September 18

Writer’s Notes: Sept. 17, 2015

Daily Stats
Word count: 156
Drafts worked on: Double Blind
Writing Time: 20 min.

Slow going today, mostly because I sort of think I know where this is going, but maybe not, and it’s been hard for me to get on board with this story from the start. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be in a better “writing groove”. We all have those days…

Excerpt

“I do want something…with you. I just need to figure out where or how Jasper fits in. Thanks for being patient.”


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

 

September 16

Writer’s Notes: Sept. 16, 2015

Daily Stats
Word count: 505
Drafts worked on: The Dry Rain
Writing time: 30 minutes

I know a lot of writers who need to know the end of the story before they even start writing. To me, that completely takes the fun out of the whole process. I need to get to the end through the journey my characters take, and I can’t know that until I write it, which means I never know the ending of a story until I start getting close to writing it.

Today, two endings for this story came to mind. I’m certainly leaning toward one more than the other, but the only way to figure out which one will truly “fit” is to just keep writing. But it’s still exciting to know I’m getting close to “the end”…

Excerpt: 

A woman in green scrubs stood at a counter just through another narrow doorway, with a tray of syringes in front of her, an array of tiny bottles to the right, and a box of empty syringes just next to those. As he watched, she filled syringe after syringe with a clear liquid, capping the needles and laying them on the tray.


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

September 15

Writer’s Notes: Sept. 15, 2015

Daily Stats
Word count: 187
Drafts worked on: LWM
Writing time: 15 minutes

I know, it’s dismal. It’s also Tuesday, which is generally my “bad” day of the week (generally speaking – like most people’s Monday). So while it sucks, I’m not all that surprised. And I just ran out of time before bed. Tomorrow will be better.

Excerpt: 

 “You can’t drive,” Emmett remarked. He shifted, and she felt him easing down to perch on the side of the tub. “I’m calling an ambulance. Just stay there.”


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

September 15

Writer’s Notes: September 14, 2015

Daily Stats
Word count: 567
Drafts worked on: LWM
Writing time: 30 minutes

I was at the point in this draft where my characters were finally gonna get lucky. But after the day I had at work, I just didn’t have it in me to write that scene. I suppose I could have just worked on another draft, but instead, I decided my characters would just have to wait awhile longer, and what should have been a rather pleasant shower turned into a serious injury-ridden incident that I’ll still need to get them out of before the scene is done.

It’s fun being a writer. Good therapy some days, too.

Excerpt: 

Being kissed by Emmett was such a heady feeling. Candace smoothed her hands over his bare skin and held her arms high when he pushed them up to pull her top over her head. His arms slid around her waist and he kissed her again until her head spun and she felt like she was falling…


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

March 22

Writing & Publishing Notes: Mar. 22, 2015

So…it’s been awhile. A month, actually, now that I look at the calendar…

You know how sometimes when you drop a ball and run after it but it just keeps rolling out of reach, and then it bumps something that sends it back toward you and you think you’re actually going to be able to catch it, but then your fingertips graze it or your dog joins in and it ends up spiraling in yet another direction so you have to keep running in hopes of getting close again?

Yeah. That’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling lately. And I share that not from a “woe is me” sort of place, but just as a “this is how it’s been” sort of thing…because I’m sure someone out there reading is having the same sort of experience, and sometimes it helps to know you’re not alone.

I was doing okay, overwhelmed, but still sort of keeping things going, and then I got hit with that super-nasty cold that’s been going around. That completely wiped out pretty much an entire week for me (of everything – I missed day job work days too, so I’m even behind there), plus a good portion of a second week, and right in the middle of my big marketing push. Not good, but nothing I could really do to avoid or stop it, so no point in getting upset about it. I’m playing catch-up again now, but it’s just going to be kind of a slog for awhile.

I did decide to hire someone to format my latest print book for me – Polgarus Studios, and not only did they do a great job, it only took them a few days longer than it would have taken me, and it didn’t cost all that much. The time I saved in having them do the work as opposed to doing it myself was worth every penny, and as I’m way behind on my print formatting, I’m going to have them do a bunch more for me, one every month or whenever they can fit them into their schedule. That will take some of the pressure off me, and their prices are so reasonable it won’t be a strain on the budget.

As for the marketing push…well, I pretty much went about it all wrong, but that’s how you learn. And it did result in a few more sales, but really, considering I couldn’t do the promo work needed to really get the word out and I kind of screwed up *how* I ran it in general, I don’t even think I can draw any conclusions from it, because all the different parts were very insular from each other due to my not being able to bring everything together. But it’s more than I’ve done in quite awhile, and visibility is definitely higher for all formats, so it was still definitely a positive thing. And now I know better for next time, which is incredibly valuable going forward.

A few things I learned, for those interested:

– Reviews should come before a big promo push, so I need to do the review-request giveaways before I want to do a big promotion (consecutively rather than concurrently, I think), and before I lower the price, so the giveaways are that much more enticing.

– All formats need to be done and available before any kind of sale or discount

– Gotta have reminders all over the place for the promo. The review contests will take care of themselves on book lover’s sites, but for my own sites, and for a sale price, I need to make the visibility higher for that time period.

– I need to use my newsletters better for announcing contests/review giveaway opportunities

I’m starting to plan my next two promotional pushes well in advance, so I can correct some of these mistakes and see what kind of traction I can get.

As for the writing…I’m way behind on my writing *and* publishing schedule at this point, with no hope of catching up. So, I’m reworking my plans/schedule, and just moving forward from where I am now. Sucks, but it is what it is, and there’s no point in lamenting my own limitations. I’ll do the best I can, and see where I end up in December.

I think the important thing to remember (for me) is that I’m not actually on a deadline to *sell books*. So I can take my time and learn what I need to learn and make mistakes with promo and such…and all the while, I’ll still be working on my craft, and writing better books (hopefully), and nothing’s going to expire or anything like that. I have time. I have a day job I like that pays my bills, so I can afford to make mistakes, and learn slowly, and experiment with things, and figure this all out at my own pace.

And that is a very good, powerful place to be in.


Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

February 22

Writing, Marketing & Publishing Notes: Feb. 22, 2015

Writing

My word count sucked this week, and I really have no real excuse for it – nothing that counts for anything, anyways. I was distracted for most of the week with various things, and thus just…didn’t write nearly as much as I should or could have. Needless to say, there’s nothing in the world I can do to finish this draft by the deadline, and I’m not sure I can actually live up to the publishing schedule I set for myself this year either. So I’ll be going through that this week, and paring down to something actually “doable” given my average word counts over the past couple of months. The fact is, the day job has a lot more to do with how much mental energy I have for writing on any given weekday, and deciding to get back into promotion and keep up with my business stuff on the weekends means there’s no time or energy for writing on the weekends either.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself here, just facing facts, and figuring out what to do about them. I think it’s important to be realistic when making goals, and to adjust when I realize I’m expecting too much of myself. It’s kinder than constantly reaching for too much, and constantly failing.

So…this week’s tally (most of it done on Monday, since I had the day off):

The Time Stone: 2,504

And that’s it. The draft is currently sitting at around 18k words, and I think it’ll end up being around 40k – 50k words, so around half-done. I am going to diligently work to bring that up to 30k words by next weekend, though that won’t be the average speed I expect from myself all year. I do want to get this draft done and out the door though, so I’ll give up some extra time to make that happen. It’ll still be late, but hopefully not more than a week.

Marketing/Promotions

This weekend was newsletter weekend. I’m sending out newsletters once a month – one for each pen name, and one main BSB newsletter. Last month, it took me an entire weekend of fairly steady work to get just three newsletters templated and scheduled. This month, I was more organized, but I needed to optimize my templates for mobile use (something I didn’t think about until I opened up last month’s newsletters on my cell), and I still had to write the actual letter part of it, which took more thought than I had planned for.

The other thing that took awhile was the fact that I’d planned a marketing campaign for March for my latest book, but I didn’t have everything in place yet, some of which needed to be before I could finish the newsletter. I had to spend time firming up plans, finishing general launch-type things that I’d started, but not finished just yet, and grabbing links from all over the place to include in the letter. That lack of planning really cost me, but it’s okay, because honestly, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, and this process forced me not only to make decisions, but it sort of showed me through trial and error (and a lot of bumbling around) what I need to do in order to plan and execute a campaign like this.

I do tend to learn best through trial and error, so while it was irritating at the time, I’m glad I have a much better perspective on what needs to be done, and *when*. I’m going to make myself a list now – a blueprint, if you will, to use for marketing campaigns in the future, and also a list of things I need to think about on the first weekend of every month that will force me to decide what needs to be done before the end of each month as far as marketing goes. Training myself to think farther ahead, if you will.

I’m still working my way through Write, Publish, Repeat, and I really need to set up marketing funnels for my books. Which is going to be a lot of work, going backwards, but hopefully worth it. Another item for the ever-expanding to-do list…

After I post this, I’ll be formatting the print copy for my latest book, so I can get my giveaways set up for March on Goodreads, as well as digital giveaways for LibraryThing & BookLikes. I need reviews, and I’m exploring options for enticing those as well.

Business

I spent my business office hours this morning uploading books to Coffee Time Romance, my new distributor. It’ll take awhile to get my whole catalog uploaded, but hopefully I’ll sell a few things there. I need to get TrackerBox all set up with a new file for 2015, and also an all-encompassing file for previous years, but haven’t had time yet. Next weekend, I need to do the monthly bookkeeping, but that won’t take me as long with the new accounting software, so I’ll try to get TrackerBox updated then as well. I’ll have a better overview of how things are selling, then, and that will help me plan my marketing campaigns more effectively. I think.

So…keepin’ on, keepin’ moving. To say there’s a lot to do is an understatement, but I’m not feeling quite so overwhelmed this week, even with being way behind with no hope of really catching up. The thing is, I’m starting to see patterns in what I need to do, and logical sequences, and things that make me feel more in control of it all. And control-freak that I am, that keeps me calm and steady.

Now I’d better get that print book formatted. Here’s hoping next month’s campaign yields some good results – or at least some good data to learn from.


My author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Brazen Snake Books

February 15

Writer’s Notes: Feb. 15, 2015

Okay, I admit it. I’m overwhelmed. Not to the point of burnout, because I’m being careful not to let myself go there, but I’m definitely at the point where even thinking about my list of things to do as far as business and marketing go makes me want to…well, not.

On the actual writing front, last week was a total bust. I don’t like to admit it, but my day job does play a part in how much I get written, even though my writing sessions are after work. The thing is, when my day job is really busy and/or stressful, I end up spending pretty much all my brain power on solving problems there, and then when it’s time to write, I have very little energy left to give my drafts. Which sucks, of course, but that’s just kind of the way it is. My word count for the week definitely reflects that, sadly enough.

Weekly Word Count: 

The Time Stone (Stone Scavengers): 2,305

Yep, that’s it. I’d hoped to spend more time on it this weekend, but other things got in the way. Luckily, I do have Monday off work (President’s Day), and aside from a dentist appt. that shouldn’t take more than an hour, I have the entire day set aside to write. That should get my writing week off to a decent start. I am way, way behind on my writing/publishing schedule for the year, and I really don’t think my goals are all that lofty, but clearly I’m having trouble meeting them, so I need to go through and rework the schedule into something a bit more realistic, methinks. Sad, but necessary.

As for marketing, I felt like it was important to rewrite the blurb for my most recent release, so I did that and uploaded the new blurb to all my distributors. I also got two more books uploaded to the CTR store. I wanted to get the print formatting and cover done for F&S, but couldn’t quite get to it, but I may work on that a couple nights this week. We’ll see. It needs to be done sooner rather than later if I’m going to get those giveaways scheduled for next month!

The business side of things went pretty well. I got SideShark – my new accounting software- all set up, and got everything for January entered with no problems at all. It was/is much simpler to use than Quickbooks, which is exactly what I wanted. So that was a huge relief, actually, because it’s going to make my bookkeeping a lot easier/quicker, which will leave me more time in my designated business hours to get other things done.

I feel like I could prioritize better and work more efficiently if I sit down and divide my publishing tasks into clearly delineated “marketing” and  “business” tasks. Then I could use my time more wisely on the weekends, instead of just having these huge lists to pick random projects from to work on. So that’s going to be one of the things I do this week while I’m watching TV in the evenings. Organize my tasks, allocate them to either marketing or business, and then prioritize according to projected release dates and other deadlines. That should make things run more smoothly, and it’ll certainly make my own brain much happier/less chaotic.


My author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com


February 9

Writer’s Notes: Feb. 9, 2015

I started my day by reminding myself that I’m not going to let the never-ending marketing/publishing to-do list burn me out again. Generally it’s not a good sign when you have to remind yourself of things like that. In fact, it’s  a sign that the pressure is getting dangerously close to the boiling point, and something is probably gonna have to bend soon, before things start breaking. The last three weekends have been far busier than normal though, so it’s possible that once they get back down to a dull roar, the pressure will ease.

One can only hope. If it doesn’t, drastic measures will have to be taken. It’s not gonna be pretty…

In any case, last week was also crazy busy, because I started the week behind (as I’m doing again this week), so “catch-up” was the name of the game regarding my drafts. It was the first week of the month, which means all my newsletter serial installments had to be done, and it was a struggle, but mission accomplished plus a little extra for my highest weekly word count yet this year (Woohoo!):

 

Weekly Word counts – Feb. 2 – 7

Mine (Meadowlark Mayhem): 1,196
Shadow in the Stacks (Meadowlark Pulse): 1,179
Hard Drivin’ (Meadowlark After Dark): 1,019
The Dry Rain (Insecticide): 601
The Time Stone (Stone Scavengers): 1,134

 

Total words for the week: 5,129

Still only half of what I want to be doing per week, but like I said, best I’ve done all year, so I’ll take it. This next week I’ll be working on only the bottom two drafts. The Dry Rain *must* be finished by Saturday, and it’s a short story, so it only needs to be 5000-8000 words. It’s at 817 total right now, so still quite a ways to go. This means weekend writing, without a doubt. Gotta stay ahead of my publishing schedule…

The Time Stone must be finished by Feb 28th, and I’m much farther behind on that than I’d like to be (it’s at around 13,000 words…and needs to be around 50k).  So yeah. I need to kick it in gear with the words here…

On the marketing side of things…that was kind of trippy, actually. My inquiries for setting up a shop with the Coffee Time Romance community resulted in…a contract and a shop that I’ve had time to upload exactly 1 book to so far. I’ll be working on getting the rest of my romance novels up there over the next week, as well as getting them up on Google play. More distribution points equals more sales potential – especially with CTR, as they’re a large and very active romance reader community.

The book I posted audio rights for? Yeah. A *great* narrator auditioned just two days later, we chatted by email, put a contract together, and bada-bing, bada-boom…the audiobook is actually done and with ACX for final review already! Whew! Talk about quick. It’s the book I’ve decided to promote in March, so that’s stellar, since the audiobook will be available in time for the promotional push.

I also paid for a cover promo spot on a popular review site (for the same book). Now I really need to get the print copies done and published…and list contests on the three major reader sites.

And as far as business stuff goes, well, I spent my business hours on Sunday doing taxes. I can’t finish them until next week, when I can get the last forms I need on the personal side of things, but the business books have been officially closed out, and I’ll be playing with new accounting software (hopefully simpler) next weekend for the 2015 bookkeeping.

That was my week…and now you know why I’m reminding myself not to get burnt out. It’s weird, because once you start setting things in motion, they really do just sort of take on a life of their own, and while you thought you were in control, you end up just hanging on for dear life. Crazy how that happens! Whatever do you think will steamroll me next? Hmm…


 My author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

February 2

Writer’s Notes: February 2, 2015 (?!)

How the heck did it get to be February already? It seems like January just flew right by. Though I did actually get quite a bit done, looking back…

Last week was a whirlwind of “paying for lack of organization”. In other words, I screwed up sometime back in December (well, November, actually), and last week partial payment was due. I won’t lie (because the whole point of this is to let you see exactly what’s going on behind the curtain) – it wasn’t fun, and it put me behind even further than I already was (predictably). But I got it done, and the world isn’t going to end because I’m a week farther behind, and I will eventually get this all sorted out if I just stay calm and keep moving forward.

In any case, last week I was editing, formatting and distributing the ebook version of my January release. One of my publishing goals for this year is to release something every month, and in the interest of treating this like a business rather than a hobby, it was really vitally important (mentally speaking) that I got that book out by last Friday. And I’m glad I pushed to get it done, because it sets a specific tone for the year.

Of course that along with some other things that I wasn’t expecting to come up means that my new word count for last week is utterly pathetic:

The Time Stone: 1,303

Yep. That’s it. 1300 measly little words. On one draft. Disappointing doesn’t really do justice to how I feel about that, but I’m not going to dwell and pout about it, I’m simply going to do better this week. Because I need to, and I’m perfectly capable. Over the next five days I need to finish the February serial newsletter installments (3 x 1k), reach the half-way point in The Dry Rain (TDR), and write as much as humanly possible on TTS.

It may seem like I’m working haphazardly here, but I really do have a plan. I prioritize what to work on by what’s due next, and I have a master publishing list for 2015 that lines out exactly what I’ll be publishing when, and what I’ll be working on writing for each month.

For example, the serial newsletter installments are always due the last week of the month, but they’re also only 1k each per month. So if I get those done the first week of each month, I can set those stories aside and not worry about them again for the next three weeks, but they’re done ahead of time so no worries about missing the deadline or writing them just before the newsletters need to go out.

TTS is the only book I’m writing for a publisher (rather than publishing it myself), and I’ve given them a hard deadline of February 28th as to when I’ll have it done and ready for them. So since that deadline is closest, that story gets the bulk of my time at this point.

The draft of this month’s release is currently with the editor, so the other story I’m working on (TDR) is the story I have slated for my March Release. It needs to be done before the 14th of this month so I can send it off to the editor and we’ll both have time to do our thing well before the release date. It’s also a short story, so it doesn’t require as much time, which is why TTS still gets the bulk of my attention. And I need to get it done so I can get back to work on my April release…

So you see…there’s a method to my chaos. As there almost always is to any chaos, if you look hard enough.

On the marketing front, I spent my hour and a half on Saturday submitting books to review sites and inquiring about setting up a distribution account with another small online bookstore/community. I also added a couple books to Goodreads that hadn’t quite made it there yet, and set up an audition call on ACX for audiobook narrators on my January release. So slow progress there, but decent. I really need to get some print books done for several books so I can do some Goodreads giveaways. It’s a pretty easy way to get some visibility on new titles…

As far as business goes, Sunday morning I finally finished catching up with my bookkeeping for 2014. Woohoo! Next Sunday will be tax day, and then I’ll be able to start setting up the 2015 books in what I hope will be an easier/simpler bookkeeping program.

It feels like I’m working at a snail’s pace here, but truthfully, this is the earliest in the year that I’ve had my bookkeeping caught up since I started this whole publishing thing. And that was just working an hour and a half every Sunday morning…which just goes to show you exactly how much you can get done in a small amount of focused, uninterrupted (mostly) time. Kind of crazy, but cool too.

So that’s the news for this week, a day late due to a very busy weekend…


My author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

January 25

Writer’s Notes: January 25, 2015

I had such high hopes for this week. In some areas, I went backwards, in others, I made a lot of progress. Unfortunately I went backwards on the word count, and I’m never going to meet my monthly/yearly goals if that keeps up.

Here’s the word count tally for last week:

Mine (Meadowlark Mayhem 1, finishing Jan. installment): 379
The Dry Rain (planned short story): 220
The Time Stone (due end of Feb): 1,970
Total words: 2,569

This is where two things become abundantly evident. First, my pantser nature is biting me in the butt, hard. That nearly 2k words on TTS was done late in the week, once I *finally* found the thread I needed to follow for that story. When I don’t know where I’m going, it takes me longer to write. We’re talking 300 words per 30 minutes vs. nearly a thousand. I can type fast…I just need to establish the flow and tone of the story first. Unfortunately, that doesn’t generally kick in until I’m a little ways in, and for this particular story, since it’s a new genre and terribly unfamiliar territory, it took nearly 10k words. But now that I  have the thread, things should move along more quickly next week.

The second thing I realized is…I just need more time. I’ve got two hours of writing time per weekday, that really only equate to 45 minutes each when it comes down to it, and when I’m writing slow due to whatever, I need more time to write the same amount of words. The only way I could do that during the week is to stay up later, and honestly, I’m kind of enjoying getting more sleep – it makes my mornings and workday far easier. So the only other option is to add writing time on the weekends…which is difficult, due to the inherently spontaneous nature of weekends.

 

But, I’m serious about meeting my writing/publishing goals for the months and year, so I will make the time. I’m not quite sure how/when just yet, as I just spent this last weekend on marketing & business stuff, but even just an hour each weekend day would definitely make a difference.

 

And of course I need better planning, which is just a matter of getting all of my admin stuff done early enough on Sunday that I can go over the drafts I’ll be working on during the next week, and plan out the scenes I want to write. Just a few sentences is all I need to get the brain rolling, and if I put those into the Neo late Sunday, it will make jumping into my daily writing sessions much easier/quicker.

On the business side of things…my 2 hour marketing window ended up running the whole day and part of the evening on Saturday when I realized that I didn’t even have templates set up for my monthly newsletters any longer (long story). So I spent all day setting those up for my three author names, plus auto-responder welcome letters with file links so people joining at any time during the year could catch up with the monthly serial stories to that particular point.

In order to make *that* easier on myself, I also spent a good chunk of the day learning how to set up compile templates in Scrivener so I can easily export new copies of each serial draft to PDF that lives in my public Dropbox folder every month as well. Having never done that before, it was a bit of a learning curve, but now that I have it all set up, my newsletter administration should easily fit within one 2-hour Saturday marketing period each month from here on out. I just need to set up the main BSB newsletter, but that will have to wait…I simply ran out of time this weekend.

My 2-hour Sunday bookkeeping window was stressful and frustrating as always, and at the end, I have books that aren’t exactly balancing out. This is my fault, of course – data entry errors, or more likely, just general errors in how I’m using Quickbooks as a whole. I will still be able to run an accurate profit/loss statement for my taxes, but I really need a simpler solution for this year – I have no desire whatsoever to try to fix my Quickbooks file, or start a new one. Quickbooks is just simply more than I need. So I’m going to try SideShark, a relatively new bookkeeping program aimed specifically at sole proprietors like myself, and created specifically to be simple to use. As soon as I get the 2014 books done enough to be useful for taxes, I’ll play with that and see if it will make my life simpler. I sure hope so! I need to either make Sunday mornings easier, or find a new time for the bookkeeping. It makes me crabby, and gets my whole day off to a rather rotten start. Though maybe once I get the new program in place and am keeping it up to date on a regular basis, it won’t be so bad.

So. All that said, my goals for this week are:

– Plan out the scenes I need to write and get them typed into the Neo before bed tonight (Sunday)

– At least 5k words for the week, total.

– Edit, format and publish the book I just got back from my editor (will have to do this during TV hours, as it can’t preempt my writing times, and it needs to be out by Friday)

– Find a couple of weekend hours I can use for writing

– Finish putting revenue and expenses into Quickbooks for 2014, check profit/loss statement against receipts/statements for the year just to be sure

– Add ebook files to BSB website for donation-based downloads/sales

We’ll see how far I get, but that’s the goal. Onward!


My author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com