Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Camp NaNo and Interviews

I'll be joining Camp NaNo in July for my first ever camp! I'm in a cabin with a group of writer friends as well as a few people I haven't met before. I'm excited to see how it goes. I set my goal at 10k words, which right now feels a bit daunting as (with the exception of the past 3-4 days) I've hardly done any writing that wasn't editing in months.

While my husband was on a backpacking trip from Sunday-Wednesday, I spent the hours after the kids went to bed writing. My goal was to get back into the habit of writing every day so that my goal would be attainable.

My pace has been slow compared to a lot of writers, but I'm happy for what I've been getting done and believe I have a plan to complete my 10k words and maybe beyond!

In other news, I'll also be hosting writer and author interviews on the first Friday of every month, starting in July. It's been a lot of fun interviewing people and getting to know other writers and the way they work and their successes and struggles. I hope everyone enjoys reading the interviews every month.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Self-Publishing Process

After my post on my writing process, someone mentioned doing one for the publishing process. Since everything is fairly fresh in my mind, I'm doing that post today!

First, this is a post on the self-publishing process! I have zero idea on how traditional publishing works as I'm a control freak and never planned on going that route.

Some of this may be repeated from the writing post and this is simply the way I went about publishing, not the only way to do so.

Are you ready?

This is a question we ask ourselves as writers all the time. Am I ready? Is my book ready? You only get one shot at first impression. There's no redo's and though you can technically put out a new edition, for the most part, what you put out is what there'll be.

I believe there will always be something that you could change. A word change her, a rephrase there. If we look too hard and worry too much, we'll never "be ready".

So are you ready means, have you put together a product that you accept may have small things that could be improved if you keep staring at it long enough, but on the whole is a polished, picked over, well-written story. Are you ready to accept that yes, maybe you used dapper when suave would work better, but you're okay with that. Are you ready to face the world?

When I came close to this step, I started multi-tasking to get everything I needed together.

Needed

- Formatting
- Cover(this is your first impression to the world, don't scrimp on doing this right)
- ISBN
- Printing site
- Distribution
- Fine print

I'd also recommend you have your platform set up by this point. That could be, but is not limited to, Facebook page/profile, Twitter, Blog, Goodreads author page, Website, Youtube channel, Pinterest, Google+, Snapchat, Tumblr, etc.

These not only get your product out there, but YOU. With so many books out there, the best way to advertise is to "sell" yourself. What makes you special? What's unique about you? Be yourself, let people get to know you, take an interest in others.

You'll also want to have your acknowledgments, author bio, dedication, and back cover blurb ready.

Formatting!

You have two options when it comes to formatting: teach yourself or have someone else do it. If you're planning on publishing on a frequent basis, teaching yourself may be the best route. Luckily, most rates on formatting are reasonable, depending on what you want.

  • Do you want anything special? This could be drop caps(regular and more ornate), unique scene breaks(graphic dividers), illustrations, or chapter headers. 
    • When thinking about the above things, you'll probably factor in price and the ability of your formatter(don't know if that's a word). Another thing to consider is your audience. What does your audience expect from your genre? Make sure the font and any special touches will appeal to your readers.

    •  Don't underestimate what personalizing your book can do. Eye appeal is key. Illustrations will probably have to be created by someone other than the person formatting, whereas you can find a lot of other creative touches for free or easily make your own.


    • I used regular drop caps and a snowflake graphic divider. I'm hoping to use chapter headers and a more ornate graphic divider for book 2 in addition to the drop caps.

  • What formats do you plan on having your book in? Paperback will be different from ebook and (hold onto your hat) There are multiple formats depending on where you're selling. You'll want to make sure the person you have format can do all the versions you want, keeping in mind they'll most likely charge you for each one. My husband taught himself formatting and did both paperback and an ebook version(he had a lot to say about formatting the latter!).
Cover

You may be dreading this step, or eager for it. The first thing people see is the cover, and a cover DOES matter. People will judge a book by it. So don't let this golden opportunity pass. 

Now you might be thinking first about price, and then, oh my gosh, what do I want?

And those are important, but the hardest part is finding a cover artist. Not because there's a lack of the, but because there are so many it's like going into an animal shelter and trying to pick out just one cat(try it, I dare you. You'll end up with two.)

That one is cute, and that one looks so lonely, and hey that fluffball over there is just screaming "Give me some love!"

Take your time, start the search for an artist early. Once you find someone who's style matches what you like, and who's prices are in your range, send them a concise description of what you want. Use images that show what you're going for on a certain aspect, be detailed as you can. When you get the first version, don't be afraid to send back suggestions for tweaking. (over, and over, and over). It's your cover! Make sure it's what you want! Ask some readers, friends, writers, etc. what they think. It's amazing what other people will notice.

I personally got lucky with my cover. (see if you can follow this) One of my husband's coworker's has a wife who is a SAHM as well. She took design classes in college and was happy for a project utilizing those skills. I went back and forth with her with changes, and I'm really happy with the result.

The last thing to keep in mind when looking for a cover artist is, what do they include? Some artists only create a picture and it is up to you to add font, a back cover, resize it to fit a book, etc. 
And then there are people that do(or don't do) any combination of the above. So make sure you know what you're getting, or not getting, and if you'll need to do part of the cover yourself or hire someone to finish the work.

Also make sure you read the fine print. Some artists allow more author input then others, some I found(because I did look around in the process of helping a friend) insinuated they wanted very little author input, and then there are some that only allow you use of the image if you remain below x number of sales, any more and they'll want you to renegotiate your terms. So please, please, please, read everything.

ISBN's

ISBN's can be a bit overwhelming, not because they're hard to find or need customization, but rather what do you need exactly and what is the most cost effective.

This is for US authors, I have no idea what the similarities or differences are for those outside of the US.

If you want a paper copy of your book, you'll need an ISBN. Technically an ebook doesn't need an ISBN, but you may choose to provide one. You need an ISBN for every edition of a book. This includes ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook, etc. 

You can buy a single ISBN, but if you're ever planning on releasing more than one book or have more than one edition, I wouldn't recommend it. One ISBN is between $100-125, whereas 10 fall in the $250 range. Is that a lot of money? Yes! At least it is to me. But, if you think about it . . . 10 makes way more sense.

http://www.isbn.org/buy_isbns

You can also buy barcodes for an increased price, or you can pay someone to make them for you(probably at a cheaper rate). I have no idea how that is done, all I know is that's what my husband did.

Printing

Who's going to print your book? Three things come into play with this: quality, price, and type. Hands down Createspace has been the best POD company I've seen. I like the quality of their product and their prices are the lowest of the major POD sites. The only downfall is they do not offer hardcover.

Since most book sales are ebook anyway, the lack of a hardcover option didn't discourage me. I'd like to personally have a hardcover, but I can always do a 1 time copy through another site if I so wished.

Through Createspace you can choose all sorts of customization for your book, order in any amount, and link to Amazon so that you don't have to buy, store, and ship the books yourself. You can also have people buy your book through the Createspace estore. Of course, most people prefer to buy on Amazon since they're familiar with it and have accounts already made, but if you at least offer people the option, it can benefit you.

How? Createspace does not take nearly as large of a cut of your money as Amazon. As an example, if people bought my book through the estore, I'd make over $2.50 more per sale. In author world, that's a huge difference.

I didn't really capitalize on that option, as I'm still learning, but next time around, I'll definitely promote the Createspace estore route.

I haven't worked with these next two sites, but they are other possibilities for authors. https://www.lulu.com/ has the second lowest rates on paperbacks(approx. 40 cents more a book for me) and they do offer hardcover, though I have no idea how I'd make money on it(close to $20 cost to make, so I'd have to price significantly higher to make money after Amazon's cut). https://www.lightningsource.com/print_to_order.aspx is one of the sites that prints high-quality hardcovers. I've seen them recommended, but haven't dug too much into them.

And of course you can by straight from Createspace as the author and use the books in giveaways, donations, or even selling from a booth or something.

Distrbution

This is where you decide what sites and other places will be selling your book. Some popular ones are: KDP on AmazonBookBabyNookKobo, and Smashwords.

Read the terms of working with each one, weigh the pros and cons. So far I've only used KDP(in part to their terms where I can't use any other avenue for the first 3 months).

Fine Print

That garbledy gook at the beginning of the book that no one reads? You need that! This is broke down into disclaimer, credit, and information. For the most part you can simply copy+paste a template into your manuscript and change the information to apply to your book.

Some great examples of all three of those things can be found here: Credit/Disclaimers and Page samples. Both are advertised as free to use.

Now that you have all of those things set, we move onto the P's of the publishing process.
That is: Price, Publisher, Proof, Preorder, and Promoting.

Price

I didn't mention price in my initial list because until you know where you're printing and distributing from, you won't be able to think much about price.

With price you want to factor in a few things: How long is your book? What is the going rate for that genre? Is this your debut novel? How large is your fanbase if you're an established author? What does it cost you to print? How much of a cut does your distribution site take? Fortunately, there's a lot of calculators along the way that'll help you figure out what you'll make after print cost and distribution cut. The other things it's up to you to try and make the best guess.

At the end of the day, you probably won't feel like you're making enough and that's just the hard truth. Whenever we create something, we put more value in it than anyone else. You may have poured years, hundreds or thousands of dollars into this, but a reader doesn't see it that way. I can say this as a reader. There are so many books out there, that in the beginning you're going to have to go the extra mile to convince people your book is worth the time and money.

Don't sell yourself short, but also realize that chances are you're not going to strike it rich(especially on the first book).

Publisher

But I'm self-published! you say. Ah, but that makes YOU a publisher as well as a writer. There's a few ways to handle this, the easiest being that you just slap Createspace or Smashwords(or whatever avenue you use) on the book as the publisher and that's all there is to that.

I've seen lots of authors do that, so it's not uncommon.

The other route is to start your own company. This isn't just making up a fake name to replace Createspace with. It's creating a company name and then registering that company(for a fee) with the county or state.

A LLC takes a little more work, and costs more, but it means that if you get sued, only your company will be sued and not you personally.

The other option with starting your own company is to get a sole proprietorship, which you do at your local county building.

You can learn more about the differences between the two here.

I chose to get the sole proprietorship, because right now that's what works best for me. I did that as opposed to letting my printer be listed as such for a few reasons.

  1. My husband and I have done most of the work on this book between writing it and putting everything together. I see no reason to give my printer the credit as my publisher when all they're doing is printing a book that we formatted, and chose all the options for.
  2. If I've put this much work into creating a book, I want to continue to do my best and I personally feel it'd be lazy for me to just take the easy path here at the end.
  3. I hope that by creating my own company, it'll show readers I care enough to go through the process of setting one up rather than just using my printer.
In short, I don't want to give undue credit to anyone, and I think it looks more professional to have a my own company.

If you do make your own company, you'll want to design, or hire someone to design, a logo for the company.

Proof, Preorder, and Promoting

If you've decided to offer a paper copy, make sure you order at least one proof to go through and check for errors. Is the cover centered? Is everything the right font/size inside? Did anything get omitted somehow? Is the formatting correct?

When I went through my proof I found a few extra spaces, but I also realized that I used two different fonts for one of my characters handwriting, and my drop caps had somehow come in three different sizes. All things I was glad to address before I published.

Setting up preorder is optional. A lot of people like preorder, and a lot of people won't use it. The downside to preorder is that most of the time by the time you decide and set it up, your novel is finished and you're extending the publish date just to allow preorder. The upside is that on the release date, assuming you have orders, you'll have a bunch of sales all at once and it can boost your ranking.

I found preorder to be a bit of a pain. You have to schedule out the ebook and paper copy separately and we had some difficulties with the paper copy. Long story short, the paper copy was released early and we ended up having two different release dates.

Also, as a debut author, I don't have a large enough fanbase to make enough preorder sales so that it'd make a significant effect on my ranking.

Lastly, I had to wait, and that drove me crazy! Everything was ready to go and there I was . . . twiddling my thumbs.

Next is promotion and I'm still in the phase of learning about marketing in general, but for pre-publish promotion I did a Thunderclap and promotional photos/quotes from my book. I won't be using Thunderclap again. From listening to other authors, I had a feeling it wasn't a useful tool, but since it's free I wanted to try it. One day if I figure out what I'm doing, I'll write a marketing post and go into more detail on it.

The promo photos, I have no idea how much they helped, but they were fun and unique, so I'd do them again.

Release

When everything is finally together, you get to choose the magic date! Depending on if you do preorder, who you're printing through, etc. How you handle when you release is up to you. Sometimes paper copies take longer to be verified than ebooks.

You will want to choose BISAC subject codes for your book. This is basically 1 or 2 categories your book can fall under. The more detailed you get, the better. If Amazon(or whoever) lists them wrong, you'll have to email them directly to get them changed. My book is currently listed as a children's novel! We're hoping to get that fixed this week.

Here's an example of what a category might look like: Books : Science Fiction & Fantasy : Fantasy : New Adult & College

And that, to the best of my ability, is the key elements to self-publishing. A lot of it is learning as you go, and I'm sure there's details I missed or didn't explain well enough, but hopefully this will give you an idea of where to start and what self-pubbing entails.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Debut Novel: Heart of the Winterland

It's finally here! The day I never thought would come! I'm excited to share with you all that today my book, "Heart of the Winterland", is released! It's been a long journey that spans about 2 years from start to finish, but I made it. I've been wanting to write and publish a book ever since I was little, and now I finally have.

Heart of the Winterland is a clean, adult fantasy that has a fairytale vibe to it. The story starts with Princess Calisandra who's lived her entire life in the forgotten kingdom of Trabor--a place covered in a never-ending winter.


Princess Cali doesn't know what changed on the morning of her 200th birthday, but the sudden flood of emotions and curiosity leads her to drag her magical orb guardian, Voice, on a journey that quickly spins out of their control.

They bump into the sarcastic and abrasive Angel, who's fleeing from Duke Bludgaard who rules over the land of Shayal. Determined to recapture Angel, the duke sends the captain of his guard, Kota, on the hunt.


As they race across the country to escape the ruthless captain, Voice begins to weave the tale of Trabor's history from the point of view of Amee, a foreign child whose life is full of misfortune.

Heart of the Winterland is a tale of loss, betrayal, love, friendship, and striving to reach your full potential.

You can read more about Winterland at my website or buy it today on Amazon! Available in paperback and ebook!

And thank you to everyone who supported me along the way: My critique group for picking apart the manuscript over and over, fellow bloggers for interviewing me and announcing Winterland's arrival, my mom and husband for encouraging me to keep going, and my friends who cheered me on. Also special thanks to Corinne Morier for being the kid in the backseat going "Are we there yet?"

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Writing Process

Everyone's got a different writing process and there's no one size fits all. Since I've recently finished up my novel, I decided to share my process and what I found works for me. I'll also share what I'll do differently in the future as well as what parts I would recommend other writers try.

To start out, I am a pantser(someone who makes up a story as the go). I have about three lines of what I want a story to be about and start from there. There is zero planning that goes into writing and I've found that's the best way for me. A plan leaves me frustrated and I end up giving up on the story that I plot.

The downfall of being a pantser is I don't know where the story is going and I'm discovering my characters and my plot as I go along. Fortunately, I seem to have a talent for inventing. Not in creating a perfectly clean rough draft, or even close to one, but that I can get most of my main plot elements in a line in such a way that I haven't needed to do any major reconstruction or rewrite an entire story. (Feel like I'm tooting my own horn, but that's not my intent. I've had several writers tell me they can't believe I pants my first draft because of how cohesive the story line is.)

Step 1: Think of story concept

My example is what I used for "Heart of the Winterland".

"I want a princess to be in a kingdom of snow and have an invisible voice that keeps her company. They should go on a journey. And meet lots of people."

Yes, that basic. Obviously that's not a story, but that's the concept level I work with when starting.

Step 2: Write!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I like typing out my stories as I type much faster than I write and it saves me from having to convert everything over to the computer anyway.

I'm a slow writer as I have three kids, a husband, a house, cats, etc. But more than that I do a lot of thinking while I write. I don't even map out what a chapter will accomplish, but I think hard on what I'm currently writing so as to get a solid base.

Step 3: Post!

With "Winterland" I posted each chapter as soon as I finished to Scribophile. So step 1 and 2 were happening at the same time.

There's pros and cons with this method(in my case).

Pros

  • Feedback while I was still building the story. 
    • If helpful this allowed me to figure out what "large" problems I had that required attention before building more story on top of them. It's like building a house. It's good to know that the foundation is good before you start building on it. 

    • It encouraged me that someone was out there who was interested in what I was putting together.

    • Sometimes a comment from a critter, or a discussion that'd ensue from a crit, would inspire me and give me an idea for what I wanted to do (in that chapter or in the future). 

  • Critiques to go through by the time I finished a draft.
    • This was a time saving perk. I could finish up my first draft and have feedback that I could go through right away on a second draft. No waiting for the feedback to come in!

  • Able to gradually build up "resources".
    • Scrib is based on a karma system(you have to crit to post, and then you have to network to get crits). So you could just get random people critting your work without networking, but since you have to crit to get karma to post anyway, it makes sense to build connections with people who'll be in it for the long haul. In posting each chapter as I wrote it, I only needed 5 karma a time vs. posting all at once and needing 5 karma x however many chapters. 

Cons
  • The time gap. 
    • This is something that effects most "as you go" novel posters. For those who write faster it's less of a problem. To put it easily. Readers read at varying rates, but in general we move at a faster pace than critters. It takes more time to dissect a story, pick out what could be improved on, and make a note of it in a clear and understandable fashion, than it does to just read. This leads to longer length of time between chapter reads and overall it takes longer to get through a novel. When I was only posting one chapter at a time, a critter couldn't read faster than I was posting, increasing that time gap. As a consequence there are some obvious things that get missed because the reader can't remember as vividly what happened before.

    • For good or ill, there's always a turnover rate to deal with. It's possible that by the time I get to the end, people who may have planned on sticking with the whole novel are now busy with other things or no longer active.

  • The edit itch.
    • This is where I would get a crit and GAH!! A typo! SERIOUSLY, how did I miss that? And then I have to go fix it. And typos are easy. Sometimes it'd be something just as irksome, but would require more time to fix. Basically if I had crits sitting there with edits I knew for sure I wanted to utilize, it would bug me and bug me until I had to revise. Overall, this makes for a slower pace in getting out the first draft.

  • Crit buildup.
    • People like to start at the beginning of a story, and for the most part that's where I like them to start. Starting at the beginning allows people to comment on all aspects of a story. The problem comes when people don't get farther than a chapter (or a few chapters). This could arise from lack of interest to life got busy and they're no longer around. But what DID happen was as I was looking for long term crit partners and we'd "do a test run of one crit or two" I was getting an absurd number of crits on my first few chapters.
                    This is not an inherently bad thing, but it made it so that 1. I had to keep editing my first                       3 chapters or all of those crits would've been on my first draft and just been rehashing old                     things instead of commenting on new things, and 2. I was getting crits even when I was                       ready to end the "outside input" stage because I wanted readers on later chapters and they                     had to start at the beginning.

                    I had over 30 chapters on my prologue, another 30+ on my first chapter, and around 25                         on my second chapter. That's a LOT of feedback and I found it to be overwhelming.


Step 4: Revise/edit.

I did a jump edit method to start. This is where I'd go back and edit chapters while I was writing future ones. By the time I got to the end of my first draft, my first 20 chapters had been revised at least once and the first 10 had been revised multiple times. My prologue had been completely rewritten, my first two chapters revised so heavily they might as well have been rewritten.

I liked that I was further ahead in terms of polishing than I'd have been if I'd just finished my first draft without going back and editing. Around chapter 20 I'd decided to push for the end and didn't do any more editing. Even the typos got a free pass for the time being.

After I finished, I continued to do crit swaps with people to get more feedback throughout the "outside input" stage.

My first "official" revision I applied what I wanted from crits and my own edits. I realized I needed an extra chapter, and went back and added a chapter and moved things around to make it fit.

From that point I'd have revisions where I'd start at the beginning and go all the way through, and revisions where I was only taking a poke at one chapter.

Step 5: The heavy work

Here a bunch of things happened. I went through my manuscript again. At the same time I sent it out to a few beta readers. I also purchased my ISBN's, got my blurb, my cover, and my website set-up. My husband did a lot of that(cover, website, ISBN's). Once I had my full revision done as well as the notes from my betas, I sent the manuscript to an editor to be looked over for any grammatical/formatting errors. I then applied those edits once I the editor finished. At the end of this, I purchased three proofs to go over one last time.
 
Step 5: Proofreading:


I gave two of the proofs to people to go over and look for any errors, and the last one I went over myself. This was by far my favorite stage. I was pretty burnt out by this point, but the end felt close at last. Here's how I went about this stage and what I'd do next time.


  • I started out using a little yellow hi-liter to mark sections that needed attention and then wrote down the page number in a notebook and a note about what I wanted to change. This took some time as I had to mark inline, then take notes as well, but it saved me from having to remember what it was I wanted to do. (as you can see there's a lot of marking, but it doesn't show up very well and if the lighting was poor that day, it was nearly impossible to see.)
  • My hi-liter died so I went out and bought a multi-colored pack and assigned a color to different edits. 
    • Yellow was substitute this section with _____(whatever I wrote for that page in my notebook)
    • Green was put between paragraphs or words and meant "add word(s)". Again, whatever was to be added was in my notebook.
    • Pink was for formatting errors.
    • Purple was delete. 




Next time I'd use the colored ones for the entire proof. This improved both this stage and the next one for several reasons.

  • The colors(yellow included) were much easier to see.
  • I had to take less handwritten notes as pink and purple didn't require explanation.
  •  When I applied the edits at the next stage, I didn't have to reference my notes as often since only the green and yellow sections needed written details.
  • The green was normally just used as a line between words, and that stood out more than the yellow.
The proofreading started out slow as I was trying to fit it in wherever I could. I finally decided enough was enough and put my foot down. I gave myself a goal of 20 pages a day. The first week and a half I failed at that, partially because I went on vacation during part of that time. But when I got back I put everything(except the kids) on hold. Cleaning, laundry, dishes, sewing, critting, socializing, you name it, I let it languish. 

The result was I started overshooting my page goal and wrapped everything up nice and quick.

Step 6: Applying the final edits:

Still on a high from the pace I'd set in step 5, I continued to put everything else on standby while I took all of my edits and applied them to my manuscript. I'm a very unorganized writer, so I don't have numbers and timeframes for most of this stuff, but I think this stage took me 5 days. 

The beginning where I had just the faint yellow marker went slower, but as suspected, the brighter variety of colors enabled me to move quicker.

Finishing up with that, I took the few comments I had from the readers of the other two proofs and applied what I wanted from those as well. That took me a day.

Step 7: Finalizing:

The moment where you have to let your baby fly. That's what this step really feels like. I had the story, the cover, ISBN, blurb, website, everything was formatted and submitted to Createspace for printing. 

We set up our business(publishing company) with the state and formatted everything for ebook. 
 
Everything was done, and it was time to say no more editing, no more tweaking, because editing can easily suck you into a never-ending cycle. I had to mentally walk myself through the idea that not everyone will love my book, not everyone will even like it. There'll be people that downright hate it. I'll probably have something I missed, something I could've done better. There'll be highs and lows, positives and negatives. At the end of the day, I can't please anyone. Even the best books out there(not matter what you think those are) have people that didn't enjoy them. 

Step 8: Promo/Preorder:


Preordering isn't a requirement. You can very well just publish when you're done. I chose to go the pre-order route because I had been working(in an author sense) hard lately and needed a bit of down time to both catch my breath and start on a giant learning curve for all that comes after.

Preorder was set up, and my husband made a few promos for me. I've been releasing those every few days to try and get people interested. I've also been trying to get more actively involved in various social media platforms. There's been a couple of blog tours I'll be part of as well.

Step 9: Release:

This is the moment! So I haven't got here yet, but this will be when my book is released and that's pretty much all there is to that. There'll be a step 10 of course where I'm learning marketing and networking aspects, but as I have just started on the bulk of that journey, I'm not going to do a detailed step for that as I don't really have any advice or details.


The entire process took me about 2 1/2 years. I don't have numbers or exact time frames for each step, as I said, I'm not that organized in my writing.

----
What parts of this would I recommend?

1.) Feedback in the form of critiques. Depending on each writer, when you get this feedback is different. Some do better with early feedback, and some prefer it after they've fixed all the things they can see. I've been using Scrib for close to 2 years now and I would recommend that as a critique site.

2.) It's your story, so don't be afraid to be picky about who you work with. I've found that there's a lot of people who believe you should except critiques from anyone and everyone and that being selective is "evil"(okay, evil's not the write word, but it sounded better than some of the stuff that gets slung around).

I'm sure some will disagree, but I say find people who understand your style, whose feedback you respect, who you can trust are helping and not just in it to get something, and it helps you not get overwhelmed with opinions.

A good critic will do their best, learn your style as they read and not impose their own, be honest without being condescending, and be someone who you think "I've seen this person's writing and/or critiques to others and I trust their advice".

3.) Know your story. If something doesn't jump out as you as "yes, this does need changed", then let it rest for awhile. Don't change something unless you either know that it's an error(Ex. you said blue earlier and forgot and now it's red. Or a typo/grammatical error.) or immediately you think, oh my gosh, they're right *lightbulb*.

4.) Get a paper proof even if you only plan on selling ebooks. I cannot stress enough how important I think this is. There is something about holding a physical copy of your book instead of staring at a screen where I just caught a lot more things. Next time I'll do a paper copy earlier as well as one near the end. DO THIS!!! :D

What part of your writing process have you found to be the most beneficial? Which part would you do differently next time?





Friday, June 3, 2016

Attacking the list

It's been a long month for me. I know, I know, I have long months all the time. BUT, I mean I had a long(busy) month in terms of writing! Ah-ha, that's new!

Originally I wanted to publish "Heart of the Winterland" in the spring, but I realized that just wasn't going to happen. It wasn't ready and I would rather wait than publish before I was done.

I started working through my proof for my final editing pass and it was just taking SO freaking long. I would have days where I didn't even pick the book up. It finally got to the point where I was like, "I need to reevaluate my time usage."

Time is a fixed object. You can't "make" more of it. I needed to shuffle what I was spending my time on. Normally I take some time away from sleep at night to work. But my daughter one day without and gradual shift decided she was done sleeping with mommy and daddy. For 6 months that child has insisted on being cuddled for every nap and bedtime. Suddenly that wasn't what she wanted. I needed to find a new way to get her to sleep for all of our sakes!

The end result was her sleeping in the nursery. She's all grown up!

I struggle at the "moving out" stage. For x amount of months that little bundle of cuteness has been with me for most of the time. There's something comforting about having them next to you so you can reach out and make sure they're okay. Not to mention baby cuddles are the best!

Postpartum is luckily something I don't struggle with, but I definitely get an idea of what that must feel like. It's silly, I know it's silly. She still depends on me for pretty much everything. But for whatever reason, the moving to the crib stage is the hardest. You can't reclaim that. You never get those baby cuddles again once they're gone, at least not with that kid.

My husband on the other hand was ecstatic over the move. No more "Elaina gets half the bed" and no more Elaina feet in the back. I have to admit, she was getting pretty restless at nights and there was a good bit of flailing and kicking that was going on. Not to mention, yes, she did get most of the bed. 

The move did not result in more sleep for mommy. So don't even think that's the case! Elaina wakes up at midnight, 2am, and between 4 and 5am every night. And then usually one of the three kids is up between 6-8am. I haven't been able to get a decent, unbroken sleep session in . . . forever. The lack of deep sleep has left me exhausted.

Anyway, back to the point, I decided to put almost everything on hold so I could focus on getting through my proof and marking edits, then applying those edits.

I struggle to stay motivated on a single thing. I like to multi-task. But I was determined and I just kept telling myself to push!




I finally finished! We had no clean towels in the house and my son was on his last pair of clean clothes, but I finished. The house is a mess, but I finished. I became a social recluse, but I finished. I haven't done anything recreational in ages, BUT I FINISHED!!!
I haven't fully had a chance to celebrate. My last few pages were like this: edit spot, "Mommy! Read to me!", "Not right now.", edit, "Mommy! Look! Lego tower!", "that's nice hunny. Mommy has to finish this.", edit, "Mommy! Gookie's yucky!", *buries face in pillow and screams*, "I just have 5 more pages!!!!!"

So as soon as I finished, I took the kids to the library as promised and after that we met my husband for pizza. Even this post is getting done in pieces. 

While I do feel a since of relief, my mind was already turning to my long list of things that I'd put off to get my manuscript complete. I have a small window of time between now and publish date(my husband is finishing up the technical stuff), and then I'll have to tackle marketing.

The question is, with that in mind, what to do first? I woke up this morning and felt like an army commander suiting up and getting ready to attack my list.


Really I'm looking to accomplish both the fun and not so fun stuff that I've been missing. The kids and I got most of the upstairs cleaned and vacuumed this morning. Cheyenne's room is the only one left. I've also been running the dishwasher, washer, and dryer nonstop all day. That means there'll be a mountain of laundry to fold later. 

I have to sort out all of the kids long sleeves and pants now that warm weather is here. My husband has several projects he's working on and one is tilling the garden, so once that is done I'll have planting to do. 

And then there's the fun things. I picked up some of my reading challenge books yesterday and I'm so excited to actually be reading! (including Winterland I've only read two books this year) I also have a list of sewing projects that need completed. Now the Elaina is in the nursery, some of those have jumped up from "not now" to "now". Crib bumpers being the big one as we've had to free the poor kids legs a few times.

I'm hoping to be sharing my editing process next week and what my method was and what I found worked well.

Does anyone else have a long list of to-do things now that summer is here?