Update Day: How I Did in June

Hi everyone! This is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time to update on my progress. For those of you who are new to my blog, Beth Fred and I host a bloghop where the entrants share their big, important or just crazy goals. Then once a month, we post updates on how we’re doing, and encourage each other.

If you’d like more information, or to visit some other people who are taking part, feel free to click here.

So my goals for June have been rather simple in theory. I simplified things as much as possible to help me get my two books published. Alas, my business (as in my day job) is still confounding me around every corner.

Honestly, I can’t complain. It’s a good thing that my business is showing movement and growth. It’s just a lot more difficult to manage two new businesses (because that’s what my publishing gig is too) when both are entering a high maintenance phase.

Anyway, this is how I did:

My Goals in June:

Writing:

1) For TVK and THC: Finish everything that needs to get finished for the final formatted submissions by mid-June. 

Didn’t make this. In fact, I’m not hoping to get this done before the end of the month.

2) Send out review copies by mid-June. (Or a week after that if I must.) 

This can only happen when I complete #1.

Reading:

Read enough to keep sane, but other than that, no set goal. 

Good thing I didn’t set a goal. I started a book in week 1, and haven’t been able to read it since. 

Social Media:

1) Get started on the materials needed for the blog tour. 

I’ve done some of the interviews, but I really need to get cracking with this. 

2) Continue with the stuff I’ve been doing because it seems to be working. 

Tried in between work stuff, but most of my available time went into prepping my books.

Life

Basically to keep growing my business and not go insane while I’m putting myself through a publishing hell of my own creation. Which might mean letting off steam with other crafts.

Did the growing my business part. I did get a bit of crocheting done. 

My Goals for July: 

Writing: 

1) If my submissions aren’t done by the end of the June, I want them done by end of the first week of July. 
2) Ditto for review copies being sent out. 
3) As soon the two above are done, I want to work on something new. Preferably a rough draft. I might join CampNano, but I’ll see toward the end of June.
4) Edit my short story for my Untethered Realms Anthology.

Reading: 

1) Finish the book I’d started. 
2) Read other books. Not giving myself a goal as to how many, because I know things are going to go nuts once my books are published. 

Social Media: 

1) Send out all materials and guest posts etc for my blog tour. 
2) Maintain my web presence as far as humanly possible. 

Life: 

1) That Europe trip is still in the pipeline, but will possibly happen in July. I want to get all necessary things done before my plane takes off from Cape Town. 
2) I want to recover from the publishing pressure by doing some other arts/crafts. 
3) Continue to grow my business. 
That’s pretty much me for today. How are you doing? Wish me luck! And don’t forget to sign up if you have a big goal to chase after. 

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Stupid People

If you haven’t been on my blog in a while (which I admit is partially my own fault), you might not know that I’m still technically doing the A to Z Challenge. 

See, back in April, my Internet, electricity and even just my life conspired together to stop me finishing the Challenge in April. I wanted to finish the posts, though, so I turned it into a weekly series. Slowly, but surely, I’m getting there. And I have to say that I’m enjoying the fact that I have a ready-made topic at least once a week. 
Today, I’m going to address a little-expected fact of a writer’s life: 
We all get exposed to an alarming number of stupid people. 

Which is to say: 
People who think they know everything about writing when they’ve never really ever tried it. 

It’s easy to spot them. Some recent favorites that I’ve read/heard people say: 
John Green is a pervert because he writes about teenage girls. 
Writers should bow to the wishes of their fandom and change canon to suit them. 
Then there are the old classics: 
How hard can it be, sweety? 
You can’t be any good if you don’t have a publisher yet. 
Oh, so you’re published? You must be swimming in money. 
Or the million little variations of absolute bullshit spewed by Literature teachers everywhere (Sorry. Not sorry.), which then gets perpetuated in some negative way by people who know even less about writing, because the last time they even read anything was in high school. 
In short: People who pretend to know all about my life as a writer. They then try to belittle my experience as a writer. And in reality they don’t even have a vague clue. This. Pisses. Me. Off.
Generally speaking, there are three reactions: 
1) Hit a shovel into the stupid person’s face. (But this might land you in jail.) 
2) Ignore the idiot, but seethe about it for days. 
3) Or basically respond with some variation of “Well, why don’t you try writing and then get back to me, you asshole.”
I usually go with option 3. Sometimes, I even take the time to explain. The worrying thing is that more often than not, these people insist on remaining stupid. They don’t want to learn because really, they want to persist in belittling writers. Maybe it makes them feel better about their insignificant little lives. Or maybe they’re just trying to bully people for daring to be even a little different. 
The point is, if you’ve explained why things don’t work the way people imagine, and people still refuse to stop belittling you, you now know to wash your hands of the whole situation. You’re not a bad writer because of not living up to the stupid person’s expectations. They just can’t/won’t understand. 
And hey, if you’ve tried, you’ve tried. Sometimes, you don’t get through to them. Sometimes, you convert people to the dark-side. In trying to prove us wrong, they not only prove us right, but discover their own love for writing. Or sometimes, they discover they don’t love writing because it’s so dang difficult. But at least then, you’ve got them to shut up. 
Either way, the important thing to know is that when it comes to writing, non-writers are the stupid ones. Not you. Never you. 
Any stupid people in your life? What’s your pet peeve stupid question? How do you deal with the stupidity?

Peeking Out of the Editing Cave

*Blink blink.*

Holy cow it’s bright out here.

*Blink blink blink.*

People, things are going rough on my end. I’m having to prep both my books for publishing and grow my business at the same time. Which is why I’ve been so very conspicuous in my absence this past week.

I’m pushing to get final submission for both done this weekend, though. This is for two reasons: I still have a Europe trip looming sometime around the end of June and I want to give my reviewers a month’s time at least to read the books before the official release date.

Right now, I’m doing the final hard-copy proof-read of The Heir’s Choice. Basically to check if there are any edits that I’ve missed or any formatting for the paperback that’s gone wrong. Then I just need to implement the fixes and edits. After that, it’s the final formatting and adapting the covers to the paperback template, and I’m done.

Sounds easy enough. Just… not so much while my business is taking off at the same time. Because where I used to have plenty of quiet afternoons, now I don’t.

Of course, I’m not complaining. It’s good to have a thriving business again. And it’s amazing to see my books starting to sell once more.

I’m just feeling the pressure right now.

I don’t regret it, though. The sooner these books come out, the better. And the sooner I can get back to writing again. I really miss it. Haven’t written any fiction since the beginning of May and it’s really bothering me.

I just can’t focus on writing with my publishing to-do list lurking in the back of my mind.

A bit of good news is that things are currently going very well on Wattpad. Right now, I have two books on writing and The Vanished Knight ranking in their genres. (One book on writing is in the top 100.)

So yeah. That’s me in a nutshell right now. How are you doing? Anyone else prepping to self publish? Or entering the query and/or submission trenches?

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Rejection

Hi all! Welcome back to another installment of A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing. Today I’m writing about something that all writers must get used to.

Rejection.

It’s totally a thing.

And it can be devastating. I mean, we create our stories. We spend weeks, months — even years — to write them, edit them and polish them until they’re practically begging to be published. Or so we think.

Until we keep hearing the same thing again and again: No.

No.

No.

No.

No.

Oh, these “no’s” take a million different forms when we’re querying. Anything from a form rejection (which can and has come in in less than a minute from sending) to personalized rejections that can and do make us feel like we missed it by a tiny fraction — which might be worse than a form rejection.

Even when we finally get a yes and get published, or if we decided to go the self-publishing way, there is still rejection to be found.

Readers might not like our stories. After everything we went through to put a story before them, they might simply not like it. And that really hurts. Arguably, even more than the agent and publisher rejection.

Readers are, after all, the reason why we publish. (Not why we write, mind you, but publishing’s another animal entirely.)

We publish because we want people to read our work. More than that, we want people to like our work. And getting a “no” in any form (even if it really wasn’t meant that way), it hurts.

So what do we do? People always speak about writers needing thick skins. But as I thought of this post, I realized that a thick skin really isn’t the thing. See, when we write, we actually revealed our souls in our writing. Our stories are part of us. So having them rejected in any way just won’t stop stinging any more than a slap to a face would.

No. I think we really just learn how to breathe through the pain. We feel it. We learn how to deal with it.

And you can learn how to do it too. Start by accepting critiques on your work without letting yourself feel personally insulted. Cultivate a habit of learning what you can and knowing when a rejection means something.

Yeah, I know that this might sound stupid, but it really isn’t. Really, it comes down to realizing that, although our stories are personal, differing opinions about those stories really aren’t. It might feel that every person who doesn’t like our story that much is really insulting us as much as it.

That’s just not true. Honestly, I don’t even think the reader ever thinks of the writer when he/she reads. Which is how it should be.

So learn to realize that although the story is part of you, the rejection isn’t aimed at you. You’ll be a much better writer that way.

Anyone want to share war stories from querying/publishing trenches? Got tips?

Tumblr and Wattpad

I’m a strange person, I know. See, when I got the rights to The Vanished Knight back, I thought of the whole experience as a lesson in a lot of things. 

One of those was in social media marketing. Accurately, I can describe it as a lesson in the complete and utter failure of social media marketing. I’m not kidding. When I first published my book, I had a huge and very active blog, and about 10k worth of people on twitter besides that.
Did they help me sell the book? Weeeeeell… Let’s just say I blog, tweet and what have you for more reasons than selling my books. I really enjoy it, but I used links on my social media that counted the clicks after I posted them. 
Maybe I’d get one or two clicks a day. And none of those would convert to sales. 
I think maybe that a lot of my previous sales came from blog tours. Except not because I was reaching new readers. It was bloggers who knew me, are awesome people, and who wanted to support me. (Thanks for that, by the way!) 
Which is to say (and I know there are a lot of me who might scream at me), but I don’t think there’s much point to me marketing to you guys on my blog, twitter, facebook, google plus (because you’re all there too.) Which means that once my blog tour is over, you probably won’t see a lot in the way of marketing on my writing platforms. 
See the thing is, I don’t even really think you’re my target market. Which is fine. I love this community and will try to be part of it for as long as it exists. But my market is elsewhere, so that’s where I have to go. 
Which is why I’ve been working my way into Wattpad with some success (TVK has had almost 900 reads in almost three months) and am trying to work my way into Tumblr. 
And… well. Both give me mixed feelings for different reasons. Wattpad is often a insane place, but there’s a market for me there. People like my opinions and advice. They ask for it a lot. I mean, my book on writing (specifically creating tension) has gained almost 9.5k reads in a bit more than a year without me really doing that much. 
Tumblr… Tumblr… Tumblr. Dashboard is nice. The thing is, the social aspect feels a lot like some sort of inter-generational high school clique. I really wanted to like Tumblr. Still do, really, but right now, IT PISSES ME OFF. 
So much so that I’m considering to unfollow everyone except the people following me and start from scratch. I mean, I know that it’s hard to get into a new community like the one on Tumblr. I mean, it took me the better part of 18 months to really feel at home and entrenched in this here writing/blogging community. 
The thing is, I’m watching the goings on on Tumblr and I’m wondering if I even want to be part of it. 
To give you the highlights so far: 1) Non-writers talking smack about writers. 2) Same non-writers professing to adore reading. 3) But still talking smack about writers. (I’m not even talking bad reviews. Those would be fine. I’m talking about the fact that people are CALLING JOHN GREEN A PERVERT for daring to be an adult male who writes books about teenage girls.) 4) People who are so narrow minded that they’ll completely push someone out for “not belonging to our particular fandom.” 5) But PRIDING themselves on being such open-minded, fair individuals. 6) Or people arguing about stuff that they DO NOT WANT TO EVEN TRY TO UNDERSTAND. Like… (you guessed it.) Writing. And (you probably wouldn’t guess it) the fact that Africa is in fact a continent with a huge variety of countries and peoples and most of our animals don’t like being in zoos. 
Now, you guys know me as a rather opinionated girl, so I’m sure you’ll agree that this really is bothering me when I’m spending more than three quarters of my time telling myself to “Not touch this one.” Because someone said something utterly foolish that gets eaten up just because they’ve amassed a huge following in some way. And because I know that engaging 1) won’t make me feel better and 2) won’t even help them because there’s nothing more impossible to reason with than a person who doesn’t want to hear it. 3) It’s pointless to point out the ignorance in the statement of someone who self-congratulated themself on their open-minded wisdom two posts ago. 
So here I am, wondering if I’m doing this Tumblr thing wrong. Or if I should do what I said and just unfollow 90% of my list. Because hey, I should be enjoying it first and foremost. Correct? 
Anyone on Tumblr? Got advice?

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Questions

I’m trying to post three times a week, but at the moment, work and life is still going crazy. That said, I’m still determined to see this series through. 

The way I see it, there are lots of new writers out there who are wondering if their writing experience is abnormal in some way, and this series is me saying: Phhhht. What’s normal? We’re writers, for heaven’s sake. 
Going on with this theme, I’m just going to come out and say that it’s completely okay to ask your characters questions. 
In fact, I recommend it. Yes, I know some writers create characters similarly to how people create cakes. (As in with a recipe or a set method.) You might be one of them. If you do the creation right, though, there should be some sort of aspect where the characters come alive. If they don’t, you’re doing it wrong. 
This is where asking questions comes in handy. Often, when characters refuse to play along, it’s because you don’t know all you need to know yet. The easy way to do this is go: Hey, character (using their actual name), what’s going on? 
No, doing this doesn’t make you insane. It makes you a writer. 
Or it might make you insane and I’m insane because I do this often. In fact, when I feel like I’m not getting everything I should into my story, I’ll sit down and do a character interview. Sometimes, the characters love talking about their hopes and dreams and whether they like cats. Others…not so much. 
But then, even with the sullen ones being sullen, I’m learning about them. I learn how they talk. I learn how they react to people prying. I learn all sorts of lovely things I can torture them with *ahem* use later.
See? All totally sane. 
What about you? Do you talk to your characters? How does it go for you?