Has it really been that long since I blogged last? Yikes. I’m still having fun and writing what moves me.
I’m starting to think covers for the fourth Forest Guardians book, too. The redesign for the first three books is done, though I’m not ready to release them yet. I’m also going through and catching the typos that made it through multiple editing rounds, too. It’s fun, in a frustrating “how did that make it through” kind of way. I’m not the only one who reads my work, and the occasional error still slips through us.
I actually looked into whether I wanted to be a professional editor or proofreader a while ago. Even proofreaders miss things occasionally, and many companies want an accuracy rate of 90% or better from their employees.
So, between covers, editing, and putting the fourth book into the final draft, I’ve been rather busy lately.
What have I learned since publishing four books and having three more on the go?
1. It gets easier the more you write. This is true of most skills.
2. No matter how many times you edit, occasionally something will slip through
3. There are all kinds of programs and apps to help you write. Honestly, I prefer to do it all in Microsoft Word. Why complicate things?
4. Having a notebook for each series is a must. What did that character look like again? Was that country to the North or South?
5. Writing time needs to be jealously guarded and treated with respect
March has brought unusually beautiful weather to us, for the most part. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be exceptions. We're expecting wind gusts to 70-80 km/hr this afternoon and high winds into tomorrow. Add some rain and snow and a temperature that drops below freezing and you have the makings of a spring storm.
The thing is, these storms are so unpredictable. What does all this have to do with writing, you ask? Well, as well as writing, I keep horses at home. Just my own shaggy beasts, but they're my family. We had a major wind storm a few years ago that blew over two of our three shelters. The horses were unharmed, but we still have some spots where you can see fences were mended. It scared one of the ponies badly and was terrifying to watch.
So, to keep everyone safe and comfortable, we decided to put them into the barn today, while the wind was still down. Normally I get up and write first thing, right after my morning routine. I do my best creative work before about 9:30 in the morning, and am nearly always done by noon. Nope, today I spent the peak writing hours bringing horses in and bedding them down for the storm. As I write this, I'm watching them on the cameras, a live feed from the barn, and they're happily eating or napping on their feet.
Storms really are unpredictable. Of course, now that I brought them in, there's no wind to speak of. Never fails. It's coming, though. I don't mind sitting and writing later today, knowing they're safe and warm and doing well. Just because I have a peak writing time, it doesn't mean everything I write outside that is horrible. I'm also working on the final draft, which means the story is already together. I can make it look pretty any time of day.
Normally I'd be done working on my first story by now, and I'm only just about to start. That's okay. Sometimes life throws things at us and we need to roll with it. Now, I'm going to work. Happy writing!
It’s been rather crazy around here, but crazy in a good way. Now that winter is over and the sun is coming up at a decent hour, I’ve been making real progress on my novels. By the end of the week book 4 of the Forest Guardians series will be ready for final draft form. In some ways that’s my favourite part of writing. The story is already down and I get to make it vivid and pretty.
Just as exciting for me, I’m working with a cover design artist to give the series a new and cohesive look. I’ve seen the initial concepts and I’m very happy with all three books. Book 3, Healer’s Strength, hasn’t changed much, though the first book has changed the most.
All in all, writing is still just as fun as when I started the whole thing. It’s been a year now since I decided to write a book. I started doing online writing courses last March. I started my first novel in April and it was published last August. Two novels, actually, under two pen names, both published around the same time.
I look back at this last year and it still amazes me. I wrote four books under two pen names. I rearranged my bedroom and made a writing corner by the window. I filled that corner with a desk I made myself, with some help from my ever supportive guy, out of wood that had personal meaning to me. I formed a routine, something I seldom ever do, and stuck to it. Most of all, when I was starting from scratch, I found something I love to do (writing) and I made it a priority in my life. Now I have direction and a passion, and writing has opened other doors for me. Some of those new connections were surprising, but they’ve made my life better.
So, what are these new covers like?
You’ll have to wait and see! They’re coming soon...
Today was our time change, over to daylight savings time. Not my favourite thing, for many reasons, but it mostly affects my schedule for writing.
In winter I wake to an alarm clock that includes a light. The light gradually brightens, mimicking the sunrise. In summer I don’t need it because I wake with the sun. Before today, the sun had been waking me up so I haven’t set my alarm in a couple weeks. That’s going to change again. Now the sun doesn’t come up until after 7 am, my “normal” wakeup time. Nope, my body thinks it’s 6 am, and getting up wasn’t easy.
Today I didn’t set my alarm, I let myself wake when the sun came up and the puppy jumped on my bed. Needless to say, I lost an hour of my day. Knowing today would be atypical, I simply allowed myself to follow my routine as closely as I can without worrying about the time. one advantage to not having children to worry about is I can adjust my schedule however I want, as long as the horses needs are met.
Usually I get up and eat and meditate. My guy looks after the horses first thing, so I can focus on writing. I write for a good hour, maybe more if I’m on a roll. After that, I relax and usually play some video games to rest my mind. I love story based games, so I can immerse myself in an adventure. After that I’ll write for another good hour or so, usually on a second story. When I’m done my writing, I’ll practice other skills for my next future career.
With an hour gone, I did my morning routine as normal, and simply moved my studying time to later. It’s been windy, so things I’d normally do I simply set aside for another day.
Do I wish they’d scrap the daylight savings time? Of course. The animals don’t change times unless we adjust their schedules on them. Spring is harder on us because we lose sleep, but easier on the animals because food comes earlier. Fall is easier on us, but harder on the animals.
I write best when I have a set schedule I can follow, and a bit of a routine. I’l work on my personal stories during the day as I have time and feel like it, but the books I’m publishing I have my morning time for.
What about you? When do you write? Is it something you prioritize in your schedule or something you sneak in every moment you can? The best part is there’s no right or wrong way to write, just the way that works best for each of us. Happy writing!
When I wrote my first book, I had never written anything that long before, not by a long shot. For young adult novels I have a general guideline of around 80 000 words. It helps keep me on track and make sure my pacing is good. Are the right kinds of things happening in roughly the right places?
My first couple of books usually had me getting close, and wondering what scenes or details to add to flesh out the story and really let the characters grow. Well, book 4 of the Forest Guardians is my fifth book between two pen names, and now I've reached a new stage in my writing.
I'm nearing the end of the first draft. My first drafts should be around 70 000 words if I don't want to go too far over 80 000 words in the finished book, because I don't include descriptors and scene details in the first draft to any richness. Here I sit, with about 8 000 words to go, and I know I'm going to be a little over my goal. I've reached that "how am I supposed to tie all that together in that little space" stage of writing.
This time, even the side scenes directly tie into the main plot, so I'm not planning on cutting anything yet. As long as I stay under 90 000 words, I'm happy. As some of my readers could be on the younger end of Young Adult, I keep them in mind. Still, it's a bit of a change, going from adding scenes to set up the series and characters verses having just enough space to let her adventure unfold.
We grow as writers and get better at writing, at least if we work at it we do. I look forward to seeing what other stages of growth I go through as a writer. it was only last March when I decided to become a published author, so my journey so far has been one year long. I've gone from trying my first book and feeling uncertain to sitting down nearly every morning and letting my characters tell me what they want to experience. Now it tends to flow, more often than not. I let my stories come to me and am usually pleasantly surprised at what they bring.
How has your journey as a writer progressed? What changes have you noticed?
I know, I’ve been a little absent on my blog lately. February wasn’t easy this year. It usually isn’t, I already know that, so I half expected things to get quiet for me on social media and my blog.
However, I’m feeling better, the weather is warmer, and I’m back to being present online. I never stopped writing, though my writing slowed a lot during February. My writing has picked up again and I’m happy with my progress. Book 4 is coming along nicely, the first draft is coming close to done, and Book 5 is forming in the outline stage.
I’m also working on another book under my other pen name. I seldom write only one book at a time. It helps keep my brain busy and my creativity flowing. I still have the martial arts book in progress, but I’m not actively working on it right now.
The last few weeks also gave me a chance to organize some other parts of my life, too. Martial arts is a big part of my life. I’ve missed training with others a lot. Now that I’m feeling good again, I’ve found a community and am training again. Online for now, but it’s really effective, and I’m enjoying it.
My learning new skills for a new second career is also going well. I study regularly and enjoy what I’m doing. One day I’ll only be writing, but for now that’s not the case.
I’m also getting back at riding the horses more, now that the weather is nicer. It’s not fun trying to ride when everything’s frozen. When the air hurts my face, I’m not inspired to be out there unnecessarily. For a couple of weeks we weren’t going outside without full protection for the full body, face included. We’re even experiencing temperatures above freezing, and it’s only March!
Anyways, I’m back. Things are good here. Writing is coming along well and I’m pleased. Now I’ll ease back into my social media and reconnect with friends and fans. As seasons change, our schedules and needs change as well. Once you know how you respond to the year, you can allow for that in your writing schedule. Do what you need and look after yourself. Happy writing!
It’s February here, our coldest month, usually. I have yet to experience a winter where the temperature doesn’t dip to -30 at least once. So far this winter we have been spoiled with how mild things have been. It was pretty nice...
Anyways, we’re having our cold week now. It started yesterday, and will continue to the weekend. What could this possibly have to do with writing? Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, where lifestyle and weather don’t impact our productivity. I love writing. However, I have a rich and fulfilling life outside of writing, too.
One thing I do is keep horses. My previous occupation was riding instructor, and I trained horses, too. I still have my fluffy companions living here at home with me. It’s a mixed blessing, to be sure, but I love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It also means I’m out in the cold no matter what, making sure they’re okay. I can take them into a heated barn, but that adds hours to my day in chores, so we leave that for the worst weather. As long as they’re wearing the right blankets, they’re good as low as -40, as long as there’s no wind.
Still, it can be stressful living on an acreage or small farm when the temperatures drop low. Will the waterlines freeze? Will the furnaces keep running, and keep the buildings warm enough?
With the added stress, it can be harder to sit and write. Instead of adding to my stress, I decided to sit and write as much as I could normally, without aiming for my usual word counts each day. I’ll sit and write whatever scene(s) I want and only for as long as I feel focused and good. If it’s a few thousand words, excellent. If it’s a few hundred words, I’m okay with that this week.
I’ve reached the awkward stage in writing for the fourth forest guardians book, too. It’s between 35 000 and 50 000 words, I find that’s the hardest stage of the book to write. The necessary scenes are usually done, and now I’m adding in the fun and the challenges. Having this stage during a stressful life event (the cold snap) simply means I’ll keep my focus on the fun of writing, and not concern myself with productivity.
Sometimes things happen. People get sick (or animals), weather changes, sometimes world events change things for us, or other unforeseen events occur. Sometimes we push through. Other times it’s better to relax and give ourselves a little slack. This week for me is a slack week, for sure!
Oh, and the ever expanding flock of sparrows we feed has been hungrier than normal. They make it through these cold snaps just fine, with the additional seed we give them and the doves and the flicker and woodpecker.
Having a holiday was lovely. Okay, I didn’t go anywhere, but I did what I wanted when I wanted, and didn’t do anything writing work related. Mostly...
Anyways, yesterday was my first day back at writing. The week off gave me some mental rest. The last few weeks before publishing can be mentally intense, making sure the cover is ready and the editing is done. Formatting, getting the manuscript into the system, and more, every step needs to be accounted for.
Now the writing is flowing easily again and I feel less stress. As modern writers, we need to watch for things like burnout, since there’s so much more we need to know. If we self-publish, we have even more to keep an eye on. It’s important to never lose sight of why we write. I write because I love it.
All my current projects are in the first draft stage right now. There’s something almost magical about the first draft stage, where anything could happen. My first draft looks almost like a stage play booklet, with dialogue and general directions, and maybe rough descriptions about what will happen. The detail comes in future drafts. No, the first draft is all about picking a plot and story elements I can’t wait to read/write about in more detail later. I don’t know who first said it, but it’s my mantra now - “write the book you want to read.”
The one hard thing about coming back from my vacation is catching up on things like social media and getting the rest of my life back in something like a schedule. There’s no need to jump into things. I can ease myself in slowly. That’s the advantage of writing being my main focus, is my schedule is flexible.
So: -remember why you write, -keep an eye on your energy levels, -eat well and prioritize sleep so you have the best shot at writing well. Now go write something fun that you enjoy!
After working hard for almost a year and writing and publishing four books under two pen names, I’m taking a week off. Even as writers, we need mental breaks. I still love writing and I’m not stopping or giving that up, but I do need the rest.
For the next week I’ll be doing whatever I like, within my normal horse care schedule. With the virus going around, I’m not going anywhere, but that’s okay! I had set aside a few hobbies the last month as I focused on getting Healer’s Strength out, and it’s time to restore my work-life balance.
See, I’ve also been training for a new career, and I had been working too hard at that. Throughout this week, I’m only studying when I want to and only for as long as I want to. I’m also still writing personal stories whenever I feel like, as well as getting more active again.
I’m learning a new Tai Chi form. I’ve already learned the Dao (sabre), though I hadn’t done it in a while, so now I’m learning the double Dao form. Yup, two blades spinning around my body. How could this go wrong? It takes care and precision, just like writing, with the added risk of bodily injury. Not really, as I’m using plastic practice swords. My real Dao is sharp, and that would be silly to practice with right now!
I’m on my third day of vacation, and I’m enjoying the rest. Next week I’ll get back at my writing, refreshed and ready to go. Book four is already a quarter through the first draft, and the martial arts book is over halfway through. The fifth book of the Forest Guardians series is forming, based on events happening in the fourth book, too.
Now, back to my vacation!
That’s right, Forest Guardians Book 3 is in the final preparation stages before publishing. It’s been an exciting and busy time, and not just for the book release. The martial arts book is coming along as well, and I’m enjoying writing it.
One thing I do as an author is regularly take courses and webinars and learn more about writing. This last week I have been busy with webinars on different topics relating to self-publising. Most exciting, this weekend I am attending an online conference, my first ever for writing. Inkers Mini-Con starts this morning.
It’s a little hectic, trying to release a book while studying writing and self-publishing, but the best part about self-publishing is the ability to set my own schedule. If I need a little more time, I take it. If I’m ready sooner, so be it, I adjust.
Since I’ve spent the last couple of weeks busily studying, the editing has taken a little longer than I originally thought. I’m fine with that, as my editor was also a bit busy. Now we’re in the formatting stage. Some of what I’ve been learning will help me with the formatting and physical book preparation. It’s not just writing, when you’re a self-published author, it’s also getting everything else ready, too.
I enjoy it, though, the learning and improving and really getting to know each skill. Everything from being able to evaluate a cover to knowing when your editor is doing a good job, getting the file into the format and ending up with a book, it’s an adventure in itself.
Unfortunately, blogging took a slight backseat to learning, and that’s okay sometimes. Social media also took a vacation while I get things ready. With so much to learn and do, there’s no need to rush. Writing is a life-long pursuit, and I’m still young for a writer. You’re never too old to learn new skills. Just remember, if you want to self-publish, there’s a lot to know, and finding the right people to help can make all the difference for you.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.