Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Spoilers Abound! But Not In This Post.

So, the new Star Wars movie is out. Have you seen it yet? I haven't. I have, however, seen enough previews to figure a couple of things out that have since been confirmed by other spoiler-type people. Don't worry.  I have no plans to share.

At this point, if you have not yet seen the movie and do not want to see any spoilers, might I suggest refraining from viewing any type of social media whatsoever? Like the title says, spoilers doth abound and there are really mean people who are getting off on spreading those spoilers everywhere they can. As for me, I don't mind knowing some things ahead of time. I like to figure things out, especially when I question certain motives. And if I keep on going, I'll give it away so I'd better quit right here.

What I really want to discuss is old versus new with relation to Star Wars and the previously in place extended universe.

I was one of those people who waited anxiously for the next Star Wars book to hit the shelves. Hundreds of thousands of words have been written within what was once known at the EU. There was much to love and much that I just couldn't get past. Still, when I'd first heard that Mr. Abrams has tossed the EU in its entirety to make his movie, I'll admit. I was pissed. 

Then it dawned on me that while the good went bye-bye, so did the bad. In fact, there is one book that I just can't read to the end because of what happens. There's also an element of Luke Skywalker's life that never did set too well with me. Now that The Force Awakens has arrived, all of that has been declared invalid. Am I glad? Yes and no, but mostly yes. It did take some time for me to come around but I am now looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens.

Still, I feel for all of the authors who wrote within the previous Star Wars Extended Universe. All that work now pretty much tossed in the trash. Still good for a read, but little more than fan fiction now. Yeah, I'd probably be a tad put off by that. Of course, those writers will still receive royalties for their work, which may or may not now be in the spotlight thanks to the new movie coming out. 

There were a lot of good stories written back then. I can remember becoming lost in those stories, even the ones I wasn't particularly thrilled with - except for the one that I still can't finish. Maybe now that things have changed, I can get through it. 

However, from what I'm told by a friend who saw it yesterday, if you haven't read the books, you won't miss anything. The new movie takes off in a new direction and despite knowing how things used to be, I'm happy to follow to see where Mr. Abrams is going with this new thing.

My own writing journey began with a Star Wars fan fiction piece. I got tired of waiting for someone else to write the story where Luke finds his own love so I decided I'd write it myself. Over the years, when I needed to just write and not worry about characterization, I always turned to my old friends, Han, Luke, and Leia. With them, I could just concentrate on the story and let the characters fend for themselves. Probably one reason why my stories are plot driven instead of character driven. 

It's also one reason why some of the revisions to my current manuscript include some character development. As one beta reader said, the character needs to be present. Maybe not speaking but at least reacting to what's being said. Minor issue, possibly, but still one that needs to be addressed.

So that's my plan for the next few weeks. Work on revisions to a completed manuscript so that my beta readers can look that one over for more detailed revisions and final polishing. Well, the final decision to let it go and move on.

To put my own spin on a famous quote, a project is never finished so much as it is abandoned. Hoping to abandon my own current project in a couple of months. Need to get that Amazon library started.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

There's Always Next Year

Nope. Not winning NANOWRIMO this year. Didn't even make it to 10,000 words. Kind of hard to feel motivated to write when you've got flu-like symptoms and feel like a wet dishrag for half the month. But there will be next year and I'll be ready.

I did get blog posts written for the beauty blog. If I counted those, I probably did get past 10,000 words but definitely didn't make 50,000. 

Being sick has also gotten my sleep schedule way off. The only way to live through it was to sleep through the morning. Lots of sleep helped but now I'm left with the habit of sleeping the morning away. Things are slowly working back toward normal but since my writing stride has been in the morning since I've been off work, I really  need my mornings back.

I do feel like I've been in limbo this month - more so than the entire last year. Limbo isn't a very nice place and it gets boring. Hopefully, I've had my major yuck for the rest of the year and can now enjoy the Christmas season.

It's raining as I write this. And yes, I am crazy but I would love to see some snow right now. We did have a bit of the white stuff a week or so ago but it wasn't enough. I need that full blanket at least once. 

But back to the subject - aside from illness, I think there's another reason I didn't make the 50,000 word goal. I didn't take the time to plan what I was going to write. Since I hadn't planned to do NANO this year, no surprise there. Last year, I planned for NANO. I developed the story idea and was ready to write the scenes as soon as November 1st arrived. That's what I plan to do for next year. In fact, I'm going to start planning right now.

I am currently working on the first book in a trilogy, which means I will need to plan books 2 and 3 right alongside writing book 1. At this point, I have kind of put aside plans to do copywriting so I can concentrate on getting the first book out. 

I have set goals again, the first one being that book 1 of the trilogy will be a completed draft by the end of the year. One of my writing buddies and I worked it out last Wednesday when we met. I timed myself for one hour to see how many words I can crank out in an hour. We came up with an hourly goal with the idea that I'll be writing 4 hours a day. 

Haven't made the 4 hour a day goal yet, what with Thanksgiving last week and Black Friday and well, just getting myself back into the habit of daily writing. But this is the first day of a new month and with 31 days, if I can stick with 1500 an hour for 4 hours per day, even if I take weekends off, I'll have a 144,000-word draft completed by New Years Eve. 

Now, I know that sound ambitious but my true word count goal for the month is only 75,000 to 100,000. After all, every writer knows that just because you can write 1500 words in a one-hour sprint, doesn't mean you can maintain that speed over several hours of writing time. I will be happy if I can average 3000 to 4000 words in a 4 hour writing period. 

What I'm looking for now is that passive income that can be achieved by having something out there on Amazon. In fact, I've set a goal to have two books up on Amazon by Memorial Day. I already have a first draft ready for revisions, which means for the first quarter of 2016, I'll be in revision hell with two books.

Once I have the end of year goals met, I'll take a look at both projects, decide how much work will actually be involved and then possibly adjust that publishing goal. 

Meantime, I will still need some kind of income. Savings only goes so far, you know. I have come across a copywriting job that I find I truly enjoy. Product description. After all, that's what I do on the beauty blog. Why not get paid for it? 

December is going to be a busy month writing-wise, especially if you count all of the blog posts I've got planned for the beauty blog. I'll update here as I can but if you don't hear from me for the rest of the month, you can assume I'm writing up a storm.

Either that or I've crawled back into bed to hibernate for the month. Nah. I'd get too hot and too bored. Better to do the writing thing instead.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's That Time Of Year....Again

It's happened already. The "Happy Holidays!" versus "Merry Christmas!"

Yesterday, at the coffee shop, the individual behind the counter wished me "Happy Holidays!"  My response?  "You, too!"

Now, I have been heard to say and have fully intended to respond with a firm and possibly partially judgemental, "Merry Christmas." Trouble is, it wasn't Christmas yet, despite what retailers would have you think as of well before Halloween (don't get me started on that one or we'll be here all day).  Wasn't really even Thanksgiving yet - one more subject that I'll feel the need to expand upon at some point in time. I mean, to whom or what are you giving thanks, anyway? Think about it. Really think about it. We'll get back to this a little later.

Anyway, I didn't give my response any thought until just a few minutes ago. The "You, too!" just kind of came out automatically, as it does whenever someone says, "Have a nice day!" Don't judge. We all do it at some point. It's become the standard response to any well wishes, hasn't it? A little too standard but, again, another subject for further exploration at a later time.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with this current practice. Well, I don't anymore. I did at first. How dare you take away the holiday I celebrate? What's wrong with you? Forget the religious component, "Merry Christmas!" is tradition and you should never go messing around with tradition. Besides, a certain name is part of the name of the day. What are you gonna do? Change the name of the day? You can't. It's tradition. So there. It offends me that you are offended by me wishing you a "Merry Christmas!"

And I could go on. In fact, at one time, I probably would have. This year, however, if someone wants to wish me "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" I'm not going to publically chastise them for doing so. After all, "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" were being used long before it became politically correct to do so.

It has also occurred to me that the individual behind the counter has probably been forbidden by their employer to even mention Christmas in polite company. After all, the employer is in it to make money and doesn't want to take the chance of offending someone who might object to being wished a "Merry Christmas!" We are supposed to be the melting pot of civilization here in North America and just because someone is in the USA doesn't mean they share the same political or religious views, morals or otherwise. And we don't want to go around offending people left and right, now do we? Um, no pun intended there.

So, this year and following, I have decided that I'll let go of my offense that someone might be offended if I wish them "Merry Christmas!", respond in kind and get on with my merry little life. 

Who cares if I'm wished "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas!"? Doesn't matter in the least. I know what holidays I acknowledge this time of year and they are multiple - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Which means, to wish me happy multiple holidays is, in fact, the correct greeting. 

Now, about Thanksgiving.  If you are in the USA, or even if you're not, to whom or what are you giving thanks today?

Monday, November 2, 2015


Holy NANOWRIMO, Batman! It's that time again. 

And now I have my post title running through my head to the Howdy Doody theme. OY! Stop that!

I hadn't intended to participate this year but got guilted into it - by myself, which is truly sad but what can you do?

Not sure how this will all work considering I'm taking another copywriting course through the rest of the year. This one has actual homework to go with it so I'm gonna be a real busy girl for the next two months. 

Still dragging me feet putting meself out there for jobs, though. It's a confidence thing and this course should help with that. Just sent in my first assignment and waiting on pins and needles for the result. I procrastinated so long that I only gave myself a couple of days to get it done. But get it done, I did and I think it was pretty good for a start. 

I'll be able to use my homework in my writing sample portfolio so I'll have something to showcase when I finally get out there. It's either this or the cube farm and time is quickly running out for that decision. Although, now I'm thinking that even if I do have to get another cube job, it won't be for nearly as long as the last one. And it will give me some breathing room while I work on both writing gigs.

Meanwhile, I've been slacking in the writing department. One reason I jumped on the NANOWRIMO bandwagon. At least this way I'll write something every day even if I don't come up a winner this year. But I probably will. It would be a real let down if I don't have that new banner to display up there at the top. 

I do have a competitive streak. Now if I could just use that competitive streak to get out there and find me some copywriting clients, I'd be in business - finally.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vacation is Over and A Brief HP Envy/Windows 10 Review

I can't believe it will be a year this month since I left CoreSource. 

As I look back on the last year, I can see where I was productive in some ways yet not so productive in others. I guess you could say that I've just had that year-long vacation I always dreamed of and now I'm ready to get down to work again. Productive or not, the time off has been good for me. It gave me a chance to decompress and prepare for the next phase of my life.

Even though there were people praying that this would happen for me, I still felt a bit resentful that I had been let go when they kept others who I knew were doing more harm than good. A friend of mine is still there and I must confess that whenever she posted something work related on Facebook, I got a resentful twinge. Especially when I saw my desk all cleared up. Silly, I know, but real nonetheless.

Then, when I got the call a few months ago that another office wanted my help but then never heard about it again, I felt really let down. Not so much now. In fact, it's a good thing that part didn't work out. I know the kind of pain in the butt it would have been and I also know they wouldn't have wanted to pay me what I would have wanted to do the job. It was also the clean break I really needed in order to move on.

Which brings me to where I am right now. As this first year post CoreSource comes to a close, I need to decide what I want to do with myself in the years to come. 

After reading more about Medical Coding and hearing what real life is like as a Medical Coder from someone who does it and hates it, that career path is no longer of interest to me. Sounds too much like what I left nearly a year ago. Instead, I am opting to step up the copywriting game and take a path toward specializing in B2B.

For those that might not know, B2B stands for Business to Business in the marketing and copywriting world. It's niche where I can do as much or as little as I want and still make some good money. Since my main interest is in fiction writing, I see B2B as a way of working part time yet still making enough money to get by until, you know, that book hits the big time. Yeah. Gotta finish it first, silly girl, and then write several more and then maybe.

Anyway, since I was no longer going to spend $3500 on a Medical Coding education, I bought a new computer and monitor. The old set up had developed quite a few issues that were getting in the way of getting stuff done. Kind of hard to work when the monitor goes out with the slightest touch. Or when the computer just hangs there without warning. Really annoying and not all that productive. Now if I could just find a way of boosting the quality of my internet, I'd really be in business.

Apparently, we have to slowest internet on the planet - Centurylink. We can upgrade to something Centurylink claims is faster but I'm pretty skeptical at this point. Especially considering all of the outages we seem to experience with Centurylink. I really don't want to spend more money on something that doesn't work any better.

Not that I have any other options right now. I used to have ATT U-verse at the last place I lived and I loved it. Even when a bad wind storm blew through, while everyone else had no electric much less internet, I still had internet, TV and phone all functioning up to normal. Where I currently live, however, ATT is not available. Yet. I was out and about yesterday and passed where they were burying some kind of something then I passed an ATT truck. I know they are working on getting us service out here so hopefully soon we'll be switching.

Meanwhile, a new router and wi-fi extender will have to do.

Also meanwhile, the fiction writing is on hold for the time being while I fully concentrate on doing what I need to do in order to be making money at the copywriting thing. Hoping to be financially productive by the end of the year. 

Which brings me to those reviews I mention. 

Because I like to play RPG games that require quite a bit of computer power to run, I configured this new computer with that in mind.

I ended up with an HP Envy 750qe. I wanted a Phoenix, but that would have cost a lot more money after configuring to my specs. The Envy was the next best choice and the 750qe, I believe, is the top of that line. Of course, if I had waited, the Phoenix is now on sale and I might have been able to have gotten it for close the same price. That's the breaks, I guess.

I have been an HP computer owner for several years now and each new computer comes with a redesigned keyboard. This one was no exception and it is a lot smaller than I'm used to. Hardly takes up any room on my desk, which is a good thing because my desk is not all that big. This keyboard reminds me of a black version of a MAC keyboard. The feel of the keys is something to get used to, as well. They take just a light touch and do work smoothly, but I think the spacing is a lot closer now. 

Then there's the placement of the extra USB ports and the smart card reader on the box. Instead of being on the front, these are now located in the top. That might not sound inconvenient, but it actually is in a way. The top of the box is only flush with the front for a couple of inches before it drops down about an inch. The extra ports and card reader are installed there and facing the back of the unit. If you house your computer inside a cubby, this will be quite the annoyance. I use an old 20-gallon fish tank stand that has a low shelf. It's the perfect size for a computer box and there is space between the top of the stand and the top of the box for me to access these ports but it's still something I don't particularly like. 

I got the blue-ray optical drive this time, which now sits on edge instead of flat. That, at least, is in the front - in fact, it's the only thing in the front. There's a metal flap covering it and what might be some kind of vent just below the player. I thought my old computer had a blue-ray in it but when I purchased the DVD of my favorite Scrooge video, I found out the hard way that it doesn't. I could still watch the black and white version that was, thankfully, included but until I had access to a blue-ray player, the colorized version remained unwatched. I haven't tried the player yet so I can't speak to the quality one way or the other.

The computer itself is a lot faster than I'm used to, but then I configured it to be so.  As I said, I do some gaming - not online because, well, I'm not all that good at it and I'd probably get killed in the first 5 seconds and that's not fun. Anyway, because the games I do play are so graphics intensive, the old computer worked but there were frequent issues that I'm hoping this new computer will resolve. I did test one game that crashed quite a bit with the old computer but didn't experience any crashes in 5 or 6 hours of play.

The monitor is amazing. I got the 27-inch Pavillion wide screen. This monitor is a lot thinner than the last one and runs a lot cooler, as well. That old monitor was really heating up the room. This new monitor is also fully 1080p HD. Still have trouble watching HD content on Amazon Prime but I'm hoping upgrading the internet will help that. The viewable part goes pretty much edge to edge now with the bezel being about half an inch, which means the monitor isn't a whole lot bigger than the last one. A good thing because my desk really isn't all that big. 

And then there's the Windows 10 operating system. 

Now, I got used to Windows 8 with my laptop and phone. Didn't much like it as well as Windows 7 but I could deal with it. Windows 10, on the other hand, already liking a lot of what this OS has to offer.

The computer now boots up to the familiar desktop instead of the tiles. I didn't mind the tiles so much since one of them took me straight to the desktop. Not that I booted up my laptop often. I usually just closed the lid when I was done with it so it came right back to where I left off when I turned it back on. The start button is still the little window instead of the old round one, which I've decided I actually like better.

There's a lot to love with Windows 10. Many convenient features right there at your fingertips without having to run through a bunch of screens to get where you want to go. The start menu has changed dramatically. That's where the tiles come back in as well some other menu choices. It takes some time to learn where all of the usual stuff is located in Windows 10. Like your power options or screen saver settings. But now that I'm used to it, I actually like the way the start screen is arranged. Once again, everything I'm looking for is right at my fingertips.

The overall appearance of Windows 10 seems much cleaner and more streamlined to me. If I have to have one complaint, it would be that the taskbar can't be made as transparent as it could be in Windows 7. I always liked how I could see part of my desktop wallpaper through the taskbar. With Windows 10, the best I can get is sort of a semi-sheer gray. 

Another small complaint is the very wide search box built into the taskbar. I have yet to find a way of removing it so I'm assuming there is no way. It just seems to take up a lot of space right there and I'm not sure how much I'll actually use it. Not a huge deal on the desktop but on a small laptop like mine, it's a space waster.

One of the coolest features, however, I discovered quite by accident. There's this little icon right next to the huge search window that will show me all of the windows I have open in their entirety. A lot smaller, of course, but large enough that I can see what's in any window and decide if I want to go there or close it. It's really kind of cool, this feature, and I can see me using this one a lot.

The Action Center is now a sidebar kind of thing that slides in from the right and where all notifications can be seen. This sidebar pops in and out with the press of an icon in the system tray part of the taskbar. This replaces the Action Center flag that used to appear there and can be accessed without having to leave what you're currently working on. The icon shows up white when there are notifications to review. There is also a little popup that will slide out from the side with messages. 

One note on the system tray. It is now a fixed size and only shows 4 icons. To see the rest, you have to click the little /\. Kind of annoying but I suppose it's not that big of a deal. I just always liked seeing everything that was there. 

There are other features that I just haven't had the time to experience yet. 

So, if you're wondering if Windows 10 is worth the trouble, I really think it is. Windows 10 also includes the convenient compatibility troubleshooter that I have had to use after upgrading my parent's computers but so far, have only had to use with one program on mine. Don't know if that's because mine was built with Window 10 to start with or not. Just know that it's there and can be used if you upgrade and find your programs don't work as well as they used to. So far, I haven't found a program yet that can't be made compatible and I have some older programs on mine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Decision Made - Furthering My Education

No, I am not giving up on novel writing or copywriting. I'm just setting myself up to make a stable paycheck whilst the other two options continue to percolate. 

As I mentioned previously, finances are dwindling and if I want to continue to keep up with the bills I've taken on as my responsibility, I gotta do something. I do regret not considering this current option sooner. I'll be entering the world of Medical Coding just as soon as I complete the training process and take the certification tests.

This is something I can do from home and possibly on a part-time basis. Whatever I do to make a living, a flexible schedule is a must. As you know, I live at home with my aging parents and the need for my services as a chauffeur is becoming more and more a thing around here. Doctor's appointments, other appointment-type things and such. 

From what I'm told, going into Medical Coding is a viable option for me. This will be the other side of the insurance biz from whence I've already come. My previous knowledge should help and, just maybe, I might even find some other sort of clients this way where my writing can be used.

We'll see. But it'll be a busy rest of the year for me. If I want to be working by the end of February 2016, I need to do the full-time study/learning route so I can do the cert tests in early February. One site had two demo test questions, which I answered confidently thinking my previous experience would prove valuable. 

Yeah, not so much. I failed both questions. So it's a-studying I will go for the next four months - well, once I'm enrolled and have the things from which I'll be learning. Might even get a free laptop in the bargain. Either that or money off the tuition. I'll have to decide that when enrollment time gets here. 

I'm excited to embark upon this new journey and it will be good to have some structure to my day again. I have found that, left to my own devices, I will procrastinate and just plain goof off. I must confess that I've been doing that pretty much ever since I left work last year. 

I still find it hard to believe it's soon going to be a full year since I last held a job. I do think, however, that the time has been beneficial. I am more or less rested now and with the exception of seasonal allergies, I'm feeling pretty good. I've even lost a bit of weight recently. The migraines have been whittled down to once in a great while when I used to get them weekly. I'm definitely hoping this new career path doesn't bring them back. If I can work from home, on a flexible schedule without having to be exposed to office politics, I think I'll be okay.

The writing part will continue, have no fear of that. In fact, much to the consternation of my writing group, I am currently revisiting some old friends and writing their story from a completely different focus. I'm incorporating some old and new ideas that I think will help this story write itself all the way to the conclusion. At least, that's how it is currently working. As long as this continues, the story will continue. 

The other story, while still in need of some serious revision, is currently simmering on the back burner. I do have the synopsis completed for that one but I think what I'm working on now will go much faster so I'm just going to go with it. If necessary, I'll work on both at the same time - while studying full-time. 

Yep. Gonna need a firm schedule for all this but then that's what I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Don't Panic!

Don't know if anyone else reading this can relate but when the finances are in limbo, panic might just set in. As it did for me this week. Savings only lasts so long and living costs money. When no money is coming in...you get the idea. This is when the rubber meets the road and a decision must be made - to try and stick it out and hope something good happens or go out and make something good happen.

To alleviate one burden on my shoulders, I have shelved the novel in favor of working toward becoming an actively working copywriter. I'm putting myself through a refresher of the courses I've taken and actually doing  more of the work this time than I did last time. They said it was really important and I have become a hardcore believer.

In an effort to become that actively working copywriter, I prepared to apply to one of those writing sites where a writer can get paid to complete writing assignments. It's not going to be the same kind of money I've been told can be made as a successful copywriter. Not even close. But it will give me experience as well as build up some confidence - which I'm seriously lacking at this point. I'll also end up with some good writing samples to pad my portfolio.

Part of the application process required a sample of my writing. I could choose up to 3 categories and write 500 words for each. Thankfully, one of those categories is beauty and since I do write a beauty blog, one would think that one would be a no-brainer. Wrong. My brain went completely blank. As it did with the other two categories I chose, about which I should be able to speak prolifically - games and food. Yeah. Not so much. Total blank there as well.

As you can probably guess, this did not help the panic setting in at facing a financial crisis.

However, I do have resources to help me get back on track. I'm sad that the novel has to take a backseat but it is nowhere near ready for publication and even if it was, there's no guarantee it will make anything much less the kind of money I need to meet my monthly obligations.

I spent so much time working on the novel and not practicing my copywriting, that I lost some of the ability. The skill of copywriting is like any other skill. It must be practiced. Sports players have to practice their skills in order to compete. Musicians have to practice in order to play their chosen instrument. Singers must practice their talent as well in order to keep their voice in top condition. Shouldn't writers also need the same practice to hone their skill to the highest quality? Darn right.

So, practice, relearn what was once known, do the work to attraction the attention of potential clients - this all needs to be done and done quickly. Like my savings, this year is almost gone. Do I really want the year to end without having done what I set out to do in January?

Of course, there is one option and it makes me shudder to even put it to voice. I could look for another cube job. I was pretty good at the last one but do I really want to go there - even for a short period of time? I feel anxiety come on even thinking of it.

But (and I'm going to get a little religious on you right here so stop reading right now if that kind of thing offends you) God is good and He is in control so I need to not panic and just do what I know I can do of what needs to be done and trust the He'll take care of the rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Your Passport Into The Recesses Of My Mind Is About To Be Stamped - Brace Yourself

Just getting over a weird Summer cold, which is one reason I haven't posted here in a while. As I said to a friend recently, I feel like I've been in a dark hole for the last 2 or 3 weeks and am finally becoming aware of the world around me again.

I did finish the manuscript and passed it on to my writer's group. They passed it back and I'm now about to begin what I hope is the final, major revision. To say there was plenty wrong with the last draft is putting it mildly. As a writer, you hardly ever see the flaws in your own work until they are pointed out by someone else.

Apparently, I use certain phrases a lot in my writing. It kind of makes sense because when you're just trying to get the story down, you don't want to spend time pondering how to say the same thing 30 million ways. You just want to get the words out of your brain and into the light. Well, that's my defense, anyway.

I've been collecting FaceBook posts from several writing-related pages on how to say the same thing in different ways. Perhaps it's time to collect those into something readable and start studying, eh?

I am also in the process of reading two works from one of my writer friends to give her a review on the published piece and feedback on the yet-to-be-published piece. In addition to that, it's time to get this copywriting thing rolling. Either that or go job hunting. I would prefer the former rather than the latter. To that end, I will be continuing my education in the B2B world with AWAI courses on writing white papers and case studies.  I also plan to look into websites that offer paid writing opportunities.

But first, I need to get into the habit of writing daily.

I confess. Writing daily is not something I'm doing on any kind of consistent basis, but I know it's something that, as a writer, I really should be doing. Doesn't have to be fiction but it does have to be writing. Actually, practicing copywriting should probably be a priority right now. Funny thing is, even though I'm not going out to a job every day, I still have limited time in which to do everything I feel I need to do.

Yeah. I know. I've got very little to complain about in that respect. Unfortunately, I've got so much I want/need to do that I get overwhelmed and get none of it done.

Part of the problem, I feel, is the chaos in which I reside. Chaos meaning clutter. Clutter meaning all kinds of crap stuffed into the room in which I'm supposed to be creative. In case you don't know, clutter and creativity don't work well together.

I have begun to clear the clutter and have actually made a good dent, but there's still a lot to do. What I really need to do is to make a priority list and then just work through it. And stop panicking every time I look at my dwindling savings.

All this means that I need to set some goals for what I want to accomplish.

Keep in mind, I'm preaching to myself right here but if anyone else needs this, you're more than welcome to listen in.

Set those goals. Just do it. And then work toward those goals like it's your job. Because it is. Granted there's no pay at the moment but meet the goals, do the work and the pay should meet you somewhere along the way.

Goal #1: Lose the clutter. A chaotic mind simply cannot focus within a chaotic environment. Well, it can if well trained but yours isn't, so get rid of the crap, Lady.

Goal #2: Finish reading the novel and give it a review. This one should be easy and you might even accomplish this one while working on goal #1.

Goal #3: Complete manuscript feedback. This one will take longer and should be worked on after goal #1 for the same reasons goal #1 even exists. Just do it.

Oh, yeah. Probably should set time limits for these goals. Hmm. The first two should actually be doable in a day or two. The third one will take a little longer because I'm not just reading as a reader, I'm reading as an amateur editor. So a week, maybe?

Ok. That's 7-10 days booked. What else? Right. Income.

Goal #4: Dig into your AWAI courses with a focus on B2B as well as a refresher on the copywriting course. And do the exercises, for heaven's sake. Which reminds me...

Daily Goal #1: Write. Every. Day. No exceptions. Even if it's just for 15 minutes. Surely you can spare 15 minutes a day to write something.

Where was I?

Goal #5: Check out paying websites where you can further practice what you're learning. Not going to make a fortune at this but you will get experience and hopefully overcome this lack of confidence you have in your ability to do the job.

And while I'm thinking of it, I do need to update my LinkedIn profile with some writing samples. Perhaps what I practice writing every day?

Oh, and I need to get my website done. Probably should do two - one for the copywriter and one for the author.  And separate FaceBook and Twitter accounts? Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one. Probably some kind of guidance in some of the resources on AWAI. So, I need to spend at least one day just browsing the site and taking notes. Check.

Um, is that chaos I see lurking over there in the corner?

I know. I'll put this all on my calendar and set reminders to remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing for that day. And I probably should be getting up a lot earlier than I am now. Which also means I need to go to bed a lot earlier than I am now.

And somewhere along the way I need to work on the revision of my own manuscript. Then there's NANOWRIMO coming up and I want to participate in that again this year.

Blog posts. Need to keep up with this blog as well as the beauty blog.

Windows 10. Two computers in this house are ready but neither one is mine but I need to work with it myself before I can show the parental units how it works. They also have issues that I need to help them resolve.

I have my own computer issues to resolve as well as organizational issues that need solving and...

Oh, look. Chaos has just taken over. Isn't that nice?

But seriously. I guess I just need to set the goals, set the time limits and just do the work. I mean, this is really no different than when I had so many priorities at my former job. I prioritized my priorities and went from there.

One more goal, or perhaps I should call it a deadline, is when I'll need to go job hunting if the income doesn't become a reality before the end of the year. Probably by the end of October, which isn't that far away. I have enough savings to get through November and that's about it.

It just hit me. Next month will be an entire year since I left my former job. I guess I could say that I took the year off to see where my writing could take me. Of course, temp employers probably don't care why there's so much time between jobs but it will help to have that explanation handy in case the question comes up.

I know I've rambled on a bit here. Ok. A lot, but this has helped me to think through what needs to be done now in order for me to continue my quest to be a paid writer. Even if I have to take a temporary job to bridge the gap between this year and next year.

I do think this time off has been beneficial for me. I was in a bad head place when I left my former job. Pretty sure it would only have gotten worse if I had stayed. That place was slowly killing me. I'm sure of it. I am a much nicer person to be around now - at least, that's what my Mom tells me. I'm more relaxed now. Maybe too relaxed.

I still have dreams. Big dreams, in fact. I just need to push past the chaos and self-doubt and take the steps necessary to see those dreams come true.

I can do this. One step at a time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crunch Time!

Edits on the book are about two-thirds of the way completed. I have made a firm commitment to get it into the hands of my writer's group by next Friday. So, yeah. It's crunch time. 

I really want to get this over and done with so that I can move on to getting the copywriting part of my life up and running and making me money before I start the next novel. It's either that or cube city. I think we already know how I feel about cube city.

I had the opportunity to spend some time over the weekend with a couple of my fellow beauty bloggers. I was the newbie of the group so I spent my time listening to them talk about blogging and their experiences. I found it quite fascinating to hear what they had to say and to hear about the struggles that they still have despite being established, successful bloggers. 

I am no way near their level yet, but I do hope to be. If not with beauty blogging then with writing but hopefully with both. Between blogging and copywriting and novel writing, there's plenty of income potential all around. I just need to be more consistent with writing every single day - something I don't actually do right now, I'll admit.

One thing I think will definitely help - getting the writing space a little more organized than it is at the moment.

My writing space is also where I write this blog as well as my beauty blog. It also serves as storage space for the beauty related things like nail polish - don't ask how many bottles because I still don't know. Lots - that's about all I can manage without taking the time to count. 

This room is also supposed to be my 'living room'. I moved back home with my parents a few years ago - not only to help me out but to help them out as well. They are in their mid-seventies and while they don't need assisted living or anything like that, sometimes they do need a caretaker. It's much less stressful for me to be here, knowing that should anything happen, it won't take me 45 minutes to get to them. All I have to do now is walk down the stairs. 

I have the entire second floor pretty much to myself and I'm using one of the bedrooms as my office/living space. Right now, however, it looks more like cardboard box hoarder's central. So, when I call it disorganized, I am not even joking a little bit. I'm starting to believe that a disorganized writing space leads to disorganized writing. 

I'll be honest. It's hard to concentrate in this room right now. Can't have my little writer's group come here right now, either. However, the chaos does not have to continue. It won't continue. I've made a second firm commitment - with myself. 

This weekend, my writing/beauty/living space will be cleaned up and organized. My promise to me. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Way Off Topic But Somebody Needs This

I'm here to talk about a dream I had this morning. I had this dream after I woke up for the first time this morning but then fell back to sleep. Those are usually the most vivid dreams for me. This one was no exception.

I was in an office setting which seemed to be at my former employer. Many of the same people were there but there were also faces I didn't recognize - not my dream self but my real self. A former boss of mine was also there but she wasn't actually my boss. 

During this dream, I felt depressed and was very, very sad. It would be my last day alive since I had plans to commit suicide that night. 

Now, let me say right here, I am in no way considering suicide. I've only done that one time in my life, a very long time ago and a sweet little white puppy dog changed my mind for me. I was laying on the couch, considering how I would do it when my dog came in, put his paws on the edge of the couch and looked as me as if to ask what was wrong. I  knew right then that I couldn't do that to him. Leave him all alone like that. So, I didn't. Haven't ever considered it since, seriously or otherwise.

Anyway, in the dream, it seemed that everyone knew I was planning to do this but instead of trying to talk me out of it, everyone seemed to be waiting to see if I'd actually do it or not. I think there might have even been a pool going with people betting on the outcome. I knew this, which really didn't help at all. They all thought it was an empty threat.

As the day wore on and the time approached, I found myself thinking of excuses for not doing it. The feeling I had was that I didn't want the other people to believe themselves to be right that I didn't have the guts to actually do it. It was like I thought I had to because I said I was going to and I didn't want people to think less of me if I didn't go through with it.

I woke up before the dream came to an end and while I thought about it and why I might have had it, I felt strongly that this was something I needed to share. 

If you know or think you know someone who is considering suicide, please, please talk to them. Let them know that someone will care if they are no longer in their life. Or if you are someone who is considering it, please reach out to someone else, talk about it. Leave a comment down below and I'll talk to you. 

Suicide is never the answer to any problem. It is final. You can't take it back once it is done. Every life is precious and valuable and every person on this planet has something to contribute. 

Don't keep your pain to yourself. Share it. Call a help line. Go to a medical facility. Tell someone you hurt so bad that you want to make it stop, even if it means taking your own life. 

I know that's easy for me to say since I am not in that same place right now, but I was in that place once. While it wasn't another human who pulled me back from the brink, it was someone I believe was sent to save me. So, maybe visit an animal shelter. Volunteer to spend time with the animals. Who knows? You might find your savior right there like I did.

Let's face it. Human beings can be complete and total jerks but many animals - dogs, cats, even horses - will love us unconditionally if only we pay them a bit of attention. So go volunteer at an animal shelter. 

Or volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. If nothing else, seeing your fellow humans in such circumstances and giving them some hope might just help you to see your own life in a new light. 

I hope this doesn't sound trite or overly preachy. I just really felt that someone out there needed this. And I'm serious about putting in a comment down below and I will talk to you. Just let me know you're there.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Killing Your Darlings

You've probably heard that phrase before but have you ever done it? Do you know what it means?

I didn't know until I read it in one of the many books on writing that I've consumed over the past few months. Killing your darlings describes the act of eliminating scenes that you love in favor of establishing a more cohesive plot flow.

Sometimes, we write these amazing scenes that either don't really add to the story or are in some way obstructive or don't really fit anywhere. In this current project, I had written an entire middle section that fit pretty well until I took some writing courses and decided to write a backstory.

During the courses, I wrote scenes according to assignment instructions and actually ended up liking those scenes enough that I wanted them included in the novel. Unfortunately, because those scenes were written out of context, including them meant some big changes. Mainly in the middle section. 

To say that cutting out an entire middle was both easy and hard all at the same time is quite the understatement. I worked hard to make it all fit together. In the end, however, I had to make the difficult decision to leave something out. Now that's it's done, I do believe it has accomplished something that I've been struggling with for the last couple of months. It has allowed me to speed up the edits of this darn draft. 

Why would I decide to cut out perfectly good scenes that were already, mostly finished and acceptably ready for public consumption? I'll tell you.

Reason #1: In writing the backstory for this novel, I introduced a character at the beginning of the book that I originally created in the middle. This meant that the already written scene introducing her was now moot. I could not figure out how to change it so that it fit without feeling like I had just dumped it in there for no reason. 

Reason #2: After making the decision on a certain plot point, parts of future scenes were no longer valid.

Reason #3: The new scenes just fit much better than the old.

There were other, smaller reasons but basically, these three made the decision for me. So, I cut out a huge middle section. Now, this does mean that full rewrites need to be done, which is actually a good thing. I have not been enjoying this part of writing at all so being able to create something new in the middle of this unenjoyable phase has been so nice. Once the newly written stuff is in place, it will be a fairly simple matter of making connections between the old and the new then sending it off to my writer friends, who have been waiting and waiting to get their hands on it ever since my first missed deadline of June 1.

I'm excited because I will finally have a cohesive draft that I can also read through and mark up with more red. I am still looking at this thing hitting Amazon during the first quarter of 2016. Again, this will depend upon getting a completed manuscript to the graphic artist I have chosen to work with for the cover, as well as how long it will take her to do the job. Her work is outstanding so I really do want to give her the time she needs to come up with something outstanding for me.

I guess the moral of this story is to not be afraid to kill your darlings. No, it doesn't feel at all good but in the long run, it's usually for the best. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Novel Progress and Character Differences

Yes, I know. It's been a while. But I do have some progress on the book to report. I finally have it printed out - all drafts, by the way - and it is now cobbled together with all of the final scenes. Won't make much sense in the reading of it right now but at least now I can do some serious editing and revising.

Not sure why I didn't just do this before now. I've been trying to do the same thing on Scrivener only to get frustrated and lose motivation. Don't get me wrong. I still love my Scrivener. It's just that having something tangible to rearrange seems to make the process that much more proficient. 

And talk about killing your darlings! I have eliminated a huge chunk of the first draft in favor of something that I think will work so much better. Not saying it was easy. In fact, I tried to find a way of keeping the chunk in there but it just wasn't going to work. For one thing, a character that was introduced in that chunk now appears much earlier. The scenes just wouldn't make any kind of sense at all.

There is still a ton of work to do, though. My writing group wants something out of me by next Friday, even if it not as linear as I would like it to be. 

In the midst of all this revision work, I have made the decision to pick up a part time job. Nothing too involved but the extra cash will come in handy and it'll get me out of the house. As many of you know, being a full-time writer also means being isolated for the entirety of your workday. It'll be nice to be out of the house, mingling with humanity for a few hours a week. The job I'm currently waiting to hear about will involve a lot of mingling with humanity, which I am definitely looking forward to.

There is also one other advantage to this part time job mingling with humanity. For me as a writer, at least. People watching. Just think of all the different personalities I will encounter during a single shift. Lots of fodder for character creation there. 

Speaking of character creation. Where do you get your inspiration from?

When I think back on the characters I have created, I don't really see any one source that inspired me. My characters evolve with various traits from several sources - mostly made up on the fly. I do think small parts of me end up in each one. 

What surprises me when I do look at the characters I've created, they aren't the same one recreated over and over again. I know the kinds of characters I like to read about and so those are the types I also like to write about. And yet they come off different somehow. 

Take the hero in my current work for example. When compared to one from an earlier novel, the differences are pretty obvious.

For one thing, he's shorter by a few inches, leaner and less bulky but no less strong and determined. He's compassionate and despite what he sees as her betrayal, is still very much in love with his heroine. However, once crossed, it's very hard to earn back his trust. Not that he gives that trust easily to begin with. He's been bitten one too many times by people he should have been able to trust. Now, he gives new people a wide berth until he sees their true colors. His circle of friends is quite small, but he relaxes best in their company. He lives with the guilt of a major past transgression but also understands his involvement was manipulated by someone else. He plans to make that person pay but not until he can be sure of success.

On the other hand, a previous hero is a wanted outlaw and must do whatever it takes to keep from becoming yet another victim of a corrupt government. So many horrific events have been linked to his name that sometimes it's easy for him to believe his own hype. Well, that and a few instances in his past that he knows he's responsible for. He takes the cares of the universe on his own shoulders and while they are broad enough, he refuses to believe he's not the reason behind all of it. In reality, he might actually be right about that. Still, while he may seem cold and calculating on the surface, it's only to protect the more vulnerable part of his personality. He's experienced losses that have left him deeply scarred. People he has loved have been hurt and killed. He resists attachment because he believes anyone he cares about will only come to harm because of him.

The ladies are just as different. 

My current heroine, while capable of defending herself, prefers negotiation over physical conflict. Not that she won't fight back if threatened. A petite blue-eyed blond, she can be quite the surprise when cornered. She's strong in her own way but can be overpowered, and often is simply because she finds it hard to believe someone she loves is capable of doing her harm. Until he actually does. She always wants to believe the best of people, even those who have betrayed her. She's not gullible, though. Once she understands someone isn't who they appear to be, she stands wary of them, ready to launch into action when the opportunity strikes.

The earlier heroine, on the other hand, is no delicate flower by any means. This statuesque redhead will toss you over her shoulder without batting an eye if you insist upon it. She is a trained, tenth level agent, after all, with something to prove to the boys who aren't used to females in the ranks. She's also not afraid to stand up to the hero despite his tough, dangerous exterior. The fact that he's a head taller and quite a bit broader than she doesn't intimidate her in the least. But she's also fiercely loyal. Once you've earned her trust and friendship, she will go down defending you to the last breath. 

Both sets of hero and heroine have similarities but many more differences. And they all came out of the same place. The fact that they were created on the fly adds to my surprise at how different they all are. 

Even the relationships between each pair is different. 

While the current pair allow their differences to keep them apart, the previous pair are always ready to put their differences aside for a few hours and....well...let's just say nothing else would get done if I didn't send them to their separate corners. I have to do that more often than I would like since they seem to have forgotten that when they were originally created, they couldn't stand each other. How times have changed.

I've studied character archetypes in the past and believe there are an infinite number of possibilities. Just like in real life. That's what makes writing so interesting for me with the added bonus of being able to control what happens to the characters I create. Well, to a point. Sometimes (most times) my characters decide they want to follow a certain rabbit trail and, as much as I hate to admit this, sometimes (most times) that rabbit trail turns out to be a good one. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thinking of taking the rest of the week off.....

Turned 55 today.



I did.

And I feel every second of it right now - caffeine hasn't kicked in yet...give it a few minutes.

Anyway...Hi. How are you today?

I really don't have much to say. Just some random rambling. Oh, say that five times really fast.

On second thought.

Yes. This is me in my weird mood so don't expect anything even remotely inspired in this post. Just random thoughts and reactions and whatever else pops into my head.

Actually, I do have something to share. Rewrites. Yes. I said it, that nasty word every writer hates. Come on. Admit it. You hate doing them, too. I was whining about rewrites to my Mom the other day and she asked why I couldn't just write the story and get it out there without having to change things.

Good question, Mom. Why can't we just write the thing, shove it out the door and move on?

Well, editors, for one thing. Storylines that change abruptly during first draft. Characters that want to do their own thing and not what you, the writer, want them to do. And a million other reasons.

For me, getting the first draft down usually does not include important things. Like description. I know what my characters look like, what their world looks like, but you, the reader, can't read my mind, can you? No. You can't. Well, you could dream up your own version but if I do happen to put in a few descriptive words, you might end up thrown out of the story because what I'm seeing won't necessarily match what you're seeing.

Book covers help but only if the characters are correctly portrayed on the cover. I remember reading one book where the heroine's hair color on the cover did not match her description inside the book. Rather jarring to say the least.

Unfortunately, descriptive prose isn't my strong suit - at least, in my opinion. It's hard to get it right. Either there's too much or there's not enough. I can't seem to find that happy, middle ground when it comes to describing things. I do try to practice, though. Reading helps. I always seem to write better when I'm reading at the same time.

I have two writing friends that are unbelievably adept at descriptions. One is so lyrical, her prose can be mesmerizing to read. The other can describe food with only a few words but they sound so delicious that you're wondering where you can get it for yourself. This is what I want to do but we shouldn't be comparing ourselves to other writers, now should we? Then again, we're always the hardest on ourselves so I'm probably not as bad I think I am.

Hmm. Think the caffeine just kicked in?

And I got off topic a bit. I was supposed to be considering taking the rest of the week off.

When I was working out of the home, I always took this week off. I always said I don't work during my birthday week.Things are different now that I'm home all the time. I have even lost track of what day is it at times. The days just all run together now, which is one reason why I'm considering instituting a work week for me, with scheduled days off. It'll be like I'm back to a normal work schedule but the working environment will be much better than it was in my old office.

Getting my room together will probably help. Right now, I could be a candidate for that hoarding show. Everything is so jumbled up, I have only a path from the door to my desk and that's about it. I now believe wholeheartedly that a messy environment leads to a messy mind that can't focus on a blooming thing.

I think I just got my answer in that last sentence. Perhaps I need to step back from rewrites (no, I'm not using it as an excuse), and get the room together so that the mess isn't distracting me from what I'm supposed to be doing. Plus, I need to free up the other window in the room because my little garden is quickly expanding. Everything is growing like crazy and already I see some of my babies that need bigger pots.

Not to mention the recent obsession expansion from nail polish to makeup. That's another post on another blog but a valid point nonetheless.

Mission "Make The Chaos Go Away" will begin this weekend. Today I'm just gonna be Birthday Girl. Tomorrow, Birthday Girl again with friends (hello, Rusty Bucket and Blueberry Stack!). Saturday, grab the shovel and start digging out.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

New Computer Time?

I think my computer is slowly going insane.

It doesn't have a bug - at least that's what my numerous anti-virus, malware detectors say, but it does seem to be slowly losing functionality just when I cannot afford to buy anything new. My rule is if I can't get something better than what I already have, I don't need it. Might have to rethink that rule now.

I do have a laptop I can sort of fall back on but since I sacrificed speed for battery life, it just isn't sufficient for all the other things I do on a computer besides writing.

So, new computer time? I'm thinking so. Which means funds need to start rolling in here really soon. Which means I need to stop watching YouTube videos and get my butt in some serious gear. 

Another distraction this week....have all you PC people seen the news about Windows 10? Microsoft is supposedly providing this update for free to all 7 & 8.1 users. My desktop is 7, my laptop is 8.1 so obviously, I'm expecting that free upgrade, right? Yeah. Not so much.

There is supposed to be a lovely little icon on my taskbar that will enable me to reserve my copy of 10. Unless that icon is actually invisible (which it is not), I do not have said icon - on either of my computers. Both computers meet all of Microsoft's criteria but for some reason, they apparently do not recognize either computer as eligible. At least, that's what I assume since I don't have the icons.

I've done everything suggested in the forum and finally gave up because it's just too much hoop jumping for something that may or may not be any better than what I already have. There's that rule again.

What I don't understand is, they are doing the free upgrade because they finally get that while 8/8.1 worked like a dream for tablets and phones, it's total crap for PCs. Ok. Maybe not total crap but it does come with a learning curve. There are still things on my laptop that I haven't figured out - only because I just haven't taken the time. Like booting up into the desktop instead of the app screen, for instance. I get around that because I don't really ever shut the thing down. I just close the lid. The only time it gets a restart is when I get updates (and don't get me started on those).

This whole thing with Windows 10, however, is making me seriously consider defecting to the other side. I speak of the Apple side.

I always said I'd never have an i-anything because of the total proprietary way they do things and how I'd have to replace pretty much every software package I own. I'm now looking at the other camp with a bit of longing. I know Macs have their issues, too, but they don't seem to have as many. Of course, it doesn't help that a friend of mine just got a new Macbook and that thing is pretty cool.

Yikes! Just looked out the window. I think we've got a big nasty rolling in. That's what I call bad thunderstorms. Gotta go check Intellicast. All south of me right now but that doesn't mean it'll stay that way.

Where was I? Right. Computer in death throes.

Maybe not that bad but it's enough to really irritate me. I suppose I could live without the desktop for a short while if I had to. Some of the things I do can be split between the laptop and the Kindle, but most of my games don't play well on the laptop. Sacrificed processing speed for battery life, remember?

Then again, those games represent distraction from what I'm supposed to be doing so maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing. And maybe that's why the desktop is doing this to me now? Oh, why did I have to go and think that?

And on that note....I'm gonna go find something productive to do. Or watch another YouTube video.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I'm somewhat shocked to find it's been over a month since we were last here together. I do apologize for that. May was a little less frenetic than April, but somehow it felt just as busy.

You will no doubt notice a face in place of the sparkly shoe in my profile picture. Yes, that would be me. I finally decided to face the world with...well....my face. If I'm going to be a famous author, some people will want to know what I look like eventually so why not make that happen ahead of time and get it over with, right?

Even had my hair professionally done for the occasion. Ok, it was my normal hair cutting appointment but I do believe Terri took extra pains because she knew her work would photographed. I think she did a good job. The breeze, however, decided to do a little rearranging of its own. Still, I love this cut. I must do because I've been sporting it for most of this year already with no plans to change. 

So what have I been up to in the last month? Well, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a little bit of haven't done a whole lot of anything. 

I don't know. I suppose the whole unemployment issue has begun to prey on my mind a bit. The savings is dropping to dangerously low points and with nothing coming in, I'm getting just a tad nervous here. And since going without health insurance isn't an option (thank you, Obama), I'm going to have to find employment soon, maybe even another cube (ugh!).

But on the bright side, I did get a call from my former employer inquiring about my interest in doing some contract work for one of the other offices. That deal has yet to be brokered but if it does become reality, that will ease the furrowed brow a bit and give some breathing room.

I did work on a short story idea for the Writer's Digest competition, however, me and my writer's group have come to the realization that I do not know how to write a quirky, nerdy hero. The hero in my short story is supposed to be the stereotypical computer nerd who lands an unbelievably gorgeous blond who isn't all she seems to be. One writer friend said he sounded like a less physically developed version of one of my stronger Alpha heroes. 

Ah, yes. Mr. Thorpe. You do seem to invade my writing quite often these days. Must mean I need to get back to your story at some point in time but not right now, my love. Be patient (not one of his virtues, by the way).

Ahem! Anyway....

Muddled short story heroes aside, I've also been working on my other career pursuit - copywriting. The profile picture you see here is also my official portrait for my professional profiles at LinkedIn and with the Professional Writers Alliance through AWAI. 

I must admit to being a bit nervous about the first foray into this copywriting thing. No jobs yet but I sit here, almost in fear of the first one actually dropping into my lap. I know I learned how to do this copywriting thing, but I still have heart palpitations when I think about actually doing the work. From what I hear, it's perfectly normal to be anxious about the first job. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing and that I'm not ready to take that first step out into the real world. 

But will I ever be? Probably not. I guess it's a little like pulling off a band-aid. It's gotta be done eventually and no matter when, it'll still hurt like....well, you know. Just need to get in there and do it. 

I've never considered myself very good at selling, and now I find myself in a position that requires I sell myself, or rather my skill as a copywriter. My heart is in fiction, though. Can the two coincide peacefully? Only time will tell.

What about the book, you say? Yes, the book is still there in rewrite hell. Because of working on the short story, I did miss my June 1 deadline for that but my writer's group is flexy-bendy, as one would say. I am currently going through and putting scenes together in as much of a coherent format as I can. I have one scene early on in two different versions. I love each version and trying to merge the two into one has been an interesting experience. Talk about killing your darlings. I made a merge attempt at Panera on Tuesday but did more staring out the window than merging paragraphs. My mind just couldn't stay focused for some reason.

I have been doing more reading lately. My writing always improves when I'm reading at the same time. Romances mainly but even before I finished the last one, I realized I do need to read some sci-fi soon. My stories do have a romance thread running through them, but my main focus is the action. Sweet romances have their place and are a nice change but I gotta have some action with my romance, or I get bored regardless if I'm writing or reading. 

And I mean non-romance related action, people. Get your minds outta the gutter. Sheesh! 

My Kindle is stuffed with a ton of books right now in both fiction and non-fiction forms. It'll take me years to get through them all and I don't stop getting them, especially the free ones. I also get the anthologies for 99 cents. I've discovered some excellent authors that way. A few duds, sure, but even one really good one makes up for the crappy ones, and there's usually at least one really good one in every anthology. 

Then again, I've read some that I feel pretty sure were written by raw beginners who never once looked at a writing how-to before putting their stuff out there. Two words - info dump - the bane of the new writer's existence.

I've been guilty of it myself, but after reading so many books where you get the entire background of the story in the very first chapter, I can see why there's tons of advice against it. You get a sentence to start the story and then whammo! You're sent careening back through time without the benefit of a madman with a blue box (Oh, Doctor, where art thou?). For pages upon pages, you read how the hero or heroine got to this time in their lives. 

Really? Any chance we're getting back to the current time anytime soon?

So, no info dump, people. Please. Weave those details into your story but sparingly. Don't get me wrong. I do care about what came before, but mainly I'm there to watch what's happening right now, this minute. 

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. And since this post has become more of a ramble than anything, I'll leave you there. I can't promise I'll be more timely with posting, but I do hope to be. 


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Is It Over Yet?

Yes! Thank goodness.

April was just nuts for me. Why did I do it to myself? Why did I sign up for so many classes, all at once?

Beats me but I did learn a lot, so it was worth it. Still, I'm not going to do that to myself again (she said with crossed fingers).

I did do a good deal of writing on the book. Much of it is backstory, but that's a good thing. It means I know my characters a lot better now and can write them with more authority. In fact, I wrote over 6000 words of backstory in a single sitting. Will any of it be in the book? Not likely but it's possible.

Of course, I have created a problem for myself...I have so many good 'opening scenes' that now I'm not sure which one to actually open the book with.

One of the two (yes, only two) classes running through May is for writing romance. Naturally, I'm being told that the book needs to start with the heroine. Trouble is, it's actually about the hero - or it has been so far. That being said, I realized that I didn't know my heroine as well as I needed to so focusing on her is helping me to learn about her and how she is and she's not entirely the soft touch I originally thought her to be. This girl's got some attitude, which is a good thing because she's going to need it to deal with her hero.

They have a past and not a very good one. They'll have to work through all that resentment in order to live happily ever after together. They'll also have to deal with her father who is essentially trying to kill him and force her back into the life he's decided she will live. Yeah, I'm pretty hard on my characters but then, that's what makes a good story. Am I right?

So, May will be all about bringing all these pieces together into something more or less coherent so that my readers will have a good story to read....and rip apart. I'll then do another editing run through, using their suggestions...or not. Then, hopefully, I'll have something to send to an artist to do my cover and then, maybe, I'll have the book up on Amazon first of next year. Depends on when I can get with an artist and how long the artist will take to do the cover.

Or, I'll submit the finished manuscript to an indie publisher like Booktrope and let them help me do the hard work. My friend who is with them just got the notes back from the editor. She left writer's group feeling just a tad overwhelmed. We tried to encourage her, but even I had to admit, there was a lot the editor had to say but then not all of it was going to require major revisions. Just a tweak here and there. But it did prove to me that knowing the backstory as well as the purpose for every character in your book is very important. As if I needed more proof than my own experience.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just Because I Feel Like It

Fair Warning: This post has no particular subject in mind, just some rambling I felt I needed to do.

The Spring Plague is slowly losing its grip on me. Still on the antihistamines, though. Otherwise, I feel like I've got a garden hose shoved up my nose. Sorry for the visual.

I've got three short pieces I need to write for classes that are due tomorrow. Not really motivated but at least they are short. Two are about my hero and heroine, the other is...kind of hard to explain but I think has to do with the premise of my story. I think. It's a little abstract piece based off of 205 words written by George Orwell from his essay "The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius." This piece is supposed to be about the culture in my story. My piece should be roughly the same length. Getting in deep in these classes, I might add. But it is good practice to get to know the culture in which my characters live so I will throw my best efforts at this one.

Subject change!

Something interesting popped up this week: a debate over whether or not we should be using 2 spaces after a period or 1.

Now, personally, I tend toward using 1. I guess I fell into that habit because it seems to me that when you read something in print, it appears there's usually only a single space between sentences. Yes, I was taught to use 2 but in reality, a single space is much easier to accomplish when typing quickly. I always did stumble over that second space when in the midst of a speed typing test. My fingers are already used to a single space between words so there was no real learning curve to a single space between sentences.

Some people said blocks of prose were easier to read with 2 spaces. I have never had that problem. To me it just looks too spaced out when that extra space is there. But then, I'm  used to the single space so that's probably why. Still, the debate got the mental juices going. Really made me think about why I write a certain way. No real conclusion to that debate, though. It's all up to what the writer prefers as well as what a publisher requires, I suppose.

And speaking of publishers (and now you have some idea of my brain on allergy drugs), I've also been reading a lot about the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional. As I am working on a project that will eventually see daylight, this is a subject of particular interest for me.

It seems to me that traditional publishing would be the harder, more circuitous route to becoming a published author. On the other hand, that's where the potential for six figure advances is greater. If a writer has become a resounding success for a traditional publisher, they are more likely to fork over more money at the onset because the author already had a good track record with them. Not so much for those of us unknowns who just want that first shot. Our manuscripts, no matter how brilliant we think they are, are more likely to end up on a slush pile, unread. Not a reflection on our work, to say the least. Just proof that traditional publishing is something for the already well known - ok, mostly. Before somebody pipes up that they know of a friend of a family member's friend that got their first book published that way, I'll concede that miracles do sometimes happen. I'm just not counting on it for myself.

These days, from what I've read, breaking into traditional publishing is nigh on impossible unless an author is agented. Being with an agent is fine, I suppose, but isn't that just one more person who gets a cut of whatever your hard work might bring in? Yes, an agent will work their tail off promoting your work, getting it into the hands of a publisher so the rest of the world can enjoy it, too - a good agent will, at any rate. But is it really necessary to even hire an agent?

I have a friend who is unagented as of this writing and who has just signed with one of those independent publishers who use this new publishing model where the author chooses members of his/her publishing team and works closely with them. Each member gets a cut of whatever royalties the author receives. Based on the contract with Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, the author would basically end up with 30% of 70% of whatever the book earns. That ain't much, folks, based on the recommended price point of $2.99.

Of course, we all know that only a small percentage of published authors make the big bucks - and if you didn't know that before, now you do. Authorship isn't a get rich quick activity. Most authors write on the side while holding down at least one full-time job.

While I didn't start down this road in pursuit of any possible riches it might provide, I would like to earn a little something from my hard work. Spreading that 70% so thin doesn't seem like a good idea to me but I'm trying to remain objective until I see how my friend's book does with this publisher.

There's also the time involved in traditional publishing. Even the big names have to wait a year or more before they see their hard work in print. I've already worked on this book for nearly a year and I really don't want to wait another year to see it appreciated by more than just me and my writer's group.

I think you can probably guess where I'm going with all this. My plans are to self-publish. At least, in the beginning. The only time I'll have to wait once I have a final draft in hand will be for the cover art. I already have an artist in mind for that, as well. I'm planning for something original, though. I've looked at the already done covers and while I have found a few I liked, I've also found that, despite claiming they only sell one copy, they actually sell the same cover more than once. One I thought would be good for another project has already been used at least 3 times on books I actually have on my Kindle. I would prefer to pay a little more for something original that I'm not likely to see on someone else's book.

Well, I believe I have rambled myself out. I just felt like I need to get all this out before I start working on what I need to get done today. Thanks for putting up with it.

Or, since the antihistamine just kicked in, I might go take a little nap before I get to work.

Oh, any writing inconsistencies in here - just chalk it up to lack of oxygen to a brain influenced by allergy medicine and everyone will be happy. Me, especially.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Writer's Life: Permission To Be Sick

Ah, Spring. I knew you were here even before the calendar told me. Any other Spring allergy sufferers out there?

Today I write about another perk to the Writer's Life: Guilt Free Sick Days!

Yes, cube life does sometimes grant sick days but you wanna know a secret about those? Your employer really doesn't want you to use them. Oh, they'll say it's ok to take a sick day but just try taking one. Go ahead. I dare ya. Anybody else call in sick and get that "you are a bad employee" vibe from their boss?

I always did - from the last boss, anyway. I went through a tremendous amount of stress first thing in the morning while trying to decide if it was worth the agony to call in sick or should I just suck it up and get my sick self into the office? I usually went in. Didn't get a whole lot done but at least I was a warm body in a seat for the day. And that's really all that matters in cube life.

You see, the thing is - and this where the rulers of cube life are short-sighted - a person comes to work sick, they spread that sickness to their co-workers and soon, half the office is out sick. However, if that sick employee had been allowed to stay home at the first sign of the illness, that might not have happened.

Now, you should know that I was the kind of employee that if I was calling in sick, rest assured, I was sick. Only once in my life did I ever call in sick when I really wasn't and by the end of that day, I had a stress migraine from worrying that I would get caught. Never did it again.

But that's cube life for you. As a full-time writer, sick days are something completely different. For one thing, nobody makes me feel like I'm a bad writer because I've decided to take a sick day. I mean, the only person who could do that would be me and since I'm the sick one in the first place.....you get the picture.

I'm not saying that writer's don't also answer to a higher authority. If a writer is working with a publisher, they will have deadlines to meet but generally, from what I've read, those deadlines are achievable even if the writer takes a few days off to recuperate from illness. Even sick, a writer can do a little something every day if they feel up to it.

I have accomplished very little this week. I did make assignment deadlines over the weekend, but that's about it. Those pieces were pretty much already written anyway, they just needed a quick tweak before sending them off. After that, I succumbed to the Spring plague with a clear conscience.

One of those pieces may get a little more work. The Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition deadline is approaching and I am considering sending in my entry. The max word count is 4000, so I can flesh out my story a bit more using my instructor's suggestions. Deadline for early entry is May 4. Check out the Writer's Digest website for more information if this sounds like something you might like to try.

Speaking of being productive, I'd better get cracking here. I have a webinar recording to watch/listen to and tons of reading to catch up on before composing the two writing assignments due on Sunday.

My Writer's Life in action.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chaotic, Antihistimine Sedated Days

April has begun with a bang for me. Lots of reading to do, lots of writing to do, not nearly as much energy as I would like.

It's allergy season for me right now, which means antihistamine, which means I live sleepy on a daily basis. But, thanks to a new mindset that says, "Yes, you can write while sleepy," I am getting some writing done in spite of it.

What usually happens when I feel like I'm too sleepy to write? That inner whine that says I'd rather go back to bed. I don't. I sit my butt in the chair, plant the fingers on the keyboard and write. Even if it doesn't make any sense at the time, I continue to write until I've written at least 500 words.

Of course, halfway through, the inner critic, who seems to be more wide awake, starts telling me that what is coming off my fingers is a load of crap and that I should stop before I do any more damage to my story. To her, I say, "Shut your mouth, lady, and crawl back into the dark, dusty corner where you belong."

She doesn't, by the way, but at some point I'm too sleepy to pay attention to what she's saying.

By this time, you must understand, I've either hit a groove where I can keep going or I stop at word #500 (or at least finish the current thought). That's when I shut down whatever writing program I'm using and go on to something else. I don't even read what I've written yet. That, I save for the next day. If the urge to write resurfaces, I'll write - it usually doesn't, but at least I've gotten some writing done for the day and that's saying a lot.

So what does this forced writing exercise look like the next day? I'm often surprised to find I've not written nearly the load of crap my inner critic seemed to think it would be. In fact, there are the rare occasions when what I've written is quite inspired.

So if you have one of those days when writing seems like too much effort, just sit down and write 500 words. That's all. Even if you can't think of anything to write. In fact, you can start your writing session by writing: "I can't think of anything to write." You might be surprised at what that simple sentence might just inspire.