Weekly Writing Update: December Week 2

Last Sunday, I listed 3 goals to be working on. In the week since then, I finished 2, plus another task that I decided needed doing, and have just started into the 3rd:

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel – This took a couple of days, but it’s finished, and now this draft can be filed away for a while.

2. Update Kindle version of “Pithea”, upload it to KDP, add Kindle version to Goodreads – This also took a couple of days, and now I have very little left to prepare for publishing my first novel! (Read the first chapter here!)

At this point, I decided that I needed to make a minor edit (which of course turned out to be some major work) to the paperback cover, which took about 45 minutes, but the cover should be set now.

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – This particular goal is going to take a bit longer than the others. I’m already about 90% of the way through the revision, according to the math I did for a post back in August when I was last working on this revision. However, I hit on an idea some time in the last month for a way to cut out a character that I’ve realized isn’t very important to the story by giving the little bit that he does do that’s important to a bigger character, so I’m making that change before I go back to the rest of the revision. This is what I will be continuing with for the next week.

Writing Wednesday: IWSG Dec 2019

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The optional question for this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post is quite timely for me, and very close to the topic I was considering writing this post about anyway. Here is the question posed for today’s IWSG post:
Let’s play a game. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream?

With the impending release of my first full-length novel, I have started to dip my toe into marketing. I am the absolute worst person to be self-publishing, as I have 0 social skills and don’t know how to carry a normal conversation even in everyday life. Add to that a very small budget and every common writer insecurity, and well, all I can do is the best that I can.

Last Saturday, I took part in a Local Author Book Sale at the library in a nearby city. It was part of a holiday shopping extravaganza downtown. To participate, you basically have to have a book you can sell, so I qualified with The Triangle. I took some copies to sell and some items with which to promote my future novel “Pithea” in advance of its release.

I did hand out some promotional bookmarks and talk to some people who showed interest. But I think the biggest thing I got out of this event is an understanding of what to do better/differently next time.

There was a man at the table next to me, younger than me, who had something like 6 books to sell (mostly novella-length from the look of them). When he arrived and started setting up, he lamented how many things he had forgotten to bring (we loaned him our masking tape). He said he used to do events like this all the time, but has gotten busy with school recently and didn’t take much time to prepare for this.

With him as an example, as well as other authors I met or studied during the event, I commented to my husband that someday I’d like to be as confident as he was with the people walking by his table (though I’ll never be the talker he is), but that I’d never want to get to the point where going to an event like this is so run-of-the-mill or unimportant that I don’t still do my best to prepare for it and make it a great event.

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That’s me at my table with my pitifully meager display compared to most of the others. My husband insisted on the banner, which was a splurge for our tiny budget, but was well-received. I was dealing with imposter syndrome pretty heavily the whole day, and questioning why they even let me come to this event. But I was really glad I did. It was a huge step up from the only other event like this I’ve been part of, and yet, still small enough to give someone like me a chance to attend and learn.

All of that said, I don’t want to end this post without saying that I am not as disheartened as I may sound. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I’m definitely just starting out. I may never get to the point that I’d like to, regarding confidence and self-promotion, but I do know that I’ll get better than I currently am with practice. And if along the way, I can find an audience of whatever size for my books, people who enjoy the characters and their stories and want to know what happens next as much as I do, then I’ll be pretty happy.

For my fellow writers, what does your future writer life look like?

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Weekly Writing Update: December Week 1 (NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up)

(Before I get into this long update, one last time for 2018, be sure to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2019 – December 1st It’s also the very last NaNoToon ever!)

NaNoWriMo is over, and boy what a month it was. I spent pretty much all of my free time in November either writing for NaNoWriMo or working on “Pithea” for its upcoming release. Still, I came out on the other side with 82,750 words and, more importantly, a finished draft! This book will most likely be book #8 in the Pithea Series. But since I’m just about to publish book #1, and all of the books between here and #8 still need a lot of work, who knows what could happen by the time I get there.

I had some highs and lows during NaNo, but was more happy than not with what I was writing. I had some “Aha!” moments, which I absolutely love, even though they were mostly minor. Still exciting! I already know a lot of places that need work, but it will be a long time before I get back to it for revision.

I had hoped to leave myself with little to work on for publishing “Pithea” during November, so I could focus on NaNo, but being that this is the first novel I’ve ever published, I can say now how silly it was for me to think that would be the case. I managed to find a balance, though, and now I have only small details left to work on.

I now have a finished cover, the paperback interior is completely ready, and the digital file just needs updated to minor changes I made when finalizing the paperback interior. I’ve added the book to Goodreads (just the paperback for now until I finish the digital file), added it to Reedsy (read the first chapter here!), and the ebook will be available for pre-order on Amazon soon!

So with NaNo over and my attention turning not only to final publishing details, but also to working on book #2 so that it can be released in a timely fashion after book #1, I have a new list of writing goals, related to all of these things:

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel – Sometimes I’ll spend the first few days after November ends doing a quick clean-up of what I wrote–mostly removing things I marked as NaNo fodder and at least doing a quick spell check. This is usually better to do while the story is still fresh, and then it’s good to let it sit for some time. It shouldn’t take long, and is better done now than later (I know that from experience).

2. Update Kindle version of “Pithea” – As part of this goal, after updating it, I’ll need to upload the final version to KDP, proof it, and decide on when the pre-order should be available. And add the Kindle version to Goodreads.

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – Going by what is widely understood to be acceptable word count lengths for books of its type, “Outcast” is currently quite a bit too short. However, the amount I’d have to add would basically be entire new story arc. Rather than stress about how to lengthen it right now, I’m going to finish with the revision of what is already there, and then send it to 3 people who were most helpful with revision of “Pithea” and ask them to read it and tell me what they think–if they think there’s a lot that could be expanded on, plot threads they’d like to see followed, etc. And then I’ll go from there.

NaNoWriMo Day 29

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The Words: 415 words. I wrote a little during my family’s big Thanksgiving get-together today. I took my Neo and typed a little while my family was playing Codenames: Pictures.

The Story:  That small amount of words was for storyline 2, and I think I’m now onto the final scene for this storyline. Tomorrow, I’ll be gone all morning and afternoon, going to a nearby library for a Local Author Book Sale to sell The Triangle and promote “Pithea.” And in the evening, my family will probably be decorating the Christmas tree, but I expect to still have some time before midnight to get a little more work in and hopefully finish the draft!

Total word count: 82,117

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 29, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 22

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The Words: 2040 words and happy to get that. I did some freelance work for my old job today (helping get an app built, which is really not my area of expertise) and worked on the cover of “Pithea” (which comes out on January 10th!) to try to make it look better on the paperback. By evening, my head just wasn’t in the first-draft writing space. But I dug down deep and did some sprints with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter and at least wrote a bit past par.

The Story:  Today was all conversation for storyline 1. I really like how the characters are developing in this storyline, but I will probably have to put more variety into it in the next draft. For now though, big news has been revealed that may or may not be as much of a huge revelation for the readers (someday far in the future) as it is for the characters.

Total word count: 71,575

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 22, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 20

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The Words: 1727 words. I had an afternoon and early evening without kids today, but still ended up spending most of my free time during it working on formatting for “Pithea”. Then I had to head to my church for worship team practice (I’m on once a month), and realized how late it would be when I got home. So I took my Neo with me and wrote in the car for the second time this month.

It was dark all the way there and back, so it was really rough at first, because I couldn’t check the screen to see what I’d last written, and even though I try really hard not to backspace to fix mistakes, it’s a habit. So I wouldn’t know if I’d actually erased enough or too much. I ended up turning on the light on the mirror of my visor.

All of the words came during the half hour drive there and back, which was really not too bad at all, and I liked being able to make use of that time.

The Story:  I wrote more for storyline 1 today, and think I will need to do that more tomorrow, because there is more of that left in the outline than for storyline 2. I hit on a new idea today, which will likely be part of the next book, or maybe come up near the end of this one. It was a somewhat larger “Aha!” moment building on the smaller one that occurred on day 15 and involves politics, which I never really thought I’d care to get into much in my books, but in a way that actually interests me. Hopefully I can make it interesting to readers too.

I claimed my win today (thanks to an email explaining how), which is always exciting! Also, my winner’s shirt will be arriving in a few days!

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Total word count: 65,997

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 20, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 19

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The Words: 4118 words. The weekly write-in at my local library was today. It’s a small writing group that meets throughout the year, and none of them really do NaNo. Some like to come to the write-ins, though, and work on whatever writing they’re doing. No one showed up last week, so I went home after waiting about 15 minutes. Today, I had higher hopes that some would come, because it’s the Tuesday we normally meet monthly. But when no one was there at the starting time, I decided to start a 20-minute sprint myself, and at least get some writing in while also giving others a chance to arrive late. No one did, but at least I went home with a 1139 jump on my words tonight. The rest I got in a #1k30min sprint and a regular 20-minute sprint with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. It felt really good to get a higher word count again.

The Story: For the sprint at the library, I wrote for storyline 2b, which I haven’t spent as much time on this month, but is also the shortest of all the storylines (it is a sub-storyline, after all). The main character in that storyline got a little snarky and called his counterpart out, which was not in my plans.

The rest of the time was spent writing for storyline 2. That included more stress and anger, from the same character, actually. And then I started pantsing a scene that will transition from where I was to the next plot point in my outline.

I don’t quite know if I’m still on track to reach the end of the draft by the end of the month. Going strictly by the numbers, I’m about 70% of the way through my outline, and we’re only 63% of the way through the month. I keep adding new scenes that come up organically, or that seem necessary to get from one plot point to another, though. I’m still hoping to finish with all the little formatting thins I’m working for “Pithea” soon, which will give me the ability to go back to spending more time on my NaNoNovel. Publishing a book is a lot of work.

Total word count: 64,270

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 19, 2019
This is a good time to watch episode 4 of the NaNoMusical, where things really heat up!

NaNoWriMo Day 17

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The Words: 2027 words in 2 sprints with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. My updates are getting pretty repetitive, because my NaNo writing lately has been very similar day by day. I am hoping to be done with the final revision of “Pithea” in the next couple of days (though will have to push hard to do that), after which I’ll send for one last (hopefully) proof copy, and start pushing to get through more of this draft in a day while I wait.

The Story: Like the last few times I wrote for storyline 1, today was a lot of discussion between the government leaders of two neighboring nations. I realized today that most of what they’re discussing is mostly just me figuring out how to proceed, since I’m veering off of my outline a bit. Or maybe just fleshing out what’s there. There’s also some very simple, somewhat immature flirting, which is always fun.

Total word count: 58,025

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 17, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 16

Day 16 writing badge

The Words: 1954 words. I sat down to write near the end of a sprint on @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, so I wrote a little to get warmed up while I waited for a sprint to start. Then they started a #1k30 (write for 30 minutes, try to write 1000 words), and I really hit a stride with the story, ending the half hour with 1637 words. It only took me a few minutes more writing to get to the number I ended with.

The Story: I was back to storyline 2 today, and got to write about a reunion between two old friends that goes back to my NaNoNovel from 2014. While things are drastically different for both of these friends, it was really fun to get to see them together again.

I am not progressing through my outline very quickly any more (it didn’t help that yesterday, I ended up pantsing an entire scene out of nowhere), so these shorter word count days are making me worried that I won’t finish the draft by the end of the month. But cutting it short has been helping me get through the final revision of my soon-to-be-published book, so…priorities.

Total word count: 55,998

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 16, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 14

Day 14 writing badge

The Words: 1886 words. I did a great job with my first day of not pushing to write more than par or a bit above. I don’t like it, to be honest, and I really do worry about the likelihood of getting the draft done by the end of the month. But if I can get this line edit of “Pithea,” done and another proof copy on its way with some time left in the month, I’ll push for more words per day if it looks like the draft won’t get done otherwise.

The Story: The writing of storyline 2 today involved some revelation, including someone finding out that an old friend long thought dead wasn’t really dead!

Total word count: 51,954

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 14, 2019