Friday Desk Report – May 4, 2018

It’s Star Wars day, so May the 4th be with you! I’m wearing my Rebel Snoopy t-shirt as I write this, so rest assured, the Force is strong in my office today.

Camp NaNoWriMo finished up on Monday of this week, and although I had to rock out more than 5k words on the last day to make my goal on time, I did it! I wrote an entire new middle-grade science fiction novel during April, which was pretty cool since I didn’t even have the idea until a few days into the month. Now it’s complete and in editing, so expect to hear lots more about that really soon! Although I claim to like the flexibility and reduced pressure of Camp NaNo, I still couldn’t allow myself to *not* reach the goal I’d set. Guess I have to work on that…or maybe not, since it meant I finished the book.

I took a day off writing once I typed “The End” on that novel, and spent it trying to clean up the house, which of course had suffered a great deal of neglect during April. I managed to put away some winter stuff and clean up the kitchen and bathroom, so I guess that was a good start? The rest will follow as it follows.

I made a spiffy animated version of the new cover for The Murder Prophet, which I began revealing this week. The animation doesn’t seem to be showing up here, sadly (because it’s really cool!), but you might catch it on Facebook or Twitter. Or I might get it working yet…but I mustn’t get distracted from the editing I want to get done today. I let myself have some play time to create it, but I mustn’t go on tweaking it forever. That way lies…not getting anything else done.

In word metrics, I wrote about 42k words in April, spread over two novels and some non-fiction. That was almost twice as much as the first three months of the year combined, so I’m pleased with that. My goal for this month is to come close to April’s count across two other projects. I guess I’ll report on that at the beginning of June!

The Olympia Investigations specials are still on, so if you haven’t grabbed the free story or the sale, or the new release yet, what are you waiting for? (Oh yeah, I made this cool splash graphic today, too. Maybe too much play time?)

 

 

 

Friday Desk Report – April 20, 2018

Yes, it’s been that kind of a week–okay, more like a couple of weeks. I see it’s been a while since I even offered a Friday Report!

Not that I haven’t been writing. April marks the first Camp NaNoWriMo of 2018, so I signed up after my positive experience with Camp last July. I thought it would be a great way for me to kick off the last traces of the winter blahs. NaNoWrimo always motivates me. I could finish at least one of two projects that I really need to see complete.

But as the quote above says, it’s not always that easy. So far this month I’ve worked on four–count ’em, four–different manuscripts. For two of them, I wrote–gasp–outlines. Whaaaaaat?

What’s wrong with that? you might ask. At least you’re making progress.

True. But having a bad case of what I call “butterfly brain” doesn’t get you closer to following Heinlein’s second Rule for Writers: You must finish what you start. At this rate, I’m not going to achieve my quest for completions by the end of the month. It’s like I’ve beaten all the initial levels of those two manuscripts and now it’s just one never-ending boss fight from here on out. And I’m out of health potions, so I keep leaving to do side quests.

But you’re not here to listen to me complain or make bad video game analogies, right?

All right. Other things happened this week. My novelette “Dead Hungry” released, and I sent out my newsletter (not subscribed? Click the “Free Ebook” button at the top of this page!). To celebrate the Olympia Investigations release, I put others in the series on for free or on sale. I also took a video course on AMS ads (that’s Amazon, for those not in the know) and learned a crazy amount of stuff I didn’t know before. I’ve been working to up my promotional game this year, with…mixed success, so far. I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work. For the past number of weeks, I’ve been tracking my time in Toggl (which I really like), and it’s amazing how much time can go into promotion/marketing and business-related stuff.

And I should say that so far, I really like what I’ve done with those two side quests. One of them is a project I’m kind of excited about, so despite my guilt, I’m having fun working on it.

Anyway, yay me for writing this report! I’d better go and see what words I can hunt down and capture today…along with any health potions…the bosses still await…really thinking I should order this shirt!

 

 

Friday Desk Report – February 2, 2018

I was going to start this post with a pithy quotation about selling books, but all the ones I read were starting to make me depressed, so I changed my mind. Yes, this week I’ve been largely focusing on marketing, promotion, and how to help readers find my books (and want to read them). While I did make many pretty pictures, and learned many new things, I also came to realize that I need to get all of this stuff organized on my computer, in one easily-accessible place. Everything probably took me twice as long as it should have as I searched for cover images, blurbs, links…it’s definitely time for some computer housecleaning. *gulp*

On a brighter note, I worked on the next Nearspace novel (started in November, currently in the process of getting it back on track), and some editing on another, older project. Wrote some new words on the current Olympia Investigations story I have underway, but the brain was not really in a word-writing place this week. Considering the time of year it is, I’m in a remarkably good head space (much of which I attribute to my new daily yoga practice), but it’s still best to work with what my brain tells me it can handle. I think next week the words will be inclined to flow better, since I took a bit of a break this week.

I’ve also switched up the newsletter signup freebie, which has been the same for a while. As of today it’s a newly-compiled and packaged collection of five of my short stories, all about alien encounters. They’re a nice mix of serious, funny, heartwarming and thought-provoking. If you haven’t signed up before, or haven’t read these stories, click over and take a look! The cover image is a beauty by by Joel Filipe on Unsplash, where you can find some really amazing images the artists have made freely available for whatever use you wish. Thanks, Joel and Unsplash!

January Stats!

Okay, so I didn’t really get back at the treadmill desk until almost the middle of the month, but even then, I was a little spotty on it. 419 minutes for the month, which translated to 5.14 miles walked. I can do better!

Word metrics for the month worked out to 5633 written, and 12,509 revised. I’d like to keep up this revision pace for February, but really up the writing. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, both my Olympia Investigations stories are in bundles right now! The Immortals bundle and Weird Fantastic Detective Stories are both available at BundleRabbit, so hop over and take a look if you love getting great reads for reasonable prices. And really, who doesn’t love that?

 

Friday Desk Report – January 26, 2018

Whew! It’s not hard to tell it’s the beginning of the year. I got some writing done, worked on promotional stuff, made a new short story available on a bundling site, set up a new bundle I’d like to curate, and poked around on Patreon for a while.

I’ve been thinking about Patreon for some time now…is it something that could work for me as a writer? I’m leaning toward giving it a try, but no firm decisions yet. I’ll keep you posted here on any developments. I do have some fun things I could do on the platform, I think.

The big news this week is that my copies of Beyond the Sentinel Stars arrived! I think it wasn’t really real until I held a copy in my hands. Which also meant I was able to take this picture…full trilogy!

This has also been my second week of doing a yoga practice every day and–wow! I am really feeling the effects (in a very good way). Of course I’m still at my treadmill desk, too, but the yoga is bringing something entirely new and welcome to my physical state. I discovered this wonderful channel on YouTube–Yoga with Adriene–and if you’re thinking you might like to try it, I can’t recommend her strongly enough. No pressure, no stress, no demands to do things perfectly or quickly. Adriene’s laid-back and restful style of instruction is exactly what I needed. Check out her beginners’ videos if you’re curious. Every day I can’t wait to get to the mat for my practice.

Just for fun, this year I’m tracking what I research for various stories. Things I looked up on the Internetz this week for writing: old general store images, row houses, and words in the Mi’kmaq language.

 

Friday Desk Report – 1/12/2018

So, this has been my first week back at my desk since the holidays ended. I intended to get back here sooner, but this year I found I needed a break AFTER the break, to recover some mental energy. The first couple of days in my office, I spent re-setting and organizing, as usual. My yearly process usually looks something like this:

*beginning of the year: set writing and publishing goals, make spreadsheets, update all organization and time-management tools. Make A Plan.

*early months/spring: stay pretty much on track, adjusting goals as things change and keeping just busy/committed enough to avoid falling into Seasonal Affective Disorder.

*mid-year/summer: completely fall off the wagon when warm weather arrives. Work on whatever has a deadline over the summer.

*fall: frantically try to gather dropped projects. Do NaNoWriMo. Accept that goals are in total disarray.

*beginning of the year: repeat

So right now we’re at a high point for organization and productivity. I have a new schedule which actually blocks out dedicated writing time every weekday, and schedules social media/marketing and business segments, too. I’ve stayed generally within the parameters for three days now. (!) I’m walking at my treadmill desk. I’ve sent out some submissions. Things seem to be working relatively well, although I’ve already thought of a couple of things I didn’t work into the schedule. Might need a little tweaking yet.

I do like this deep-breath, regroup, get organized time of the year, though. I just wish it lasted longer.

 

Friday Desk Report – September 29, 2017

*looks around, swipes a finger across the desk*

Wow, pretty dusty in here. Looks like I’ve been away for the whole summer!

Well, yes, I was. Not away from home (much), but away from my digital home. and from my office, too. That was messy enough to take two days to clean up, but that’s done, so I’d better clean up here, too. And I actually do have stuff to report, because I was back at my desk much more this week.

First up: Over the summer, I turned in the manuscript for Nearspace #3, Beyond the Sentinel Stars. It’s been through edits and although I don’t have a definite release date to share with you yet, it’s coming! For those who love Luta and her crew, I think you’ll really enjoy this installment of their adventures.

Next up: pre-orders are now open for the Gumshoes Bundle from BundleRabbit. If you’re a mystery lover, you won’t want to miss out on this one! It includes my urban fantasy/mystery The Murder Prophet, as well as a host of other great titles.

More news: Where Evil Dwells is out! This anthology of Nova Scotia horror includes my story, “The Girl in the Stones,” and some other writers you’ll probably recognize. Available in stores and at all the usual online locations.

One more thing for today: I’ll be at CaperCon 2017 as a guest, and I have a great lineup of panels and workshops! I’ll post details about them all here next week. CaperCon runs October 20-22 and takes place at Centre 200 in Sydney this year, so plan to come by and visit! It’s set to be bigger and better than ever!

Friday Desk Report – June 16, 2017

A lovely carpet of creeping phlox

Seems like it was a bit of a slow week around the desk, but of course the intrusion of the warming weather and demands of the outdoors have something to do with that. (Not that I am complaining!) Still, I managed to keep up with most things, started a new novel revision, and spent hours refining the magic system used in that novel draft. It now makes more sense and is on its way to becoming a rational magic system. Still a few things to work out, but it definitely has a good foundation now. It was a pain in the butt interesting to try to reconcile the magic use/character abilities that I’d written into the story into a more coherent framework. I’ll have to make changes and adjustments as I work my way through this revision, but I feel much more confident about a good result now.

In my research into building good magic systems, I also refreshed my memory on Brandon Sanderson’s Three Laws of magic systems, which are very helpful to keep in mind when building one. The first one is at the link, and the others are linked from the bottom of that page.

A gorgeous tall tulip from a “Pretty in Pink” bulb mix from Vesey’s Seeds

I started the week bouncing between projects and finally landed on that revision, but I foresee that pattern continuing over the next little while. There are short stories I want to submit by upcoming deadlines, so although I’m a bit stuck on them right now, I have to keep going back and pecking at them until they agree to cooperate. I love it when I can sit down and write a new story straight through, but alas, that doesn’t happen all that often. It’s more likely to take a lot of digging and mucking about before I reach those two sweet, sweet words: The End.

Family, fire, and cake

Last week was my birthday (which I share with my sister, but no, we’re not twins–she was born five years after me, but on the same date) so we had our traditional outdoor party on the weekend. I made a first attempt at icing flowers made with a Russian ball decorating tip; they turned out all right, but I learned some tricks for making them better the next time. Still delicious!

Still working with my assistant, so despite the yard and garden needs, I think I’ll be able to stay productive in the coming weeks.

 

Friday Desk Report June 9, 2017

This month I have the great pleasure of having an author assistant helping me out with all sorts of things. It’s a short-term contract, but I’m loving the ability to hand off some tasks to someone else for a change. So far she’s taken care of some social media tasks, proofread a manuscript, created promotional materials, researched blog post ideas and found a cover image I’ll need soon. All this has freed me up to concentrate on writing and some other things, which has been great. It’s not something I could afford to pay for full time, but for short-term bursts of super-productivity, it’s fabulous.

Today has probably been the least productive day of the week, but mainly because several ROML (Rest of My Life) things took me out of the house numerous times. I was even productive yesterday, on my birthday! When, I’m sure you’ll agree, most of us deserve to take the day off if we’re able.

This week’s main projects were the newest Olympia Investigations story, and another story I’m hoping to have ready for a particular anthology call. They’re both fun to write, although very different tales. I’ve been switching back and forth as the mood takes me; I may try to work on a more deliberate schedule next week. I also have some rewrites coming up soon, so I’d like to clear these stories off the decks before then. My goal for this month is 13k words for those two stories combined; I’m slightly behind so far, but there’s still time to catch up!

Before I forget, I have a Kindle Countdown deal running on The Two-Week Short Story from now until June 15th. If you or someone you know might be interested, click over and check it out!

Spring has finally arrived and my gardens are starting to fill with colour–and weeds! So I’ll have to find time to work on that, too. I might need an assistant for longer than I anticipated…

Friday Desk Report ~ April 28, 2017

Work on improving my marketing strategies continued this week. There’s a LOT of information and advice out there, and much of it concludes with “see what works for you.” That’s a lot of trial and error, but I guess it’s really the only way. I have worked out the beginnings of a weekly/monthly action list, which just sounds too organized for me. ;)

Not much in the way of word count this week, since my focus was elsewhere. I do have a new story to work on, though, and I figured out some more things about The Chaos Assassin. I also got those two non-fiction ebooks mostly formatted, so I think this weekend I will try to run through them both one last time and maybe get them out the door early next week. I’ve decided I’m happy with the covers. I have a school visit coming up on Monday, but fortunately there’s little prep work involved for that. I do have to finish up the last of my prep for the workshop I’m presenting next weekend. I’m hoping we’ll have some fun talking speculative fiction all day!

This new story idea is really giving me a brain itch, so I think I might have to write it before it drives me crazy. It will be the next installment in the Olympia Investigations series, so I know it will be fun to write. Although it rarely happens, I think I know the throughline of the whole story right off the top, so maybe I’ll be looking at a fast first draft. Here’s hoping!

 

Friday Desk Report – April 21, 2017

The desk report for this past week is, well, sort of boring. I’ve been mainly focused on marketing and promotion this week; spiffing up my website, trying to wrangle all my social media, figuring out how best to spend the time I allot to this sort of thing. It’s an unfortunate reality of being an author these days–unfortunate, I say, because it takes time away from what we’d really rather be doing: writing. There’s a balance out there, but the trick is to find it. I’m working on that.

I did have a lovely epiphany about something important in The Chaos Assassin, and immediately made copious notes about it. I’ve finished a major read-through and next week I hope to add some serious word count to the manuscript.

I’m also considering a new short story collection for stories that have come out since my last collection. Just kicking the idea around right now, but I did a little preliminary planning for that this week. Which reminds me, I have several short stories underway that I really should look at again next week…

Today though, I’m honoured to be participating in the fourth Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day, so some of the week has been spent preparing for that, as well. I’m expecting to have a great day with the students talking about reading, writing, and speculative fiction.

If you’re a fellow writer looking to overhaul your own marketing strategies, check Duolit. Although the website is currently on hiatus, there’s still a lot of good information to be found!