Tag Archives: progress report

On the joys of brainstorming and traveling

In the last few weeks, I’ve made very little progress on my fiction. As those of you who have been keeping up with my blog know, I was in Iceland for almost a week, and in the US traveling and visiting family for over two weeks. When I left, I’d been thinking I might be able to find time in the evenings to write, but that didn’t happen often. During our trip, I got a whopping 1100 new words written on A Wasted Land. Most of what I was writing consisted of travel reports about our Iceland trip. (If you haven’t read those those yet and are curious, the first one is here.)

I don’t feel too guilty, though. Other people take vacations; I figure writers can too. Besides, I was filling the well. I’m sure I will write something set in Iceland someday. I love to travel, and I have often used the cool places I’ve been as settings in my short stories and novels. (Egypt, Ireland, Venice, France, Cambodia, Taiwan, to name just a few …)

Since we got back, I’ve only gotten another 500 words written of Kustennin’s story, but I’ve also been brainstorming the next book in the Glassmakers Trilogy. The reason for switching projects was my niece. She was my first reader for Island of Glass, and she loved it. We were talking about it off and on while I was visiting, so those characters and that storyline were more present in my creative brain when I returned to Germany. For the most part, I’m a fairly disciplined writer, and I usually finish what I start. At the same time, however, I do believe in following where the muse leads, as long as she isn’t dragging me down completely useless and uncharted paths. And since brainstorming the rest of the novellas for the Glassmakers Series is on my shortlist of things to do, I gave her leave, sat down with plain old paper notebook and pen, and got started.

And my, has it been fun!

To be perfectly honest, I usually love the brainstorming phase of writing. At that point, when ideas are flowing and the actual writing of the thing hasn’t yet forced me to face my own limitations, the story feels like it can be anything. Pieces start falling into place, and I have one epiphany after the next. Oh, yes, that will be perfect! Of course, that’s how I have to do it! Because at this point, before I start trying to write the scenes, descending from the big picture to the nitty-gritty, I haven’t yet discovered the gaping plot holes my runaway imagination has left out; I haven’t had to find yet another interesting way of decorating a setting to keep the damn thing from suffering from white room syndrome; I haven’t yet discovered that my characters are going to be a bit stubborn about the brilliant plot I have in mind for them; and it hasn’t even occurred to me yet how many others have already come up with the same ideas I had.

The story is still a big, shiny ball of Potential.

What got this particular ball rolling so nicely was one of the things my niece suggested. Island of Glass uses several of the motifs of Cinderella: for example, Chiara, a glassmaker of Murano, makes a pair of glass slippers to give to a Prince of Venice. My niece suggested that with the other books, rather than sticking with the Cinderella theme, I use different fairy tales for each installment. So I started listing a bunch of fairy tales on one page and what I was thinking should happen in the next novella on the other. Pretty soon, I had fixed on Snow White as the underlying fairy tale for Facets of Glass, which started giving me all kinds of details I had not yet come up with. When I realized that the climax would have to be the destruction of the magic looking glass, then I also had the title for the third book in the series, Shards of Glass. And so on and so on …

On a more mundane note, I have also been harvesting. When we left, we had a grand total of ONE tomato from our garden, that’s how bad the weather was in May and June. This is what our tomatoes looked like when we got back:

The garden greets us

And this is what we harvested:

Harvest

I still need to make a big pot of tomato sauce to freeze, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

To end on a writing note, what phase of writing do you like best?

Being accountable: Progress on my first quarter goals, 2013

End of March, time for some navel-gazing, to see how well I did on the goals I posted back in January. Since I strive to stay as positive as I can (not always easy in this business), I will start with the successes, the things I did achieve in the last three months.

Revisions and rewrting:

– Did a complete pass of my novel Chameleon in a Mirror

– Finished revisions on my Story Hunger collection

Publications:

From Earth to Mars and Beyond

The Leaving Sweater

– Published Never Ever After to Draft2Digital to make it free on Kobo and iTunes (but still hasn’t been price-matched on Amazon, unfortunately)

Writing:

– Finished the first draft of Island of Glass (Alternate history Venice / Murano with magic, present draft 18,000 words)

– Started a new book in the Pendragon Chronicles series, A Wasted Land (20,000 words written; not on my original list of goals)

Writing business:

– Made a book page for my blog

– Started publishing to iTunes through Draft2Digital

When I look at that list, it makes me a little less irritated with myself. I may not be the writing fiend I would like to be, but I did get a fair amount accomplished.

But now for confession time. Here’s what I didn’t get done:

– Finish Ygerna (The prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles)

– Get Yseult up for Createspace (ditto Shadow of Stone)

– Edit web page and add links to my ebooks

– Put together a collection (or two) of my stories co-written with Jay Lake

– Finish cover and publish my mini story collection “Oregon Elsewise”

– All the other writing projects I listed that I would love to tackle if I managed to finish all the stuff on my list (which I didn’t).

Sigh. Well, I guess it’s better to aim for too much rather than too little, although going that route there’s always the danger of chastising yourself for not achieving your goals. OTOH, now that I have a list of what I did get done in the last couple of months, I feel a lot better about my progress.

I wish everyone wonderful holidays and unlimited abilities to forgive themselves and others. 🙂

Eating my words: preliminary results for free promo of Shadow of Stone

I’m running a free promo for Shadow of Stone right now, which I had intended to be the last. At the end of this term in KDP Select, I was going to take the book out and offer it elsewhere.

But now I have a dilemma. I’ve had very little time the last couple of days, and I didn’t do any announcements for the freebie like I usually do. An ad got cancelled at the last moment as a result of the changes Amazon is making to the Amazon Affiliate program, and the book didn’t get picked up by either of the big sites, POI or ENT. It did get picked up by Kindle Tips and Tricks and Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books, which certainly helped.

And what happened? I’ve given away over 2000 copies, almost cracked the top 100 free books, and have sold 25 copies of Yseult since the free run started. That’s almost a third of my sales of the book for the month.

Normally, 2000 copies given away wouldn’t get me anywhere near the top 100 list. So I’m wondering if it has to do with a lot of blogs abandoning ship since Amazon announced the change to Amazon Affiliates. I don’t want to go into that in detail, so if you’re curious, I suggest reading Michael Gallagher’s post on how it is going to effect him and his blog.

But if there are fewer freebies out there, and it’s possible to get better results with a free run, then perhaps it makes sense to stick it out a little longer. I’ll wait and see what the borrows are like after Shadow of Stone goes back to paid, and then I’ll decide. The handful of sales on B&N and Kobo aren’t worth it if borrows for the book pick up again. But it totally depends on what the bounce will be after this free run is over.

In other publishing news, I finally got “The Leaving Sweater” uploaded to Amazon and Draft2Digital, but it’s not yet available. I will let people know when it is.

And I only have another 4 chapters to go on this pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Almost done! 🙂 Brainstorming of A Wasted Land is coming along as well, just slowing down a bit.

Getting back into the swing of things

I’ve been back from the States for just over a week now, and I’m slowly recovering from jetlag while I try to get back into my normal routines again. My attempt to jump into Nano a few days late has been pretty pathetic until now — Ygerna (my prequel to Yseult and Shadow of Stone) is presently coming in at a little over 6500 words. But I’m not going to beat myself up over it too much. The last couple of days, my word counts have been increasing to near-Nano requirements, and if this keeps up, I’ll be producing 5,000 words a day by the end of the month and will easily catch up! (*not*)

But seriously, I will get as far along on this project as I can, and if my brain wakes up enough for me to suddenly write much faster again, that will be a pleasant surprise. As usual, I am using the push Nanowrimo gives me to work on something that was on my to-do list anyway. Maybe I’ll have a super-rough draft by the end of the month, and maybe I won’t, but I will have more than I had at the beginning of the month, and that’s good. 🙂

Hope everyone else tackling Nano is happy with their progress!

And now for a silly Halloween pic to keep things from getting too serious:

US trip 2012

That’s me with my brother and sister after we’d had a couple of gin and tonics …

A little writing progress and lots of free Halloween fiction

As I predicted last week, I haven’t exactly gotten a lot of writing done while I’ve been visiting family. I have been doing some brainstorming for Ygerna, though — and I’m loving it. Brainstorming is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. When you’re playing with ideas, it’s like being on a journey of discovery, for me at least. Every time a new twist or (supposedly) perfect detail pops into my mind, I’m like all “ooh, cool, that will be so great!” Because at this wonderfully innocent state of the virgin fiction, everything is potential, the story isn’t hampered by the realities of my own limited capabilities. It’s still ideal and hasn’t stumbled into the inevitable shadows of Plato’s cave yet.

So anyway, the story is taking shape, and I’m having fun, both with relatives and whenever I can snatch a little time away from them to play with ideas and take notes.

I also managed to finish the interview for the blog hop, “The Next Big Thing.” For those who might be curious, I answered the questions for Chameleon in a Mirror, my Aphra Behn time travel.

Since I managed to nab a little time for blogging, I’d like to also point out that my Halloween short story, “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife,” is still free today and tomorrow, along with two dozen other dark fantasy, horror, and Halloween-themed ebooks. If you’re interested, check out the group promo Halloween Free Horror!