Tag Archives: goals

Snow Day (Or: How I Decided to Participate in ROW80 Again)

I’ve been on the fence about participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days this year. It’s a fantastic event-type-thing, and accountability is a great way to stay on-track with goals. It’s fun to meet other writers and read their posts, learn from their frustrations and share in their joy when things are going well.

But.

Well, I do worry about boring blog readers, which is why I only post updates on Wednesdays to go along with WIPpet Wednesdays. There was a time when most of the people following this blog were writer friends, but we’re gaining more and more of my readers (hi, guys! So happy to have you!).

It’s almost like I need a writing blog and an actual website for readers, isn’t it? But this is my home. This is where I stretch out, make myself comfortable, and talk about the things that are important to me. Reading, writing, life, headaches, distractions, moose sightings, cover reveals and other author promos, pretty pictures and fun teasers… there aren’t really any limits.

So everything stays here, for better or worse.

I didn’t make the decision until I realized that today was the first day of round one. See, I was looking forward to getting back to work today, as the kids are back to school.

Or they should have been. But it’s a snow day. So instead of retreating to my office with a coffee, I’m at the kitchen table writing this post.

Funny how things work out.

I’ll probably stick with just posting updates on Wednesdays. Twice a week doesn’t allow much time for change between updates. Wouldn’t want to bore anyone who’s getting e-mail dings every time I post.

 

And guys? This is going to be a big round (ends March 26).

**ROW80 ROUND ONE GOALS (2015)**

 

WRITING

Proof-read Bound: Yes, I did this before publication. Many times. So many times that I still can’t really enjoy reading it. But I’ve re-formatted the e-book in a program that allows me to make it look nicer AND to make corrections without knowing HTML stuff, so I need to go over that.

Also, there’s a big, secret thing happening, and I need this book to put its absolute best foot forward for it. I’ve caught 2 typos. Moved a few commas. Changed a word or two. Tiny fixes. Nothing has changed with story, characters, dialogue, anything. Nooooo revisions. So no worries, dear readers. It’s like dusting the shelves (but hey, hang on to those first-edition paperbacks…).

Goal: Finish by Wednesday, January 7 (currently at 70% finished)

 

Edits on Torn: My editor says he plans to have these back to me by the end of this week.

**WOO, PARTY!!!**

We had some delays in getting started, but I’m ready to work hard to get through this as efficiently as possible. How long it actually takes will depend on the scope of revisions required. My beta readers didn’t tell me to make any big story changes… we’ll see what the editor says. I had to re-write sections of Bound after he got his hands on it (and thank goodness for that!).

Goal: Come what may, finish by the end of January.

 

Other Torn stuff: I need to be super organized on this goal, which includes proof-reading, sending it out to a few readers who have offered to act as true beta testers and error-catchers, formatting, setting up pre-orders, having someone format the paperback, sending paperback info to my cover artist so she can do the wrap-around cover, doing promo stuff for Bound once pre-orders are up for Torn…

And also organizing the cover reveal, the first chapter release, creating teaser pics, pulling my hair out, angst, stomach upset… I’m swamped.

Goal: Varies. Set up pre-orders by mid-February. Other events to follow. Advance review copies (offered to newsletter subscribers first) sent out early March.

 

Release Torn: Yes, before the end of this round. As I’ve said before, I’d rather release late than release something that’s not ready, but I’m confident that we can pull this off, even if I have to turn into an unwashed editing-cave troll to do it.

*grunts, shuffles, squints at sunlight*

I’ll keep you updated on that, and announce an official release date soon.

 

Bound Trilogy Book Three: Obviously I’m going to be busy with Torn through this round. But I need to keep moving forward with book three if I want it out by the end of the year. It’s looking good, but I’ve had a few ideas on how to make it better, smoother, more satisfying, and more epic. Those revisions will take place in March while all of the fiddly, non-writing stuff is happening with Torn (I hope). Then it’s off to my wonderful first readers for a test drive, and then whatever punishments they decide to hand me afterward. FUN.

Seriously, though, I will never understand how some authors get a book from first draft to release in two or three months. Between developmental edits, line edits, two rounds of readers, and corrections, never mind the three drafts I do before any of that happens… not a schedule I can hope to achieve.

READING

Still aiming for one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Right now I’m reading UnSouled by Neil Schusterman, and then I think the next one by Jenn Wylie is up. But I also just bought Gone Girl, which I’m told I won’t be able to put down… we’ll see what I’m in the mood for. This might be a two novel month. I’m determined to get through “Writing 21st Century Fiction” even though I’ve been stuck on it for a year because it’s dry as bricks and feels like the author is talking down to me. I’ve never had this problem with Donald Maass’ books before. We’ll see how it goes, I might DNF it and give it away. Fiction Unboxed is also in the non-fiction queue, and I’m more excited about that.

LIFE

Aiming for balance, for working during work time, social media-ing during social media time, making more time for housework and giving my family my full attention during their time.

That last one shouldn’t be difficult, but it really is. I know. I’m a horrible person.

^These are not quantifiable goals in this section, but they’re reportable. We’ll see how it goes.

So there we have it. Wish me luck, and if you’re participating in this round, let me know so I can stop by and cheer you on in your goals post!

More ROW80 goodness here.

 

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HAPPY BOO JEER!

Wait…

*drinks coffee*

Happy New Year!

No, I wasn’t out partying last night. I spent a quiet night in with my parents (who are visiting), my husband and my kids. Also assorted cats and dogs, and friends via Facebook.

And that’s my kind of party, really. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to start a new year off with a hangover*. Also, crowds make me uncomfortable, so parties aren’t really my thing.

No, I spent the first part of my evening making grand and impossible plans in my new desk calendar, only somewhat disappointed that I can’t use all of my new highlighters until I have a better idea of when things are going to happen.

Still, pencilling things in was GREAT fun.

It’s time for a few more plans. Not writing and publishing plans. We’ve covered those already. I’m talking about other things.

Things like:

 

Reading

These plans never work out as I want them to, but it’s worth a shot. My goal for this year is one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Not much for some, but I don’t get as much reading time as I’d like. And within that goal, I’m setting another. I want to read more books about people who aren’t like me. More people from other cultures. More people of different genders, sexual orientations, and experiences. More memoirs and autobiographies from people who have experienced things I never will. More from genres I’m less familiar with, even if I have to approach them like a kid coming at a plate of broccoli, nose pinched shut and eyes closed.

We only get to live one life, but through reading we can experience more of the world, gain empathy for those with different experiences, and hopefully learn to love other people more fully.

Also, I just think it will be more interesting this way.

 

Blogging

I’m going to get back to WIPpet Wednesdays as soon as I can, and continue to avoid spoilers as much as possible. It might not be every week, especially through January and February, as getting Torn edited and out in March is the top priority.

I’m going to get to every post on those weeks I participate and read, like, and possibly comment. If I don’t have time to read, I don’t have time to participate.

I’m going to spend more time reading blogs, both those I learn from and those of people who comment here. You’re all important to me, and I feel like I’ve been so busy this year that I’ve done a bad job of visiting. I’ll be better about that.

I’m also going to start re-blogging some of my older posts that as still amusing, relevant, or worth reading. I now have several years’ worth of posts, and I don’t expect anyone to go back and find the good ones.

Should be fun. We might do that on Mondays.

 

Productivity

This is kind of work-related, but sort of not. My big goal in this area is to learn to focus on what I’m doing at any given moment. If I’m working, I want to be immersed in that, not jumping back and forth between that, Facebook, Twitter, doing the dishes, checking e-mail, etc. When I’m with my family, I’m going to try to focus on them, not on my phone.

I want to be present in what I’m doing.

Some of you know how hard this is for me. My brain seems to be wired to crave distraction. I can’t just be where I am. I have to be planning something for work, or imagining another time and place, or working through a plot issue, or considering the pros and cons of a book promotion. I can barely focus on a real-life conversation because I itch to grab my phone and check social media, even though I know there’s nothing there that can’t wait.

I would rather scroll through Facebook posts I have no interest in than do something productive. I feel anxious if I’m cut off from any of my distractions.

It’s not a fun way to live. It is an addiction, and I’m having a hard time breaking it. I’d go cold-turkey off of social media, but my job doesn’t currently allow for that.

So I guess I fight it. I put the phone away when I’m at home, and hope my husband isn’t trying to text me when I can’t hear it. I turn the internet connection off when I’m working, even though I find word sprints with friends motivating. I’ll set timers for tasks, and try to focus.

Maybe I blog less, because that’s the work I’m able to do when the kids are home.

I will *gulp* try to focus on playing with the kids.

I’m not a bad mom, but I really hate playing trucks. :/

 

Health

Yeah. Okay. I did better in 2014 than in 2013 or any year before that. Even in the winter, I got the dog out for regular walks when I was able. My bad back (and newly developed hip pain–yes, I am eighty years old, thanks for asking) made that impossible for weeks on end, but I always got back to it.

I can do better. This year I’m going to start waking up earlier to do yoga or pilates in the morning (the only things I can think of that don’t get me all sweaty. I hate sweating). I wake early anyway and generally spend 30 minutes in bed before I get up. That’s another bad habit I need to break.

Also… Ugh, I hate to think about it, but I’m going to go to the doctor. It’s been *mumble mumble* years since I saw anyone about my headaches. Back then, there wasn’t much they could do for me. My brain scan showed nothing (ba-dump-PSSSHT!), and migraine medications knock me out far more than is acceptable for someone who’s responsible for small children.

So it’s Advil, tea, naps, and not much fun.

But maybe there’s something they can do now. New drugs, or better yet, some suggestion on things in my life I can change as a preventive measure.

As long as it’s not cutting out caffeine, we’re cool. I’m scared that someone will suggest cutting something else out of my diet, but I’ll try almost anything.

I should also ask about why it frequently feels like there’s ground-up glass in my right hip, because that’s an almost-literal pain in the ass.

 

Moving

Yeah, I have to put this one in this year. My husband has a good job, but it does mean we have to move every 3-5 years. This spring will mark three years here, and it’s half-past time to scoot. We’re still waiting to hear where they’re sending us (NOT a fun wait), but it’s going to happen.

When the time comes, I’m going to be more organized about packing. I’m not going to freak out if we have to buy our first house**. Above all… I’m going to try to make friends.

After almost three years here, I have two local friends (for reasons not worth going into here). In our next community I’m going to reach out more to neighbours, get involved at the school… anything else will depend on where we are, but I’m going to make an effort.

It’s a start.

 

So tell me: What are your grand plans for this year? Any suggestions on learning to focus (without drugs that inhibit creativity, please!)? What’s on your reading list for the year?

 

 

 

*But hey, whatever floats your boat. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, have fun with that!

**Yes, I am. I totally am. Hold me.


…And Now For The Fun Bits

Not those fun bits. Get your mind out of the gutter.

No, this is the annual post where I make big, ridiculous plans and you can all laugh at me next December. Hooray! We’ll make it a huge event: The Chastisement of the Over-Ambitious and Obviously Deluded Author.

Tickets available now. Get ’em while they’re hot!

Let’s make it good.

*drumroll*

There’s a short story coming as soon as e-book distribution thingies are back from the holiday break. That is, if anyone’s interested in something set almost 20 years before Bound… nothing important happened back then, right? Nah.

We’re going to have a novel that one or two of you have been waiting for. Some kind of a sequel… thing. Torn something something? Yeah, that one.

That’s going to be coming in March. My priority is always going to be quality over speed, but I feel like we can at least have the e-book out by then. I’ll keep you posted.

I will be a giant ball of nerves and stress. You might not see much of me through February.

Then there will be a cover reveal, a first chapter reveal, pre-orders, a launch party on Facebook, giveaways, guest posts, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff.*

So that’ll take us through March.

After Torn is out, it’s back to work for me. Book 3 is drafted, but I’ve just had a bunch of ideas on how to improve it, and this means minor-to-major rewrites. And then there’s everything else that comes after that: beta readers, revisions, editing, etc.

But I’m going to go out on another limb here and say that it’s going to be out before the end of 2015. November. Early. Possibly sooner, but October seems like a terrible month to release a book. We’ll see how it goes.

Does that seem like a long way off to you? Trust me, it doesn’t from where I’m standing. It seems like a huge, crazy goal that’s going to require me to somehow break my distraction addiction.

And in the times when that one is resting or with readers or in editing, I’ll be working on a completely different project. I want four novellas starring a certain vampire that you’ve met before ready to go (or at least ready for editing) by the end of the year. I’m planning a big release of the whole shebang in 2016. But more on that later next year.

I’d tell you what I’ll be working on while those are being published, but it’s too nebulous, too uncertain, and quite frankly too exciting to share right now.

This post is, after all, about 2015.

So, to recap:

  • short story
  • publish Torn
  • party party party party
  • publish ______ (almost said it!)
  • party party party party
  • write a handful of novellas in another genre
  • more partying and/or anxiety

And of course we’ll continue to have fun here. There’s a 95% chance I’ll be moving in the spring, and even if it’s hell for me, I’ll share whatever adventures we encounter along the way in the most amusing way possible. In the summer we’ll take some more trips (Fogo Island was fun, right? Guys?), and along the way we’ll have more promotions and cover reveals for Authors Who Are Not Me.

And the mini aquarium! So fun.

And the mini aquarium! Remember? So fun.

On a serious note… I can’t even begin to tell you guys how thankful I am to have had you all in my life this past year. Those of you who have been around for a while gave me the encouragement and kind words I needed to actually push my little project out the door. Some of you went ahead of me and weren’t afraid to talk about your writing and publishing journeys, and I thank you for that. Those of you who have come more recently are the readers I’m doing this for, and your messages, comments, and enthusiasm mean everything to me.

I’m going to stop before I get sniffly. Somebody must be cutting onions over here.

So there we go. Maybe my goals don’t sound like a lot. Maybe they sound insane. But this is what they are.

There are other things in the works… top secret things. But we’ll discuss those another time.

*evil laugh*

*more evil laugh*

*coughing fit*

 

—-

*If you have a blog and would like to help host the cover reveal, release news, an interview, or just about anything else that relates to the book and does not involve embarrassing photos or videos of me**, please let me know! kate.sparkes (at) live (dot) ca

**We can totally post them of you, though.


Trusting My Instincts (And Where They Took Me This Year)

Some people choose a word at the beginning of the year to be their theme, keep their goals on-track, and direct their work. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I might even try it for 2015.

Again.

See, I have a hard time remembering my word, which makes it somewhat ineffective. But one thing I can do right now is look back at 2014 and spot the One Thing. The lesson I learned. The progress in my personal character arc that this section of my story pulled out of me.

2014 was the year I learned to trust my instincts.

(This is going to be a writing/publishing/sales post. You’re excused if this topic bores you. No hard feelings. We’ll talk about future projects next time, which should be more exciting for most of us. WHEE, FUN!)

See, independent publishing is a wonderful thing, or at least it can be under the right circumstances. But it is a business as much as it is a creative endeavour, and it requires a LOT of decision-making.

And me? I suck at decisions.

Publishing

I find it hard to believe how much happened this year. As of early 2014 I was firmly prepared to get Bound out to the world by publishing it myself. I had considered the options and decided not to seek out an agent and publishing contract for this project. I’d booked an editor, paid my deposit, and was… actually, I was still tearing my hair out over the decision. I knew I had the right editor, I’d picked an amazing cover designer, and I felt confident that I had a solid story even if I knew it still needed work.

But I had doubts. I read success stories, but I read more about people who were excited to be earning coffee money from their books. This is not to say that that’s not an achievement. Reaching even one reader and giving them a story they fall in love with is the goal. To change one person, to have an impact on her… it’s mind-blowing. It’s why I do this.

But when you’re paying several thousand dollars for production costs and want to maintain the same standards on book two, you want to make that back ASAP. And there are no guarantees. None. Amazing books do poorly and crap rises to the top as often as it goes the other way.

And on top of that, there are the well-meaning friends who have gone ahead with publishing their work who tell you, “Yeah, have fun with your book getting ignored. You can’t do it without an agent and a publisher. Trust me.”

It can become difficult to have confidence in your plans, you know? But my instincts told me this was the way to go (emphasis on me–this is not for everyone). My gut said I could do it myself, but I couldn’t go it alone. I couldn’t do my own editing and cover design. But I was starting a business, and those things were the expenses I’d have to handle if I wanted it to have a chance at success. I made the decision, and it felt right.

And yet I still hesitated.

For a real example of how uncertain I was, look no further than the fact that I didn’t officially announce Bound’s upcoming release until after I got edits back and realized that though the manuscript bled red from every page, I could handle the changes.

It’s like not really committing to a relationship until you’re walking down the aisle.

But I digress.

 

The Other Stuff

It wasn’t all about the method of publication, though that was absolutely the biggest decision I had to trust my gut on in 2014.

There were the decisions I had to make about which developmental suggestions to take from my editor. All were good suggestions; not all fit my vision for the story and the direction I wanted to take the series. I stuck to my guns on one huge aspect of the love story, the end of the book, and… actually, I took almost every other suggestion, including re-working the back-story for the entire world.

And it worked. It’s not a perfect book (I don’t believe such a thing exists), but it’s the one I wanted to write.

There was the cover art, and on this I had to trust someone else’s experience and instincts. I wanted something symbolic, but nothing we came up with had the impact a book needs to sell. We talked about a cover with a character on it–an idea I instinctively balked at, but that turned into a cover that has gained a lot of attention from readers. Ravven knows book covers. I don’t. Even when I wasn’t 100% sure on the finished product, I trusted the part of me that said to trust her.

And it worked.

There was the question of going with Amazon’s KDP Select and gaining extra promo opportunities, or distributing more widely. That’s its own post, and we’ve talked about it before. I stayed out of Select, and have only occasionally and temporarily regretted that decision. Have I missed some opportunities to promote? Yes. Has Amazon punished me for it? Absolutely not. I sell over 90% of my books there. They’ve been amazing.

So yeah, that seems to be working for me. Whew!

I had to decide whether to heavily promote Bound when it was my only book, or put that time and energy into working on the next one. I chose the latter.

No regrets there.

There were lovely e-mails from people at companies I won’t name here asking about audio rights or publication opportunities. I accepted one offer and regretfully declined discussion on another that I’d have jumped at a year ago, but that didn’t fit my plan for this series at this time.

That was a tough one. I do hope to work with those people on another project some day. But I followed my instincts again, and I feel good about my decision.

There was the pricing issue. There’s some pressure to release a first novel at 99 cents to try to get more impulse purchases, or to make it free just on the off chance that people might read it if it’s in their Kindles. I struggled with this for a long time. I had invested a lot into this book, both in time and money. I had an eye-catching cover, a blurb that I thought worked, and a sample that I trusted to draw readers in. My gut told me to let those things to do their job and let the sales come as they may.

There’s nothing wrong with 99 cent sales, or 99 cent releases, or perma-free first books in series. You have to do what works for you, and I’ll do occasional sales in the future. But I knew that three bucks was a hell of a deal for this book. Heck, $4.99 is a bargain. Amazon says I should price it higher, but I don’t.**

I’m doing what feels right for me when it comes to pricing, price changes, and sales. I’m not dropping the price just to chase Amazon ranking. I’m gathering honest review. I’m trying to really connect with people through social media instead of spamming.

Everything is about long-term strategy, and so far, it’s working.

 

The results of trusting my instincts

How well is it working?

Ugh. I hate to talk about it, but I do find it helpful when other authors share results, so here goes.

Thanks to a combination of factors***, Bound stayed in the top 10 of several sub-category Best Seller lists all summer, and sat at #1 on two of them for quite a while. It’s still in two top 50’s, and in the top 100 of a third six months after release.

Fullscreen capture 2014-07-20 84034 AM.bmp

^Back in June. Aah, memories!

 

At its best day, it was in the top 500 overall on Amazon.com. At its lowest, it’s hovered around 10,000. I expect this to keep dropping, and that’s fine. Really. Juuuust fine.

*anxiety explosion*

As of the six month mark (Christmas Eve), it had sold over 15,000 copies in e-book.

It’s not NYT Bestseller stuff by any stretch, but not at all bad for a debut from an unknown indie author with no massive social media following, no industry connections, no money for promotion, no offering the book for free (except as advance review copies) and thus far no 99 cent sales.

I put the number here simply to add another entry to the “Yeah, this is possible” column. You hear a lot about how “the wild west land of indie publishing opportunity is over,” but it’s still possible for readers to discover your book. There is hope. Always.

Have I made mistakes and missed opportunities? Absolutely. And I will continue to make them, and miss them. But I will also continue to read as much as I can on the industry, on what people are doing that works, and what doesn’t. I find that my instincts only work if I feed them with information.

That’s why I’m posting this for you to read. I don’t care to talk about money. I hesitated to even post sales numbers. But it’s time for me to give back to the author community that has supported me, and as I’m not comfortable offering advice, I’ll share experience. I hope my experiences will help feed your instincts.

This isn’t a road map, though.

There’s no one right way to do this, and I mistrust anyone who says there is. For me, the key is being informed, staying flexible, making decisions I’m comfortable with, never taking advantage of others for my own gain, being grateful for everything, and above all maintaining my commitment to producing quality work.

Your mileage may, of course, vary.

You know what? I’m calling my word for next year. It’s going to be Flexibility.

There’s an 80% chance that this is the same word I chose last year, but that’s fine. It’s working. It means learning, it means shaking off the negative and steering for the positive. It means trying new things that might not work out, but that I also might learn from.

Next post, we’ll set some goals and talk about upcoming releases. YAY!

 

So tell me: What did you learn this year, either in your personal or professional life? Anything that might help the rest of us out?

 

**Mostly because I almost never pay more than $5 for an e-book myself, unless it’s a box set, something that I’m desperate to have, or occasionally to support author friends. I like e-books, but their limitations mean I won’t pay paperback prices for them. $5 for something I’m only licensing for personal use seems reasonable to me.^

^That said, never say never. As the industry changes, so will my opinions and tactics. This is a faintly-drawn line in the sand, not a stone wall. Flexibility!

***We can talk about this in another post, if anyone cares to. I have theories. But this post is already way too long.

 


ROW80 Recap Post (or: Most Boring Post Title Ever)

Yeah… no WIPpet Wednesday this week. Sorry, guys.

But I will give you this teaser snippet. I’ve got a short story almost ready for you. Some of you saw a pre-edit draft here a while back. Others will find it completely new. Either way, it’ll be my gift to you (at least until it eventually goes Amazon exclusive and I have to charge a whole 99 cents for it).

Coming soon.

bindingteaser1

 

Okay, on to the looking back bit.

Goal #1: Finish drafting Bound Trilogy Book Three

COMPLETED. I flew through that one faster than anything I’ve drafted before, thanks to better outlining than I usually do. I was pleased to find that there was plenty of room for surprises… maybe a little too much, as the draft currently sits at 130,000 words. Good words, but still.

I’m exactly half-way through revisions now.

 

Goal #2: Self-edit Torn one more time before it goes for professional edits.

COMPLETED. My beta readers had wonderful suggestions for me, and I incorporated most of them. Editor J.E. took the book a week ago, and last I heard is making good progress. It’s kind of a crazy time of year, and I hope he’s taking Christmas off, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting this thing back in early January and getting back to work on it.

And then we might just get a release date. And plan pre-orders. And, and, and…

 

Goal #3: Short Story

Okay, I’d hoped to have it out for Christmas, but a) it’s not exactly a feel-good Christmas cheer thing, and b) distribution is pretty much shut down most places for the holidays, so it can wait a little longer. But it’s edited, I made a cover (sorry guys–can’t do my regular artist for a free story!), it’s formatted, and it’s ready to go. I’m calling this COMPLETED.

 

Other Goals:

Listen to two podcasts a week – not even close.

Beta reading – COMPLETED

Other reading – I read several books. Besides the beta reading, I finished Behind the Scenes (Dahlia Adler), The Virgin Cure (Ami McKay), Blink (Malcolm Gladwell), Moon Bound (Sylvia Frost), Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell), Here Be Dragons: Strange Creatures of Newfoundland and Labrador (Bruce Hynes), and am making my way through UnSouled (Neil Schusterman). All great books.

I should really do a review of The Virgin Cure on here, or a more complete one on Goodreads, but I haven’t recovered yet. Seriously, so good.

Didn’t read a writing-related book (still can’t get into Writing 21st Century Fiction a year after I bought it), but I asked for Save the Cat for Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Audiobook release – we did a giveaway, it was fun. I still haven’t managed to listen to the whole thing yet, myself. It’s nothing against the production or the actors, I just can’t do audiobooks. They sound so different from how I read in my head. That said, I still have a few copies for people who love them… we’ll have to have that as a party prize at the Torn release party. 😀

Use Duolingo to learn French – I actually forgot about this. The boys lost the iPad for a few weeks, and I got off track. Better get back to it.

 

So there we have it. Not all complete successes, but I hit all of the big ones and won NaNoWriMo.

We’ll see what comes next round. 🙂

Link back below to your wrap-up posts if you’ve been participating! I want to come say hi.

 

 

 


Half-Assing #ROW80 (on purpose, this time)

Okay, that was a strange title, so let me explain.

I sort of dropped out of ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) on the last round because I was worried about boring people with my posts, especially those of you who subscribe by e-mail. You don’t want your phone to go BRRRRRRMP or BING! or whatever on a Sunday just to be notified that OMG KATE SPARKES WROTE ANOTHER 5000 WORDS YAY.

I know. And I don’t want to put you through that.

But I do miss the accountability and the community. So what to do?

I think I’m going to just check in once a week, on Wednesdays (see? Half-assing the reporting bit). That way these posts will be combined with WIPpet Wednesdays, which will be the candy I offer you to go with the vegetables that are my goals updates. If you’re interested in how things are progressing with my goals, by all means read through. I live to serve, and if watching my numbers is at all inspiring, encouraging, or exciting, I hope you’ll follow along.

Just don’t feel like you have to.

Round 4 of ROW80 for 2014 runs from October 6 to December 25. That means it’s GOAL-SETTIN’ TIME.

*rolls up sleeves, spits in conveniently-placed spittoon*

GOALS:

BOUND TRILOGY BOOK #3 – I’m currently at about 36,500 words out of a projected 120,000. I want to have this done by mid-November, if possible, to leave time for my other book-related goal (see below). This won’t be a problem if I can focus and stick to my schedule… so it’ll probably be a problem. But here’s what I’m aiming for:

  • 3000 words a day, 4 days a week. This leaves one day for me to go to town and get groceries, because my children continue to insist on me putting food in their faces. COOKED food, even. So demanding. If I can get more words than that in, I will. If I can squeeze in writing time on the weekends, I’ll do that, too. But based on what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past month, this seems like a reasonable base goal, if a challenging one.
  • So doing the math… That would get me done with this messy first draft thing in 28 working days, or on November 20. Hmm. I’ll have to try to get extra words in there, maybe aim for 14,000 words a week somehow. Because my other goal is…

TORN – barring some miraculous cancellation on the part of one of his other clients, my editor will be taking this one on at the beginning of December. I’ve already worked in most of my beta readers’ notes (many thanks to those of you who got through it so quickly, you’re the best!), but there are a few more things that need fixing up. So as soon as Book 3 is drafted, or sooner if need be, I need to get those last few things cleaned up. This is really important, but I don’t want to interrupt this whole first draft thing while I’m on a roll, so I’m putting it off.

Oooooh, dramatic tension, if only in my own mind!

SHORT STORY – It’s a thing I’m working on, which I’d like to have released by Christmas, but it’ll have to get squished in between other BIG, IMPORTANT STUFF. No promises.

OTHER GOALS

  • listen to two writing podcasts a week. I can do this while I’m cooking or out walking the dog, so this should be an easy one to cross off. Right now I like Hide and Create and The Self-Publishing Podcast.
  • Beta reading. I’m doing this for a fellow WIPpeteer this month. I haven’t started yet, but I’m going to get on it soon. There will be notes. SUCH NOTES THERE WILL BE.
  • Other reading – one or two novels a month seems to be all I have time for these days. Reading just feels like homework right now (heartbreaking, I know), but it’s important. Right now I’m reading Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler (so adorable–and I usually don’t like contemporary YA romance) and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. We’ll see what comes after that. And I’d like to get through at least one writing-related book this round, too.
  • Organize something fun for the Bound audiobook release in November.
  • Also, I’m using the Duolingo app to learn French. Because why not?* I have no concrete goal for this, except to use it for 10 minutes a day.

I guess that’s enough.

Are you participating this round? Link back to your goals post in the comments so I can stop by and say hello!

October. Oooooh, aaaaah!

October. Oooooh, aaaaah!

*Weird story: I’m pretty sure it had me say, “Je mange les femmes” yesterday, meaning “I eat women.” I’m not entirely sure what they’re implying… this could go in a few directions. Of course, they also think “Je suis un homme,” so you know. Whatever.


Schedules, Habits, and Lying to Myself

Me: Well. Here we are again.

You: So it would seem.

Me: Indeed.

You: Yup.

 

Man, small talk is awkward. Let’s not try that again.

A while back, I started trying to schedule my time. It has not gone well thus far. When the kids were home during the summer, I was constantly torn between spending time with them and trying to get work done, and constantly feeling guilty about not spending enough time on either, or being distracted when I should have been _______. Working with the kids home just wasn’t working.

And now it’s September.

And they’re in school.

And I’m still distracted.

I swear my brain craves it. It wants to be distracted. It wants shiny bits of useless information more than it wants a book. Well, maybe not more, but I’m not good with delayed gratification, and a 100,000 word book is a bit of a long goal. Internet articles and blog posts and Twitter are immediate. Checking e-mail is fast and sometimes even rewarding. Chatting with friends is easy and almost always a good time.

There are days when I will read the back of a shampoo bottle instead of getting to work. Compelling stuff, that.

So here I am, trying again to find a way to stick to a schedule and make myself get the work done. I have big goals, which I’m going to share with you for reasons of accountability. Those goals are going to require that I be able to focus, which is going to be hard. And no, I haven’t talked to my doctor about medications to help with that, because I’ve heard they destroy creativity.

Not cool. Though some of the other side-effects sound kind of wicked.

So it comes down to a battle of wills, me vs. myself. All I have in my arsenal are a few techniques to try, a schedule and goals written on lined paper, a novel outline with plenty of wiggle room, and… well, a little help from my friends.

Here’s the plan:

Every morning, I get 3 hours to work (I take the kids to school and am back by 8:45, and I go to pick them up at 11:45). Assuming I get coffee, etc. made before work time, and accounting for bathroom breaks, I should be able to get 3,000 words out a morning if I’m drafting book 3 of the Bound Trilogy.

No, it’s not an impressive speed, but I need thinking time. And hey, it could go up. In the future some of those days will be for editing, revisions, and for other production-type-stuff when it gets closer to release time for book 2, but for October and November, it will be writing.

In the afternoon, I get 1.5 hours, and that needs to include walking the dog and any social media stuff. Because I’m not blogging or facebooking or tweeting in the mornings anymore, right?

Hmm. Jack might not be getting the hour-long walks he’s used to.

*sigh*

*sigh*

But I think that’s the key. During my work hours in the morning, I can only WRITE. No distractions. Facebook is only for word sprints with friends, not for reading or posting or chatting (good luck to me there). I have to train myself not to OOH, HANG ON, THAT E-MAIL MIGHT BE IMPORTANT.

We’ll see how it goes. If I can manage those mornings 5 days a week, I’ll have the first draft of book 3 done before the end of November. That leaves lots of time for rests and revisions before… well, I won’t get ahead of myself now.

GOALS:

60,000 words in October

60,000 words in November

Revisions on another project in December (for the 2 weeks  I’ll have before I get edits back on Torn, then a break for Christmas)

115,000+ words in January (editing, not writing)

 

Maybe if I write those goals on the wall, if I have a clock ticking come January (because there’s still so much work to do after editing, and no time to waste if we want this book out in March), if I put the pressure on, I’ll be able to turn away from distractions.

I’ve said that before, and it hasn’t worked out.

But maybe this time I’m not lying to myself. Maybe this time I kick procrastination’s ass, I find a way to focus, and I get stuff done.

We’ll see.

 


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