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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