sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
It's been more than two weeks since I last killed a man posted to my journal. I just don't feel the urge to post that much these days, but I do mostly so my lovely and talented wife can keep up with my thoughts and feelings. (I communicate much better in writing than verbally.)

So...just got back from another trip to the mall right across the street. Twoson and I are pounding the pavement (or the tiles) looking for work. I've been instructing him in the fine art of making cold calls on mall stores. He's getting better at it, and finding it easier to do. The first time I providing an incentive--when we finished our quota of calls I'd buy us lunch in the food court. This time we didn't do that, but we still did our quota of calls, and a couple more for good measure.

I've got an interview next week with one of the big anchor stores for a "sales associate, part-time" position (I'm looking for part-time work so I still have time to write) which would be a stocking position. That suits me fine. Stocking and restocking is more my speed than sales anyhow. I'm hoping to get it. It would be almost perfect: part-time, across the street from the apartment, and nothing too mentally or socially taxing.

Today we got a very encouraging response at a jewelers. The lady behind the counter urged us to go their website and fill out the application online ASAP as they're hiring. So that's first on our agenda, ahead of all the other online applications. Virtually all the stores simply give us a website address to apply to. We can haz the future.

Later today I have a therapy session. Snippy asked me to consider therapy a few weeks back. She was under the impression (and, I think, correctly) that I was depressed. What with all the change in our lives in the last year (selling our house, moving to the apartment, my father being in hospice care, Snippy and I being deathly ill in May and June, my hospitalization, etc.) I've definitely been off my game. And she needs me functioning so I can take care of her; that's a big part of my raison d'etre around here--and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So I agreed. I've had three or four sessions now. I think they're helpful. The first couple of sessions I talked about my writing, or the lack thereof lately, and my resistance to sitting down and writing, though I enjoy it when I finally do it (and really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I am productive). That's just old-fashioned anxiety, and something I'll probably always have to battle. Most writers (most people, for that matter) do.

Last week we went into an argument Snippy and I had, and why it happened. That was more difficult. It required more self-analysis, which is...not my forte, shall we say? I expect we'll talk more about it today.

My writing is going better, though not as well as I'd like. I'd like to be producing more words (and more finished stories), but I'm definitely trending upward, so that's good. I'm even seeing some money from my writing now. Nowhere near enough to constitute even a part-time job's worth (if that were the case, I wouldn't need an outside job), but that too is trending upward as I publish more material, and that should continue.

I started self-publishing in January of this year. Dean has written repeatedly that you won't REALLY know how you're selling for months. Smashwords, for instance, publishes your work to a bunch of other retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and others) both domestically and abroad. Some of those sites report monthly, others quarterly. Then Smashwords has to report to you. If one or more sites are slow to report, it could be near the end of the SECOND quarter (or even the one after that) before you find out how well you sold in JANUARY.

I've made money in three digits (excluding cents) so far this year. Not a lot, but it's a start--and I'm only just starting to see results from downstream sites (as explained above). Plus, in January I only had a couple of stories up. Now I'm up to over a dozen; given months and months to wait before all the sales on all of those are reported and...there's no telling. In the mean time, I need to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish.

I'll be attending a workshop on self-publishing in October. I got my first assignment for that class by email today. I was to read Dean's "How To Think Like A Publisher blog posts (done); choose a publisher name (Gelastic press--long since done), and establish accounts on Smashwords (ditto), PubIt (ditto), Amazon (ditto), and Createspace (done), register my Publisher name with the state as a DBA (done today), and establish a bank account I can use with all the above publishing account (also done).

I've started running again. The Couch Potato to 5K program. I downloaded an app to my phone that tells me when to run and when to walk, and keep track of mileage and pace. I'm going to have to get an audio & music-streaming bluetooth headset, though. Carrying the phone is a pain in the ass when I'm running, and when it's in its belt pouch I CAN'T HEAR IT. Still, it's a useful app; I don't have to carry a stopwatch and try to remember which intervals I'm doing on a given day. My legs are very sore; after being bedridden for a while, and very low energy for so long afterward, I have no stamina and no strength.

But that's why I started running again, so I can get that back.

Time for lunch now. I didn't eat breakfast.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
A pretty good day on the novel writing front. I produced about 4,000 words and had a couple of brainstorms (which, note to self, I need to write down in the notes files for the novel so I don't forget them. And...done.). I didn't add all that much to the novel last week; I need to do better this week, and today was a good step in that direction.

I'm also feeling better about the novel in general, which is just more evidence that my day-to-day opinion of the value of any given project while I'm working on it is meaningless. It's the same work, with all the same virtues and flaws it had last week; the only thing that's changed is my attitude. Which is why Robert Heinlein's Rules 1 (You must write.) and 2 (You must finish what you write.) are so effective. If you follow them slavishly, you will not be deterred from completing a story or novel by your fears. Rules 3 (You must not rewrite except to editorial order.), 4 (You must send your story to someone who will buy it.), and 5 (You must keep it in the mail until it sells.) will come into play once I've finished the novel, and given it a shave, a haircut, and a nice suit.

I'm having some pain in my left thumb--the tendon running from the wrist to about the first knuckle is is bothering me. Lots of Advil and occasional icing may be helping, but not all that much. Also helping? Not using the web between thumb and forefinger to cradle my cheekbone while sleeping on my stomach. Alas, that's a habit decades in the making and it's going to take some time to break myself of it.

book rated 4.5 by wc arial copy[1] (2) In other news, I received an email the other day alerting me that I'd gotten a good review of Three On A Rooftop from Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews. It was in the running for a poll to choose the site users' favorite for the week (which garners you a place on the site front page for a week), which I sadly did not win. Still, a good review never hurts.

Wanna see it? It's right here.

And that's the news. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 38
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Title TBD)
Words Written: 77,243

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I'm up to 73,000 words on the novel. I've added almost 8,000 words this week, and it's only Wednesday. On the other hand, I didn't write word one yesterday, and if I had it would be more. I had 60,000 words done as of the end of April, so this month my pace is almost exactly half of what it was last month. Boo! On the gripping hand, despite having a bad day yesterday and a slow start today, I'm still 8,000 words closer to the finish line at the moment, and that's something to be happy about.

Of course, I also moved the finish line. Regular readers may note that I've upped the word count for the novel from 90K to 100K. Mostly that's because I suspect I'm going to have to cut some of what I've written, so a higher goal means that when I've pared it down to something closer to the right words, it'll still be plenty long enough.

This week I've received two rejections, one on my first novel (Strange Attractors), and one on the short story, "In Adversity". I'll get them both back out soon, but I haven't done so yet.

I'm experimenting with a new mindset when I write. I'm trying to find the zone I wrote in when I was participating in some online games. I wrote many, many tens of thousands of words over the years in those games (which were closer to collaborative writing than gaming per se). And most of that I wrote on the fly. I wrote fast, I wrote without editing for the most part, and I didn't worry overmuch about anything but whether what I was writing was fun to write (and, I hoped, to read). I didn't think overmuch about the nuts and bolts of writing, I just trusted my process.

And I still like to go back and look at a lot of that stuff. I find a lot of stuff that's really fun to re-read. Could it be improved upon? Of course. But that attitude--writing the story I want to read without paying too much conscious attention to technique or salability or "what my mother will think"...that's something it's too easy to lose, and which I think is valuable.

I'm still using the 60-minute timer approach too. Start the timer. Write til it chirps. Take a few minutes away from the keyboard. Lather, rinse, repeat. It helps--especially on days like today, when I had a hard time starting. Start the timer and just WRITE. It helps to drown out the critical voice, 'cause I've got a goal to meet. Words to accumulate and only an hour to do it.

And I still find that nothing promotes creativity like wanting to abandon a project. My mind lights up with ideas for OTHER things I could be writing. So I take note of those ideas...and then I work on the current project. Those ideas will still be there later, when I'm ready to actually start something new. Take THAT, treacherous subconscious!

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 37
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 4 queries out
Novel Rejections: 6

Project 1: Starship Repo Man (Title TBD)
Words Written: 73,238

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
April is over. We're into May now. I started my second novel at the beginning of April, and now I'm just shy of the 60K mark, or about two thirds of the way through it. That's an average of pretty close to 2,000 words a day every day (though I didn't actually write every day). Not bad. If I maintain that pace, that would leave me the latter half of May to clean up the novel, get my first reader (aka my lovely and talented wife) to read it and tell me what she thinks, and then make any fixes she suggests that I think are sound.

This hasn't been the blazing pace of my NaNoWriMo effort, when I had 50,000 words done in eighteen days. But that was motivated by a) the lurking fear that if I didn't pound it out as soon as humanly possible, I wouldn't finish it at all, and b) wanting to have it done by the time Orycon started (again, fearing that if I stopped work on it during Orycon I wouldn't finish). If nothing else, that effort taught me that I can, in fact, finish a novel. As a result, this effort has been more measured. I still prefer to get as much done as I can as quickly as I can, but I'm not so worried about being able to produce enough words. Quality is still an issue, mind you, but I'm pretty sure now that I can achieve quantity.

As usual, I seesaw between thinking I'm writing something pretty good and the fear that I'm kidding myself, and that when I let my wife read it, she'll think it's awful. Or worse, boring. And realistically, that is a possibility. The only way to assure that it doesn't happen is not to finish, which is not an option--the only way to get positive feedback is to finish it. So I write it as best I can, then let the chips fall where they may. Absolute worst case? I shelve this novel as unsalvageable nd start the next one (which might be a redraft* of this one). But as I plan to write another one anyhow....

I'm definitely trending toward higher word counts these days. What used to be a high (3,000-3,500 words) is more like a typical day's production now, with about 5,000 words as a new high. Which puts a 3,000-3,500 word story within range of a single day's work. I've heard it said that if you can't write a story in a day, it's not something you can really hope to make a living at. I don't know about that, but if I can produce 3.5K story in a day, it certainly won't hurt my chances. Writing is a skill like any other, and it requires practice. The faster you can write, the more practice you can get in a given period of time. I've gotten enough "close but no cigar" rejections over the last year that I think I'm close to figuring out what I'm doing that's not quite working**. So the more practice I can get, the sooner I hope I'll iron out some wrinkles.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I think I may try to do some one-day stories when I don't/can't make any headway on the novel for one reason or another. That's a very salable word count in a lot of markets, so if I can produce something readable, I can get that many more stories circulating.

In other news, we went to a gun show in Vancouver on Saturday. It was rather disappointing. Usually we attend the shows at the Portland Expo Center. Those gun shows are huge, filling the cavernous space to capacity. It's hard to really see the whole show; you get tired and overwhelmed before you've traversed all the aisles. The Vancouver show was tiny by comparison, and we wandered through the whole thing pretty quickly. But we'd wanted to see a show soon and discovered that one was happening this weekend, so we went. There'll be one of the big shows in June, and we'll go that.

I cut the grass this afternoon. Didn't really feel like it, but today was the first really dry day all week around here, and the forecast is more rain all week, so...I cut the grass. I don't dare let it get too long for the reel mower or I have to use the weedwacker to hack it into submission, which is a pain in the butt.

Tomorrow: Laundry. A donut run. (My lovely and talented wife has a yen for donuts from Helen Bernhardt's Bakery, and her whim is my command.) Back to work on the novel.

*Not a rewrite, where I try to "fix" this one. A redraft: I round file this manuscript and start over from scratch, hopefully having learned something from the first attempt.

**Well, except on those days when I think I'm wasting my time.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 58,555

Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
My inner critic won today. I dithered and procrastinated today, and accomplished bupkis on the writing. I realize there are gonna be days like that sometimes, but I hate it. On the other hand, my writing directories and files are better organized! Meh.

Tomorrow I'll do better. Tonight, we're taking Twoson out for a birthday dinner.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 36
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 5

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 50,788

Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
And quite a pace it is, too. I managed only about  thousand words yesterday, what with spending time on yard work and other things, but it was still a thousand words. Today I regained the pace of Monday and Tuesday, managing a little over 5,000 words. I am, as I expected, having moments of doubt, moments when I wonder if it's all just crap.

But I just keep writing. I wondered about my first one too, and put it away when it was done, swearing that it would never see the light of day again. Then my lovely and talented wife convinced me to let her read it and she really liked it. So did Twoson. They're not the most objective of critics, but they're not just yanking my chain either. If they didn't like it, they'd have said so.

More importantly, when I pulled it out a couple of months after finishing it, I liked it too--much better than I'd expected to, based on how I felt when I finished it. So I will simply continue to ignore my internal editor.

Meanwhile, tonight is my gaming night. I'm playing a high-powered sorceror in an 800-point GURPS fantasy game. Last week we were attacked by two very powerful demons in enchanted armor. Fortunately we had similar armor and weapons; none of our normal weapons could put a dent in them. Even so, the demons were seriously badass. I threw a monkeywrench in the GM's plans by capturing one of the demons in an Utter Dome (an impenetrable bubble of force), so we could concentrate on just one. After a long, hard fight we killed the other. Tonight we get to try to kill the second.

It's been fun. The GM and I have been gaming together for almost twenty years. We know one another's minds very well. Which makes for entertaining battles--he tries to anticipate my reactions to his NPCs' actions, and I try to come up with angles he hasn't planned for, mostly by using spells in unexpected ways. Which makes my victories when I succeed all the sweeter.

Stories in Circulation: 9
Rejections: 35
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 2

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 4

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 19,755 (5,124 today)

Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So I've heard this commercial on the radio several times lately. Kindly doctor voice says that the kid may have a fever and he'll need to take his temperature. Kid complains that he "hates that pointy thing in his ear!" Kindly Doctor says that he need only swipe this newfangled device across the kid's forehead to take his temperature. Mom is dutifully impressed and wishes that she had one for home use. Cue the VoiceOver Guy, who informs the listener that it IS now available for home use.

That commercial makes me feel old. I always think, "Geez, kid! Get a grip. In MY day, if your parents or the doctor wanted to take your temperature, they used a glass thermometer--and they stuck in your mouth. If you were LUCKY."

In other news, I got 3300 words written on one of the novels Friday. Go me! As per usual based on my experience in November, my Inner Critic (aka my Ego) will require constant throttling. I look at what I've written and think, "There's no way I'm going to produce a coherent novel out of that!"

Yeah, well, it's only 3 percent of the total wordage I'm shooting for. AND I can always clean it up later. AND if necessary I can completely scrap what I've written while editing the manuscript. So shut up back there, or I'll tie you up and pitch you into an empty lecture hall in my mind where you can yammer (in a Mickey Mouse voice) to an audience of zero. It doesn't have to be good; good or bad is irrelevant at this stage. Right now I just have to pile on the words so as to have something to improve later.

In still other news, "Man-Ape" came back to me in less than twenty-four hours. It was a nice rejection email, though. The editor told me what she thought worked and didn't work, and had some suggestions for me. And she ended by saying that she looked forward me sending her something else. So that's a pretty good rejection, as rejections go.

Stories in Circulation: 10
Rejections: 34
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 1

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 4

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 3,323

Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I received a rejection today. Asimov's rejected "Man-Ape". It's already back out at another market.

My larger goal for this year is to write at least three, preferably four novels. I've got one under my belt. Today I took a stab at starting two more. The idea is that if I stall out on one project temporarily, I can switch to the other and let my subconscious chew on it awhile. Good in theory, but in practice I spun my wheels today and produced nothing usable.

I began to wonder if I had enough of a concept for a story--in both cases. Or did I just have a nice hook? I took a couple of runs at an opening for one story but they didn't satisfy me. I wasn't even sure how to begin the other. I forgot the first rule I learned while writing the first novel in November: it doesn't have to be good. I can fix it later. But in order to fix it later, I need to write it now. So tomorrow I'll leap back in again.

I spent some time reading over some of my earlier openings to stories. Some of which go on for quite a few pages, and some of which I really rather like. One I liked so much that I may see if I can use it as a seed for one of the novels. It helps to remind myself that I can, in fact, write stuff I enjoy rereading later. It helps to stifle the inner critic.

I've also got a couple of short story ideas, but I'm resisting writing them. They're more of the sort of thing I've been publishing with Cobblestone. But while those successes are nice, they haven't been terribly cost effective. Perhaps I haven't been promoting myself effectively--and self-promotion is one of the things that appears to be necessary in the online romance/erotica markets--but I'm not sure how I could do it any better. Oh, I'm sure I could spend a lot of time at it, and money, if I wanted to. I don't know that that would make any difference.

So while I enjoy writing those stories, and it's always nice to have someone accept them (which suggests that they too hope to make money on them), it's just not a good use of my writing time to produce them. (On the gripping hand, I've not yet sold anything else to anyone, so I suppose one might argue that they're more cost effective than the other things I'm writing. So far, at least.)

Ah well. Rejection is part of the game. I'll continue writing and submitting and eventually someone will recognize my genius! In the mean time, time for the statistics!

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 33 (a new one today, already sent back out)
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 0

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 4

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
In November of last year, I gritted my teeth and jumped into National Novel Writing Month with both feet. It was my first attempt at a novel, and I wrote it in eighteen days. All fifty thousand words of it, which is the goal of NaNoWriMo. It was an interesting, informative, sometimes frightening experience.

I worked without a net. I've never been able to plot out a story beforehand, though God knows I've tried .It just doesn't work for me. So I worked out a very general idea for the story, then on November 1st I sat down and started writing. Within a day or two I'd changed the names of my characters (and thereby their personalities) because what I'd started with wasn't working. Fortunately, that was a quick and easy search-and-replace task. I also changed the setting of the first scene, but only in the sense that I made a note to myself to change it upon revision and thereafter wrote as if I'd written it that way all along.*

Some days I thought I doing pretty well. Some days I thought I was writing crap. But I kept plugging along because, after all, it doesn't have to be good. It just has to be 50,000 words long. I placated my Ego (which wanted to spare me itself the pain of failure and rejection by giving up ahead of time) with that mantra. Some days were a struggle, but I did it. I wrote a 50,000 word novel and I finished it in eighteen days.

Then I promptly saved it and swore that it would never see the light of day again. I was convinced that it was awful. It was my first attempt at anything longer than a short story. How could it be anything but awful?

But my writing gurus, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch, have repeatedly told me (and anyone else who'll listen) that a writer is not the best judge of his own work, and especially while he's writing it. They have over a hundred novels and hundreds of short stories published between them, and they still wrestle with that tiny voice that says "this is crap." It's such a common and predictable reaction, usually coming about a third of the way into the novel, that when one of them tells the other that the latest novel isn't working and they may have to start over, the other asks, "How far into it are you?" At which point, the other turns and goes back into his or her office to continue writing.

So I thought, I really ought to listen to them. Plus, my spouse (and trusted first reader) gently nudged me to reconsider. So I grudgingly pulled it up on the monitor and started reading it again in January. And it wasn't half bad. In fact, some of it I liked a lot. So I let my spouse read it, and got a rave review.

Okay, Spouse also had a few criticisms. I couldn't argue with them, either. So I decided, what the hell, I'll polish it up and send it out. Let some actual editors tell me if they thought it was worth buying or not.**

There was a problem, though. The minimum length for a publishable novel (with rare exceptions) is 70,000 words, but my novel was only 50,000 words long. So I had to revise and extend it, as Congressmen so often do their speeches in the Congressional Record. I've spent the last month or so doing just that.

It was slow, tedious work. In part, that was because my Ego gibbered and capered and jumped up and down, screeching and flinging poo, in a Herculean attempt to make me give up. Change is scary and difficult, even when it might be a good change. Writing and revising (and ultimately trying to sell) a novel meant changing my self-image. It meant thinking of myself as a novelist. It meant risking rejection (almost certainly repeated rejection, even if the novel eventually sells). My Ego hates that, so it tried hard to stop me, clinging to my ankle and crying piteously as I dragged myself (and my Ego) toward the finish line.

Some days, I confess, it succeeded. On other days, forcing myself to ignore that voice was difficult. On rare days, I successfully throttled it and managed to write several thousand words. But I'd set a goal of getting the novel finished and out the door by the end of February.

And today I finished the revisions. The novel weighs in at about 72,000 words. Shorter than I'd have liked, but as long as it's gonna get. This evening I scoured Publishers Marketplace for editors and publishers to whom I could send it, looking for editors who'd bought books in the same genre. I have a list of five I intend to start with.

Tomorrow...I'm taking the day off to celebrate finishing the novel. Friday, I'll write the cover letters and the synopsis, and get everything ready to mail. Saturday, the queries will go into the mail. I'm going to meet my deadline, and I'm very pleased by that. In March, I'm planning to work on some short stories, but in the not too distant future, I'll be starting another novel. My goal for this year is to have at least three novels written and circulating. More would be better, but three is the absolute minimum.

Look at me. I'm a novelist!

*A technique I learned from the Book In A Month workbook, and one I highly recommend.

**Robert Heinlein's fourth and fifth rules for writers:
4. You must mail your story to someone who will buy it.
5. You must keep it in the mail until someone buys it.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I'm not enjoying this process. Which may mean I'm doing it wrong, but I'm doing it the best way I know how. Trying to expand this story from 50,000 words to 90,000 80,000* is proving to be more difficult than I expected. I think that, in trying to edit it, I'm letting my critical brain get too involved. My best days on this project have happened when I let go of "should" and "It's got to be good!" and just wrote.

Which sounds easy enough, but you'd be wrong. I have to keep throttling my Ego, which keeps whispering that I should just give this one up as a bad job and write something else. But I'm on to that trick. If I do, it'll tell me the same thing about the next project, and the next. So I am by God gonna finish this one and get it out. Then I'll work on the next novel, and probably some shorts as well. But first this one.

Letting go of "should" while writing also means that I'm looking at abandoning the last 10,000 words of the original version as my new version diverges from that plot. And maybe that's what needs to happen. But I'll tell you this for nothing--no more writing short for me! All future novels will be aimed squarely at the 75-120,000 word range from the get-go. Rewriting is not my cuppa.

*75,000 words is the minimum for a novel, as best I understand. So anything over that will be acceptable. And at the rate I'm adding words, to get this project done by the end of February, that's what I'm going to aim for.

I'll be at RadCon this weekend with my lovely and talented wife. If you're gonna be there (and you're reading this, naturally), comment. I'd love to meet some imaginary friends and see you turn real, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

ETA: But not for the same reason as the Velveteen Rabbit. Not because I looooooove you, just because I'll have met you in meatspace. I'm just sayin'.

Project: Strange Attractors
Words Written Yesterday: 596 (I suck)
Words Written Today: 2,103 -- better, but not better enough to suit me.

Stories in Circulation: 8
Rejections: 29
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 3

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Struggling with the Ego today. I read through the remainder of the novel. There's some good stuff there. There's also plenty I see that I don't like. I need to remember that that's my ego talking. I need to remember that [personal profile] snippy liked it very much. I need to remember that I am not the best judge of my own work when I'm in the middle of it, as I am with this novel.

It's not easy.

I managed about 1,344 new words on Strange Attractors today. I'm averaging around a thousand words, maybe a little more, each day I work on it. Around a third of what I'd hoped I'd achieve. Pretty puny word count. (On the other hand, Robert B. Parker made quite a career for himself writing 1250 words a day, six days a week. So it's nothing to sneeze at. But I want to do better.)

On the gripping hand, I think I've done about as much as I can with extending existing scenes. Adding to the novel is going to require adding additional scenes. I have a couple of ideas for that, though nothing solid yet. But since I want to punch up the ending, that's one of the obvious places to do it. So it's not like I'm not making progress, or not working on it.

It's just going a lot slower than I'd hoped it would. Perhaps I should decide on a smaller side project to work on sometimes for a change of pace, and to feel like I'm not just spinning my wheels. Yeah. I think so.

Project: Strange Attractors
Words Written Since Last Report: 4,769 (it's still going fairly slowly)

Stories in Circulation: 11 (two stories returned and not resubmitted yet)
Rejections: 27 (ditto)
Stories Accepted: SEVEN (sold another erotica to Cobblestone the other day)
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Hi there, everyone. This is Sinanju, comin' at you from a new location. We spent much of today moving my computer desk and computer from the corner of the dining room, where it has resided for years, into my lovely and talented wife's den, which I will now be sharing with her when we're both here. And awake.

Given that [personal profile] snippy ([ profile] snippy) is an early bird and I'm a nightowl, and that I do most of my writing during the day when she's at work, there won't be that much overlap in our use of the den. She uses it in the morning before I get up, and I'm up for several hours in the evening after she's gone back to bed. So there won't be that much time when we're both in here, sitting with our backs to one another, netsurfing.

This new arrangement means that I can write alone in the den with the door closed, to minimize distractions. It also means that Twoson can use the dining/living room area during the day without worrying about distracting me, and can also have a little privacy without staying cooped up in his bedroom all day.

In other news, we'll be having delicious stew and cheesy-garlic biscuits for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to it.

In other other news, I finally showed my NaNo novel ("Strange Attractors") to my lovely and talented wife, and she liked it a lot. She had a couple of useful criticisms, but overall she enjoyed it a lot. Which was good for my ego. It's only 50,000 words, still too short for a publishable novel--but I can extend it. (It might be long enough for a Young Adult, perhaps, but the characters aren't.)

In any case, though, it seems to have turned out a lot better than I feared it had. Which gives me hope that the current novel, which at present I am convinced is utter crap, will ultimately turn out to be worthwhile as well. But--man! My ego is convinced that the only possible salvation is to abandon it before I learn just how awful it is and how pathetically delusional I am about being a writer and said ego is crushed beyond all repair. (Said Ego is full of crap, of course. But it does't hesitate to cling to the wheel and scream bloody murder when I try to wrest control away from it.)
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So, yeah. It's been 11 days since I posted my goals for the years. I'm changing them. The goals are originally presented:

So, it's 2010 and I've rededicated myself to writing. Among my goals for this year:
Write, finish and mail a story a week.
Write, finish and mail 3 novels by December 31, 2010.
Learn as much as I can about writing; mostly via the Carnegie Hall route (practice, practice, practice), in part by reading writers I admire as well as books on how to pick up my game.

What am I changing? I'm dropping the weekly short story goal and I'm going to concentrate on writing and submitting novels. Which is not to say that I won't be writing any short stories. I just won't be thinking of them as a goal. Recently I learned that in the last six months, of 80 new SFWA members, 14 achieved that status via short story sales (and it requires three professional story sales to qualify) and 66 (SIXTY-SIX!) managed it with a first novel sale.

There is simply a vastly larger market for novels than for short story sales. And since novel sales are more lucrative (even at first-novel advance rates), it seems like I'd be better advised to pursue that avenue since it's where I want to end up eventually.

To that end, I've started a second novel. I'm only three days into it at this point. I have doubts about it, of course, which is only natural. I'll continue to work on it, but I'm also doing a lot of thinking about why I have doubts. It's not just ego defense--I think I'm missing something, but I don't know what exactly. I'll figure it out, and then I can fix it.

In the mean time, I have to work on binding and gagging my inner critic while I continue to write. I can edit later. It's an uncomfortable feeling, wondering if I can do this...while knowing that I can. I've already done it once, for the NaNoWriMo project in November. I can do it again.

In the worst case scenario, I finish this novel, clean it up, and send it out and it never sells. It's still practice. I'll learn from the experience, just as I learned from the first one. And the next one will be better. Carnegie Hall, baby, Carnegie Hall. How do I get there? Practice, practice, practice.

In other news, today was both a good day and a bad day. I got a rejection--SnipLits bounced "Home Invasion". I haven't sent it back out yet, but I will. On the other hand, my fifth Cobblestone Press story, Three On A Rooftop went live and now available for purchase here.

Stories in Circulation: 11
Rejections: 25
Stories Accepted: FIVE

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
...and all thru the house not a creature was stirring--wait, actually, the only creature in this house not stirring is my lovely and talented wife, who is in bed asleep.

Seeing as how we celebrate Hannukah here, rather than Christmas, the point is mostly moot anyhow. Hannukah is over. There's no Christmas tree here, no stockings by the fireplace--no fireplace, for that matter--no one anxiously awaiting the arrival (real or imagined) of Santa Claus. We will be seeing the kids on Sunday to exchange some gifts, but that's on Sunday.

In other news, I didn't write anything today. I polished up "The Wild One" and then emailed it to a publisher in hopes that they'll accept it. Then I spent some time reading short stories in Analog, Realms of Fantasy, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. So I guess today was mostly dedicated to literary input rather than output.

I'm feeling insecurity gnawing at my self-confidence lately. Yes, I'm being accepted by Cobblestone, but what else do you have for us today, Sinanju? I know this is just something I have to learn to deal with, and that I mustn't let it stop me. But it's tough sometimes. I fear that I won't be able to think of anything else to write, or that it won't be any good.

Then I remind myself that the latter--deciding whether something is good enough to publish--is not my job. MY job is to write to the best of my ability, and then send the story out to to an editor. It is his (or her) job to decide whether it's worth publishing. That reminder should take some of the pressure off--and it does, when I remember it. My internal critic, however, must have had a job as rust at some point in the past ("Rust never sleeps!"). He's relentless.

It helps sometimes to imagine him speaking in Mickey Mouse's voice. Or Donald Duck's. Then he's almost indecipherable. Or to take him by the hand and lead him gently into a large, empty auditorium and gently but firmly lock the door behind him, so he can rant away to his heart's content.

I also still wrestle with an exaggerated idea of NOVEL. It's novel as huge, weighty tome with a cast of thousands and intricate, interwined stories, and heavy enough to use as a doorstop. I can't write one of those! It's impossible!

Except that I don't have to. There are plenty of published novels, novels I think are great, that are nothing like that. And frankly, that's not the sort of novel I'd probably write anyhow. My voice doesn't lend itself to that kind of writing, and it doesn't have to. Plus, whatever I write isn't going to be perfect. Ever. And neither is any other work of fiction.

That's something to keep in mind, too--but damned difficult sometimes. How often are my favorite novels the FIRST novel the respective authors published (we'll ignore unpublished early efforts)? Exactly none. It doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be the opinion of someone in a position to actually publish it; i.e., not me. It should be fun to write and fun to read. I think I can do that, at least sometimes I think so. Other days, not so much. But mostly I think so.

So, anyhow, I didn't write anything new today. I did, however, polish and mail out a story. Which means the number of stories currently in circulation is now up to twelve. Could be better, but that's pretty good.

Stories in Circulation: 12
Rejections: 24
Stories Accepted: FIVE
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I haven't posted the stats in a while, so I thought I'd do it now. I took my lovely and talented wife ([personal profile] snippy/[ profile] snippy) to a dental appointment this morning, then dropped her off at work. After that I went out to buy her Hannukah gift at the mall and get some lunch. Now I'm back and will start writing shortly.

But first I had to respond to another rejection. *le sigh*

Ah well. I found another market and sent the story right back out again. Now, I should say up front that I'm not going to let my feelings interfere with my actions, but--I've sold five stories to Cobblestone Press and none elsewhere. Makes me feel like a one-note wonder. Makes me wonder when/if I'll be able to fool convince anyone else to buy my stuff.

But that's one those Voices they talk about, the ones that will stop you if you listen to them. Which is why, as I said, I won't let it deter me from continuing to write and circulate stories. But occasionally it does wear on me. It helps to wander through the vast, VAST selection of books in the science fiction/fantasy and romance sections of the bookstore at the mall. The sheer volume of fiction being published week after week after month after year is staggering. I gotta get me a piece of that action, and I think I can eventually.

I have two more stories in the works, partially completed. I hope to get them both done in the next few days. I have another idea fermenting, but not quite ready to start writing. And a couple of ideas I'm poking and prodding while I try to figure out what story I can spin out to novel length for my next stab at a novel.

In the mean time, my occasional, not-on-a-regular-schedule list of works in circulation or sold:

"Clean Up Detail"
"Hotel Party"
"Watching Jennifer"
"Home Invasion"
"Making Friends"
"Surprise Party"

"Flying High" available from Cobblestone Press
"Bound by Convention" available from Cobblestone Press
"Queen Bee" will be published December 16, 2009 (Cobblestone)
"Three On A Rooftop" sold, being edited (Cobblestone)
"One Knight Stand" just sold (Cobblestone)

"Unconventional" (pulled from circulation temporarily to rework for different markets)

"Fast Friends"
"The Wild One"

Stories in Circulation: 10
Rejections: 24
Stories Accepted: FIVE
sinanju: The Shadow (NaNoWriMo Red)
I wrote 3,211 words on my nano novel today. Then I opened the file for another story I'm writing (working title "If You Catch Me" but ultimately to be called "Fast Friends")...and I had nothing. The novel effort seems to be soaking up all my writing mojo. I may try again later tonight, but I don't hold out much hope.

So, with a little less than an hour left before I had to drive downtown to pick up my lovely and talented wife from work, I opened the Nano file again and added 644 additional words. I figured, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can get back to writing other stuff.

But while I was working on it, I had an epiphany. I could see the flaws (the big, big flaws) in this story. Which, to be clear, I was aware of from the beginning. But I realized I knew what those flaws are, and that I also knew what I needed to do in future to do better. (I have no intention of trying salvage this novel once it's done. It's practice. I'll finish it, celebrate having done so, and then file it where it will never see the light of day again.*) But the next novel will be better.

And that's when it hit me. I caught myself thinking about the next novel. I realized that a) I was learning from this, and b) that I was contemplating doing it again. Not for NaNoWriMo either, but with Intent to Publish in the First Degree. Wow. Maybe writing this terrible, terrible mess of a novel isn't just finger exercises. Maybe I am actually learning something from doing so.

To be perfectly honest, my lovely and talented wife has said as much to me. She's been incredibly supportive, not just of my bellyaching over NaNoWriMo, but of my writing efforts in general. I appreciate that immensely. She's said that this was practice, practice with my process--which I'm stretching from short stories to novels, a learning experience. And I agreed. Intellectually. But today I grokked it in fullness, as Valentine Michael Smith might say.

I'm learning more from this experience than I expected I would. And that's great. It's liberating. And now, on with the countdown!

Project: Strange Attractors
New Words Written: 3,855 (good)
Present Total Word Count: 11,010 words
Goal: 50,000 words by November 30

Stories in Circulation: 13
Rejections: 20
Stories Accepted: TWO!

sinanju: The Shadow (NaNoWriMo Black)
I've written 1,907 words today. It's possible I'll write more, but at a minimum I've done my first day's quota.

And I think it sucks. This can't possibly be any good. I can't possible write a novel based on this! Or says my ego.

And to my ego, I say, "Nuts to you!" The absolute worst thing that can happen is that when I'm done, I'll have 50,000 words of crappy novel--which will include at least some good bits. Good bits I can steal to use in other stories. So I'll just have to deal with these feelings of inadequacy and soldier on. Harder in practice than in theory, but still do-able.

I gotta say, though, that I'm discovering depths of self-doubt and fear in my attempt to write this novel that I haven't had to deal with on short stories. Or maybe I got past that and blotted it from my memory. It's an interesting experience. A "learning experience", as they say. But it's good for me.

In other news, I received rejection on "Ink" from Strange Horizons on Saturday. I immediately sent it out to Shock Totem. Never say die!

Stories in Circulation: 13
Rejections: 19
Stories Accepted: TWO!

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So, how's that writing thing going?

Well, I have thirteen stories circulating at the moment, and two accepted for publication. I've been doing pretty well at getting a story done each week, with occasional misses. (Officially, I'd like to get two done each week, but, yeah...not so much with the success on that. Still, if it gets me to a workable goal of one a week, that's not so bad.)

I'm four days out from the kick-off of NaNoWriMo. I've got a title and a very general idea for a novel now. "Strange Attractors" as the title for a science fiction romance. I like this title because it's wordplay on several levels. First, of course, it's a romance--so attraction. Second, "strange attractors" is an actual mathematical/science concept, so score. And third, the plot (insofar as I've worked it out) will have to do with "strange attractors" in time--i.e., critical tipping points in a war for control of history.

I got my first royalty statement from Cobblestone Press today. It was rather disspiriting. Now (as I firmly reminded myself after a few minutes of depression), the story only went on sale on September 25th, so the period covered was only five days. I'll get a statement for October at the end of next month. Nonetheless, it was disappointing not to see a better result. However, I reminded myself that...
  • It's my first story. By this time next month, I'll have two up for sale on the site.
  • They wouldn't be publishing them if they didn't think they could make money from them.
  • I just need to learn how to do more and better promotion. There's a woman whose first sale came shortly after mine, and she's everywhere, man! She posts promos and excerpts and does guest posts on other blogs, and interviews, and on and on. I emailed her to ask about it. Turns out she was a realtor before she decided to start writing, so I guess she knows about self-promotion.
  • My second story will be out sometime next month. So that gives me anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to plan how to make a bigger splash. Plus, I'll have two stories to promote, not just one, which gives me more to talk about.
So, I've got two things to work toward in November. Writing my 50,000 words toward a novel--and mastering the art of self-promotion in the epublishing world. Plus, writing other stories. I want to try to continue producing a story a week in addition to working on the novel. After all, 1,667 words a day for 30 days (or 2,380 per day if I only work weekdays in November) will accomplish 50,000 words by the end of November. That should leave time to work on other stories, right?

I guess we'll find out.

And now...a test run of the word count widget I'm going to be using for NaNoWriMo, posted here for all and sundry to see, so y'all can see how well--or how poorly--I'm doing on the novel.

Stories in Circulation: 13
Rejections: 18
Stories Accepted: TWO!

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
It has been a week since my last confess--uh, post. The overview is that I've let stress and worry get inside my head and muck up my thinking. Specifically, in that time I have:

1. Forgotten something that I had known earlier. Specifically, that I will often think my current work in progress sucks. I must continue on nonetheless, finishing it. I haven't written a lot this past couple of weeks because I've been struggling to find a way to write the story that Doesn't Suck (tm). I'm hunting a snipe. So I've gotten back on the horse today.

2. Succumbed to the fear that I don't know what I'm doing. Which is, in some ways, true enough. If I for sure knew what I need to know, I'd be selling stories by now. I'm still learning. Which means, pretty much by definition, that I don't know everything I need to know. That doesn't mean I don't know something, or that I can't learn more. And I learn more by studying, yes, but mostly by the Carnegie Hall route. Practice, practice, practice.

3. Paid too much attention to "how to" instruction. I was writing, completing and mailing stories for the last couple of months. In the last two weeks I've completed and mailed bupkis. Nada. Zip. Zilch. So I need to get back to what works. And, again, I've done that today.

4. Doing the editors' jobs for them. The current story, "Bound by Convention" is a sequel of sorts to another story I've written. It stands on its own; you needn't have read the first story to follow this one. Nonetheless, given that the first story hasn't sold, my inner editor keeps nagging at me that I can't write this one, or shouldn't; or, having written it, can't sell it, or shouldn't. That's not my decision. That's an editor's decision. I forgot that. Time to bind and gag my inner editor and bury him in a deep, dark hole in a corner of my psyche.

5. Have not been specific enough about my goals. Not on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

My words written total for today is undoubtedly low. I've been stitching together "Bound by Convention" like Frankenstein's monster, from bits and pieces of scenes. Nothing wrong with that--and it IS coming together nicely. But it means that I'm deleting at least as much as I'm adding as I carve away all the parts that don't look like a story.

In good news, however, my word total is rapidly approaching 90,000--the minimum for a novel. That's a novel's worth of words in about two and a half months. Nothing like a novel has emerged, true, but the sheer production of text is clearly well within my capabilities.

Words Written Today: 1,149
Words Written YTD (since May 1): 82,526
Stores in Circulation: 8
Rejections: 4
Stories Accepted: TBD
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've written about 6,600 words since Monday. Not nearly as much as I'd hoped, and most of it in a sort of "just get some words down on paper" fashion. Nothing that looks like the seed of a finished story at this point.

I feel rather like a centipede trying to watch itself walk. Over the last couple of months I wrote a number of stories, but the last couple of weeks...not so much. Part of it was being sick for a while. But this week it's purely a matter of flailing around trying to write differently. I've been reading and trying to follow the prescriptions in various books on writing--plotting and story design and whatnot.

And I've been getting nowhere fast. My lovely and talented wife suggested that I get back to my previous approach since that seems to have been working for me. I think she's right. I still want to try to put more deliberation into my writing, but I think I should also just keep on with what I was doing. While I haven't sold anything yet, at least I was producing stuff to send out. The last couple of weeks I haven't even done that.

Maybe I'll do better if I simply write the way I did before and then try to impose some story structure on what results. (And at least one of the books on writing suggests doing just that. Write, write about whatever interests you--and then go back and ruthlessly edit the result later so it conforms to the strictures of story instead of being just an incident or a character study or what have you.)

So there's that. I do still believe I could profit greatly from learning to put more focus on plotting--scenes and sequels, character goals, conflict and disasters (or victory in the end). So I will continue to work on that. But I need to get back to writing and finishing things on a regular basis.

The thought of which fills me with dread as that obnoxious voice in the back of my brain tells me I can't do this, that I will run out of ideas for stories, things to say, etc. It's full of crap, of course. But sometimes it's hard to remember that when I'm stuck spinning my wheels. Grrrr. Back to the grindstone for me.

Words Written Today since Monday: 6,616
Words Written YTD (since May 1): 77,500
Stores in Circulation: 8
Rejections: 4
Stories Accepted: 0


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

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