Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016's Gunna ROCK

And now we reach one of my favorite annual rituals. The PLAN *buwahahahahahaha*

Now if you've known me a while, you know I always make a plan, and it is hit and miss on whether I follow through. But I have a history of doing better on even years, and I also seem to do best when I have dropped into a pit and so accept the enormous amount of work that needs doing.

So I am hopeful...

The Writing Plan

I have THREE sorts of books I write. Unfortunately, the one I love VERY most is the hardest to sell—the long epic tale. So while I have three of these slated, I have accepted I need to get either my mystery or my YA solidly going before people recognize my name enough to try those other stories.

This year I WILL get one or the other rolling.


I think this is probably the genre easiest to break into. (and I've got a bit of a track record, even if I am looking at a break between books) BUT... While I have two first drafts in the series I want to sell, neither of them is the “first book” that I think I can hook a publisher with. One is pretty good, the other needs a serious rewrite because I tried something that didn't work (to do with changing PoVs—this is the wrong tone of book for that). So my next TWO books I write will be part of this series... Then in FALL I will try to sell traditionally, but by the end of year I will have FOUR, so if that isn't going well, I may decide to release one a quarter in 2017 on my own.


I have three nearly done YA books (much nearer ready than the mysteries) BUT one doesn't fit style-wise with the other two. Also Appearing will be part of a series, but it is a series that currently only has the one book. Kahlotus Disposal Site and Medium Wrong both have a touch (JUST a touch, but a touch) of paranormal to them. And I have a couple other books I can adapt for this that are WRITTEN (so only need to be rewritten). So my plan is to edit Medium Wrong to “perfect” or thereabouts, and try to sell it in first quarter. Edit Kahlotus while I do that and if MW doesn't sell, try Kahlotus. Between my two mysteries I will both WRITE one more for this series (stand-alones, but of similar genre and style to establish a brand) and adapt another so if neither has been sold by say, August, I will work out a self release plan to start in the fall.

In Sum, that is 3 new first drafts written next year, two BIG rewrites, and several polishing edits.

It is also querying 3 books (1st, 2nd and 4th quarter) and planning a self pub cycle if the first two of those don't work...

I have a calendar, but that is probably less important than the big picture.

And the SUPPLEMENTAL Writing Plan

This is my weakest point... the trouble with my writing success (or lack thereof). I have some mental blocks with marketing... some annoyance with some theoretical ways a person “should” go about it. I don't know how to do this well, but I DO know I have not been doing it, so I intend to make a point of mastering a piece of this each month.

I also plan to work with my newly adopted writing group—cross promotion is part of what we plan and they seem to already be better at this then me, so I will learn from them and work hard not to be the drag on our team.


Fitness, fish slap, whatever

So I say this all the time, right? I always plan to work on this. But I think I've figured out some boosters for the “old thing that worked doesn't work anymore” bit. I have ALWAYS eaten on a Weight Watcher plan and I walk about 25 miles a week. To that I am ADDING:

Keeping the food between 10AM and 6PM
A 15-minute, 3-Day-a-Week Super-interval thing
A supplement I did some research on

That last is something that would historically have made me very sketchy, but it is all natural so shouldn't hurt and the science analysis on it I watched suggested it really may help. I will let you know if it does.

Theoretically I should have some goals related to home or family, but the family rarely conforms and the home stuff makes me tired, so I will say I will try to be PRESENT and call it good.

How abut all of you? 2016 plans?

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

Can we just write this one off? Seriously. I had a bad year. I will chalk it up to a big change at work that had ripple effects that keep on giving. And then a couple writing wrecking balls that just compounded matters, shook my confidence and threw me for a loop. I am trying my darndest to adapt and finally making a bit of progress, but here is how things panned out.


ABNA did NOT happen last year. So while I got the book I intended to submit pretty ready (I've not had 2 rounds of feedback and think I can get it there) THAT threw a crimp in my plan... And my agent didn't like What Ales Me and fired me... we parted ways. Whatever. She was amazing to give me the chance she did, but she never really quite got me anyway. And then with the day job stress making the day job suck up all my energy, I just fumbled all year on the writing front. I failed at BuNoWriMo (first WriMo fail ever. (I have 12 wins to my record if I count both NaNo and BuNo), so Summer of Bones is only half done and one of the two mysteries I wrote I am really unhappy with. (the November one is a keeper)--so only one book in 2015 I am willing to call “written” and it is a few iterations from sharable. NO books editing to the point of being happy... In my frustration I also fell into several TV shows, which is fun and all, but bad for productivity...

The Recovery Plan to be shared later this week.


Weight lost in late 2014 gained back and new scale highlighted that the situation was much more dire than I'd even guessed.


The Childings, Christmas Eve

This stuff went okay. No big emergencies. My daughter is working. My son has gotten 3 college acceptance letters (one with a nice scholarship). My house is a disaster, but I've not historically aspired to neatness.


I was going to read a book a month from a writer friend... I think I came close, let's see:

Dragon of the Stars by Alex Cavanaugh
Nasty by Bret Wright
Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman (met through a local book event, not social media)
A Twist of Hate by VR Barkowski
City of Refuge by Diana Wilder
Tower of Bones by Connie Jasperson
Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter (who I met because she is localish, rather than social media)
Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
Running from the Past by Alan Orloff
The Boy Who Fell From the Sky by Jule Owen (I don't know her but I won this through one of you, so I believe she is part of this blogosphere)

And am currently reading a Mary Pax Sci Fi western story, so should be done by the start of the year.

So that will be 11 by year end. Plus I discovered a few authors I really really love. Maggie Stiefvater—I read 4 of her books this year and eagerly await another. Andrew Smith—hooked not just myself, but my son, too. And that will be 26 books for the year (of published, as opposed to a couple pre-published I also read... That is a reasonable pace to me. And fails to count the re-reading of the Song of Ice and Fire series I am doing in prep for Winds of Winter.


I did not manage to be interesting. This makes me sad. I used to be so entertaining... When life is heavy it is hard to be light.

Shows the curls AND the fact I need to lose weight
Surprise Positives

I finally figured out what one does with curly hair. I've spent years in midwest humidity with just fuzz... I could see the potential for awesome but it wasn't to be. But in around March I read something and talked to a friend with curly hair and made some changes. I quit completely rinsing out the conditioner. I only run the comb through ONCE, when it is still pretty drippy, then use my fingers for all manipulation after, I use an olive oil product to keep the fuzz down. And I now have ringlets... real curly hair, not Hermione fuzz.

I also figured out how to make the DVD player play Netflix and Amazon Prime. I know. Small victories. But Netflix is having some awesome originals, so this is nice.

So Wednesday or Thursday I will share my hopes and plans for 2016, but I thoroughly expect it to be a better year...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Eve Eve

I love this day. I love it along the lines of Thursday only MORE so... Tomorrow it STARTS, though not until later in the day... and then next day it happens and is over... but TODAY is all about anticipation. So I thought I'd talk about some of the things I am really anticipating in 2016.

There are several book series that I am waiting for the NEXT one... and like with the Harry Potter series... WAITING for the next allows a lot of anticipation, guessing, wondering... it is different than reading a series you can devour all at once. I think you get more invested.

City of Mirrors, the third and final (I believe) in Justin Cronin's trilogy that began with The Passage and gave a scientific experiment version that resulted in something very vampire-like (and nearly extinguished the human race)... The Twelve was second... both these books were very good, though I have some issue with how they did their chronology—it is partially current day and partially about 100 years from now and I wish they'd intentionally gone back and forth. Instead they are first half now, second half later, so you have to RE “get into a new book”... but the premise and characters are great, so I am eager for the third.

The Next in the Raven Boys series... I fell in love with this series this year. Maggie Stiefvader is my new favorite YA author. She nicely combines somewhat quirky characters with just the edges of magic.

Winds of Winter: 6th in the Song of Ice and Fire Series. This is the biggie... the world I have immersed myself in the theorizing for and have dozens of huge guesses as to what happens next... And I really really want the book before the 6th season of the show starts. BAD...

I am also anticipating Downton Abbey's final season. The third season of The 100. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie... Allegiant (the last Divergent movie) and turning 50...  Good stuff coming!!! And that isn't even counting Star Wars, which I plan on taking my kids to next weekend.

But until then, I wish everyone a WONDERFUL wind-up of 2015. Happy Belated Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year... I will be back after Christmas with my end of year recaps (how I did, what I plan to do)--nothing like some time off work to get a little blogging in, eh?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Making a Plan to make a Plan

Or something...

So Friday is my LAST work day until after the new year (and there was much rejoicing). I will not try to fool myself into thinking I will do much besides Christmas prep until... you know... Christmas... but THEN I have a bit of time... Y'all know how I love a plan, right? BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Unfortunately, you ALSO probably know how my writing plans stalled out this year. I've written about it a dozen times... changes to the job, husband working full time, child challenges... I could whine and moan for days, but since I already have, I won't subject you to it.

You may NOT know I weigh the most I ever have. I don't advertise it. Though I have advertised how much harder it seems to me to lose these days. My last truly successful loss I was still in my 30s. It is time.

You probably ALSO do not know my house has grown steadily fuller of crap and gotten less and less organized in the last decade. Writing has lots of STUFF (especially for those of us delusional enough to have at one time thought our NOTES might some day be of value *rolls eyes*) and sucks up lots of TIME, and then the hubby working full time so HE is helping less...

So on my break I plan to MAKE PLANS to fix part of this stuff. And I am definitely looking forward to it... making a writing and marketing plan, making a fitness plan, setting a schedule for... maybe a cleaning project a month—wouldn't want to go overboard and the laundry and bathroom are hardly going to learn to sort themselves out, so they will stay on my chore list.

And let me just say... I LOVE THIS PART! I adore making plans. Following plans, not so much, though sometimes I give it a pretty good effort... But it is satisfying to put things in doable steps...

What about all of you? Making any plans over the holidays?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Character Lessons from Jessica Jones

First an apology for not managing to blog last week... Not even Insecure first Wednesday... I planned to. And then I lost my mind. So sorry about that...

So I confess I am mid RE-watch on this Netflix original series... and when I say original, I mean Netflix produced the story inspired by the Marvel comic books, which I have not read, but I have been assured from several YouTubers that Jessica Jones a la comics is a bit two-dimensional and definitely a side thought. The series though, is SPECTACULAR.

Now I am NOT GOING TO SPOIL PLOT but I do plan on giving some detail about character, which includes some relationship stuff and a bit of backstory, so I will say minor spoilers if you haven't watched. My focus though, is on a few character lessons.

Your MC Can Be Unpleasant If the Reader/Watcher Understands Why

(this harkens to Katniss Everdeen, too, but Jessica Jones has it in spades). And Jessica has an advantage her to Katniss. Her unpleasant snark is sometimes REALLY FUNNY. But she is isolating herself, cutting off the very few... okay one... person she cares about, pushing people around (sometimes literally) to get them to listen. But as the show reveals why, the watcher really comes to love her. She considers her major weakness to be that sometimes she gives a damn. And we understand that, too.

Relationships are COMPLICATED.

I think it is easy when we plot to think “this relationship is this way and that relationship is that way” but in reality relationships can be fluid changing things. Learning something about somebody can change how you feel. People can have a rift over some real life trauma so it looks like one thing, but the love there runs deeper than is apparent and if that comes out? WOW. Jessica's only real relationship is with her foster sister Trish and it looks at first like this naggy (on Trish's part) call when I need something (on Jessica's part) relationship. But digging down to the gritty details this is the most powerful friendship I think I've seen display in the media.

But in addition, Jessica has a couple of symbiotic relationships—people she doesn't like but needs, people she just feels irritatedly responsible for...

And she is drawn to people she shouldn't be for her own sanity...

A Villain with Charm is Scary as Heck

OHMYGAWD David Tennant. This villain's power is mind control. He says “you want to come with me” and you do. He says “cut out your heart” and you do. And he has NO conscience. He isn't even getting off on being mean—he doesn't care. He is annoyed so those are the commands he gives. But from a viewer perspective, he is vulnerable, charming, funny... and then he does something that drops the jaw. I think this nuanced villain is so much scarier than one that is just all evil. And and interview with David Tennant gave away what I think the key is here: See, he doesn't think he's the villain...

The Villain not in Isolation

In fact there is NOT just one villain. There are good guys who pose obstacles, they can be selfish people trying to take advantage, they can be idiots who think they can outclever someone... This show has all of them. Sometimes they foil the MC. Sometimes they help the villain (inadvertently or intentionally) and sometimes both. This show has all of the above and it's amazing what it does for pace and tension.

So have you guys watched? Any other character lessons you noticed? Any lessons you learned elsewhere you'd like to share?