Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Counting Progress

NaNoWriMo can be used to create a good habit - writing every day - but it can also create some bad habits.  Namely, what you consider to be progress, and how you judge yourself.

I'm struggling with this right now.  I've had to take a break in writing to work on some research, and it feels like getting nothing done.  NaNoWriMo teaches you to only count actual words written as progress, and researching means no writing is getting done.

But research is still important, and I didn't want to waste time writing a few very specific scenes without doing some research first.  I also didn't want to keep going with the rest of the novel - which NaNoWriMo encourages, in order to prioritize the writing of words - and have to come back and research and write these scenes later, when I'm not in the flow of the story any longer.  (I'm a fairly linear writer, and typically write in order of how I envision things happening in the book.  This is different from writing in order of how things happen, because, for instance, I write flashbacks when the flashback happens in the story, rather than when it happened before the story took place.)

So I don't have much progress showing on my graph for a few days, but that's okay, because I was working on my novel during that period.

I've also been allowing myself breaks on the weekend, but that's a subject for another post.

Friday, December 1, 2023

My Writing Life Post-NaNo

NaNoWriMo is over!  I got all of the badges except for the one for writing par (1,667 words every day), but that's okay with me.  My own success was much more notable than that: I never once fell below the daily par, and I worked on it every single day, not even missing Thanksgiving.  Those are both accomplishments that I've never managed before, and I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2006.

My final word count for the month was 51,767, after I wrote 1,500 words at our "final push" write-in last night.  Of course, that includes 36 hours of revision work, which took up the majority of the month, but it was necessary to pick my story back up where I left off.

Today I added back in all of the previous words I'd written and disregarded during NaNoWriMo.  The revised part I wrote last year, plus the new part of the story written this year add up to a surprising 72,030 words.  I didn't realize the novel had gotten so long!  This is especially concerning since I feel like I'm only about halfway through the story.  There are section in the part I've already written that could be cut if the word count gets to be too long, but first I want to finish it and see what the final length is like.

I created a new goal for the month of December, with the hopes of finishing the novel by the end of the year.  I set the goal for 100,000, despite some internal debate about increasing that to 120,000.  I ultimately decided that I'd rather set the goal for 100,000 and overshoot it, than to set it for 120,000 and fall short.  I think the final word count will probably be closer to 120,000, but I'm considering that the upper end of the range instead of a goal.

Ostensibly, my goal will be to write at least 1,000 words a day, with hopefully more than that on "good" days.  Hopefully that will get me through the end of the novel by the end of the year, and early next year I can work on revising.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023 WINNER!

I said in my NaNoWriMo week 4 post yesterday that I would likely be getting to 50,000 in the next couple of days, but actually I got there last night.  I had my doubts, since I knew I would need to write 2,324 words at our write-in, and with the write-in only being two hours, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get there.  But I did!  I stopped at 2,326 words for the day - 50,002 words total for November.

Of course, many of those "words" are not actually words, but time spent revising.  I decided to equate an hour of revision time with 1,000 words.  I can actually write more words than that in an hour when I'm on a really good streak (as I did last night), but it seems like a nice, easy, round ballpark number, so I've always used it when I've spent NaNoWriMo revising.

And of course, the novel isn't anywhere near done yet.  I estimate I am probably about 40 or 50 percent through the story, so I still have a lot to do.  I'll get an accurate word count for the existing draft so far once NaNoWriMo is over.  I'm anticipating the novel will be somewhere around 90,000 words when finished, which is about right for a novel of that type.

Only three more days left!  No pressure on how much word count I have to produce each day, and just three write-ins to go to: one at Barnes & Noble tonight, one at Panera tomorrow, and a "final push" write-in on Thursday at our favorite gaming coffee shop and longtime supporter of the Denver NaNos, Enchanted Grounds.

Monday, November 27, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 4 Progress

Technically, tomorrow would be the end of week 4, so I'm writing this a couple days early.  But I expect to reach my goal tonight or tomorrow, so my next post will likely be a "winner" post.

I've done very well this year.  So far I haven't dropped below par once, which I don't think I've ever managed before; I've always gotten behind at some point during the month.  I also haven't gotten ahead much, but I'm okay with that.  Steady progress is good progress, and it gives me hope I won't burn myself out, either.  Quite to the contrary, I'm excited about my novel and the prospect of continuing to write after NaNoWriMo 2023 comes to a close.

Currently I have 2,324 words to write in order to make it to 50,000.  I have a write-in tonight, but it's only two hours, so I don't know if I'll be able to write over 2k words.  It depends on how motivated I am, how on time we are, and how much time I devote to writing rather than getting distracted.

Either way, either tonight or tomorrow night, I'll be "winning" NaNoWriMo 2023.

I have plans to continue writing after November ends.  I was looking at my calendar last night, and as I arranged my schedule for the first week of December, I made sure to put writing earlier in the day every day.  If I start with it, hopefully it will keep me motivated and ensure I stick to working on it every day.  I want to finish this novel, then start working on further revisions and other installments as I get it all ready for self-publication.

I've been thinking a lot about how this blog and my social media presence will change once I start gearing up to self-publish.  I intend to plan everything out, and my blog may undergo some changes as I prepare for release.  I'll update further once I finish the novel and have some time to start looking at the business side of things.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 3 Progress

Today marks the end of week 3 of NaNoWriMo.  I still need to work on my novel today, but I am expecting tomorrow to be chaotic, so I wasn't sure when I would have a chance to blog about it tomorrow.

So far I've managed to hang on throughout week 3, but sometimes only by the skin of my teeth.  I've made an effort to get to par every day, but I'm still just making revisions.  I'm still counting every hour of work as 1,000 words, but I haven't done any actual writing yet this month... yet.

That being said, I'm putting in time on this novel and making progress, so I am okay with my NaNo Rebel status.  Plus, I'm making a significant effort not to fall behind par, and even if I'm counting par a little differently than most people, it still represents a consistent amount of work each day.

You can see my past weeks' progress here: week 1 and week 2.

Now is when we get to the difficult part, however.  Last year I managed to work on my novel every single day, except Thanksgiving.  This year I've actually done better than last year, and not only worked on my novel every day but met par every day.  (Last year there were some days where I did only a little bit just to get a word count for the day.)  This year I want that badge for updating every day, though, so I need to make sure I work on it Thanksgiving too.

To make it happen, I have a couple hours blocked off early Thursday afternoon for working on my novel.  Last year I intended to work on it after our Thanksgiving celebrations, but by the time I realized how much we'd lost track of time, it was after midnight so I couldn't get my update done in time.  Hopefully blocking off some time for it earlier in the day will ensure I don't make the same mistake this year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 2 Progress

Yesterday was the end of week 2 of NaNoWriMo.  So far, I'm trucking right along, staying ahead of par (just barely some days) and working on my novel consistently every day.

It's funny how last year I made almost daily posts for much of the month during NaNoWriMo.  This year there's no way I would have had the time for that.  I guess I'm busier this year.  But I don't mind, because at least I'm spending the time on my novel.  Prioritizing the time you have available is important.

Anyway, last night I finished reading through and marking the manuscript.  I had focused on copyediting and marking revisions in the portion of the manuscript from last year, but when I got to the older portions of the draft that I hadn't rewritten yet, I started focusing instead on story development.  There's a lot that needs to be wholly rewritten in the parts of the novel I haven't gotten to yet.

The good news is that it's all starting to come together, and I'm happy with the story development so far.  Tonight I start marking the revisions.

It's becoming obvious to me that if reading through the novel and marking revisions took two weeks, I'm not going to be finished writing the novel this month.  Which is fine, but I need to ensure that I keep my daily writing habit and keep working on the novel beyond November.  I want to finish this thing and get it published next spring or summer.

Making the revisions I'd marked in the portion of the third draft I'd written so far should go faster, since I'm not reading anything and just making the revisions I'd already marked.  Plus it's only about half the overall manuscript.  The other "revisions" are mostly major changes, and I can keep the PDF or the file with me while I rewrite those sections.

I haven't worked on it yet today so my word count is still where it was from yesterday's session, but we'll be going to a write-in tonight, where I'll start working on making the revisions in the novel.  Once I'm done making revisions, I'll be able to go back to writing the third draft, which is incredibly exciting, especially as the pieces of the story are falling into place in my head!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 1 Progress

I'm still working on revisions on the section of Ruby Ransome that I wrote last year during November and December, but for now, progress on my NaNoWriMo 2023 challenge is going well.  I've been counting an hour of revising as 1,000 words, which is less than what I'd get in word counts if I were writing, but I suppose marking revisions on the page is a little easier than straight up creating, so the reduced word count equivalent makes sense.  But also, 1,000 words makes for a really easy number to apply to my hours worked, since every 15 minutes equals 250 words.

Anyway, with that word count equivalent applied to my revising, I've succeeded in staying at or ahead of par every day for the first week of NaNoWriMo.  I haven't succeeded in putting two hours of work into it every day, as I would ideally have liked, but staying ahead of par is still good.

Right now, I would need another hour of work to stay ahead of par for today, but I actually hope to get two hours done at the write-in.  That would replace the little buffer that I've lost over the last few days.

Today marks the start of the second week of NaNoWriMo 2023.  I'm a little discouraged that I'm not done with revisions yet, but at the same time, I'm pleased with what I wrote last year.  I'm marking only a few changes as I go along.  For the most part, I'm very satisfied with both the setup and the pacing.  Currently I'm less than 30 pages from the end of last year's writing, after which I'll skim the rest of the older material to remind myself of what I'm rewriting and where I was going with it.

Hopefully I'll be ready to start writing new material again by the end of the week!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Back with NaNoWriMo 2023

I stopped working on my novel effectively just before the holidays last year, and didn't pick it up again until at the kickoff party for NaNoWriMo 2023, just a few days ago.

As a result, I need to familiarize myself with where I was.  To do that, I'm doing a round of reading and revisions in the part that I wrote last year.  Once I'm done with that section, I'll skim over the rest of what I'd written quickly, so that I refresh my memory on what I wanted to rewrite and what plot elements I wanted to change.

I'm using my new Kindle Scribe to do the read through and revisions.  In past years, I have performed revisions by carrying around a two-inch-thick printed manuscript and marking up the pages.  It's a cumbersome and tedious method, so I bought the Kindle Scribe, which allows me to write directly on the pages of a PDF.  Scrivener enables me to compile the novel into PDF.  (Last year I compiled it into ePub and did a quick read-through on my regular Kindle of everything I'd written previously and wanted to rewrite.)

I'm really liking the ability to write directly on the page with the Scribe.  The only thing I'd say is that with future revisions, I'll see if I can change the font size and spacing and put more white space on a page, so I can mark it up a little more easily.  I'll write another post about the Scribe soon, and include some pictures so you can get a better idea of how it works.

We don't have an official write-in to go to tonight, but it sounds like our friends group that we meet with on Friday evenings, which started out as a write-in years ago, may be interested in writing tonight.  Then tomorrow we have two write-ins and Sunday we have one, so we should be able to get plenty of writing done over the next few days.  I'm hoping to be able to finish the revisions and read-through of the novel by the end of the weekend, so that I can start writing new material.  My goal is to finish the novel this year, if not this month, so I can self-publish next year.

Wish me luck!

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Banned Books Week 2023

When I was younger, I dreamed of writing a banned book.

More specifically, I dreamed of being as controversial and frequently banned author as Judy Blume.  She was my hero and I hoped that one day I, too, would be called a communist for writing openly about female adolescence.

Or something of the sort.

As a reader of many banned and challenged books, some of which I studied and loved in college and others that I happened upon on my own, I have always loved participating in Banned Books Week.  Unfortunately, most years I forget it's even coming until it's halfway over (or some years, regrettably, entirely over) and this year was no different.

As always, there are some repeats on the list of frequently challenged books of 2022.  Some of these books make it onto the list more years than not, and since I always try to read at least one book from the list, I've read several of these.  This year there are actually 13 books on the list, due to one four-way tie and one two-way tie.

Without further ado, here are the most frequently challenged books of 2022:

  1. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
  2. All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
  3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  4. Flamer by Mike Curato
  5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  7. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
  8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  9. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  10. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  11. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  12. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  13. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson

I don't think it's any coincidence that the majority of these books were challenged for LGBTQIA+.  The second most common theme seems to be a "claim" of sexual explicitness.  Most of it isn't fantasy; the majority is realistic fiction, with some nonfiction thrown in for good measure.

It might seem like a strange thing to blog about on a vampire fiction blog, but I've always been impressed by authors who tackle tough subjects headlong and challenge society's delicate sensibilities.  Despite the dreams I once had, I don't think Ruby Ransome will be banned (I don't think she'll be well-known enough to be challenged like that), but I hope that through her I'll at least achieve my dream of writing something worthy of being banned.

Speaking of Ruby, NaNoWriMo is coming soon!  Stay tuned for some long-overdue updates on my novel's progress.

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Sunday, July 2, 2023

Writing on the Surface Go 3

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

Remember that travel computer I bought a while back?  I was going on a trip with my dad and rather than taking my full laptop through the airport, I decided to buy a Surface Go 3 as a dedicated travel laptop and backup machine.

It's proven to be pretty useful, and I've been taking it on day trips and when I go to coffee shops and restaurants to write.

Today I'm actually writing this from Denver's Fan Expo, basically our Comic Con, where we have a community table for NaNoWriMo.  It seems appropriate to be writing while sitting at a community table for a writing organization.

Yesterday we also had a panel, Introduction to NaNoWriMo.  Most years that seems to be the panel that the con powers-that-be select from the options my co-ML submits, which I guess makes sense since not everyone knows what NaNoWriMo is.  It's a fun panel to do though!  We usually start with an overview of NaNoWriMo and then let people ask questions.

Yesterday we got the usual mix of questions about NaNoWriMo, but we also got more questions about writing.  Here are a few of the more memorable questions we were asked, and how we answered.

How do you maintain the habit of writing every day?

Amusingly, this questions was asked with the addendum, "as professionals."  One of my co-MLs and I immediately turned to one another and both said, "We're professionals now?!" and then laughed and high-fived as we both had the same immediate response.

More seriously, though, I think writing every day is something all writers struggle with.  I frequently use NaNoWriMo to create that habit of writing every day, with the goal of not burning myself out by pushing myself too hard during the month.  NaNoWriMo helps because of all the writing events you can go to to maintain the habit.  My co-ML also touched upon the idea of scheduling writing into every day, which works for some people but not always for me (which is why I'm hoping July Camp helps get me going again).

How do you make your writing *not trash*?

The explanation for this question was that she had been working on a novel, and had revised it a couple of times, and said it was still trash.

I am well familiar with this feeling of revising and revising and still not feeling like it's right. That's how I felt with the first version of Ruby.  I had to set it aside for a little while and realize that it was the issues with the plot and the character motivation that had me unhappy with the story.  Once I realized that and started rewriting the whole thing with the issues fixed, I've been pretty happy with it.

Of course my co-ML pointed out something really important, which is that imposter syndrome is a real thing.  Even she, who has published books, feels it.  So just because you feel like it's trash, doesn't mean it is.

My co-ML also talked about the value of a good critique group.  I have had a couple of failed efforts to join critique groups, but she has found a good one that has been extremely helpful for her.  I made sure to note that a good critique group won't just criticize, it'll also tell you what you're doing right.  There are too many misguided, novice critique groups who think that criticizing someone else's writing makes theirs better.

Happy Camp NaNoWriMo!

I wrote everything above at the con, but was forced to put my computer away before I was able to publish the post.  Now I'm home, and completely exhausted from the weekend!  Tomorrow I plan to get back to work on my novel and start logging words for Camp.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Denver NaNos at Fan Expo!

My last post was all about my plans for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts SATURDAY.  In addition, all weekend the Denver region of NaNoWriMo has a community table at Fan Expo, and on Saturday, we'll be doing an Introduction to NaNoWriMo panel!

Most years we have a community table at Denver's Fan Expo (previously Denver Pop Culture Con, and before that, Denver Comic Con), and we usually try to do a panel as well.  This is your chance to meet your Denver Municipal Liaisons (basically, Denver region coordinators) in person, find out a little more about National Novel Writing Month, find out if you're interested in participating, and (hopefully) get excited to start your project for July's session of Camp.

Our panel is called Introduction to NaNoWriMo, and is currently scheduled for 4:30pm on Saturday, July 1st.  It'll be a 45-minute overview and Q&A about NaNoWriMo and Camp.  Knowing cons the way I do, though, I recommend double checking the schedule that morning in case of any last-minute changes.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Camp NaNoWriMo Plans

The July session of Camp NaNoWriMo starts Saturday and I am not ready!

Originally my plan was to get to work on my novel near the beginning of June, so that I could get some more done and be back in the habit of writing by July.  June has been one big thing after another, however, so up until this week, I hadn't had a chance to refamiliarize myself with where I'm at in the novel and start working on it again.

I've had a hard time setting aside some time to get back to work on the novel.  Right now I need to focus on getting caught up so I know where I'm at and don't introduce any new continuity errors.  I want this draft to be as clean as possible when I'm done with it.  I may have some extra stuff to cut when I'm done, but I'd rather write too much than not enough (which was the problem the first time around, besides the plot issues).

My original timeline for finishing and publishing the novel is shot at this point, of course.  Right now I'm planning on a release in the fall, which I suspect won't be as good for sales as a spring/early summer release, but that's okay.  I'm hoping to finish the draft by the end of August, then do revisions and cover and formatting and hopefully release the book in late fall or by Christmas.  After that I have a few short stories that I can release through the winter and early spring while I work on the next novel.

This is all getting a bit ahead of myself, though.  First things first: I need to get this draft finished, hopefully in the next 1-2 months!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Book Review: We Were Liars

I don't normally do this, but this book is worth recommending.  Not only did it keep me up late reading last night (a fairly common occurrence for me when I'm engrossed in a good book), but it also had me starting the book completely over the instant I finished it.

I am not usually a re-reader, so this is a big deal.  I have too many books I want to read, so rereading is usually saved for a few select favorites.

In this case, the book is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  It's a fairly short, quick read, too, so it's not a big deal to reread it.  And the plot twist is so compelling, so huge, that I wanted to know what clues I'd missed in the first reading.

The story is about a teenage girl who spends every summer on her wealthy grandfather's island, hanging out with her cousins that are the same age as her.  They're close and enough trouble when they're together that the family has nicknamed them the Liars.  The summer she was 15, however, something traumatic happened, and she has no memories of what.  All she knows is that she's absolutely destroyed by whatever it was, so when she has the opportunity to go back to the island the summer she's 17, she goes to try to figure it out.

There's only so much I can say without giving it away, but there's a plot twist that erupts like a bomb and completely changes everything.

I'm about 17% through my re-read, and I have already noticed a few things I didn't pick up on the first time.  I expect it'll be just as wild a ride the second time through!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Advertising Update

I decided to try Amazon's affiliate program again, partly because I found out I did get one sale last time I tried it.  I have a plan this time to hopefully make more sales, so we'll see how that goes.  But just so my readers know, this blog is now running Amazon affiliate links as well as Google AdSense ads.

What it boils down to is that since I'm not freelancing anymore, I need some more income streams.  I'd like to be able to write more and focus on that, but I need ways to make money with it.  While ultimately my goal is to make money by selling books, monetizing my blogs a little better now sounds like a good idea.

I'll have much more to blog about soon, since I'm picking Ruby back up this week and into July, which is Camp NaNoWriMo (more on that later).  But I hope to also drop some recommendations and links of interest into my blog posts.  I promise my recommendations will always be genuine!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

New Writing Goals

I blogged a while back about how I'd lost the habit of writing daily, and created a new goal for spring.  I didn't actually get any writing done during that time frame though (I'd set the end of writing for May 31st).

Now, with Camp NaNoWriMo's July session coming up, and with a new weekly push on my regular habit to track my progress on various projects each week, I decided I need to get a move on.  I have a marker in my calendar to start working on Ruby daily again next week, and I set up a new writing goal on the NaNoWriMo website ending June 30th.  I'm planning on working on Ruby during July too, and hope to finish the draft by the end of Camp, so that means I have just shy of two months to get through the rest of the novel.

Hopefully I can get a few things done this week to free up some time to write, next week and moving forward!

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

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

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

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

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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