Monday, December 23, 2013

prACTice (End of Year Wrap Up & New Year Assessments)

Right dab in the middle of the word "practice" is the word "act" or  prACTice. It's odd you know, writing is the only efforts I know of where you are supposed to be able to "just write." Yet, with my efforts to write full-time this past year, I have discovered: 1) not all workshops are equal in that some have more take-home usable value than others, and 2) while practice may not make perfect, the practice of writing is what makes a writer a writer. So in other words, there are writerly tools that one must learn AND to write, one must--wait for it--perform the act of writing.

2013 was not a wash for me writing-wise. Far from it, yet due to health issues, I did not accomplish anywhere near what I had hoped to complete. On the positive side, I did finish the first drafts of five (5), count 'em, books. I completed the skeleton of a five-book series. Of the five, I finished, which means thoroughly revised and edited, Book 1 of the series.

Finally, in December of 2013, a treatment for my health issue presented itself. I don't even want to think of how many doctor's later, BUT I am now truly on the road to wellness. The next few months will reveal the effectiveness of the medical procedure, but the odds are in my favor that this is the solution that I've been seeking.

At least I've trudged my way through the revision process 1 and 1/2 times, so revising and editing the rest of the series should be a more realistic endeavor. (Basically, at least two weeks after the medical procedure, I now have the energy and the focus to actually perform writing and editing tasks. So far so good!)

Where I had planned to be by the end of 2013...well, much farther along of course, but it's a cliched water-under-the-bridge scenario at this point. Considering the degree of illness and how unwell I was, I did the best I possibly could to keep plugging.

My December 2013 and January into 2014 are filled with these online workshops, after which upon completion, I will be where I need to be to be to reach my goals in 2014.

Where am I now? (To get somewhere, you have to know where you're coming from...)
  • First draft of entire series complete (Books 1 thru 5)
  • First book in final read-through
  • Second book half way through revisions
  • Workshops in progress for Pacing and Pitches
For January 2014:
  • Workshops scheduled for paperback and ebook formatting
  • Workshop scheduled for promotions
  • Revision of Book #2
First half 2014:
  • Publish entire Series #1
  • Set one-book-at-a-time goal
  • Start new series
  Second half of 2014:
  • Evaluate where stand with publishing
  • Set realistic monthly goals
  • Publish on regular basis
That's it, one month at a time, going forward.

For 2014, if I could give up-and-coming writers outright advice, I would suggest saving your $'s and taking ALL of the workshops offered by Dean Wesley Smith. From the very foundation of going from idea to story to formatting for paperback and ebook, the courses provide DIRECT instructor-to-student feedback. These courses are the most solid, sure, and expedient way to get where you need to be. Bluntly put, you get upfront feedback and a shortened learning curve, so more bang for your buck.

With better health, which includes more focused concentration and energy, on the horizon, I am looking forward to 2014 and to the publishing adventures it will bring.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you find your ACT in prACTice and your 2014 be blessed!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ever Learning with WMG Publishing

WMG Publishing Online Workshops offers video class instruction with direct instructor feedback, via email and a more generalized video, on submitted assignments. The learning opportunities in these courses are are interactive and the assignments geared for practical learning.

For the last couple of months and into the new year, I have been and am fine-tuning and practicing my writing skills in an active way via online workshops featured by WMG Publishing. The instructors of the courses include Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

The course I participated in last month was Strengths and Weaknesses, while this month's includes Pacing and Pitches and Blurbs. Next month's (January's) includes Character Voice / Setting, while the workshops on Promotion and book design (print and ebook) are also intriguing.

As I continue with the revision of Series #1, these are skills and writerly tools that I need to take my writing to the next level.

These more intensive, in-depth workshops than the courses I've taken previously. They take the writer to the next level of their abilities by adding to skill-sets, not just requiring homework submittals. Thus far, my interaction has been with Dean Wesley Smith, whose shoot-straight feedback both challenges and enourages.

Well worth the effort, time, and money in this always challenging, ever learning world of writing.

WMG Publishing Online Workshops, Highly Recommend!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What's in a name? (And it ain't Rose.)

That Shakespearean thing...a rose, is a rose, is a rose... Except when it comes to being recognizable and relatable to readers, if you're a Rose that writes young adult, you'd better be a Lily that writes romance.

According to Author Russell Blake's recent blog about pen names, readers expect writers to write what they expect writers to write. For instance a Young Adult author that writes romance, basically will alienate potential readers because of the other genre he or she writes.

Pen Names, Pseudonyms. Noms de Plume. For clarity for the readers, Mr. Blake is of the opinion that if an author writes in different genres, they should use a different pen name. For romance, for instance, an author could write under R.E.D. Rose, while for YA fiction Rosie Red, and maybe for mystery Rosaline Reddington. (Hmm, what fun pseudonyms!)

While I am building a brand around an awesome pen name, I also took into Mr. Blake's take on other reasons to use a pen name, such as privacy issues and safety concerns.

In  our lives, we all encounter someone who doesn't like us. (Gasp!) Someone we've rubbed the wrong way in a passing encounter... Or an ex-friend or ex-family member (yep, you can have those too). Or a fellow jealous author (really?), or even someone that is prone to resent other people's possible successes.

Just starting out as a published author, do I want to make myself a target of the aforementioned list?

Nah, I want my writing and my books to have a change to stand on their own merit, without being subjected to being a target of some sort of, er, person, on the list above.

So pen names or pseudonyms it is!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's next? (Another Learning Curve)

With Series #1, Book # 1 returned from the editor's final read-through, I am now faced with compiling the material that will make up the ebook and paperback book.

Even if I go the route of someone else formatting both the ebook and paperback, I still need to put together the materials that make up the books. (J.A. Konrath provides a potential list of Ebook Parts on his blog.) So, I suppose the first step will be to pull all these materials together.

As in anything, when I try to do something new, there's a learning curve. Some steeper than others, that's for sure. "Getting" writing a novel was one heck of an uphill climb for me, and since I tend to be slow on the uptake, I am of the opinion, that if I can "Get" how to write a novel, then ANYONE can.)

Next, I must research the cover blurbs and book descriptions of already published books in the same genre. I am also taking Author Dean Wesley Smith's Pitches & Blurbs workshop in December, so I have an awesome opportunity to learn. I am also watching Author India Drummond's formatting for CreateSpace video as well as her Tutorial for Ebook Formatting video. (Thank goodness for all those loooooonnnnngggg years of word processing experience.)

Luckily, I am familiar enough with graphics design that I am able to create covers. (The ones for this first series pops!) In the future, should I need a more seasoned professional designer, I will research possible resources as well.

Lots to learn, always. Yet that's what makes independent publishing such an adventure. An exciting and enthusiastic one at that!