Writer Doubts and Pushing On

The last two weeks I’ve been plagued with doubts about The Queen’s Rebellion Series. The kind of doubts that can be crippling. Things like:

  • Am I going about this character/scene/plot line the right way?
  • Am I doing justice to the character/plot?
  • Should I keep this? Should I delete this? Is this really necessary?
  • Am I making the plot/theme of the story clear?
  • Should I slow down and explain more? Or do I need to explain less and speed up?
  • Is book #1 interesting enough for people to continue to read the rest of the series or will it fall flat?
  • Would the people reading this be confused because I forgot to put something in?
  • Did I start too soon in the story? And should I get rid of book #1?

Anyone seeing the start of a pattern here? Yeah, I’m having issues with book #1. I know that I finished writing it back in January and moved on to book #2, but I’ve got this niggling feeling that I’m doing it wrong.

Wow! Just had a flashback to the movie Mr. Mom. For those who would like to know what I’m talking, here’s a YouTube clip to explain.  

Anyhoo, right now I’m filled with doubts about this book and really wished I had an alpha reader or several. I’ve been wanting to use that new (for me) term forever BTW 😀 . Because I would really like to discuss the particulars of the story over with someone who reads (sadly, hubby is not one of those people) and see if I’m missing something or if I’m doing packing to many subplots into the story.

But since I don’t have an alpha reader, or beta readers anymore, I’ll just have to push on and hope for the best.

Cross my fingers and pray! LOL


Want to know the difference between an Alpha Reader and a Beta Reader?

The Alpha Reader gets to read the unfinished draft, pieces of the draft, or may even act like sounding board for ideas. They should give you honest, immediate feedback on how the story plays, not line-specific notes. They’re the people who tell you what bores them, what confuses them, what’s cool, and what’s unbelievable.

The Beta Reader gets to read through the “almost ready” for publication draft and give you honest feedback on how the story plays –like what bores them, what confuses them, what’s cool, and what’s unbelievable– typos and grammar mistakes they find, and line-specific notes.

February 2017 Reading List

I tried something different with this last month, but I really didn’t like the format. So I’m going back to making my monthly reading list a separate post again, with one big change. I’m not going to post the description and a sentence of why I liked or didn’t like it. I’m actually going to write a short review. 😀

reading

I spent the first week of February doing a lot of reading while I tried to figure out what was wrong with my current works-in-progress. Below are the five books that I like/loved enough to recommend. There were another four stories that I read, and while I found them interesting, they are not something I would recommend.

What I did like and would recommend are:

Chained (Brides of the Kindred, 9) by Evangeline Anderson

You know those moments in life when you do something good for someone else because it’s right, only to watch it backfire in every way imaginable, but in the end it all turns out good, or even better than you thought it might. That is this story.

Maggie is on a routine mission to Gaia for research, only the ship she’s on needs to make a detour to female dominated Yonnie Six to drop off a package. It only goes down hill from there when Maggie decides to rescue a slave from certain death. Only Korexiroth, or Kor, is far more dangerous than she believes and he is not about to abandon Maggie after she saved him. Only problem is every turn they make brings them closer together and into deeper and deeper trouble. There was a point when I was afraid that the characters wouldn’t get over their past issues and would be miserable forever without the other.

Divided (Brides of the Kindred, 10) by Evangeline Anderson

This is not the type of book I usually read. I’m not into erotic romance with love triangles or threesome, but I could not read the next book in the series. So very much would have been lost if I had skipped this book.

So I read it and I found that I liked it more than I thought I would. Becca is about to take her vows as a nun when she accidentally eats some very potent aphrodisiac cake and with the help of twin kindred warriors survives the ordeal. Only now she’s falling hard for the brothers who were separated at birth and believes she needs to choose between the two brothers who hate each other and refuse to share her as Twin Kindred do. It doesn’t help when something evil threatens to destroy all the Kindred protecting Earth and Becca, Far, and Truth are sent on a mission they believe will help stop it.

Dead Again by Tracy Cooper-Posey

I was drawn to this book because if the tagline, “They killed him—now they are back for survivors.” I couldn’t pass up a hook like that.

From the start to nearly the end I was on the edge of my seat thinking “Who the Hell is this guy?!” Mobster? Police? Criminal? Agent?

Sophie Ryerson is a woman who survived a plane crash that should have killed her with one other person, Jack Laubreaux. He saved her life and then died of his own injuries. Ten years later, she sees a man who reminds her of Jack and she’s drawn him. Martin Stride is a drifter who just wants a job and a warm place to sleep for winter. Sophie offers him both and he knows he shouldn’t accept, but he can’t seem to make himself walk away. He’s tired of running away from what he wants. 

Writing a Book in a Week: How to Profit with Self-Publishing by Alex Foster

This is one of those books that I ran across while searching for writing books and while I will probably never write a 65,000 word novel in a week, I figured it might have advice on writing faster and it did have a lot of it. Plus side, it’s a free read.

I love free books, especially when it comes from an unknown writer or it’s something I’m interested in but not sure if I want to spend my book money on. If I like their writing style, I don’t mind adding them to my wishlist for future book purchases.

I would suggest this book for writers getting started or who want to write faster but don’t want to spend the money on more expensive books.

 The Divine Guide to Creating a Daily Writing Practice by Pernille Norregaard

I’ve been wanting to create a daily writing practice for years and this book condenses all the stuff that I have learned over the years in articles into one book. Kinda like a reference book for setting up your writing habit.

This is another book that I found for free and I really didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, but I would recommend it to writers who are looking to find more time to write and put your writing time to good use, deal with the fear and limiting beliefs that holds you back, and give you a strategy to stick with your writing routine.


Keeping Track!

This year one of my goals is to read at least 50 fiction books & 5 non-fiction books. 

January 2017: I read 5 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book.
February 2017: I read 7 fictions and 2 non-fiction books.

Total Fiction read this Year: 12 books.
Total Non-Fiction read this Year: 3 books.

Happy reading to ya’ll!

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February 2017 In Review

I’m back for a second “In Review” Post, however, I decided to change the layout this time. I might tweak it again next month, so please bear with me as I work toward a format that I like.

Now personally, I’m constantly reviewing my life to see where I can improve, what I can get rid of, and make sure I don’t get caught up in the “you should be doing this” (total bullshit, BTW) rather than the “I want to be doing this”. I’ve learned from my mistakes in writing for business rather than pleasure and it’s not something I want to repeat. (I promise! Really! LOL OK, so probably not so much.)


So, my Life this Month… 

Ran smoothly for the most part, thanks for asking. 😀

No surprise firestorms or hurricanes, although there was a lot of snowstorms  this month, and even a snow day or two. We were even able to make it to the orthodontist for a six-week checkup and back without incident.  Little T, my oldest daughter, might have her braces off sooner than planned. YAY! But Little K, my youngest daughter, still has a few months and should have an x-ray soon to see if she has the needed room for her teeth to come in properly.

I’m looking forward to the braces being gone. The extra time taking care of them and travel to their offices and back is a pain in the ass.

This month I spent most of my mornings hanging out with hubby before he heads to work, writing during the four hours that I have before the girls get home, and hanging out with the girls for the rest of the evening before bed.

Little K came home around the first of the month with a desire to do Yoga. She was inspired by a teacher who showed the girls how to do the “Crow” (outside link for the interested). Ever since we’ve been trying to integrate Bedtime Yoga into our evenings although with less advanced positions. I’m just not that balanced. LOL


My Goal to Finish Writing 5 Books in 2017

This went awesome!

I really want to finish writing all the five books in The Queen’s Rebellion Series (crossing my fingers that I won’t find a reason to write more. I believe five books in a series is my limit.). I started these books in 2014 and due to personal and family stuff I wasn’t able to finish them. Now I’m back to writing and working toward finishing them. I know, “It’s about damn time!”

Now this goal doesn’t include editing or publishing the books, although I’m hoping to get that done this year too. First, I want to finish writing the entire series before I even think about editing them. However, I’m looking toward a 2018 release date for all five books and the series box set.

There was one draw back this month, but it turned out to be the best one so far. When I finished The Warlord’s Daughter and started writing The Scout’s Captive, I had this niggling feeling that something was off with the story and so I finally broke down and printed off all 340 pages (that’s 8.5″x11″ sized pages, not 5.5″x8.5″ sized pages) to look over. I found that I needed to make some changes that I wasn’t expecting but which improved the stories of each book. You can read more about in Listening to my Inner Writer.

Due to these changes, I’m hoping that I will be finishing the books ahead of schedule.

the_warlords_daughter_1_webThe Warlord’s Daughter

Phase: writing completed 01/5/2017
Word Count: 66,715 (but only because I moved two scenes to TSC. I have two, possible three scenes to write.)
Due: February 1st

the_scouts_captive_2_webThe Scout’s Captive

Phase: Writing
Word Count:  78,422
Due: April 1st

the_lost_heir_3_web

The Lost Heir

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,734
Due: June 1st

the_empty_throne_4_webThe Empty Throne 

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,910
Due: September 1st

the_rebel_queen_5_web

The Rebel Queen

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 43,039
Due: December 31st


 My Goal to Write Everyday &
Write 300,000 New Words in 2017

Part of my writing goals for 2017 is to write every weekday and add 300,000 new words this year. This month has required a little more discipline on my part because Hubby’s work schedule changed and so my schedule had to change with it. So no more writing in the morning after the kids leave. 😦

Most days I’m forced to wait until the afternoon to start writing and by then I’m tired or distracted by other things. I wish I could say that the change is easy for me, but I’m a very routine oriented and the constant back and forth every month screws me up for a few days to most of the month.

Even with the change in schedule, the word count and writing every weekday goals went better than I thought they did. Despite thinking that I would take the weekends off, I usually ended up writing something, even if I did it old school and wrote a scene in my notebook rather than on my laptop.

Days I wrote: 20
Days I didn’t write: 8

February’s Word Count for February: 28,346 new words
Total Word Count for 2017:
 62,979 new words

Note: The 300,000 words doesn’t include words written for blog posts or web pages unless it was something creative. I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to keep track of my progress and I would suggest it to anyone who wants to do the same. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.


My Goal to Write in my Work/Writing Journal

After reading Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, I decided that I wanted to keep a writing journal for my works-in-progress. I started this goal in December in my Bullet Journal.

In January 2017, I started to use one of the journals I’ve had lying around forever. So far I like how it is turning out. I don’t always remember to write in it before I start writing but I figure it’s a work-in-progress.

work-journal

I believe I bought this leather journal in 2001 with several refill journals and never used it. Ah, such is the life of a writer.


And My Office Goal

Yet another goal of mine is to create an inspiring work space, which I knew wasn’t going to be easy when I made the goal because even though we are living in a house that is two to three times larger than our cabin, my office area is smaller than ever.

officebefore

My old office in the cabin was roughly 4’x8′ and there was more storage space with my printer stand/shelves & filing cabinet that you can’t see in the picture.

office

My office space now is about 2’x4′ and doesn’t include the filing cabinet which holds other paperwork unrelated to me at all or my printer stand/shelves which was re-purposed for something to do with movies.

Since I’m once more in the living room, which is filled with distractions and very limited on space, and everything I need for writing has to be on the desk, I’ve had to make some changes like:

  • The wire basket on the left side of my desk holds notes for current writing projects, my day planner, and blog notes. Then if I have to work somewhere else, like the kitchen table or the counter in our bathroom, I can take the basket with me. Anything I don’t need for the moment has to be stored elsewhere in the house (which is really annoying).
  • The big black binder on my desk is my story binder for The Queen’s Rebellion. It holds all my notes on the world and characters for the series, plus pictures and maps and timelines. I found the printed version much easier than the digital one. It’s in need of an update though. (My favorite how to create a series binder explanation is on YouTube by author Kami Garcia.)
  • The black book on the right of my laptop is the work/writing journal I mentioned above. It’s where I record all the boring details of what I’m writing, how I feel about what I wrote, ideas for the stories, etc.
  • The stacks of crap in the shelves on the right side of my desk is everything I’m working on making digital or that I need close by. It’s been a goal of mine for a few years now to make my office as digital as possible. I’ve been going through all my papers when I have time and deciding what to keep and what to toss. When I have the chance I type up notes for future books (I love using Scrivener for this. I find it very helpful) and any notes I’ve made while reading books or articles (I like OneNote for this).
  • Since my desk faces the window and I have no walls to hang my corkboard of inspiring quotes, writing calendar, dry erase board for notes, or pictures, I’m creating a desktop slide show for quotes and pictures, and my planner for my writing calendar. So far I have eighteen pictures or inspiring quotes. I’ve been thinking of placing it on this website as a freebie for other writers, but I have to look into copyright issues first.

If I could find another space in the house for my office space that didn’t include me getting rid of my awesome desk or our furniture, I would do it in a heartbeat, but it’s not possible. Trust me, I’ve looked. 😦


My Plans for Next Month…

Are limited to watching for that first cow who is going to calve, feeding the livestock, working toward finishing The Scout’s Captive, and starting The Lost Heir.

Wishing you all the best,

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Listening to my Inner Writer

You would think after twenty years of writing, I would learn this simple lesson: Listen to your Intuition, your inner writer knows what it is doing. But apparently I haven’t, or maybe I should say, that it is harder than I thought to listen to the whispering voice that is telling me that I have to do something differently with the story.

the_warlords_daughter_1_webShortly after finishing The Warlord’s Daughter in January, that small niggling that something was off in the story intensified. As I worked through the scenes of The Scout’s Captive, that feeling grew stronger. By the first week of February, the niggling that something was off had become a shout to “Stop!”

Unlike last time, where that inner voice was telling me that there was something wrong with plot of the story, this time it was making a suggestion that I completely ignored. Why? Because I’m frugal with money and I didn’t want to waste paper or ink printing off everything.

So I had this burning desire to write the next part of the story and every time I sat down to do it I totally froze up. My inner writer was refuses to let me go any farther until I paid attention to it. Which is why I took the time to print out all the books, spent the last five days not writing so I could reassess the elements and structure of my stories, and making any structural changes. I got the idea for this from Twin Creatives.

I might have lost a few days of adding new words to the books by debating the merit of every scene I’d written or that I planned to write in all five books, but in the end it was worth the time I took away from writing.

the_scouts_captive_2_webThe story structure really needed to be assessed because there were more than a few scenes that needed to be moved, added, deleted or merged. There was an entire section of scenes in books four and five that needed to be moved, merged, and deleted that made me glad that I hadn’t started writing them.

The unexpected changes that I made helped tighten and improve the story plot of each book, and reading through a hard copy of the stories also helped me understand the main plot of each book better. However, the changes to The Warlord’s Daughter shortened the books significantly, but I prefer a shorter story that moves the story along then a longer one brimming with filler scenes that don’t progress the plot. The Scout’s Captive, The Rebel Queen, and The Empty Throne gained quite a few scenes that enhance the plots of each story instead of taking away from them.

One change that I really didn’t expect was that I realization that the order of The Rebel Queen and The Empty Throne may have to be switched, but I’m going to wait until I’m a little further along before making that determination. I believe the only book that didn’t change much was The Lost Heir.

The small drawback won’t affect my goal to finish writing all five books in The Queen’s Rebellion Series this year. If anything it will help me finish them before their deadlines and get them ready to be published next year.

Wishing you all the best this February,

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January 2017 in Review

Welcome to my first “In Review” Post! Personally, this is something that I usually do at the end of each week so I can stay on track with the goals I made, but I thought a weekly post about what was working, what wasn’t, and how I could improve on a goal would be too much. Instead I’m going to do a monthly “In Review” posts, unless that gets too annoying and I decided to post this every 3 or 6 months.

Now, not all the goals I made this year were writing related but the ones I posted here in December were. My hope was that by publishing them and making monthly assessments on how I’m doing with them, I will rock these goals!

We’re about a month into 2017 and this is how I’m doing so far:


My Writing

Writing at least 300,000 new words this year (doesn’t include words written for blog posts or website unless it was something creative): I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to track my word count goal this year. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.

Total Word Count for January: 34,633
Total Word Count for 2017:
34,633

Finish writing 5 books this year (this doesn’t include editing or publishing them. That will come after I finish writing the entire series):

the_warlords_daughter_1_web the_scouts_captive_2_web the_lost_heir_3_web the_empty_throne_4_web the_rebel_queen_5_web

As of January 16, 2017 the first draft of The Warlord’s Daughter (due February 1st) is done. It came in at 97,149 words. 

I started The Scout’s Captive (due April 1st) January 16, 2017. I have 51,102 words written so far.

The other books will be: The Lost Heir by June 1st (about 58,000 words written); The Empty Throne by September 1st (about 10,000 words written); The Rebel Queen by December 31st (about 10,000 words written).


Books I Read This Month

One of my goals is to read at least 50 fiction books & 5 non-fiction books. So far this year I’ve read 5 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book. The last one was a short story that caught my eye.

    

  

Happy Reading y’all!


My Other 2017 Goals

Nurturing my creativity by spending more time doing fun things with my family because downtime is therapeutic for the creative brain: I’m doing better at enforcing Family Time during the evenings and on weekends. I decided that I can always write after everyone heads to bed or get up earlier in the morning. 

Unplugging from the electronics on the weekends: I’ve been inspired to write on the weekends for a few hours in the morning or at night. They are usually blog posts as they are the easiest to return too when I’m interrupted.

Be a better writer and develop my writing craft by taking at least 1 writing craft related ecourse or workshop before the end of the year: I haven’t even started this one because I’m afraid of a repeat of the last two seminars I attended online (going somewhere isn’t an option I’m even considering) because:

  1. When I spend money for the event like I did for the first one, I expect to gain some benefit from it and get what was promised me. Even though this seminar was aimed at helping writers promote and market their books, There were only 2 speakers in the whole lineup that had any advice for fiction writers and another 3 had advice that could be modified for fiction writers, but most of the speakers focused on marketing and promoting books for self-help writers who wanted speaking gigs. 
  2. If I sign up for it, I need to know that I can be there for the lectures. The second seminar that I signed up for started on a Thursday and went until Saturday. I had nothing going on that week and planned to watch them, either live or as a replay. It ended up being a busy weekend and I missed most of the seminar. I found out later that the link for the replays only lasted 24 hours so I didn’t get to see most of them. The only plus side for that seminar was that it was free and research for a series I plan to write in the future.

I really want to take a few classes that I’ve had my eye on for a few years now, but I’m afraid to do it because my schedule can go from empty to chaotic in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to start a class and then not have the time to work on the assignments or attend the lectures. If I’m going to take a class then I want benefit fully from it.

Writing and maintaining a work journal each writing day: I started this in December last year after I started to read Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I combined this with how I was using my new planners and tried to keep it going through January but by week two of the new year I knew I needed to do something different. I’d start to write an entry, get distracted or interrupted, and never returned to the journal. So most my entries looked like this: Worked on fixing scene between… (can’t begin to tell you who) or I need to remember to… (not sure what, I can’t remember).  I tweaked this goal a bit and tried it again. It’s working much better now but I’m not quite happy with it.

Be more disciplined in my writing by writing something (story, blog post, letter) every weekday but not feeling too upset if I don’t write something one day because sometimes daydreaming is working too: I have 27 days where I wrote and 4 days where I wrote nothing. Most days I wrote something in my current story.

Create an inspiring work space by keeping my office area/desk de-cluttered for better working and creating a desktop slideshow of inspiring quotes and pictures for my computer: I figure this will be an on-going goal. Right now my desk/office area is mostly clean, except for the pile on the left side of my desk. I’m still looking for pictures or quotes that inspire me to add to my desktop slideshow. 

Work on my time management by using the planners I created and bought, setting writing goals at the beginning of every month and reviewing them daily to see where I can make improvements, and sticking with the daily work routine that I created to mesh with my family’s schedules (to be tweaked as needed).: My plan for the planners failed two weeks into using them. They weren’t helping me manage my time, they were a time suck that took away from writing time. I downsized to one planner and decided that I would switch off to see what one I liked better. I started by taking all the goals I set for myself and breaking them down to actionable steps to make it easier to incorporate into my life. 

Be a healthy writer by keeping the daily exercise routine I started, making healthier meal choices, and drink more water.: I could do better with this one. I substituted the time it takes to feed the cows and load the hay truck with my normal exercise. It’s the water situation that I need pay more attention to, which reminds me that I need a drink of water.

Okay, I’m back.

Maintaining my meditation and affirmation practice I started in 2016.: I found that I love meditation and it was something that went really well with walking during the summer months. Now that it’s winter, I’m having trouble sitting still and my meditation practice fell by the way side. I tried a 30 Day Affirmation Challenge in January but I really hated the affirmations they choose. I want to create my own affirmations for February. 


So there you have it! All my 2017 writing related goals. 😀

I would love to hear about your goals for the new year if you’d like to share?

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