2017 was busy; hence, my long silence on my blog. Two of my books were published this year: THE POWDER HORN OF MACKINAC ISLAND (MG time travel, published in March) and WAR UNICORN (upper MG fantasy re-published in October through Books We Love Publishing). Both books need reviews, if you’re so inclined, since reviews on Amazon are like golden nuggets to a book.
I took a sabbatical this year from my War Unicorn series (I’m now working on the third book) to write what has turned into my memoirs. Hopefully, it will come out before Christmas. Yes, I’m talking Christmas of this year! It has the shockingly long title of THE ROAD LESS-TRAVELED OFTEN INVOLVES SMACKING FACE-FIRST THROUGH SPIDER WEBS (subtitle: A Life of Animal Encounters). It includes wild boar, bear, moose, otter, cattle, ticks, snakes, hawks, and bees, to name a few…and me, of course…and often my family. The book is 50K (50,000 words). That’s a lot of animal encounters!
Each of these books require a different marketing plan, different bookstores to contact, online sites, blog hops, ways to promote, etc. I am so foolish, and would never, ever recommend another author to do so. Why, oh, why didn’t I stick to just one genre and age group of readers? Why?
My end of the year writing and marketing tip: Stick to one genre and age group of readers and keep on writing.
I hurt my knee. I’ve been using a walker and a cane for a week now, even though I injured it a couple weeks before I started using those aids. Using them makes me look and feel very old. This week I go in for an MRI and then back to the doc to see how to go about repairing it. If I were a sports player, I would have had the MRI done the day it was injured. But I’m a writer…and therefore used to waiting — waiting on agent-editor responses, waiting on edits for revisions or rewrites, waiting for publication date, waiting to hear from booksellers, etc.
How, you ask, could injuring my knee have to do with writing? It does. Three weeks ago, I got news one of my books (War Unicorn) was accepted for publication, and I was sent a contract. My husband was not at home so I couldn’t shout and jump around with him— and thereby limit my jumping near my introverted mate. Instead, I did a wild and woolly happy dance all over the house — for a long time. Owie.
So my advice, author to author, is that when 1) you get a contract, call someone to scream the good news, or go out and celebrate with an ice cream cone or glass of wine v.s. jumping around like a wild woman; and 2) take good care of yourself by eating well, exercising, spending time both alone and with friends; and 3) writing exercise — injure your character, feel the pain…and write about it.
Face to the grind.. Not quite sure what that means, except that it sounds painful. I’ve got my face to the grind, working on NaNoWriMo this month. It’s not painful, actually; it simply requires discipline. Then again, perhaps that is painful in a sense.
From participating last year, I know the NaNoWriMo group gives ideas periodically for what to write about for the day, in order to add to your word count. Just like never getting bored, I never have trouble thinking up things to write. What I have trouble with is the discipline of writing. Therein lies my writing challenge for you — do some raw writing about this photo I took on a trip up north last week. Set the timer for ten minutes… Ready? Set? Go.
YIKES-A-ROONIE! I just realized today that earlier this month, I put out an August Writer’s Challenge of writing 10,000 Raw (first draft) words by September first. How you doing? Surprisingly, I may make that goal. I know I have nearly 10,000 words started on a new YA (young adult) fantasy, but I’m not sure if I’m going to leave in certain bits to make it into a MG (middle grade) story or not, yet. I THINK I wrote nearly all those words this month, but I may have started in July, too. I’ve been a tad bit scatter-brained this summer.
Has this summer been crazy for other people as well? Family, travels, cleaning oil off of turtles… well, maybe everyone hasn’t been doing that last one, but I’d encourage you to help if you can… heat, humidity. There are lots of summer distractions for writers.
So… how have you done on the August writing challenge?
No more excuses. There are still six days left in the month. Get writing, already!
One of the things every writer needs is a designated writing space. It might be den space in your house, or an overstuffed chair, or a certain table at the library or cafe. All the best of the best writers recommend this. It should be a place where you go specifically to write, not to knit or eat or watch tv or check your email or Facebook friends. This is your personal designated writing spot. Writing only!
I don’t have one.
In my defense, I happen to have many. Perhaps it has something to do with the nomad in me. 1) We move into a new house (often a new state) every seven years or so, therefore a specific place in any given house changes from place to place. 2) My husband works about 1/3 of his job at home, in the den, using the computer, during undesignated times; it could be morning, afternoon, or evening. 2) We own a laptop, which I do use, but with the den taken, there is no designated space in which to use it, and no comfortable place to sit or type. Besides, each room of our house is otherwise designated. 3) I follow the sun. In the summer time, the sun comes up from the back of the house. In the summer, I spend a lot of time writing in our three-season room (unless it gets above 90 degrees — no air conditioning out there). In the winter, I set up my writing nest in the guest bedroom, in which the sun enters each morning. I’ve only got leg-space there since the room is mostly filled with the two beds. But the beds serve as both chair and tables on which to spread my notes, etc. But then, the guest bedroom only works until noon, when it becomes wintry dark in there. I consequently move to the breakfast nook off the kitchen, following the sun around our house.
(Stop yawning, please.)
My suggestion to you all is to find your own personal writing space. That’s what all the biggie-bigs say to do. I support their wisdom: Find your own space… that is, unless you have a circumstantial nomadic spirit, like me.
Just to keep you on task, and to encourage you to do the same, I’ve written 3 chapters of my newest story this past week. I had to rewrite chapter two four or five times before I could move on. I’m still not satisfied with it, but feel the information is essential as early on as possible. Oh, where is my editor to tell me what works? But this is totally the first draft, even with several rewrites of one chapter. Only a little over 2,000 words so far. 8,000 to go by the end of August. Push. Push. Can do! You, too?
Being a writer out of my home leaves both eating and exercising at both the top and the bottom of my list of things to do when I’m not writing. HOWEVER, good news: I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past 2 weeks, and hope to continue on this downhill trend. For the first time in my life, I’m counting calories and am disciplined with my exercise. Yeah, me.
Times are changing.
This week I heard some disturbing news. It has to do with the amusement park ride, “It’s a Small World” in California. Seems the ride kept breaking down. They finally discovered the reason: the average weight of the visitors has… er… grown over the years since it was first built. This general increase in weight by the riders has caused the bottom of the boats to scrape against the machinery moving it along, causing the ride to malfunction. What a sad, sad, sad state of American affairs we live in these days.
I’ve also noticed a change in vocabulary. Doctors aren’t allowed to say “fat” any more, or they can get sued. We are either “healthy, overweight, or obese.”
This week I watched a show from the 1970’s about a military school, and each of the young men looked about the weight of a fifth grader of today.
So what does all this mean? Can we or should we write about children or adults who are… um… abundant in figure? If we don’t write about children or adults who have “more” to them, then are we writing about the real world today? Or should we remain in our fictional dream of thin? Now-a-days, actors and actresses who want to maintain a “healthy” look must go to the gym for 2-4 hours a day. Whatever did we do back then, when we were thin and didn’t go to the gym all those hours?
I hate worrying and wondering about this. But what about the characters in my stories?
Talk about heart-sink. Warning to other pre-published writers — never, ever, ever delete an entire manuscript from your files early in the morning when you aren’t quite awake. I THOUGHT I was being so clever to consolidate my files, and deleting old mss, leaving room on the jump drive for the most current versions. Funny what one little push of a keyboard key can do to your heart. After about 7 revisions, I’d wiped clean a 55K novel from my jumpdrive, along with several other files relating to it.
Yeah, I know: backups. I do have the old stuff backed up. My intention was to delete the old and keep the new.
Maybe I was just supposed to write it from the beginning, anyway.
One author I heard at a conference several years ago wrote a book from beginning to end. Burned the book. Rewrote the book from beginning to end, without, obviously, looking at the first copy. Burned that second rewrite and wrote the story out a third time. She did this 7-9 times for each story she wrote. She explained that the first time you write out a story, you don’t really know your characters very well. By the fourth rewrite, you know your characters, but then you have to work on story arch.
I think what I have to work on is not making stupid decisions early in the morning. I used to be a morning person. Really I did. I think I’ll crawl back to bed and curl into a fetal position for a while.
As I reviewed which of my unpublished novels I’m putting up for a whole-book critique next month, I discovered something peculiar: my Lukes.
In my MG historical novel I’ve been working on the past few months, the MC’s uncle is Uncle Luuk.
In my MG SF I wrote 4 years ago, the MC’s brother is called Jean Luk.
And in my MG fantasy novel, the friend of the MC is called Lucas, although he’s had lots of other names prior to settling on this one.
So what’s up with Luke? I don’t think I even know anyone by that name. I neither like the name nor dislike it. And the root meaning isn’t very exciting, like meaning warrior or tree-man (although my Italian friends may contest exciting as it comes from a location in Italy). And still, here “he” shows up in three of my novels. Someone please clear the cobwebs from my subconsciousness, and tell me your favorite Luke. Maybe something will click for me. In the meantime, I’m off to play around with some alternative names.