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Unplanned rant on planning

Hello wonderful world of folks that haven’t heard from me in over a month!
Word count: 59675 (10132 more since last post. Target of 59637 for 4/17 or… this week goal of 64637 – yes I am slacking this week)
Progression: On chapter 13… posted Ama in the new world and now need to write Leah.
I have revised my goals for writing since I last posted. I had originally reset them to 2K, but I did the math (yeah I am a business analyst so I always look for efficiencies and target dates) and I need to write 5K words a week to end at 150(ish)K words by September.
Why September? Well I figure that it will take me a good month to do my first revision, then a second for my next (hopefully final) revision. This will allow me to send for submissions to Tor and DAW in Nov maybe Dec.
Wait, I thought you were going to self publish? Yes, well… I decided I at least want to see what publisher’s think. Even if I do not go with them.
Also, I will have to rewrite dates in my book to match whatever year it is when I actually do go to publish. As it stands, I will need to rewrite it already as I am going to be a year behind.
I also figure I might get up to 200K words for the book, which will mean November is when I stop writing. That will push by my submission/publishing time line, and hence my book’s, as well.
All of that being said, now we get to my post/rant. First, I want to congratulate my brother on his first book – no it is not fiction, unless you think coding (or whatever it is called) for Cisco is fictional. Congrats Alex! I am truly happy for you and wish you the best in life.
Second, my mom found my blog. So, I really was going to tell her about it, I know she doesn’t believe me, but I am shy – which she should fully know – and very… introverted. I wanted to surprise her with at least my first draft, my blog being a lot more read than it is currently, and maybe some fancy website. Fat luck. My mom google’d me. And now she can see just how much I cuss. Which is actually a lot less on this blog than in real life.
I can still remember the first few times I cussed around her, as an adult. It was quite awkward.
Third, my idiot brother, the younger one, decided it would be a good idea to do some really stupid ass shit. Needless to say, I was a wreck for a week – I can’t even imagine what my mom was going through – and his little punk ass is fine… thankfully. Do not get me wrong, I love him, even if I haven’t seen him in years, but when I see him again, I am likely to hit him. I am about 2K miles away, and had no means to fly out to be with him. I was very afraid he would die before I actually got to see him again.
Enough sadness. I will get to a point here.
To anyone that is starting out writing, or just wants to hear some writing advice, start reading here.
Planning. It sucks, it is tedious, and boring (sometimes). But it is absolutely necessary, and it will likely get thrown out the window as you start writing. I had an original idea of how my books would flow, but now? Yeah, well let’s just say that my plan was that the first 3 chapters would be the set up, and chapter 4 would be the start of my MC (main character IE Amadel) arriving in the magical kingdom. I thought this would be maybe 30-50 pages (@ 350 words per page = 10.5K to 17.5K) Here I am on chapter 12 where she is just now in the kingdom, and I am sitting at 60K (171 pgs).
(BTW, it is extremely difficult to get an exact answer on the pages. I googled/binged a few sites before I just took the max and went with the 350 average words per page in a fantasy novel. I have seen anywhere from 250-350.)
Added to that, I had planned on a meeting between her and another MC (Leah), and now I think I will be completely rewriting that. Basically, Amadel and Leah were to meet, get captured, and Amadel escapes but Leah doesn’t. Now, it seems like the character (Leah) is already ‘captured’ and they will not meet. I haven’t fully decided how that will go, or if I will try to force it back to my original idea. Somehow.
Now, all of that mess out of the way, let me say that there are some people that can plan out each chapter and just speed right on along. Kudos to them, and I am jealous.
I have done this to an extent, but I am leaving it open now. Too many things are speeding through my mind because of the changes to my flow/plot. So now I am ‘stuck’ trying to figure out where to go, and I have 5K words to write by Sunday. Yay.
I think the hardest part is just choosing. I see it in forums all the time where people just don’t know which option as both could do 10 billion different paths.
So even though I have tried and (mostly) failed to plan, I still advocate it. I say this because if I had not thought through and planned the first few chapters, I would still be stuck trying to figure out how to start the damned thing.
But beyond flow of the story, there is also world building, historical data, etc.
I said it best on the FWO site, so I will say it again here:
Well, I knew from the start my book would be the first of a series. This is mostly because it is so vast, but also because I am literally planning it out. I know key points of things that will be happening – I have a giant timeline on my wall – and they are constantly changing as I hammer out the path for the first book. The other issue, is that I am running into two different ‘timelines’ – earth years, and fantasy realm (Lenaeu) years 1:132. So when one year passes on Earth, 132 have passed on Lenaeu. It is quite difficult to plot it all out.
I will say that at first, I just wrote. I did not care about the timelines or anything, I just needed to get it going. Now, I know that I need to keep certain things back or bring other items forward because of foreshadowing and pacing.
To sum it up, I have 6 main bubbles, each roughly equates to one book. Under each bubble, I have several hundred smaller ones. I know certain things will be happening (6 main), but I have changed things around so some of the small bubbles move between books. In fact, I had to take about 70K words and push them to book 3 as I found I had so much more to say before that bit even happened.
As for worldbuilder’s disease, I think as long as YOU need it to determine how to do a particular bit, and not sound like an idiot (lack details), have at it. Yet at the same time, if you spend ten days researching weather patterns over eastern Cambodia because it matches the weather in your story, and then you look into their rainfall, humidity, and the effect it has on the toad population, etc… well, you have caught the bug. But that is not to say that maybe your world revolves around weather? Sanderson’s Mistborn is actually a great example of when you need to do ‘some’ of that kind of research.
I found it perfectly acceptable that I spent two maybe three days on researching and making ciphers because it was direly important. Sure, I could just have a magical encoded book, but where is the fun in that? Why not have something that is not too often found in fantasy? It fits the person who wrote the cipher, and it helps to draw out a mystery.
As for one shoe, if you find my other one, please tell it that I promise to polish it and repair it’s sole if it just comes home… I’m tired of hobbling around all the time.
I went off on a tangent.  <fin>
So… planning. It really does help. Just like I didn’t plan this post so it is all kinds of random.

Comment on TFOB Part I – Writing Heroes of Diversity by Jonathan S. Pembroke

Those are fair points, Beth. I understand it is not just about the superficial trappings of diversity (skin color, etc.). At the same time, I was also once accused of (If you’ll pardon the expression) of whitewashing racial issues in a story because the characters of darker skin were not treated the same as they are in our world.

So I don’t think there are ever any easy answers on this subject.

Comment on TFOB Part I – Writing Heroes of Diversity by Beth Turnage

I guess when you read enough calls for submission that say “we actively support diversity in our selection process” or some such you start thinking “hey, maybe I need to get on that diversity bandwagon.” But diversity is more than the color of a skin or sexual orientation. IMO diversity is about the cultural experience of living in that skin or that sexual orientation. And those experiences do not cut across all cultures and time periods.

For instance (and picking out the most extreme example I can think of) in some city-states in ancient Greek civilization is was quite common for older, wealthy men to compete with each other socially for the attentions (read sexual favors) of young men (teenagers in our venacular) even to the point of making agreements with the boys’ fathers about what the young man would get out of the deal. A relationship with the right mentor (yes, that is where that came from) would set up the young man for life in social and business connections that he wouldn’t have otherwise.

This hits so many wrongness buttons for us (and indeed for many scholars in diverse time periods since) that we have very strong words to associate with pedastry.

Yet, the Greeks that engaged in the practice didn’t consider themselves homosexual, and the young men, once their beards grew in were expected to marry and have children. (And please, I’m not advocating this, just providing an example.)

If you are writing second world, dystopian and/or futuristic sci-fi its very possible that your written universe does not mirror the one we, as writers, live in. The culture and issues we face daily may not be the cultures ad issues you are writing. So then is the color of the skin or sexual orientation relevant? Does it reflect true diversity?

While it is very possible to write stories that do reflect our cultural experience in another setting (which is why The Handmaid’s Tale hits women so hard and men not so much), if you are writing about another experience just throwing in a different skin color or sexual orientation does not serve the complexities of diversity in our writing.

The art of not-giving-a-f#ck

Hello my poor neglected lovelies!
It’s been a while huh?
Word count: 49543 (6.8K more – yes I have stuck with my goals!)
Progression: On chapter 10, needs a few more edits and then posting on FWO. The girls are finally across!

WARNING! I flaming curse a lot in this post. (TWoT anyone?)

In the last post, I said I would post more technical stuff, well I don’t wanna, and you can’t make me.

Just kidding, I need to write this down. A lot has been researched and forgotten, but I will do my best. I just need a starting point.

*Twiddles thumbs*

I guess it is kinda bad when you have writers block for your own freaking blog. Ah well. I think I will go with the art of not-giving-a-fuck.

What’s that you say? Where would you find this in a literary magazine or who was the originator of this crazy named nonsense?

Who the hell cares. Yes you heard me. I. Don’t. Give. A. Flying. Fillet-O-Fuck. (Thank you Elle Casey for that phrase)

That is my whole point. So many people, myself included, start writing and freeze. Not because they don’t know their story (there are exceptions) but because they start thinking of the people reading it, or critiquing it.


You are no where near this point yet.

“How the hell would someone like this, who is not even published, have the right answer?”

Never said I did, but being an avid blog reader, forum poster, and all ‘round pessimist, I have an inkling or twenty.

Listen, I have big dreams for my book, and until I started actually writing and reading up on publishing, I never really had a fear of literary rejection. I had a story to tell and I honestly didn’t know a thing about writing at all, but I knew, and still know, that it will be successful.

Do I fear the rejection letters, bad reviews and shit ton of editing based off of critiques? Fuckin’ A. But here is the deal, I stopped caring. Mostly anyways. There is still that annoying ass voice screaming at me, but I have learned that it can fuck off because I know my writing is not ready yet.

I have a hell of a long way to go. I am sure anyone that writes will probably find at least 10 or more grammatical errors in this post. That’s okay though, I have plans to fix that.

You see, I have found that writing is really a full time job. (No shit? Wow, there are such things as authors?) What I mean to say is that it is work. For me it is *mostly* fun, but definitely takes dedication and delivery.

Without knowing your craft, or without trying to at least abide by the rules, you get to be one of ‘those’ authors. We all know who I am talking about. The ones that give away their book, or sell it for cheap, luring you in with a cool sounding premise, and you are suckered into reading their trash. Maybe their first, or first few chapters delivers. After that, you start thinking of other shit while you are reading, then have to go back, only to find that you didn’t miss anything really, and find yourself confused because they left out a verb, changed POV’s (I’m SO guilty of that) or just are not fucking making sense.

I will not be one of ‘those’ authors.

To combat this, I have decided to really work for what I want. I have been critiquing others writing like mad lately. And not just cause I love to read, but because I am looking for the errors that others have pointed out to me on my own work. This is helping me spot them quicker and see just how badly they stick out.

Also, I will be searching for something online for my reeducation of all things English – yay… I am looking here and trying to find some youtube stuff. I am cheap. Also, there are THOUSANDS of discussions at FWO, so there’s that.

So that is part of the dedication, the rest goes hand in hand with delivery. I dedicated myself to writing the 2K words per week, and granted, I had some overflow from last week where I did not quite meet my goal, but here I am, already 800 words over this week’s goal and fully caught up.

I stuck with it even when I thought I would just have to say fuck it and be a week behind till I could catch up. But I stayed dedicated and delivered what I promised myself. I cannot begin to tell you just how much that makes me feel like I accomplished something big, even though most might scoff at the lower word count.

That leads me back to the flying-fuck. I quit worrying so much about what all of these other people, who have been doing it for years, or who just seem to be fucking awesome at everything, and started focusing on what I could do.

I didn’t mean for this to be a pep talk. Really. So this post wasn’t technical huh? I disagree. You go to any blog, or any #amwriting twit (yes I am saying that, and yes I am one of them) and you get inundated with countless posts about just sitting down and writing. Yet, none of them really talk to you like you know what the fuck they mean.

No shit? I need to sit my ass down and write? Well fuck. I am an idiot.

It starts with making a promise. Make one to yourself, your pet, or a passing cloud – who cares. Just make the promise and deliver on it. Make it small, make it big, but make it possible. And for the love of God, quit worrying about your errors or what type of color green the grass should be or perfectly describing the bend angle of a arm waving hi, or even the fucking sound fog makes (I literally did the last one).

Quit worrying about when you finally let someone read whatever you are writing.

If you are a newb, hell probably even a seasoned writer, that voice will always be there to fuck with you. Fuck with it back. I wrote a list of everything it was saying and waited a day or two to read it back, directing a conversation with it – no I am NOT crazy, I am determined.

Here are some of the things it has said to me and what I said back.

You suck. – What are you, 5?
No one will ever read this, so why write it? – Well I am fucking reading it, and I happen to like the story and want to know what happens.
They will all say you cannot write – Well, I know I can’t right now. But doesn’t practice make perfect?
You are being repetitive – So the fuck are you.
This is shit writing – I didn’t know shit could write, are you saying you are a pessimistic shit’s thought?

Anyway, now that you know just how nuts I can be, I think I will leave off. So yeah, I may not have ‘street-cred’ yet, but I have ‘some’ experience. I hope, one day, that this crazy post does help someone.

I like being lazy…

Good. You are back. Or you have just arrived. Eh, either way, good.

Let’s get down to brass tacks first.

Word Count: 42,741 (Yeah yeah… only 3k more than last time)
Progression: Actually, my progression is my topic.

No, I will not write about writers block, fucking stupid. There are god knows how many things already written about that. No… this is a post about what the fuck I am going to do to finish this, and within 2016.

So. There. I said it and I meant it. I will be done with book 1 by 2016. Actually, my real goal is to be done by September, then final draft in November.

Let me start over.

I have a job. A demanding and ever increasingly difficult job. I hate the lack of time I have because of said job. I am lazy. I like being lazy. I want to lay around the house, and when inspiration hits me, I get off my ass to do whatever I want. If I wanna go make a glass of chocolate milk, celery with peanut butter and a salad, I will fucking do that. If I wanna zone out to Netflix and waste away untold hours of my life, I can go do that. I want to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. I live in the desert, so it’s cooler that way. I might vacuum once a month, if I am lucky – or unlucky. If I want to write far too late in the night, more words on my blog than my book, screw it, I can.

In order for some of those things to happen, I need to have a job in which I can. Or no job. I am sure one day my boss will read this blog, hopefully not before I quit, and not because I dislike her, if anything, she is one of the best manager’s I have had. No, I just don’t want to be brought into HR (read previous posts, I refuse to apologize for this). Anyways, hopefully, the day my boss reads this, it will be the day I can no longer call her a boss because I have made enough money to quit.

For over 7 years I have toyed around with this book, and I no longer want to play make believe. There is nothing more that I would like than to have success like Meyer, Sanderson, Tolkien, fucking Shakespeare… but, I will not delude myself. The possibility of that happening is small, but still obtainable – I refuse to believe it is not. If they can I can. I CAN make the book. I CAN make some money from it. I CAN finish my idea of a mostly perfect book. I CAN make a mark. I CAN DO THIS.

I had a crazy goal I set last summer of having 27 pages written a week. Fucking idiot. If any newbie is reading this, yeah I am one too, just know, if you set yourself a goal like that, just do it. Me? I am a wuss and, like I said, lazy. So that goal was not something I really strived for. Could I do it… yeah. Did I? Fuck no. Did it make me depressed every time I saw the calendar reminder pop up? OMG yes…

So instead of seeing that and being like yay I did it! It was more like… I think I MIGHT have written half a page… FML.

Now, I have reset my goal to something extremely small. 2000 words a week. I can do that. It’s not too hard, its reasonable, and its attainable for someone like myself. Shit, I have already written 600 words for this one post already.

In fact, tonight I wrote about 700 words in the book. Easy right? Not really, but I still fucking did it.

This goal will allow me to make the remaining 60K words – yes I decided on 100K for the book – by September-ish. Could be more, could be less. I do like long books, so I will try for more, but I need a solid goal to work towards.

After that, I have allowed myself to November for editing. I still have a fantasy of sending it to Tor or someone and getting immediately picked up, but for now the plan is self publishing. Why? Well, I found a nifty calculator that shows how much you would make self vs traditional publishing. I make more doing self. I am money hungry, I won’t kid anyone there, but the ultimate goal for me is just to actually write this thing. The money is a plus, and it will help pay for me to be lazy… er… write…?

I really do not want the stress of a slush pile (Apparently this is another word for recycling bin according to quite a few authors) just to be rejected or wait around to be rejected for far too long. Also, an agent could just lengthen this painful process.

I dream of having an agent and a publisher. One day…

FYI a slush pile is the giant stack of submitted works that publishers or agents skim through until something catches their attention. Then, it gets put in the maybe pile.

So, I should have the book ready before Christmas this year. I will need Beta readers, I have a few in mind, but still need more. Hit me up if you are interested in reading what I have. I am still in the i-dont-give-a-shit-how-crappy-this-is-cause-its-not-in-editing-mode-yet phase. Needless to say it is a rough-rough draft.

I am a numbers person so bear with me here. If I started this goal on 2/15, and I am in need of another 60K words, that means that it will take me 30 weeks or 210 days. I am hesitant to put this here, its so final, but that would give me until 9/12 to finish. Since my magic is loosely based on astrology, that would mean it’s in the sign of Leo (Sidereal or Berg signs) and Virgo (Tropical – what most people are used to). Leo is a lion with an impenetrable hide represented by Fire, and Virgo is, among other things, based upon the last immortal to leave Earth and destined to return ushering a new age; hence being an Earth sign. I feel good about those signs. Strength and a promise to return. Good.

November can be up to 4 different signs. Since my book will be mostly based on the Berg theory, I am shooting for Ophiuchus – Nov 29 – Dec 17. Granted all of the dates are not quite fixed because of a lot of math and rotation etc. BUT, they are solid dates. I have been pussy-footing around and not setting one. (Hush all of you that realize I do not have a set date for the final draft)

It might be interesting to post my books according to the signs… Could get difficult too. Although, if I write a certain length per book, having 13 in a series, I could post one in each month. Eh… the sporadic thought process of me is quite annoying sometimes.

Ah look, I am over 1200 words now. Oh and I promise hope that the next post will have more info. Things like resources, people I am reading for publishing, the fact that I have a currently useless mailchimp account, that I am critiquing other writers works, etc.

Since I just brought it up, here is something I stumbled across a few weeks ago. It is a bit gimmicky, but still has quite a lot of great info I signed up for his newsletter, and some 30 day course for free. If nothing else, he has made me really analyze how I will market when I go to publish.

Anyways, it was fun. Ya’ll come back now…

Self publishing awesomeness

Hello lovelies! How is the world treating ya?

No, don’t answer that. Considering I have about 5 people that have actually read the blog, and I see you posting stuff on SM sites or other websites, I can actually answer that myself. Any newbies that read this, feel free to comment and welcome to my blog!

<Pause rant>

I almost forgot to do what I said I was going to do with this blog from the last post.

Word count: 39K (Yay me! 7K more than before!)
Progression: Does frozen molasses mean anything to you? How about a train, moving at the speed of a brick wall? Eh… work sucks which equals book writing is nonexistent. It’s just sitting there, watching me, pleading with its I’s to have me come play with it. And here I am not able to because, unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills… yet.

<Resume rant>

Which leads me into the ‘topic’ of this blog. I ran across a post from a fellow FWO member who graciously showed his earnings and allowed me to ask awkward and probably stupid questions. But now I know his favorite color may or may not be green, that he probably has a mullet (just kidding), and listens to a bunch of music that now I need to invest some time into because I haven’t heard of 90% of them.

So, the point is I decided to write about self published authors and a few things they learned along the way. I asked some other FWO’er’s the same questions and below are the responses I got. I have posted three different author’s answers.
When you see:
A: (JAH = J.A.Hunter) that is the friendly ex-military man that posted his earnings first.
A: (BF = BowFinder) that is a wonderful SP female author who has amazing insight into pretty much anything I have seen her post about.
A: (LSC = Leonsandcastle) who is a bit of a kooky fellow (IMO) that has a curly blonde wig for his profile pic that makes me laugh each time I see it. But he has great imagination and his stories are in-depth and he knows a bunch of random stuff like fighting with bows.

This is a long post. You were forewarned.

Q: What is the avg word count per book that you published? 

A: (JAH) Strange Magic is the shortest at around 75,000 words. Since then I’ve stepped up my game and shoot for the 100,000 mark (Cold Hearted is 101,000, Wendigo Rising is 110,000, and my yet to be released book Mud-Man is around 110,000).
A: (BF) Most of my books are around 40,000 words. I’ve never written longer than 60,000.
A: (LSC) I don’t know how to go about calculating that really. but I would give a rough guess of about 100K is the average. But to be fair, I have written very little, and have a bulkish book in revisions.

Q: Approximately how long did it take you to write your first book, and then how long for your last?

A: (JAH) Strange Magic, the first book in the Yancy Lazarus series, took about a year to write and produce (editing, cover art, etc). But Strange Magic wasn’t my first book. The first book I ever wrote took a grand total of four years—it was a terrible high/epic fantasy novel, which will never, ever, ever see the light of day. Suffice it to say, my first full-length novel was a great learning lesson in how not to write good fantasy. My second novel, an equally terrible horror story, took two years. Strange Magic was my third full-length book and it took a year, but my writing time has sped up considerably since then. The second and third books in the Yancy Lazarus series only took around four months each to produce from start to finish.
A: (BF) I wrote my first 4 fantasy novels in one year. They sat around gathering dust, until self-publishing became a more viable option. Then I dug them out, heavily revised, had them edited, and published. By comparison, my most recent novel (still working on the last scene) will release six months from the date I began writing it.
A: (LSC) The first book attempt I did, I only had three months to write; mostly because the writing software was online and you had to pay for subscription to use it. But the first book I ever published took 8 months. The last book has taken 2 years, and is still not published.

Q:What made you go the route of self pub?

A: (JAH) I like being in control of the content I produce—I like deciding what to write, what to cut, what to keep, what my cover will look like—and all of those influenced me to self-publish. I also like that I can make my products inexpensive (normally priced books are only $3.99) while still making more per copy than a traditional author. Most of all though, I decided to self-publish because I hate waiting. Traditional publishing is so S.L.O.W. Everything takes months and months and months, and then even if you sell a book, it can take a year or more before it releases. As a self-published author, I’m free to produce and release as much (or as little) content as I choose.
A: (BF) Honestly? Sales and earnings. In my experience with publishers, enjoyable as it was, I wasn’t earning enough to buy myself more than the occasional McDonald’s meal. Worse, I wasn’t reaching a wide audience. And being enjoyed by as many readers as possible has always been my #1 goal – even more than earning a living. So I made up my mind to seek an agent and a deal with a major publisher. Unfortunately, neither were loving me. I felt very sorry for myself. While I counted my rejection letters, I watched many friends with longer careers and big publishers, writers I envied as having “made it,” switch over to self-publishing because of the higher earnings. After that, going self-pub was an easy decision.
A: (LSC) 0 replies when seeking an agent or publisher. I could not let the fact that I was a horrible writer in their eyes, stop me from having a book in my hands bearing my pen name.

Q:What snags did you find when self publishing?

A: (JAH) The first time I self-published was rough. Finding a good editor was really hard. I went through two editors that didn’t do very good work (and cost me a pretty penny) before finally finding one who was worth the money (Tamara Blain, ). I found a cover artist I liked right off the bat, though, so that was a bonus. Learning how to format my books was tricky, but was totally worth it and has saved me quite a bit in terms of time and money. There’s also taxes to consider. At first I didn’t expect to make much, but as real, actual, substantial money started coming in, my wife and I made the decision to start our own corporation for tax reasons.
A: (BF) None really. I had done a lot of research before hand, talked with a lot of self-publishers, followed the debates on pricing, etc. I was pretty well-informed going in and I’d say that was my biggest asset. That and having spent a lot of years learning the craft, including a couple years writing for small presses. I found my voice during that time and made my worst mistakes while nobody was watching.
A: (LSC) Ebooks seemed difficult to do for a larger audience, because I use LULU and they have specific mandates for what qualifies as a Epub, otherwise it’s a PDF available only from them.

Q: What are the top 3-5 things that you would advise a new writer?

A: (JAH) First, only be a writer if it makes you happy—it’s really not for the faint of heart. In writing, there are no shortcuts, no quick bucks to be made, and no guarantees of success. Pursue writing only if you genuinely enjoy writing. Write for fun. Write for you. Write because it’s what you love to do. Any other reason simply isn’t worth the headache. Second, as a writer, be prepared to fail. A lot. But know also that failure is great: failure is the road to improvement. Each book or story you write will likely be a lesson in failure, but each time you try again you will fail better.
Lastly, and this is the most important lesson I have to pass on: FINISH YOUR WORK. Now, I’ll admit, sometimes you do need to abandon a piece, but it should only be as a last resort. A story needs to have a begging, middle, and end—and each section has its own difficulties, challenges, and joys. If you only ever write beginnings, however, you’ll never fail enough at middles and ends to get good at those parts. So stick with it, even if it hurts a little.
A: (BF) My #1 advice is to do a ton of research before publishing and implement a careful strategy that begins before the books are released into the wild (preferably before they’re even written). Everyone knows you need to write a lot of words before those words start to be any good. What fewer people realize is that the publishing needs as much attention as writing. For the self-publisher, writing a good book is only half the battle. Selling it is trickier. But giving it a cover that looks self-published, skipping edits, and hoping that a great story at a cheap price will sell the book is a recipe for disappointment. Back in 2011, it might’ve worked but the indie market is far more competitive now. Even a price tag of $0.00 is no guarantee of downloads.
A: (LSC) I don’t know really. Like I hate self help guides and advice from people unqualified and I feel that I am not very educated on writing in general. But if I must answer the question, never stop learning.

Q: What would you have done differently had you known beforehand?

A: (JAH) To be honest I’m not sure I would have done anything differently. I didn’t succeed at everything, but my failures shaped me too, so I have no regrets.
A: (BF) I started out writing novellas in a niche area with a smallish audience. This was under a pen name I no longer use. Those works were too short for the readers or for the advertisers. Although they were in a series, they were only loosely connected, with each book featuring different main characters. That resulted in lower sell-through than I would otherwise have had. I knew enough to have a newsletter right from the start. But I didn’t push it hard. I didn’t make a serious effort to draw signups. I also didn’t follow up when a book sold well. Instead, I quit writing that series and jumped to a different one. Those are all mistakes I could have done differently. Still, my first self-pub efforts with my first pen name did much better than I’d expected (keeping in mind that my expectations were low). Despite the above mistakes, I’d paid enough attention to more experienced self-pubbers to get many things right.
A: (LSC) I don’t understand the question. Know beforehand of what? But I’ll make an assumption. Had I known I have difficulties in keeping a voice for a long period of time, I would have just written 140 1K short stories instead.

Q: What annoys you the most about writing?

A: (JAH) Editing. I hate editing—it feels like Chinese water drip torture. Writing itself is awesome. It’s all magic and lasers and gunfights and Phew, Phew, Phew, BOOM! Editing, on the other hand, is like mowing the lawn or grocery shopping or paying taxes. You gotta do all that stuff, but it sucks.
A: (BF) Middles. I hate them. That’s one reason why I don’t write long books. Short books make the time spent getting from beginning (love that part) to the end (another fun part) pass faster.
A: (LSC) When you actually pursue feedback and it’s not what you had envisioned the response would be, is a big blow to the ego for some.

Q: Did you make more or less money than you originally expected?

A: (JAH) I made way more money than I expected, though that’s certainly not the case with everyone. Initially, I invested around $1,000 to get my first book up and running, and my wildest hope was to double that amount in a year (so I could make back my investment, plus have enough to publish another book). After one year of self-publishing (three books and a novella later) I’ve made over $40,000, though that number is deceptive because it doesn’t account for taxes (a huge cut) or production overhead ($1,300 for a standard book, plus another $1,000 for audiobooks). I expected a few people to read my stuff, but since taking the plunge I’ve sold, approximately, 13,000 books (not counting print or audio) and lent, through Amazon’s lending library (which are also paid) another 11,000 books.
A: (BF) More. In the beginning, I only hoped to earn out my expenses and maybe make a couple hundred dollars in profit. Any profit at all would make the experiment successful, it seemed to me. Since then, my main pen name has earned a little over $300,000 across 7 books and a handful of box sets. I should mention I’ve pubbed other works under a different name that’ve only ever sold a few thousand copies, so I don’t include those numbers or earnings here. I’ve since unpublished some of those old titles for poor performance or because they’re no longer a good representation of my brand. But as a starting off place, they sold me on self-publishing.
A: (LSC) I’ve made some money off of writing, but definitely not enough to supplement a living, or afford to pay for edits.

Q: Any words of advice for someone poking their toe in the waters of Self Pub?

A: (JAH) Pay for an editor who is worth the money (and do your due diligence to find one), though don’t pay through the nose. And hire a professional cover designer, unless you are really, really, really good. Covers sell books. Lastly, if you’re going to do it with the hopes of making money, treat self-publishing like a business, because it is.

Q: How difficult was the process of getting it into the correct format for the reader you chose? (Kindle, iOS, Nook, etc.)

A: (JAH) I use Scrivener, and though it took some time to figure out (go through the entire tutorial, etc.), it’s now very easy. Best of all, you can use Scrivener to compile your book in any format.
A: (BF) I’ve always hired others to do my formatting. I’ll occasionally format a short story for paperback but I don’t format the digital files or the novel-length works for paperback.

Q: How have your reviews been rated?

A: (JAH) Reviews have been fairly good, overall. My first book Strange Magic currently has 186 reviews and a 4.2 out of 5 star rating, which isn’t bad. With that said, Strange Magic, has a lot more negative reviews then I would like, but it is a first book, so that’s to be expected. Additionally, Strange Magic, though a pretty good book, is definitely the worst of my books—I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then. The second book, Cold Hearted, has 71 reviews and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating, all 4 or 5 stars. And Wendigo Rising, which was release in November 2015, has 31 reviews 4.8 out of 5 star rating. Those books are better, I’ll admit, but mostly it’s because those people already liked my work and characters going into it.
A: (BF) On the whole, reviewers have been generous with these 7 books. Out of somewhere over 2,000 Amazon and Goodreads reviews, the average rating is around 4 stars on Amazon and a half star lower on GoodReads. My highest rated is currently 4.5, my lowest 3.8. Reviews generally trend higher as you move away from the free entry point (book 1) and deeper into the series. People tend not to continue reading (and thus reviewing) if they don’t enjoy the first couple books, which skews averages higher for later books. New releases also tend to get picked up early by existing fans, causing them to rate higher. Rating will often slope downward as the book ages and reaches a wider audience.

Q: Self promotion – what are you doing to promote your book? What has worked and what hasn’t?

A: (JAH) I blog, facebook, and twitter … but honestly, I don’t spend much time doing that stuff. In my mind the best possible marketing is more books. I do spend a little time marketing, but mostly I write so I can put more books out. I occasionally run countdown deals through KDP Select, which work well. Bookbub is awesome if you can get it (it’s really expensive, but worth the cost). Mostly I focus my marketing around book launches. I’ll usually pay to do a blog tour plus a blog blitz (costs about $80 total). During release week, I’ll discount the book to 99 cents for the first three days to help obtain a “sticky” sales ranking on Amazon (20 sales a day over five days is better than 100 sales in one day and no sales on days 2 – 5), and do a massive giveaway (usually 30 – 50 books, which go to early readers and a randomly selected handful of folks from my mailing list). My early reader/beta readers usually leave reviews early on, which is a huge marketing bonus. Oh and a mailing list. Do that. Seriously. Make a website and create a mailing list with clickable signup links in the back of all your books.
A: (BF) James answered that one well. I use the usual advertising and some light social media. I do cross-promotion with top indies in my genre and keep informed with all the best self-pub forums, blogs, and groups. Most importantly, I build and maintain my newsletter. I also have a small but lovely ARC list, which is helpful.
A: (LSC) I don’t know anything about advertising. Honest. I have tried to get on the radio in my home town, even tried to have the same contact write a blurp in a paper. But every-time, my connection turns out to be an utter flake who seemingly has no investment of me (but that’s my opinion of him). I have done research on it, and realistically, it seems like a nightmare. I have gone the social media route, and no one seems to care about anything. Engagement from friends, family and even strangers are at a 0. I would like to elaborate and state that I am trying something I have not been instructed to by any how to on marketing, and that is Posters in stores where I can.

Q: What made you want to write to begin with?

A: (JAH) A lot of my writer friends always knew they wanted to write. For me, the passion didn’t really ignite until well after high-school. I tinkered around with writing and storytelling in high school, but then drifted away from it for a good long while. It was during my time in the Marines, specifically on my first deployment to Iraq, that the writing bug wormed its way back under my skin—truth be told, while on deployment I ran out of books to read so decided I would kill some time writing some stories of my own. I’ve been writing on and off since 2007, though I started to take it more seriously in 2014/2015.
A: (BF) I’ve written stories since childhood. I don’t really know why. I’ve just always enjoyed inventing characters and worlds. I think the first story I ever wrote was because my older siblings were writing something and I didn’t want to be left out.
A: (LSC) From early on, I had a fascination with the world, as if there was indeed magic in it, and that it could be harnessed. Something about books and the effect they had on me in reality made me think that was part of the magic of it all.

That’s it for now. I had 20 questions in all, and at one point I will probably reference some of those answers, but I think what I have above is the meat of the issues. I am sure there are at least another 100 or more issues that people want to know about.
I found the entire self publishing process scary and overwhelming, but at the same time, it seems like trying to find an agent or publisher was just as hard. However, when I saw JAH’s post, I felt a million times better about self publishing, and I hope these questions will help someone out there as well.

I have added J.A.Hunter’s, BowFinder’s and Leon’s links. Enjoy!

WTF Facebook…

Hello again world!

Just started my G+ account. Seems a bit convoluted, but then again I am not used to these new fangled fancy SM things. Added some links to other author’s I know, got some followers on twitter and followed a few people.
Facebook… not as easy as twitter let me just say. Getting an account was super easy, so was posting stuff and general editing. I won’t bore you with details. BUT.. adding a facebook button to my blog took me an hour. WTF… Honestly it is a bit of a headache, I had planned on writing the steps down, but F that. I suggest going to youtube and watching this.
Another hour later and I finally have my twitter, google+, blog and facebook connected, plus the apps on my phone. Then I realized I really do not want my facebook and twitter connected. That took a while to figure out as well. Haven’t tested to see if I actually succeeded yet.
And one more thing FB… WTF is your problem huh? I hope one day I get a SM platform that takes hours to configure because nothing is where it should be.

I am still trying to figure out exactly how I want to post things here. There is a lot of information to sort through and I am having a hard time pacing myself and planning everything with all my new gadgets on top of my book thoughts. I guess I should explain a bit about my book.
First, current word count is 32K. I know that is less than what I said in a previous post, but I was guessing before. I finally sorted my scrivener draft into what will be in this book vs other books.
So why is word count so important vs the number of pages? I have found that in the publishing world, word count is what they go by. Generally speaking the ‘limit’ publishers go for is anywhere from 80-120K for a fantasy novel. I haven’t decided if I will listen to that rule or not. I have a very long story to tell, and while the thoughts of break dancing dollars are popping and locking in my head, I don’t know if I really wanna sell out for more money by having more books to buy. Like I mentioned before, I love long books, and this book is supposed to be an accumulation of everything I wanted in fantasy, so whatever.

Then again if Tor or DAW picks me up, then I think I will listen to what they have to say.

Back to the meat of the story… I do not want to give anything away, and right now I am still planning out how I will keep a mystery around the main plot reveal. So here goes:
Once upon a time… Ha! Just kidding. There are really 2 main characters (MC’s) and at this point there are 11 other secondary – but very important – characters. The first book focuses mostly on 3 of them.
Amadel – A teenage girl from Earth is thrown into another world, Lenaeu ([Len – a – ooh] – still not sure on this name) after visiting her Aunt. This was done by means of a magical book and necklace passed down through her family. She is the prophesied savior of the land along with her twin sister. The problem is her sister disappeared almost a decade ago. Now she must learn to survive in a world with magic and an evil sorcerer, bent on her destruction, who has overthrown the kingdom and enslaved millions.
Leah – Orphaned when she was very young, and sent to live with an abusive foster mother, has just lost her new friend, Amadel. Something is whispering in her mind, telling her to locate and help Ama. She finds a way into the other world only to be caught by the evil sorcerer and sent to the Void; a place between Lenaeu and Earth that no one emerges from.
Merlin – Fabled magician from the middle ages, originally sent from Lenaeu to Earth on a mission to protect the prophesied twins. He is there to guide them and help them learn their powers before having to overthrow the evil sorcerer. But when he realizes the prophecy is heading down a path of death and destruction, he takes matters into his own hands.

There is a hell of a lot more and I suck at summarizing but I will leave it at that for now.

Now that is out of the way, I do have some ideas on how to streamline my blog. First, always greet my peeps (not that I have any at this point but hey, whatever). Second, post my word count – even if it is less than it was previously due to editing *shudders*. Third, post my progression or any relevant topics. IE: start my rambling. And fourth, tips for new writers based on my exp. Might switch around 3 and 4.
Since I have already done all but #4, here goes.

1. Get a cloud service or multiple flash drives. Why? Well if you are anything like me, you may go through hard drives like a hot knife through butter. Plus I have a tendency to lose flash drives… Thank you google for the cloud drive.
2. Get something better than Microsoft Word. As I stated before, I suggest Scrivener, but I am biased and have no opinions of other platforms yet. I did a quick search and this site seemed the most unbiased, but a bit dated.
3. Unless you are an English major, or just really well versed with writing already, get an editing tool. Currently I am using (and not using it enough) ProWritingAid because its free. But I will probably update to something else later.
4. Read. Read a lot. Review a lot. Read some more. Review some more. And do not just read and review your own writing genre. I have read quite a few different genres and found very helpful tips. Namely, if you do not take serious time to review your own work, and get beta readers and other people to critique your work, errors are bound to show up. As a reader, I am a stickler for flow. If I see someone doing something out of character, or if something was just explained one way, then totally opposite the next, or if the paragraph(s) that I am reading are just too damned confusing, then I will not want to read anything else from that writer.
5. Just fucking do it already. Will it suck? Yes. Will it frustrate you and cause you to want to ball up your paper and throw it away? More than likely at one point it will. Could you compare your work to <insert your favorite author here> and get totally depressed? Yep… been there, done that, still kinda doing that at times. Will you get over it? I dunno, that part is up to you. I suggest you do. I am 100% serious when I said I have probably thrown away more than I have finally put to ‘paper’ at this point. I just couldn’t let this go though. I have a story to tell and I know there will be at least a few hundred people out there that will love it.

I really tried to not cuss, in fact I have been forcing myself not to because of excluding certain people, or pissing off my HR department. Which is total bullshit by the way. I have been on conference calls where certain …people… have said quite a few interesting things…

Anyways… back to writing. Goodnight my imaginary audience!

PS. The unlinking didn’t work. You have to go to 

A little bird…

Hello again you wonderful, and unknown to me as of yet, readers!

A lot is going through my mind at this point. Should I have gone with weebly? Will I go with them? Should I set goals for word counts? When will I start my FB and Twitter accounts? How will I ever be able to manage all of this? What should my next post be? Where do I start? Will I keep my book in chapters or will the also be parts? How does one even start looking for an agent or publicist? 

Check answer ‘C’. I don’t know.

What I think I know is I should play a bit of catch up. Like I previously stated, my book is in progress. I know that is not the beginning for many writers. From what I went through, and what I have seen on websites, I know that just starting to write down the amazing-story-that-is-in-your-head is the hardest part. Or so one might think now…

Quite a number of years ago, I came to the realization that I was tired of reading other people’s work. I thought their story could have been better if they had done X, Y or Z. To top that off, I have only found a handful of stories that actually satisfy my inner plot out-liner. I like extra long books, intense and surprising arcs, throw in a few humorous characters, descriptions of the surroundings – but not a crazy amount, clear characters who don’t magically change their normal morals just to move the plot along, and deep undercurrents that are felt but not realized until it all comes together in some wonderfully addicting part of the book that makes me stay up way too late trying to read it all. Tons of other things, but those are the key points. 

That is what prompted me to start thinking of a story that I would completely enjoy. I thought about it for years, too many to really remember but at least 7 years ago I know I was thinking of it. It was before I started working at my current company. I did a lot of pussy-footing around until I just started putting the words to paper – or hard drive – whatever you want to say. I don’t know how much I have trashed and rewritten over the years, I tend to break computer hard drives rather easily. My IT guys can attest to that. But the story has stuck. I literally have 14 easel papers taped up on my walls with outlines, a timeline and random character notes/plots.

After years of not really doing much with it besides thinking of different plots, I decided to go online for help. I stumbled upon FWO and decided to use that to help me stay on track. I started posting my chapters and getting critiques from other writers, and let me tell you what, it has been the best thing I have done to date. 

I was scared of course, but after the first few crit’s were done, and I realized my hair wasn’t on fire and my feelings were not really hurt, I fell in love. I cannot express how seeing what other people think of my writing, and what my faults are, has done for me. Not to mention having to crit other people’s work has given me insight on what does and does not work. I know that is pretty vague, but there would literally be thousands of words I could write and still not do it justice.

While on FWO, a wonderful writer posted about a tool called Scrivener. It is awesome. I will have to dedicate a post solely to this tool. Basically it pats Office on the head telling it that one day, when it grows up, it might just be able to do half of what Scrivener can. Here is a link to their site. 

It is/was free for 30 days. And its not consecutive days either, it is based on the literal days that you use it. So if you only log in once a week, it will last 30 weeks. After that, its like $35 USD.
Now that I am really thinking about this, I have quite a few things to delve into and bring this blog up to date with what I have done. All I can say is that I have read more indie books in the past year than I care to mention… I think I have spent a couple hundred dollars on ibooks. Considering most books are less than $5, and I usually have a hard time buying one over 2.99, plus I generally stick with free books, only opting for purchasing books in a series with the first being free, you might have an idea of how many I have gone through. Run on sentence anyone? 

What is the purpose of such flagrant spending and time consumerism/sleep deprivation? To broaden my reading horizon and search out for what works and doesn’t work. Before I started reading self published books, I thought self publishing would be hard… It seems like any FT can do it. (Anyone that knows me knows what that abbreviation means. That particular word is one of my favorites. Hi Michele, tell your son I said to cover his ears.)

Not all of them are bad, and if they are, I still read them. I actually have an author I really like, even though she has some writing issues, her plots move me. I have re-read a particular series of hers at least 4 times in the past few months. No I will not call her out here. 

Sooo… you should be *mostly* up to speed with what I have done now. Except for one thing that is bugging me. I am ashamed to even talk about it.
I just started my Twitter account… I am not happy about that at all. Why? Well, funny story, that. Once upon a time, I had an employee who sat on the other side of a cubicle at my job. She has a bubbly personality and was constantly singing Beyonce lyrics and spouting off hashtags… every five minutes or less.
I am not kidding. Literally every 5 minutes I would hear hashtag <insert idiocracy here>.

It got so bad that I gave her a corrective action form (a demerit) for such behaviors. It was fake of course, but ever since, the other supervisors have constantly gotten under my skin by calling me hashtag. Or when I am at the other site they will go into my office and write a bunch of hashtags on my white-board. Or tape quite a few printed papers with hashtags on my door… I vowed I would never have an account just because hashtags annoy the crap out of me. 

That means that I will have to hang my head in shame and admit that I have an account now. #hashtaghell #walkofshame #Effoff. 

Shell – if you read this, that last hashtag was for you. 

Now that I think of it, I can get revenge by plastering them with tweets if they follow me. How about this #revenge.
Ok enough of that. I will say it was interesting to find out how to add the twitter link to this blog site. I had to bing it. I feel like an old woman out of touch with the in-crowd. But screw the in crowd. They are annoying… And so what if I don’t care for it? It just means I do not feel the need to express all of my life with a perfect stranger(s) and friend(s). I like being different. 

*Sigh* I LIKED being different. Effing yapping bird page.
Next up is FaceBook. Yay…

But its not all bad. I get to see posts from people like Neil Patrick Harris, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and Bill Burr. You need to watch F is for Family on Netflix.

I promise I will get more organized with these blogs soon. But I like my randomness, so maybe not.