Tag Archives: goals

Marie de France, Aphra Behn, and changing horses midstream

So here we are, at the beginning of a new round of words, with new targets and new projects, and I’m finding myself having to admit I need to change my goals. After months of concentrating on ebooks and editing, I returned to Fragments of Legend with the best of intentions, especially once I looked at the numbers and realized that with only 500 words a day, I could get a complete rough draft finished in a couple of months. Then after several days when the writing was like pulling teeth, I realized that for the section I’m working on, I not only need a compelling complication, I need to do way more research.

Sometimes resistance does have meaning.

At first I was hoping I could brush up on what I needed as I worked, and I started going through my books on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine again, consulting the web for more sources and to look up references the books only mentioned in passing. And then I stumbled across Marie de France.

Since I’ve done plenty of research on Arthurian literature, I know of Marie de France, but I was unaware that the works that have come down to us are in Anglo-Norman French, and many experts place her at the court of Henry II. And since my main character, Judith, is a medieval woman who will eventually write an epic, Marie de France would be a perfect addition to my cast of characters! (I love those kinds of moments while writing.)

The problem is, I know next to nothing about Marie de France, and have only ever read one of her lays, many years ago. So it’s back to the books and the doodles for a while until I can get this section worked out in my head (or on scrap paper).

So in order to get back into the habit of writing regularly, I’m returning to my old Aphra Behn novel project, Chameleon in a Mirror. Rereading the old material a few months back, I realized that my style had changed quite a bit, and I’m going to have to start all over almost from scratch. But as compared to Fragments of Legend, in my Aprha Behn time travel, all the parts are there and all the research has been done; the words getting me from the first sentence to the last just have to be different. So here are my new research and writing goals:

– Read up on Marie de France and her contemporaries, while beefing up on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1180s. From this research, come up with appropriate complications for Judith’s time in England.

– Write 1,000 words a day on a new version of Chameleon in a Mirror.

In other news, “Looking Through Lace” is doing much better during this promo than during the last. During the first 24 hours, I had over 2000 downloads, and it is now in the top 100 Free in the Kindle store, and #2 in Science Fiction. (Carolyn Ives Gilman is beating me out, but that is definitely something I can live with.) If you don’t have my novella yet, please download a copy!

Another round of goals: publication date, draft completion and more

After all the editing and marketing and ebook publishing I’ve been doing so far this year, I really need to get my writer hat firmly back on and concentrate on writing again. My main goal will be to write at least 2500 new words a week. If I can stick with that, I should have close to a complete first draft of Fragments of Legend by the end of June. Of course, I don’t know exactly how many words total it will end up being, but I already have over 70,000 words in draft and notes. This won’t be the same kind of epic monster as Yseult and Shadow of Stone, at least I don’t think it will, *g* so another 30,000 words should put me in close to finished territory.

I do, of course, also have a few more epublishing goals. Shadow of Stone has an editing slot from April 16 – 27, after which I will need to review the changes and do the ebook formatting. I will also be consulting with the cover artist, and have to take that into consideration. I’m shooting for publication in May, which I think is still realistic, even if I maintain the weekly word count.

If time allows, I would also like to get another short story collection out, but only if life and my other goals make it feasible. I don’t want to be concentrating as much on the epublishing as I was in the first couple of months of this year. New material is important, even when you have a fairly respectable inventory of previously published material to fall back on.

In the spirit of new material, I would also like to revise and polish at least two short stories and get them out on the market.

I’ve been invited to do a guest lecture at the University of Stuttgart, so that will also have to be written. Although it will be non-fiction, and in German, perhaps I will allow myself to count that towards my weekly writing goals so as not to get too stressed out about it. 🙂

Yseult #1 in Epic and Historical Fantasy

When I came home last night from my father-in-law’s 86th birthday celebration, I avoided the computer for a while. First my hubbie and I watched the late news: the embarrassment of the present German Bundespräsident (of which he is unaware), further crises of the Euro (which we here in Germany don’t really notice, except that books on Amazon are getting more expensive), etc, etc. Finally, after all the bad news, which wasn’t really news, since we could have prophesied it, I turned on my computer and gave in to temptation and checked the stats of Yseult on Amazon.com.

What you might see at any given time when you click on that link will not match with what I saw after less than a day of my first free promotion on Amazon – #1 in Historical Fanstasy, #1 in Epic Fantasy, #105 in Free Kindle Store:

Yseult #1 Epic Fantasy

I hooted a few times and ran to tell my husband, even though none of those “sales” meant money. But I had never expected a result like that in less than a day. Given my modest number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn colleagues, maybe 1500 all told, I had no idea I could get to sales of any kind reaching #1 within a few hours. If I allowed myself to think about it at all, I might have admitted to hoping for a few hundred downloads. I’d been fearing a few dozen.

What I got was over three thousand.

I’ve been through plenty of dashed hopes in my writing career, so one thing I think I’ve learned is realism. I’m not about to take the initial results of this two-day give-away as a sign that I’m the next big Kindle millionaire. But however my experiment turns out, I think I can pat myself on the back for the promotional work I did for Yseult in the week leading leading up to the KDP-freebie.

It remains to be seen if it will pay off for me in the long run, but as of tonight in Central Europe, free downloads for Yseult are nearing the 7500 mark. At the best point that I noticed, Yseult made it to #43 in free Kindle downloads across all genres. I suspect more important for the future of my novel are the rankings in fantasy, but I’m still very happy at the results.

Hey, what’s a gal to do who no longer has a publisher behind her? Ok, I could have continued searching, but I’m in a really weird situation as someone who can no longer sell the foreign rights, since the book has already been published in translation in German, Dutch and Italian.

Right now I’m happy. I still haven’t managed to get back to producing original work again since I started concentrating on getting Yseult on the market, but it’s so very fun to be #1 in a “bestseller” list, even if all it means is that I’m better at describing my novel than others. (But maybe it also means that there are a lot more readers out there interested in Arthurian fiction than the agents and editors who turned the manuscript down before I sold it in Germany led me to believe.)

Anyway, thanks to all who’ve downloaded the novel! It’s a real ego-boost and I can definitely use that after the developments of the last couple of years.

Now I’m going to take a break from marketing for at least a few days, take a look at the projects that have been on hold for the last month, make a plan, and start trying to do some original writing again!

“Yseult” is off to Amazon – now what???

I didn’t make it before the new year, but today I finally got Yseult up to Amazon as an ebook! It’s still in the review process, so I don’t have a link for it yet, but it’s a huge relief to have that done. I’ve opted for KDP Select, so I can’t put it up on Smashwords for another three months, but I’ve heard a lot of success stories regarding KDP Select, and my Smashwords sales with my novella and story collections have been more than modest. Seems I don’t have much to lose making Yseult temporarily a Kindle exclusive.

And now I have to start redefining my goals. Perfect thing to do at the beginning of the year. 🙂

In this context, I wanted to link to Kait Nolan’s great post about the test “mile” and goals, but it’s not being found on the Internets, unfortunately. I’ve been working with a very similar test mile to hers for some time now without having the lovely metaphor — the place you can push to no matter what without pain; but also the place where, on a good “running” day, you might well sail past the goal. For many years now, mine has been 500 words a day, or (with two days off, not necessarily weekends) 2500 words a week. Last year, I was shooting for a lot more, but right now I have the big challenge of figuring out how to promote my Big Fat Fantasy once it has passed the review process on Amazon — and knowing how difficult it is for me to tackle the whole self-promotion gig, I think I’m going to stick with my standard “test mile” as a writing goal for now.

Once I can figure out what else I might still be able to tackle when I’ve hit my stride, I can hopefully define a few more specific writing and marketing goals. I want to get a lot more of my previously published short stories up as ebooks, but it’s a huge timesink for me, and I have to figure out what I can realistically do.

Which I guess is also one of my goals for this year. 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone!

Progress Report

I fell a bit behind on my word count goals this week, for a number of reasons. Besides an autumn cold and some extra hours emergency babysitting of my granddaughter, the main thing that slowed down new word count was several collaborative stories that all arrived at about the same time and that required revision and response. Since one of them is a requested rewrite, I’m not complaining — a prospect of publication is always good!

Goal check:

Write 5000 words a weekOnly a little over half: 3000 words this week.
Get three short stories revised and out on the marketLots of progress on this one. I got one new story submitted, and sent out three submissions of stories that either had recently been rejected or were languishing on my hard drive.
Update my web page – No progress 😦
Put two new collections of previously published stories up on Smashwords and Amazon – No progress 😦
Get my novel Yseult up on Smashwords and Amazon before Christmas – No progress 😦
Fix file for Looking Through Lace on Smashwords – No progress 😦
Upload Looking Through Lace to Amazon again – No progress 😦

While editing my story database for the collabs, I noticed that I have a whopping twenty-two stories that are not out on the market. Five of those are recently written and still need revision and probably workshopping before I can send them out. All of the rest are just sitting there because I’ve gotten so bad about submitting my fiction. So I need to add another goal to the list:

Get my “ready to send” stories down to under ten

This might involve trunking some of the stories that have made the rounds, which is why I’m not expressing it as a submission goal. What I really need is to get back to work on marketing and get my database up to date.

I’m not editing my word count goal down yet. I’m hoping this week was an aberration and I can soon get back up to 5000 words a week.

Writing Progress Report

So, I’m mostly on track with my new goals. Since we got back from Norway, I’ve added 5000 more words to the medieval level of Fragments of Legend. I’ve also worked on two story collaborations with Jay Lake which should soon be ready to send out. (I think I’m going to have to revise my goals for sending out new stories upwards!)

Goal check:

– Write 5000 words a week – DONE!
– Get three short stories revised and out on the market – WORKED ON IT!
– Update my web page – No progress 😦
– Put two new collections of previously published stories up on Smashwords and Amazon – No progress 😦
– Get my novel Yseult up on Smashwords and Amazon before Christmas – No progress 😦 — but I am working on strategies for how to market it when I do get it up!

I need to add two more goals to the list:

– Fix file for Looking Through Lace on Smashwords (requires modification)
– Upload Looking Through Lace to Amazon again (I uploaded the new cover a while back, but it never got replaced, so I think I’ll just upload the whole thing all over again.)