Checking in.

Eek! I can’t believe how fast time has been running away from me. December just seems to be one of those months. Too much to do.

Today, my mom, gran and I spent most of this morning baking cookies for Christmas. It was a bit dodgy at one stage, because for some reason, all of our batters came out too sticky, so I we had to improvise. Thankfully, though, no flops.

Other than that, it just feels like there’s a black hole around here somewhere, happily sucking up my time. I’ve only manage to write three times this month, which, given how much I still have to do, is a bit horrifying. Worse still, I’m not sure what I spent that time on. Some of it I do remember. Mostly, though, it feels like I’ve somehow managed to waste two thirds of the month, even if I haven’t.

It’s just that sinking feeling I get when everything I’m doing now is going toward a long-term goal.

One short term thing I’ve done that you actually can see: I updated the banners to all of my social network sites except for YouTube to show off my books a bit more. I think it came out beautifully, but you can see what all of my sites look like by clicking in the links on the header. (Those link buttons are also new.)

It was something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, but just kept putting off. Now I’m glad that it’s done.

I’ve also imported all of my blog posts to WordPress and replicated all of my pages, so there is no longer a difference between the content from one blog to the other. (Which was the point, given that I’m just cross-posting between the two so my WordPress friends have an easier experience with my blog.)

I’ve got a whole lot of stuff that needs doing, and even some posts that I’ve got lined up in my mind, but my map for The War of Six Crowns is done, which means there’s nothing hampering my updating the first two books, save for the fact that I still haven’t finished all the other stuff I wanted to do to those books.

Sigh.

So. As much as I’ve wanted to finish Book 3 before year-end, it just makes sense to focus on updating my published books first. It’s just… really distracting to have these updates looming in the back of my mind. And the sooner I have them done, the sooner I can start pushing with marketing tactics. (No point doing them when I might change up the book at any moment.)

That’s basically where I am at the moment.

I’m probably going to be a bit absent until next week, since I really want to push to get stuff done. We’ll see how that works out, though.

How are you doing? What are you rushing to finish off before New Year’s Eve?

And you thought being a full-time writer was glamorous.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to jump into this being-a-full-time writer thing. 

Without a parachute. 
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN! 
Yeah. It’s all very dramatic. Truth be told, though, it’s not really all that glamorous. I’ve explained my thinking in my IWSG post, but the TL;DR version goes something like this…
Lots going on with my “day-job” businesses, but no money has come in. 
Writing, while bringing in a tiny income, is in fact bringing me an income. 
Ergo, it makes sense for me to put in more time to create content and writing which can bring me more income. 

Am I being stupid about this? 

Gosh, no! At least I hope not. Basically my “day-job” business has reached a hurry-up-and-wait phase. As in, I’ve contacted people. They want to work with me. They ordered samples. They’ve received samples, and now they’re waiting for some meeting or the other to try said samples and decide whether or not they buy. 
In the meantime, I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs looking for other ways to make money.
Since writing is my passion, I want to put more time into making it work as a viable business, just like I’m doing with my other businesses. 
The problem with this is… 

You might have guessed it. Money. Right now, money is my biggest issue. See, if I’m going to make it as a writer, I need to keep producing books. Which will bring me in some money. 
Okay. But I need to get the word out, which means marketing. Marketing like… sharing stuff on all my social networks all the time. (Which I’m doing now, but man it takes a chunk out of my time.) Marketing like creating more content that has value to my readers (like more books). And so on. 
Problem is that I have to pay for most of this in some way, whether it’s with money or time. Because more often than not, money payments aren’t an option, it’s time. Which means that right now, everything I do is a trade-off of some kind. 
I can spend more time on social networs, but that means I don’t write as much. 
Or I can buy a way to schedule things to all my social networks, but that costs money, of which I have a very limited budget and no clue as to the Return on Investment. 
Yes. Me taking this thing into full-time territory has me thinking about return on investment a lot. 
And thinking about that, brings me to the timing of those returns. In other words… No matter what I do, there tends to be at least a month delay between my spending my money and me getting it back, if I even get it back. 

To illustrate. 
Let’s say I want to publish a new book. 
If I pay outsource: 
Cheapest Nice-ish Cover for ebooks and paperback: $150 if I’m really lucky.
Formatting: Between $100 and $500
This means a minimum of $250 for one book. 
If I do it all myself, I can bring the cost down to $80 by paying for sofware I use to make my own covers etc., but the downfall is that this is $80 per month. Which means two things: 
1) To keep the cost at $80, I need to create a book every month. Which is something I had been working towards, but that got steamrolled by my life. So let’s say we’re actually closer to $200 per book, unless I use the same software for other income streams. (Which would be the plan.) 
2) In order to keep the software, and assuming that books are the only way with which to pay this money, it means I have to sell at least 40 books every single month just to break even. 
And even if I was there (and I’m not), that money will only come in at least one month (but as much as three months) after the end of the month in which I incurred the expense. 
To say the least, it’s a freaking headache. 
If I was to publish through a publishing house, it does save me the expense, but at the cost of not making any income off the time-commitment to write until at least nine months after I sold the book. Never mind the time it takes just to find a publisher who wants to sign the book. 
So now I have to find other ways to generate money with which to pay for these products, such as Patreon, Fiverr and monetizing YouTube videos. Which is great, but I still a) need the those same $80 products to help generate content, b) need to spend time in order to market my activities on those sites c) need to wait at least a month before I receive the money back. 
And to make the money back as quickly as possible, I have to use Payoneer in order to have a US Bank account, and if I do that, I have to wait until I have $200 to pay out just to get the money loose. 
So, in short… I’m feeling very much stuck. 
Advice? Thoughts?

Just keep going

I’ve been griping a lot about my currently available amount of time lately. (Ask anyone who’s volunteered to host me for my blog tour.)

And just to make sure that everyone understands what I’m talking about:

Since the beginning of January, I have been working full days and then some, and then spent the remainder in a place with no Internet. Which means that my usual schedule of doing my work and finishing and then going over into writing has pretty much fallen by the way-side.

I’m hoping that this will change in the near future as we fall into more of a routine. (And we no longer have to rent a place with no internet reception.) But in the meantime, I think my expected writing time has been reduced by two thirds.

No, I’m not kidding.

BUT!

I’m still getting stuff done. A lot of stuff. Two weeks into February and I’ve written and/or edited the equivalent of almost 40k words. I probably would have been there already but for a work function that kept me up until midnight on Thursday, but anyway.

I think this rate of output, given the amount of time I’ve had available, is impressive enough for me to sound like I know where I’m coming from.

Because I bet there are quite a few of you who are thinking: How in the heck is she managing that?!

My answer comes down to something like this.

Just keep writing.

I mean, I could have been going into a blind panic about my entire schedule changing, but instead, I wrote. I could have complained about my lack of internet at night.

I wrote instead.

I could have worried about the fact that I have less time to get things done… But… you know… I got things done.

I’m not going to say it’s easy. I’ve basically given up on my reading until I’ve 1) finished formatting Endless and 2) finished the rewrite I’m currently working on.

I’ve also swapped my whole writing routine around so that I can write at night and an hour every morning instead of in the late afternoon and early evening as I’m used to.

But write, I am writing. And apparently at an amazing rate.

So if you’re in the same boat where you’re struggling to find your usual writing time, don’t give up. 

If you can find five minutes every day, write for five minutes. If you can find twenty minutes, write for twenty minutes. No, it might not be the hour you believe you need, but it adds up to a whole lot more than nothing if you keep waiting for that perfect hour to show up.

And there you have it. My secret to writing a lot of words.

How much time in a day do you usually use to write? Have you ever needed to swap your routine around to fit your writing in? 


I can’t believe I did it again.

I don’t know how or why this keeps happening to me, but I always seem to realize that a book in my War of Six Crowns series is done after I’ve finished it.

Last week, I’d decided to renew my focus on Book 3 in order to complete the rewrite. So I reread the whole thing again to pick up all the loose strings I’d left in November, when I’d stopped when my writing had lost momentum.

And… well… the story felt done. It had a rising action. A twist, climax and an ending.

And half of my planned plot remaining unwritten. (Which was annoying.) But since the other half felt like I’d be shoe-horning it into my story, I decided to split the book. Which means that:

1) Book 3 is done. (Yay!)
2) The other half I had planned will now go into Book 4. (Also yay. Rewrite is already prepped.)
3) Revisions for Book 3 will probably involve significant revisions to compensate for the structure being slightly wonky due to me having planned most of it to be the introduction to the other (unwritten) half. (Eh… okay. I can live with that.)
4) I need a new title for Book 3. I had a title, but now the events referred to in the title happen in Book 4. (Sigh.)
5) I’m going to start revisions to Book 3 at the end of this month. (Yay!)
6) The War of Six Crowns will now be a six-book series. I was planning on five books, but hey, the more the merrier, right?

Have you ever been surprised to discover you completed a draft after-the-fact? Or is it just me?

Lost and Found Blogfest

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to take part in this blogfest. When I entered, I actually worried a little because I wasn’t sure if I would have time to create something. But then I thought “Hey, I actually have the perfect scene for this.”

AND the added bonus is that it comes from my upcoming book, so even better.

The reason why I like this scene for this blogfest is simple. The mission is to write about love lost or found and this scene is a little bit of both. Hope you enjoy!

Click the button to enter or find the other people taking part.

The Problem with Immortality

“Well hello there, beautiful.” Luc’s lovely voice caressed the back of my neck and I squealed, giving him the biggest hug I could.

“You followed us here?” I asked, holding on to him as if he might disappear at any moment. When we’d left France, I’d left Luc behind and with him, my heart. Oh how I’d cried that day. He’d looked my age back then.

I stepped back and looked up at his face. At somewhere in his twenties he now looked older than me, while I barely seemed old enough to go to my first Carnevale party. The realization sent a stab through me and I lowered my gaze.

He was a man now, and I…I didn’t even know what I was. A woman trapped in a child’s body? A freak of nature. Either way, it wouldn’t do to seem overly familiar with someone in public. It wasn’t proper. Venice might have been home to Casanova, but in reality, life here was strict. I sent a furtive glance to my companion, who at least was kind enough to stay at a discrete distance for the duration of this conversation.

“We’re both here,” Luc said. “Armand tired of France.”

I scowled up at him despite myself. “Please tell me he’s not going to the Doge’s party.”

He frowned at me. “What if he is?”

“Well he’ll spoil it,” I said, causing Luc’s frown to deepen. He always was devoted to his twin.

“I do wish you two would get along.” Luc said.

“And I do so wish he’d stop being an ass.” Or that he’d stop breathing, for that matter. I turned back to the display of Carnevale masks. I still needed to find a mask that would match the dress I planned to wear to the party.

I heard Luc’s heavy sigh behind me. “At least you’re still glad to see me,” he said and joined me by the window. “I missed you.”

“I–I…” I wanted to say I missed him too, but if I had never before realized what a difference our lifespans made, I felt it keenly now. He’d be reborn long before I was, and then he’d outgrow me again and again. When I had my rebirth, it could take centuries for us to be together again.

It wasn’t a way for us to live.

I swallowed my words and went to the next window, dashing at my tears. I tried to hide it, but Luc was too perceptive.

He caught my arm and forced me to face him. “Don’t,” he murmured, pulling me closer to him. “I’m here now.”

I sobbed and held onto him. Body-to-body, he stroked my back and whispered loving words into my ear. I felt the strength in his body, the play of his muscles beneath my fingers. But no matter how close we were, we’d never be together.

Now Available on Pre-Order:
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

How to Get Back Into the Writing Groove

Lately, my advice posts have fell a bit to the way-side. Mainly, I blame a bit of a writer’s burn-out that I suffered from since mid-November.

It’s hard enough to write a thoughtful, useful post without feeling like I’m sipping yogurt through a thin straw. (Don’t know what I mean? Try it sometime. The feeling compares remarkably well to writing while burned out.)
The only thing I advise people to do when burned out is to rest. But what to do when the burn-out is gone and you just can’t get into the writing groove again? 
Oh, I’m glad you asked. 
I know that everyone is different, but I’ve found that the following steps work for me: 
Step 1: Find a big enough stick. 

I’m serious. Resting during a burn-out is all about spoiling ourselves rotten and doing all those things we usually do to procrastinate without feeling guilty about it. This is a good thing in its time, but now that time is over. But why promise yourself a reward when you’re already in the zone of instant gratification? 
It just won’t work. So find what will really make yourself feel crap if you don’t do it within a certain time, and commit to it now. I picked saying yes to two anthologies and setting up a book for pre-order. 
Of the two, the pre-order thing is worse. I like having the pre-order option. And Amazon will take that option away for a year if I don’t submit the finished work in time. See? Pretty big stick. 
And already, I’ve started making sure that I’ll have everything done. Just make sure that the big stick won’t be falling too soon. You’ve got to be reasonable. Setting something up for pre-orders a week from now isn’t reasonable unless you were close to done to begin with. 
Step 2: Get into the habit of delayed gratification.

You used to do this before. It’s not so hard. Say: “Yes, I want to watch TV, but first I need to finish this chapter.”
This is a tricky thing to do, because the excuses are a dime a dozen. But if you want to get that book done, you need to say: “Later.” to everything that isn’t finishing your book. 
Except, you know, your family needing your attention or something like that. Family is important. Writing is important. Sometimes, friends are important. TV…. not so much. 
And be careful of the social networking you “need” to do. Not that important either. 
Step 3: Find a nice, juicy carrot. 

That’s the nice thing about delayed gratification. Telling yourself you’ll do something after finishing a chapter means that you’ll want to finish that chapter even if it’s only to get to a guilt-free session of that other thing. 
I go a bit bigger, though. I’ve promised myself something really nice and expensive if I publish my book on time. Actually, that was a new laptop, but the old one broke. So I’m going to have to think of something else. 
I’ll probably feed my addiction to pretty notebooks. (NOTE: if you’re ever a die-hard fan that wants to send me stuff for Christmas or my birthday… NOTEBOOKS. The beautiful hard-cover kinds with the high quality paper.) 
In the short term, I promised myself a decadent chocolate and banana smoothie once I’ve finished this post. 
Step 4: Actually write, nitwit. 

You know? It’s kind of important. 
And that’s pretty much it. Simple, right? 
How do you get back into the writing groove after a long break? 

Back to the subject of putting books on pre-order. I’ll be putting Endless up on Amazon this weekend. It’s already up on B&N, Kobo and Apple. In the meantime, though, I’m looking for people who’d like to help me spread the word in May after the launch. If you’re interested, please click here. Thanks! You’re awesome.

I feel sort of guilty.

I do. I know I’m not supposed to, but I do.

See, I have so much to do. I have three books to edit. I have three to rewrite before the end of December. And I have two to rough draft.

And I haven’t done anything related to any of those projects this week.

The problem is that I’m tired. Even when it ended up being nothing, the scare, drama and anger associated with the events of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning have possibly managed to tip over the scale into emotional exhaustion, which I have been trying to fend off since January.

So although I know I should write/edit, I just don’t feel like I can. And when this feeling strikes, I know it’s time to do something else instead.

Which I guess probably means I’m going to not do anything I set out to do in the beginning of November. But you know what? If that happens, I’m saving time simply by not pushing myself into a full-blown burn-out that lasts months somewhere down the line.

Instead, I’m going to take this afternoon off and draw. Then I’ll see how I feel about things in the evening. If the drawing doesn’t help, I’m going to keep drawing and add a reading marathon into the mix until the end of the month.

I’m figuring that a total of two weeks out of my writing schedule can’t be that bad, given how little breaks I’ve given myself this year.

What do you do when you need to rest?