Monday, 13 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 13 - A little behind

I will openly admit I'm a little behind my wordcount. This is because Life Happened, as it does.

Being end of year (EoY), I've got one final exam and three assignments I need to finish this week, one child has EoY exams, and the other has EoY performances, etc. And Thanksgiving.  Plus, we got a new foster cat we've nicknamed Hissy Pissy until his attitude improves.

I didn't get a lick of writing done on the weekend, and only a little study.  Still, I'm a professional. I'll catch up -and- get my assignments done.

Other things, such as housework, will most likely fall by the wayside. Don't tell His Grace. He thinks I'm keeping the house clean.

Her Grace is also mostly over her infected throat so she can get back to narration as well. Oh, and singing, as rehearsals for Christmas have started.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 4 - Disappointment

So I'm writing along and I needed the name of a neighbourhood. No problem. After all, I did some serious research last week and came up with the best info for worldbuilding ever.

I go look through my notes and... nothing. What? Where did all my hard work go? Why do I only have half the info I thought I did?

Because several days ago my computer fell asleep and never woke up. I had to do a hard reboot, and it appears I forgot to hit save before the computer fell asleep. I lost eight hours of research time.

Fortunately, I remembered my search terms and Google remembered which pages I'd visited, so I was able to recreate most of my research in half the time it originally took.

Still, most annoying, as those several hours recreating my work could have been better spent creating new wordage. Also annoying are those few factlets that would have been perfect, if only I could remember what they were.

Her Grace wants you to know that 19th Century clockmakers all clustered around Clerkenwell.

Friday, 3 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 1 - Epiphany

Welcome to NaNoWriMo, that month of insanity where millions of authors all over the world attempt to create 50K of a novel. (If you're one of them, feel free to buddy up, though I will be mostly working and not so much socialising. I've got goals.)

This is my 15+ year of doing this.

Before I started this year, I vowed to myself I would play with voice. I'm not happy with my voice and want to enrich it. Put some thought into what kind of imagery I wanted, read a few really good flash fiction with voice and did the whole imagine pre-writing idealism to get in mind what I wanted.

Attended an official NaNo Write In on Wednesday night. Sat down and, with the goal of voiciness in mind, cranked out 3K words. Cranking out wordage is a doddle for me. But when I got home and re-read my stuff, I saw my usual dull voice had drifted back in, despite my best efforts. Drat. I'd rushed things.

Spent Thursday morning on a NoNo for NaNo: editing.

The thing with NaNoWriMo is that once you push into pure wordage, habit takes over. For those who don't have a writing habit, it's pushes your boundaries. But for me, with more than a million words under my belt as an author, sheer speed doesn't challenge me.  Currently voice is a challenge for me, and to play with that, one must slow down.

So I went back and edited. I examined each sentence to see what it did right, and what it did wrong. I analysed my word choices and structure. I recast several until they sang instead of sat there.

However, when I was done, I was much happier with my words. Subsequent wordage for the month will go forward not so much with a focus on quantity but quality. If it means I must slow down, then I shall slow down.

Oh, I'll be able to get my 50K in, no problem. Not my first rodeo.

First Lesson Learned: Focus on your true goal. You don't get a Grade 8 piano player stumbling over a B Major grand scale. It flows under their fingers. But only if you make the thumbs fall where they need to.

To aid in this, my reading for the month is "Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot. Talk about voice!

November is a busy month for me, with the end of the semester (applying for Hubble time!), ladyships' end-of-year concerts and Thanksgiving as well as NaNoWriMo. While I've been doing my best to read more indie authors, I'm finding they don't quite have the voice I'm looking for. I'll be putting them aside for the month for tried-and-true Classic literature.

Second Lesson Learned: the Classics are classic for a reason. Yes, many a high school student finds them boring and dull and difficult to read, but if you move your focus from the tedious plot and the depressing characters and look at the pure beauty of how words are being used, that is where the classic-ness is to be found.

Her Grace is also pushing herself by hoping to reach 80K instead of the recommended 50K.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Feeling of Freedom

Busy-ness hunted me down today at the Day Job and dogged my poor, confused heels. We're in the process of changing/upgrading a few things, which means a change in procedure and documentation. On top of that, nearly everyone in the office headed off to a meeting, leaving me to guard the phones. So when I got stuck on something I'd never done before, there was no one I could ask for help until they got back from the meeting. Not that I was stuck in a rut; there was plenty of other things that needed doing. Still, it was frustrating.

TL;DR - I got nearly everything sorted, but it was a hard slog.

I'm lucky in that I work fixed hours. When it comes time for me to leave, I am expected to leave, whether or not all my work is done. Yep, that's pretty much a drop-everything-and-scram rule... within reason. We can finish off whatever task we're on, then ignore the rest in our company-sanctioned amscray.

Today when I left, it was such a profound sense of relief to simply abandon my work for another day and take off. I had to stop myself from running across the parking lot in my mad bid for freedom. I was so looking forward to getting home and getting to work on my novel outline. Nothing like a frustrating day at the Day Job to make me really appreciate my writing career.

Don't get me wrong; my writing career is also frustrating, but in a different way. I came home to learn a grant application had been denied, and two (TWO!) form rejections from agents. Le sigh. At least nothing can stop me from working on my outline.

Project Status

  • Of The Dark - ready for final professional copyedits... as soon as I can source the funds for the editor.
  • Currently Unsupervised - oaked and aging. Will come back to it in December (at the earliest) for first-round edits. Hoping to hop on the query train in early 2018.
  • Victorian Clockpunk Telescope - outline nearly done for NaNoWriMo. While the NaNoGoal is a mere 50K, I'm hoping I can get 80K done in November, despite being unable to take the month off work, like I usually do.
  • Audiobooks - paused for QC. Recording will continue as soon as I'm over my chest cold.
  • Everything Else - waiting. The projects I'm working on right now are the best ones for the moment. Nothing else can progress until these all level up.
Her Grace looks forward to a day when the Day Job is no longer required.

Friday, 13 October 2017

More state of the union

When I am quiet online, it is because I am busy in real life.

My latest newsletter went out a few weeks ago. If you haven't signed up for the Quarterly Newsletter, you missed out on some stuff I don't mention on the blog.

The Day Job is so-so, and I can't wait to transition to full-time author, but for now it provides a steady income without too much stress. Alas, it's not quiiite enough income to support my writing habit, so I've applied for a grant once more. Probably won't get it, as the grant-givers don't appear to support genre fiction. They seem to prefer the literary stuff. Is that prejudice on their part, overt or unconscious? They definitely support Australiana, which is something I expect them to do.

I am working on outlining two possible NaNoWriMo projects. Not sure which one I'll end up with. Depends on which one is ready to go on 1 Nov.  Are you doing NaNo this year? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I know it's only October, but all the End of the Year stuff is happening. Australian school terms go from Feb to Dec, so Their Ladyships are in their fourth term. So much to think about, so much to do! I am looking forward to the end-of-year concerts.

Meanwhile, enjoy this brilliant Microwave Chocolate Cake in a Mug recipe from Cleobuttera. It is the best one I've found.

Her Grace has a perfect plan for a novel trilogy. Only thing it needs is money, or time. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Observations: What you do is more important that what is

Before I get into this week's post, here's some state-of-the-union info:

  • The semester started a few weeks ago. Tools of Modern Astronomy. It's all about the EM spectrum and what kind of light buckets we use to catch falling photons. I feel like it might be just over my head, but I shall persist. Will I pass? Yes. Will I get an HD? Probably not. That's okay. I'm a conceptual astronomer and my job will not depend on how well I can run a telescope.
  • I finished the draft for "Currently Unsupervised".  It took me two NaNoWriMos and a few weeks of "get'er dunne". Now drafting the outline for my Victorian Clockpunk Telescope novel. It is not a coincidence I'm taking Tools at the same time I'm drafting this novel.
  • My Quarterly Newsletter goes out at the end of this week. If you aren't signed up to my newsletter, you won't get it. I tend to tell my newsletter stuff before I tell the rest of the world. And yes, I've got news in there.

Yesterday was WA Day, a public holiday, in Western Australia. All week it's the Royal Show (think 'State Fair', for you 'Mericans). Naturally, Their Ladyships and I went along.  But my story is not about the Royal Show or WA Day.

Last week I went to the local grocery store to purchase tickets for the Royal Show. While I was there, I witnessed a young child throw a nuclear-level temper tantrum because they wanted ice cream. Mum was not going to buy them any. The kid screamed and stamped. Still, Mum said no, and proceeded to walk out the door in a controlled manner. Kid continued to scream and stamp, but followed after. This is because the kid, despite their complete meltdown, knew that Mum meant business and was not going to cave.

I respected her for having a plan and sticking to it. In my eyes, this is a good parenting skill.

At the Royal Show, as Their Ladyships and I were indulging in some expensive gelato, a pair of young parents came up with their young child in a pram (stroller). Like us, they'd bought a cup of expensive gelato to share. Young child got first bite because, as Dad explained, this was the first time she'd ever had chocolate ice cream. We had a pleasant conversation over introducing children to new foods, the benefit of teaching them to value high quality, etc.

Young child dropped something on the floor. Dad picked it up and dropped it into the umbrella they had hanging off the side of the pram. Upon closer observation, I noticed it was full of little bits and bobs. They had turned their umbrella into an improv bucket. "Oh, that is so cool!" I uttered.

"Yeah. We only just thought of it today. But I think we'll keep doing it."

They were really cool people and I'm so glad I encountered them. For many reasons, they became a bright point in my day.  I respected them for their parenting skills because they were able to go with the flow, anticipate things, and were able to come up with creative solutions when the unanticipated came up.

Later on at the show we were at one of the kiddie displays. While there, an incident happened which lead to a young child having a nuclear-level temper tantrum.  Unlike the mother in the grocery store, this mother did not have a single clue. Her coping technique was to try and placate and reason with the unreasonable child right there in the middle of the floor. The child was kicking and screaming. Also, this just happened to be the time a large trolley had rocked up with a delivery.

Unfortunately, the kid chose to have their temper tantrum right where the trolley needed to go. Due to crowding, the trolley could not back up, could not move. It blocked the entrance to the display, and nobody could get in or out. The kid in his screaming, struggling mess, came really close to hitting his head against the sharp edge of the trolley. The mother, so wrapped up in trying to placate her child, instead of taking control of the situation, became useless. She was not in control of a situation she should have been.  She had no awareness of her surroundings, the trouble she was creating by not removing her child from the central area, the immediate danger he was in, and, despite the offered help from other parents, could not control her situation.  Essentially, she was just as out of control as her kid.

People had to physically remove her and the child to a safe location, so that the trolley could be moved. She was incapable of doing this herself because she was not in control. At all. Eventually the father showed up. I could tell from the look in his eyes and the actions he took, that this was not the kid's first temper tantrum, nor the mother's first moment of "i can't parent".

When the mother first melted down, my first thought was sympathy. But as I watched her fail to get control over herself and complete strangers had to step in to deal with her situation, I confess my sympathy faded into annoyance. Surely this was not the first time her child has had a temper tantrum. Why did she not have a plan in place for dealing with such a situation?  At least the father had a plan. My annoyance faded into pity. Parenting is hard for all of us. But it can be harder if one doesn't have a plan.

In the space of a week I observed two temper tantrums by young children. One mother earned my respect. The other did not. Yet I am grateful to both women, for they led me to a moment of personal enlightenment.

We will not be judged by how things are. Many things are not completely (or even remotely) in our control.  We will be judged by how we deal with these things.

Having a plan is a good idea. Having enough objectivity when we don't have a plan to come up with a good enough solution, even if that solution is only to buy us more time to think of an even better one, is a good idea. Being in control of ourselves, even when others are not, is a good idea.  Knowing when walking away is the best solution is a good idea.

I hope I have leveled up enough to apply these lessons when my moment comes.

Her Grace believes in regular self-reflection and personal improvement. She does not think she can progress otherwise.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Best Thing to be Doing

Mitch Mitchell wants us to read more.
I'm happy to write more books so you can.
"Is this the best thing you can be doing right now?"  I often ask myself that, but not as often as I should.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with our marketing team at the Day Job about the importance of marketing. I realised I'd let my marketing slip on my books. This was half-laziness and half-analysis. I'd been monitoring the marketing I've been doing for my books, weighing costs vs returns. My current methods were not the most effective at the moment. I wasn't getting as good a ROI (return on investment) as I wanted. After a bit more analysis, I noticed what I'd been doing wrong.

The best way to market a book is to have more books out there. I've currently got five standalones plus one permafree short story sampler. In my recent research, this isn't enough.  Even when the some of my books go on sale with promo, I get some nibbles, but not sufficient to compensate for the price of marketing.  Really, one should be getting a ROI colour other than red. (I accept black or green.)

Obviously I need to get more books out, preferably in a series.

Some author/marketers recommend you spend some of every day writing and some marketing. Fair enough, if you've got the inventory. I don't think I have enough inventory.

So I've decided I'll keep doing little bits of marketing here and there, but not the full-scale I really should be doing.

Instead, I'm going to devote that extra time to finishing more novels. This is the best thing I can be doing right now.  The more novels I get out, the more effective my promotional efforts will be.

I just finished "Currently Unsupervised", which is now aging in a printout on my desk. I'm starting the research for my Victorian Clockpunk Telescope Romance and I've applied for a developmental grant for "Of The Dark".  "The Charm of Truth" needs to sit a little longer before I tack another 20K to it, then it'll be ready to go.

If you ask me if I can do something and I say NO, this is why. These novels don't write themselves.

Her Grace encourages you to leave reviews for her work. That's one of the best things you can do for an author.