The age-old dilemma

Once again I find myself waffling on an important writing decision: Do I self publish, or do I attempt to publish traditionally?

Not that I’m exactly ready for either kind of publication–I still have a ways to go on book 1 of my dystopian/sci-fi series–but I need to prepare myself for whichever decision I make. If I’m going to self-pub, I need to start looking at cover designs and the like. If I’m going to try to submit to publishers, I need to figure out how to write a query letter. First thing though is to make up my mind.

The idea of going through an agent and publisher is still terrifying for me. I have no idea why exactly, but it’s a definite road block. Is it fear of rejection that’s stopping me? No, I don’t think so. I know that rejection is part of the process. I think what really bothers me is the uncertainty of when/if I’ll get published. I have stories that I want to tell, and I don’t want to wait years and years for a publisher to pick them up. On the other hand, if I self publish those same stories are going to go largely unread because of my inexperience in marketing. How do I get more sales? I sure as hell don’t know. Granted, if I were to traditionally publish I’d still have to work at the marketing aspect, but at least then I’d theoretically have someone telling me what to do. On my own? Yeah, aside from telling all of my friends who would listen and tweeting the link for my novel, I am clueless as to how to get word out there.

I’ve taken to Twitter to ask what my writer/publisher followers think. I need some kind of input/feedback on which is the best choice. I know that self publishing is the easiest, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the best. I have enough author and publisher followers that I think I can get at least a push in the right direction. Sure, the publishers are going to say to traditionally publish (because why would they tell a potential client to fend for themselves?), but the information in their responses could be more informative than they realize.

My first novel, which I self published, did I guess relatively well, given that I didn’t advertise outside of telling friends and family that I’d published it. I had several friends and family members buy it, but sadly the best it ever did in the Kindle rankings was the first time I had it up for a free promotional period. I got all the way to #6 in one genre, which totally blew my mind, but of course it was free so that helped me a bit. I doubt it would have made it that far without the free promo.

I’m hoping that, regardless of which method of publication I choose, the fact that it’s a series will give me a leg up. People seem to enjoy stories that continue on to further books, and potential publishers might like that as well.

Which to choose, though? Do I stay patient and wait for a publisher to realize what a great story I have, or do I plunge in and self-pub it just to get it out there?

Heroes and Villains

cat typing gif

Now that the stress of impending preapproval is lifted, I can focus more on novel work. I’ve fleshed out the first batch of protagonists and “primary secondary characters” (in my world that’s a thing), so now it’s on to the antagonists. I already know much more about my characters than I did previously, including details that may not even make it into the story. I’ve heard that doing this can help make the characters richer and more “real,” but we’ll see. If anything, it might inspire me to make some tweaks that could enhance things.

Is this a stalling tactic to avoid actually working on the story? Possibly. I am still waiting on a critique/edit from a friend (who is doing it pro bono, which is totally cool and worth the wait), so having promised that I wouldn’t make changes to book 1 before getting her feedback back I have to be patient…but that also means I have to be careful how much fine tuning I do to book 2, because I don’t want to “perfect” it only to have to go back and make sweeping changes based on her notes. The last thing I need to do is have to go through a book and a half of story to make things fit and flow.

As it is, there are already changes looming on the horizon. Some of the characters decided they wanted certain aspects of themselves to be recognized, so I’ll have to see about getting that done. Luckily they’re small changes, but they’re changes nonetheless.

I’ve also gotten new ideas for book 3 and possibly book 4. Some of the characters I’ve devised don’t even appear until 3 or 4, so it gives me confidence that I’m moving in the right direction story-wise. If I had gotten to the point I’m at without books 3 and 4 brewing on the back burner, I’d be worried. Book 2 leaves off on a cliffhanger, after all…can’t have that happen without knowing what comes next!

It feels so cool to have a whole series blossoming in my head, especially for a girl who once thought she’d never have more than a short story’s worth of idea. Now I have one novel under my belt and many more to come. It’s an awesome feeling.

But enough about that. It’s time to get off my butt, sit down, and get cracking.

Missing in action

It’s been a few days since I’ve blogged here, but I haven’t been slacking. On the contrary, I’ve been busy with that crazy thing called life.

After Rory was found safe, life hit full-force. Work, home, organizational stuff, gaming, laundry, work, meeting with a mortgage loan company, work…

Oh yeah, the mortgage thing. Yep, my husband and I have been pre-approved and will begin construction on our first house hopefully in October. We meet with the builder again this evening after I get off work. It’s both exciting and terrifying; on the one hand, we’ll be free of apartment life (forever, if we have anything to say about it), but on the other hand it’s a buttload of responsibility. Mortgage payments, repairs, upkeep, taxes, garbage pickup, etc. … plenty to keep us occupied–and harried.

It’s all new and different and a little more than overwhelming. There was a time in my life where I thought I’d never own a home of my own, let alone freshly build one from the ground up. Now it’s more than just a dream; it’s a swiftly-approaching reality. It will even be complete before our fifth anniversary. Some anniversary present, isn’t it?

Once the house is built, I suspect our social life will evolve in several different ways. We likely will have to adjust to the new, higher cost of living before our ability to participate in activities stabilizes, and we’ll probably host more get-togethers at “our place” as we get things settled. We’re already planning two or three major housewarming parties (family, work, friends) as well as having several out-of-town friends and family members come visit. We’ll need more furniture for sure–can’t have visitors sleeping on the floor, and guests would likely want places to sit–which will mean more spending. It’s cool to think of our house being done, but weird to think of it as being empty. There’s enough furniture to fill our two-bedroom apartment, but with three bedrooms (one of which will be a craft room), a great room, dining area, garage, kitchen, etc., it will be a while before the spaces are filled comfortably.

I almost wish I could speed up the process of finishing my latest novel. I know, I know, the likelihood of getting published any time soon (even if I finish tomorrow lol) is slim to nil, but the thought of being a traditionally published author and a homeowner is thrilling. Like, maybe some day there will be a photo of me standing on my land with the mountains in the background on the back cover of a trade paperback. That would be cool. (Better than the selfie I took outside of my old apartment, anyway. Granted, the selfie looks pretty decent for a selfie, but it’s not the same.)

The going has been slow on the writing, editing, and revising, mostly due to that little thing I mentioned earlier called life. I’m going to try to kick it up a few notches, though, and finish the character sheets I started while I wait for the most recent edits of book 1 to be done. I’ve debated starting on book 3, but I think I should slow my roll until I know what changes I’ll have to make after the edits and critique come back. I don’t want to get too far in and then have to make sweeping changes. That would suck. It feels good to have the next two or so books brewing in the ol’ noggin, though. I’d like the series to continue further, but a quadrilogy would be okay. Maybe a quintilogy. (Spell check says that’s not a word, but Google says it is, and who am I to argue with Google?) Not a trilogy though; there are too many ideas for just three books.

I hope that some of you blog readers will be interested in reading these books. Is dystopian sci-fi your thing? A little bit of politics, some action, some sexyfuntimes? (I know that’s not a word, but I don’t care lol) Keep an eye here for updates on how they’re going. My goal is to have something ready to submit to agents/publishers by the end of the year, with my goal for next year being to have book 2 ready for pubbing. I know it’s not likely that I’ll be anywhere close to having book 1 even published by then, but if I have more installments at the ready I’m hoping it will let publishers know that I’m serious, and that there’s more to come.

Will I be a household name? Probably only in my own house, but that’s okay. I can deal with that.

My own house. Damn, that sounds good.

As the dust settles

Now that I’m winding down from the most recent event, I have to take a moment to think about what I want to do next.

For the first time in months, I don’t really have anything I have to do in the mornings. I could sew. I could write. I could do a lot of things, but there’s nothing so pressing that it can’t wait. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

I suppose I should enjoy this rare free-play time, but it has been so long since I’ve had time like this that I’m not entirely sure how to handle it. The feeling that I’m forgetting something vitally important is nagging at the back of my brain. How can this be?

This seems like the most opportune time to write, I suppose. Didn’t a famous individual once say, “When in doubt, write”? A (cursory) Google search doesn’t show it, but we’ll say it’s been said before. Book 2’s lackluster “ending”-in-progress needs to be amped up, along with several chapters leading up to it. There’s a rough idea of where it needs to leave off in my head, but when I wrote the last words (or are they the last?) it just fell flat. Time to find a way to add to the sense of urgency…and to fix those goddamn holes.

A matter of character

One big problem with writing a novel series is keeping track of all the characters and their quirks/relationships. I’ve got so many different named characters that I have decided to write up character sheets to manage them all.

I’ll have main characters, secondary characters, tertiary characters, and all the supporting cast. It’s going to be quite the daunting task to say the least. My sheets will have basic information on the characters with extra room to add things in that I didn’t think of initially. Names, descriptions, likes/dislikes, fears…Basically, I’m going to make a bullet-point bio for each named character, no matter how minor. Possibly even unnamed characters that make enough of an appearance to warrant fleshing the character out.

Not all of the character sheet info will make it into the story; in fact, most of the minor characters’ stuff won’t be in the story. Still, it’s important to gather as much info as I can on each character so it bleeds through in the writing. If I don’t know these intimate details of their lives, they’ll become flat and boring. It’s going to be a lot of work. I’ll probably need multiple binders to keep it all straight: main characters, characters from X group, minor characters, “cameos,” etc.

It’s weird how I’m morphing into a pseudo-planner. A planner/pantser. A plantser. Or something. Previously I started with a very loose, vague plot and let the story flow from there. Now, though, I’m weaving a more complicated web than in Whispers of Death; I can’t just let the pieces work themselves out, especially with all the changes I’m having to make along the way as the story evolves.

Time to get started!

If you have to force it, it’s probably …

Yeah. That’s where all my creative ideas are right now.

Writing and drawing are at a standstill right now… I want to do all the things, but my muse is giving me a big fat middle finger the past couple of days. I want to get the story down on Book 2, and I want to play around with my Wacom drawing tablet. Book 2 is yet again stalled as I have found an end point that isn’t really an end, and I can’t even figure out what I want to draw. Even picking out a blog topic after a day or two of no blogging was a struggle.
I guess it’s a sign that I need to take a break from it all. All that stuff probably should be left alone until the creative funk is gone, which is something I have trouble doing. I am so driven to complete the projects that I want to do that I can’t seem to make myself take that introspective step back.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that you can’t really force the creative process sometimes. It’s good to try to push through on some things, but knowing when to sit back is important as well. What I need to do is find that balance between pushing through and dragging along.

What do y’all think? Is it better to keep up the momentum every time or should you give yourself some “time off” to regroup?

Hurry up and take your time…

I swear, I could kick myself some days.

Plot holes remain abundant in my latest WIP despite me going back several times to “fix” them. It’s quite frustrating, as I haven’t had that bad of a problem with it before. I suspect I’m trying too hard to push the story forward, to the point where I’m making stupid, sloppy mistakes in the plot. Go back, fix Chapter X. Go back again, fix Chapter Z. Go back again, fix Chapter Infinity. Ugh.

Sometimes I have to kind of remind myself to take my time with the story and figure out where it’s going. The characters don’t always tell me exactly what’s happening, so I have to use my brain to sort things and make them fit. Tie this thing in here, streamline that there, etc. Characters don’t have time for that kind of thing. They’ve got important things to get through. Survival takes precedence for them over anything else. It’s up to me to take care of the rest of it.

It’s hard to slow down. Despite not even being done with book one, I for some reason feel a kind of pressure to finish the first draft on book two. It’s weird. I mean, why be so worried about this one when the other needs to be fine-tuned first?

Guess I’ve got to prioritize. Wait for the latest beta/critique/edit to come back on the first book, then tweak that one until it’s bright and shiny and new … and then tweak some more. Let book two simmer on the back burner for a while and wait out the creative process until it starts processing again. Letting my frustrations take over won’t do me any good, and neither will forcing the story out when it’s not solidified in my head yet.

I have no idea how some authors can churn out multiple books in just a short year. Even though I have a general idea of what’s going to happen in the future of this series, I would never be able to produce that much quality product in that brief span of time. Maybe one book a year–maybe.

Then again, I’m probably putting the cart before the horse or something. I mean, if book one’s not published, books two and three and however-many-they-end-up-being won’t be published either.

Maybe it’s time to give this book a nap before I put the first draft to bed.