On a post about productivity, David Farland talks about setting writing goals based on chapter or scene instead of time limit.
I try to do a little of both. Like… I go in saying: “I’m writing this scene today” and I try not to stop until the scene is done, but I also tend to use the Focus Booster timer.
What David says is true about my process as well, that it can be hard to get into it, but once you are in, it’s much easier to stay in. It’s about becoming captivated by your own world. Once you are involved in it, you, as the author, want to find out what happens next as much as a reader would.
It’s like getting immersed in a book or TV show or movie and the rest of the world falls away. It’s the writer’s equivalent of the runner’s high. If you can just get to that place, it’s bliss.
I tend to have a few different markers I use. One is a word count quota. My daily quota is 2,000 words, which truly isn’t a lot. On a day when I’m “not feeling it”, I can still manage to get that quota out in 90 minutes or less if I push through. But that’s just the thing that helps it not feel overwhelming to sit down and write.
If I’m REALLY having an off day I’ll lower my quota to 1k because that’s a word count that doesn’t feel difficult or stressful at all. But usually even when I do that I tell myself I’m just going to 1k, then I push through to 2k.
Another thing I use is the Focus Booster app. It’s a little timer with a color coded bar that sort of stays in your peripheral vision while you’re working to help keep you on task. Depending on the day, its effect can be: “You’ve only got a few more minutes to go, push through” or something more along the lines of: “Hurry, the timer bar is running down and you still have more you want to write.”
Depending on the day I’ll listen to the Focus Booster or my quota. Often both numbers coincide. But the REAL goal is to “get this scene written.” Often the section I want to write goes a little over the word quota. If I can get into that zone where I am totally immersed and enjoying being there, then finishing the scene or chapter is nothing.
The days when I can write more by story accomplishment than timer or word quota always feel like my most productive days (and my least emo days.)
Right now Save My Soul is free on Kindle for a limited time. If you’ve thought about trying my fiction but just haven’t had the chance or other things have pushed me further down on your list (believe me, I understand that one! TBR piles can be insane!), now is a great time to try me for free with no obligation.
Save My Soul is book 2 in the Preternaturals series, however, it can be read as a stand alone with no problem, particularly since it was originally written before the first book in the series.
Tell your friends!
Also, remember, you don’t need a Kindle e-reader to read a Kindle book. Amazon has a free Kindle-reader software app that you can download to your desktop computer, your phone, or your tablet reading device.
Save My Soul is also available in print (not free, sorry!) and Audible audiobook (also not free, however they do have awesome sign up specials, so if you think you’d like to try audiobooks—I enjoy them for walks—Save My Soul would be an excellent book to add to your Audiobook wish list.)
Okay, unless you’ve watched ALL of Downton Abbey including the season 3 Christmas Special… meaning the ENTIRE series up to this point, please don’t read this post. Leave now. Because it’s all spoilers and I don’t want anybody to get all pissed off about being spoiled. You’ve been warned.
Why are you still reading?
Okay… masochists and those who are all caught up…
So Matthew dies at the end of the season three Christmas special… right after Mary has had the baby. My mother is NOT going to be happy about this. She’ll be upset enough about Sybil but Matthew… oh man. I do not look forward to that. Eeek. Someone on IMDB actually said something like… we can’t be 100% sure he’s dead… even though the actor, Dan Stevens has given interviews about it and wanted out of the show and his contract was up… and they were writing him out of the show… still some IMDB people hold out this bizarre hope that somehow they convinced Dan to stay at the last minute so the character might not really be dead.
Are you freaking kidding me? He’s in a ditch, with his eyes wide open staring out at nothing, and a giant gash bleeding heavily on his head. Even in 2013 with our modern medical capabilities, most likely someone in that situation would be dead. Some injuries really do kill people instantly. It’s still true now, but it was VERY true then.
I’m not sure what is so confusing about the “staring into space with the eyes wide open” thing. That generally indicates death. It’s not just unconsciousness when it’s like that… it’s dead. If they wanted to make us think Matthew had died but he really hadn’t, or if they wanted to create a cliffhanger where we just didn’t know one way or the other, they would have shot the scene where we couldn’t see his face. We’d just see an unmoving body faced away from the camera with people running toward him.
And if somehow they did convince the actor to stay and they wrote him back into the show with some convoluted coma story, I’d stop watching because it would cease being realistic at that point. If they wanted to leave ANY window open for Stevens to return, a straight on staring into space with a bleeding head wound shot, isn’t the scene to leave us with. And any attempt to resurrect him at this point would be beyond contrived.
But honestly… the second I saw him driving in the car all happy and carefree, I knew he was about to die. It wasn’t necessarily because he was so happy. It was just the way it was filmed even before I saw the other car. It was almost a slow-motion kind of scene and it was WAY too cheery to not be leading into something tragic. It’s like the scene back during the war when the soldier says something like “If a bullet is meant for you, you won’t know it and there’s nothing you can do about it.” (Or something to that general effect.) And a couple of seconds later he falls after a bullet goes clean through his head. I saw that coming, too. As soon as he said it I knew he’d get shot in the head.
From a fictional standpoint it’s too good of a moment for any writer to pass up. I didn’t see why any writer would, so when he fell, I wasn’t surprised.
Neither was I surprised when Matthew died so suddenly and tragically. What I am surprised by is those who think he could still come back. Dan Stevens did not renew his contract. He left the show. The writers didn’t want to write them falling out of love or separating or recasting the character. As a Mary/Matthew fan, I agree. I wouldn’t want their love to fall apart just so Mr. Stevens could leave the show. It’s less fair to the fans than a clean character death. I wish he hadn’t left the show, but his contract was for 3 seasons and when the decision was made to renew for a fourth, he had every right to move on to other projects.
The other couple I was rooting for was Mr. Bates and Anna. Hopefully neither of them will fail to renew their contracts.
In all honesty I feel the series could have just ended totally here and it would be fine. Most things have really been resolved, IMO. I guess I’m curious about how Mary handles the aftermath of Matthew. She’s always felt theirs was a doomed love. But I could walk away with this being totally it. It’s kind of a great place to leave it. This totally F’d up tragic ending. But of course… television is a for-profit venture and when a show gets renewed, they keep making it.
So, I’ve found that I may be able to discontinue the Cold Turkey Experiment. (Where I go a whole 6 days without any social media/blogs/email). For the most part I’m going to more casually keep to this but I feel I’ve mostly created a habit where I don’t have to block myself from sites with the site-blocking software. I’ve broken the addicted feeling and have a higher level of self control now. (I think.) If it starts to get out of hand again, I’ll go back to the blocking software.
Some may have noticed I’ve popped on to Facebook occasionally during the week. That’s because I had to de-activate cold turkey because I was doing something that required CaptCha and it must be tied to Google or something because I wasn’t able to use it because of my Cold Turkey. (the images didn’t show up at all, so there were sites I needed that I couldn’t use without de-activating Cold Turkey. I’d gotten a little overzealous in which sites I blocked.)
However, I’ve found that I neither have the time nor the desire to be in email all the time or on social media all the time. I’m going to get rid of my automated email responses that lets people know I only check emails on Saturdays. I get that might annoy people.
Nobody has said they are annoyed, but apparently there is a whole legion of “4 Hour Workweek” haters who think Ferriss is a complete douche for his autoresponders. I personally feel it’s polite, like an answering machine message, to let people know you aren’t home but that you will reply to them. i.e. I’m not checking my emails every day… I don’t want you to feel I’m ignoring you.
I don’t want people wondering why they haven’t heard from me. At the same time, there are situations in which autoresponders are not practical. So I guess the only thing to be done is just answer email when I answer it and apologize if someone feels slighted by the fact that I took nearly a week to respond. Eventually (if it hasn’t happened already), those I communicate somewhat regularly with, will all know I am not chained to my email, and people emailing me for the first time will probably just assume I am not at their beck and call. I don’t know them. I just hate how social media and email has created this environment in which we feel total strangers somehow own our time and have rights to demand immediate response. If I were running a customer service business it would be different, but I’m not.
Okay, so I am getting emails every week about this. A lot of people are trying to buy the indie guide I wrote on Amazon or elsewhere and are finding they can’t get it. I’m sorry to have to say that I’ve unpublished the book. The reasons are several.
1. It is way out of date. I mean really out of date. There is stuff particularly with formatting that is pretty much obsolete at this point with the KF8 software upgrade for Kindle. At this point I’m not even going to be doing my own ebook formatting. Tom is doing it now because he’s a programmer and frankly, it’s getting to the point where you really need to know how to do a little coding for ebook formatting. It’s not like it used to be.
I’m sure there are also a lot of other things out of date. A lot of my previous ideas/advice about marketing I consider somewhat obsolete now. I don’t even use those models anymore. It’s gotten a lot more competitive out there. Gold rush is pretty much over so a new mentality is needed. There are some things I feel work, but again, this is getting cutthroat and I can’t share every strategy I’m trying anymore. It’s just not good business to do so.
2. I don’t want to be an “indie guru”. There was a time when I did. I wanted to be the go-to person for indie advice. I wanted to be able to say “neener neener, I was right about this stuff and I did it first.” (I didn’t really do it first, but I was really early, while most people were still saying ebooks were never going to take off. 2008, bitches!)
But really that is so stupid and ego filled. And it’s just not what I want to be about. I want my focus to be on my fiction. There is no benefit in it for me except for some shallow ego-filled bragging rights (if I really had pushed the indie thing and stayed in that scene), all at the expense of my fiction and the actual business I want to run. I just can’t care about the peanut gallery right now.
I can’t feel pressure to do this or that for “image”. Right now many of my sales rankings are nowhere near where they used to be. There are reasons for that and I’m addressing them, but really, those are my business issues and things to deal with and when you do the “indie rah rah” thing, there are people who will sit on and track your rankings, many of them so when they drop they can say: “HA! See? She’s not hot stuff.” Well you know what? I do not care if I’m “hot stuff”, because I’m running a business here, and whatever is going on is my business and I don’t want to be scrutinized on the level that any “guru” would be. I just want to quietly go about my business. I should have always quietly gone about my business, but I didn’t.
I didn’t know how to keep my damn mouth shut about anything and I’m still having to deal with that on some level. But I can’t erase any of that, I can only move forward.
I want you to follow me because you like and read my fiction. It’s not that I don’t like other people, it’s just that I do not want every second of every day to be about work. This is why I use the cold turkey app during the week most weeks and am not available for email, most social media, or blogs. I want my time to belong to ME. I want my writing time to remain sacred. I want to get in and get out with my work and have a personal life. And no, I haven’t written a Zoe book in awhile. I’ve had other projects going on, but I will get to that soon. The next book I’m writing will be Pretverse.
3. There are way more knowledgeable people than me to take advice from. Dean Wesley Smith and his wife Kristine Katheryn Rusch come to mind. But there is also Michael Stackpole, Joe Konrath, and I’m sure many others. I’ve been out of the loop. I mostly read Dean’s blog and pretty much ignore 90% of everything else.
At this point, with few exceptions, I’m pretty much following the Dean Wesley Smith playbook because I think he really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to publishing and writing. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I don’t agree with everything anybody says. I agree with enough that I consider the advice from both him and his wife to be stuff that you really can’t go wrong with.
So that’s it in a nutshell. I truly truly appreciate that many have found the indie guide helpful. I appreciate that word of mouth for it continues to be so strong, and I’m sorry it’s not available anymore but it’s just not up-to-date, and I have neither the time nor the desire to bring it up to date for all the reasons I mentioned.
In truth, I never should have written and published it, but the indie rah rah thing was a phase I went through, not realizing there would come a point where I just really wanted to focus on my fiction career/various pen names and NOT the business blah blah and shop talk.
Thank you for understanding!
I was talking to a friend about the series this past week, and also I’ve been working on rewriting the descriptions to make them more appealing. I haven’t been taking advantage of some of the best ways to sell my work through the description. For example, The Catalyst… In chapter two, Z kidnaps Fiona to help him babysit this stray wolf pup he picked up because she can understand animals (sort of like a witchy Dr. Dolittle.)
But I don’t mention the kidnap element at ALL in the description. I’m being too coy, because I like for things like that to be a surprise. But the fact is… there are a lot of readers who really like the “hero kidnaps the heroine” trope. Obviously I do, or I wouldn’t write it so damn much. (I use some element of it in a lot of my work. Mated, is a good example, and it’s probably why Mated sold so well when it came out. The set-up… people like it.) Anyway… there are a lot of readers who like this trope. Not everybody of course, but a sizable chunk of the paranormal romance reading audience. By not mentioning the trope in the description, I’m hiding the thing that will sell the book to that demographic.
I’ve been thinking of a lot of things like that lately. When I first started publishing, it just wasn’t that competitive in the ebook world. It wasn’t hard to rise to the tops of the ranks. Now, too many people are bringing their A-game and I’m still playing like it’s the start of a gold rush. So I’ve been working on getting it together so that I can hopefully compete in a meaningful way and have my books found and read more like they used to be. I know releasing a new book will help this, but optimizing what I have out there already would be a step in the right direction as well.
Of course all this has gotten me more passionate and into the Pretverse and more excited about Hadrian and Angeline’s story. I really love their story because it starts with the novella Dark Mercy. And when you read that and get to the ending you think there is just NO way there is an HEA for these two… I mean… look at the ending. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it.)
But these two… they aren’t done. And I think when their full book comes out, Dark Mercy will mean more. I wrote that novella because it enriches their story in a way that I felt couldn’t be done justice through backstory. I’m excited that Dark Mercy will be at the front of the print and audiobook version of Hadrian and Angeline’s book because I really feel it’s a story you need to read to fully “get” these two and appreciate them.
I love both characters a lot, and this next book we’ll really be spending a lot of time in the Heaven dimension, which in this world I love. I wouldn’t want to live there (BORING!!!), but it’s fascinating how boring and perfect and zombie-like the whole place and everybody in it is. It’s like the cruel joke of the Pretverse. I’m really excited to share more of the inner-workings of Heaven in this series with you guys.
We’ll also get a LOT more into the Guardian mythology. Since they’ve only been mentioned a few times in the series.
Hadrian and Angeline will be book 5 and I’m thinking there will be 7 or 8 books total in this series. Originally I was going to leave it open ended, but I figured out something for the unfolding larger backstory to give it a definite ending. But we’ll see. I also want to get into the new urban fantasy series I’ve been planning.
The major difference in it and the pretverse is that the fantasy elements will be the front story with the romance being more of a subplot, whereas right now in the Pretverse the romance is the forefront and everything else is background elements (though the everything else becomes a bit stronger in each book, which is part of why I’m shifting in this direction. I like the romance, it’s important to me, but I want to explore other things, too.)
I hope everybody had a great New Year. I tried some really great (award winning, no lie) moderately-priced Champagne. The words moderately-priced champagne and “award-winning” rarely go together, but it was Gruet Demi-Sec and it was sublime.
I’m also proud of myself for picking out the pear notes in it before I looked it up on the Internet. It has a distinct pear scent and a bit of a pear flavor. Which, I am not normally a pear fan, but this was truly lovely.
Technically, due to trademark issues they aren’t allowed to call it “Champagne” since it is made in America and not Champagne, France. But they can bite me. The family that started the company is from France, and they use the methode champenoise, which basically means it is made EXACTLY the same. It’s a legal thing. So screw them, I’m calling it Champagne. (Though if we really want to get technical: methode champenoise sounds sexier anyway.)
Anyway, it’s some fabulous stuff. If you think you don’t like champagne, I assume you’ve probably tried a too-dry champagne like Brut, which a lot of people don’t like. Try a demi-sec. And especially try Gruet. It’s a light, fruity, just plain delicious champagne. Tom was surprised I liked it so much since so many people hate champagne. They haven’t tried THIS. I’m so glad I went to the wine store I normally go to and got a recommendation. It’s a small shop and they know their wines. Nobody there has steered me wrong yet. I’ve loved everything they’ve recommended (whereas I’ve often hated stuff I stumbled upon on my own.)
The Gruet comes also in the smaller half-bottle size (375ml), which is great for a couple that only wants to have about a glass of it. Champagne is nasty flat, so what you don’t drink in a sitting, you pretty much have to pour out, which sucks because… again… great stuff. This is probably my favorite alcoholic beverage I’ve ever tried, out of everything including pina coladas, gin and tonic, and margaritas. (Wow, I sound like such a lush. I’m really not a big drinker, I swear.)
Wow, that was a lot of rambling about Champagne. Onward. I’m hoping this year to get The Catalyst and Life Cycle into audiobook as well as Hadrian and Angeline’s book. We are looking, hopefully at an end of May release for Hadrian and Angeline’s book which as of this moment remains untitled, even tentatively. In ebook it will remain separate from the novella Dark Mercy that precedes it, but for both print and audio, Dark Mercy will be at the front of the book (since it’s not really practical to do a separate audio/print edition of Dark Mercy, but it’s pretty vital to Hadrian and Angeline’s story.)