One Day Sale! Saturday, June 9th! Clockwork Kingdom!

Because that’s how I roll — this Saturday, June 9th, Clockwork Kingdom will be available for free at Amazon. For one day. The last day, actually, that it’ll be free.

Then I’ll remove it from the KDP program (the 90 days will be up on the 18th) and will put it up at Smashwords and B&N.

Did the KDP program help me? Yes, I think it did. Was it amazing and glorious and would I do it again? Hmmm. What I’d really like to do is to have a short story that I hadn’t already published, offer that via KDP with the first two chapters at the end of the story, then sell the novel. (Because I don’t believe in pulling a short from a place once it’s already published.) We’ll see if I can ever be that clever and do that much planning.

Currently, Zydeco Queen is selling better than Clockwork Kingdom. I figure it’s because of a few things:

1) I have Clockwork Kingdom marked as YA. I’ve heard that doesn’t sell as well, and that has been my experience.
2) Zydeco Queen has a much better blurb. I need to rewrite the blurb for Clockwork Kingdom.
3) I’m offering Golden Charms, a story set in the same world, for free.

There was that flawed study done recently that showed that half the indie publishers have only made about $500. I’ll make a bit more than that by the end of the year I think (I hope!) I’ve been at this since September/October of last year, 10 months. I’ve made about $300 to date. Honestly, I think that’s fantastic, considering how much “advertising” I do, how much of a “platform” I’ve built (read: 0 and none.)

It’s still one huge experiment for me.

I did get the first proof of Zydeco Queen today. PRETTY. Made changes to it, will be getting a second, possibly last, proof in a couple weeks, so the paperback will hopefully be available by July 1st.

Stay on target

There are times when I can multi-task with aplomb, skipping from one writing task to the next with ease.

Then there are times when every time I try to switch contexts, I can hear the gears grinding in my head.

Trying to work on both “Zydeco Queen” and “The Raven and the Dancing Tiger” at the same time has been the second type of experience this past week or so.

Tonight, I sacrificed a night of writing for doing publishing things. I could have waited, been more patient, but I wanted to get ZQ finished so I could get back to really writing again.

So perhaps tomorrow there may be some kind of announcement about a new book generally available. . .

SENT

Sent the final draft of Zydeco Queen off to the editor.

::dances around the room to “What You Gonna Do?”::

(Whatcha gonna do–when the zydeco–turn it up on you?)

I like this novel. Of course, my worry is that people other than me won’t like it. We’ll just have to see. Trust that some readers, somewhere, will like it.

And in the meanwhile, write the next book.

I haven’t written at all on The Raven and the Dancing Tiger this week. I’m hoping to get at least a chapter done tomorrow. It’s okay that I haven’t, that I’ve stayed focused on just the one project and let life happen the rest of the time. The first scene for the next chapter won’t be hard–I know exactly what it needs to be. Not sure about the rest of it, but I trust my brain to figure it out.

And now a sneak preview — I found this amazing piece of art that I’m using for the cover of Zydeco Queen — The main character is a fiddler, BTW:

Pleased with the progress you make

My writing goal this week was 10,000 words. I was a little shy of 6,000. I’m actually really okay with that.

I realized that, before, the goal of 10,000 words meant 2 chapters, each about 5,000 words long. For this novel, the chapters are about 3,000 words long. So my goal shifted, to 9,000 words, and as I only finished two chapters, that means about 6,000 words.

I’m very pleased with my progress, as I was in SF for the day job for most of last week, and sick with a migraine on Friday, and dealing with personal stuff on Saturday.

19683 / 60000

This week, the goal is only 6,000 words, or two chapters. I will be pleased with a single chapter, however. Why? Because my first reader got back to me on Zydeco Queen. I have this week to go through the book before I turn it over to my editor. So one or two chapters is fine, as there’s a whole fricking book that I’m also going through one last time.

Then I should only have the one novel, and be full steam ahead on it, until June sometime, when I’ll have to put it down again for the short story class. If it really is about 70,000 words long, then I’m about 1/3 finished with it. That feels about right. Lots of stuff has piled up. Now it’s time to answer some of the questions.

Spent the day outside in my backyard. I wrote, made new chair seats, grilled up veggies and hamburger patties, then wrote more. (I’m actually writing this from outside.) I planted an herb garden this weekend, while last weekend I bought half a whisky barrel and planted a tomato plant, a strawberry plant, and a bunch of lettuce in it. I also planted kale. We’ll see what, if anything, comes up.

I hope ya’ll have had a wonderful weekend as well.

Keep on writing

Yesterday I finished Zydeco Queen and sent it to my first reader. After she goes through and tells me what’s broken, I will fix it and send it to my editor. So I’m still on schedule for indie pubbing that novel come June-ish.

I wrote the next 1000 words on a different story tonight — The Raven and the Dancing Tiger. I’d tried to write that story as a short story during my writing workshop, trying to hack it off at 3000 words. Not so much. Normally I have a very good idea where a story is going, where it’s going to end. I have no freaking clue about this one.

However, as I just wrote 1000 words and haven’t even gotten into the meat of Part II, let’s just say I’m doubting it’s merely 9000 words. I keep getting this feeling that it’s actually about 40-50K.

We’ll see.

There’s other stuff happening that I’ll talk about later. And I do have some announcements that I really should make.

In the meanwhile, though the DoJ and other law suits are trying to keep things interesting, I have to remember the basics, namely, that I can’t control all of that stuff out there. I can stay informed, try to make the best decisions for my business based on what I know (not rumor or speculation), but really, the only thing I can control is my output.

So keep writing.

Here’s a much funnier post on basically what I just said.

Measuring effort

One of the things that I always find frustrating with rewrites is how to measure my effort. For example, I worked for about two hours today on the rewrite of Zydeco Queen. In terms of word count, I only added about 600 new words.

If I was writing first draft, 600 words in 2 hours is shameful, at least for me.

However, that 600 doesn’t count the rewriting and replacing of sentences and paragraphs. It doesn’t count the thinking and planning and verifying I’m doing. I worked hard for those two hours. I know I did some good work. But there’s very little product, something I can point to and say, “I accomplished that!”

This is one of the reasons why I find rewriting to be less satisfying than writing. And yet, I know I’m doing good, necessary work. I know that I’m adding a lot of quality to this book. I know that I need to do all of this work.

Still. I’m searching for more satisfaction than it will ever give me.

In other news, I’m close to being finished with Clockwork Kingdom. I spent this morning working on the cover, creating two from two different pictures. I’m going with my first idea, as opposed to my second. The first idea is more fantasy, the second is more clockwork. If I was doing a more science fiction/steampunk story, then I’d choose the second.

One other thing I’ve discovered is that the PoD version of a cover doesn’t have to be identical to the ebook version. The lettering that looked awesome as an ebook and at the thumbnail size looks *way* too big on the paperback version.

Living the dream

Today was Presidents’ day, and I had the day off from the day job. I told myself that I was going to live today as if I was a full-time writer.

Of course, then life happened.

I did get up and go write in the coffee shop this morning. I did write more tonight. I did finish chapter two today, and so I can start chapter three tomorrow.

But there were also life things, like shopping and grocery shopping and making dinner and doing yet another load of laundry and goofing off a little and. . .I think that I need to take a whole week off the day job to really figure out what it means to be a full-time writer. Because I certainly didn’t spend the entire day writing. Though I did spend time thinking about the writing, which is as important.

As for the rewrite, the change in word count (an additional 1500 words) doesn’t indicate the effort. I figure at least half, if not more, of the words are new (and the chapter is about 6000 words now.)

One of the good things about the break, as it were — I had thought I’d finished chapter two while I was in the coffee shop. The last scene was a bit awkward, but I was sure it would only take a little straightening out.

Then, while doing all those other things, I finally figured out what was wrong with chapter two and what I needed to do to fix it.

This is why rewrites always take me so long. I need time to figure out what’s broken. I need time to address it. I can’t just run at it like I can with writing.

The good news is that I already have a really good idea of what’s wrong with chapter three — namely, it starts in the wrong place and summarizes what went on before. I need to have scenes with that stuff happening. This chapter is one of the shortest — 3900 words — and there’s no reason why it should be. Important stuff happens that needs to be on the damn page.

At least with this chapter I understand why I shied away — the main character is losing a parent figure. It’s hard stuff to deal with. There’s more emotional honestly in chapter three, but it’s all aftermath. I’m glad I have the time to think about it, and fix it.

Emotional heart

I’ve finished the rewrite of the first chapter of “Zydeco Queen.” It’s about 2000 words longer, which is good. However, the word count isn’t a good indication of effort. About 3000 words are brand new, but that doesn’t include the rewriting. The chapter is now 6500 words long. So maybe 4000-4500 words are new.

I’ve started the rewrite of chapter two. Like chapter one, it’s missing much of the emotional umph. It’s like I was afraid to get into the main character’s head, to really feel what she was feeling. The second chapter is slightly better than the first chapter emotionally, but plot wise, ugh. Stuff that should have happened in the first chapter, that I added, I found at the end of the second chapter. There has to be escalation and what’s there is wrong. I’m going to have to toss huge parts of the existing chapter, redraft.

I’m not sure why I keep running away from the emotional heart of my writing. I didn’t used to. I recognize it’s why “Paper Mage” is so successful. It’s why so many of the “Baker’s Dozen” stories are so good. I stopped running away.

This novel is worth saving. It’s worth diving into that emotional heart and wrenching it out, displaying it for the world to see. It isn’t the only thing that makes my writing powerful, but it’s a major part of it.

On being right

I started the rewrite of “Zydeco Queen” last night.

One of the things I can say about my writing is that it’s powerful. I don’t feel that while I’m writing it. But afterward, I can come back, and I can see the energy. I know it’s dynamic.

Unfortunately, there’s almost none of that power in this draft of “Zydeco Queen.” I was afraid that was the case, and this is one of those time when I hate being right.

After I read the first scene of the first chapter I got up and walked away for a while. I couldn’t see a way to fix that scene.

Fortunately, after I ate dinner and did some other things, I was able to make myself go back and read the second scene. It needed a heavy edit (which I was able to do) but at least I can use it. Ditto for the third scene, though it really should be the fourth scene, there’s at least one, maybe two or three scenes missing.

The start of the existing fourth scene is so awful it needs to be completely chucked and redrafted from scratch. I don’t know what I need to do instead. I’ll figure it out when I get there. The end of the fourth scene needs to be its own, separate scene.

And so on.

This morning while I was in the shower (because of course that’s when these ideas generally show up) I figured out what was wrong with the first scene. The event is almost correct, not quite, and the people involved in the scene are not the right ones. Now I know what the event should be, who needs be there, and not only what should happen, but the emotional tone that must set.

So the good news is I can fix this novel. It will require heavy edits in some places and complete redrafts in others, and I have less fear of killing what little voice that currently exists. I’m really hoping that from chapter ten on, I won’t have to do as much work as I will in the first chapters.

The bad news is that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work. While I’ve been doing some writing during the month of January, I really was taking it easy. (For me. I realize that for some people, writing two short stories, putting together a collection, formatting two books for PoD, etc. seems like a lot. Really it isn’t.)

This isn’t actually bad news, BTW. It just means that every spare minute for the next 4-6 weeks is going to be spent writing. I’m going to be as busy as I was last year doing the Baker’s Dozen challenge.

I should really do another post on the benefits I continue to see from doing that thirteen week challenge. Because I continue to stumble across benefits that I hadn’t thought about when I’d started. I will do another short story challenge like that — I don’t know if it’ll be this year or next year.

Fifth story up!

I have finished and posted the fifth story! W00t!

It will be available for free here for a week, until the next short story goes up. Then it will be available for $.99 from the usual suspects, Smashwords, Amazon and B&N.

I started this story when I was living in New Orleans. I could never finish it: it was just some characters and an idea. It didn’t have a plot or legs of its own. I always liked it though, liked the characters. So I finally decided to finish it. Came up with a plot, rewrote the first 1500 words or so, threw out the rest and wrote it all out. It’s about 9300 words, a longish piece for me.

The short story takes place in the world of one of the novels I have to rewrite — “The Zydeco Queen and the Creole Fairy Courts.” When I finish that novel (March? April?) I’ll re-issue this story as a loss leader. We’ll then see how it goes.

As a child, Jolene learned she had a gift. She could see people’s fates: they appeared as a golden charm around the person’s neck. She didn’t want her gift, though. She just wanted a normal life—a job, a husband, and kids. Three years later, Jolene can’t get pregnant. What kind of strange beings in the creole fairy court must she deal with? What does she sacrifice to make her dreams come true?