Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Hey everyone. It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. For those of you who don't know, the IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Once a month, we share our insecurities, then visit each other and encourage each other. You're more than welcome to sign up. For more information and the entry list, please click here.


This month's question actually ties in quite nicely with my insecurities... 

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I'd actually like to be writing (and doing writing-related activities) full-time by the end of next year. (Actually, I'm basically working as if I'm full-time already, but it'd be nice to actually make a living from it.)

Five years from now, I'd like to be making a very comfortable living from my writing.

As for my plan to get there:

I'm using my writing skills to freelance as an editor/beta reader/article writer on Upwork and Fiverr. I'm also working on building a Patreon following, and obviously I'm selling books. Right now, I'm putting all of the money I'm generating back into making more money (E.G. through marketing, or through paying for products that aid me in writing, editing etc.)

Eventually, I'll hopefully be in a place where my writing earns enough for me to make a living. And actually, it's not all that impossible. The lucky thing is that I live in South Africa, which means I'm earning in Dollars and living in Rands. So, if I managed to make $500 a month after expenses, I'd actually have the same income as a good starting office job salary. (And 2.5 times my country's minimum wage.)

My insecurity right now, though, is my life at the moment. I'm not going to go into exactly what's going on right now, but every time it feels like we've finally clawed our way out of the shit we'd been dragged into, something comes by to shove us back in.

So at the moment, I'm trying not to feel like I'm never going to get anywhere again, but the thing is, the thought is there. It exists. And the only way for me to make it go away is by pushing through and working anyway to build up the life I want.

It'd just be nice if I didn't need to worry as much.

How are you doing? Do you set five year goals? 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Finally! A chance to update.

I'm finally back, with enough breathing room to let you know how I did with my crazy goals bloghop. This... isn't really a good thing, but because I'm tired of complaining, I'm just going to ignore the reason why I haven't been able to spend time in front of my computer and leave it at that.

There's no point to talking about the situation yet, because I'm just going to depress myself when things could actually be okay.

So.


I ended up resetting my goal in September to allow for any income related to my writing skills to go toward my $7500 a month goal goal. (Which means, editing, ad money from a writing blog, money for hosting writing classes, royalties etc. all count.) 

On this new system, I'm taking a look at income generated and word-count, because I do really want my actual book writing to add the majority to my income. 

Generated Income


Last month, I'd set a goal for $300 generated which is the sum of incomes generated previously and future income. Yes, this means I count the incomes twice, but it works because I want to see how my income generation grows while also seeing how much I'm actually getting in every month.

This month, though, some royalty money I'd loaned to my family got paid back, and it was enough to actually boost my income so much that I lifted the goal to $500 about half-way through. (And then still managed to get over that.) 


But because most of this money is a real windfall (writing related as it is), I decided to keep the goal at $500 this month, because it's a nice, lofty goal to reach for, which should keep me busy for time being. 

What am I spending all this money on? Mmm... first, the programs I need to update my books. Second, I bought a new web domain (with a custom e-mail address.) Other than that, I'm buying a map for The War of Six Crowns and everything else will go into a kitty to either carry me if I happen to go into a lean month (which feels like it might happen this month) and marketing. 

I'm delaying most of my marketing plans until my books are updated. (Just makes sense to me.) So really, finishing those updates are vital. 

Writing

When it comes to writing, I didn't achieve most of what I'd wanted to do, but I did win NaNoWriMo. In fact, I ended up writing 60,000 words.


I still feel like I've got 100,000 words to go. (Yes, I'm aware this book is huge.) So, I have a bit of a monster task in front of me. Especially now that I have a fraction of my time available. 

So... I don't think I'll be able to finish the book this year. (Which makes me really, really upset. Deep breaths.) 

I also need to finish updating my books this month so I can start pushing with marketing. I'm hoping to start with this over the weekend. I'm just glad to have all the tools at my disposal again. I just need time. (Deep deep breaths.) 

So how are you doing? 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Checking in

Hey everyone! Sorry for not posting on Friday! I know I was supposed to update on my goals, but some stuff happened last week that threw a lot of things up in the air.

So, I decided to postpone until the 30th. Hopefully things will be settled down again by then.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Four Tools for Revising Your First Chapter by Crystal Collier


Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some writing tips!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

4 Tools for Revising Your First Chapter

Thank you Misha for having me here today!

We all struggle with beginnings. Let's face it. You've got an epic story, but that first sentence is the toughest to get on the page.

My advice?

Skip it.

That's right jump over that first sentence and just write.

What?!? Here's the deal. It's almost guaranteed you will come back and restructure your beginning. Hovering over the first sentence is like worrying what flavor of icing you want before deciding the flavor of the cake.

When you come back to revise, start as late into the story as possible. No traveling to the place where the story starts. No sitting and pondering the upcoming trouble. As a writer, it's your responsibility to drop us into a boiling vat, right from the get go. (Meaning trouble--not necessarily climactic action.) What inciting incident sets the characters on a journey? Start us there.

So if you're at the point where you're ready to revise and make your beginning kick trash, where do you start? Good editing is about asking good questions. Here are some aspects you should question about your beginning:

(Disclaimer: I will be using examples from my books, not because I hold myself as an authority, but because this is a blog tour for my new release. Now BUY MY BOOKS. *winks*)

The first sentence: We appropriately put weight on this one line, but it doesn't have to be a mind-blowing literary masterpiece. What it does need to accomplish is AT LEAST two of these things:
  • Introduce a question or problem.
  • Show us the viewpoint character. (Including the perspective of the story--1st person, 3rd person, etc.)
  • Establish the mood.
  • Give us a snatch of the setting.
Example: (MOONLESS) Alexia was reasonably confident that exiting the carriage was the equivalent of stepping into Hell. (Character, mood, setting, and problem.)

The first paragraph: By the end of this paragraph (or two), your reader MUST be asking a question. If you've done your job right, the reader will be immersed in drama, care about your character, and be anxious for the next line.

Example: (SOULLESS) Alexia’s eyes snapped open, heart thundering. Well, she wasn’t dead. Yet.
The reader might wonder, "Why does she think she's going to die?"

The first page: By the end of the first 250 words, the reader needs to be grounded with the basics:
  • Who--is this character? (Name, gender, age, occupation, ethnicity or culture, orphan or surrounded by family/friends.)
  • Where? Physical location, time, etc.
  • What--is the problem?
  • Why--should I care? (Did you hook the reader on this character?)
  • and How--is the character going to face/overcome this problem?
If using an "all's-well" opening (where we KNOW life is good and it's going to be disrupted), there had better be a hint of trouble either foreshadowed or mentioned.

The first chapter: At this point, we all hope to have a bear trap clamped around the readers ankle. To do this, we need 1. a character they want to root for, or 2. a problem they need to solve, or 3. a metaphorical rug that got ripped out from under their feet. (Preferably, all three.)

1. This making us like the character, how does that work? Blake Snyder calls this the "save the cat" moment. The character has been placed in a circumstance where they have to show their inner convictions. In the first chapter of Soulless, Bellezza shows up to murder Alexia. Yay. Not only does Alexia escape her murderess by using her ability to freeze time, but faces Bellezza to interrogate her. (All while suffering through a blinding migraine caused by using her gift.) We see that she is angry and injured, but a person who confronts her fears rather than running away. There's something to root for.

Source
2. A problem that needs solving. We are all creatures of comfort. If there's a problem, it creates discomfort in the reader's mind, and a need for resolution. In the first chapter of TIMELESS, Alexia is battling the Knights Templar...eight months pregnant. (Yup. There's the problem.) They have hunted her and her companions from one place to another...all while facing the inevitable deadline of birth. Which could happen on the battlefield. Get to solving, Alexia!

3. The rug ripped out from under your feet. This is that moment, that last line or thought that makes you go, "Brrr?" The first chapter of Moonless ends with a mystery. A man straight out of Alexia's nightmares has appeared at a social gathering--the man she saw in her most recent dream standing over her dead host. Who here has met someone face to face who first appeared in their dreams?

In the end, formulating the perfect beginning is just about hooking your readers. Do that, and you've got it made.

What is your favorite/least favorite story convention for hooking readers?

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her and her books online HERE.


(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Huntress Found

Hey everyone. Not really in a head space where I can blog at the moment, but I wanted to stop by and give a shout-out to Alexia Chamberlynn, who has a new book out.



Title: Huntress Found
Series: The Timekeeper’s War, Book One
Author: A.A. Chamberlynn
Release Day: 11/11/16
Category: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Mythology Mashup with Sci-Fi and Steampunk
Price: 99 cents!!
Description:
From the author of the bestselling Zyan Star fantasy series comes a new world of magic...

Evryn’s got mad skills at playing hide and seek. She can find lost children, hack the most secure databases, pretty much anything. Except for the one thing she desires most: the knowledge of who her parents are, why they abandoned her, and what her special talent means about who and what she really is.

So, when a guy named Seeker appears quite literally out of nowhere, claiming to know about her past and offering her a job, Evryn can’t say yes fast enough. Even if it does mean following him to another realm. As in, mind-blowingly, not Earth. Apparently she’s part of an elite clan of Hunters descending from Artemis who can find just about anything in all of time and space. As the last of Artemis’ direct lineage, Evryn is her clan’s best shot at finding a lost city before rival clans do.

Not just any city, but the flying, realm-hopping city of Skye. Aboard Skye is the Artifex, a magical device with the power to create or destroy worlds. Everyone wants the device, and with Evryn’s super-powered lineage, it means everyone wants her, too. It’s hard to decide who she can trust, even within her own clan. After she discovers a strange, alluring connection to the Artifex, she’s not even sure she can trust herself. Worse yet, the only person who may be able to help her is the Timekeeper, the sadistic ancient being who created the Artifex. An interdimensional war is brewing, and Evryn is right at the epicenter of it all.

Let the hunt begin.

Book Links
Kobo 


Alexia’s Social Media Links:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Interview with Joylene Nowell Butler

Hey everyone! Sorry for my absence on Monday. I was going to post, but it was just one of those days, where everything that could delay my writing happened. :-/

Anyhow, I'm taking a quick break from my writing to host one of my old blogging friends, Joylene Nowell Butler, who's here as part of a blog tour for her new book, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries.


The follow-up to Broken But Not Dead, an IPPY Award Silver Medalist

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery...

When Canada's retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife's unsolved murder.

The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.

Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister's horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him...


Welcome to The Five Year Project, Joylene! Why don't you tell readers here a bit more about yourself?  


I’m a long-distance grandma, which makes me cry sometimes. My babies are 3000 miles away. We live on the west coast and they’re on the east coast. I keep busy so as not to miss them as badly. I have been writing since I was eight.  Storytelling is in the blood. Can’t imagine what normal people do for inspiration. (grin) I’ve been fortunate to have three books and one anthology published. I never take that blessing for granted.  

What inspired you to write this story? 

Mâtowak is the sequel to my second novel. I thought I was finished with the characters, but Sally Warner (minor character) began to haunt me. Finally, I stopped and listened. She was scary at first. Could I write a story about a woman losing her mind? Turns out I could!

What do you love most about your story? 

I love that they are decent people in extraordinary circumstances. I love that no matter how much money or prestige you have, happiness is not a given. I love that no matter how many times Danny gets kicked (metaphorically) he keeps getting up. I especially love that Danny has compassion for Sally despite the huge differences in their lives. Sally is privileged. Danny has had to work hard for everything he has. 

What was the most challenging thing about writing it? 

The most challenging aspect of writing Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries was staying in the perspective of a woman losing a grip on reality. How to do that and stay credible was an on-going challenge. I didn’t want her to be dismissed or laughed at. I wanted my reader to find Sally interesting, sympathetic, and appealing, while at the same time able to understand why she was mentally unstable. I’m thrilled that the reviews so far comment that I was able to pull that off. Thank you, Reviewers!

Where can people find you and your book? 

The ebook Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com and Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C

The printed copy is available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Thanks and have a great rest of the week.

Thanks for visiting, Joylene! And all the best with your book! So, ladies and gents, don't you also think Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries sounds like interesting reading? 

See you on Friday! 

Friday, November 4, 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 4

I'm very actively sprinting at the moment, so I'm also sprinting this post in between sprinting sessions. Literally typing this while keeping my eye on the clock.

I did, after all, promise a more substantial post today.

What I didn't count on, though, was someone breaking into our house last night. Fortunately, most of our valuables were away from the break in area, so they only took one laptop and a camera, but it meant we spent hours making sure everything was alright, dealing with our insurance company, and the police. (Need the police case number to claim for theft.)

So yeah, yet again, I'm behind.

Although, if I'm saying behind... I actually mean I'm behind my self-imposed goal. At the beginning of the month, I decided to push myself this NaNo, so I'm not only going for 50k. I'm going for 150k.

When I'd started, I felt a bit frazzled and intimidated. So much so, I completely forgot about my IWSG post on Wednesday. (Sorry, Alex!)

I'm kinda glad, though. Because instead of spending time on writing out all my worries (and giving them air to breathe), I knuckled down and wrote. Got 4k on Wednesday, 5.4k yesterday, and I'm at 4k now and aiming for 2k more.

In other words, as of right now (which might change in two minutes), I've written over 14k words since Tuesday. To get to 150k, I should be at 20k, but you know what? If my word count ends up over 100k this month, a few thousand words here or there won't be the end of the world.

The amazing thing is... Right now I'm not feeling it.

I'm breaking up my writing into two or three sessions and writing. And more than that, I'm excited about where the story is going.

I mean, I'm always excited about The War of Six Crowns, but in these past few days, I've laughed, cried, begged someone not to do something stupid, and saw a little bit of hope. (Which I take to mean the readers will be going on one hell of a ride.)

Also, I've now written out 25 of (currently planned) 80 chapters. You'd think I'd feel a bit bleak to be hitting the middle, but really... these past five chapters were just perfect for opening up my way to the end. They just added another deep level of emotional complexity to what's going on, which will carry through, not only to the end, but even into the rest of the series.

So yeah. I'm stoked.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How are you doing? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Hey everyone. Before we get into my post, please do go give Linda Baten Johnson's guest post some love. Please and thank you!

So, as the name suggests, today is day 2 of NaNoWriMo. Yesterday didn't go so well for me. I started off with waking up late, and then just never seemed to quite catch up. I came in just under par.

Today's another story. I've already written 4k, and am trying to see if I can write 2k more before I go sleep.

So... I'm going to keep today's post short and sweet. I really just don't have time to put my thoughts together, but I'll be back on Friday with something better. Promise!

How's NaNo going for you?