I have a lot of tech set up to help me write more, write better, and get more done. And even so, I recognize that all of the bells and whistles aren't what matters. Especially when I see a post like the recent one in a writer's group I belong to where the author suggested it was time to quit.
When I was in grad school at USM, I was first assigned to work as a Writing Fellow in the Honors College. My job was to basically lead a small group of first-year students through their writing assignments for the FY Seminar. I was assigned to work with Dr. Michael Salda and Anastasia Feldman, who were team teaching the freshman class of 1995.
Dr. Salda passed away in 2015, but one of his major contributions was to create The Cinderella Project. Working with Dr. Salda, USM grad students in English created a robust site covering various versions of the Cinderella story (pulled from USM's de Grummond Collection) and digitized those, putting them on the web. What this meant was that anyone with internet access could view those texts and learn about them--they could learn, for instance, that there isn't just one culture that embraced the story, as well as see the cultural differences in how the story was told.
When I went to view The Cinderella Project, I found that it no longer exists. USM's site gives me a 404 error.
As noted in his Authuriana obituary, Dr. Salda also maintained archives on Jack & the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. None of those archives exist anymore. Doing Google searches, though, demonstrates how powerful the projects were--many other faculty used those archives in their own classes. Syllabi and lesson plans are still floating around out there that attempt to link back to the non-existent archives.
Over at the Octave Thanet Project, I've been working my way through the primary texts in the order of publication. Part of that has involved using Google Play Books versions of those texts because:
Ultimately, this type of work is what my PhD trained me to do. And so far I'm having a blast.
While I certainly was influenced by Dr. Paul Reuben's Perspectives in American Literature site, I have to think that were it not for Dr. Salda, I might not be approaching this project in this particular way. Realizing that the work he did on those three archives is gone, I am also considering how to ensure that even once I'm gone, the resources will remain. On the bright side, you can still view snapshots of all three (see urls in the top for easy searching--the links in the snapshots do still work, so if you get to one, you can get to them all) on the WayBack Machine on the Internet Archive.
I've done NanoWriMo (with varying levels of success) since 2012 with a full on "break" last year (I had just published Homecoming and wanted a rest). So far, I'm pretty happy with my progress in the first two days. Here's what is in my survival kit.
While there's no substitute for a human editor, there are some wonderful tools which can not only help you save money and time with your editor by presenting them a cleaner manuscript from the start, but which can also help you identify patterns of error and weakness in your writing. Once you know those patterns, you can improve your writing as a whole.
The three tools above (the pictures are linked to their product pages) are the ones I use on a daily basis when writing, revising, and editing. Let's dive a bit deeper into what these are and how I use them.
I'm in that spot where I finished a big project, Elegant Freefall, and I'm wondering what to work on now. How did I know I was done with the book? When I turned my laptop off yesterday and pulled up the 50000th Kindle version on my tablet and saw a random period. I ran to my laptop, booted it up, and went to open the file in Scrivener.
Before the laptop was fully booted, I picked up my Fire and wiped the screen. My errant period was a fleck of something.
I thought that I needed some community to get things going; the problem is that as with most things that involve more than one or two people, massive groups of aspiring writers wind up in sniping wars or discussing everything but the actual writing.
So, one of the things I'm doing today is putting all of my writing related social media groups on silent.
November is National Novel Writing Month, AKA NanoWriMo. I finally hit on a project that I wanted to work on and that had potential to be a longer work. In the days between leaving my job and November 1st, I even managed to get an outline together, as well as a character list and some specific scenes down. When November 1 got here, I was off and writing.
As a birthday present to myself, I registered for the Self-Published Small Press Book Fair this year. If you didn't get a chance to visit the Book Fair, be sure to keep an eye out for it in 2019.
So, I'm not going to do a lot of big posts this month, most likely, but I will be posting on occasion to keep accountable and to let you know my progress on NanoWriMo 2017.
In preparation for this year's event, I have outlined the novel so I know the time frame (it takes place over a long weekend) and the setting, as well as the four main characters. The basic plot is this--in 2012, four college best friends reunite after 20 years over Labor Day weekend. It's Chick Lit, and it's character driven. The lame (?) tentative title is Long Weekend.
There's also a tie in to Elegant Freefall, as one of the minor characters from that novel (which is in my desk drawer at the moment, waiting for revision), is one of the four main characters in the NanoWriMo novel.
I've also been listening to old episodes of The Story Grid Podcast in preparation for this project, and love the episode titled "The Mathematics of Story Telling." It's somehow oddly comforting to know that I need 1/4 for the opening hook, 1/2 for the middle build, and 1/4 for the conclusion. There's also some great advice here about positive/negative balance for the characters.
How's your first day?
Total word count at the moment for day 1: 2185
Projected end date at this rate: November 23*
End date = 50K words. There's no guarantee that'll be the actual end of the novel.
So, I keep getting the questions: "Where are you going?" and "Have you got a new gig?" I wanted to share a little here, as it seems that even though my email that went out to faculty indicated I am going to focus on my writing, I still get the odd instant message asking me what my plans are.
So, while I've been putting the finishing touches on Zamani, I've been considering marketing tactics and doing a lot of things *new* for me. Here are my thoughts on GoorReads, classes that promise to show you the secrets to selling more books, and general shady behavior.
Jenna Moreci's video is not only entertaining (with some NSFW language) but it's chock full of some great tips for both the writer and the beta reader. Here are some tips for you if you decide to ask me to beta for you.
So, I'm pulling the plug.
I don't care what type of writing you want to do or even if you are just someone who enjoys talking about literature--listen to The Story Grid podcast. I even recently suggested it to my students of academic writing.
The video above doesn't tell me anything I don't already know; heck, I tell my students this all the time.
So, I'm working on a new project right now that has nothing to do with the Olivia Chronicles. Book 3, tentatively titled Zamani, is out to a few readers, and I wanted to get a new reader's input. So, I turned to Goodreads to see who might volunteer.
I have a few days off from the day job (three left after today), so I'm making the most of them. I finished beta-reading for a friend (which was a great experience because the book is pretty phenomenal and I can't wait to see what happens with it as she starts shopping it around). I also get off my rear end and decided on a cover for Zamani and re-designed the cover for Brigitte's Cross to fit the brand better. I always loved the cover image for book two, but the overall theme was too light and too PINK for me. I think the three covers now go together (and all involve candles).
I've been publishing exclusively on Amazon since the beginning; I reasoned that it was a good choice because of the learning curve involved with effectively publishing directly with Kobo and iBooks. I also reasoned that being exclusive means I could continue to participate in Kindle Unlimited and other promos like the Kindle Lending Library.
This week, both books in The Olivia Chronicles are live on Smashwords (for those of you who read on a Nook, this is a good spot to get my books). I also published on Kobo and on iBooks (book 2 has yet to go live, but is in the QA process), as well.
The learning curve is not that bad; once you learn how to shift the TOC from your print versions to bookmark anchored TOC, the files clean up pretty quickly. You will, if you don't have a Mac, need to use a third party like Draft2Digital to publish on iBooks.
I'm working toward the end of Book 3 (as yet untitled) and will be publishing in all platforms from the start with that book. I'm open to giving coupon codes (this is something that I couldn't do before with Kindle only) for review copies of Book 1 and 2 if folks email me for those codes.
One of my goals for this year (not resolution, mind you) is to have a clearer production plan. Part of this involves daily writing, and I've started mandating a two hour block in the morning. Hey, I'm up at 4:45 am right now and even once Dr. D's schedule changes to clinic hours, I will still be able to move from my writing laptop to my teaching laptop before 8 am. I don't have a length requirement, but I do set my stopwatch on my phone for two hours and I'm focused on writing during that block.
If you're interested in production plans and why they are important for writers, there is a great podcast over at The Author Biz with Elizabeth Spann Craig. You can listen on Stephen Campbell's site or grab it on your phone (this was my walking podcast today). Not only is this a great listen for the production planning advice, but Spann also talks about her use of WattPad and the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).