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!
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!
One thing I’ve noticed is the more I write books, the more I love the stories and the process of writing. As much as my first ever book, Runaway Magic, has a place in my heart, each additional book is more fun to write.
I love the second book, Facing the Fire, because I introduced new characters, and you see Aili interacting with other mages more. She’s still saving the forest, but as always, she has help. She also has fun. My favourite thing about writing is the characters. I love to see them in various situations and see how they react to life.
The third book, tentatively titled Healer’s Strength, is bringing new joys for my writing. I started the final draft only this last week, and already I’m speeding along. Is it perfect? No writing is. Every book has scenes we’re not as excited about or maybe wish we worded differently, but writing should be fun, even as we do our best. I get to bring back some familiar characters and send Aili somewhere new.
The more books I write, the more I can relax and enjoy the process of writing. I still give each book the care and attention it deserves. My goal is to put out the best books I can. I also want to enjoy it. I’m having so much fun with book three that I’m averaging 4000 words a day. I have the advantage that the story is written, I just have to put it in final form, and I do that by re-writing into a new file. That’s how I have a word count to go by.
As I get writing, I have so much fun with a scene that it just flies by. I may pass through transition scenes, too, but even those I like. Still, there are more and more scenes I love. Sometimes I don’t want to stop writing, even though my body wants me out of the chair for a while. I can take breaks and come back, writing more scenes I love.
When watching a webinar by an author, she had something interesting to say that I loved. She has both self-published and traditionally published, and she loves self-publishing best. She reminds us that we can write whatever excites us, whatever story we love, because we are ultimately responsible for the books we put out when we self-publish.
I take Saturdays off writing, but write every other day. I’m having so much fun that I debated whether or not to keep writing, even on my day off. No, days off are good for us, so I chose to take it, but tomorrow I’m excited about getting up and going at the writing.
Write what you love. Write what makes you feel. Write when you can. Most importantly, love writing!
Wow, have I really written three books since May, when I started? Sure, one is under another pen name, but still. Not to mention the three more on the go...
I think that's the most interesting thing about being an author, is how time passes and we don't always notice. I'm over halfway through the first draft of the third Forest Guardians book already. I only started it at the very end of October. I've been so immersed in it that I forgot to blog! My bad.
There is a bit of fatigue when one book is finished and gets published. I know I've talked about it before. I've been on that incredible journey with my characters and now the journey is over. However, there's a similar point in the middle of the books where I feel tired, too. It's somewhere between 40 000 and 60 000 words of the first draft. It's happened with every book so far.
It's at this point that I've got the main scenes and ideas written already, and now I'm adding in the additional fun scenes, or the scenes that help the story along in some way. It's the Fun and Games, as we can call it, that add depth to the story.
I'm there now with Book 3. My books seldom get titled until near the end of the final draft. The big stuff has happened, so now I get to write whatever scenes I want. It can be a lot of fun. What does Aili want to do next? What magic will she discover? Will she get into trouble? Sometimes I wonder just what the heck I'm going to write. That's easy, I write whatever scenes I want to read.
Since I write almost every single day, the days blend into each other. I know it's time for a day to rest and recharge when I feel that tired feeling creeping up. Over the last week I've had some incredibly productive writing days, and now I feel that fatigue. Tomorrow is my day off anyways, and I'm looking forward to it. I did get some inspiration for writing today's scene. Once that's done, I'm resting. Rest is as important as action. That's why I include rest for Aili and her friends in my books.
So, how do you fit your writing schedule into your life? Are you a daily writer, or grabbing moments between work shifts or child care? What works for you?
It’s something interesting I’ve noticed, as I’m close to finishing the second Forest Guardians book. I go on my own journey along with my main characters. At the start of a new book, both Aili and I are full of energy and ready to go. By the end, as the book gets ready for publishing, we’re both tired.
It’s not always Aili, either. I have a couple of books in the works with other main characters. Now, I don’t write the books in order at all. I plot out and outline my books, and after that I jump around and write what moves me. Maybe I start at the beginning, as it’s an excellent place to start, but I might write the ending next.
My journey isn’t about the plot and the character’s journey. My journey is getting from a blank file to a complete story. Aili may be going from her home to setting out and protecting her forest, and back home again, though her home might change.
The one main difference, other than that I imagine Aili’s journey while she actually goes on the adventure, is that she travels with friends. I do, too, but my friends are Aili and her friends. It’s often been said to me that writing is a solitary pursuit. In reality, physically I am alone, but I have a whole cast of characters in my head that talk to me through the pages.
So far I’ve been writing my books in about 3-4 months each. In that time, Aili goes from wherever I left at the end of my last book to a whole adventure, and back to wherever she gets to rest. I go from a fresh start with a lot of enthusiasm down to being tired. By the end, I feel like I’ve walked through the forests with her. As I get close to the end, I’m ready to lay down and sleep for a week, just like Aili did after the first Forest Guardians book.
I didn’t expect this. Every book I write teaches me something more about the process or writing, or even myself. I think the fact I’ve set aside the other books to finish book 2 has made the fatigue a little worse. With multiple books in progress, all at different stages, I haven’t experienced this tiredness before. That’s okay, I’ll rest when I’m done. I’m almost done!
I’m always looking to learn more about writing and everything that goes along with being an author. One thing I’m seriously looking into is having a newsletter for my readers, each month. It’s actually easy to do and doesn’t take long.
Why would I want to spend more time not writing? It’s a great way to connect with readers when done well. Also, it’s a great place to share things like bonus scenes and materials with my fans. What kind of bonus scenes?
Well, for those who sign up for my newsletter, I’ve written the scene from Aili’s past, where she survives the fire at the University. There will also be scenes from her childhood like her first camping trip, the scene with the bear mentioned in book 2, scenes of her and Ilia together, and more.
There’s so much I can do and share in a newsletter, so I’m putting stuff together for you all. I’m planning on sending them out at the beginning of each month. You can learn more about what’s going on, what I’m working on, see behind the scenes moments for both me and my characters, and more.
What else is going on? The puppy is settling in and learning when it’s playtime and when it’s writing time. Winter is coming, we got our first real snow last night, and we’re preparing for the change of seasons. I guess I need to finish repairing the winter blankets for the horses! I’m learning more about being an author, newsletters, marketing, and more. Oh, and as always, I’m writing more stories for you, my fabulous readers.
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.