All Write!

Updates on my progess towards getting published

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I’m a few days late with this post but – feel free to skip this paragraph if you don’t care why ;p – considering Cyclone Debbie hit our area, first blocking the road south to the funeral we were supposed to go to on Friday (we’d already driven halfway there before the roads flooded), then causing the evacuation of the area the funeral was being held, resulting in rescheduling the funeral. So we drove back home to enjoy my birthday and go to my writers group, then drove back down today for the rescheduled event, and all the way back too. You can imagine blogging has been the least of my worries these last few days ;p

So to wrap up March, I:

  • With a new 19,000 words, finished the first draft of ‘Skeleton Romance’. The draft is 64,000 words total – and yet I’m still no closer to a real title, maybe in edits?
  • Got a good start on Light In The Deep, an extra 3,200 words
  • Also wrote 17 writing prompts for Vision (I felt inspired to be inspiring ;p )

All up I wrote 22,000 words in March. I hit all my goals except the coming up with an actual title for ‘Skeleton Romance’, and did some work on my stretch goal too (for the first time in months ;p ), I’m pretty chuffed with those results.

For my April goals I plan to:

  • Help promote the release of the anthology WARRIOR from Ink & Locket Press which contains my latest short story: Glass Bones
  • Use the beta reader feedback on Glass Slippers to revise it
  • Use my critique group’s feedback over the last several months to revise Charming Rivals
  • Begin the first draft of Nothing Charming
  • Finish the first draft of Light In The Deep
  • Do a bunch of research on tension, including reading some good books (fiction and non-fiction) to help me with that

And for my stretch goal:

  • Use the editor’s feedback on Mudgerwokee to complete it and return to her (well before the July deadline)

So lots of revision this month, but still some fresh words for first drafts planned too. I might be being a bit over ambitious, but there’s so much I want to work on NOW that I can’t wait ;p

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This will be a short post since my main goal is big(ish) so there’s only one.

  • Finish the first draft of ‘Skeleton Romance’ (working title)

Stretch Goal:

  • Get a real title for ‘Skeleton Romance’

Extra Stretch goal:

  • Finish ‘Light In The Deep'(working title) novelette

Now, less blogging, more writing ;p

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Oops, I forgot to do January’s round-up.

So far this year I’ve written a new short story: Mudgerwokee. A horror tale which was initially 9,000 words, then I shaved down to 7,500 to meet the editor’s word count, but now based on the editor’s notes I’ll be bumping up a bit again to flesh out the ending.

I’ve also completed self-edits on the first sequel to Charming, a fun novella called Charming Rivals and getting it out to my critique group for feedback – a longish process since the story after editing has become 18,000 words long and I can only post 5,000 word each month to my group.

February I’ve spent most of focused on Glass Slippers, completing my self-edits on that novella(which includes adding almost 10,000 words) and have now sent it off to beta readers and should get the feedback returned by end of March. I also wrote a (completely unplanned and out of nowhere) an erotic scene between two characters from Glass Slippers. Considering the style of the novella though, I doubt that scene will ever see the light of day ;p

And for the last couple of days I’ve been getting my head back into the voice of Min, my first person perspective protagonist from ‘Skeleton Romance'(working title) as I intend to finish that novel’s first draft this next month. I’ve been rereading the 43,000 odd words I’ve already written to refamiliarise myself with both plot and voice. Yeah, yeah, I know you endlessly hear writing ‘gurus’ telling you to never do that, just push ahead with the draft, but sometimes advice needs to be ignored. I mean if I didn’t do this, how much more rewriting and editing would I need to do later? Is the three days I spent re-reading (note: I was reading, not editing) a bigger waste of time than the time I would spend in rewrites and editing because I wasn’t better prepared? Also, I’m not a newbie who has never finished a novel (I’ve finished several) and the advice feels aimed at newbies who are finding ways (subconsciously or otherwise) to avoid finishing their novel.

I also went to a seminar with Joanna Penn which was awesome and another step toward my ‘keep learning’ goal.

So a lot of editing, and some fresh new words (approximately 26,000 new words). Not a bad start to the year, but I’m going to have to push harder if I want to meet all my goals for the year.

How’s the first two months of 2017 been to you?

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A slide containing the post-it note listeners to The Creative Penn Podcast should be familiar with and Joanna discussing it.

Yesterday I had the distinct delight to go to a part speech part panel featuring the lovely and clever Joanna Penn.

It’s funny, here in Brisbane we get a bit ignored, we aren’t Sydney (who the rest of the world thinks is Australia’s capital, not merely a capital of one of our states) and we aren’t trendy Melbourne, so we get overlooked fairly regularly by celebrities(though perhaps not so badly as the other capitals ;p ). Thus I honestly never expected an amazing author like Joanna would come here. Naturally the second she mentioned on one of her podcasts she was coming here I was like ‘sign me up for whatever seminar she’s doing’.

And I did sign up. I went into the event thinking I’ve listened to so many of the podcasts (I started listening when Xander was still an infant, I’d do our daily walk with him in the stroller(so he would fall asleep) and my headphones in) that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t actually learn anything much new, maybe just one or two points I’d forgotten over the years. I was there for the sheer excitement of seeing THE Joanna Penn, not just hearing her voice like I do every week. At the end of the seminar I looked at the notebook I’d brought with me and saw I had four pages of notes! Some of it ideas that came from what she said or reminders to myself, but also a lot of fresh info.

One thing that surprised me a lot was how much Brisbane actually played into the early stage of her writing life. i mean you know the basic story from having read her non-fiction books and blog posts and having listened to the podcast, but it was one of those things that didn’t really sink in until I heard her talking about all these familiar things. I knew the suburb where she’d lived, her old house looked like it could have been down the street from any of the places I’ve lived, she did the ‘year of the novel’ course from QWC (which I’m a member of). Isn’t it interesting how these points of commonality make you feel closer to someone (even if you don’t actually know them ;p )

Joanna Penn, me, and Emma Lee Gough

There were plenty of laughs too, both in Joanna’s original presentation and the panel style chat that happened after that. The Q&A that wrapped the session up was informative and they took the time to answer pretty much every hand that went up – and those whose questions involved a more in depth answer they invited to come down and chat with them at the end for more details – and, best of all, at the very end Emma and I got a selfie with Joanna.

I absolutely recommend if you ever have a chance to see her speak you do so.

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I’m a few days late with this because I worked my ‘day job’ (which is a very weird term considering my *real* day job is caring for the kids and writing, more aptly it would be my ‘once or twice a week’ job ;p ) both public holidays, and the moment I came home on the second day we jumped in the car to head off for Xander’s birthday trip. I hope this busy-ness isn’t a sign of the year to come ;p

First, I’ll break down 2016 by the goals I set at the start of the year.

Goal #1 – Finish the edits of Written By The Stars. Gah, I did try a couple of times, but honestly I’m stymied by the same problem as last time, I just don’t know if I’m ‘fixing’ things that are good as they are and leaving things that do need repair. I think I need to just get some beta readers to go over it this year and use their feedback to help instead of boiling my own brain endlessly over it.

Goal #2 – Be the best president I can be of my writers group, Vision Writers. If being voted in again is a good guideline as to success in such a role then: success. 2016 saw a LOT of extra jobs in regards to this fall in my lap, several which I thought would be taken care of by others. Most of them were my own over-ambitious fault though ;p

Goal #3 – Work on my several novellas I published The Troll’s Toll and all the reviews on Amazon are very positive. I’ve got Glass Slippers almost to beta-reading point, and Skeleton Romance turned out to be a novel, not a novella. Quite happy with this one’s result.

Goal #4 – Keep writing and selling short fiction. I wrote 5 new short stories (about 50,600 words worth) and sold Glass Bones (being published very soon in the WARRIOR anthology from Ink and Locket Press), Hanabi to Kitsune, The Beauty of the Dance (published in Myriad Lands from Guardbridge Books) and God’s Chosen in Darkest Depths anthology from Vision Writers. Also published in 2016 (though not exactly ‘sold’ in 2016) were Gaps in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #63 and Charming in Leading Edge Magazine #68. I also have had the honor of having an editor approach me and ask me if I’d like to write a story for their next anthology (I’m currently working on the story).

Goal #5 – Finish one of the NaNo novels I started – dismally failed as I didn’t even try it 🙁

Goal #6 – Work with as many editors as I can. This went great. I worked with editors on Gaps, Charming (a whole team on this one 😀 ), Glass Bones, The Beauty of the Dance, and God’s Chosen.

Goal #7 – Find some dedicated beta readers. I didn’t get very far with this one sadly, but again, didn’t work as hard on it as I could have.

Goal #8 – Keep Learning. A good result and fairly easy considering how many editors I got to work with. Additionally I learned how to format an ebook and layout a print book, as well as discovering new story structures such as kishotenketsu. I also listened to a LOT of podcasts, including The Creative Penn, The Self Publishing formula, the Novel Marketing Podcast, and Writing Excuses.

So over all quite a good year. I wrote 134,000 new words and did a sizeable amount of editing and other writing endeavors. I could have done better on the novel side of things though.

As for 2017’s goals:

  • Publish at least three more of my Retailored Fairy Tales
  • Finish first draft, complete edits, and get to beta readers ‘Skeleton Romance’ (also give it a real title ;p )
  • Continue writing and traditionally publishing stories (won’t be hard with three sales already due for release ;p )
  • Continue learning
  • Continue being an awesome president of Vision Writers Group
  • Write at least three more Retailored Fairy Tales
  • Complete a novel (as in to the point I can resume submitting to agents)

So there’s a few very specific ones, and a few looser more general ones but I’ll certainly be kept busy.

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distraction thy name is Pokemon
distraction thy name is Pokemon

November was going pretty well, in fact I was even keeping a NaNo pace at the start. And then Pokemon Sun/Moon came out. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks ;p

As for the actual goals I completed Sugar Cane and Swam Monsters at 15,000 words, and I completed Glass Slippers rewrites at 39,000 words. The edits aren’t quite finished, I still need to do a read through and a scour through before it goes to beta readers, but considering how many new words went into and shuffling of scenes and ideas and subsequent fact/continuity checking this is still a pretty good result. Sadly, I didn’t get around to Charming Rivals or ‘Skeleton Romance’, though I did a lot of thinking about ‘Skeleton Romance’ and its climax.

For December I’m keeping the goals light as school lets out early so I’ll have both kids all day every day – except when I go to work! I want to:

  • Finish Glass Slippers edits and get it to betas
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Charming Rivals

Stretch Goal:

  • Complete (or at least continue) ‘Skeleton Romance’ first draft

I’d love to have December as a ‘race to the finish’ but we’ll see how things go.

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Yes, I carved jack'o'lanterns again ;p
Yes, I carved jack’o’lanterns again ;p

I spent the first two weeks of October going over (and over and over) Charming Rivals, there’s something wrong with it I’m sure, but I’ve been suffering a lot of self doubt lately which I can’t seem to shake. I’ve done what I could and submitted it to my writers group for feedback so hopefully I’ll hear back soon if I’ve fallen short.

Then I had a dream. A story dream. I have them every now and then; a dream which would be an awesome story. I spent that day writing just short of 4,000 words of outline as well as some choice dialogue snippets which had to be preserved before wakefulness stole too much of them. The story is currently under the working title ‘Romance Is Dead’, but I’m positive someone in the same genre will have already used the title, so it’s just my reference point for now.

‘Romance Is Dead’ wasn’t my only idea this month, I also had two others, and figured out a way to make the long-shelved The Eighteenth Soldier work better so I can finally complete its draft with confidence(though I’ll probably change it to sixteen soldiers since I’m no longer trying to make it fit a theme of ’18’ ;p ).

I wrote 6,200 new words in Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters. I’ve come across an unexpected thread in the story and am currently chasing the rabbit down the hole so might not keep all the words, but it’s fun none the less.

To be honest though, despite all that talk about working on Glass Slippers last month… well I didn’t even read the feedback from my group on it yet. I got so wrapped up in Charming Rivals, then ‘Romance Is Dead’, and now Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters. I need to get myself into gear.

I think my biggest problem at the moment is a lack of confidence in myself. I keep thinking my stories aren’t that good, then it seems like all of them are sub-par. I keep forgetting several of my stories have been written ‘off the cuff’, self edited with no other eyes on them, submitted, and been accepted for publication. Two of those by the first place I sent them to. One of them even went on to be an Aurealis Awards finalist. So I’m not crap. Yet I’m having some trouble getting my subconscious to accept that fact. I’m sure every writer (heck probably every PERSON) goes through this. But it bugs me because now I’m not sure if something really is wrong with a story, or I’m just being silly.

Enough pessimism, my goals for November are:

  • Finish Sugar Cane and Swamp Monsters
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Glass Slippers (and try to find beta readers if possible)
  • Complete edits based on writers group feedback of Charming Rivals

Stretch Goal:

  • Complete (or at least continue) ‘Skeleton Romance’ first draft

Though I may have to hold myself back from writing some of my new ideas also ;p

You may notice a lack of NaNoWriMo in my goals list. I’m not doing it this year. Why? Well partly for the same reasons as last year, but mostly because this year I’m supporting my husband in writing HIS novel! It’s a hilarious noir thriller called “I Am Not Liam Neeson”. I can guarantee if he finishes this he’ll sell his novel before I sell any of mine because it is comedy gold. And he doesn’t read my blog, so I’m not just saying that to pander him ;p

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cat-typingIt’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, maybe that’s why I suddenly feel like I’m this cat ;p

This past month I wrote the entire first draft of Charming Rivals (16,300 words), did a revision of Glass Slippers, and also wrote, edited, and submitted Hanabi to Kitsune (5,700 words). That’s 22,000  brand new words (there’s a reasonable number of new words in revision, but it’s much harder to track).

After several months and only really scraping together a couple of thousand words and almost the only editing I did was with professional editors for stories I’d already sold, to suddenly slam out 22,000 words and then some in one month feels like powering through.

Now to see if I can maintain the momentum.

For October I’d like to:

  • Revise Charming Rivals and start getting feedback on it.
  • Take the feedback from my writers group for the first 5,000 words of Glass Slippers and use it
  • After the above get feedback on Glass Slippers as a whole and revise
  • Assuming the above is completed hire an editor and begin the process of professionally editing Glass Slippers
  • Write the first draft of Nix, Naught, Nothing (the third Charming For Hire story from the Retailored Fairy Tales world

I also hope to find the time to tinker with the new My Book Table 3 plugin which I backed on Kickstarter. I want to check out this ‘beautiful page’ mode and see how sexy it is 😀

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me with myriad lands
not the greatest photo ever taken of me, but too happy to care

Guess what I received in the mail today?

My contributors copies of Myriad Lands volumes 1 and 2!

Myriad Lands volume 1 contains my latest short story The Beauty of the Dance.

The Beauty of the Dance is set in a world where music and dance are the source of magic and power. In such a world what must being tone deaf and uncoordinated be like? Sune can tell you. Despite being an embarrassment to her talented, prominent parents Sune is smitten with one of the court’s finest dancers, Avalessa. When the object of her affections life is threatened by political intrigue and magical danger what can Sune do to help her beloved?

An Honorable Mention in the Writers Of The Future contest Q1 2015, this is one of those stories I had a marvelous time writing(I almost always do though ;p ) but also had a great time rewriting and editing (less common) with help from my fabulous writers group, Vision Writers, and the editors at Guardbridge Books.

I can’t wait to read the other stories in the anthology and I hope you’ll check it out too.

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scrunched paperThis last three months – bleh! Scrunch them up and toss them in the bin!

Not only the loss of this time but a long term plan I sat down and worked out with a friend mean I need to do some goal reassessment. I know it’s not really mid-year, but shh ;p

So, most of my goals are remaining the same:

Goal #2 – Be the best president I can be of my writers group, Vision Writers.

Goal #6 – Work with as many editors as I can.

Goal #7 – Find some dedicated beta readers.

Goal #8 – Keep Learning.

A couple of goals are changing slightly, becoming more specific to fit my more accurate long-term plan:

Goal #3 – Work on my several novellas will remain basically the same, just more specific, with a set list of titles to focus on.

Goal #4 – Keep writing and selling short fiction. Same as above, I have a set list and order, though there is a tiny amount of wiggle room with this one should inspiration strike.

And a few goals have been tossed out for now while I focus on ‘the plan’. There is one new goal:

Goal #1 – Stick to the plan. Which essentially is, while I will continue to traditionally publish some of my short stories I will also be releasing several novellas and longer short stories set in my Retailored Fairy Tales world.

So keep an eye out, I’ve got a few more stories coming out this year (keep an eye out for the Kickstarter for the anthology which will hold Glass Bones next month), so if you’re keen to be updated don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.