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Archive for the ‘writers life’ Tag

The Glamorous Life of a Novelist

I’m a part-time novelist. Like most writers, I have a day job, which is usually related to writing. For the past year and a half, I’ve been a localization project manager for a division of a multinational corporation that specializes in, ah, printing. Luckily, the products I work on localizing are for digital presses–the kind POD books are printed on. It’s a sweet gig.

I don’t do much promotion of my novels, because I’m trying to have a full-time job with colleagues in every timezone, a life, and a side gig—the novels are the side gig. But yesterday I had my first newsletter promotion, with Bargainbooksy. It was a nice sales bump but not Earth-shattering, but it also wasn’t the biggest thing on my radar.

The biggest thing was getting my lawn mowed, which sounds ridiculous, and almost is. My right hamstring has been acting up for about six weeks—it hurts if I stand too long, sit too long, walk too long or try to do anything “strenuous” (its definition of strenuous, not mine), so mowing has not been on its list of acceptable activities. Spooky Man’s back is even worse.

And the grass has been getting longer and longer.

I’ve been trying to entice a lawn service to mow it for about a month. After being ghosted by three of them, one finally called me back and…yesterday they mowed the grass! Just before it started raining again. And that made yesterday wonderful.

New people willing to give my first book a chance was wonderful too, but…my neighbors are much happier about the grass being a civilized length.

Ah, the glamorous life of a novelist. It’s almost as exciting as the international email argument over whether “square meter” means the same thing as “m2“, which also happened this week. My French and Spanish translators have Definite Opinions about such things. If only they were the same opinion, LOL.

Stuck But Not Blocked

Writer problems.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been stuck at about 29,000 words on Kindness of Strangers. I’m not blocked, because I know what I need to write, but I open the file, read a few pages before where I need to start writing, and then stare at the page. After a heavy sigh and a sentence or two that will probably be removed the next day, I shut the file.

Usually this means there’s something wrong with the story—wrong point of view, bad plot turn, female protagonist is too passive/reactive…something that my subconscious (that woman in the basement) hasn’t chosen to share yet. Maybe it hasn’t quite got it figured out.

A lot of the time I get just beyond the halfway mark of a story where it stalls out. After hitting my head against a metaphorical wall for a while, I realize I’m trying to write the male protagonist as the hero. In my core story, the female protagonists are the heroes. And…OMG, it just clicked. Chandra isn’t active enough—she’s taking the initiative with the colonel, but not with the [blocked due to plot spoiler].

Ha! Now I can open the file without that sinking feeling. Some days it’s good to be a writer (and some weeks, well, it’s not).

With luck, I’ll have a lot of progress to report in a few days.

Working on Dane and Aurora’s story

Dane Avondale and Aurora Ivanov Avondale are the wise mentors and parents in The Ocasek Opportunity. Some parts of their life together and their love story are mentioned in that novel, but I happen to know the whole story. I mean, how does a woman who has been in cryostasis for a century-plus end up killing the queen of an alien race in single combat? Over who has ownership of a human male, no less….

Yeah, it’s a great story. And while I’m letting “Kindness of Strangers” and “A Ruined Woman” percolate before editing, I’ll be getting words onto virtual paper for “The Briar Rose”–Dane and Aurora’s story that kind of rhymes with Sleeping Beauty. Kind of. And since it takes place a couple of decades before all the other stories in that universe (that start with The Valmont Contingency), when I get it out for sale, it will be free (or 99 cents at Amazon if they choose to be jerks about price matching).

Because why not?

Wish me luck; it should be a fun ride to write this.

 

 

Quick Check-In: I have won NaNoWriMo, now to finish the book

On November 19, I crossed the 50,000-word threshold for winning National Novel Writing Month. Why so early? Because my plan is for this to be a 75,000-word first draft finished before December 1.

It’s going to be a first draft with issues, as some plot points have changed along the way, but it will be a first draft completed in a calendar month, writing approximately 2,500 words per day (this takes me a little over two hours when working steadily, but only if I know exactly what scene(s) I’m going to work on).

So…back to the keyboard for me.

National Novel Writing Month – one week in

After sort of finishing Kindness of Strangers (all of the words are written, but it’s currently in three files and a mess), I started a new work in progress for National Novel Writing Month.

This is the book told my RWA chapter I was going to finish this year, so I have this month to get the first draft done. The working title is A Ruined Woman (there are also characters for A Married Woman and A Suitable Woman poking at my brain, so it’s beginning to look a lot like a series…), and it’s about a duke who isn’t quite a duke and a ruined woman who isn’t ruined, somewhere between the Regency and the reign of George IV.

I know, I can never do anything straightforward. This probably says something about how deeply my subconscious is twisted and in what direction, but I don’t want to know exactly what because it’s working.

So far, I’m on track; in seven days, I have written over 18000 words. Go, me!

I’ll let you know how next week goes.

 

Progress Report – Kindness of Strangers

Kindness of Strangers is the working title of the third book in the first Strike Force trilogy. It’s the story of the colonel, Rahmsin Singh, and Chandra Ramasamy, and how she solves the mystery of what was the inciting incident that ended with the friendly-fire shelling of the Charlie Company electronic warfare unit (along with most of their behind-the-sharp-end field facilities), while he saves her, the miners who tried to save her, and starts the ball rolling to save the human race. Of course, because I always have people tripping over true love at the most inconvenient times, LOL.

It’s a tricky story, since both of them are, um, well, physically dead for most of it. She’s actually physically dead due to kludged cryogenic freezing (but getting better because Singh gets her into a regen unit where she regains consciousness and can move from her auxiliary brain chips into the Strike Force network), he’s in a hasty version of real cryostasis after the miners hit him on the top of his head and dump him into a cryostasis unit while he’s rebooting.

So it’s almost all inside “The Matrix” (so to speak). And it happens simultaneously with Getting Lucky, which made the timing tricky. And it’s also the climax of the political/industrial intrigue. And it introduces the bridge between this series of stories and the world of the human diaspora books (which start with The Valmont Contingency). It has a lot to do for a 35,000-word novella. Yeah, it might bulge out to 40K. I guess we’ll see.

Back to the progress report — it was supposed to be finished by the end of August, but that didn’t happen.  Then it was supposed to be finished by the end of September, and that didn’t happen either. While I was in Seaside, I stopped in at a palm reader (as one does on vacation), who figured out I’m a writer by looking at my non-writing hand (spooky!), then told me I wouldn’t finish my work in progress by the end of September, and I should forgive myself for it, LOL.

I made progress, I really did. I fixed plot problems, I created 12,000 words of new content that works with the existing content. I straightened out the bits that didn’t mesh with Getting Lucky. If I hadn’t had to fix the gigantic plot hole (which required cutting…a lot of cutting), I would have been finished by the end of September.

But I’m going to get it done this month, because I have a different project lined up for NANO in November. NANO is short for NaNoWriMo, which is short for national novel writing month. It’s an international organization all for the purpose of writing a book in November. That is, writing, from start to finish, a 50,000-word (minimum) story in 30 days. Which means Kindness of Strangers draft 1 has to be finished in October, by Grapthar’s hammer!

 

 

Grumpiness

Cutting 10,000 words of a work in progress designed to be 35,000 words long — because you noticed a plot hole the size of…a very large plot hole — is extremely annoying. Plus, the predicted high for today is 104F (40C) and 107F (damn near 42C–42C!) tomorrow.

To quote my cat: Do. Not. Want.

That is all.

Okay, okay, I’ve got one more thing: Kindness of Strangers (see paragraph one, above) might not get finished this month, but it will get close.

That is all.

Want to find out when the next book is out?

You can sign up for the new releases mailing list in the upper-right corner of my home page (http://www.valrobertsauthor.com if you’re reading on Twitter or FB).

I don’t spam or send giant newsletters full of “extra content” (good lord, who has the time?) or sell your personal information (squicky).

When I have a new book out, I send you an email with links to purchase, should you be so inclined, No muss, no fuss, and easy to delete if you’re not so inclined.

Okay, my crass commercial message is over, you can go back to your regularly scheduled activity (or, you know, sign up for the new release notices). Should you be so inclined. 🙂

Thanks,
Val

 

Braggin’ on a Friend or Two

Just as an FYI, my writing buddy Sharon Joss ( @JossWrites ) won the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future competition.

Sharon writes delightful stories; her first novel, Destiny Blues, has magic, fate and a touch of horror (although I’ve also laughed out loud while reading her stuff). The L. Ron Hubbard win is a well-deserved honor and I’m so happy for her.

And she has a substantial backlist, so you won’t run out of her work much too soon. I’m just sayin’.

Another buddy, Ken McConnell ( @KenMcConnell ), is giving away — yes, for FREE — the first novel of his Star Saga series. You can get it from Kobo as an epub or from his website in a format of your choice.

A note about Ken: He makes the spaceship models, then photographs them, and then has his graphic artist (who happens to be his brother) make his book covers from the photos. That’s the kind of work he puts into his novels.

Thanks,
Val

On the Idea of Being My Own Publisher

In 1983, I became the features editor of my college newspaper, and shortly thereafter learned phototypesetting, a skill that would fund my last three years of college. This will become relevant in a bit.

In 1995, my husband started a small business to electronically file medical claims with insurance companies. Setting it up, filing the taxes, and eventually going through bankruptcy taught me how to run a business (we only ever had one client, and he had a heart attack several weeks before Blue Cross/Blue Shield came out with their own DIY software, but I digress).

In 1996, I became a technical writer after teaching myself HTML from a “for the Compleat Idiot” book (My Eureka moment: “It’s just typesetting codes!” Told you it would become relevant).

Off and on between 1997 and 2006 (and every few months in my current job) I worked in corporate marketing, branding, new product introduction, that sort of thing.

In short, it appears my background has given me a semi-unique skill set that will allow me to easily become my own publisher. Thus, I am filing an Assumed Business Name (Idaho’s version of a DBA — we can never do anything normally) with the Secretary of State’s office next month…Wylde Hare Press will be born.

Why? Carina Press just rejected the best thing I have ever written, “The Nobinata Gambit.” I submitted the second manuscript to them reluctantly; Carina is an imprint of Harlequin, which is a corporate master of ensuring rights are never returned to writers. I reasoned that I  might as well have the entire diaspora series with them, in spite of poor sales for the first title.

The sales of the first book in the series, to put it politely, stank on ice, in spite of the book finalling in the EPIC awards. Furthermore, the sales price was cut to $2.99, which means that I received about 60 cents for each sale at Amazon, Nook and Kobo.

By way of comparison, my Samhain Publishing title earns $1.65 per sale at third party retailers, and sells more copies per month (as in 6 copies vs 4) in spite of being three years older. So much for the mighty Harlequin marketing machine, LOL. They work great for some people — I have several friends who published well with the company — just not for me.

I will not start on my editor (who was essentially the reason I sat on the manuscript for nine months after completing it). Lovely woman, but we had different visions for the story in “The Valmont Contingency.” Since I’ve been an editor probably longer than she’s been alive — I first held the job title at the tender age of fourteen — I think mine was better. She would probably disagree.

During the 3.5 months I was waiting for Carina to decide, I developed an idea for a lead-in novella to the diaspora series that will make Carina’s “ownership” of the first full-length book irrelevant; I can have my “permafree” (that’s a technical term) novella, the first book at $2.99, and then…whatever I want, since I’m the owner of my new publisher.

The DBA name is one my husband, Spooky Man, has been throwing around for years in other contexts. And since I like rabbits and the whole idea of doing my own publishing really is kind of a wild hair, well, there you go. Synchronicity happens.

Spooky Man would dearly love its corporate symbol to be a white rabbit silhouette on a background of a starry sky (a wild hare where the sun doesn’t shine–he is a diabolical punster), but I would prefer to keep it mostly tasteful. Mostly.

I’m starting with a novella that I wrote in 2011, which is going to be the start of a series of six interlocking stories that will divide nicely into two novel-length anthologies. The first one is titled “Open Mike at Club Bebop” which is a jazz club in Luna City, on Earth’s moon. I haven’t figured out yet if this world is a precursor to the Human Diaspora universe or the Dozen Worlds universe, but it’s set during the era of our first settlements off of our homeworld.

With a bit of luck and quite a bit of elbow grease, “The Nobinata Gambit” will be ready and published by the end of September.

The follow-on to “Blade’s Edge,” which is tentatively titled “Becoming Unique,” (it’s how Talyn learns to use her powers for good rather than eeeevvviiilllll) is on track to publish about six months after, in March of 2015, and the two friends of Bebop should be finished in time to fill in the months between.

And so it goes, on to a brave new world in this case. Wish me luck.

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