End of the Year Thoughts

It has been…a year.  Its totally cliche to say this has been a year of highs and lows, but it seriously has.  It’s been a year of reflection for me – realizing that what doesn’t kill me really DOES make me stronger.  And that things happen for a reason.  Its been a big year for balance for me – there were bad and good things that have happened, but all in all the good and the bad have equaled out.

Hmm.  I wonder how many cliched sayings I can fit into one blog post.

Without going into details, this was a year that my professional life took another step forward — my fantastic agent sold my first two novels — while my personal life kinda cracked apart.  I spent a good portion of the year writing, then rewriting, then rewriting some more, a novel that still needs some room to breathe before its considered ‘done.’  I wrote a good chunk of the intro to my contracted book two, and then set that aside while I was waiting for the book to sell.  And then just recently I picked up a new idea just to wriet “something” and found a whole lot of voice that I wasn’t expecting.

Truth be told, my life is nowhere near where I thought it would be at this time last year.  This time last year, I was still adjusting to living by myself again, struggling with the day job, fingers crossed about my novel, etc etc etc.  I lost some friends, and gained a whole lot of new ones.  Now my novels are sold, the day job is no more, and I’ve spent most of the last month getting closer to my family.

I did some goals for last year and posted them on my blog, but the only one I really managed to accomplish (I think) was to quit smoking.  Which I did back in March.

Total words written in 2009:  About 150K.

Total finished projects: *sigh*  0

New friends made: tons.

And then my writing goals for 2010:

  • Complete edits on WITCH EYES for editor Brian.
  • Finish draft of SPIRIT GAMES and send to agent.
  • Outline sequel to SPIRIT GAMES that’s already mostly written.
  • Send 50 page sample of MOONSET (current plaything) to agent.
  • Finish writing MOONSET.
  • Once edits are done, finish writing sequel to WITCH EYES.

So my goals for 2010 are basically to finish writing 3 books, all in various stages of completion.  I’m thinking I might do a monthly check-in or something, just to see how far I’ve gotten over the course of the year.

Right now at the end of the year, we’re looking at:

MOONSET:

10615 / 80000 words. 13% done!

SPIRIT GAMES: (needs a new intro, and a new climax and ending)

59765 / 70000 words. 85% done!

DEMON EYES (WITCH EYES sequel):

22097 / 90000 words. 25% done!

At least the bones are right?

I use the strangest comparisons when I try to explain why I think the revisions to Spirit Games are so intensive.  The other day, I said “well, all the bones are in the right place.  It’s like Frankenstein’s monster.  The bones are right, but all the meat and potatoes need to be replaced.”  I wasn’t sure if I was comparing myself to a mad scientist or a cannibal planning People Stew.

Essentially though, that’s where my problem’s lied.  I had to step back and reconsider how my the rules of my supernatural world worked, and how they’d impact the characters.  Oh, and there was the TEENSY detail of how I was setting up the wrong person to be the Big Bad.  I mean, it happens.

When I was drafting and revising, I got so caught up with the characters and how they’d react to certain stimuli, that I completely forgot about things like setting and plot.  So what if chapter 13 totally contradicts what I said in chapter 2.  I’ll fix it in revisions.  It’s great that I knew my characters inside and out (hint – the insides are squishy) but I forgot about how everything was working together.

I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be doing that again.  Next book that’s not already outlined will spend some time in percolation, and I’ll really try and look it all over to see where the problems lie.  Because this has NOT been fun. 😉

In other news, a bunch of writers have sworn off Twitter for the week.  November 1st through the 7th.  And I didn’t realize how much I actually missed Twitter once I wasn’t tweeting all the time.  Its an easy distraction, a way to fill in time between things on the agenda, or as an escape once a certain amount of work’s gotten done.  So for a week I’m not going to have that, and we’re going to see how much work I get done.

Good luck to everyone else who’s going on the Twitter sabbatical this week!

What I’m Up To

I keep meaning to work up a real blog post, but despite all the best intentions, I haven’t actually finished one just yet.  But at some point in the near future, I’ll do a whole post on Creating Your Own Fake Town.

And there will be pictures.  I can’t promise there will be spider monkeys, but there will definitely be pictures.

For the moment, I’m really just focusing on getting Spirit Games as close to done as I can.  I set myself a deadline of Halloween – but major changes to the first half of the book really have required a lot of work.  The last ten days alone have been spent on the same twenty percent of the whole thing.  The bright side, though, is that a lot of the issues I was having with the story (being too dense on backstory and confusing) have been alleviated in all the right ways.  The fact that I have my own personal cheerleader (hi Tiffany!) has helped tremendously.

This is, officially, the last time I write a book without a road map.  Had I had a road map, I probably wouldn’t have wasted so much time writing the WRONG stuff, and instead had a halfway decent, maybe not GREAT story.  Writing the WRONG stuff, though, requires quite a bit of work in rewriting, cleaning, polishing, taking apart, reassembling, repolishing, squinting, sighing, and grumbling.  Not necessarily in that order.

After that, my wish list is pretty simple.

  • Finish Witch Eyes sequel (almost one quarter complete)
  • Outline possible Spirit Games sequel
  • Witch Eyes edits (whenever they come in, they go to the top of the list)
  • Send Spirit Games out to betas and then to agent.
  • Deep breath.

I’ve been kindof smart, and whenever I’ve had an Idea for something that could have book-merit, I’ve taken the time to flesh it out enough that I can go back later, and have a good sense of where I was going with all that.  I have a confrontation scene on one project, and a whole outline/concept for another.  I’m not planning on working on anything new until after I get my wish list completed, but stranger things have happened.  Maybe I’ll just keep adding to the list.

Goals Updated

1) Lose another 15 pounds. I lost almost 30 last year, between June and October. So I surpassed my goal by 5 pounds. So my goal for this year is to clock out on New Year’s Eve at a leaner 200 lbs.  Not so much.  At least not yet – I was making good progress there for a minute.  

2) Finish a solid first draft for Demon Eyes – book two of Braden’s misadventures as the lost Charmed sister. 😉  I’ve got a chunk of the book written.  I’m letting it sit while I work on other things.  

3) Pick one of the six stand alone ideas and finish that book (probably in the second half of the year). I’ll sit and stew on them while telling Braden’s story to figure out which one I want to work on next. Just to have something to do. I was a huge slacker with writing this year, and I really need to gear up and get my butt in gear.  Currently working on this.  Been outlining the worldbuilding elements of this story, and getting all my ducks in a row.  

4) Finish getting myself out of debt. About halfway there, but still got a ways to go.

5) Get a new computer – one that’s not going to start crapping out on me as soon as I get it.

6) Quit smoking.  Accomplished.

7) Keep making more of an effort to blog and keep in touch with other authors. That networking thing, baby.  Uhm, I Twitter?  I’ve been terrible about the blogging.  I try to only blog when I’ve got something going on, or something to say.  But I Twitter everything.  

I’ll Seek You Out….Flay You Alive

Sunday was one of the longest days ever.  I worked a ten hour serving shift, and had approximately 60-80 tables over the course of the day.   It was good money, don’t get me wrong, but it was just SUCH a long day.  Crazy.

Today’s going to be another long day, I’ve got to go in at 2.  So I’ve been trying to get some stuff done around the apartment, and make time for writing at the same time.  Coming back to Braden’s story has been a lot of fun, and seeing him fall into some of the same traps as the first book makes me enormously gleeful.

I’ve got another idea for a Dealing with post that I just need to find the time to work on.  It’s pretty timely too, all things considered.  There’s been some stuff in the works that I feel weird talking about, so I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut rather than jinx it.  

On the New Years goals, the only thing I’ve made any real progress on has been the work on Demon Eyes.  I realized a better way to intro the book, so I moved Chapter 1 back to Chapter 2, and then started writing the new introduction.  Sadly, the original Chapter 2 now has to go, as it doesn’t work.  So that’s about 3,000 words to start my Snippets file.

Usually, when I write, I start a folder and a rough draft copy.  Then, when I start cutting, I start a snippets file in case I need anything that’s already gotten cut out of the book.  I’ve still got a really great Braden/Catherine scene that didn’t make it into the first book that I’m holding on to.  Then, every time I start revising, I save a new copy of the file.  With WE, I ended up with about 40 different files on my laptop.  Luckily, I’ve only got 2 files for the sequel right now.  But I’m going to work on my naming conventions this time around.

For example, when I’m done?  The file gets saved as "Title Final".  But what if there are more edits.  "Title New Final."  "Title The Really Final Final"  "Title FINAL" (all in caps makes a difference).  "Title Final Final."   So yeah, when I was looking for a copy to send out a few months ago, I realized it was the wrong copy.  And I have a feeling that last minute scan for spelling errors and word errors?  Was done to a previous version of the manuscript.

Yeah, that was fun. 😉

Okay, so back to writing. 

Goals for the Year

So I figured it made some sense to post some _reasonable_ goals for the next year.  And yeah, I waited over a week so I wouldn’t suffer from the New Year’s jinx.  I tend to do that.  Create a resolution, then stop following through with it by February.

This year’s a mix of different things.

1)  Lose another 15 pounds.  I lost almost 30 last year, between June and October.  So I surpassed my goal by 5 pounds. So my goal for this year is to clock out on New Year’s Eve at a leaner 200 lbs.

2)  Finish a solid first draft for Demon Eyes – book two of Braden’s misadventures as the lost Charmed sister. 😉

3)  Pick one of the six stand alone ideas and finish that book (probably in the second half of the year).  I’ll sit and stew on them while telling Braden’s story to figure out which one I want to work on next.  Just to have something to do.  I was a huge slacker with writing this year, and I really need to gear up and get my butt in gear.

4)  Finish getting myself out of debt.  About halfway there, but still got a ways to go.  

5)  Get a new computer – one that’s not going to start crapping out on me as soon as I get it.

6)  Quit smoking.

7)  Keep making more of an effort to blog and keep in touch with other authors.  That networking thing, baby.

So yeah, that’s my list.  Some of them are more long term, and others are pretty reachable.  I’m thinking about doing a monthly update post just to keep myself on track for where I am with all of them.

Anyone else set goals for this year?