another heart surgery, and we were afraid he wasn’t going to pull through. (He did, thankfully, and is still a grumpy old man today.) I still won that year, reaching the 50k goal in spite of the interruption in regular life.

In hindsight, those two weeks might have been more helpful than disturbing. Yes, my life was upturned, but because I had to make the trip, I also had to make arrangements for a lot of other things in my life. Hubby shortened his work hours and our babysitter stepped up her time to take care of the kids. I was staying with my old friends Dan and Geri (Geri is my BFF and she often edits for me. Dan is one of my favorite consultants for everything sciency. See the dedication below) so I wasn’t cooking or taking care of kids or any of a million other things. I was driving between Dan and Geri’s house and my parents’ place and the hospital, but I had the luxury of knowing that, for better or worse, things back home were being taken care of. My brain could be occupied with my father’s problems, and that also left room for my NaNo novel. I did a lot of writing sitting in the quiet family area near his hospital room.

Other years I won simply because I put my all into it. A couple of times I did a lot of prep work ahead of time, such as finding character inspirations, outlining (loosely) and making crock-pot dinners ahead of time that I could freeze. For the most part, I was able to leave my OCD brain in novel-mode and put everything else in my life into background mode. Yes, I had kids and other life-stuff to juggle, but my brain was mostly on  NaNoWriMo. I had the luxury of the mind that my basic needs were met and I could concentrate on what I chose.

This year is different. Besides the election, which has been stressful for the entire country, I have more than the usual difficult life issues going on right now. I’m also juggling other writing commitments, namely putting out a new story in The Cities of Luna every month and a new chapter in Tumbleweed every week. Ideally, I would have prepped not just this month’s story (Space Hipster) but the next one or two ahead of time. Unfortunately, the cushion I keep in my work schedule has been eaten up by the transition from Vermont to Colorado and the unexpected difficulties that came with it.

My ROW80 goals are somewhat on track because I’ve done SOME writing almost every single day. But it’s not always on my NaNo Novel, and it’s usually far less than the daily quota I need. My total word count is barely over 2k, and we’re more than a week in. 2k should be my daily count, not weekly.

I have faith that I can catch up. I’m improving every day, in spite of setbacks that inevitably happen with life in general. It just means that it is a lot more work, exponentially more work, than it has been in the past.

20-taco-tuesday-bannerMeanwhile, although I don’t have Space Hipster ready yet and it needs to go up next week, I did publish a short-short called Taco Tuesday. It’s about a BMX star filming a commercial on the Moon. It’s free on Smashwords, and hopefully will soon be free on Amazon and other sites.

19-the-squirrels-are-back-in-the-attic-bannerFrom THE SQUIRRELS ARE BACK IN THE ATTIC

For Geri. BFF, editor extraordinaire, listener of late-night rants, braider of hair and the scariest manic-chipmunk lady you never, ever want to cross.

Thank you for being there for me every single time I need you, and for occasionally lending me your husband’s brain.

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Taco Tuesday

20-taco-tuesday-bannerSome of my best stories start with a title. R.J. Blain once dared me to write a story titled Faceplanting is Always an Option (we were talking about NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago) and more recently the line  The Squirrels Are Back in the Attic from a television commercial inspired another story.

Taco Tuesday had to be a story. I mulled it over for a long time before writing it, including the concept of the Tako Taco, which is a play on the Japanese word for octopus. In the story, I refer to it as “Cthulhu on a Hardshell.”

Eventually, it developed into Eddie’s story, a BMX star who is a spokesperson for a major taco chain. Eddie is amped up to film a commercial on the moon. His sponsor has designed an entire ad campaign around him riding his BMX bike in and out of some giant craters. The low gravity allows him to do some pretty terrific stunts, but sticking the landing isn’t as easy as one might think.

Here’s a excerpt:

Eddie had toured three continents and dozens of cities in his career. Each had a distinct flavor, from ancient Samarkand’s exotic spices to modern Detroit’s subtle flair. In the two weeks he’d spent on Luna, shooting commercials and making appearances with his BMX crew he’d visited eight cities, each of which was as different from each other as they were from the cities of Earth.

Nothing compared to Sparta. For one thing, there was a taco truck on every corner. Eddie suspected that might be partly on his account, or rather for his sponsor’s ad campaign, which featured his face plastered across the sides of the trucks as well as billboards, park benches, and both inside and outside the trains of the truba.

“Good thing you like tacos, eh?” said Cameron, Eddie’s agent, manager, and best friend.

Eddie took the paper-wrapped taco Cameron handed him and opened it carefully. “This isn’t a tako taco, is it?” He poked at the contents of the soft tortilla, trying to uncover what might be hidden inside.

“No octopus,” Cameron said. “Oh, and the powers that be have decided they’re not going to make you pretend to eat it. They’re going to play up the ‘everything but the tentacles’ angle and make a big joke about how people who like a little Cthulhu on the hardshell are even more badass than you are.”

It’s no accident that this story came out on election day. There is a slight nod in the plot to the idea of moving to the moon, as many people may wish they could do after the 2016 election. (As I’m writing this, the presidential race is still very close and I have NO idea who will win.)

Please enjoy the story and share the link. As you can see by Mousie Maud on the cover (the mouse with the SHORT SHORT! sign) this is a shorter story, less than five thousand words, and it’s free. (Apologies…some markets like Amazon take a few days to make it free but you can get it on Smashwords.) And if you like this one, please check out the other stories in The Cities of Luna!

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My Spot

2016-11-01-desk-2By necessity, there are three desks in our living/dining room, and only one love seat in front of the TV. Although my spot isn’t as comfy as I’d like, it works for me.

Mostly.

A couple of months ago I started bringing my laptop over to the love seat so I could be in front of the TV while I worked. It was comfy there, even though I had to balance the board my laptop sits on on a pillow on my lap, and the little twelve inch table really didn’t hold the accouterments I need. Although at first these trips to the couch were brief visits, it eventually ended up being the default location for my computer and I all but abandoned my desk.

That wasn’t good for productivity, but I was cutting back just about everything I could cut back, from Friday blog posts to activities around the community. Struggles with living in a tiny space, having a low income, and figuring out family scheduling logistics was overwhelming.

One year ago I stopped NaNoWriMo after only a couple of weeks because we found out we had to move in January. That transition, though good, has been lengthy and, in many ways, it is still in progress. My writing productivity dropped severely, and instead of working with a big cushion ahead of schedule, I ended up scrambling at the last minute to meet my deadlines.

With NaNo marking the one year point, I knew I had to put energy back into writing, carving out the time and support I need. Part of that meant returning to my desk instead of vegging on the couch.

This isn’t an ideal set-up. Yes, I have my moon globe and Hoberman sphere, LaLaLampy and the tower of cutesies, a plant, a place for the cat, and many of the other things I need or want around me while I work. The family has to kinda squeeze behind me to get into the kitchen. I can still see the TV, which is good and bad. It’s the ONLY TV now, so if someone else wants to watch it, I don’t tell them “No! I’m writing!” If it really bothers me, I take the laptop into the bedroom.

I didn’t get much writing-related stuff done during the day today. Part of that was business with other life things, part was OCD brain latching onto the wrong things, and part was not having my desk. But I’m here now, I have my earphones on plugged in to Tabletop Audio (check it out… GREAT background sound for #AmWriting!) I have water and a Cherry Coke, and although the cat is currently absent I’m sure he will be back.

As far as #ROW80 goals go, this has been a good week. I had one awful day where I didn’t write at all, and some days were low wordcounts, but I’m definitely getting back in the groove. I only have 361 words on my novel so far (Hey, it’s day one) but I’m OK with that for now. I do most of my writing after the kids are in bed.

Where do you set up to write? Is it ideal, or just good enough?

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The IF in SciFi

scifiI am constantly amazed at the insightful, well-informed, funny and ironic answers I get on my SciFi Question of the Day. Of course I get trolls, too, and the inevitable random “Hey! That’s not science fiction!” comment, but most of the resulting convos are fun, entertaining, and often informative.

The category of comments that just makes me shake my head is the “It wouldn’t be like that” way of thinking. In the past couple of weeks I’ve had people say “A rotating station wouldn’t have gravity simulated like Earth’s, it would be lighter,” as well as “The moon will have miners, but Mars will have a civilization,” and, when I specifically gave the parameters that there was an additional (and heavier) level below Earth-norm on the station, someone said “there wouldn’t be anything below Earth-norm.”

Some people have strict predefined notions about what the future will be like. One notion is that life in space will be sterile and resources sparse. That’s likely, especially at first, but it’s hardly inevitable. Others envision various dystopian scenarios that, although possible, are certainly far from a sure thing.

When I designed the space station for my serialized novella Tumbleweed (which, by the way, is the name of the station) I purposely made it as diverse as possible. The Chʼil Awoshí Station is a conglomeration of modules, all built by different entities for different purposes. It is important that some inhabitants look at their neighbor’s module and ask “Why did they build it like that?” Not only is conflict important in a story, but it is also a realistic reflection of how people really think.

I’ll be writing the second story in Tumbleweed  for NaNoWriMo this year. I wanted to finish the first story, a novella that will probably be around 30k, before NaNo begins, but I’m running out of time. But I have an ace-in-the-hole… my 3rd grader has a four day weekend, which means I don’t have to get up early for the next four days. That equates to more writing time because I don’t have to get her ready for school, and I don’t have to take a nap because I only got five hours of sleep overnight. I am also fortunate that my goobear is very good at entertaining herself as long as she has internet access!

My daily writing habit is improving, but not yet up to where it needs to be for NaNo. My ROW80 goals state that I write at least five days a week, and I think I did four this week. Of course, for NaNo that should be even more, but if I take a day or two off each week, it can still work.

If you’re doing NaNo, buddy up with me! The link takes you to my profile. I’m USNessie there and everywhere.

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How Much

morning-glories-progressionWriters are not the only professionals with “those” jobs. The kind of jobs that, if you need to take time off for illness, vacation, family emergency or whatever, your work simply continues to pile up. It almost makes me miss working in retail and customer service. In those jobs, if I took a day off, others covered the daily work.

OK, I don’t miss it that much.

When I first started my author blog, I was enthusiastic and thought I could write a post every day. I didn’t…because I knew that was a pace I couldn’t maintain. Two or three times a week was good.

About a year ago I added a blog for The Cities of Luna, which comes out with every full moon. I was posting there regularly, both story-related and bonus posts, but I’ve slacked off in the last few months. Switching from the small press I was working with to self-pubbing, I am re-vamping a lot of stuff.

Last week I posted goals for ROW80 that included doing a content post every Friday. Then, I was feeling sick and didn’t do one. Not a big deal, except that I didn’t do one last week either. Friday posts are one of those things that I can abandon if I need to. I don’t have to make up the work if I miss it, I can simply let it go. Yet, the posts have value, and I lose something if I don’t make them. Same with posts on The Cities of Luna… individually, they don’t matter much. But taken as a whole, they contribute to the holistic whole of promo. A friend recently saw one of her books surge in popularity. She didn’t do anything different, other than paint her bathroom. (She’s considering painting more rooms now to see if that helps!) However, she is very conscientious about keeping her social media presence and promo up to date and active. Although this isn’t a guarantee that books will sell, the converse is true. If she hadn’t kept her promo active, that surge probably wouldn’t have happened.

A few years ago, I did my interviews ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to worry about them for NaNoWriMo. I only have a couple more weeks to prepare…that’s not going to happen this month. I also now have a much smaller freezer than I used to, so I can’t make meals ahead of time. Our income is also smaller, so we can’t just go out to eat when I’m busy writing.

So…maybe I need to rethink that goal about doing a content post every Friday. They definitely eat into my available energy. I lose the value, but my resources might be better spent buckling down on the actual writing for a while.

OK. Revised goals. (I almost wrote “So…OK….” which, if you watch my mini interviews on YouTube, is apparently my catchphrase.) I am going to take a break from the Friday posts for a while. Not just November, but December, which is always so very busy in so many ways. Hopefully in January I will be going back to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which means a new kind of busyness. I am also hoping to kickstart an in-print collection of  The Cities of Luna around that time.

I have plans. Big plans. But I think in order to best implement them I need to step back for a while and lay the groundwork.

Goals Report:

Not so hot, thus the revision. Check back next week.

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Interruptions

Making Bubbles

Making Bubbles

I once took a test for a job where we had a set of written instructions to follow (simple stuff, like turn to page 93 and copy the first sentence in this blank) while a recording played that interrupted us at random intervals, giving us oral instructions. The key was, the second you heard the recording start, you had to pause and give it your attention. You had to do what it said, then you could return to the written instructions. It must have been difficult for many people. Out of about a dozen in the class, only two of us passed.

I dislike being interrupted. I have friends who can write in five or ten minute windows throughout the day whilst herding children and placating the cat. I admire this, but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll ever be able to do.

Although I have spreadsheets with well-organized details and documents with not-as-well-organized notes, there is simply too much stuff that goes into a story. Much of it needs to live in my head. Which of the little bits of info I dropped are going to be red herrings? Which will be important later? What has to happen before something else can happen? What info must be revealed sooner, and what must be withheld until the right time?

When I sit down to write, I start letting all this info come into the front of my mind. I have my notes, I know where I was, and I know where I’m going. It takes a while to get into productive mode. If I’m interrupted, it is not a loss of a few minutes while I address whatever it is that has stolen my attention. The loss is exponential. Think of it as bicycling up a hill… if you have momentum, you need to keep it. If you are made to stop while going uphill, it takes more energy to get started again, even if the stop was only a brief moment.

I may be able to grow out of this. I may be able to cultivate the skill over time. I can do a blog post while being interrupted (I’m popping up every now and then to do the next task in fixing dinner) and other organizational stuff is possible. It’s the story creation for which I need uninterrupted time. As a teacher and a mother, I’ve seen too many students insist “I must learn this way and only this way.” Although it is true that some methods are better for different people, it is also true that using multiple methods always strengthens the learning process. It is  often detrimental for a teacher to insist a student only use one particular method of figuring something out, however it is even more detrimental for the student to reject a method just because it isn’t comfortable at first. I remember when I was in fifth grade, and Mr. Grimm was teaching me how to hold the bow for my cello. It was uncomfortable. I wanted to hold it a different way. But after a while, not only did I get used to holding the bow, but I realized that if I’d insisted on doing it “my way”, I would have had a hand cramp and I wouldn’t have the necessary control to make music. Then again, I also had a piano teacher who got mad at me because I couldn’t stretch my fingers enough to reach an entire octave. I was around six or seven. It simply wasn’t possible.

ROW80LogocopySo…GOALS! This is the beginning of Round Four in A Round of Words in Eighty Days! This is the round with NaNoWriMo. It also marks the one year point where my life changed in dedication to the transition of our family from Vermont to Colorado. We’ve been here for just over six months now, but we’re still kinda in transition, getting our feet under us.

I need to acknowledge that I’ve struggled (and often failed) to meet my weekly goals for the last couple of rounds. Life at the moment isn’t exactly writing-time-friendly, but it’s getting better. I need to put more of a priority on writing time instead of fitting it in after everything else.

  • Write at least five days a week
    • Less than 1k is poor, but better than nothing
    • 1k-3k is good
    • More than 3k is a great writing day!
  • Do a content post on the blog every Friday
  • Work ahead in The Cities of Luna so the next story is completely ready every time I publish (every 28 days…with the full moon.)
  • Post a new chapter in The Flip of a Coin every week until it’s done, hopefully mid November.
  • Write an outline for the next story in Tumbleweed for NaNoWriMo before Halloween.

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Tab Order

.spoons-2

  • Launch Chrome
  • Open this blog in first tab
  • Open Twitter in next tab
  • Glance at feed, then switch from Twitter to Tweetdeck (this step can be postponed until after other tabs are open, if desired)
  • Open Facebook
  • Open Gmail, decide if anything must be handled and put it on the to-do list
  • Open Google Plus
  • Move the Google Plus tab between Facebook and Gmail
  • Other tabs, such as Ghost-Trappers, are optional, but must be kept to the right of the others.

I live with OCD. So do millions of other people. For some, it is a minor inconvenience. They prefer to do things a certain way, and joke about their OCD tendencies. For others, it is a disorder that drives them to repeat behaviors a certain number of times, or repeat them indefinitely. I am in the group where OCD affects my daily life and ability to do work. Most of the time, I have my life organized in a way that minimizes the likelihood of going into shut-down mode. Having a few things here and there go awry is not a danger, but it is like taking away a spoon. Cumulatively, it makes a difference.

I manage.

Speaking of managing… I’m going to alter my Friday posts from just interviews to being a “content post” that is an interview, a SciFi Question of the Day, or some other interesting content. I’m also going to change up the way I do interviews, giving myself some more freedom as well as being able to simply toss out an interview if any problems develop.

I still have not decided what I’m going to work on for NaNoWriMo this year. I definitely want to do it, and this will be my first one in Colorado, but all the reasons I listed last week still apply. I have the month of October to figure it out, however I should also be outlining and preparing in October so when November first arrives I can hit the ground running.

I’ll keep you informed.

Meanwhile, I need to write another chapter of Tumbleweedflip-of-a-coin-01nessie-spoon-2

 

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Interview with V.R. Craft

V.R. Craft always heard you should write about what you know, so she decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on her previous experience working in retail and her subsequent desire to get away from planet Earth. She has also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where she found even more material for Stupid Humans. Now self-employed, she enjoys the contact sport of shopping at clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sale signs, and wasting time on social media, where she finds inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.

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  1. What the path to publication for Stupid Humans?

I started writing Stupid Humans in November of 2012. I had this crazy idea it was going to be my Nanowrimo novel, and it was…sort of. I mean, I started writing it in November of 2012, and I finished writing it in November…of 2014. (Hey, they never said it had to be November of the same year.)

In between the two Novembers, I worked on it off and on. I’d write a chapter or two, forget about it for two months, then write another chapter or two. In November of 2014, the store I worked for closed, and I decided that if I didn’t finish it while I was unemployed and had the time, I probably never would, so I was determined to finish it. As luck would have it, I made the mistake of going on a trip to see relatives with my parents, so I was trapped in a car with them. When we talk, we tend to argue, and it’s a long drive back from Chicago, so I put on my headset, turned on some music to drown them out, and just wrote all day. I finished the first draft in a really crummy hotel room in Rolla, Missouri. (Seriously, don’t stay in a hotel room in that city. There was this rust-colored stain in the bathtub that made me think someone had been murdered in it and lay there for a week before housekeeping found them, and then I started thinking about other book ideas…then I remembered I just finished the last one, and that stopped my imagination from running away with me.)

I had always thought I would publish Stupid Humans on Amazon. I think that was a better idea when I started writing it than it was by the time I finished. The Amazon market was a lot less crowded with self-published books in 2012 than it was two years later, let alone now. I also realized I wasn’t visually creative enough to design my own cover, and I didn’t have the patience for formatting.

So I ended up talking with an indie publisher, Oghma Creative Media. At first I was reluctant to give up on self-publishing, because I really hated the idea of a publisher taking my book and turning it into something unrecognizable. That was probably my biggest concern. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case at all. My editor did a great job of editing the book without turning it into something completely different, and the creative team designed a great cover. It was important to me to make my own decisions about my book, and I have, but it’s been nice to have such a supportive team helping me.

  1. What tags does Stupid Humans have for the search engines?

I use “spaceship” and “planet Earth” in my social media descriptions as much as I can.

  1. Of the various jobs you’ve held, which provided the best inspiration for Stupid Humans?

Definitely retail. If you want to know about stupid humans, get a job working in retail. It was after a long, hard day of dealing with dumb people, otherwise known as customers, that I had the idea for the setting of Stupid Humans. I’d had this one customer that day who didn’t believe me that a six-pack of boxes had six boxes in it. That got me thinking about how I wanted to take all the idiots and move them to another planet somewhere that I’d never have to deal with them.

Then I realized that logistically it would make more sense to leave the idiots here, because there are so many more of them. It would be easier to just move the halfway intelligent humans to another planet, and let the idiots have Earth. Then I thought, that would make a great world for a story, and that was how I came up with the concept of the world.

  1. How extensive is your world-building?

I’m a pantser, so I make everything up as I go. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time specifically thinking about “How am I going to build a world?” That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. I tend to build the world to suit the story. What do I need in this world for the plot of my story to work? The wormhole was very important plot-wise. Certain technological advances—or the lack of them—were also important.

I did spend a lot of time thinking about what a society without dumb people would be like. Would we need warning labels telling people coffee is hot? Probably not. Would there be downsides? Would there be things they couldn’t deal with because they never had to?

  1. Which is more fun to write? Novels or short stories?

Probably short stories, because they’re shorter. Novels take a long time.

  1. What’s next on your writing agenda?

I have written several short stories, and I’m working on a couple novel-length projects. I also have a blog, vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com. I’m doing a thing right now where people can message me about an annoying person they know who they think should be abducted by aliens. Then I write a piece of flash fiction in which this person (whose name has been changed) gets abducted by aliens. I got the idea because I’m always writing stories where annoying people I know get abducted by aliens.

  1. What’s the biggest item on your author bucket list?

I have no idea. Selling a lot of books?

  1. Who are your favorite authors?

I read a lot of different authors in different genres. I like Stephen King, John Grisham, Ben Boa, Jack McDevitt.

  1. What is your ideal writing environment?

A nice beach on my own private island somewhere, with staff who take care of my house, I mean mansion, so I never have to stop to do laundry dishes or vacuum or anything. Not that I vacuum now. Well, maybe once a year when the dog hair gets so thick the black carpet in my room starts to look gray.

  1. What is your favorite electronic writing tool?

Open Office. I’m way too cheap to pay for MS Word.

  1. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

My writing groups, which are great for getting feedback on my writing. I go to a couple local groups, and I’m also in an online group that does online write-ins.

  1. If you could go on a game show or reality TV show to promote your stories, which would you choose?

You know, I’ve noticed there’s no Writer Idol show. Why is that? Probably because watching someone type isn’t exciting or likely to result in two contestants punching each other out.

I guess I could go on America’s Got Talent and do a stand-up routine where I ask the audience to name people who should be abducted by aliens.

  1. Who shot first? Han or Greedo?

Han. Everyone knows it’s Han.

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Pondering NaNoWriMo

A selection of covers, some mock-ups some as published.

A selection of covers, some mock-ups some as published.

ROW80 goals? Cruising by on the minimum. Preparing to ramp up for the fourth round.

My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I’ve learned to deal with this, and I’m now OK with throwing away food instead of stuffing it in my face. I have a similar problem with writing; I am fortunate to have more story ideas than I know what to do with. When this blog was centered on being an aspiring writer, I created pages for The Kingdom Come Novels, which are polyamorous SciFi Romance, Victoria Pontifex, which is Steampunk Romance, Pangalactic Sojourners, which is inspirational LGBTQ romance, the Incorporeum, which is weird SciFi, and The Cities of Luna which is SciFi. I later added Lillie Lane when I published The House on Paladin Court. I may add a page for Tumbleweed or combine it with The Cities of Luna

Generally speaking, the Spec Fic is published, the Romance is not.

Instead of throwing away the stories I don’t have time for, they go on the shelf. They can stay there indefinitely until I decide to put my time and energy into them.

I will make time in November, as I do every year for NaNoWriMo. Since 2010, I’ve succeeded four times and failed twice. The failures both came when something else in life intervened and I decided to set aside my NaNo novel. Last year, it was the move to Colorado.

I’m still struggling with schedules and transitions. Although I’m carving out time for writing (and everything that goes with it) I need to escalate that in order to turn this into a reasonable career instead of an expensive hobby. I’m on the cusp of making that happen…I just need to put my energy in the right place.

Energy is a rare and valuable commodity.

Success at NaNoWriMo means more than diving in. It means prep work, which I need to start in October. It means organizing my writing commitments such as interviews and guest blog posts (both of which suffered recently when I wasn’t feeling well) as well as the monthly short stories in The Cities of Luna and the weekly chapters in Tumbleweed. It means making arrangements in the mundane aspects of life so that meals are easy to fix and childcare is adequate.

The first step is to decide what to work on this year. I have succeeded in doing Kingdom Come novels for NaNo, and I love writing them. I have a duology that I’ve queried to good reception but no acceptance. However, I think these need to stay on the shelf for a little longer… I would like to release them in sets, similar to what Netflix does by releasing an entire season of a series all at once, so people can bingewatch it. It is doubtful that I’ll find a publisher willing to do this unless I already have something sufficiently profitable attached to my name. I may self-pub these so I have the control to do something non-traditional.

I like the idea of picking up the Steampunk series again. That’s what I put aside last year during NaNoWriMo when I found out we had to move. The five books have an overall arc, and I need to make sure nothing has to change regarding that arc in book one when I finish book five. That doesn’t mean I have to have all the books finished before I query, but I should at least have them strongly outlined or in rough draft form. This would be a good series to query to an agent for traditional publishing, which is one of my goals.

It would be prudent to keep my brain in the same universe as The Cities of Luna and Tumbleweed, since I’m actively publishing those at the moment. I could do a full-length novel in Tumbleweed and self-pub it. That would require an investment in editing and cover art, but it’s a worthwhile project and fits in well with what I’m already doing.

There’s also the Pangalactic Sojourners which, like Victoria Pontifex is a five book set. The arc in these is simply a loose connection of characters, though, like many sets of regency romances where there are five sisters and each gets her own book. I have a particular publisher in mind who may like these, so they are worth working on.

I have three Incorporeum short stories published in the Biblical Legends Anthology Series. I have a longer story that could be a novel or novella that I’d like to send to the same publisher, but it needs a lot of work. I could do the prep work during October, then write it for NaNo.

Besides these, there’s always that new something shiny to tempt me. I love creating new worlds, but as fun as it is, it’s a lot of work. Even doing Tumbleweed, which is the same world as The Cities of Luna, took a lot of energy. (The setting is different in place and time even though the universe is the same.) Although the idea of thinking up something brand new is attractive, and could help shake out the cobwebs in my head, it would not be a prudent choice.

I still don’t know what I’ll choose. It will most likely be something that already exists in some form, which is not true to NaNo where the idea is to start and finish in one month, not pick up a half-finished project. We’ll see.

Who else has used NaNoWriMo to finish a project?

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