Tag Archives: norway

Slowly increasing word counts, and another #WIPpet for Wednesday

As you can see visiting my blog, I still have not gotten around to redesigning and adding progress bars. As I talked about in my last post, it took me way too long to just get my free incentive to join my mailing list set up. So be it.

At least my output is slowly increasing again, as I try to develop better habits — which mostly involves spending less time frittering around on the Internet, far too easy to do, I fear. My word count for last week came to 4600. And I largely finished putting together the text and photos for my book on our Hurtigruten trip, Life in the Fjord Lane. Here’s the photo I’m thinking of using for the cover:

Hurtigruten cruise

It was taken at dusk without flash in the Lofoten Islands, and I love the colors. What do you guys think?

In the continued absence of progress bars, here’s my list of WIPs and where they’re at right now:

A Wasted Land
44,300 of 70,000 estimated

Sooper sekrit project
12,600 of 60,000 estimated

Sooper sekrit project II
2900 of 30,000 estimated

Life in the Fjord Lane
2300 — word count mostly done now, still need to check photos, compile PDF and test for CreateSpace

Killing Twilight (short story / shared world)
500 of 7,000 estimated

Facets of Glass (YA novella)
2600 of 25,000 estimated

Starting out as an Indie Author (non-fiction)
8600 (no estimate)

On to WIPpet Wednesday! I’m still posting from A Wasted Land, since Facets of Glass is not yet ready to go public, consisting mostly of notes to myself combined with a smattering of dialog here and there. As I begin to flesh it out more, I’ll probably start posting from that for a while.

This scene comes right on the heels of last week’s scene and explains Kustennin’s angry response — which most of you guys had spot on. *g* Today I give you 8 sentences for the 8th month — plus 2 for reasons of inner snippet logic:

Kustennin didn’t know why he was running away. Wouldn’t Celemon’s complaints of never being able to have a family of her own be the perfect opportunity to tell her she had a potential husband standing right next to her? That he had long thought of her as more than a foster sister? But Celemon had confessed her resignation and disappointment to a friend. She never would have said such things to a man she felt attracted to — she did not see him in that light at all. Which on one level was excellent, since they were such good companions and could talk of so many things.
On the other hand, it made it very difficult for Kustennin to court her. Under the circumstances, how was he to get her to see him differently, as something more than the youth with whom she’d spent many of her childhood years? He could hardly blurt out, “I for one would marry you!”
At least not until she began to see him as a man rather than a foster brother.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Clarion West Write-a-thon to the rescue!

I continue to be extremely listless writing-wise since Jay Lake’s death. I’ve been keeping busy, though. I finally organized my trip to Britain for a friend’s wedding the beginning of July. I’ll be staying a couple of extra days to research some sites for A Wasted Land.

This weekend, we also went to the Bodensee / Lake Constance, with a short jog into Switzerland to see the Rheinfall, the Rhine Falls. That was a lot of fun.


Rhine Falls in Switzerland

It inspired us to promise each other to get away a bit more again. Since we bought our little piece of property, we haven’t been doing much in the way of weekend excursions anymore. Who’s going to water the tomatoes, after all??? Which are looking quite good, btw. Still green, but we are harvesting other things already.

A modest harvest

I want to thank those of you who volunteered to help out with the ebook launch of Island of Glass in the comments of my last post. I will try to get back to you in the next couple of days. I’ve been doing about as much social media in recent weeks as I have writing — next to none.

Given my lack of creativity, I’ve been beta-reading. I also got back to a project I’ve been putting together for my dad, a book of photographs and some travel reports from our trip to Norway on the Hurtigruten a couple of years back. And I will publish it too! But it’s not the kind of writing I want to be doing.

So today, to add a little accountability and structure to my attempt to get back to writing, I signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. You can check out my page here. My goals are very modest this round — an average of 500 words a day, five days a week, 15,000 words for the six weeeks of Clarion West. Mostly I’m hoping that it will help me get back to better writing habits again. Besides, I’ll be away in Britain for a week, and I still intend to make the total of 15,000. As I said, very modest, but better than a paragraph here and there between editing and formatting jobs!

Wishing everyone a successful week. 🙂

John Locke and the Rest of Us: Defining a Target Audience and Getting Them to Come to You, Part I

While we were cruising the fjords of Norway, one of the books I read on my Kindle was John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Since one of my current goals is to get my novel Yseult up as an ebook before Christmas, I figure I can use all the advice I can get. At least I know that Yseult can cut it as a novel — it’s been through the editorial process and has sold over 10,000 copies in German translation. (I don’t have any numbers for the Italian and Dutch.) For Yseult, I don’t have to worry about things like hiring an editor for the monster historical fantasy and wondering if I will ever earn out the expenses.

What I do have to worry about is figuring out how to get Yseult to the audiences who would be interested in reading it. Which is what Locke’s book is all about. The problem is, he’s writing a book for authors writing a series character who can put out short novels similar in tone and plot on a regular basis (that’s where the million comes in — lots of publications selling to a regular fan base). Ok, so that doesn’t apply to Yseult, since it’s a retelling of the legend of Tristan and Isolde, but one that starts with the story of the female character rather than the male. But as most people know, the story ends tragically — no series there. It’s a Big Fat Fantasy of almost 200,000 words, and I have to admit, I really don’t want to give it away for 99 cents.

So is there anything I can learn from Locke?

He says the first thing a writer has to do to is define her target audience and then write posts that will draw potential readers to her blog — and the links to her ebooks on her sidebar. The mistake of most authors is that they write their blogs for other writers. Fair enough, guilty as charged. I have the sidebar with links to my books, but my posts are mostly about writing.

Then let’s tackle the next step, defining my target audience. As far as Yseult is concerned, I have a bit of an advantage here, since I have lots of reader feedback to help me try to figure it out. I know who my ideal reader is — her name is Valentina Coluccelli, and she wrote a review of Yseult when it came out in Italian. I hate reading reviews, but with this one, every step of the way, I was thinking – omigod, she got it! she knew exactly what I wanted to do, why I fiddled with the sources here and chose that version there! Finally, someone understands me! She even got some of the details that I thought of Easter eggs. 🙂

But how do I extrapolate from my ideal reader Valentina to define my target audience? That’s a tough one, and I fear it means I am destined not to sell a million ebooks in five months, sigh. My audience for Yseult is very specific, and while I have a follow-up novel also set in Sub-Roman Britain, the other novels I want to bring out as ebooks are all over the place as far as genre and target readers are concerned. About the only thing they have in common is that they share a certain feminist sensibility in the subject matter in that they touch on ways women have been disadvantaged over the centuries or (for my SF) try to illuminate “common sense” ways of thinking are biased against women.

And here I am, in the middle of the night, with way more words than I intended and no conclusion. So I think for the first time in my blog career, I’m going to have to make this a two-parter.

Otherwise on the writing front I’ve been fairly successful in repressing my frittering gene and have reached my word count goals. Haven’t started tackling any of the other goals yet, however. But at least I’m thinking about my target audience. 🙂

Northern Lights and New Goals

We got back from our cruise along the Norwegian fjords with the Hurtigruten late Saturday night. While it was a bit on the cold side up there in the Arctic Circle, it was stunningly beautiful trip, made even better by the fact that we saw the northern lights.

This wasn’t just luck, although of course that too played a role. But before I booked, I did a little research into when the northern lights are visible and was very happy to learn that winter is not a prerequisite. Night and clears skies (luck) are. Chances are better when there’s little moonlight. So I checked up on the phases on the moon for September / October. We didn’t want to go when it started to get too cold or the days too short — we wanted to see the fjords too, after all. Then I chose a date where we would be on the ship only during the darkest half of the month.

And we were rewarded.

I think writing goals are a little like that. You figure out what you want and what you can do and you plan accordingly. Luck plays a role too in meeting goals — you can’t plan for sicknesses or family crises or added, unexpected dayjob stress, just as you can’t plan for the sun acting up enough to produce stunning, dancing lights in the night sky. What you can do is take the information at your disposal and plan accordingly.

Unfortunately, I am not as reliable in my word counts as the phases of the moon, but what I do know is that I can produce 500 words a day pretty reliably, unless I get derailed by a major money-making dayjob project where time spent on job = that much more cash. Since I want to push myself a bit, and since I got a good chunk of writing done on the cruise (4500 words, mostly in the last four – five days), I want to aim a bit higher. At the same time, I have a number of writing goals that don’t involve word count, so I can’t aim too high — otherwise I won’t have time to tackle those other projects.

So here are my new goals for the rest of the year:

– Write 5000 words a week
– Get three short stories revised and out on the market
– Update my web page
– Put two new collections of previously published stories up on Smashwords and Amazon
– Get my novel Yseult up on Smashwords and Amazon before Christmas

It’s a lot, but if I can get better organized and cut out a lot of the “frittering” I do online, it’s not too terribly unrealistic, I hope. We’ll see. My goals might soon need some revision. 🙂

The Joys of the Arctic Circle

The scenery this far north gets more barren and wild the farther we travel with the Hurtigruten, but it has its own rugged charm.

Far north

Some of the towns we’ve stopped in seem like frontier outposts. We turned around in Kirkenes, where we went on an excursion to the Russian border, and our guide informed us that Kirkenes will soon be the center of the world — there is so much work and the unemployment rate is so low (1.7%) that soon everyone will want to go there. 51 nationalities live in complete peace with each other. In short, it’s utopia, even if that’s impossible. Nice to know that the locals love their city so much.

On the border

We have also finally dared to get our swimsuits on and enjoyed the hot tub last night, still above the Arctic Circle. Getting in and out was less than pleasant, and today I’m sniffling and sneezing, but it was lovely lying in the bubbling hot water with the arctic breeze cooling my face.

The high point of the last few days, however, has been the Northern Lights. Yes, we have seen them, not once, not twice, but three times. It’s a myth that they can only been seen in winter — all that’s necessary is night, at least partly clear skies, and a location in the far north. The first time we saw them, it was a completely cloudless night, so we stayed up until midnight and went on deck to see the stars, a whole sky full of them. Then on the horizon I saw what looked like a plume of white smoke, but streaked up and down. As we watched, it expanded into an arch like a rainbow across the night sky, but wider and white, with just a hint of blue. Once the arch was complete, it began to recede again.

Three nights later, we got our second dose of the Aurora Borealis. The lights were mostly white once again, but this time they filled the night behind our ship. Strips of light all around us grew and arched up into the sky until we were standing under what seemed like a dome of light. Spectacular, amazing, all those words just aren’t enough to capture the beauty of the sight.

Then last night, we were already ready for bed, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker in our room that the Northern Lights were visible in the sky over Tromsø. We hadn’t been expecting anything, since it had been cloudy much of the day. We dressed again quickly and went up. If anything, it was even more impressive than those before. There were clouds in the sky, but in the breaks between them were shimmering, dancing lights in shades of green and white. They rippled across the night sky above Tromsø, shifting and transforming into all kinds of fantasy shapes, now a question mark, now a face, now a snake. It was all I could do to keep from clapping my hands in glee. It probably would have been even more stunning without the clouds, but the shadows they cast in from of the northern lights contributed to the beauty of the whole specatcle in its own way. The clouds just above the horizon looked like fantastic mountains of shadow thrown into contrast by the glittering green lights beyond.

I feel very, very lucky right now.

Since we turned around at Kirkenes, our stops have been shorter and less frequent, and I’m actually getting some writing done after all, 500 words two days ago, and 800 yesterday. Once I see what I can get down with the medieval level of Fragments of Legend all plotted out, I’ll try to reformulate some writing goals for the rest of the year.

Life in the fjord lane


We are now cruising north along the coast of Norway on the Hurtigruten. The scenery is amazing, but it’s cold, a lot colder than I expected. We arrived in Bergen and made it to the port with a few delays here and there, but nothing serious. Flying into Bergen above all the mountainous islands was stunning, and I took five or six pictures, even though I’m a jaded flyer and never take pictures out of airplane windows anymore (I usually sit in an aisle seat).

Our ship is one of the newest in the Hurtigruten line, the Midnatsol.


The cabin is a bit cramped, but the ship itself is spacious, with a large panorama room for watching the fjords so by, and even hot tubs on the deck. We haven’t dared try those yet. We told each other we were waiting for the arctic circle, but we’re past that now and we still haven’t gotten on our swimsuits.

In Ă…lesund, Chris chased me up a hill and a we had amazing views on three sides. Coming down the hill, my knees were killing me, but it was worth it.

From the hill

The next day, our longest stop was in Trondheim. We hiked up another hill; unfortunately, the view wasn’t as good. Trondheim had some funky back streets and the Bryggene, the renovated warehouses on the river, were quite picturesque. A very pleasant city, despite the rain. When we left Trondheim, the sun came out again, and the lighting on some narrow fjords we passed through was striking. After a cloudburst, we even had a rainbow. Then in a village we passed, half-a-dozen people waited on the wharf, waving Norwegian flags and hooting what sounded like Indian yells to greet us. A number of people on the deck hooted cheerily back.

On the fourth day of the cruise, we booked an expedition to Svartisen Glacier, the second largest glacier in Norway. A smaller boat docked onto our Hurtigruten ship in the middle of the fjord, and then off we went, down a side fjord, all the way to the end, where the glacier came nearly down to the water. You could see how much bigger it used to be though from the size of the glacier bed surrounding it. Global warming in action.

In front of Svartisen Glacier

From where the boat docked, we hiked up to the glacier and had lefse (oh, memories of my Norwegian grandma!), hot chocolate, and bubbly with shards of glacier ice. Life is very fine.

Today we had our longest stop, in Tromsø, quite an original. The old town is full of colorful wooden buildings that makes the place feel (to me) much smaller than it actually is, looking in places like a village where time stood still. In reality, Tromsø has 66,000 inhabitants, and the main shopping street, quaint as it is, was bustling with people.

Since Internet on the ship is so slow, I think I’m going to wait on uploading any more pictures until after the trip. I’ll probably just check email occasionally and leave it at that. We have so many stops and there are so many places to explore that I have a lot less leisure time on the boat than expected. I haven’t done any writing on this trip, but I have been busy filling the well, collecting experiences that will feed into my fiction someday.