Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Happy New Year! Part 1: look back at 2015

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Well, so the second half of December just blew right by me. We went out of town the weekend before Christmas, for an early Christmas with our son and his family in their new house, then I came home with the worst cold I’ve had in years and was basically on survival mode through Christmas and the end of the year. Finally getting better, though the gunk is going to be hanging around for a while.

The result is that it’s been more than two weeks since my last post and I haven’t been around much on TweetFace either, so this is to assure anyone who’s interested that yes, I’m still around and still working on the books. The revision of For the Wildings is progressing, slower than it might have been because I’ve committed to also writing new stuff every day, but it’s coming along. Still can’t say when it’ll be released; it’s up over 70,000 words now, by far the longest book of the series, and I’ve got several phases of editing left to go. I want to make it as good as I can, and I think (hope!) it’ll be worth the wait.

Before going on with my goals and plans for this year, I wanted to take stock of what I accomplished last year. I published 4 novels (books 2-5 of Daughter of the Wildings), wrote 1 (Heir of Tanaris), and also wrote a couple of short stories. Late in October, I recommitted to writing new words every day, and ended the year with a total word count of 85,772. Heir of Tanaris was most of that, clocking in at 80, 272, the longest novel I’ve written in quite some time (longer than any of the Daughter of the Wildings books). One of the stories I wrote (Rescue From Suburbia) is here for you to read; the other, I’m saving to be published in a collection. For the seventh year in a row, I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, finishing November with 52,844 words written on Heir of Tanaris.

As far as reading, on Goodreads I set a goal to read 25 books and ended up reading 62! Ok, some of them were stories and short novels/novellas, but others were very long. I’ve got one more mega Reading Roundup post to do for last year’s reading; lots of good books to recommend!

So that’s the look back at 2015; time to go write now. Next up: what’s coming in 2016! Some cool stuff and new directions.

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December 2015 Update: NaNo and Book 6

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Time for a look at where I’ve been and where I’m going. For NaNoWriMo in November, I wrote nearly 54,000 words of Heir of Tanaris (the book formerly knows as The Healing Tree; I love it when I finally think of a decent title!). It still isn’t finished; I’m guessing the first draft is going to end up around 80,000 words, by far the longest novel I’ve written in a while. The characters and plot continue to grow and change on me; the synopsis I’ve posted is already obsolete. I like to plan and outline my books and develop my characters ahead of time, but once I’m immersed in the story and my subconscious takes over, things can go in very different directions. I’m plugging along with finished the draft at a thousand words a day (usually more; that’s my minimum). I’m hoping to finish it by the end of December, but with Christmas bearing down quickly, that might not happen.

I’m also working on major revisions to For the Wildings, the 6th and final book of Daughter of the Wildings. It’s much longer than the other books in the series and between work on Heir and Christmas stuff, the revision isn’t going real fast, but I am making daily progress on it. Still no good idea of when it’ll be released.

And those two things are taking pretty much all of my brain power these days. I’m still reading a lot with the little that’s left, so I’ll do another reading roundup soon.

The plan for 2016: continue writing 1000 words a day on novels, short stories, writing exercises that may or may not turn into stories, whatever. I went a long time without writing anything new, and got rusty on it. Also, after the release of For the Wildings in the first part of the year, the next books on the list for release will be The Source-Fixer (still looking for a decent title for that one) and Heir of Tanaris, and also the Tales from Azara collection. I’ll probably post a few of those here for free. Beyond that, my very first novel ever and its sequel are waiting for evaluation and revision, and I’m working out ideas for a follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings and also for a sequel to Urdaisunia.

That should keep me out of trouble for a while.


November 2014 Wrap-up and Look Ahead at December

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner BadgeSo, I won NaNoWriMo (or as I like to think of it, successfully completed the challenge, since everyone who validates 50,000 words or more “wins”) for the 6th year in a row 😀 The result is the rough draft of The Source-Fixer (working title, or possibly the permanent title if I can’t think of anything better) and three accompanying short stories giving the backstory on the main characters. Like a lot of my books, this was based on yet another old unfinished story fragment I was stuck on. I decided to go a different direction with the characters, which I’ll write about another time, and, as so often happens when I take a fresh look at the characters, this is what got me un-stuck.

I also printed out my very first novel ever, Prince of the Trozdozh (another meh working title, I suck at thinking of titles) and its sequel (untitled, the one with Travarac and Kilahra). I think there’s hope for them, I started reading the sequel while I was printing it out and couldn’t stop.So the pile of manuscripts awaiting revision grows even bigger.

Also in November, Beneath the Canyons had a fantastic release. Thank you, everyone, for your support! Book 2, Bad Hunting, is now under revision.

On the A-Z reading challenge, I’m still on D (Darkmage, by M.L. Spencer). It’s very long, and I’m also dividing my reading time with The Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M. Ross, a lovely author I’ve gotten to know on Goodreads and Google+.

Bad HuntingBesides Christmas, the main focus in December will be on continuing with the revision and editing of Bad Hunting, aiming for a release hopefully in the first part of January. Between NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving, I didn’t get as far with this as I wanted to in November, so it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get it out this month. I’m writing a lot of new material for the book, filling out some things that needed to be filled out, and so far I’ve added over 5,000 words.

I’ve also started revising the fanfiction I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013. Now that the big, heavy first revision on Daughter of the Wildings is done, I have time for a side-project, and some of my fanfic readers have been asking about it. So it’s time to get it finished and posted.Which leads into the big dilemma I’m having right now. I’ve got lots of stories I want to write, and lots of things awaiting revision (including but not limited to books 2-6 of Daughter of the Wildings). The more time I spend writing new stuff the less time I have to spend on revising, but, as always happens during a NaNo event, I’m reminded again of the importance of writing every day, to improve my craft and stay in practice. So it’s a matter of trying to figure out how to allocate my time and, more importantly, mental and physical energy. Right now I’m thinking maybe 30 minutes a day of planning (if the project is still in the planning stage) or a daily writing target of 1000 words (which takes me about 30 minutes to do) will fit into my schedule and energy limitations, with the remaining 2-3 hours of writing time spent on revisions.

Also on the to-do list is to finish the paperback edition of Beneath the Canyons and do some work on the website. My list of books is getting too long to display them all individually in the sidebar (not that I’m complaining!), so I’m looking at some other ways of letting website visitors know about my books. Weebly (my site hosting service) has a nifty slideshow widget, so I’m thinking I’ll put my first six books into that and have the Daughter of the Wildings books separately as the current and upcoming releases. (I started my first website in Jan. 2001, and I’ve been a happy website-fiddler ever since).

For the A-Z reading challenge, I think I need to start choosing shorter books. Will not finish by the end of the year.

Finally, there’s another special blog hop event coming up Dec. 19-22, the Winter Warm-Up romance blog hop.

This should be enough to keep me out of trouble for another month.


NaNo 2014 Check-In

PictureI just realized I hadn’t done any NaNoWriMo progress updates this month. I got a late start, busy with the release of Beneath the Canyons at the beginning of the month, and other things came up, which made it hard to catch up and stay caught up. But now, with one day left (I make myself take Sundays off from writing) I’ve got 1700 words to go, so I’ll finish tomorrow *knock on wood* I finished the actual story at around 40,000 words, so the last 10,000 words is an extended epilogue, which will probably be trimmed in the final version or maybe not, and back stories on each of the main characters, which may or may not find their way into the final version; if they don’t, I’ll release them as separate short stories. You do what you gotta do to get those 50,000 words honestly. My proudest moment of doing whatever it takes to get the word count was for Camp NaNo last year. I was writing book 3 of Daughter of the Wildings and, short of my goal and running out of story, in desperation I threw in a conversation about Silas’s chest hair – and made it relevant to the plot!  And that *will* be in the final version.

In other news, Beneath the Canyons had a great launch – thank you for your support! The revision of Bad Hunting (book 2) has been slowed down a bit by NaNo, but it’s still continuing, and I’m looking at a release date in January. I’m undecided as to whether to keep the series exclusive to Amazon for a while, to take advantage of the Kindle Unlimited program and other perks, or release them to all platforms once the 90-day exclusive period on Beneath the Canyons is over. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and I’m trying to figure out what will get my books in front of the greatest number of readers.

To everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving this week, Happy Thanksgiving! And to those who didn’t, happy day of your choice! Among many other things, I’m thankful for you, my readers. You’re wonderful, and your support means a lot to me. Thank you!


October 2014 Wrap-up and November Preview

PictureSo I’m about a week late with the monthly wrap-up and overview. My excuse is I’ve been busy 😀 Lots of good productivity going on!

First off, in case you haven’t noticed, Beneath the Canyons, Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings, is now available. Through tomorrow, Sunday November 9, you can get it for only 99 cents! After that, the price goes up to $3.99. Or, while it’s exclusive at Amazon for the next few months, if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow it for free! If you don’t have a Kindle and don’t want to wait till I release it on the other ebook platforms, you can download the free Kindle reading app for Windows, iOS, and Android. Also, the paperback edition will be coming soon.So, that’s how I spent October.

Bad HuntingI’ve started revisions on Bad Hunting, Book 2, and hope to get about a two-month turnaround time on it, looking at a release date in late December or early January. The revisions, editing, proofreading, and formatting on Canyons took a little less than two months, so that seems like a reasonable target. Book 2 does need a lot of work, right now it reads more like a summary than a fully fleshed-out novel and I anticipate adding 15,000-20,000 words to it by the time it’s done. But the plot is fundamentally sound, and it’s a shorter book than Canyons.

November also means National Novel Writing Month, and I’m using it to get a new novel written after having spent a year working mainly on revisions. This new project is The Source-fixer (working title, I’m so bad at titles 😛 ) and you can read more about it on the Still to Come page. This is an old, abandoned idea that I picked up again. It’s better developed than it was the first time I tried to write it, and I’ve made some significant changes to the main characters that I think will help drive the story.

On the A-Z reading challenge, I’m on D right now. For some reason, I keep choosing really long books so it’s taking a while.

So that’s where I am. I’ll update my NaNoWriMo progress from time to time; right now, after starting late, I’m at about 10,000 words with another thousand or so to add tonight.


July 2014 Review, and Coming Up in August

The Warrior and the Holy ManMishka Jenkins at A Writer’s Life for Me does a monthly roundup/overview (check out the post for July/August), which I decided is a great idea to keep myself on track and keep my readers (Hi!) informed of what I’m doing and what’s coming up.

In July, if you missed it on the post before this, The Warrior and the Holy Man got a great new cover by Mominur Rahman. Currently, The Warrior and the Holy Man is available exclusively at Amazon, $2.99 for the ebook or, if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership (U.S. only) or Amazon Prime, you can read it for free! I will also be scheduling some free days. (Hint: there’s one coming up soon!)Don’t have a Kindle? Never fear! You can download the free Kindle reading app for PC, Mac, Android, and iPad/iPod/iPhone; read in the Amazon Cloud Reader, or, since all my ebooks are DRM-free, you can download free Calibre ebook management software to convert my Kindle books into epub format for your Nook, Kobo, Sony, or iDevice.

Camp NaNoWriMo Winner 2014I also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, and met my goal of 12,000 words! Not a very big goal, but on top of doing heavy revisions on Daughter of the Wildings, it was enough to keep me busy. I’m working on Tales of Azara, a collection of short stories, character sketches, and vignettes to go along with Chosen of Azara. Even though I met my Camp goal, the project still isn’t finished, so I’m going to continue working on it in August.

I also finished the revision of To the Gap, book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings, and sent it out to the test readers. Response to the series from the test readers has been pretty positive so far 🙂

And finally, I’ve read thirteen books so far for the Clean Out Your eReader Summer Vacation challenge, which beats my original goal of ten books read, and there’s still a month to go! Watch my main COYER post for my reading list and links to reviews.

 

For the WildingsSo, on to August. Job one is to finish this first major revision of Daughter of the Wildings. I’m nearly through with City of Mages, book 5, and then should be able to finish up For the Wildings by the end of the month, keeping to my three scenes a day quota. I’ve allowed a few extra days to finish, since we’re hitting the road for a few days later this month to take our younger son to Northern Arizona University for his freshman year there. I’ll take my writing with me, but probably won’t be able to get in a full day’s work on any of those days. Still, the goal for finishing this revision is August 30.

Another goal is to write 500 words a day of new fiction, for a total of 11,500 words (minus Sundays and a few days for travel). I want to finish Tales of Azara, and in the meantime start planning… whatever the next project is going to be. Probably another novel/novella set in Estelend (the world of Chosen of Azara) so I can start on that next. Once this heavy-duty revision of Daughter of the Wildings is done, I may be able to increase my daily word count goal.

I’m also aiming to read at least five more books on the COYER challenge, for a total of twenty.

And finally, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a novel for free on the site. Starting today, you can read The Lost Book of Anggird! I’ll post a chapter three times a week, and leave the first several chapters up for a couple of weeks to give anyone who’s interested time to start, and then continue with up to 6 chapters available at a time (plus the first chapter, which is always free on the site).


Writing Progress Update

Picture I seem to have found myself caught up into the Writing Process Blog Hop again, having been tagged last week by the lovely and talented Teshelle Combs, whom I’ve featured her here a couple of times. My writing process hasn’t changed much in the time since I did this before, but I figure it’s time for a progress update.

The first major revisions on books 1-3 of Daughter of the Wildings are done and out to the test readers, and I just started on book 4. It’s taking a lot more rewriting than I thought it would. Not that the plots have changed so much, but some major issues with the magic are different, and also some character issues. Plus a lot of what I wrote was me just trying to figure out what happens next! I like to plan my stories in advance, but a lot of Daughter of the Wildings resisted any kind of advance outlining. So I’m cutting lots of stuff, and adding lots of stuff, and changing lots of stuff.

Saturday I spent working out the money system a little more. The amount of money Silas and Lainie have is an important plot point at this point; they just got a big payout for services rendered to wealthy rancher Brin Coltor (one of my favorite supporting characters in the series), and it had to be enough to make taking on the job he hired them for worth the risk. On the other hand, there’s something Silas wants to do that’s going to cost even more than they have. Balancing the money in and money out to keep it all in proportion took some sitting down and calculating. I think I’ve finally got it figured out.

So there’s that, and since it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new, I’ve decided to participate in July Camp NaNoWriMo (because I’m just not busy enough :P). My goal is 500 words a day for a total of 12,000 words for the month (not much, but should be doable on the heavy revising schedule I’m on), and my project is Tales of Azara, a set of short stories to go along with Chosen of Azara. Some readers have mentioned to me that they’d like more background on the characters in the novel and more stories from that world, so that’s what this is for.

And I’m doing COYER Summer Vacation! So when I’m not writing and revising, I’ll be reading and reviewing. Should be enough to keep me out of trouble!

This week’s other stop on the Writing Process Blog Hop is Madhuri Blaylock; go check her out!


November: NaNoWriMo and More

Picture It’s been almost a week since my last post, a couple of weeks since releasing The Lost Book of Anggird, and I’m still a little ways out from my next major release, which will be Sarya’s Song. So how am I entertaining myself (and trying to stay out of trouble) in the meantime?

First of all, it’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo). Last year I wrote the draft of Sarya’s Song (finally finishing it after a number of false starts), but this year I’ve returned to my tradition of pounding out a fanfiction during November. I got off to a good start, then took a few days off to finish the draft of Book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings, then just couldn’t get motivated to work on the novel I was doing for NaNo. So on Nov. 8, I decided to set aside the novel I’d started and work on an idea I’d been toying with for a few years. Starting over again from zero words more than a week into November means a lot of catching up to do. I set a minimum quota of 2500 words a day, and I’m almost caught up. Things are looking good for my 5th win in a row! (Note for those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, the object is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. It’s a self-challenge rather than a contest where you’re competing against other people, and everyone who verifies that they wrote 50,000 words or more is a winner.)

Also, as I mentioned, I finished the 6th book of Daughter of the Wildings, which means that the whole series now exists in complete form. The whole series is printed out and sitting in a very large binder, resting for a while until I’m ready to start the revision. So, for those of you who hate waiting years between books of a series, and who wonder if a slow-publishing series is ever going to be finished at all, take heart – Daughter of the Wildings is complete, if still something of a mess. I’m even giving my family instructions that should something happen to prevent me from editing and publishing the whole thing, they’re to just put whatever hasn’t been published yet online. Not that I plan on anything happening to me, but you never know. (My husband is a wills and estate planning lawyer. That sort of thing kind of rubs off on you when you live with it.)

A couple of stories I wrote last March during my pre-Camp NaNo challenge have still been waiting around to be edited. “The Tale of Haveshi Yellowcrow” and “The Tale of Latan the Scholar” (original titles, I know) are linked together and are also loosely related to Chosen of Azara; Haveshi and Latan are mentioned in passing (and not by name) in the novel. I decided it’s time to get these fixed up and published, so I’m working on the revision of those after I finish my NaNo quota each day. With some luck and a lot of hard work, they should be ready in a week or so. I’m thinking I’ll post them on the site for free for a short time, then put them in the Kindle Select program for 90 days.

I’ll start on the next revision of Sarya’s Song once I’m done with the Haveshi and Latan stories.

Finally, The Lost Book of Anggird has been getting some very nice reviews. I installed the Goodreads reviews widget for it on the book page, so you can read the complete reviews there, or check out highlights on the Lost Book reviews page.


“Lost Book” Journey, and What’s Next

Picture The Lost Book of Anggird has been out for about a week now, and I’ve been really happy with the response! It’s been my most successful novel launch yet, and the feedback from readers has been very positive 🙂 I extended the introductory price of $.99 through this weekend (Nov. 3), so there’s still a day or two left to get it at that special low price at Amazon and Smashwords.

It’s amazing to think that Lost Book is finally finished and available for readers to buy. I started writing it about 15 or 16 years ago, in a spiral notebook in pencil. I have no idea why. I got up to what is now about the 55% mark, and it was just getting weirder and weirder and I really had no idea what I was doing with it. So I stopped writing it. But the characters wouldn’t leave me alone, and I finally realized I had them all wrong. In the original version, Roric was truly insufferable, instead of just, um, let’s say “idiosyncratic,” and Perarre really was in love with the guy back home, which qualified her as TSTL (too stupid to live; one of those technical writing terms :)) And the relationship between them took a *lot* longer to get off the ground.

The big breakthrough came when I finally got a handle on Roric and Perarre’s true characters. It’s funny how it works with characters. For me, and a lot of authors (not saying this is true for all), you don’t just assign a name, an age, a gender, and a menu list of phyical characteristics and personality traits. My characters come to me as an already-existing entity, and then it’s up to me to discover who they are. So I listened to Roric and Perarre and let them tell me about themselves instead of trying to impose my own ideas on them, and learned that they were very different people from what I thought at first. Especially Roric; when he told me about his past, I was shocked. But it all made perfect sense, and really explained why he was the way he was and why he did the things he did. Oh, and by the way, he and Perarre felt like the relationship needed to move along a little faster.

After that, everything started to fall into place. I had to figure out exactly how the magic in the story worked, since that’s a major element of the plot, but once I had a clear idea about the characters I could see their world a lot more clearly too.

And then it was time to write. At first I had tried typing out my old handwritten version, but quickly gave up on it since 1) it was so eye-gougingly bad and 2) there was very little of it I was going to be able to re-use. So, instead, I rewrote the whole thing from scratch. It took probably 3 or 4 months (slow for me, for a first draft, especially since I started doing NaNoWriMo), and just kept getting longer and longer as I tried to find the right ending. The original ending, with Roric and Perarre returning in triumph after totally #&%$ing up the world’s magic, made no sense at all. Finally, though, I found my ending.

Then I took my 139,000 word manuscript and started revising. And revising, and revising, and revising. Some of the revising made it much better, and some of it made it worse. I got it down to 105,000 words, then realized I’d taken out a lot of stuff I actually wanted to keep, so I added a bunch back in. Then, when it came back from the test readers, I had another heart-sinking realization – the writing had been “polished” into bland, boring mush. So a couple more rounds of revision, fixing some problems the test readers had pointed out and “un-revising” the prose into something (hopefully) more lively and interesting to read.

Then the proofreads (where I was still actually adding in some significant things I’d left out/taken out earlier) and then finally I decided that was it. It was done. The final version is about 130,000 words. The formatting and putting up on Amazon and Smashwords only took a couple of days (the paperback version is now also done and waiting my approval of the proof copy), and now it’s done. It’s hard to believe, after all those years and all that wrestling with it and all the seemingly-endless rounds of revision, it’s done, and out there, and people are buying it and reading it and liking it.

So, what’s next? I’m getting the feedback on Sarya’s Song back from the test readers, so as soon as I finish the draft of Book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings I’ll start on that revision. Sarya’s Song will be my next novel coming out; I’m aiming for Feb. 2014, though it could be March instead. Overall reaction to the book is positive, but it does need a lot of work. In the meantime, during November I’m also doing National Novel Writing Month. I’m writing fanfiction (another post for another time), which I haven’t done in a couple of years. December is when I’ll start on the big gigantic revision of Daughter of the Wildings. Also in the meantime, I’ve got a couple of stories loosely related to Chosen of Azara that are kind of halfway through being revised, that I’ll finish and put up for sale.

Lots more stories to come! To stay informed of new releases and special offers, sign up for my email alerts. No spam, I promise!


Daughter of the Wildings Book 4, 5, and Beyond!

Updates on Camp NaNo progress with Daughter of the Wildings Book 4:
I crossed the 30,000 word mark yesterday with still a good chunk of story left to go, so I raised my word count target to 35,000, just to keep it interesting. After today’s writing, I’m at 31,902/35,000 words.

Like I keep saying, this series has been incredibly fun to write. Silas and Lainie are probably my favorite characters ever – I love all my characters, but there’s something special about them. And I never thought that writing about a cattle drive could be so much fun, either, but it is, especially when you throw in a little magic and a little romance. So I’m coming up to the end of Book 4 and starting to plan Book 5, and feeling both a little excited and a little sad because I don’t want to be done with Silas and Lainie. And then while I’m figuring out the central conflict for Book 5, which is the main conflict that the whole series has been driving towards, I get an idea for a follow-up book, or maybe even a series! I don’t want to make any promises right now; the idea will need some story development to see if it really has the potential to go anywhere, but the central story question of Book 5 brings up some interesting issues involving the larger world that the series is set in. It would also veer somewhat into steampunk-ish territory, which is a genre I haven’t read a lot, except for the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker (which I highly recommend!), so I’ll need to add some to my ever-growing reading list.

I’m also getting near the end of the analysis phase of the first major revision of Sarya’s Song. After some close plot and world-building analysis, I’m pleased to say that the Plot Hole of Doom, which kept this story in limbo for 18 or 19 years, has indeed been successfully eradicated 😀 In the words of another one of my favorite writers, Scott Lynch (author of the Gentlemen Bastards series):

“Some errors can be rectified with the Painless Scalpel of Minor Adjustment. Others require the Burning Sword of Righteous Rearrangement. This particular knot in the story will have to be handled by the Sherman Tank of Paradox Eradication.”

And so, onward.