Books and writing, oh my!

Sometimes, even I forget that I’ve self published a few books. A little honest background will help explain that.

My first book, A Scent of Roses, was a fabulously fun book to write. I wrote it with a solid Hammer film, B-movie vibe in my head. I tried to keep it coherent, but I gave my imagination complete free rein on the project. “Go where you want,” I told it, “and I’ll just follow along and make sure the pieces almost fit together.” And me and I muse did just that. When I finished, I was staring at this novel, just sitting on my hard drive, and got to thinking – even if it only made a few bucks self-published, that was more than it was making collecting digital dust on my computer.

For a book with no real editing and no publicity, it did (to me) surprising well. Well enough that when I finished Chrysalis, the first chapter in a series I’d been messing with for a while, I went all in. I got an editor, spent money on banner ads, the whole nine yards. And it sank. Or stank. Either way, it didn’t do nearly as well as that first effort. Even on KDP, where you earn money for people just turning some pages (at least when it was first put on there), I never made enough to get something on the dollar menu.

And then, a few weeks ago, I decided (quietly) to pull it off of KDP, set the price on both books to 0.99, and push it out with Draft2Digital to all ebook venues that would take it.

Meanwhile, back at the castle…

When I finished Chrysalis, I actually started – and finished – the first draft of the sequel. But then Chrysalis bombed so badly, and then life, that funny beast, rose up and made itself very intrusive. Writing, even revision work, wasn’t on the list. The few times I tried, either to write new or revise The Mermaid’s Tears, I got interrupted just enough to lose what steam I had.

At about the same time I moved my books to D2D, I also started feeling like now might be a good time to finally put some work into Tears, a book that needed a lot of polish and attention, but in a lot of ways was already written, at least to some degree. Any lingering doubts I had were dismissed when I checked my sales report on D2D. Granted, I’m selling my books at $0.99, but I also haven’t done much to point people their way. AND YET- I’ve made some sales. Kid’s menu meal once a month sales so far, but it’s enough to fill my sails with a bit of wind.

I am happy to say that I am finally working on both revisions to Mermaid’s Tears, as well as another full length novel. And it feels good. For the first time in a long time, I am actually feeling like I can call myself a writer again. Maybe not successful, maybe not popular, but a writer.

Now if I could figure out how to blog more often.

Outlining progress in a novel

Outlining. It’s something I know would help me, but I always run into a cognitive blockade translating the vision in my head into something sensible. In my head? It’s a three dimensional tapestry of interlocking pieces that converge to tell a story. On paper? It’s a mishmash of words that are fairly incoherent, volatile, and likely to be incomplete and therefore abandoned early.

“It’s all right,” I always tell myself. “I’ll fix the outline later. For now, let’s just get some writing done!” And I do. Often times a solid 30,000+ words. The problem is that although I bristle at the thought of following a guideline – who am I to tell me what to write?!? – the resulting story is often far more coherent in the parts where I did sit down ahead of time and map something out.

The problem that has always plagued me, I think, is the thought that it has to be a written outline. Bear with me on this one.

I was watching a Brandon Sanderson video on plotting the other day and in a not quite roundabout way, it led me to drawing out a map of the WIP I want to be working on (but refuse to put any solid words towards until there is an outline).

A funny thing happened. As I drew out the map, marking points where things needed to happen in the story, even where they should happen, I found myself doing more. Part worldbuilding, part storybuilding, I began making notes of things that had to happen here*, before this* or that*. And that’s when I realized, as I was drawing this map to frame the progress of the story with, I was also drawing an outline.

I still have a ways to go. Right now I have these pages in a small Field Notes notebook, and some poor attempts at digitizing the maps I’ve created. (Side note: it doesn’t seem like the same creative neurons are triggered drawing with a mouse on screen as with a pen and paper. Some are fired, but not the same ones.) But it’s progress on an outline, and I’ll take it.

Of course, that said, I’m getting antsy. There is only so much thinking I can do about a story before I need to dig in and start writing. I began this blog post a week ago. I’ve done little to alter the map since then, an indicator (to me) that the next creative step is to actually start putting words down. I’ve a rough outline, grounded with the map. I expect I will stray from the outline at times, but with the map in hand I hope to remain consistent no matter what.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Although my blog is setup to post across multiple platforms, I don’t actually go to Facebook more than once a month or so, Tumblr even less so. Thanks for visiting!

Looking back with 20/20 vision

I’m sure plenty of people will make a joke about 20/20 vision. Probably already have.

2019: what a year. I had goals and dreams, most of them dashed on the rocks of reality. A year filled with unexpected surprises, few of them good. I’ve mulled over this post for longer than I should. It should have been posted in late December, or at least last week, when the year was still fresh.

 Losing my parents this year was a hard blow, one I still haven’t quite recovered from. I miss them, in ways I never would have realized. It also put perspective on life, how I live it, and what I do with it. No grand resolutions, no heartfelt promises of change, in life or blog. But there are definitely things stewing, ideas and dreams that I realize now need to be realized or perish.

Welcome to 2020, friends. Now let’s kick some ass and chew some gum, and leave a legacy people will remember, whether that be in print or action, thought or deed. Let’s get it on.