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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Goals for 2023

I'm not usually big on making New Year's resolutions, but after years of not making any at all, I'm finding that I do actually have some goals for this year, and some of them are to do with Ruby.

As I've mentioned before, my goal for 2023 is to get Ruby Ransome and Pandora's Box published.  I'm planning on self-publishing, so I know I have some work ahead of me.  My goal is to get the draft I'm currently working on done in January.  I'm a fan of letting the draft sit for a little bit before doing revisions, so I'm planning on working on something else in February - probably the cover.  If all goes well, in March I'll do revisions, and hopefully that'll be the last round of revisions before passing the book to beta readers.  After that, I'll do a final round of revisions based on feedback, and possibly have a round of professional editing done before self-publishing the book.

During all this, once I have a cover ready, I plan to start doing some marketing.  I also want to do some research and figure out a game plan for publishing and marketing, including what platforms I want to publish on.

At the same time, I'll need to start working on the next installments of the series.  It's my goal to get several standalone short stories published over the summer, followed by the second book in the fall, and a Christmas novella in time for the holidays.  This is a pretty ambitious schedule (although thankfully the short stories are already written and just need some revisions and polishing) so I'll need to keep up with the daily writing.  And editing, and marketing, and publishing...

It's promising to be a busy year, but I'm also so excited for all of it!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Happy Holidays!

The past week has been challenging, and I haven't posted much as a result.  We've had a lot of demands on our time, plus the weather in the last few days added a lot to the schedule.  We had an arctic blast here in Colorado, as did much of the rest of the country, and far more time than usual was consumed with taking care of the horses.  Water tanks freeze over very quickly in that extreme cold, and since I do chores at the barn, we had a lot of ice to break out every day on top of the regular care of the horses.

As a result, it has been several days since I worked on Ruby.  I've been either too busy or too exhausted pretty much every night.  Currently, I have four days in a row with no work on the novel.  If I were to work on it before midnight this evening, I could make that three, but I'm not sure I'll have a chance before midnight.

I've decided that given everything that's been going on the last few days, though, it's okay that I haven't had a chance to write.  After all, it's the holidays.  And as long as I can pick it back up afterward, I think it's okay to take a break.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Figuring Out Series Management

The last few days I've been focusing on something else rather than writing: series management.

It started because I wanted to decide whether to get Aeon Timeline 3 before my coupon code expired.  I downloaded the trial and was playing with it, and then realized I had purchased Aeon Timeline 2 about five years ago and never used it, so I downloaded and played with that too.  The newer version definitely has the better user interface and features, but I was having a hard time with the program's feature that syncs with Scrivener (I couldn't delete a document in Scrivener because Aeon kept putting it back), and anyway syncing wasn't going to work if I wanted to use the same timeline for the entire series.

So after some poking around, I ended up downloading Plottr as well.  I had been hearing conflicting information about whether you could write in it, but it definitely is not a word processing program.  It will, however, make an excellent kind of "home base" for my series notes, character sheets, location sheets, and for tracking all the installments of the series.  The user interface is absolutely gorgeous, I love the at-a-glance display of all the books in a series, and the layout is common sense and lacks all the complexity of Scrivener (which, as much as I love Scrivener, it is complex and not ideal for managing an entire series).

In the end, I decided to use all three programs.  Plottr will be my series bible and my main method of managing the series, and I'll export each installment to Scrivener individually.  Aeon Timeline will provide precise dating and a way to keep track of historical events versus series events, and of course I need Scrivener to write in.  And while I'm at it, why not upgrade to Scrivener 3, too?

It may sound complex, but after three days spent researching options and experimenting with Plottr, Aeon, and Scrivener 3, I think this combination is going to do the best possible job of helping me manage a rather ambitious, historically-based series.  Right now I'm working on transferring all of my notes into Plottr.  From there I'll export individual novels and stories into Scrivener, and all of my notes will automagically duplicate into related installments (I can set what books or stories they are used in).

Getting organized is making me really excited about this series.  I feel like the rewriting is going really well, and now I have a plan going forward.  In addition to the first novel, which I'm currently rewriting and revising to fix some significant plot issues, I also have a handful of short stories (some written, some planned), a couple of novellas (one written, one half-written, and one planned), and three additional books half-written and planned.  That should take me through 1925, but eventually I intend for the series to continue throughout the 1920s.  It will end up being a big series so it's best to start planning how to manage it all now!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Finding Time to Write

I've been super busy lately and haven't been updating my sidebar progress bar, but I actually have been writing every day.  Sometimes it's not much, but as long as I do a little, I figure that counts!  There was one day that my mom stayed over, so I didn't write that night after midnight as I usually do, so I made up for it with some extra writing earlier in the day.

Overall I'm pleased with my progress.  I'm getting on average around 800 words a day, which isn't a lot (certainly not as much as during NaNoWriMo), but it'll get me to where I want to go.  My project on NaNoWriMo says I need a little under 800 words a day to reach 90,000 words by the end of January.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to finish the draft a little sooner, so I might try to increase my pace, but for now I'm fine with it.

More importantly, I feel like I'm digging my way through some tough scenes and figuring out some things that I actually didn't know how I was going to handle going into them.  I'm not certain I'm going to keep some of these scenes exactly how I've written them (or at all, in one case), but sometimes trying it different ways is part of the whole process of drafting and rewriting a novel.

In the meantime, I've been juggling any amount of things, from a clogged kitchen sink to a death in the family.  It's been a rough couple of weeks.

Despite all that, I now have 48,902 words, and I'm getting into the next section of the book, which is where things are going to start really ramping up.  (And yes, I know that the word count is possibly a bit off for that, which is why some scenes like the one I just wrote may end up being truncated or cut... or maybe this is just going to be a longer book than I was planning.)

Eventually I want to try to move my scheduled writing time earlier.  Lately I've been doing it all well after midnight, which is the only way to fit it in sometimes, but it also means that if I work on it longer than intended, I either get less sleep or sleep in later than intended the next day.  Ideally I'd like to spend the time from about 10pm to midnight every night on my novel, but for now that block of time has been needed for other things.

Regardless, I am making progress and figuring things out, and I couldn't be more pleased with this!

1920s Book Review: Absynthe

Before NaNoWriMo started, when I decided I was going to rewrite Ruby Ransome and Pandora's Box, I went on a 1920s book spree.  I was initially looking for nonfiction books about the 1920s on Overdrive, but I ended up finding a ton of fiction about the 1920s, which I've been steadily plowing through (when I'm not too tired from staying up late writing my own book).

One such book was Absynthe by Brendan Bellecourt.  I checked it out along with a ton of others, after having read enough of the description to see that it mentioned casting illusions and other powers.

Once I started the book, though, I realized it wasn't urban fantasy as I'd thought it was.  It was basically dieselpunk with an alternate timeline.

It may not be vampires, and the author's vision of the 1920s might be rather different than what I was expecting, but I loved Absynthe.  It was an incredibly original take on dieselpunk, automatons, illusionists, and extrasensory abilities.  The further you get into the novel, the more you realize how different the timeline is, and the stranger and more intriguing everything gets.

The author mentions in the note at the end a couple of things I found interesting.  He thanked someone who had suggested opening it at the scene he did, which I'm guessing is what triggered the use of flashbacks in the book instead of a linear telling.  This made me think about how much more powerful of a story it was with that mystery and intrigue of what exactly had happened to the main character during the war.

The other thing he mentioned was combining characters for a more cohesive plot.  He thanked a lot of people for fixing plot holes and helping him tighten the story, and I found this interesting simply because it's such a great plot.  The story is quite complex and layered, full of interesting twists and turns.

All in all, a great book, and one I highly recommend for anyone who loves interesting takes on the Roaring Twenties!

It was nice to read something that was somewhat 20s but also not at all what I expected!  

Monday, December 5, 2022

Maintaining Accountability

While I'd like to eventually start posting some other types of things on this blog, such as fun things about the 1920s (my favorite era), for right now I've decided to keep posting about my writing progress post NaNoWriMo.  I am using this as accountability to ensure that I keep making progress on my draft, and eventually, my goal to publish.

Last night I got some writing done before midnight, actually, but the bulk of it was after midnight, and I deliberately didn't update my word count until after midnight to ensure my word count for the night would be accurate.  (With me doing a lot of my writing after midnight, I'm afraid it is going to cause an issue someday when I don't write after midnight...  I don't want to make it look like I haven't written the following day if I wait until after midnight the next night.  Night owl problems, am I right?)

I've gotten back into some scenes where I'm blending first draft stuff I liked with this draft.  But this is also the point at which the plot turns, based on the decision I made about why the character motivation and the plot weren't working.  Plus I need to flesh out the middle of the book a little more than what I originally had written.

In other words, there will be lots of rewriting from here on out.  I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

On Vampire Writers and Writing at Night

Once again, I got my writing done after midnight last night, writing around 1,200 words for a running total of 42,872.  During NaNoWriMo, I made an effort to write before midnight every night, so that I could update the words on the current day.  It also helped, of course, that I had a lot of write-ins to write at, which always happened earlier in the evening.

Now, left to my own devices, I'm doing a lot of my writing just before or just after midnight.  That's fine with me, of course.  I am a night owl and often feel most motivated at night.  Plus, it enables me to get my other work done during the day, and do my writing work at night.

There's also something that just seems right about writing vampire fiction at night.

The problem with writing at night is, of course, that if I want to keep going, I can't without sacrificing either sleep or my sleep schedule.  That part isn't ideal.  I'd like to be able to get into a scene and keep going if I want to.

Unfortunately, there is a lot else that demands my time, and a lot of it genuinely does make more sense to do during the day, when I have daylight.  Maybe eventually I'll be able to do some of my writing earlier in the day, but for now, I have a repeating calendar event every night at 11pm.

So Long, Farewell... TGIO Party

Today was our region's TGIO party - "Thank Goodness It's Over," meaning NaNoWriMo, of course.  We have a party to celebrate the completion of NaNo every year.  Whether you reach 50k or not, getting through the month is a big thing, and well worthy of celebrating.

One of the things we nearly always do for our TGIO party is to bring books and do a book swap.  The thinking is, of course, to celebrate having time to read again now that the month of frantic writing is over.  I am not actually sure how much reading time I sacrifice in order to write, though, so I suppose that might not apply to me.  But it's a fun tradition for our party.

We had a good turnout this year, which was surprising considering our attendance was a little down elsewise throughout the month.  Usually we only have maybe 7 or 8 people come to the TGIO.  But today we had 17 in attendance, which was probably our second busiest TGIO in years.

I'm a little sad NaNoWriMo is over, as some of these people I won't see again until next November.  But I'm also glad to have a little of my time back.  I'm still planning on working on my novel regularly, but I won't have to be present anymore at 2-3 hour write-ins 5 days a week anymore, plus the commute time back and forth to each.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Day 2 of Writing Post-NaNoWriMo

I thought I would share a little more about my discovery of using the NaNoWriMo site to track writing projects at other times throughout the year.

This is my current graph.  As you can see, I wrote another 1,800 words tonight, which I'm quite pleased about.

I really like that I can see a graph of my progress over time, instead of just the little meter in my sidebar.  It gives me a feel for how I'm doing.  I also really like that it shows me a goal word count for the day, just like it did during NaNoWriMo, and that the daily goal automatically adjusts to what I would need on a daily basis to get to my overall goal by the end date.

I'm writing more than that, as you can see, but I set a fairly generous goal.  I'd actually love to be done with this draft sooner than the end of January.

I did find that I had to create a new project to track it outside of NaNoWriMo.  I was unable to change the parameters of November's goal, and couldn't add a new goal on to the same project.  So I created a totally new project with the 90,000 word count goal, and just added all the current words (minus the extra stuff I wrote for short stories and novellas in November) at once to show where I'm at right now.  Better than doing math every day when I report my word count for the day.

While I like the meter to show my current word count in the sidebar of the blog, I'm really enjoying using the NaNoWriMo site to track progress over time.  Maybe eventually I'll find a way to do everything with the same system, so I don't have to report in two places (and manually insert the code for the sidebar meter).  For now, though, this is working for me.

Friday, December 2, 2022

My First 1,300 Words Post-NaNoWriMo

My biggest fear is that like in other years, my daily writing habit is going to go away now that NaNoWriMo is over.

I have good reasons to believe this year's will be a more lasting habit.  I didn't burn myself out by forcing myself to write thousands of words at the very end to catch up, as I have often done, for example.  (One year I wrote 10,000 words on November 30th!)  I also am feeling fairly motivated to finish this book and get it published, so hopefully that will help me keep going as well.

In any case, I wrote 1,300 words last night, and I am feeling very good about it.  I'm in the middle of a good scene and should be able to pick it up again easily.

I'm hoping I can develop a habit of writing late at night, when (hopefully) the rest of my stuff is done for the day.  I think it'll be the easiest place to squeeze writing in on a regular basis.

Stay tuned as I try to turn National Novel Writing Month into a writing year!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NaNoWriMo 2022 and Beyond...

I have revised my blog template to reflect my winner status for NaNoWriMo 2022, but more importantly, I updated my word count goal and current word count in the meter I have in my sidebar.  I'm going for a novel of at least 90,000 words, so that's my minimum word count, although I wouldn't mind if it's a little over.

I also stripped out thousands of words I wrote as a short story or backstory during the course of November, leaving me with 38,501 words.  While it looks like I just lost a bunch of words, I had been counting some related writing for NaNoWriMo and now I'm just focusing on only the novel's word count.  It's a much more reassuring word count, though, actually, because 50,000 was too far along in my word count goal for where I'm at in the story arc.

I have also created a new project for continuing Ruby Ransome rewrites on NaNoWriMo's website, which now allows you to track writing projects outside of NaNoWriMo, too.  I'm pretty excited about this possibility, honestly, and interested in seeing how well it works to track my own personal writing projects.  I do wish there was a widget I could add to my blog that would update with my current word count automagically, so I could just update in one place, but alas.  There is not that feature, so I will have to update everything manually.  Forgive me if I get behind on that.

Wish me luck as I continue working on this book.  I wrote out a tentative schedule for myself for publishing next summer, and if that's going to work out, I need to finish the draft by sometime in January!

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 30: WINNER at 50,243 words!

I'm pleased to say that I "won" NaNoWriMo last night while at my final write-in of the year, reaching 50,243 words. 

I'm happy with how the month went, partly because it didn't feel as difficult as it usually does to write every day, and partly because I'm hopeful that this time I've created a daily writing habit that will stick.

I think my graphs are pretty interesting.  This is the overall word count graph, where you can see that I had some big jumps and some small jumps, but overall kept steadily writing all month long.

This graph breaks down my daily progress to show what I accomplished every day, and how individual days stacked up to other days.

NaNoWriMo now also awards you badges throughout the month.  I was going for the daily update badge, but since I didn't write on Thanksgiving, I didn't get that one.  The other one I didn't get was the daily par badge.  It says you would have had to meet par, which for NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words every day, but I don't know if I could have gotten that one by meeting the lowered par each day after some of those big writing days.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my achievements for this year's NaNoWriMo.

Stay tuned for more as I revise my word count goals for the novel, strip away some word count that I counted for NaNoWriMo and don't plan to in the actual novel draft, and make some changes to my blog.

NaNoWriMo 2022, Day 29: 49,106 words

***I wrote this post Tuesday night before I stopped writing for the evening and forgot about it.  Since I didn't want to erase everything to write my winner post, I'm posting it and then will add my winner announcement separately.***

I feel like I've been slowly chipping away at my word count in the last week or so, and not writing anywhere near as fast as I know I can.  Part of it is that I've still been reading up on the vampire literature that would have been in print in 1923.  It might ultimately not matter to be this familiar with it, and I may not keep all my descriptions of Ruby's research on vampires, but I wanted to at least start with a fresh familiarity of the three main sources that would have been available at the time (more on that in a later post).

I expect once I'm done with the last one (which I'm reading now), I will go back to writing more quickly.  I have a lot still to do, as I feel like I'm still toward the beginning of the story.  Originally the book was somewhere around 85,000 words, but I think this rewrite is going to be significantly longer (which is good, as that was rather short).

On December 1st, I will edit the word count shown in my sidebar to reflect the actual novel's word count so far, as my NaNo count includes a word count estimate for some time spent on reading and revising, as well as some words written for things like weekly regional emails.  I'll also edit the goal word count to reflect my goal (or estimate) word count for the entire novel, rather than the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000.

Right now, though, I'm sitting pretty at 49,106 for the month.  I know I could have reached 50,000 days sooner, but I'm not sorry I took my time to read the books and write about Ruby's research experiences as I read.  What's important is that I made it to 50,000, and also that I've hopefully developed a habit of daily writing that'll continue into December and beyond!

Watch for a post about Ruby's research sources, coming soon!

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