Keeping Score: July 6, 2018

1,761 words written this week.

Whew.

Really glad I went to the Writers Coffeehouse last Sunday. Between the holiday, my wife and I closing on our new house (!), and the struggles I was having with the current novel, I might not have gotten anything done this week. But the group gave me a great solution to my problem (to keep writingย as if I’d made the changes to earlier scenes that I’m planning, but without stopping to make those changes right now), and inspired me to keep pushing through.

I feel a little freer to experiment with this draft, now. Like I can try something out to make things more interesting or dramatic, without worrying that it matches up exactly to what came before. I know it’ll create a mess of a draft for me to clean up in later edits, but at least I’ll finish it. Easier to see the shape of the story once I’ve written it.

Writers Coffeehouse, July 2018

Made it back to the Writer’s Coffeehouse this month. It was a smaller crowd than usual, but that just meant we had more time to go in-depth on everyone’s questions ๐Ÿ™‚

My notes are below. Many thanks to Mysterious Galaxy for the space, and to Henry Herz for hosting!

  • publishers and writers of san diego: meet once a month in carlsbad about the business of self-publishing
  • henry: doing a triple-launch in october at mysterious galaxy
  • orange county children’s book festival is in october
  • san diego union tribune book festival is in august
  • san diego state univ writers conference is in january 2019
  • la jolla writers conference is in november
  • snowflake pro: really good software for building a book pitch
  • question: seeing problems with story in current first draft; go back and fixit now? or keep writing as-is?
    • answer: write it as if it’s fixed, but keep going; leave notes to go back and fix the earlier bits in later drafts
  • new market: future-sf.com
  • bootstrapping social media?
    • henry: when he was getting started, interviewed successful authors and posted them on his blog
    • whatever you do, try to find something that relates to writing and do that
  • a way to kick-start the conversation on social media: ask people for recommendations (taco places, procedural movies, etc)

Keeping Score: June 22, 2018

Made the new word-count goal for a second week, thank the gods: 2,478 words.

Again, most of those are short-story edits. I basically didn’t touch the current novel this week, which has turned out to be a good thing. I’ve had time to think through some of the problem areas, plot threads that weren’t quite matching up. When I do go back to working on that draft, I’ll have some revisions to make that’ll strengthen the story before I finish.

In the meantime, I’ve submitted one of the stories I revised last week. I’ve also got two more stories ready to submit after this week’s work, for a total of five.

Here’s hoping they all find good homes.

Keeping Score: June 8, 2018

Hit my word count again this week. This makes 12 weeks in a row. 12 weeks where I’ve written 1,500 words, whether I was at home, or on vacation, or sick, or hungover, or working overtime.

It’s time to up the ante.

I’m going up a page, and setting next week’s goal at 1,750 words.

It looks like a small raise, but it feels like a stretch. There’s been several weeks where I cleared 1,500 words by just a single word or two. Weeks where I had to write Saturday and Sunday to make my count.

But I’d like to do more. I’d like to start sending short stories out again. That means taking time to edit them, and upping my word count is one way to force me to do that.

I’ve also got three novels in draft form that I need to revise. If I’m going to clear that backlog, I’m going to have to knuckle down and start plowing through it.

So wish me luck! Or better yet, wish me energy and willpower. I’m going to need all three ๐Ÿ™‚

Keeping Score: May 21, 2018

Haven’t posted in a bit. We’ve been ramping up the search for a house this month, and between looking and inspecting and filling out paperwork, I haven’t had much room in my head for anything else.

I have kept up my writing, though. Having that deadline hanging over my head, and the punishment that would come with missing it, has pushed me to get things done. I’ve just made my word count every week, even if that meant writing half of them on Saturday in a mad rush to keep from missing the target.

Most of those words have been for the novel, though I’ve not dropped the short story. After getting some harsh (but accurate) feedback from a beta reader, I realized it needed a full rewrite. That’s almost complete, and I think the new version is much stronger. There may even be a novel lurking in there, in the background of that world.

Thankfully, that novel’s not too distracting…yet. What has been distracting is how my ideas for how best to write the novel keep changing, right in the middle of this first draft. I’m now curious to try my hand at writing more from a third-person omniscient point of view, which would be a complete change from the novel’s current POV. I’m also re-thinking character histories and motivations, which would be an abrupt change this far through.

I’m telling myself to write these ideas down, and come back to them later. Get the first draft done, get the story out there, and then use these ideas during the editing process, if they’re needed. Otherwise, I worry that if I keep changing course, I’ll never finish the book.

Writers Coffeehouse, May 2018

Another solid Coffeehouse. Scott Sigler returned for hosting duties, and he ran a tight ship, taking us from topic to topic while still giving everyone a chance to speak up.

Last hour or so of the Coffeehouse was just rapid-fire “what are your current issues?” questions for Scott, which he handled with honesty and poise.

Got some really good advice out of this one. Here are my notes:

invizium.com: writer trying to break into book trailers

J Dianne Dotson: BOOK OUT MAY 29th; worldwide distribution via ingram spark; book trailer is up; signing at Mysterious Galaxy in june

art vs business: are we artists or business people?

  • think in terms of ratings: numbers that are too small for big pubs are great for smaller ones
  • don’t chase trends
  • if you do what you like, consistently, you can find your audience

any place you can go where you can meet editors and agents is worth it

check twitter, #mswl, manuscript wish list, agents and editors tweet what they’re looking for

when is it ok to promote? don’t be afraid to ask, but be polite

polite persistence is the cornerstone of becoming a published author with a publishing house

how to follow up with editor or agent you meet in person? wait a week, email them, say how you met and what you talked about, short pitch, then wait a month and email again, repeat till you hear back

editing aids? dianne really likes the hemingway app, can just put your text in there and it’ll catch sentences that are too long, stuff like that, and it’s free; best to do scene by scene, look for trends you didn’t know were there

self pubbing is now the minor leagues; if you sell 5,000 or 10,000 copies, your next query letter is much much stronger

don’t wait; if you’ve written a book and no one wants to pick it up, self-publish it and move on to the next book

for your website, social media: pick your writing name, and grab that domain now, use it everywhere

also: grab every free email account with that handle, so no one else can

scott recommends the book “save the cat”, it’s about screenwriting, but has a few chapters about pitching that applies just as well to books

don’t shut down social media as political statement; just go fallow; online real estate is just as valuable as physical real estate

beta-readers: can be good for picking up basic reader questions (plot holes, likable characters, etc), but beware when they start commenting on your style

suggestion: test out beta readers with one chapter, before sending them the whole book

you all have your own writing style, you just have to get better at it

aln: local writer’s meetup group; totally free, they pick a subject out of a hat, 30 min writing, then critique

scott’s advice: if you’re in a slump, go write some fan fiction, get the brain turning and then come back

one writer recommends: rachel arron: 2k to 10k, she rereads that book whenever she gets into a slump, good advice on structure, etc

aon timeline syncs with scrivener now; can use it as timeline app and push to scrivener

scott color-codes the index cards for scenes in scrivener by pov character, lets him easily see who needs a scene

other writer: pantser, she writes an outline after the fact, uses it to guide her second draft

if you put up trailers on youtube, watch their viewing stats to see where people fall off watching to learn what to do better on the next one

try to keep trailer to 30 seconds, minute at the most

Keeping Score: April 20, 2018

Another blow out week! Wrote 2,519 words (whew!).

Most of them were for the new novel, but, like last week, one of the writing exercises I did turned into a short story I’m going to polish and try to sell. I also did a second draft of the short story from last week, which even though it only counted for half, still added ~400 words to my total.

I didn’t think I could work on multiple pieces at once, but so far it’s not been an issue. If anything, I find I come to the novel work with a more playful attitude, a willingness to experiment, that I didn’t have before. I don’t know if that’s translating into better writing, but I’m enjoying it more, so that’s something ๐Ÿ™‚

If I can sustain this pace, and I hope I can, I’ll need to up my weekly goal again. I don’t think I’ll leap all the way up to 2,000 words, though. Going up to 1,750 should be fine.

But let’s see if I can keep up this pace for another week, first.

Keeping Score: April 13, 2018

Blew through my writing goal this week: 2,431 words written.

Not all of them were for the new novel, though. I’ve been working my way through Ursula K LeGuin’s Steering the Craft, which has a set of writing exercises for each chapter. Yesterday’s exercise was supposed to be a 200-word snippet to play with different points of view. I was having so much fun writing it, though, that it’s become an 800-word (very) short story. I’m going to polish it up, and try to sell it. So I decided to count it in this week’s word count.

Novel itself has crept up to 16,000 words. I took some time earlier in the week to do some more outlining, which has helped, and also read Jim Butcher’s great piece on Writing the Middle, which was fantastic. It made me realize I was working toward his “Big Middle” technique, so I’ve decided to embrace it, and write with that in mind.

I also have to give thanks to the writers at the San Diego Writers Coffeehouse. Seeing everyone on Sunday recharged my batteries, and made me feel that I could finish what I’ve started. I’m not alone, and that’s a very, very, very good thing.

Writers Coffeehouse, April 2018

Another great coffeehouse! Jonathan Maberry was back for hosting duties, and kicked off two lively discussions on some recent controversies in the publishing world.

Thanks again to Mysterious Galaxy for giving us the space to meet, and to Jonathan, Henry, and the other organizers!

My Notes:

henry: finds trello is a great visual way to outline a novel, can use columns for chapters, drill in for details, etc

jonathan: no one can know everything, we all need to share so together we can find solutions to our problems

free files with sample query letters, etc are up on jonathan’s website! ready for download

discussion: diversity pushes for anthologies – what’s the right approach?

discussion: can you separate the writer from the writing? ex: lovecraft

sd writers and editors guild: henry giving talk there later this month

ralan.com: maberry’s favorite website to find markets for short stories; anthologies, etc

what’s reasonable for a developmental editor to charge?

โƒ depends on hourly or per word

โƒ seen $500 to $5,000

โƒ inexpensive but professional: $0.004 per word, developmental edit

โƒ $2,000 for 90,000-word novel: about the average for developmental and line by line

developmental vs line editor: development is high-level, looking at plot and characters, shape of the story; line editor is going line by line before final print

jim butcher has a great piece online about writing the middle

jonathan: we dismiss nonfiction writing, especially in the magazine market, but we shouldn’t; there’s always knowledge we have that other people don’t posses; even basics can be good articles, because most magazines on a topic are read by nonexperts; what sells currently in magazine context is a conversational style; pro rates: $2-$7 a word; magazines starting to be hungry again

breaking in? don’t have to be a writer to sell it, have to know the subject matter; one of his students sold an article on falling (ex: how to fall from a skateboard) to multiple markets, used it to help him work through college

write first? or pitch? jonathan: never write before you sell

everyone here has something they’re an expert in, that they probably don’t value because it’s old hat to them; “i’m just a secretary” phenomenon

basics are great: how to find a good divorce lawyer (or a web developer, sysadmin, etc)

jonathan: write an outline, pitch to multiple magazines at once (120), if make multiple sales, write different versions of the article for each magazine; get back issues, read online content to learn voice and approach; don’t have to do it that way, but even if going one at a time, be ready with their next market if get rejected

pay on publication? NOPE, always go for pay on acceptance