Of Writers and Prose: Is It Time to Write That Story; Part 2

Ten years ago I wrote a blog post about writer’s block, but suggested that it’s not really a block, but more of a stall. I suggested that perhaps it wasn’t that we couldn’t find the words to write, but that it wasn’t the right time.

I believed it back then, and I still do now. Hear me out.

There isn’t a writer who hasn’t come across the infamous writer’s block in one form or another. Sometimes, for example this year, has seen a lot of creative people stop doing what they love because of the stress of the pandemic or a shutdown; myself included. Stress can be a serious problem for writers, but I’m not talking about any of that; what I’m talking about is the real idea that there is a certain time for stories to be written. A que, so to speak.

All writers know that a first draft is just word-vomit and the first stage of creating a novel. As a rule of thumb, we put that first draft away and go off to do something else, coming back to that novel after some time and looking it over with fresh eyes. Yet that’s not always the case. Sometimes we look at a particular story and either find no excitement for it, or doing revisions and edits just doesn’t flow. If you’ve read any of my writing updates you’ll see that this happens to me A LOT, and I’ good with that because I understand that wherever I draw my inspiration and creativity from, it’s letting me know that now is not the right time to be focusing on that particular story. Maybe I need to work on something else to improve my skills, or research something to make sure what I will right is correct and plausible. Whatever the case, when the words finally do flow, it allows me to finish the project and be happy with what I’ve done.

So, how do I know when the right time it? That’s easy; when the plot starts poking at me again, but I don’t jump right into the story. I’ll write things down, little ideas or scenes that come to me, and slowly, the poking increases until I have to open the file and work on it. Sometimes, like with the WIP I’m working on now, the poking takes over and pulls me away from a project I was already working on. My magic story had been dead in the water for a while, and I was working on a Steampunk story when a small idea popped into my head and I had to explore it. Now, I’m forty-thousand words into the first draft of Eva & Skye’s Magical Hair Solution and I’m confident that I’ll have the first draft finished by the end of January. Funny that, as I first thought of this story idea two years ago this month.

If you’re interested in reading a small excerpt of Eva & Sky’s Magical Hair Solution, join my email list for this and future content that only subscribers will receive.

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Stay safe, everyone.

Movie Night: Beyond Skyline

IMBd Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1724970/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

Rating: 5.3

Tagline: A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Scifi

Synopsis: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.


Review:

If you remember my review of the movie SKYLINE (read my rant HERE) then you’ll understand when I say I was a little skeptical of watching another movie based on the original. I’m glad I did.

BEYOND SKYLINE begins shortly before the aliens attack. Everything about the attack is the same as in the first movie, but this time, people actually try to do something. This movie picks up were the other movie should have went, and we see what happens when a human brain in integrated into the alien technology.

This is the movie that SKYLINE should have been. Okay, maybe some of the plot was a little ridiculous, but at least it HAD a plot. There were a few things that made me shake my head, but it wasn’t as bad as the original.

If you’ve seen SKYLINE, I highly suggest you watch this movie as well. It isn’t the best, but it’s an enjoyable movie that actually makes sense and has a complete story arc to it.

2020 Writing Update

It’s New Year’s Eve. The end of a stressful and heartbreaking year. Everyone’s lives have changed so much in the last 12 months, that it’s hard not to look back and genuinely hope that 2021 will be better.

I write this at the beginning of yet another shutdown. No doom-scrolling this time. I’m quite over that, and lack of money aside, I’m enjoying this one. It’s given me a chance to work on my NaNo2020 project – EVA AND SKYE’S MAGICAL HAIR SOLUTION. I didn’t finish it by the end of November, which was a given considering I work retail and the holiday shopping season ramps up during that month, so I’m taking this time now to work on it daily. I’ve set a personal goal of writing two-thousand words per day, and so far I’ve kept to that goal with only one day off. This story has come together better than I had expected. I’m at forty-thousand words of the fifty-thousand word goal, that will be extended to seventy-five. Mind you, this is still the first draft so there may be some deep edits coming.

My zombie-plague novel SURVIVAL RULES was rejected from Nightfire. It happens. I’ve set it aside for now. Not really sure what I want to do with it, but at least it’s done. I may have to change the name too. There is a writer at another indie publishing house who has a zombie series with almost the same title (she has the word RULES in her title), and she’s done the same thing that I wanted to do as well; have RULES in the title of each of her books. Maybe something new will come to me.

I haven’t touched either of my ghost stories DOWN FINNEGAN’S HOLLOW or THE POSSESSION OF MERCY MOREAU. Right now I’m focused on Eva and Skye and it’s completion.

Well that’s it for the end of this year. I am truly hoping 2021 will be so much better.

For those of you who subscribe to my newsletter, keep an eye out for a little something from me in the New Year; a post with a small excerpt from Eva and Skye. For those of you who don’t, if you’re so inclined, click HERE and it’ll take you to my web page and you can sign up from there.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

Writing Update for October 2020 [video]

Writing Update for August 2020.

Writing Update: Friday, July 31, 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve done a writing update. I think the last was back in spring or so when I was posting video updates. With the pandemic, my writing suffered. I had almost two months off and I did next to no writing on anything. I didn’t think I was under stress, but after learning that others were in the same place, yeah, maybe I was. Stress can mess with you in ways you’d never think. I thought I was handling all this fine, turns out I wasn’t. Jump forward several months and I’m back writing again. Going back to work was stressful too. They gave us long hours and my days off were spent trying to recover from those shifts, so I didn’t get any writing done again, and then we had to put Miss Molly down. This has not been an easy time.

A big shock to me was learning that Microsoft won’t be supporting Word 10 after October. I know there’s a rare chance that it’ll stop working, but with my luck that’s just what will happen and I’ll lose all my progress. So I broke down and downloaded Scrivener trial for the third time. This time, I did the tutorial. Took me the better part of the morning, but I can see where this program is preferred so much over Word. It’s about $30-$40 cheaper and has organizational elements that are incredible.  My mind went into overdrive with this feature and now I have so much information about a WIP that I’m excited to write on it again.

I FINALLY heard back from SF Canada, and am now member.

Even with all this, there was progress made, so let’s get started.

Survival Rules: Finished editing this and had a beta look over it. I wrote a query and started subbing in April to a select few agents I thought would be a good fit. The list wasn’t that big; thirteen to fifteen altogether. After querying agents and basically going nowhere, I made out a list of indie publishers who took this genre. I didn’t sub to them all at once, but rather I am doing this one at a time. It’ll take longer no doubt, but it’ll give me the chance to work on the other novels in the series.

Scrivener will be really good for me and my serial projects. I’ve already transferred the second half of this novel (it was originally 120k) to the program and am sorting things out.

The first sub was a new Tor imprint – Nightfire. It’s going to take a while to hear back from them, but I’ll let you know when I do either way.

Short Story – I subbed an old short of mine to Abyss & Apex. I like short stories, I don’t write enough of them. They are a paying market, and like Nightfire, I will let you know either way when I hear from them.

Gutterchilde – Do you remember this one? I’ve worked on it for years now. I got up to chapter fourteen and quit. It just wasn’t going anywhere. That’s changed. With the new writing program I came up with a story that really excites me. It started as a Steampunk, but now I don’t think I’ll continue it that way. I have another idea and I’m bringing back some supernatural elements to it as well. Hell, I even have a map! The Time After is a reference in the story to the beginning of this world’s calendar. There is no set calendar for this world, so each region has it’s own. Some are old, and some change with the government. My goal is to eventually have a global calendar, but I want to explore all the different ones first.

Down Finnegan’s Hollow – This is another story that benefited from the new writing program. I have one chapter left to revise and then I can go through and make sure everything flows properly. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it; it’s one of those projects I just want done.

Anyway, that’s it for now. With the summer being so hot, it’s nice to stay inside and write, but I’m hoping August will be a little more productive.

Of Writers and Prose: Self-Isolation and the Writer

These are wild times we’re living in. Nothing like this has happened in four generations; not since the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. It’s the stuff of apocalypse movies, books and a few tv shows, but the funny thing is, it’s nothing like we thought it would be like.

I haven’t worked in over a month. As of this date, six weeks exactly. At first we were only supposed to be out for two weeks, and I thought great, this will be the perfect time to get so much writing done. I’d get a few chapters finished my Steampunk, maybe a revision or two on my Scifi novella, and even get a few pages written on a script or two. In the end, I’d come out of this pretty much ahead of the game.  One thousand words per day on novels and three pages of script writing; that was the personal goal I set up for myself a few days into my self-isolation. Not to mention, I’d finally be querying my zombie plague novel (perfect timing, eh?), and maybe get some blog posts done.

That was the plan was, but reality has a funny way of slapping you in the face. Reality sets in and I spent most of the time watching the news or reading reports on the spread of the virus. I’d burn myself out so much that I’d shut my laptop off and immerse myself with Netflix or dvds and go to bed late, only to wake up and start this routine it all over again. Two full weeks it went like this, and with each passing day with no writing I started to work on other projects just to keep my mind from thinking I was failing. Knitting projects, baking projects, even some baking experiments (which failed). I was doing everything BUT writing. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I’d failed at the schedule I’d set up for myself. I didn’t fall into the mindset of not writing means I’m a failure at it, but rather, my goals were easily obtainable, I just didn’t WANT to do them.

I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to immerse myself in my created worlds. I wanted to know what was going on in the REAL world, especially with my friends in the US. It was a type of FOMO, and the more I succumbed to it, the more I hated doing it, but it was an addiction that I had to break, but writing wasn’t a part of it. Hence the other activities. Three weeks I was like this; doing everything but writing. Then comes the back-end of it; trying not to succumb to the regret of NOT writing. Of all that time wasted doing anything but writing, and that feeling is more insidious that the first. As I said, I’ve been isolating for six weeks, and it may be another six weeks before I can go back to work. This blog post is the first new thing I’ve wrote, and it feels weird, but it’s a start.

What’s on the eReader.

The Wailoa Waltz (The Noelani Lee Mysteries Book 6)

Blurb: For Hawaiian PI Noelani Lee, a typical Wednesday morning begins like any other day. But a bizarre series of events propels her into a case rife with disjointed family dynamics, unsettled scores, and murder.

It all starts when an elderly survivor of the 1960 tsunami asks Noelani to find her lost maneki**neko, or Japanese lucky cat. One problem: the ceramic figurine has been missing for 30 years. But before she can say “no,” Noelani is caught in a grudge-fueled tug-of-war between the scions of two once-powerful organized crime families, who also want the cat, and a shadowy former underworld kingpin, whose motives are less than transparent.

In taking a case she doesn’t want and would be better off avoiding, Noelani finds a connection between the missing cat and a decades-old unsolved murder—and an unexpected, unwanted, and gut-wrenching family reunion.

Publisher & Date: Self Published via distributors November 5, 2019.

Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Wailoa-Waltz-Noelani-Lee-Mysteries/dp/1709437774

~~~

Review:

With the pandemic raging I decided to take the time and branch off into genres I don’t normally read, and I started with a crime mystery.

As the blurb states, this story centers around a small ceramic cat that has been lost for several decades. The request for its return is harmless enough, but Noelani soon learns that there’s more to this cat than anyone is willing to tell her. The cryptic explanations and vague memories from everyone she questions doesn’t add up, especially when some clues point to a seemingly unrelated and unsolved murder that occurred around the same time the keepsake went missing.

Set in Hawaii, the writing is strong with quirky, eccentric characters that are all connected one way or another to the cat. I love that the author peppered the story with references and detailed descriptions of Hilo, with a bit of history thrown in to add to the overall flavour of the plot.

The only drawback that I had is that the story is thirty-three chapters long. At first I was hesitant about starting it because of this fact. I’ve read other novels (and dropped them) that had over thirty chapters, and most of the story therein felt more like padding and didn’t really move the plot forward in any way, but not for this story. For this story to truly reveal its secrets, I don’t think the author could have edited anything out and still keep it interesting.

I greatly enjoyed this book, and as it’s the sixth book in the series, I’ll be back for more investigations by Noelani and crew.

4 out of 5 stars.

Of Writers and Prose: Writing and Social Media.

I’ve written about this before (at least three times), and apparently I’m not done. I still believe that social media is a great ‘tool’ (note the parenthesis) for writers, and used properly it can have a great influence and help authors sell their books.

There are a few more platforms to choose from, but for this post I’m going to stick the ones I use most; my blog, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok.

Yes, I said Tiktok.

In the beginning there was Facebook. All writers had an author page. I still do, but in the last ten years it’s become less popular due to their TOS, and the few scandals around their algorithms. Their paid promo’s haven’t show to increase anything, no matter what they claim. Ask any author who has paid for their promotion. You won’t like their answer. I rarely use my author page anymore but I’m afraid to give it up.

Enter the New Age of Social Media.

As I stated, there are four I use the most, and while they seem so different in what to post, honestly, they’re all a great way for authors to reach out and connect. One thing you *must* understand; social media isn’t about selling books; it’s about connecting with readers. Writers read other writers, but to really sell you need to step outside of the author/writer/publishing triad and connect with the non-writer. Social media is great for this and you must keep this in mind when you’re using any platform.

#1. Twitter.

Twitter is real-time short conversations. There are threads that go on for post after post, but for the majority it’s short 250 character thoughts. Even Twitter realized how important the platform could be and doubled the character limit. Twitter is great to give a quick shout-out to folks, do a book promo, or engage in meaningful conversations with other writers. It’s typing, and writers are comfortable with this format.

#2. Instagram

The IG is a place writers can express their creativity through photos or short videos. This platform is good for book covers, pictures that inspire you to write, or have inspired you in other ways. I’ve posted pictures of excerpts on my account, food pics, cats, weather. You name it and I’ve probably posted something like it on my IG account. This is one of the places that I can reach out to non-writing folk.

#3. YouTube

Okay, here’s where things start to get a little time-consuming. It’s taken me about ten years, but I think I finally know how to utilize this platform. Right now I’m doing about one video per month, because the amount of work required to get one up is incredible. I can spend at least a whole day editing a thirty minute video down to around five to six minutes. There’s music that I add and I have an opening title and credits as well. The main reason I do the videos is to acclimatize myself to speaking about my work. I can sit at a computer and type away about my books, but *actually* talking about them is a different story. Making videos, watching how I move, how I speak, it’s preparing me for a time when I might have to talk to a lot of people about my books. YouTube is a lot of work, but for me, it’s something I want to invest the time in.

#4. TikTok.

Welcome to YouTube lite. It’s the only way I can explain it. The app has editing tools and you post short vids (about a minute long) about anything you want. I have a video editing program I bought for YouTube so I can do a bit more with my vids, but I try to keep them short and hopefully interesting. I haven’t been on long, and am setting up certain days to post certain videos. You can use hashtags just like you do on Twitter and IG. It’s only three years old, but it’s wildly popular.

The last platform I want to talk about is a blog. I don’t know how many times I’ve read these click-bait articles about how blogging is dead. No, it isn’t, and it never will be because those who use it will always feel the need to express themselves through words. I still recommend new writers start a blog, just so they can get used to the idea of creating new content and keeping a deadline. It’s perfect for the introvert who doesn’t feel comfortable with any of the other platforms.

Well, there it is, my fourth blog post about social media. If you’re interested in the other articles I wrote, I’ve linked them below.

Of Writers and Prose: Five Problems with Social Media

Of Writers and Prose: Are Authors Sick of Social Media?

Social Media for Writers: The New Time-Suck or Time to Connect?

Of Writers and Prose: Writing as a Source of Income.

As an author, I can say I have lived my dream job.

Creating worlds and stories has been something I’ve done since I was a child, but I never entertained the idea of making money from it until I was in my early forties. To spend the day deep in prose and publishing the books myself has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

Every writer’s fantasy is to be able to stay at home and write, and, to a greater extent, make a living off of the novels we create. For some people, it’s the reason they start writing, but when reality sinks in, and they soon realize that money from novel writing doesn’t go the way they planned, they have to accept the fact that they may never live out their dream.

Take it from me, making money writing novels can take a long time; sometimes years, and can be full of frustration, disappointment, and rejection. I started in 2009 and put out my first novel two years later. I did quite well those first years, but it took several more until I saw a sustained amount coming in every month. It wasn’t life changing, but it was something and it allowed me to invest in editors and better book covers. At the same time, other authors were coming to the same conclusion I was; the more content you have out, the better chance you have of making money. This was the era of Amanda Hocking. Don’t know who she is, Google it.

I saw authors put out two or three novels a year (digital), and while many of those were of a good quality (proper editing, eye-catching cover), many more were not. Within two years self-publishing became such a glut of badly written novels put out by people who saw it as nothing more than a get-rich-quick scheme. There was such a glut of digital books that it was almost impossible for a new author to be seen, let alone make any money. The only ones who were still profiting had a large back list and had been in it for a while.  

The same holds true now.

So the question is; can you make money from writing novels? Yes, if you’re willing to spend the time and energy doing so. Writing novels isn’t a cash cow, and you’re not going to get that six-digit contract with a publisher, so why do it?

Because you’re a writer, and you HAVE to write. There are more options for writers now than there were ten years ago, but not enough to allow someone to quit their day job, and I strongly advise that you don’t.   Unfortunately, the days of sitting at my laptop writing all day have disappeared. The income from my books disappeared as well and while I do still get the odd payment from Amazon, it’s nothing like it used to be. While I haven’t put out a book in almost five years (yikes!), the dream of returning to writing full time is constantly on my mind, and as I put the finishing touches on my zombie/plague novel, I find myself thinking the same questions I did ten years ago; will it be with an agent and a Traditional Contract? Indie? Who knows, but at least I know it’s possible to make some money with a writing gig.

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