What’s coming up?

I say this entirely too often around here: I need to be more consistent in what I’m posting.

I always have the best intentions to post regularly and be witty, creative, and interesting. And, as someone once said, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?”

Ahem.

Obviously, it’s kinda not.

That said, I do have some specific goals at the moment and for the rest of the year, so here I am to talk about them. Yay.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

For the last couple of years, I’ve had a lot of fun participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Basically, you write/post on your blog every day during April. Sundays are an off day unless one is needed to hit the 26 total posts required to round out the alphabet, as is the case in 2017. As I’ve done before, I will be endeavoring to post a flash fiction story daily throughout the month of April.

As I’ve done before, I will be endeavoring to post a flash fiction story daily throughout the month of April. I will NOT, however, do what I did last year and try to make all those stories scenes of one larger story. While I was really happy overall with the idea I got last year (an Android raises a human boy for a science fair) the story I ended up with is such a disjointed mess that it will probably take a near-complete rewrite to pull it together into something useful and cohesive. So yeah, not doing that again. Two years ago I went in with no plan and ended up with a near-even split between sci-fi, fantasy, and magical realism stories. I will be going in with no specific plan again this year.

If I try to give myself some direction and create a theme, I’ll let you know.

Camp NaNoWriMo

April is also the month of the first 2017 Camp NaNoWriMo event. Unlike November’s full-blown NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo allows for flexible goal setting. It also lets you have smaller groups, or cabins, of like-minded writers cheering each other on. It’s a great introduction to the NaNo lifestyle, as well as a way to build some accountability if you’re challenged in the completing things department.

My goal for April’s camp will be a combination of the above-mentioned AtoZ challenge and the continuation of my in-progress revision of last year’s AtoZ mess. What that looks like for goals is roughly 13,000 words of new fiction (500 words x 26 flash stories) PLUS about four lessons completed on my HTRYN revision. I don’t know that there’s a good way of distilling the revision down to a word count, so the 13,000 is probably all I’ll put on my NaNo page, but I’ll be working on both so feel free to poke me and ask for an update if you’re curious about my progress.

Story Time Blog Hop

This has become one of my favorite ongoing challenges over the last couple of years. Some other author friends and I each post a story on our blogs four times a year, with links to all the other authors participating in the hop. It’s a way to get a few words out for our own fans, and maybe introduce our followers to other authors they will enjoy.

The upcoming Blog Hop will take place on April 26th, right in the middle of the AtoZ Challenge, so that day’s post will be doing double duty. That makes it easy. Except I need to have that post ready a week in advance so the links can get all sorted out ahead of time, that adds a layer of challenge.

The fun part about the Blog Hop, though, is that we are open to other authors participating. So, if you write speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, paranormal, magical realism, etc.3) and want to participate, let me know and I’ll get you the deets. Or you can click here and discover the details for yourself.

On Beyond April

So beyond April and all its deadlines breathing down my neck, I do have some other things planned for the year, although the specific goals are somewhat more nebulous at the moment.

  • Finally get a novel written. Preferably before my next birthday since this will be the half-century milestone for me. The full-spectrum goal is to plan, structure, write, and publish a long-form work of fiction. But “write a novel” is good, all-encompassing shorthand.
  • Write, polish, and submit at least 12 short stories. The intention was to do one a month throughout the year. That hasn’t happened – I’m currently three behind. *insert eyeroll here* But there is still plenty of time to fulfill this goal… I just need to get started.
  • Read. Specifically, read as many books on the writing craft as I can get my hands on. I currently have roughly 90 such books in my personal library, either on a shelf or on my Kindle. Clearly, getting them into my hands is not a problem. I’ve actually read about 12 so far this year, according to my GoodReads log. That comes out to about 4 per month. I’ll be pretty happy if I keep up that pace. And then, duh, apply what I learn, because isn’t that really the point?
  • Complete the revision that I mentioned above. Right now I have a roughly 13,000-word incomplete mess of a story written haphazardly during the 2016 AtoZ Blogging Challenge. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be expanding the story into a full-blown novelette, or paring it down into a more focused short story. I’m still trying to figure out what the story wants to be, and I’m using Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel to get through it, step-by-step. Because I expect the end result to be significantly different that the original draft I did here on the blog, I plan to leave those posts live so people can see where it started and what it becomes. At the moment you have to hunt through the AtoZ tag to find the pieces of the story. If… No. When I get the revision done and either sell the story somewhere or self-publish it, I’ll make sure I pull those posts together in one location to make it easier to find them.

Anyway, that’s about it for now.

What… isn’t that enough for you?

Update on my procrastination skills, and other events of note

alarm-clock-590383_1280Yeah, so, procrastination.

About that.

It’s still a thing that I do. (For evidence, note that here it is something like 3 weeks after saying I’d post an update in a week. Ha!)

HOWEVER, that is not to say there has been no movement on that front.

I did do a little bit o’ plotting. Not much. Not enough. But some.

Blog Hopperpetualbloghop

Also, I wrote a flash story – one that I really like! I’m participating in the Story Time Blog Hop again this month. It’s a quarterly thing, and being October, all the stories will probably be leaning toward ghost stories, Halloween, paranormal… typical haunted fare.

But these are my friends, so don’t expect ordinary. Never expect ordinary. 😉

Expect to see that story as well as links to the others on October 26 at 6PM. (We are a global group, so we try to make things drop right at Midnight UTC. I’m in the -6 timezone, so I post 6 hours early.)

Advent CalendarKat's Advent Calendar

I’m also planning to participate in my friend Cat’s Advent Calendar again this year. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past, and it has always been a lot of fun.

As soon as I have sign-up info for that, I’ll post it here. To get the stories, you’ll need to join a mailing list… but it’s a list ONLY for the Advent Calendar and Cat never spams.

For that collection of stories, the theme this year is Winter (but not necessarily Christmas). As usual, most of the authors participating will likely have some kind of bonus in the form of an additional story, a traditional recipe, a fun desktop background… something unique. You won’t want to miss out!

NaNoWriMonanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200

Between the Blog Hop and the Advent Calendar, is the annual event known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.  For those who haven’t heard of it, writers (anyone, really) are invited to try to write 50,000 words in November. That works out to an average of 1667 words every day.

50,000 might be a short novel, but by most classifications, it’s a novel. A whole novel (or maybe a good start on one) in 30 days is a pretty significant challenge. With my afore mentioned habit of procrastination, I have never managed to hit that 50,000-word goal. But I’m giving it a shot again this year. (My username there is pearannoyed, so if you’re participating too, feel free to connect!)

The story I’m planning is actually an extension of what I wrote for the Blog Hop. So if you drop back by on the 27th and read that story, you might have motivation to cheer me on for NaNo. Maybe. If you like it.

 

That is, I think, all I have on the table at the moment. If anything else comes up, I’ll let you know.

Procrastination

Hi. My name’s Liz and I’m a procrastaholic. appointment-15979_1920

I start out with really good intentions to sit down and write, or plan, or edit. I have the tools I’ll need at the ready. I have a gigantic cuppa coffee to keep me fueled up.

But then I lose focus.

Usually it starts pretty innocently. I don’t quite know where to start, so I’m looking for inspiration. Or I feel stuck on a particular project and I’m trying to decide what to do about it.

So I sit there. Thinking. Processing. And I’m inside my head, knowing I really should be doing something rather than just mulling it over.

And that makes me feel guilty. So to block out the guilt I try to think of something to do. Then I’ll make the mistake of opening my email. Or Facebook. I’ll go to check something out on the internet.

Once that happens, it’s all over. Ten minutes of email turns into, “how the heck did it get to be 4:00 in the afternoon?” And as much as I hate to admit it, there are other things I have to do besides staring at my computer. There’s housework and a husband and dinner to be cooked and eaten. There are the other commitments I have that I can’t simply blow off for more screen time. There are books to be read. There’s a dog to be walked.

Far too often I find that the time I have available for writing simply slips away from me, like mist across the water.

But I have a plan. That plan is to learn how to plan.

No kidding.

I’ve always been more of a pantser. That’s a writer who writes by the seat of her pants, for the uninitiated. One who sits down and just writes without necessarily having a concrete idea of where a story might be going ahead of time.

Pantsing feels more creative than plotting. Plotting feels too structured, too organized. Plotting will suck the life out of my writing. Pantsing seems so much more free.

Now is when you might ask, And how’s that working out for you?

Clearly, it ain’t. It’s fantastic for developing my procrastination skills, and terrible for getting any actual words on the page.

So this coming week my goal is to create a plot outline for at least one of the stories that have been percolating in my brain or languishing on my computer. The good news? I have plenty to choose from!

I’ll probably start with something relatively short, but not too short. One of my short story or novella ideas should work. I’ll create a basic structure for it, fill in a few details, and know what story I want to tell.

pen-994464_1920And from that, hopefully, I’ll be able to sit down with my coffee and my blank page and fill up the one while I empty the other.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

On being a professional

Every now and then I say something that makes me think, Yeah. That was good. Today is one of those days. So I turned it into a meme.

Presented here without further comment…

ProfessionalMeme

Scrivener for iPad, blog hop, and more

I’ve been stupidly busy …. something I find myself saying far too often.

Sadly, one thing that means is that my revision isn’t coming along as quickly as I’d like. I have an idea of what I need to do, but blocking out time to get it done is a challenge. I’ve been working on other must-do projects – ones that actually pay actual money, so that’s good. I’ve been part of three conferences (none writing-related, sadly). And I’m still making sure the husband and dog are properly fed, have their belly rubs, and don’t feel completely neglected. I feel like I have three full-time jobs with very little to actually show for it. Alas.

Scrivener for iPad

In cooler news, you might have already heard that Scrivener is FINALLY  available for iPad. HUZZAH!!! Scrivener. Y'know - for writers.

For the uninitiated, Scrivener is a writing program put out by a tiny company called Literature and Latte. It was designed with novel-writing in mind and has tons of cool features not available in “normal” word processors like Word or Pages. I know dozens of writers who would never consider using anything else for writing their fiction or non-fiction books. It really is that good.

And now that it’s available for iPad and can be synced through Dropbox, writing on any project can be seamlessly moved from office to coffee shop to park to sofa and back again. Very cool stuff. I may do a more in-depth write-up of Scrivener at some other time. But for now, just understand that after a very long wait with multiple delays and much frustration, this is actually a thing and a lot of people are very happy about it.

Storytime Blog Hop

One reason I’m happy about that Scrivener thing is that I’m late getting my story done for next week’s blog hop. Since I have running around to do the next couple of days, I’ll be taking the iPad and will hopefully find time to complete my story while I’m out. perpetualbloghop

The hop is going live on Wednesday, July 27 (6PM Tuesday for me since we’re using Global Standard). And at last count, there were more than 10 authors involved. That means a bunch of new stories for all of you to read, absolutely free. All the stories should be in the speculative fiction genre, and should be suitable for YA and up (no graphic sex or violence). With our aim being to post stories of 1000 words or less, the Hop might be the perfect place to find a little commute reading or something to occupy your brain while you’re eating lunch.

Watch this space for stories next week!

That’s all my news for now. Wish me luck and words on getting my story finished. And wish me clarity and extra time as I chip away at my revision.

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Write something!

I’ll admit it – I’m not the world’s most organized person.

  • Sometimes I’ll start a project and realize halfway through that, oops, that other project I started has a deadline.
  • Sometimes I’ll completely forget I have something to do until it’s too late to get it done well.
  • Sometimes I’ve got something I really want or need to do, but I get stuck and frustrated, letting writer’s block keep me from moving forward.

brain-954823_1920And on and on.

And I know I’m not the only one. I hear similar things from other writers (and non-writers too) all the time.

Some of it is bad planning and time management – not really knowing how long something is going to take. Some of it is ADD, or should we call that Creative Brain Syndrome – just about every creative type I know suffers from this to some extent. And some of it is probably also fear – not trusting myself to be able to do something well, and so putting it off until I have no other choice.

Since my procrastination is very often in the realm of writing, I’m going to use writing to break my procrastination. In other words, I’m just going to do it, even if I feel overwhelmed, scattered, or nervous and afraid.

And I’m going to invite you to come along for the ride.

Get Writing Promptly

I have a story that I have to get written for the Blog Hop planned later this month. So here’s a writing prompt that I’m giving myself for that story:

Write a 500 word story about someone who gets in completely over their head.

If you want to play along you’re more than welcome! And if you don’t want to write fiction, feel free to turn it into a non-fiction prompt:

I couln’t believe I’d gotten in so far over my head… Write 500 words about a time when you discovered you had too much to do and not enough time to get it done.

I’ll be sharing my story at the blog hop on July 27th. If you want to share yours, feel free to post it in the comments below!

Working on a revision and other news

 

Theft.

So, remember that thing I was working on a few months ago? The android story I blogged for the A-Z challenge during April?

Well, big news, I have officially started the revision process. My initial hope was to shuffle things around a bit, finish out story lines that weren’t quite complete, and maybe get this thing knocked out by the end of July.

Having now read through the whole thing for the first time in more than 2 months, I’m pretty certain that it’s going to need more work than that.

It’s barely a working draft at this point, so my initial goal is to get it shaped up so it at least tells a complete story, hopefully by the end of this month. Then I’ll go back and work an in-depth revision process to make it into a good story that makes sense. Since this will be my first full revision of anything longer than a couple thousand words, I have no idea at all how long it will take me to complete.

My current plan is to try to post updates about once a week specifically on where I am in the revision process. Just in case there are those of you who are interested in such things.

If you haven’t read the story posts, or want to refresh your memory, here’s the first scene. You can navigate to later scenes from there.

What I’ve Done So Far

I have re-read my entire manuscript without making any notes. Then I organized the whole thing into the 4 major story arcs.

  1. The science fair (4 scenes)
  2. David and Meltec (11 scenes)
  3. The political problem (9 scenes)
  4. Before the dying (2 scenes)

The biggest arc right now belongs to the David and Meltec arc which consists of all the flashbacks to their life leading up to the science fair. That’s a bit of a problem since I really see the science fair itself as the framework story line. I will either need to flesh it out some, or change the overall structure of the story since I currently only have 4 scenes related to the science fair itself. The science fair was the shiny thing that made me want to chase down this story in the first place, so I really hope I can figure out a way to make it really work as the main story line. One way or another, though, the David and Meltec/Science Fair storyline still needs a proper ending.

The political arc has flashback scenes from roughly 20 years prior to “now” and moves forward into scenes that are probably a few weeks after the science fair. The “before the dying” scenes are essentially flashbacks from the political arc.

So first things first, I will be working to figure out the basic structure I need and what scenes I might be missing. I don’t know if I’ll write those scenes completely, or just do basic outlines that I can carry into my full revision so I only have to write what I really know I’m going to need.

Lots to think about here. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

The Other News

perpetualbloghopLater this month, July 27th to be exact (though that’s UCE, so I’ll actually be live around 6:00PM on the 26th), I’ll again be participating in the StoryTime Blog Hop. This is a quarterly event in which a bunch of speculative fiction authors each post a flash fiction story on their blogs, along with links to all the other stories. It’s usually a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. Of course, that means I will need to write at least 1 flash fiction story this month in addition to working on the revision, but I think I can handle it.

I’ll be sure to post a reminder when we get closer to the date of the hop!

Writing podcasts

I’ve got to admit it – I have mixed feelings about podcasts.

On the pro side, you can be entertained, get some education, and dive into interesting subject matter, all without spending a penny or leaving your house. And since there are so many podcasts out there, you could theoretically listen indefinitely without ever running out of material.

On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to find the specific material you might want. And because there is so much out there, occasionally things do get repetitive, you can end up with conflicting facts, and, worst of all, podcasts can eat all your time!

Still, I have a couple of writing podcasts that I listen to that I thought I’d share.

Writing Excuses

WXFirst and, in my opinion, King Of All Writing Podcasts, is Writing Excuses.

Writing Excuses boasts the combined knowledge of Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal, all of whom are fantastic and successful authors, and who each have a slightly different take on various topics, primarily relating to the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres. Of course, a good story is a good story, regardless of genre. So even if you’re writing in literary, romance, western, or some other sector of the fiction world, you will find takeaways from this podcast that will make you a better writer.

Each episode runs in theory around 15 minutes, as noted in their tagline Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart. Of course, they actually are that smart, so from time to time they do exceed their self-imposed time limit. But, on average, most episodes are under 20 minutes and I don’t think I recall them ever having gone over 30.

Because this podcast tends to be quick, entertaining, and packed with useful information, there’s almost no downside to subscribing. Episodes air weekly on Sunday nights.

Rocking Self-Publishing

RSPI’ve been downloading this one for a while, but only recently started actually listening. The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast has a much different format than Writing Excuses. It’s one guy, Simon Whistler, who interviews a guest each week on topics of direct interest to indie writers. He’s much more likely to cover topics related to marketing than craft, and the episodes run a little long for my taste. But he’s a good interviewer and he’s covering subject matter that is actually pretty vital for self-publishing authors.

Recent topics have included getting a hook for your book, long-term planning for indie writers, and career building for self-pubbed writers. He asks good questions, and with his British accent, he’s easy to listen to.

As I mentioned, the episodes run a bit long – roughly an hour, give or take. But because he’s going fairly in-depth with his guests, he can cover some detailed information that would otherwise get missed. Episodes air weekly on Thursday nights.

Other Podcasts

There are a ton of other podcasts for writers out there, but I really can’t tell you anything about them because I’m not listening to them. So if you have a podcast that you think is can’t-miss for indie fiction writers, share it in the comments with a brief description of why it’s useful. At some point I may post an update to this post and I’ll give you credit for recommending something if I find it useful. 😀

Writer’s Resource

I stumbled onto what I think is one of the most comprehensive and useful sites I’ve ever found about writing.

ralanban-lThough the site itself looks a bit out of date, there are fantastic listings here for writers’ pro, semi-pro, and even greeting card markets, training resources, lists for finding agents or artists, lists of writing associations you can join…

Basically, this is a major extravaganza of useful information for writers of all kinds. If you write fiction, or want to, it’s worth poking around here. I can’t imagine anyone not finding something useful.

How did this happen?

blonde-1296489_1280Here it is – more than 2 weeks after the end of April.

2 weeks after completing the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

3 weeks… THREE!!!… after participating in an outstanding short story intensive.

And what have I done in the last two weeks? Not write. That’s what I’ve done.

It’s not that I didn’t have very good intentions. There are a couple of short stories that I started and want to finish. There is the novella that began on my blog. I want to keep practicing with the techniques learned in my class so my writing continues to get better and faster.

And I haven’t done any of it.

I could enumerate the reasons. Some of them are actually good.

But I won’t.

Because the reality is that no matter how good my reasons, if I want to be a writer, I need to write. It needs to take priority over Facebook and other time wasters, for starters. It needs to be at the top of my To Do list on a daily basis.

I struggled with that and (mostly) won during the blog challenge. There were days that I had a lot going on, but I’d made a commitment and I followed through.

But as soon as the challenge was over, I gave myself permission to take a couple of days off. A couple of days became a couple of weeks, and here we are, more than halfway through the month and this post is the most I’ve written.

So, effective immediately, I’m making a new commitment to myself. My commitment is to write.

  • I will work on fiction at least 5 days a week.
  • I will post on this blog at least once a week.
  • I will not allow myself to make excuses for putting off my dreams.

I might not always win the struggle… and make no mistake, for me keeping any kind of routine is a struggle. But I will continue to do this thing that gives me so much pleasure. I’ll continue to create and lose myself in interesting worlds filled with interesting characters.

I will write.

And hopefully you’ll be glad I did.