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

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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

 

January 18

Writer’s Notes: January 18, 2015

This week was only slightly better for word count than last, but I’m getting there. One of the projects I’m working on is three separate serial stories for my monthly newsletters, and I did get a lot done on those, so that was good. My tally this week is as follows:

The Time Stone (TTS): 500 words

Meadowlark Pulse(MP): 1,033 words

Meadowlark After Dark(MAD): 1,152

Meadowlark Mayhem(MM): 679

Total words this week: 3,364

Still a far cry from the 10k per week that I’m working towards, but better than last week. Improvement is good!

The January installments for MP and MAD are done for the month, so I won’t be working on those again until February. So this week I’ll be finishing up the installment for MM this week, and then working on TTS, along with the other novel-length draft I have scheduled for this month and next, Donteneoux’s Dragon (DD). I might start the moth-themed horror short I have planned out too…we’ll see. Here’s hoping I can double this week’s word count. As you may have noticed, I much prefer working on more than one project at a time – even if I get stuck on one, I work on a different one, and generally get myself “unstuck” on the first just by bouncing back and forth. Don’t ask me why that works, it just does. I try not to argue with my brain about how it wants to work as long as we keep moving forward.

I have zero good excuses for the low count last week. The bad excuses include my birthday on Saturday (and thus a vacation day Friday for a new tattoo, which I was altogether too excited about to focus), and self-doubt with the TTS draft. However, I got some feedback on the start of that draft from my editor which was encouraging, and I also read a couple of blog posts that were just what I needed to hear, in general. If you’re a writer dealing with self-doubts/writerly angst at the moment, I’d highly recommend these two discussions by two very level-headed authors:

Being Nora Roberts by Russell Blake

Sky Gazing by Hugh Howey

No, I never thought about quitting – I’ve been there, done that, and always come back, so giving up writing is pointless for me. But I do still deal with the doldrums occasionally like everyone else (mostly about whether I’m good enough or not – or whether I ever will be). Normally it’s worse when sales are remarkably bad (funny how that works, eh?). Sales have turned around a bit though, which also helped my mood a bit.

As for bookkeeping, I got a late start this week and had a hard time staying focused on the spreadsheets vs. Quickbooks, so I didn’t get a whole lot done, but I did get some income entered, which is good. Every little bit helps, and next weekend will be more “normal”, so that should help. Due to my birthday Saturday, I decided to move my Marketing/Promo time to Monday this week (since it’s a holiday and I’m off from the day job). So I’ll work on that tomorrow. Mostly submissions for review, and blurb redos, I think. That’s the plan, anyways. I can do cover art in front of the TV, but I need more focus for blurb writing.

 

So…not a bad week, but not as good as I’d have liked either. Having all my blog posts done ahead of time was *awesome*. Right after this post goes up, I’ll be working on this week’s posts – writing & scheduling so they’re all done and out of the way for the week.

Here’s to…say, 6k words this week? That seems like a good leap toward my goal…
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January 11

Writer’s Notes: January 11, 2015

Given that daily updates here just aren’t really working for me (cuts into the writing time, and even more so now that I’m trying to get to bed earlier – yes, I know, laugh it up. I did say”trying”…), I’ve decided to change the direction and focus of this blog to something more manageable (and possibly more useful for other writers).

The plan at the moment is a weekly discussion of what I’ve been working on (vaguely) for the past week, not just as far as writing goes, but also in terms of the business end of things. Sort of a semi-transparent peek into what this writer does on a daily & weekly basis to write, publish and sell her work. It will serve as sort of a journal for me to keep track of everything, and perhaps it will provide encouragement or helpful information for others traveling similar paths.

All that said, let’s jump right in and look at last week’s progress, shall we? I’ve got two active projects at the moment, and made a little progress on each of them last week.

The Time Stone (children’s lit): 1628 words added

Meadowlark Pulse (romantic suspense): 542 words added (start)

Considering my goal is to write 2k words a (week)day this year, or 10k words per week however I need to arrange it to get it done, that was pretty pathetic. I’m trying to change up a lot of my routines right now though, and my mind has been rather chaotic, which isn’t good, but it is what it is. I’m getting a handle on that,  and have better plans and organization in place for this week, so that should help. I’d cross my fingers, but it’s hard to type that way…

One of the things that hung me up last week was blog posts. I’m used to writing them the night before they need to be posted, but as I mentioned above, I’m also trying to get to bed earlier (an hour and a half earlier, so quite a lot of “work time” cut out of my nights). So working on blog posts late at night just cuts out the writing time, and the writing is more important. Then, of course, I’d sit a the computer knowing I’d promised a post, but also knowing I was way behind on word count, and trying to figure out which to do/which to let go (yes, it seems like an easy decision, but…yeah. No.). As a result, I either did the blog post (Mon/Thurs), or I spent the time thinking I should be doing one or the other and not doing anything. You can see how well that worked…

So this week, new rule. All blog posts have to be written and scheduled before bed on Sunday night, or they just don’t get done. Period. No blog writing mid-week, because that time is already spoken for. That takes the decision out of it, and all I have to do each night is sit down and start writing. Problem solved, hopefully.

The other thing that hung me up, and I’m keeping this intentionally vague, is that I’m not terribly enamored with one of my projects. It’s not something I’ve done before, and I’m having a hard time with it, on several levels. Mostly just my own insecurities with regard to the focus of the work. I’m taking steps to deal with that, and I think things should go more smoothly this week. Here’s hoping.

As far as business-type stuff goes, I’ve set aside an hour and a half each weekend day for marketing/promotion and business stuff, respectively. Saturday mornings, I’m supposed to work on anything marketing/promotional related for 1.5 hours…and I spent this weekend’s time coming up with a new title for my next release, and making cover art for said title. That sort of thing I can do in the evenings in front of the TV though, so I think I need to refine my scope. Those Saturday hours should be spent submitting to review sites, scheduling memes and/or contests or checking out advertising opportunities. It’s only my second week though, so I expect to have my “to-do” list a bit more refined in the near future.

Sunday I spent my business time on bookkeeping. Specifically, catching up on last year’s sales and income reporting. Unlike a majority of the writers I know, I actually hate spreadsheets – I find them boring and tedious, so this is the sort of thing I put off all the time just because I don’t want to do it. Which means at the end of every year,   I’m inputting sales and payment data for the entire past year into Quickbooks so we can file our taxes. Highly inefficient.

This year, once I get the books caught up from last year, I plan on using those Sunday hours for…exactly that, among other things. One Sunday a month will be devoted just to bookkeeping, or more if needed. A really good, efficient change, to be sure (and I’ll be able to see if my promotional efforts on Saturdays are having any effect or not, so win-win).

And then Sunday afternoon (just before starting this post, actually), I started moving my active projects into Scrivener from the Writer’s Cafe program I’ve been using for writing. I’m still not absolutely sure I like Scrivener better, but it is more widely used, and has the ebook compile function that might save me some time on the back end, so I’m giving it a shot.

I also downloaded the writing I did last week from my Alphasmart Neo to the proper story files in Scrivener, and later this evening, I’ll type my scene notes for what I want to work on this coming week to files on the Neo so I’m all ready to write tomorrow evening after work.

Organization is the name of the game if I want to keep everything moving forward, and I do. I feel pretty good about the upcoming week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things shake out with these new changes.


November 5

National Novel Writing Month Begins (uh, late)!

Yeah, I’m a little late starting NaNo this year. I got a tiny start on Sunday night, and then a little bit more Monday, but nothing to write home about (ahem).

Tuesday (today, actually – it’s just after midnight Weds, but since I haven’t gone to bed yet…) was a holiday for the day job, so I used the majority of my day to write. I’m starting the month with two serial drafts still in play as well, so I spent an hour or so getting this week’s scenes for those done so I can focus on getting caught up with the NaNo draft for the rest of the week.

Here’s the Tuesday word count:

TBA (serial novel): 623
UHW (serial novel): 649
TTS (NaNo novel): 2240

For a grand total of: 3512 words.

Not too shabby, considering I struggled to build up any kind of momentum at all on the NaNo draft – a side effect of all the planning I’ve been doing with that book. There are certain parts of it that really need to stay true to the series arc, not just the single book arc, so I kind of got bogged down when I started writing and right away on the very first page it wanted to go in a different direction. Because it would have affected not only this book, but the four others I have planned in the series, I had to fix it right then, or it would have meant major revisions later. And I hate revisions.

So, I fixed it, got back on track, started getting to know my characters, and finally the story started telling itself, which is always the best zone to be in.

Now if I can just keep up this pace all week, I might have a chance at catching up yet. We’ll see! Stay tuned…

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September 2

Fall 2014 Writing Plans/Schedule

As you can see, time’s gotten away from me again, and I haven’t updated here like I should. Part of that is because I’ve just been grabbing writing time as I can, and I often forget to document the details when that happens – I just write and quit when I run out of time. When I’m writing late at night, I’m often just too tired by the time I’m done to do one more thing (like documenting).  But it really doesn’t take much time to jot down a few notes and word counts, so I would like to pick that back up again.

I am still writing though, of course (every weekday, and this weekend too), and this fall is going to be a busy one as far as finishing drafts go. I have four drafts currently in the works, and another couple planned. To that end, here’s the writing/publishing plan for this fall (subject to change, of course):

MacKenzie Saves the World (contemporary romance)  ** Done! **
Finish Draft: September 1
Tentative Release Date: Oct. 3rd

When She Cries (horror/suspense)
Finish Draft: Oct. 3
Tentative Release Date: Oct. 31st
The Bedrock Arrangement (erotic romance)
Finish Draft: Oct. 31
Tentative Release Date: Dec. 12th

Under His Wing (paranormal romance)
Finish Draft: Oct. 31st
Tentative Release Date: Dec. 19th

If I can meet that Oct. 3rd deadline for finishing up WSC, I’ll do another quick Death by Veggies story for Alex in October as well. Cooking with Kale sounds innocuous enough, but you know it won’t be, right? 😉

And then comes November, which is really what this whole accelerated schedule is all about. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I have a special project planned for then. I’ll be writing the first draft of a new story for older children to be released by Black Wolf Print sometime next year. That entire draft will need to be completed by Nov. 30th, and then I’ll probably just work on something smaller in December.

So, assuming I can barrel through and get all these drafts finished in a timely manner (ie, one day before NaNo starts), the entire month of November will be blocked out for writing The Time Stone, the first in my new Stone Scavengers series. And that’s all I’ll be doing that month…no serials, no other drafts, just single-minded focus on that one draft.

That’s the plan for the next few months. By Christmas I should have five, maybe six drafts finished and four or five more books published. It’ll be fun, and a little freaky, and a lot chaotic. Let the games begin…

August 21

Writing Notes, August 20, 2014

Writing Session 1: MacKenzie Saves the World
Author/Genre: JD/sweet romance
Words written:  198
Total words:  42,026
Time Spent: 15 minutes

Notes: Aaand…scene cut. To cliffhanger. Sorry, my pretties. It had to be done… 😉


 
Writing Session 2: Under His Wing
Author/Genre: JD/contemp. paranormal romance
Words written:  198
Total words:  22,647
Time Spent: 15 minutes

Notes: This…is not going to end well…


Writing Session 3: Under His Wing
Author/Genre: JD/contemp. paranormal romance
Words written:  355
Total words:  23,002
Time Spent: 30 minutes

Notes: My readers are not going to be happy with me this week, I’m afraid. I think I smell something burning…

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August 21

Writing Notes: August 19, 2014

Writing Session 1: MacKenzie Saves the World
Author/Genre: JD/sweet romance
Words written:  294
Total words:  41,502
Time Spent: 15 minutes

Notes: Good start to this scene, methinks. And I know where the rest of it is headed, if I can just get it all typed out. Dang slow fingers…


Writing Session 2: MacKenzie Saves the World
Author/Genre: JD/sweet romance
Words written:  326
Total words:  41,828
Time Spent: 30 minutes

Notes: Still not quite done, but that’s only because I need to find a good spot to end the scene. Just one more “black moment”, and then we’ll be in the home stretch. Finally! These guys have put me through the wringer…I’m ready to shove them into their happy ending and move on to something else! 😉

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August 15

Writer’s Notes: August 14, 2014

Writing Session 1: Under His Wing
Author/Genre: JD/contemp. paranormal romance
Words written:  222
Total words:  22,449
Time Spent: 15 minutes

Notes: Uh-oh. I just hate it when nothing works like it was supposed to, leaving our heroine in mortal danger and her hero in a panic. This should be interesting…


Writing Session 2: When She Cries
Author/Genre: AW/suspense
Words written:  570
Total words:  26,798
Time Spent: 30 minutes

Notes: Now that’s a serious mind game right there. Will it be the start of Nicole’s ultimate undoing? Or did Patrick just cut his own throat, figuratively speaking? Either way, this is gettin’ kinda heavy…


Writing Session 3: The Bedrock Arrangement
Author/Genre: TM/erotic romance
Words written:  583
Total words: 14,805
Time Spent: 60 minutes

Notes: I can’t end this scene where it is, because…conversation. So I’ll have to finish it tomorrow. But it’s off to a really good start. I wish I could say the same about how it’s going to end… *sigh*

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