Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Goals for 2015

If you're like me, (and why wouldn't you be - I'm fabulous!) you can't help but make resolutions, promises, or at least goals, for the upcoming new year.

I've heard some negativity from friends and family about this.
Why make resolutions - I never keep them. That sort of thing.

Blech. That's stinkin' thinkin'. That's what I think, anyway.

I LOVE goals.
The new year is a great time to make some new goals.
Fresh year.
Fresh start.
Fresh attitude.

We can totally DO THIS!

I have my annual health/weight goals, like most people do. And I will even be so bold as to make SMART goals for myself.

I also have goals for my writing career, and they shall be SMART as well.

Here they are:

S (specific): I will e-publish a new novella (between 20,000 - 40,000 words), approximately every month, totaling 8 more published novellas in 2015.  I will also bind the first 4 novellas into a book bundle, and include a bonus story as well. I'll continue this model with the final 4 novellas in a book bundle.

I will write the second novel of The Mind Renders Series. After the second novel has been written, revised, and edited, I will publish the first two books, and begin writing the third novel.

M (Measurable) 10 novellas (plus 2); 2 novels

A (Achievable) A 25,000 word novella can be written in 2 weeks if I write 1786 words per day. If I have an extensive outline, I can write over 2000 words in an hour.

An 80,000 word novel can be written in 40 days if I commit to writing 2000 words per day.

R (Relevant) The highest indicator of an indie publisher's success is by being a prolific writer with a large backlist of books. The more books a writer has available, the more chance of success she has.

T (Timely) I have 12 months to write 8 more novellas, and the second novel in the Mind Renderers Series.

January: Write novella #3. Revise. Publish.
February: Write novella #4. Revise. Publish.
March: Write novella #5. Revise. Publish box set including the first 5 stories.
April: Begin writing Mind Renders Book 2.
May: Writing Mind Renderers Book 2.
June: Revising/Editing/Publishing Mind Renderers Book 1 & 2. Publish.
July: Write novella #6. Publish.
August: Write novella #7. Publish.
September: Write novella #8. Publish.
October: Write novella #9. Publish.
November: Write novella #10. Publish box set including second set of 5 stories.
December: Begin writing Mind Renderers Book 3. Aim to publish in March 2016.

That's a lot of writing! Around 240,000 words next year. I have to believe I can do it, though. I want so much to be successful at being a writing. I would love, love, LOVE, to be writing full-time, using my writing money to pay off bills and to take care of my family. I know that writing a lot, and publishing a lot is the beginning to making that happen.

So, here's to my goals and yours!
We CAN do this!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Write. Publish. Repeat. Well...trying to, anyway.

I'm trying hard to jump start my indie writing career. Of all the advice I've heard, the advice that has stuck with me the most is for new indie writers to continue to write, write, write, as much as possible, and self-publish as much good writing as they can.

That's what I'm trying to do.

It's hard.

Just so you know.

But, I love it. I love the writing. The revising. The sending off of the manuscript to beta readers and editors for their critiques. I even love spending hours perusing the internet for reviewers and sending hundreds of emails out to potential readers for their reviews.

I love it all.

Except the wait.

The wait sucks.

There's nothing about publishing - traditional or self-publishing - that moves terribly fast.
I can move fast, as the author and publisher, but I can't force other people to move fast. Not my reviewers, or beta readers, or people who find and buy my book. They don't move as fast as I would like. :) Imagine that.

But, that's okay, because it's giving me time to write some more.
Today, I put final (hopefully!) revision touches on two novellas. One is being entered into a writing contest. The other is about to be published on Amazon, and other self-publishing platforms like Smashwords (once I've figured out just how to do that).

By tomorrow, if all goes well, Ai of the Mountain will be my newest ebook for sell on Amazon.com. I'm super excited to have the 2nd story in my Fairy Retelling series coming out! I have ideas for the next two books in the series as well, but let me tell you about this one first.

Ai of the Mountain is a fairy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the southern mountains of feudal Japan.

Ai, a peasant girl, is torn between her sense of duty and honor, and her longing for a future of freedom. Placed into impossible circumstances by the lord of her region, the daimyo, Lord Nakaguchi,  Ai must choose between her family's safety and her own heart.

Ai's nightly dreams of Kaito, a handsome samurai warrior she has fallen in love with, and her friendship with an ancient, talking koi, further complicate her situation. Can Ai leave the mountain to escape Lord Nakaguchi's nefarious plan for her life, even if it means leaving her family and the man she loves?

Uggh, I hate summaries. They're so hard. There's so much more to the book than what is written here. Sigh. I guess you'll just have to read it to find out who is truly the beast in this story.

The next few stories I have in mind are also fairy tale retellings. The next is going to be a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but set in ancient Egypt.

After that, I'm thinking of doing a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the bears are shape-shifters. I'm not sure where to place the setting of that story yet...I'm leaning towards Scotland.

And then, I have in mind the bare bones for a retelling of Snow White, but making it a ghost story. What happens if Snow White truly does die after biting the poisoned apple?  Again, not sure where to put the setting of the story...maybe an African tribe, or something more traditionally spooky, like the mountains of Transylvania. Oooh, maybe Snow White's prince is actually a vampire? Hmmm...who knows at this point.

So many stories are swirling around inside my head, but until I start writing down the outline, and actually putting words on paper, they're very vague and formless. I'm going to try to actually outline my entire next book with a very detailed outline, so I really know what I'm writing before I write it. I think this will really help with my writing speed.

You'll see in my next post all about my writing goals for 2015. They're pretty lofty. I have a lot of writing that I want to do, so I need to make sure that I make the most of my time, and write as quickly as possible.

So, here I go...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Author Highlight - Quinn Loftis

I'm super excited to introduce you to Quinn Loftis, author of YA paranormal & fantasy. 

It is no secret that I am a podcast junkie, and I met Quinn through a podcast interview she did with Jonny Andrews on the Audience Hacker podcast. Although the podcast interview was uploaded months and months ago, I only heard it a few weeks ago for the first time. I've listened to this single podcast episode nearly 10 tens times since then! Every time I listen to it, I learn something new about being a self-published author.
Quinn invited listeners to contact her on her website, and that's just what I did. I was so stoked when she wrote back and answered some questions I had for her. She even agreed to do an interview with me, so that I could introduce you to her as well. 

Let me tell you a little bit more about her story...

Although Quinn enjoyed writing, it wasn't what she studied in school. She was a nurse by trade, and happened to "fall in" to writing. She had the idea for a novel, and pumped it out really quickly (this became her first novel, Prince of Wolves), but she sat on the novel for a year before she got enough gumption to publish it in 2011. Her exact words in the podcast interview were, "I was terrified!"
The book slowly took off, but Quinn used her natural curiosity and ingenuity to Google her way to success, finding answers to her questions, reviewers, and using GoodReads.com to her advantage. Today, Quinn is a full-time writer, having been able to quit her day job merely six months after the publication of her first novel, and after publishing the next two books in the series. She has at least 13 self-published books available, with more on the way, trying to publish a new book every 90 days!
Quinn was gracious enough to answer some of my questions, and I've included them for you here. Enjoy!

Q: When you’re writing, do you have a certain novel length you shoot for, or do you write “until the story is told” whether that’s 100 pages or 500 pages?

A: Typically my books are between 75,000 and 100,000 words but I write until the story is done. Sometimes it's longer and sometimes it just isn't. I refuse to write filler just for the sake of length.

Q: Can you take us back to what your writing life used to be like when you were just starting out, and you were still in the midst of your day job? How did you structure your time, so you were able to write, revise, and market your book?

A: I wrote at night when I was working full time. I remember during the day while at work I was so antsy to get home and write. I had ideas running through my head all day long and it drove me crazy not to be able to get it down right then. Sometimes I miss that eagerness. Now that I can write pretty much whenever I want I don't always feel that hunger. I love to write, don't get me wrong, but it's easy for it to become a job and not a love. I have to be careful not to get stuck in that rut. 

Q: Now that you’re a full-time author, what does a typical day look like?

A: I get up usually around 8 (it's a little different right now since we have a 3 month old and I'm pregnant) I'm up late at night sick a lot and up in the middle of the night to feed Jonivan so I try to sleep in a bit. I'm at the office by 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. Answer emails, FB, Twitter, etc. Then I read back about three chapters where I left off in my latest manuscript and go from there. I try to write about 3,000 words a day, sometimes it's less sometimes it's more. I finish up around 3:30 and then head to the gym for an hour work out. Working out really helps prevent writers block because it creates all the 'feel' good chemicals that help with creativity. So I try to really make that a priority as a part of my job. Then I head home. In the evenings I try to make time to work on things like book trailers, and continue to catch up on social media. I also make a priority to read. One of my favorite quotes of writing advice is by Stephen King. If you want to be a great writer I'm convinced you must do two things. Read a lot and write a lot. There are no short cuts. I totally agree with that. 

Q: Are you a planner/outliner, or a “pantser”/discovery writer? Have you ever tried writing the opposite way?

A: I'm a little of both. I usually start the story and then outline as I go. I don't think I could outline a book before I've developed the characters. The characters come first for me because that's who people need to connect with in order to give a crap about the story. 

Q: What strategies do you use for finding readers to review your books?

A: I use to reach out to bloggers, but Praise God I've built a big enough fan base that usually now people find me, which I am so very thankful for.

Q: What advice can you give to new authors, just starting out in the self-publishing world?

A: Do your research. Don't rely on other authors to explain everything, i'm not saying you can't ask advice, but it goes a long way to an established author when they see you are driven enough to first have sought out the information by googling, or searching on KDP (amazon platform) or iBooks etc. When I started I figured it out all on my own. I didn't know anyone in the self publishing world and I wasn't comfortable asking for help so google became my best friend. Driven people are successful people. If you truly want to be a self published author then you will learn and do what it takes to be successful at it. There truly is NO substitute for hard work.

Q: If you could hop into a time-traveling DeLorean, an H.G. Wells time machine, or (my favorite) a TARDIS, and talk to your ‘just getting started in this biz’ self, what would you tell yourself (without causing a rip in the fabric of space and time, of course)?  Specifically, what would you tell yourself to watch out for, stop doing, stop worrying about, or do more of?

A: Stop focusing on the negative reviews and just keep moving forward. learn from your mistakes and do everything you can to make your next book even better. Enjoy the journey, don't be in such a hurry that you miss out on the here and now.