Monday, May 15, 2023

Refocusing My Writing Life

I mentioned in my last post that I'm not freelancing right now.

Essentially, last year I lost a couple of clients, not through any fault of my own but due to business changes, until I was down to just one writing platform.  At the time I didn't have the time to look for other clients to replace the lost ones, due to my horse being sick.

Well, said writing platform and I parted ways about a month ago, after we disagreed over payment terms.  There's another platform I used to write for on occasion, but for various reasons I've elected not to write for them anymore either, due to payment not being guaranteed.

What it boils down to is that it's difficult making sure you get paid enough as a freelancer, and while it's important not to be a pushover, sometimes standing up for yourself makes you unpopular.  But hey, I'm unpopular but also paid in full, which is what counts.

I'm not terribly concerned about the break in income right now, as I do have some other ventures that will bring in some income, such as focusing on my doll repair and sales business, Against Doll Odds.  I also have a nonfiction ebook in the works that should bring in some income over time, and hopefully my fiction eventually will, too.

Interestingly, one side effect of not freelancing right now is that I'm itching to write more often than I normally would be.  When I was freelancing I had less urge to work on my own writing projects, but right now I find myself frequently wanting to write something, anything.

Hopefully this just means I'll be able to get more done!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Writer Talk: What Do You Do When You Get Another Idea?

Most writers get story ideas all the time.  Sometimes one is so powerful that it's hard to stay focused on the current project and not get distracted by the urge to start another.

So what do you do when that happens?

I usually find that trying to ignore it 1) makes the urge to write something else worse, and 2) means a potentially lost story idea, so I usually try to at least write down my idea.  Sometimes that means a few quick notes, sometimes that's a basic outline, and sometimes it's writing the intro or a scene.

In fact, Ruby started out as a middle-of-the-night idea that I hurriedly wrote down one night.  One of my best-ever short stories was also a late night idea, that I sat up writing until about 2am.

A couple of days ago, I got a story idea that just wouldn't quit.  I opened up Plottr and started sketching out an outline, and before I knew it, I had a pretty fully fledged basic outline and character sheets for the main characters.

I'm not done outlining it or writing up the character sheets yet, but the question is, what do I do now?  Do I start working on the novel?  I think it would be a fairly simple one, so possibly a quick write.  Or do I finish my draft of Ruby, and then write this?

I'm aware of the value of getting caught up in the excitement of a new project.  It's good motivation and can be good to follow it.  At the same time, there's also something to be said by sticking with something and not running off after every story idea that comes to mind.

I haven't decided yet what I'll do, but I'm aware that it might not be a bad idea to have other books available than just my Vampire Noir series, especially if I'm self-publishing.  The bigger your network of books, the more opportunity you have for sales, especially repeat sales from existing readers.  Having a few standalone books available when I publish Ruby might be helpful for anyone who wants to read more of my books while they're waiting for the next installment in the Vampire Noir series.

Plus there's the nonfiction ebook I'm working on currently, a specialized piece that's more related to my doll business than my fiction writing.

I definitely have a lot of irons in the fire right now.  I'm not freelancing right now (more on that later), but maybe it's good timing, since I have a lot else I want to accomplish!

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Best Laid Plans

After all that work to get Scrivener and Plottr on the Surface Go 3 I bought as a travel computer, I didn't end up working on my novel too much.  That's not to say I didn't work on anything, though: I ended up working on revising a doll stringing ebook I've had for sale for many years, but that desperately needed to be updated.

Despite that, I'm still planning on getting back to work soon on the current draft of my first Ruby Ransome novel.  To avoid working on too many projects at once, though, I'll probably finish work on the ebook first, then get back to work again on Ruby.

As an aside, I'm pretty happy with the little Surface Go.  It was relatively easy to travel with, fit well on the airplane tray tables, charged quickly, and had plenty of battery for my needs.  I carried it everywhere on the trip and its small size and light weight made that pretty easy.  The keyboard is admittedly a little small but not so small I can't type on it.  Sometimes small keyboards actually are better for me, since I can type quickly when my fingers don't have as far to reach.

I had gotten a bump-proof case for the Surface, which incidentally required a Microsoft brand keyboard as the other brand was too large to fit well with the case.  That made me feel more secure about carrying the computer places.  I do need to decide if I want any other accessories for the Surface Go, such as a pen or a USB hub (the Surface Go doesn't have any regular USB ports, only USB-C).

It's possible I'll continue using the Surface Go as an exclusive travel machine or even as an "upstairs computer," which would mean I may end up doing most of my novel writing on it.  I do want to be sure I don't neglect my regular laptop, though, as it's not good for it to be plugged in all the time, either.

Stay tuned for further updates!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Plottr: A Shoutout

In my last post I mentioned my plans for working during my trip, and how I went about making sure I can access my important files on both computers.  Because I originally only purchased a Plottr license for one device, this required reaching out to Plottr about upgrading my license.

I have to say, Plottr support was fabulous.  I was afraid I'd get some flak for my request, or be told just to buy another license, but they were actually really accommodating.  The person who helped me first had me make sure Plottr would run on my Surface Go, and then prorated the cost of the upgrade very affordably to reflect the fact that nearly half my original license term is passed.  They even canceled my original automatic annual payment so that it wouldn't renew for just one device the next time around.

I know I've posted before about Plottr, since I find it super useful for keeping a series bible as well as for doing initial plotting, but their support the past couple days blew me away.  If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, you can get to the Plottr website here by using my affiliate code.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

New Work Machine and a Change of Plans

Today I was talking to my dad about the trip, and I mentioned I wasn't planning on taking my computer.  He said he's taking his, and we talked a little about that.  And I decided to look for a smaller device - a netbook or tablet - that I could take with me so I had access to a computer without taking my work machine with me.

I don't know why I'm so worried about taking my laptop on this trip.  I've traveled with my laptop before and never had an issue.  I suppose I haven't really flown with my main work laptop before, though.  All I know is that my work laptop is literally my life line, and if anything were to happen to it, I'd be devastated.

So instead, I decided on a Surface Go 3.  The slightly less powerful one (64GB drive with 4GB memory, as opposed to 128GB and 8GB) was under $400, so I picked one up tonight, and I have a keyboard and a case for it on their way.  (The case is a protective case like what I had for my Surface Pro that died a few years ago.)  I immediately had to turn off "S mode," which prevented me from installing the very software I bought it to run - namely, Scrivener.

It's a little slow compared to my everyday laptop, but that's okay.  I don't plan to use it all the time.  It'll be a good travel writing machine, though.  I've already created a copy of my current draft of Ruby into Dropbox and tested to make sure I could move back and forth between the two computers seamlessly (which I can, but I have to remember to close the file on each computer when I'm done writing, so Dropbox doesn't get confused as to which files are the most recent).  Because I'm working in a copy of the current draft, I'll have the original to fall back on if anything gets screwed up, and I'll try to back up my work to my main machine periodically to prevent any major loss of work if anything happens.

So it turns out I might not need to wait until I get back from the trip to get back into the habit of working on my novel, like I'd planned!  Now I just need to figure out if I can do the same thing with Plottr so that I can access my series bible on the trip, too.

When I purchased Plottr on my regular computer last December, I didn't think I was ever going to have more than one computer at once, so I just purchased a license for one computer.  So I reached out to Plottr about potentially upgrading my license.  They wanted me to make sure Plottr would run on the Surface first (it wouldn't have if I hadn't turned off S mode) and once we made sure, they prorated the cost so that I could upgrade my license for just the time I have left on my original one-year term.

Like with the Scrivener project, I loaded my Plottr series bible file into Dropbox, and now I can access the file on either computer!  I ended up adding a few more Scrivener projects too, so that if I want to reference or work on anything else, I have it all with me in the cloud.  So now I'm all set to be able to work on Ruby - or anything else I please - while traveling.

With the travel time at the airport and in flight, and hopefully some down time in the evenings, I hope it'll be a productive trip!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Ruby Ransome and the Danger of the Lost Habit

It's been a long time since I've worked on my novel... too long.  Tonight I thought to look at the stats on the NaNoWriMo site and the last time I updated my word count was December 20, 2022 - which probably means I was working late into the night on December 19th, and finished writing after midnight.

That's just over four months ago.  How did I manage to go four months without working on my novel?  And all of that despite April being Camp NaNoWriMo?

The answer is simple, of course: Life intervened.

The holidays were the first hurdle.  After that, my husband and I started working on projects around the house... and basically, we've never stopped.  We swapped our bedroom with the office and doll room, and then have been working on organizing and setting up the doll room.  In addition, I had a doll show to prep for.

All of this has conspired to make it difficult for me to get any writing done.  When we're not working on projects late into the evening, it's usually because we're burnt out, and I end up doing things other than writing - usually reading.  I've been reading a lot this year!

I need to get back into the habit of writing every night, but first I have one more hurdle: My dad and I are traveling for a few days end of this month.  I wasn't planning on schlepping my laptop along on the trip.  I don't have any client work, doubt I'll have much time to be on it, and didn't want the responsibility of having it with me.  I figured with my phone and my Kindle, that should be enough.

It does mean, however, that any work I do right now to try to get back into the habit of writing every day will be undone on the trip.  Plus it'll be a little tough to get into that habit right now, with my birthday next week and a lot of plans for that.  So I'm thinking I'll wait until early May when we're back from the trip to start writing again daily.

I still went ahead and created a new writing goal on the NaNoWriMo site now.  I want to try to get back on track for publishing the novel this year, even if it's later in the year than planned, so I am going to try to finish the rewritten draft in May.

You can track my progress in the sidebar of this blog, by following my blog posts, and on my NaNoWriMo goals page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

2023 Goals Revisited

So far this year has gone a little differently than I had planned, and I'm already having to restructure my goals for 2023.  Initially I had planned to finish the first installment of Ruby Ransome in January so that I could work on revisions in March, after letting it sit for a little bit.

Unfortunately, I hadn't been considering other projects that would need my attention, and in actuality I have spent January and February so far on a massive house reorganization project.  In retrospect, it was something that had to happen first, since my house was pretty cluttered and dirty from way too many months in 2022 of not having time to clean.  But it has definitely pushed back my plans for my novel, and will likely have an impact on that schedule once I get back to work on it.

Currently, my plan is to finish the house reorganization project by the end of February.  I am hoping to start working on my novel nightly again once I get the bigger portions of the project done, hopefully in the next week or two, but definitely by the end of the month!


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