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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Beta Reading Time

I sent out emails to willing guinea pigs beta readers of Taken yesterday, so if I’ve screwed up somewhere (uh, again) and you didn’t receive an email but were meant to, then please email me instead. I need a better way to organise this kind of thing. I’ve been using categories in my email, and that’s not really working well with my bad organisational memory. Any suggestions?

Also, Clarity still isn’t on the iBookstore. I don’t know what’s going on there.

Also, also, we are likely (actually, finally, for real this time) to be moving soon, but we’ve been told that it may take an entire month (gasp!) at least (double gasp!) to set up an Internet connection. Before we move for good, I’ll be drifting in and out of the real world and the stone age, but Taken shouldn’t be affected by this particular… ridiculousness. I will do whatever it takes to upload that sucker in time.

But aside from that, I can’t predict how disruptive moving will actually be on the schedule for the rest of the year, but that’s what makes it so exciting, right? Right? 😀

 

Update on B&N

Quick post to let those who have been asking know that Clarity is finally available on B&N. No sign on iTunes, I’m afraid.

I don’t know what’s taking so long, but sorry about the delays.

Mission 300

I try to work on a loose schedule. As in, some books should be written at certain times, edited at others, to be ready for beta reading or outside editing times. Ava and the Cursed series are my current priorities, and it can be stressful trying to keep up when life gets in the way. But it gets done in the end. Usually in a frenzied week of no sleep. 🙂 Sometimes, I come up with ideas I want to write rightnowthissecond, but I don’t have time on the “schedule,” so I might outline or write a few paragraphs to get the new shinies out of my head, and then put that idea aside until I have time.

Recently, I got it into my head that a page of writing is just 300 words, and writing a page a day will give you two novels a year. A page is pretty easy, in my experience, and I decided it would be a good idea to use these 300 words for some fresh new shiny ideas in addition to my normal schedule. I have the time to write a lot, so an extra 300 words shouldn’t pose much of a problem. New shinies are always fun, and therefore, the words generally come easy. At least at first. I know I don’t have time to edit any new stories, but I think it’s good to have manuscripts ready to be picked at.

Anyway, I started the extra 300 words and used them on a fun idea I had. It’s a little tongue in cheek, but also a happy ever after type of story, and I really need some practice at these. 😛 I’d already written something like 20k words on this thing by having a quick session whenever I could, but I ultimately set it aside for good because I didn’t have time for it. No time. No fun. *Lashes whip*

Mission 300 extra words a day started. And somehow became the priority in the mornings. And somehow, I kept forgetting to stop at 300 words. And somehow, those 300 words kept turning into a couple of thousand words until last night when I wrote something like seven thousand words and realised I had finished my fun idea in less than a week. Not one word of it resembled teeth pulling. It was fun and easy and done before I knew it. Mission 300 extra words a day is awesome. 😀

Which brings me to my point. Finally. Everyone’s talking about (that article I keep receiving links to which mentions) some successful writer going through an apparently brutal writing schedule of 2k words a day because they’re now forced to complete two books a year instead of one. (Math looks dodgy, but moving on). And when I say everyone’s talking, I mean a lot of people are poking fun. (Which is kinda mean). My first instinct is to say that an experienced writer should be capable of 2k before breakfast, unless they spend twelve hours a day on Facebook, in which case, congrats on getting so many words done on your breaks from Facebook. (Which is also kinda mean). But that’s not really fair, and I don’t know anything at all about that particular writer, or many others, for that matter, so I’m gonna generalise (because I’m so damn good at it).

While I feel that agonising over every single word is a waste of my time, others may feel like they’ve earned that word and given it a greater value by agonising over it. But the amount of words you write every day has no definite bearing on quality (or writerly awesomeness), one way or another, and everyone’s process is different. There are no shortcuts. Some people write slow and edit fast. I’m the opposite. Writing’s a dream, but editing’s a nightmare (because I hate to do it, just like some writers, unfathomably, hate writing. Weirdos) . Some people edit as they go, which kind of slows down the process. Some people have to research the shit out of something tremendously dull (or distracting) in between every chapter. (And hey, I’ve been known to start out with Polish mythology and end up reading about, erm, living dolls). Some people need time to warm up and so use some of their writing time to read over old stuff or whatever.

And some people… some people aren’t writing what they really want to write. They’re writing what they have to write to survive. This makes such a difference. Writing words on a story you don’t believe in, or a story you’re sick of, or a story you’re just not in the mood to write, can be brutal. Not everyone is free to write what they want. Imagine only writing one particular series or genre for your entire writing career, all because you’ve been pigeon holed, or you think readers only buy certain genres, or you feel like you don’t have any choice because someone out there believes this is what you’re good at and diversifying would bastardise your sales. Or some other shit.

That would be soul-destroying for me (and brutal). I wouldn’t manage 500 words a day under those circumstances. Even writing two different series can be hard for me sometimes when all I really want to do is dig into some horror or fantasy (and yes, I write kinds other than urban, judgypants). And if you start a series, you kind of feel like a dick for working on anything other than that series because you know people might be waiting for the next one. But, sometimes, there’s nothing like a genre change to refresh your mind. If it’s stale, it doesn’t read well, that’s all I’m saying.

I had some seriously brutal days on the Cursed series. Holy shit, I thought those books were going to kill me some days, despite the fact I knew the characters inside out and that y/a is my soft spot genre. The problem with that series is the fact I began Verity so long ago. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t waste the epic ideas on a lesser skill set, and the best way for me to increase the ‘oul skills was to follow through with the old ideas first. That in itself presented some problems.  Especially with Verity, it being the first real idea I had. I was a lot younger then (obviously), I had a different mentality, and that took a surprising amount of adjustment for present-day me. I found myself mammying the characters by the shitload, for example. (A side-effect of having five kids that nobody bothers telling you about, by the way). So my own headspace made it a struggle, in that old me and new me were fighting for control.

But more than that was the fact I had spent so many years in the middle of Verity. I had vague ideas of where I wanted the series to go, and what would happen to the characters, but I never actually worked it out and wrote it down properly. I had lots and lots of lovely scenes that I would play out in my head regularly (but which will sadly now never make it into the series), but no cohesive story from start to finish. So I was living in the middle of the story for a long time, and it was hard for me to give that up and get to the end. This is a key thing for a lot of writers, I think. Getting so used to being in the middle of a story that they can’t mentally bring themselves to go further. I’m coming to terms with the fact I’ll have to say goodbye, so I might as well get out of my own way and do it already, but I still haven’t written that last chapter.

I know it will be brutal.

Series InDecisions

So I’m editing Taken at the moment, and I’m debating whether entire story lines fit into this book or the next. Or the next. The problem with writing a series like this one is that at some stage, you end up with a ginormous cast of characters and a lot of parallel storylines. Which is fine enough in a looooong, slower-paced book, but when it’s a shorter piece, it can become confusing. I’ve written book four of the Ava series, and for me, it’s my favourite, but it’s also completely ridiculous, what with all of the characters coming into play (and the various storylines coming together at once).

When I sent Tempt out to beta readers, the majority of them commented on the twins in some way. I was actually really surprised by the focus on these two characters.  Out of those who made specific comments, two didn’t feel that the twins were needed in the story, while the rest were all positive about the twins, many saying they couldn’t wait to see how their story progressed. I went with the majority, but I did accept that there were already quite a few characters in the series. And now Taken really does have a pretty huge cast because, due to certain story lines, the vast majority of players (old and new) make an appearance. I can take some away, and reintroduce some in the next book, but either way, we will end up with a large group of characters.

The thing is, before Ava, there was another story. A story I didn’t write because none of the characters had “it”, that special something that made me want to spend an extended amount of time in their heads. I, personally, have to feel it. There has to be a reason for me to wake up every day and join a character on their journey. And although I enjoy every character I write, good or bad, not all of them are the ones I want to be joined at the hip to for months or years at a time. This probably makes no sense at all to normal people. 😀

I had this world in my head, and it was big and ready for a massive change; it just needed the right character. Peter, Leah, and a number of others all existed before Ava. It wasn’t until I found Ava that I realised she belonged in this world I had already come up with. I wanted to go back and write that first story again, except without Peter, and have those characters cross paths with Ava. Cameo roles for characters who are important to the world itself, and who I will write about again. But I’ve reached that crossover point in Taken, and I still haven’t written that other story. I seriously considered waiting to write Taken until after I published this other story, but I decided it wouldn’t be fair to those who weren’t interested in a crossover story, and I didn’t have the time to write/publish them parallel to each other. My editor has other clients, ya know. 🙂

There’s another issue with this series. All of the characters, even ones we haven’t seen yet, have their own timeline. I like to keep track of what everyone is doing in the background. It takes me longer to work this way, but it helps me focus on the timing of things and helps me add hints to future story lines. (And everyone has a massive back story which doesn’t make it into the book. I would love to have been able to tell Max’s story, for example, but it didn’t fit, and there was so much more to him than was seen in Thirst). But as the cast grows, so does my chance of messing up continuity. And it definitely slows down the editing process. There’s the potential for confusion, so I’m going to do my best to pare things down, but if I pare down too much, then I’ll need to write an extra book to finish the series, and that seems unfair to those who have been reading the stories.

I’ve also considered writing the six Ava books and completing her story arc, then working on some crossover stories, and finally bringing all of the characters, including Ava, into one large story. The problem with that is it might appear as if that final story is changing Ava’s ending. Which could seem unfair, too, and it might be my self-indulgent side talking and wanting to spend more time with Ava. I know I always say I write for myself first, but I don’t want to disappoint people either (this is going to happen no matter what I do, I know), and although I could keep Ava’s stories going for twenty books, I would hate to get to the point where people are begging me to just end it already.

Any advice?

And, seriously, after Ava I’m working on stand alone books for at least a year. Or stories with, like, three characters. 😉

Random Questions Blog Tag

Lauralynn tagged me, and Juli tagged everyone with a similar thing, (and I’m too lazy to edit the oh, so long blog post drafts I have lined up) so I decided to do a combo of their questions. I’ll ask my questions at the bottom, so if you answer (some or all of) mine, link to it at the bottom (or answer in comments).

Who is your favourite author?  This is a difficult question because there are so many now, (which is a great thing to be able to say) but I’ll have to limit myself to three that I’ve been in the mood for recently – these three mostly for creating some of my favourite characters. Charlotte Bronte, Patricia Briggs, and George R. R. Martin. Look how long I have to wait for the next in the series. 😛

How old were you when you had your first real kiss? Mother don’t read this. 😀 I think I was probably thirteen or fourteen. I honestly can’t remember it. Sorry, dude. But don’t feel bad, most of my teenage years have been conveniently blanked out. Note to anyone still in school: No, they are not the best days of your life, so don’t worry.

Who is your hero? *sings* Wonder Woman. Buffy. I’m all about the fictional heroes.

Who is the sexiest person on TV right now? Oh. Mr. Farrell, don’t read this. 😀 Right now as in current seasons showing right now? I’m not watching a lot of TV of late, but if he’s in Supernatural or Game of Thrones, chances are he’s doing it for me on some level. (Except Sam. Never Sam. Sorry Sam). And not just the caveman types either – Aidan Gillen’s been pleasantly disturbing me since Queer as Folk.

Who is your favourite vampire? I’m not really a vampire fan, and I’m struggling to think of any… Maybe Spike (or Angelus) or Eric Northman. They’re relatively likeable, while still being absolute dicks. Always fun to watch.

What would be your ideal job? Writer. O_O

What do people do that annoys you the most? I am renowned as a grumpy biatch. Everything annoys me. Today, I hate when people tell me I can’t do something or I have to do something. Rules are made to be fecked out the window, people!

What’s the name of the furthest city you’ve travelled to? Marbella.

Any nicknames? Um… Clairebear… but I have to really like you to let you live after calling me that.

What “bucket list” item do you hope to accomplish within the next 5 years? Finish a series! Possible. Own a house. Unlikely.

What’s your least favorite chore? All of them. I’m not good with chores. Ironing pisses me off though. I happen to like creases. 🙂

Who’s your favorite character from a book?  (If you’re a writer, you can list one of your own.) Sticking with the favourite author question, my favourites right now this second are Jane Eyre (and Mr. Rochester, ahem, Toby Stephens), Mercy Thompson, and from A Song of Ice and Fire, I have a ridiculous number of favourites. They’re pretty predictable too – Arya, Gendry, Jon, Tyrion, Daenerys, etc. I’m not very original. 🙂

Any vacation plans on the horizon? No. But it would be nice. We haven’t had a family holiday yet.

What’s your favourite quote? From a Robert Frost poem: But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. Always a good reminder. (By the way, I get a kick out of the most highlighted phrase from Thirst on Amazon. I need to get it on a mug or something to honour the awesomeness of the highlighters).

What new skill would you like to learn? I’d love to play the drums. Sadly, I have no sense of rhythm.

My questions/demands:

Recommend one book that everyone should read:
What’s your favourite genre of music?
Who is/has been your most embarrassing/inappropriate crush?
If you could be an animal, which one would it be?
What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done/said?
What would your superhero power be?
What fictional character would you most like to be real and why?
You wake up tomorrow with a billion (insert currency here) in the bank. First thing you do is:
What’s the weirdest/most disgusting food you’ve ever eaten?
I’m really bad at thinking up questions. Tell me a secret.

Adversity

Adversity (Cursed #2.5) is available on Smashwords. It will eventually be available elsewhere, but as Clarity still isn’t for sale on most of those places, I’m not even going to hazard a guess on time frames.

It will always be free, so please make sure you don’t pay for it whenever I upload it to Amazon to be price-matched.

Anyway, it’s roughly 50,000 words and should be read after Clarity, but it doesn’t need to be read to understand Purity. It’s basically Clarity from Amelia’s point of view, and I tried to do as little rehash as possible, but some conversations and scenes will be familiar. As I said, it’s not a required read, but more of an extra.

In other news:

Next month I’ll be sending Taken out to beta readers. I love this book so much, but I just know I’m going to have to cut it down a lot because of the gajillion characters. But… they’re necessary. *Screams*

Also, I packaged the first three Ava Delaney stories into one book called Awakening and priced it at $4.99. I’ll likely package the next three books at a discount if you want to wait instead of buying them individually. And I’m working on paper copies of everything, but it’ll take a while because it takes so. freaking. long for the proofs to get here.

I haven’t blogged much of late because I’m really tightly scheduled just in case the move is super disruptive. So all of the posts seem to be about new releases. *Snore* Note to self: blog more often.