Friday, November 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #9

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #9

And we arrive at the last of my NaNo Pitfall posts... I hope you enjoyed them all.

:cue tightrope music:

With tomorrow fast approaching - a little too fast, if you ask me - we come to the ninth and final pitfall of the year...

NaNo Pitfall #9 - The Fine Line

Sure, you've written loads of words.  Hopefully they've worked together and made a somewhat cogent story with coherent characters.  All this time you've been creating, though, you've been walking a fine line between needing to get x-number of words on paper and making those words work as a logical story.

Maybe you plotted the story out ahead of time.  If you did, you probably don't need to read this post.  Your word count and your storyline are probably running parallel.  Congratulations. 

Me?  I rarely plot out anything.  Therefore, the fine line I walk sometimes isn't any thicker than frog's hair.  I'm sure when I look back over those scenes, I'll be asking myself "What the hell were you thinking here?"   Sometimes I'll be able to figure it out.  Other times I'll read a scene and never be able to discern what I was going for.  (Here's hoping this book has more of the former than the latter, eh?)

Why is this a pitfall?  Because as we reach the final words for NaNo and thus the final scenes for our books, we need to be able to remember all those threads we created over the past month and weave them to their natural conclusion. And that, my friends, can totally stop you in your tracks.

Hence, the Pitfall.  See?  I knew I'd wrap it together somehow...

As I was laying in bed last night, once again battling my subconsious for some snooze-time, my brain was racing through all the threads.  With only a few thousand words left, am I absolutely sure I wrapped up the thread about Nigel?  Am I bringing the whole thing with the dog to a logical conclusion?  Is the dastardly killer getting what he deserves or should I insert another twist that will carry through to the subsequent books in the series?  And what about that weirdo being who crept into the fight scene?  Did I really introduce a hint of romance, and what the hell am I going to do about THAT?

Needless to say, my brain was on overdrive and I woke up this morning not knowing what the hell to do with the next few scenes.  I could wrap it all up with a pretty bow for now and fix it later.  On the other hand, I could write a dozen more scenes to explain...  Bleh, I hate reading pages of things the writer should've already explained.  Or, I could stop what I'm doing and go back - rereading and editing until I can finish the end.

See?  This could conceivably stop me in my tracks inches from the finish line.  Will it?  Nah.  I'm just using myself as an example.  If this is happening to you, though, you might not be able to get past this Pitfall without a litte nudge.  Here's what I'm going to do.

Take the bit in my teeth and run like hell.

Probably not the advice you were expecting.  Definitely not the best advice for writing the end of your story any other time of the year.  This is NaNo, though.  Right now, thinking about loose ends is only going to stall your progress.

Am I advocating writing 5000 words of nonsense??  Certainly not.  I mean, it's still going to be part of your story.  What I'm saying is, get the words out and worry about tying it all up later.  That's what editing is for.  So what if I introduced some threads five chapters ago that I now realized I never fully finished?  I'll catch them all when I sit down to edit. 

Sorry if this wasn't the post you were expecting.  I didn't edit this any more than I'm editing my work right now.  Plus, my brain is the equivalent of pumpkin puree.  Maybe soon I'll write a post on the mush my brain turns into after writing so many words in one month. 

Have a great day, everyone.  Tune in tomorrow for what I hope will be a less meandering post.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo #8 - The Wear and Tear of Writing

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #8

We're starting the home stretch toward December 1st.  (Where did the year go?)  Time for another installment of my 2009 NaNoWriMo Pitfalls posts. 

NaNo Pitfall #8 - The Physical Wear and Tear of Writing

Today's Pitfall is less mental and more physical...

NaNo Pitfall #8 or "Something so good shouldn't hurt so much"

Yesterday I banged out over 4K words.  Yay!  The only problem with that is this morning my hands are lumps of meat with ten tubes of overstuffed sausage attached.  Not that I'm complaining.  Hurting hands mean I got some real work done, but...

Unfortunately, my brain is still on a roll and my hands don't want to cooperate. Type two words... ouch ouch ouch...  If typing this post is killing me, what's my manuscript going to do?

Hang on a sec, I have to slather myself in Aspercreme™.

Okay, that's better.  I guess what I'm trying to say, especially since this week marks the home stretch of NaNo is: The more you write the higher the probability that something somewhere in your body is going to protest.  Maybe your ass becomes flat and numb.  Maybe your back becomes a tangle of tension. Perhaps you're like me and your fingers balloon up to Mickey Mouse proportions.

Take a pain reliever.  Rub on some creme.  Break out the heating pad or the ice pack.  Promise yourself a long, hot bath after your writing session is over.  Whatever you choose do, though, don't let the pain in your body stifle the story in your head.

And now that the Aspercreme is kicking in, I'm off to write.  Have a great day, everyone.  =o)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #10 - Rejected in November

Yes, yes, I did #7 yesterday and #8 is already scheduled for tomorrow, but I had this one crop up and I thought it needed to be inserted.  Since it can't be a .5 post because it's not related to the others, it has to be #10.  Deal with it. ;o)

Pitfall #10 - Dealing with Rejection in the Midst of November.

(If you're working on your first book, or if you've never queried a book before, you can skip this part.  You aren't here yet.)

Okay, I already knew querying in the month of November is a bad idea.  First off, most likely you'll be too busy writing to concentrate on your submission efforts. 

However, if you've got other books, most likely one of them will have been submitted somewhere at some time before the November race to write a totally new book.  Which leaves the possibility for a rejection to come slithering into your inbox when you least expect it - like, say, the final week of NaNo.

Some rejections are easier to take than others.  This is true throughout the year.  Personally, I've never faced this 'rejected during NaNo' trial before.  (Not that I can remember, anyway.)  This year?  Well, here I am trying to finish this totally new-to-me-genre novel.  I'm typing away.  And I spy a new email in my inbox.  (Let's not get into the wisdom of keeping my gmail open while I write.  I keep my blog and FB open, too.  It doesn't interfere.  When I pause in my writing, I look to see what's new and then get back to work... usually.)

I figured maybe it was a note from one of my friends.  Or maybe something from my daughter.  It could've been a sales email from B&N or Amazon or Nikon.  It could've been junk and therefore easily dispatched.  I totally wasn't expecting to find what it really was.

Even after seeing the subject, which was Re: my query, I didn't think about what effect it would have on my progress.  I just clicked it open.  And rejection came tumbling out all over me.  What did I do then?  I closed it.  I pushed it all away to be dealt with later and got back to writing.

I'm dealing with it this morning.  And the old monsters are leaping all over me like a litter of retriever puppies - but not anywhere near fun and wonderful.  "Why bother writing a new book when they never liked any of the others?" is the worst among them. 

I have roughly 8500 words left to write before Saturday night.  I could stop now.  I could take my rejected ass and curl into a little ball of remorse and self-loathing.  I could wad this sucker into its own proverbial ball and do a perfect three-point shot into the circular file.  Or I could shrug and get back to work. 

Really that's the only thing you can do when a rejection hits you.  Rejection sucks.  It sucked last month.  It will suck next month.  Sure, it's particularly sucktastic in November when you really can't afford the distraction of self-doubt.  But rejection isn't fatal.  Letting rejection derail your dreams?  That's fatal. 

So, like I said, I really recommend against querying in November - just to avoid the shock.  But if you can't avoid it, roll with it.  Take the rejection and tuck it aside.  Cry over it in December.  Gnash your teeth, rend your garments, and vow to never darken that person's email doorstep again... NEXT MONTH.  Right now, you have work to do.  Rejection, like editing, will have to wait.

Now, if I can just keep this attitude through the rest of the week, I'll be fine.  If not, I'll be over there gorging myself on eggnog ice cream and reading books other writers have actually had published.  ;o)

Monday, November 25, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #7 - Procrastination

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #7

Good morning, Everyone!  Today repost of old Pitfalls seems particularly poignant - even if you're not participating in the sprint to 50K.  Procrastination (aka lollygagging) can crop up anywhere.  Don't want to face the mound of dishes filling your sink?  Procrastinate.  Unsure of where your story is going?  Procrastinate.  I know I'm a master procrastinator from way back.  If it can be put off, I've put it off.  Hell, I'm probably doing it now...

And on that note, here's a link to the old 2009 post (if you want to read the comments) and the repost from 2012.  Now, here's the real thing:


As I may have said, Darling Daughter is also doing NaNo.  These posts are as much for her as for anyone.  Like any writer, she has her stumbling blocks, and like anyone new at anything, she thinks she's the only one.  After reading my Pitfall #6 post, we talked about the various things that can make a writer stumble during this race to finish a novel - or during any writing time - and she was dumbfounded to discover these Pitfalls aren't just things I thought might happen to someone else.  These Pitfalls have happened to me - this month even.  So, as you're reading this series of posts remember: You're not alone.

Now onward to NaNo Pitfall #7 - aka "Wow, I just remembered that I have to :insert procrastinatory item here:!"

We're writers.  We also have a million other things we have to do as human beings.  Laundry needs to get done.  We need to cook meals.  We have shopping and errands.  Some people have day jobs and others, like me, have internet businesses to maintain.  Add in homeschooling or kids' events or homework (either to do if you're still in school or to assist with if you're a parent), and the list of non-writing things requiring our attention can be staggering.

This month is no different.  Except when you're using those things to put off writing.

For instance, I had some stuff I legitimately had to do for my Amazon store.  True, it was stuff I'd put off and I should've done it sooner, especially since the deadline fell in November.  That was last weekend's blip in my writing schedule.  This weekend was another story.  You see, doing all that stuff made me realize that I had a bunch of other stuff I needed to do to make my store easier to work with - for me, not my customers.  Yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day screwing around with that.  It needed to be done...  Just not right this moment.  Certainly none of it was so crucial it couldn't wait until NaNo was over.

As I lay in bed last night lamenting my lack of words, it came to me.  This was yet another pitfall - not only in NaNo but for any writing we're trying to accomplish.  There's always something you can find to take the place of writing.  There are so many, in fact, I used to have a link to a site that listed all the things one can do instead of working on one's book.

Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if I should've made this a corollary to the other Pitfalls.  You see, the reason this push to do something else came up is because my brain is currently scrolling through the other Pitfalls.  Right now, I'm bouncing between "OMG, This Sucks!" and "Ack! I'm Lost!"

Enter "Wow!  I have something else I really should be doing!"

So, I've slapped myself around.  Today I will not being mucking around in the store, cleaning the house, doing yardwork, alphabetizing my socks, sorting my recipes, baking cookies, organizing my bookmarks...

Or sitting here thinking of other things to add to that growing list.

Today, I will write.  It may be several thousand crappy words and I may only succeed in getting myself more lost, but I will accomplish something writerly if it kills me.

Writerly?  Hmmm.... I never did sort through those last submissions and enter them into the database...

What's got you procrastinating today?  And what are you doing during this time of procrastination?

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo - Pitfall #6: Writing Yourself Into a Corner

I don't know if reposting all these is helpful to you out there in blogland, but I started it, so I'm going to finish it.

Here's the next Pitfall for all you NaNo racers - reposted originally from 11/17/09 and again from 11/17/12:

NaNo Pitfall #6 - Writing Yourself Into a Corner

A thought occurred to me as I was about to write today's pitfall: Any new writer who stumbles across this series could be seriously freaked out by all the things to make a writer stumble through the process of NaNoWriMo.  This is not my intention.  I'm just trying to show you thinngs that may and can happen, and hopefully point the way out of these pitfalls.

Also, it should be noted that writing for NaNo is not necessarily the way one should write all the time.  This is a race, and while it does help build skills - like writing faster to meet a deadline - it might deepen some bad habits.  I'm going to try and have a series on editing NaNo mistakes after this month is over, so bear with me.

As for today's NaNo Pitfall, the picture pretty much says it all:  "I've written myself into a corner and there's no way out."  (Of course, the flames* are all in our heads, but you get the gist.)

So, here I am, writing along and I've reached a point in the story where I feel like I've written myself into a corner.  My MC is stuck and there doesn't really seem to be a way out.  Which is why my word count for yesterday was so low I didn't even bother to post it - I just wrapped it into today's count.

Yes, this is similar to the Pitfall "Ack! I'm Lost!", but I'm not lost.  I know where I need to go, but getting there might be a bit messy.  Other than stepping back across the fresh paint and not only messing up what I've already covered, I could fall and go splat.

This isn't the first time this has happened.  In fact, it's happened so many times now that I look at it as a challenge.  My subconscious painted me into a corner, and now I have to find a way to extract myself without ruining my work.  Or to put it another way, I have to find the window to climb out of.

No matter how tight your corner is, there's always a window.  Like the video game pictured above, there's always a way out.  (Although I'm not sure how one would get the guy across a flaming pit of doom, but there has to be a way, or the programmer wouldn't have put the challenge there.)  Of course, the only way may be something so off the wall, you might balk at writing it.  Write it anyway.  At the risk of boring you with repetition: Write it now, edit it later.

And then, there's always the chance that no matter how bizarre it might seem before you write it, it'll work once you finish it.  I've had that happen before.  Sometimes weird stuff happens - not often unless you're writing SF, F or P but hey, look around the world at the strange shit going on every day.

As always, for November, it's not whether every word in your story makes sense.  It's getting those words out so you have something to work with later.  So, open a window, crawl through a mousehole, open a rift in the time/space continuum if you have to, but get 'er done.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a ladder to fashion so I can crawl up through the ceiling.  The smell of all this paint is making me dizzy.  ;o)

*Picture deleted due to potential copyright infringement.  The image was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the main player character at the edge of a fiery pit he had to get across.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #5 - Ack! I'm Lost!

As we all wade through these stories we're writing at breakneck pace, here's one that usually hits me right about now.  Lucky for me, this year I'm not lost - yet.  But for those of you who might be...

Pitfall #5 or Ack! I'm Lost!

Just a reminder: These NaNoWRImo Pitfall posts are being re-posted from the series I ran back in November of 2009.  Any problems mentioned therein are not problems I'm currently having.  The Editing posts (seen on the left as E1, E2, etc.) are the problems I'm having now.

Anyway, without further ado, here's #5 or ACK! I'm Lost!

See the look on that guy's face*?  Heh.  If you could see me now, you'd see that same look.  (Okay, maybe I'm crying for my mommy on the inside.)

You see, today it's time for NaNo Pitfall #5 aka Ack!  I'm Lost! (Prewritten on Sunday, so maybe I'll have found my way by the time this hits the web.)

When you're running down the path of your story, trying to get 50K words onto paper before the alligator of December 1st catches up with you, you could conceivably take a wrong turn.  My wrong turn came a while back, but I didn't know I was lost until a couple days ago.  (Which explains the squirmy stuff I mentioned in yesterday's post.)

And boy am I ever lost.

Sure, I know where I'm supposed to be.  I took a wrong turn several chapters ago, though, so retracing my steps is not an option.  What I have to do know is hack a path to where this diversion would naturally meet up with the correct storyline at this point in the book. 

It's a jungle out there, people.

Anyway, I spent a good portion of the time I was supposed to be sleeping last night trying to mentally chart my course.  I have Jo in a sticky situation, and she's taking the bull by the horns.  Nigel's come clean about his part in the mess, and if he screws up again, he dies.  Tryg's on the fence at to whether he's trustworthy or not.  And Zeke is Zeke.  I'm not sure what to do with Mary, but she's ready to run someone through after all these years of powerlessness, so whatever happens, she's good to go.

Of course, I'm still dealing with NaNo Pitfall #2, but I'm pretty sure that the reason I've written crap is that I was lost.  Once I find my way again, I'll be right as rain.  And hey, I can always fix it in the edits.  =o)

Time to take my mental machete and forge ahead through the jungle.  I know that path is around here somewhere...

*photo had to be deleted due to potential copyright thingies. 

Click here for the previous posting of this post where there might be comments and junk.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo - Pitfall #3 - Adverbs, Dialogue Tags and Other Horrid Things

Okay, I know it's out of order, but stuff happens.  I'm all NaNo brained right now anyway.

Adverbs, Dialogue Tags and  :gasp: Other Horrid Things...

In this series of Pitfalls, I'm trying to point out those little things that can hamper your ability to get those 50K words out before the end of the month.  Today, I'd like to talk about NaNo Pitfall #3, in which we talk about those dread devices: Adverbs, Dialogue Tags and Other Horrid Things.

Yes, yes, we've all heard how horrible both adverbs and excessive dialogue tags can be.  We're not supposed to have them - or at least not be heavy-handed or weird with them.

"Forget all that!" she shouted peremptorily.


Which is to say, while you're pounding out your NaNo words, don't bother nitpicking these things.  If you want your character to shout and you feel the need to tack an adverb on there, too, don't waste time editing those words out.  Editing is for later.  Let your fingers do the typing, and you can chastise them later for the crap they spewed onto your pages.

I look at it this way.  I let my fingers do the talking (or rather my subconscious mind speaking through my fingers, but you get the gist), and more often than not those dialogue tags and adverbs are left as clues to how my brain wants the scene to be laid out later.  Without them, each scene would take me loads more time to write.  And as we all know, NaNo is not about taking your time.  It's about getting words on paper because...

You can't fix what ain't there.

If your story needs adverbs, type them happily.  And if you need a dialogue tag...  "Say it, shout it, ask it," she chanted.  ;o)   

Click here for the old post to see other comments.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4 - Why Bother...

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #4

And we're back to the installments of my old NaNo Pitfall Posts.  Today is #4 - also known as 
'Why bother finishing when I'm already behind?'...

Welcome to November 15th, aka The Halfway Point.  At this point in your NaNo experience, you should be somewhere around 25,000 words - or at least near there by midnight tonight.  As you can see from the progress meter, I'm behind (by about 8K when I wrote this post).  This leads us to NaNo Pitfall #4 - I'm so far behind now, why bother?  (Sorry the two proposed topics got shunted aside, but I thought today was the best day for this.)

Okay, so I'm 8K behind*.  Why?  Well, some of it was life stuff - like the out of town trip I took Thursday and the right-cross Amazon dealt me that I have to deal with by Monday.  Some of it was squirmy stuff that will be addressed in a later Pitfall post.  Of course, the reasons and/or the excuses don't really matter.  Whatever they are, they've occurred and now I'm behind.

At this point, I could sit back and figure this year's NaNo is a wash.  When am I going to make up 8 THOUSAND words?  PLUS do the 1667 every day I'm supposed to do to reach the goal of 50K, mind you.

That's where the pitfall lays.  Like the dude in the picture up there**, I have to find a way to swing across the gap.  (And he didn't even dig his own hole like I did.)  I could stand on this side, shaking my head at the depth of the hole, or I can find a way to get past the expanse.  2200 words a day will get me to my goal.  That's a load.  Or, I could bust out extra words on the weekends.

The point here is: Stopping isn't an option.

Sure, this is only a self-imposed deadline, but if I ever do get a book contract with actual deadlines, I'm sure as hell not going to be able to tell my publisher "Sorry, I had some things come up.  Maybe I'll hit that number next time."  I guessing there's a quick way to say buh-bye to your career.

So, there is nothing to do but forge ahead.  If I have to miss some sleep, or sit in this chair until my ass falls off, or type all day on Thanksgiving, I will do it.

And if I don't I will still count it as a win because I will have tried my damnest.

Whether you're doing NaNo or not, how are your word counts looking this month?  Has anything come up that's put you behind in whatever you're trying to accomplish?  Regardless of the answer...


* 2013: As of this morning, I'm only behind by 4300.  Which means I need to average 1953 words a day to reach 50K.
**picture deleted because I didn't have the right to post it.  It was from the old Pitfall video game and showed the character swinging on a vine across a chasm. 
*** Oh, yeah, Pitfall #3 got skipped because it didn't fit this morning.  I'll try and re-post it this weekend.  If you're interested, it's linked over to the left.
And here's a link to the old post if you want to read the old comments. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A PSA for the Loved Ones of NaNo'ers

As you may have noticed, it's November.  The writer in your life may or may not be participating in the mad rush to get 50K words out by midnight on 11/30.  If they are among the NaNo crazed, here are a few helpful hints to get you all through this month with your relationships intact and a minimum of bloodshed...

1)  They aren't really talking to you.  They're talking to the people in their heads.  So when they suddenly say 'yeah, I could cut off his head', or 'that bitch needs to die', or 'I could hide the inner tube in the elephant's trunk' step away from the phone book.  You don't need to look up the local men in white coats.  And you don't need to be afraid... unless you see them rummaging in the garage for an axe.  And even then, they may just be doing research on the weapon's heft and various battle positions.

2)  Even when they are actually talking to you, they may not be entirely aware of what words are coming out of their mouths.  You may ask them what they want for dinner, and they may think they're replying properly when in actuality they've just asked for a sticky-note fillet with a side of erasers.

3)  There's only one appointment they have - 11/30.  Any other scheduled activity can and will slip their minds, including doctor visits, soccer practice, football games, and that dinner at your boss's house you agreed to back in October because your writer assured you there was no way in hell they were subjecting themselves to NaNo this year.

4)  No matter what other activity they might find themselves engaged in - cooking dinner, walking the dog, having sex - they are, in reality, thinking about what comes next in their book.

5)  When they yell at you for something totally meaningless, they are in fact yelling at a) themselves for being behind, b) their characters for being uncooperative, c) the universe for making them a writer, d) themselves for allowing themselves to get sucked into this again, e) all of the above.

Please be patient.  Your writer needs you.  And they will snap back to normal once this madness is over...

Unless they're doing HoHoWriMo in December or they're still writing this book or they've decided to get the whole thing finished and edited by 1/1/14.  Then you're screwed. 

But hey, you're the one who chose to love a writer.  ;o)

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #2 - OMG This Sucks

I have not reached this stage yet this time around, but I know some of you who have.  So here we go...

(And remember - these were originally written in 2009.  For 2013, my fingers are still fat sausages, though.)

NaNo Pitfall #2 or... OMG, this sucks!

So, other than the last couple days, I've been writing my little fingers into fat sausages.  I got past the first pitfall (or as someone else put it on another blog - the cardinal rule of NaNo) - don't go back and read what you've written - by slogging through.  The problem with slogging through is you may find yourself in the second NaNo pitfall...

OMG, this sucks!

As you write, you may find yourself thinking that the scenes you're slapping down are probably the worst pieces of dreck you've ever seen.  "It was a dark and stormy night..." looks like Pulitzer material by comparison.  And you know no one is ever going to want to read such crap.

Okay, here's the thing.  Most likely you're right.  It sucks, it's dreck, and no one is going to want to read it.

Now, before you get out the matches and bonfire your manuscript, I want you to understand something important.  What you're writing now is a FIRST DRAFT.  I'm willing to bet that most first drafts - even by the bestselling authors - are crap they wouldn't want anyone to read.  As awful as those first drafts might be, though, those authors kept writing them because they all knew another important fact:

You can't fix what isn't written.

So, no matter how horrible it may feel to you right now, you keep writing.  Hell, several chapters back, I wrote a scene I knew was awful.  Here's the thing about writing awful scenes, though: During editing, it'll either be cut or will end up as a completely different animal by the time I'm ready to query.  I needed the crap scene to get to the next scene, so I wrote it and I refuse to apologize for it. Even to myself. 

I wrote it.  I can fix it later. 

While you're writing, don't worry so much about how every word will sound.  Don't pick at yourself for writing crap.  Even if you're not doing NaNo, but you're having a tough time finishing a manuscript, just write and worry about fixing the problems later. 

Now it's your turn.  Ever hit this pitfall?  Did you get past it or trash your manuscript?  If you got past it, let us know how in the comments.

(Click on this linky-link to see the original post, with comments.) 
(And this one to see last year's repost.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Post: 'Surviving Release Day' by Silver James

Surviving Release Day

You worked hard, typing until your fingertips are calloused. You now have a novel—or at least the first draft of one. Edits. Revisions. Rewrites. Hair-tearing. Re-edits. Beta readers. Critique partners. Final draft. And off it goes to your editor. Time to relax, right? Ha!

If you’re going the indie/self-publishing route, your work is just beginning. You need to design or hire someone to design your cover. Then you need to worry about formatting. Marketing. Scrounging up reviews—which may or may not be up by the time your book is available.

But you survive all that. Your editor has returned your manuscript. You make corrections, you get it formatted. You copy edit, line edit, proofread. You upload it to various platforms for sale. And wait. If you’ve set a date definite for your indie release, you’ll want your book to go live before you actually announce it. That way, when people swarm to buy it, it’s actually, you know, AVAILABLE. There are “horror” stories of authors doing releases and sales, going all out to splash the title across the internet only to discover this seller or that one hasn’t made it “live” yet. No bueno, if you know what I mean.

Swarm. Such a nice, positive word. :nods enthusiastically: Sorry. I distracted myself. Readers waiting with bated (or baited if they’ve been eating sushi) breath to buy a book is the dream of every author. Realistically, unless you’re a New York Times best seller, not gonna happen. :disappointed sigh:

So the day arrives. You have blog appearances planned (and written!). You have giveaways. You hope to generate a lot of buzz because that’s what sells books—word of mouth and industry buzz. And your family and friends rush out to Amazon, et al. to spend their hard-earned money. So that’s like…six books. At least in my family. And half of them are cheap. They’ll wait for Christmas when I hand out ARCs as presents. LOL Only not really that funny.

It’s hard being a “writer in waiting.” But there are times when it’s just as hard if not more so to be a full-time writer. This is my job. I pay my bills and get to do extra things based upon the income I bring in from royalties on the books I’ve published. So release day? Yeah. It’s nerve-wracking. Nail-biting. Stomach-knotting. And strangely satisfying. Because there’s a new book released “into the wild” and it’s filled with endless possibilities.

So how do I cope?

1. I never refresh the Amazon sales page. Nope. Don’t do it. :looks shifty-eyed: Much. I shouldn’t. It’s an exercise in frustration. As mentioned, unless you’re a top tier author, sales will be slow. They’ll build. Slowly. And hopefully surely.

2. I beg for reviews. I’m not above groveling. Reviews make the Indie publishing world go round.

3. I drink. Coffee. Though that bottle of wine in the fridge is looking mighty tempting. It’s cocktail hour somewhere in the world, right?

4. I make myself work. This is a business. It’s based on creativity and when stressed, it’s sometimes hard to get the ol’ Muse up and moving but that’s the smart thing to do. Make her/him exercise the imagination. Work on your next project. Or do something a little silly but ultimately can be chalked up to marketing. I play with “postcards”—quotes from my books on a background or appropriate background. Or little writing tidbits. I’m doing a whole series of 30 for National Novel Writing Month.

5. Don’t judge a book’s sales based on previous books you’ve published. This is especially difficult when a book is near and dear to your heart. An author never knows what will ignite the reading public’s interest. Do your best work. Put it out there. And hope for the best.

I leave you with one last word of advice:

Silver likes to walk on the dark side and coffee. Okay. She loves coffee. LOTS of coffee. Warning: Her Muse, Iffy, runs with scissors and can be quite dangerous. She's the author of the award-winning Moonstruck series and other books, including a new series, The Penumbra Papers, coming Fall 2013*. She's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, technical crime scene investigator, and writer of magic and mystery. Now retired from the "real world," she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with two Newfoundland dogs, the cat who rules them all, and myriad characters all clamoring for attention. She writes dark paranormal thrillers, time travel romance, and light contemporary with a kiss of suspense. Want to know more? Visit her at

* Silver's latest book Season of the Witch released on Halloween.  I'm about a third of the way through and it's wicked awesome.  - B.E. (Update: Finished last night after scheduling this post.  It was wicked awesome all the way through.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #1: Corollary - You Went Back

This one's new, folks.  I'll still be posting the original pitfalls as we go along, but from time to time, as things occur to me in this process, I'll be adding new ones and corollaries.

Pitfall #1: Corollary - You Went Back, Didn't You?

I know I said, 'never go back', but even the best of us can't help it.  Right now, I'm sitting at just under 7000 words worth of book*.  And like I suggested, I haven't gone back and read through it... well not more than the 1500 words I wrote before NaNo started, so that doesn't count.  (During which, I changed the MCs names and little else.)

Please note, however, that I said I haven't READ through it.  Just now as I was partaking of my morning brain/body warmup (i.e. the first cup of coffee, a smoke, and the first fingers of dawn), I went through what I'd already written - IN MY HEAD. 

In my defense, I was mentally flipping through what I'd already done to see where I could send the story now.  That didn't happen nearly as much as the finding of flaws.  If A happened here, then B has to happen there, and if B happens there, it's going to end up all C - which as we all know, sucks.  And don't even get me started on D, E, and F.  Argghh.

Now I have the urge to go back and fix some of the previous 7000 words (like 5500 worth). 

This is the point where I take my naughty mental self and slap her widdle paddies like I would a child reaching for the hot stove.  NO!  Or a smack her with a rolled up newspaper.  BAD GIRL!  LEAVE IT!

If you read Pitfall #1, you know I'm a firm believer in not going back.  Once you start second guessing your previous words and fixing them, you derail your ability to get the subsequent words on paper.  NaNo isn't about putting down a perfect first draft.  It's about putting down the words so you can actually have a completed first draft at some point. 

And it's about not letting anyone - including yourself - get in the way of that.

So, I will mentally file away the things that are bothering me about what I already wrote.  I'll try to steer the story away from those chasms so that when I finish I'll have less to fix.  I'll continue from here in hopes that I haven't made a tragic mess behind me.

Going back isn't fatal, folks.  Just recognize you did it and move forward.  The only real mistake is letting yourself get mired in the past words and not moving forward.

Now, get to work.  If you're participating, how many words do you have after Day 2? 

*My NaNo word count is at 5291 - even though my book is 6832 words long at this point.  I'm only counting the words I wrote after November 1st, so my counts at the site can be honest and accurate.  (In an Excel spreadsheet, because I am a nerd.) 

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #1 - Never Go Back

It's that time again!  NaNoWriMo starts today.  And yes, this year I am participating - look me up as besanderson.  So, in honor of all that, here we go again with my NaNoWriMo Pitfall posts.  (so sad I had to delete the pics off these - they were great - but I didn't own them, so they had to go)

Anyway, without further yammering...

NaNo Pitfall #1 - do not go back and read what you've already written. 

Okay, so I opened the file this morning to get some words written, and for grins I decided to read some of the beginning of this book.  I found a few typos, which I fixed.  Not a problem.  Then I found a bit of worldbuilding that I have since differed from.  Umm.  Crap.

Now my brain is so busy worrying about how I'm going to fix this that I can't think about where I was supposed to take the story next.  Seriously.  And what's worse is, I knew better.  I know if I start finding flaws in the story, I'm going to want to go back and fix them all before I continue.  It's a thing about me.  It's also why I've learned to write the way I do - straight through, no stopping and no going back.

Yes, at the beginning of the book Nigel (a minor character whose name is going to be changed) doesn't know what the hell is going on any more than Jo (the MC) does.  But in the later chapters, he's part of the group that's known all along and has been keeping it a secret.  Sooo, I either need to fix the beginning or I need to fix this middle part.


Deep breaths.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.

What I really need to do is forget I ever saw that flaw and forge ahead.  The story is going great so far, and whatever Nigel does ultimately doesn't matter to the crux of the plot.  (Unless I make this into a series, and then Nigel's crucial to the plot that would carry over several books.)  Regardless, I need to tuck this flaw into its proper place and fix it later.

Remember folks, you can always go back and fix afterwards, but you can't fix what isn't written.  So just write.  Damn it.  (That last part was for me, btw.)

And thus ends our brief neurotic break.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled psychoses. ;o)

(Go here for the original post so you can see the comments people made there.)
(And Stop by HERE for last year's follow-up post and see those comments.)

PS.  Nigel became Basil and I did fix the flaw.