Saturday, September 26, 2015

Top Writing Books of 2015 - 9 Day Novel Series

The 9 Day Novel Series by Steve Windsor is a must read for beginning and even seasoned writers. The methods gave me the boost to start my first adult book series. Mr. Windsor's books are fun, informative guides with solid, practical, and ultra-usable advice.

For my needs, I read series out of order, focusing on the topic that I needed first, rather than the number of the book in the series.

The first book that I read in the 9 Day Novel Series was Auhorphobia - Laugh at Your Fear of Writing: Suck Less for Author Success, which is a humor-filled take on addressing writing fears.

The second one was the 9 Day Novel - Writing: How to Structure and Write Your Novel Faster. To solidify the structuring concepts and to improve my grasp of the outlining concepts, I dove into 9 Day Novel - Outlining Your Novel: Plotting Your Way to Success. (The book gives the most straight-forward, easy-to-understand, relatable explanation of story outlining EVER.)

Currently, I am reading 9 Day Novel - Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: Write Better and Edit Faster. Again, another incredibly helpful writing resource.

Thanks, Steve Windsor, for a most fun and informative writing resource series. Highly recommend!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Notezilla - Sticky Notes for Windows

Notezilla Sticky Notes offers a 30-day, full-functioning trial of their sticky note software. As an author, to keep track of tasks, and then on top of that, those real-life paper sticky notes, I welcomed the trial period of the software.

Digital sticky notes for which you can add check list features, reminders, etc., with the ease of a click of the mouse...a most welcome tool!

On different notes, in different colors and in even in different styles (skins), I keep track of my To Do Lists. On one, I track my household tasks, while on another, I list grocery items and cleaning supplies.

With a busy schedule, I welcome tools that help me maintain focus, assist me with staying on target, and that provide a satisfying record of completion.

The non-cloud version of Notezilla for Windows is sold at a reasonable price and has been more than worth cost in helping me stay on task. It's a simple, visual method that mimics an old school reminder method in a new, elegantly digital way.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Lighthouse in the Sea of Delay and Uncertainty

My third year of writing full-time turned out to be one of delay and uncertainty. Mired by health issues, the year dragged and did not bring me much closer to making a living via writing. Yet one long-awaited surgery and recovery time later, I am thrilled to be well and writing full-time again.

The inability to write the way I wanted, in the time I wanted, or to meet the production goals I intended weighed heavily into weeks that dragged into months, then to a year and beyond.

Day in and day out, an inability to concentrate led to a great deal of frustration and disappointment in myself. Finally, after caringly listening to my whinefest, a dear friend asked, "You're doing the best you can, right?" When I answered a tearful yes, she assured me, "Then that's all you can do." Then she graciously promised that in due time, I would be back to doing what I truly loved.

And months later, once again, I am gratefully able to focus, create, and write. (Thank you for your caring, friend!)

Though I feel as if I am back to square one, I am taking one day at a time and setting goals for that day. If Tuesday doesn't go well writing-wise, then I'm back at it with a fresh outlook on Wednesday. So beginning anew, for my writing-for-a-living writing goal and with each day as it opens before me, serves as my lighthouse and my gateway to making a living through writing books.

So far, my new YA series is in progress, and I am also developing a second brand for a second pseudonym for adult fiction.

And you know what? With feeling better and physically being able to do what I need to and want to do, I have discovered the fun in writing again. The turn of a phrase, a dialogue twist I didn't expect, or a character and setting coming alive on the page makes me smile and fills my heart.

I am grateful and blessed that I am well and able to do what I truly love... And have fun with it along the way.

After all, isn't that what life's really about?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I wish I may... I wrote a book!

A small-town, grade-school library gifted me with access to Old Yeller, Black Beauty, and Beautiful Joe. All I wanted to do was read... and from that enjoyment came the desire to write... If only I might be a storyteller and write books.

While lightning bugs brought stars to earth, as a little girl, I stood outside, and wished with every bit of me, as I whispered into the night: 

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.
Please, let me learn to write a book.
Let me tell stories and bring those stories to life.

As far as back as I can remember, that's all I've ever wanted to do. Write books.

After working jobs most of my adult life that required extensive overtime, with some writing eked out along the way, jumping into writing full-time, while taking writing craft classes on line, was one exciting, scary, hot mess.

I fumbled and stumbled my way through one book, which turned out to be the skeleton of a five-book series. The series, a story of fantasy and adventure, turned out better than I had hoped. The story is fact-paced, with lots of twists and turns to entertain and fun characters that will touch a reader's heart.

Since I intend to write in other genres as well, I wanted to write under a name specifically set aside for Young Adult fiction.

Also, I have an adult fiction venture planned as well.

2015. Exciting times!

Monday, August 4, 2014

She Who Will Not Be Named

Does everyone have one? Like Harry Potter's Voldemort (He Who Must Not Be Named), I seem to have acquired a She Who Will Be Not Be Named. For that reason, I will hold off on revealing my author names (pseudonyms) for a while. Bottom line, I choose not to offer someone, with whom I've spent less than ten (10) hours with during the past 10 years, the opportunity to leave negative reviews for my books out of ugliness and spite and possibly tank the series before it has a chance to gain traction with readers.

I suppose that, for some, a She Who Will Not Be Named might be an ex-coworker who knows that you know what or who she did to get and keep a job for which she in no way qualifies. Or perhaps, a supposed friend who took issue with the fact that you expect them to take responsibility for their own finances or lack thereof and that you are not a never-pay-back loan company. Maybe even a no-longer family member (by your choice) that appreciates gossip and drama way more than you ever could.

She Who Will Not Be Named could be anybody... But she's someone that's gained an obsessive interest in you, your life, and your activities. Because, in this person's perception and opinion, you are not deserving of success or happiness.

In this instance, I wish I could say that I had said or done something to this person to gain such magnanimous attention and ire, and, thus, offer an apology and make amends; however, it seems, in this situation, all I "did" to gain such notoriety and power was just "be."

Yes, my very existence is the focus of this person, for it seems I am living "the life she deserves."

Truth be told, I barely know this person, and not surprisingly, have no desire to expend time and energy in this person's stead or direction.

Why have I been the targeted, er, chosen by this, um, cough-cough, lady, and her cronies, ah, associates?

Wrong place, right time? Right place, wrong time? Because my hair is curly? My eyes are green? Perhaps my relationship choices? Hers?

Two things I know for sure: 1) my life during the last 10 years has been a thrilling adventure, and I wake every morning looking forward to my day, and 2) that if She Who Will Not Be Named focused more on her own issues, perhaps she might be living a more fulfilling, healthy, happy life, rather than wishing to live and/or cause harm to mine.

Would She Who Will Not Be Name rally her crew of like-minded folks to make an effort to harm my writing career?

Sadly, more than likely.

My advice to those who must deal with other She Who Will Not Be Named encounters? 1) Live your life, and don't hesitate to seek assistance (legally, if called for) should She cross the ugly line into stalker territory, and 2) take needed counter measures, if warranted [such as my not offering up my writing name(s) for fodder].

My suggestion for She Who Will Not Be Named: Get a life of your very own.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

5 Down and 1 in the Hole

During the past few weeks, I dove into finalizing the Young Adult series that I've been working on for the past two years. Before I go back beneath the surface once again to focus on a new YA series, I wanted to touch base by posting on the Kathy Writes Books blog.

I have truly missed blogging and will focus on making a post every few weeks as I continued to write.

Since I have seen over the past few years that readers are hesitant to invest in an incomplete book series, I banked the entire series (which means I did not publish each book as it was finished) and intend to publish the entire series at the same time in the next few weeks.

Author Hugh Howey posted about the banking technique, or The Lilian Nirvana Technique, or as Author Lilian Nirvana uses the term, 5 down and 1 in the hole.

This YA series will be my 5 down, while the first book in the next series will be considered one in the hole.

I will also be banking a trilogy for release in February, as well as focusing on the series mentioned above for the next few months. (So, technically next year's first trilogy release will be considered 3 down, with the following book of the next trilogy equating to 1 in the hole.)

Thanks to Author Dean Wesley Smith workshops and shared Writing in Public challenge my production has increased, and I am looking very much forward to the months to come.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Writing Full-Time Journey. So far...

Two years ago this month, I left my mega-demanding, time-suck job to write full time. What a curious, intriguing journey this has been.

In the first few few months (June, July, and August 2012), I drafted a developmentally flawed version of the first series book. The book contained too many character POVs; a lack of clear goals over the arc of the first book; a need for more action and showing, not telling; and too low stakes for the characters and the story. (Thank you, Cathy Yardley for your game-changing feedback!)

So, in October and November 2012, I redrafted a tighter, more cohesive version of Book #1. December 2102 into February 2012 for Book #2, then on to Book #3 through March 2012. Book #4's draft extended through April, with May and June 2012 for the drafting of Book #5.

Because I lightning drafted (ultra fast drafting, a process I would definitely NOT recommend), the next year (June 2013 until present) was spent fleshing out, pacing, and polishing all five books. (Not lightning drafting, I wrote a 1/4 of a book in another genre in April 2014 in 10 days, so an actual solid, fleshed-out draft can be created in less time than it takes to perform the extensive revisions required by the fast draft technique.)

In the meantime, I had a fairly serious health issue arise in October 2012, and even with lots of doctors visits and treatments, natural medicine alternatives, etc., the situation did not resolve until June 2014 (boy, am I grateful that it did!).

So, overall, despite health issues that slowed me down for a year and a half of that time, the timing of the books completion, from start to finish (minus the first three months I was off track with the first first draft), totals out to 4-1/2 months per book. [Approximately 2 to months or so to draft, and 2+ months for the revision. (Thanks, Kat Duncan, for your continued coaching and mentorship.)]

For now, my goals moving forward, for 2014 & 2015 include:
  • 5-Book Series published this fall.
  • Trilogy (another genre) published in late winter.
  • 2nd Series in first genre started.
  • 2nd Trilogy in second genre started.
Yep, because of the brain fog, fatigue, and the amount of muscle and joint pain I suffered, the last two years have been a challenge.

Would I do it again? I would and will (without the health symptoms, please).

Why wouldn't I?

I had worked excessive hours and made a great deal of money for the company, while getting paid very little and being appreciated even less, so now I'm working myself. There's something about working long hours for myself, that encourages,

Will it work out? I'm writing and I have my business plan. And I'm writing. One book at a time.

Today, I am continuing on to reach my goals.

Year three of writing books for a living should quite productive and major interesting.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Sad, Sad Day (NEO 2 is no more)

On a recent trip, NEO went with me, and I wrote on planes, in airports during layovers, in a tent by the light of a headlamp, sitting in the cab of a truck and outdoors on a log, at a table in a busy community dining area, etc. With effort each day during the trip, I finished 1/4 of a novel in those 10 days.

I even shared with someone about the NEO 2, which I blogged about in one of my first posts on Kathy Writes Books.

NEO is a digital typewriter that weights a mere 1.2 pounds and has 700 hours of battery life on three (3) AA batteries. Nothing on the market compares with the durability, accessibility, or the long-lasting ability of the battery life.

The NEO has been one of the primary and most-often writing tools I've used, yet when I returned home from the most latest trip, I discovered that the device is no longer being produced.

The writer's tool that had been pawed out of hands by eager boarder collies and dropped on concrete, banged on a carpeted floor, etc., and kept working so that I might keep writing had been discontinued in September 2013.

Supposedly, technology, such as the smart phone and ipads, has negated the need for a device like the NEO.

One of the most valuable tools that I have used as a writer, and the NEO is no longer being produced or sold by the company that produced them. Thanks to ebay, I was able to purchase a lot of three units, with software CDs and connector wiring, for a very reasonable price. Hopefully, these backup units will travel with me and/or be with me during the writing of many more books to come.

At this point, there is no similar keyboarding unit available with such extended battery life, durability, and flexibility.

Yes, a sad, sad day because the NEO is no more.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Work in Progress... Always

Part of writing for the long haul is writing one book after another. There is no THE book, only writing the NEXT book. With 5 skeletal drafts banked (written by lightning drafting, which I do NOT recommend), I have been working through those drafts to flesh them out. In other words, in my cycle of learning, I doubled, if not tripled, the workload of writing the series.

Thus, when I might have finished in months, the process has taken way too long and has been quite tedious.

During a recent trip that was electronics restricted (translate to no electricity or internet access), I started a fresh manuscript in a new genre.

A few weeks away from finishing the first series, I have started a trilogy as well. One book after another.

Publication of series one is set for August, with the trilogy set for release in February.

Thus far, my writing experience has been about learning the tools to write professionally and about what works and what does not work for me.

First health issues, then choosing a process that wasn't the best for me, then the time necessary to finish what I started... Well, time moves on, and so does my writing. Onward!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I.O.U. From a Reader's Point of View

Dear Author,

When I left a past job, my ex-boss, as he did with many others who moved on to bigger and better things before me, claimed, "She owes me."

Odd, in looking back, I'm not sure why I owe him or the company anything. After working 65+ hours per week on average and keeping the business afloat and prosperous with my efforts, I'm not sure what I might owe. Perhaps I am to be eternally grateful that he gave me a job in the first place? Could it be that this magnanimous fellow feels he contributed to the work ethics I exhibit today?

I suppose there's no taking into account that I might have been underpaid, overworked, and that I had little life outside of work tasks, or that I worked numerous times to make a deadline when others left to go on picnics, watch baseball games, or because they couldn't handle the pressure of the work overload, Mr. She-Owes-Me included.

In the same way, as I read a book--for enjoyment, for escape, for entertainment--no where in the reading process do I OWE you, the author of that book, a review. I do not owe you a review nor do I owe you the purchase of your next book.

Quite prevalent nowadays, within the independent author realm, is that should I read your book, I am required, expected, and must leave a review...

Um, no.

If you as an author have met my reader needs, if I enjoy your book, if you provided a thrilling read, an emotionally stimulating read, etc., depending on genre, then I will gladly write a review.

As far as you addressing low-rated reviews, such as one- and two-star ratings, DON'T. By attempting to get readers to change their feedback, or to shame them, or engage them in some sort of conflict for sharing their PERSONAL opinion, you are revealing yourself as an author that expects an I.O.U. from his/her readers. Not only do you deign that you deserve a review, but only four- to five-star ones at that.

How arrogant and entitled is that?

Please be aware that neither I or any other reader owes you squat. We paid for your book. We read it. We may or might rate it and leave a review.

Just as it was your perogative to write the book, it is ours as to whether or not to review said book.

While you are awaiting your "well-earned" reviews, why not take classes, write more, seek a professional editor, etc., to become the author you long to be. Perhaps seek honest feedback regarding your covers, editing, book descriptions, etc., from authors and self-publishers in the know.

When we as readers can't tell what the book is about by looking at the cover, that's on you. When your description isn't clear or goes on forever, yep, that's also on you. When you expect massive sales when you only release a single book a year, that's also on you. So is poor editing and lack of marketing and promotion efforts. That's on YOU.

When you consider potential I.O.U.s, perhaps it is you that owes your potential readers the effort it takes to produce and present a professional, readable, enjoyable book.

So, Dear Author Sir or Ma'am, please be aware that the purchase and/or download of your book does not constitute a form of an I.O.U. As a reader, the only "owe" is that you as an author owe us respect as readers. Not review writers. Not someone who owes you something.

Please, be the writer you need to be, and I and others will be the readers we are. No I.O.U. issuance forthcoming.


Ms. Reader