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.

Of Writers and Prose: A Writing Career Ten Years On.

This year marks ten years that I have been published. I started off with short stories and advanced to self-publish six novels. In the last decade I’ve seen a lot, learned a lot, written a lot. Much has changed, but much more has stayed the same. One thing that has changed drastically is my writing.

I realized this when I was putting together a teaser for my first novel, The Watchtower. I cringed as I re-read the first three pages. Back then, I thought it was good, and for that period of my life, it was. As the years went by, I knew my writing strength improved, but I didn’t want to take them down. I wanted people to see how my craft evolved over time. Writers don’t start off strong, it’s a muscle we learn to build and I wanted people to see mine; see how my craft progressed. Now, I’m not so sure.

It isn’t that I’m embarrassed about these books, I’m not, but I find they lack the creativity I have now, and as I don’t have any plans to self-publish again (at least not right away), as much as I want to keep them up, I also want to take them down. I suppose I could revise them; bring them up to today’s standard, but I have only a set amount of time I can write and I’d rather be focused on new projects than old ones. Especially as I have so many new ones. I don’t make a lot of money on them to start with, so that isn’t a factor.

There’s another point that has me thinking about this; ‘non-competition’ clause in some contracts. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to make of it. I understand where it’s coming from, and I don’t think it should be a strike against an author if they do have self-published works, but it really comes off that way.   One thing is for sure, I’m glad for the experience that came with self-publishing and wouldn’t change my decisions, but now I’m looking forward to taking a different path with my career and I’m torn on whether or not to keep these novels up. This is a difficult decision, but one I think I have to make. I will keep you posted.

Movie Night: A look at the Oscars.

It’s that time again, folks. The Hollywood award season is in full swing, and it started with the Golden Globes on January 5. Next was the Critic’s Choice Awards (January 12), which is followed by The Screen Actors Guild Award (January 19), The BAFTA Awards (February 2, Graham Norton is hosting this and I’m going to try and watch if I can. I like him!), The Independent Spirit Awards (February 8), and last, but not least – the Oscars (February 9).

Now, I’m not going to trash anything. I write screenplays and I follow the community (loosely, I haven’t checked out #filmtwitter in a while), so I understand how hard it is to write these suckers. I love movies, and one day I’ll take a pic of all we have, and I know for a fact some of these are going to be on our buy list for 2020.

(NOTE: I originally posted this on Facebook the day the nominations came out.)

The nominations are:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: SERIOUSLY? I’m sorry, but we watched this one, and shut it off probably 3/4 of the way through. The only interesting thing about this movie, IMO, are the Sharon Tate/Charles Manson possible connection. Ugh, this means I have to try and sit through the WHOLE thing.

UPDATE: I’ve had a couple people tell me that we must have shut it off before the good part came on, so yeah, Hubby and I are going to re-watch this, BUT only from where we left off.

LITTLE WOMEN: I haven’t seen this adaptation, and to be honest, I wasn’t planning on it either. I’ve seen other adaptations, but I’ve heard that it’s very close to the book.

THE IRISHMAN: Not a mafia movie person and this one is 3 1/2 hours long.

MARRIAGE STORY: I heard A LOT of good things about this one, including the joke that it’s about Kylo Ren and the Black Widow getting a divorce.

THE JOKER: Another one I heard a lot of good things about, and bad. Very dark and I’m surprised it was nominated. Good for them.

PARASITE: Almost watched this on Netflx one night by myself. Now I have too. Another surprise as it’s a foreign film and probably subtitles. I don’t know how well Hubby likes to read his movies.

FORD vs FERRARI: I have a thing for car movies. I need to watch this one.

JOJO RABBIT: I had no idea what this movie was about and hadn’t even HEARD of it until now, so I looked it up. Interesting plot and considering everything going on in the US, this movie fits the times.

1917: I’m not sure if this one is based on actual events, and I’m not much of a war movie person either, but I liked HACKSAW RIDGE so maybe I can sit through this one too.

Okay, so here are my guesses as who the winner might be;

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: No. He might have won at the Golden Globes, but the lineup for the Oscars is much more (for lack of a better word) high-class.

Little Women: Maybe. Period pieces seem to do well at the Oscars.

The Irishman: Maybe. Maybe if there weren’t more heart wrenching movies this nomination would be stronger.

Marriage Story: Yes. This is a story anyone can relate to.

The Joker: Yes. Gritty and dark, from what I’ve heard, this movie is more about mental illness that anything.

Parasite: Maybe, but in the last sixty years there has only been three foreign films (non-North American or British made) to win Best Picture.

Ford vs. Ferrari: No. I know I haven’t seen it, but I’m thinking it’s more of a hyped docu-drama.

Jojo Rabbit: Maybe. War time movies seem to be nominated quite a bit, but it could be the content is too comparable to what is happening in the US now.

1917: Maybe: It’s another war-time movie. I researched this movie, and the script was originally conceived from a story the directors grandfather told him.

I’ll probably change my opinion of them once I’ve seen them. Hopefully before Oscar night.

Have you seen any of these movies yet? Did you like them? Not like them?

Call for A Company of Writers Blog Series.

It’s been a while. Almost two years, but I’ve decided to start up my blog interview series again, starting in January of 2020.

If you didn’t know, a few years back I was actively engaged in promoting authors of all career paths by interviewing them or allowing them to post a small excerpt of their published work on my blog. I’ve had the pleasure of hosting some wonderful authors, and I really miss that, so I’ve decided it’s time to start it up again.

The Basics

You can be published either Self, Indie, or Tradition, and in any genre. I do one interview per month which goes live on the last Friday of the month. There are ten questions and an excerpt (optional). I try to make the interview as much about you and your work as I can, so put a much detail into the answers as possible. The excerpt (if you choose) must be no longer that 1,500 to 2,000 words. Also, I will need cover art and all social media links to you AND your book.

My goal is to promote only you, so if you’re part of a blog group or writing group, that’s wonderful, but I don’t want to promote them. I will have twelve spots open; from January to December. This means it’s a first-come-first-serve situation.

Please note:

I require all potential interviewee’s have their book available on both .mobi and epub formats. This means the public can purchase your ebook on either Amazon (.mobi) or Barns and Noble/iTunes/Kobo or any other outlet that deals with epub. If your book is print only that’s fine; everyone can hold a book, but not everyone has the same ereader.     

If you’re interested you can email me at the address below. Please include how you are published (Traditional, Indie, or Self), the name and genre of the book you wish to promote and several links to where your book can be found. I WILL BE CHECKING OUT ALL BOOK LINKS. This is just a reassurance for me that people of all ereader types can purchase your book.   

My email is darkewhispers69 (at) gmail (dot) com

I look forward to working with you.

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