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!

Friday Desk Report 2-17-2017

The return of the Friday Desk Report! And look at that fabulously almost-symmetrical date.

So, there hasn’t been a Friday Desk Report for a while, mainly because for the past couple of months they all would have read something like, “Tried to work on the novel edits this week in between bouts of feeling utterly depressed with the world. Drowned my sorrows in Guild Wars 2. Also, winter.” I mean, how many times would you want to read that?

But here’s the good news: there’s actually news. I turned in the novel manuscript! I turned in the short story! I edited and submitted another story! So things have really picked up again around the old desk. With luck, it will continue. I have a few new projects pestering me for some attention, and some older ones lined up in the “go back to” queue. Time to open up my year-out project planning spreadsheet and fill in some things for the next few months.

I’ve also been asked to give a WFNS workshop this spring, which is exciting. We’re calling it “Exploring Speculative Fiction,” and I’m looking forward to spending a day talking genre with folks writing and hoping to write specfic stories. So over the next few weeks some of my desk time will be spent putting the workshop together.

I’ve also been busy Saving The World Through Knitting. Well, okay, not *quite* saving the world. But making a small difference. So far I’ve knit ten hats from my yarn stash, which will be sent to an organization that distributes such items to refugees in need. I’m finding it a very useful strategy in coping with stress, distress, and the darkness demons of the winter months. (In the course of this project I’ve also become addicted attached to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I expect I’ll be writing some new mysteries this year…)

Friday Desk Report – October 21, 2016

barneysriverfall

I detest the end of summer, but we do have a beautiful autumn in Nova Scotia.

So far, October has been a super-busy month. Unfortunately, not a lot of that busy-ness has resulted in word metrics to report. In between home improvements, road trips, meetings, family events…sometimes writing does get sidelined.

Oh, I’ve been working, it just hasn’t been the sort of working that translates into a lot of new words. It’s been planning, reading, changing, re-evaluating. A few new words written on a couple of projects, but hardly enough to share the numbers.

However, that’s what the writing life is like, sometimes. It’s not always quantifiable. That hour I spent working out the story thread for a new short story–sure, it looked like I was only doing jigsaw puzzles on the iPad. But there was so much going on behind the scenes while part of my brain focused on looking for patterns in tiny digital pieces; another part focused on looking for different kinds of patterns in that short story project.

lapdeskRemember that “Shoe” cartoon from Jeff MacNelly? I won’t put it here since I don’t have permission, but Google will find it for you. The one about how typists pound keyboards, and writers stare out windows? Yes, that’s what it’s like a lot of the time. I also considered the trajectory for one of the characters in my current novel manuscript while I sewed a new pillow for my lap desk – it was spilling tiny styrofoam beads and also had lost some velcro. It now has a new life and I like it better than before! AND now I can use my laptop more comfortably again, which will help productivity. See how it’s all interconnected?

The continuing education course I’m teaching this month seems to be going swimmingly–I’m enjoying it very much and I think my students are, as well. We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and it’s hard to believe there’s only one class left. And that experience has been inspiring as well. Interacting with other writers and creative people is always rewarding.

And then it will be November. I’m considering being a bit of a NaNo Rebel for National Novel Writing Month this year. I’m thinking of a project I’m going to call “The Finisher.” This will entail finishing the first drafts of several–I have three in mind–NNWM manuscripts that still need final chapters. Still toying with the idea, and it will depend on the state of some deadline projects, but it’s appealing. I do, of course, have new ideas begging to be written this November, but it’s impossible to overstate the importance of finishing things, too. So I’m thinking about it. Stay tuned…

Interesting things from the Internets this week:

Art isn’t free–can we stop pretending it is?

7-Point Plot Structure Story Mapping Template

Creating Mood Worksheet

Friday Desk Report – October 7, 2016

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Lavender shop in Venice (I’d like to be back there breathing in its soothing scents right now!)

It’s been a purple week around here.

Purple, because that’s the color we’ve been painting my daughter’s room…rich, luxurious purple. The color of royalty, luxury, and the unity of mind, body, and soul.

Which is actually kind of ironic, because rarely do my mind, body, and soul feel so out of sync. Too many things on the to-do list, too many aches and pains (from moving furniture and painting and climbing up to stretch and reach), too much chaos in the house (always the fallout of painting jobs), too many deadlines zooming at me at once. I just made a loooong rapid-entry list in Nirvana, which is part of my current attempt at staying organized and getting everything done. That feels like a step in the right direction, and, whew, it’s Friday…

…and the beginning of a busy family weekend, since it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada. So I guess I’m not getting a whole lot done until Monday.

This week saw the start of a continuing education teaching gig for me, though, which runs throughout October. I have a small but enthusiastic class of students, and we’ll be discussing pathways to publication and all the attendant considerations, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid. Not that I consider myself the last word in any of these things, but I do enjoy sharing what experience and knowledge I’ve gleaned to this point. I think it will be a fun and enjoyable course.

I did finish editing that novella and sent it off to my beta readers. Huzzah! I also sent out my newsletter, but hmmmm, that could have been last week…

And I just looked at my year-out schedule spreadsheet (which plots what I should be working on and when, and which I adapted from Ron Collins), and I realize I’m not irrevocably behind. Not yet. So that’s a bit of a relief. But I need a lot of desk time this coming week, so we’ll see how it goes.

Fellow writers and procrastinators, I wonder if you see yourselves in this article? It goes a little off-track at the end, but it does make sense in a way. I think this might be a good time to re-install Cold Turkey on my computer…and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving.

Friday Desk Report – September 16, 2016

Oh, my, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

But in my defense, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity at the old desk this summer. We travelled for most of July, and then there was much to do for the Big Fat Geek Wedding happening at the beginning of September. What? You want a picture from that? Well, here you go. It just happened to happen on my own anniversary, so we celebrated at the photo booth.

sherry-terry-geeky-anniversary

 

And of course, I took a little bit of time for just enjoying summer. I did manage to read and make notes on a novel manuscript while on airplanes, and I have a new novella in the editing stage. So I guess I wasn’t entirely a slacker, was I?

This week has been mostly getting ready for CaperCon. This is the second year for this convention, and last year’s was a tremendous success. This year it looks like things have only grown, so I’m looking forward to being a guest. Here’s my schedule for the weekend:

Reading/Q&A – Friday @3:30
Crafting Stronger Stories (with Third Person Press) – Friday @6:30
Self-Publishing for Success – Saturday @ 11:00
Plotting and Outlining – or Not – Sunday @ 10:30
Blue Pencil Cafe (with Third Person Press) – Sunday @ 12:00
Writing a Series – Sunday @ 1:30
Insider’s Guide to Marketing and Publishing (with Third Person Press) – Sunday @ 3:00

If you’re there, please drop by my table and say hello!

Friday Desk Report – May 27, 2016

tulip2016This has been a lovely week of getting things done but NOT chasing a deadline for any of them. I’ve been busy but not frantic, both at my desk and away from it, and it feels almost as good as relaxing with my feet up every day. Okay, not quite that good, but yes, almost. And spring is finally arriving, and all the bulbs I planted in the fall are poking their heads up to have a look around. This gorgeous tulip is one of them; I have several clusters of them around the yard and I’m just loving them. Along with them I have new daffodils, other tulips in various shapes and sizes, and hyacinths for the first time ever. I even managed to spend a couple of hours outside pulling out old dead stems and leaves from last year, so the new blooms are actually noticeable.

big-rabbitBundle news! My Nearspace novella, “Waiting to Fly,” is in another bundle over at BundleRabbit. So if you missed it last time or were not drawn in by the other stories in that bundle, here’s another chance. This time it’s a bundle brimming with stories featuring teen characters, from superheroes to space station buskers, apocalypse survivors to magic-users. There’s over $60 worth of stories in the bundle, and they can all be yours for just $10.TeenS-H bundleThe other authors you’ll find in this bundle include Eric Kent Edstrom, Carl S. Plumer, Mario Milosevic, Shantu Tiwari, Stefon Mears, Nick Tatano, Sabrina Chase, Deg Logan, Rob Collins, Michael Jasper, and J.D. Brink. It’s only around for another ten days, so you should pick up your copy soon! What a great way to load up your ereader with some summer reading possibilities!

For fun this week I wrote a chapter for a round robin story being circulated around my Second Life writing group, The Quillians. We’ve done one of these before and they’re always fun; everyone brings their own ideas to a chapter, but builds on what’s gone before. I think it’s important sometimes to write something with no pressure, no strings, and no expectations other than having fun. I haven’t done that in a while and so I really had a blast with this chapter. Now as long as the others like it…wait, I said no pressure!

I actually did not write on the novel draft this week–I decided that I needed some thinking time on it, and I think that was a good idea. I’m ready to start back on it on Monday with a better idea of some things that have to happen next. It’s an interesting facet of the writing life, how much work actually goes on when you’re nowhere near the keyboard. I also did some more thinking and preliminary research about the new idea that’s taunting me. I think it’s going to happen. Not sure when, but it’s taking on a life of its own already…

Oh, and I signed up to receive Notes from the Universe this week. So far I love them. :)

Friday Desk Report – May 6, 2016

school-05It’s been a busy few weeks, both at and away from the desk. This week I was out of town for a couple of days doing Writers in the Schools visits, and they were, as usual, wonderful experiences. I had great sessions with elementary, jr. high, and high school students, who were interested, engaged, and willing to participate in the writing exercises we did; they also asked great questions during our Q&A times. They came up with some wonderful story ideas and some even seemed interested in writing them later! I had a lovely lunchtime chat with two Grade 12 students who asked insightful and interesting questions about many aspects of the writing life and business (and I hope I gave them decent answers!). All in all, it was a rewarding (if tiring!) two days. Wow, I don’t know how teachers do it. Much respect.

Work continues apace on the novel draft, slower than I would like but more steadily than I feared at one point. I’m also writing a short story with hopes of meeting a looming deadline. Which looms, and LOOMS…Slowing both of these projects down just a little is an idea for reinvigorating a long-languishing manuscript. This idea insists on knocking on the door of my attention with relentless persistence. I just spent half an hour making notes on it in the hopes that it will be satisfied with that and sit quietly in a corner while I finish up these other things first. Then it can take up as much space in my brain as it wants. But for now I need it to just Wait.

Ideas are seldom so conciliatory, but it’s worth a try.

In the midst of all this I watch in horror as wildfires destroy parts of our country. I might write apocalyptic scenes sometimes, but watching some of the videos of this fire and the wild escapes people have been forced to make from it, my brain is overwhelmed. If you are interested in helping, the Canadian government is currently matching any donations made to the Canadian Red Cross for Fort McMurray relief; the website is here. This is a wonderful first step in the government’s efforts as your donation is immediately doubled. I’ve been so heartened by the endless stream of offers of help and support pouring in from all over the country to help those displaced and devastated. If only the rain would pour with such vigour, the fire would already be out.

Things I researched this week:

  • underwater habitats
  • pressure suits
  • sea monkeys
  • ocean trenches
  • King John’s lost crown jewels

Yes, it’s like a game of “one of these things is not like the others…” ;)

 

Friday Desk Report ~ April 8, 2016

oldcashregister

Marketing is not my strong suit. I find it difficult to push my self or my work too hard, I don’t like repetitive blast marketing, and I never seem to be able to come up with creative and interesting ways to work in a plug for something while not really making it seem like marketing. However, it seems I’ve been doing a lot of marketing and promotional stuff lately. This week was no different. I spent a fair portion of my desk time working on social media and promotional things. Which is, of course, a good thing. It means I have stuff happening, I’m involved in things–some really cool things, actually, and I’m excited about them. But it’s also not my favorite thing about the writing business.

In between all of that, I did manage to get some writing in–in fact, I had one glorious day on the novel draft where I really made some good progress. It’s still a slow climb, though, and I wish I could recapture some of the momentum that took me through November. At least now I’m writing every day, so the end of the draft draws ever closer. I also finished a draft of one new story and am getting close with another one. Too many projects at once? I don’t think so. Any more would probably be non-productive, but juggling a few is often a good thing for me.

I had a wonderful school visit and met some lovely kids. We had fun coming up with characters and story ideas, and they asked some really great questions. A good day all around.

Oh my, I listened to an audiobook* this week and, although I listened all the way through, the characters really started to annoy me as the book progressed. They were all so perfectly perfect! Everyone good-looking, with fascinating jobs, wonderful relationships, and personalities all sweetness and light. The only cranky person in the story–got murdered. It was fun and light at first, but after a while it was just too much to swallow. I hope my characters are never this perfect. I do tend to write nice people–because that’s who I’d rather spend time with, when all is said and done–but I try not to make them candidates for sainthood.

A habiticalevel33while back, I began using Habitica to try and stay organized and on track. It’s basically a gamification of your to-do list and habits, and I have to say it’s working pretty well for me. Yes, that’s my avatar, now level 33 and riding a freaking red dragon mount!  Apparently I can be organized, I just have to have the right motivation.

If you’re following this blog, you know the things I’ve been promoting of late: the Rogues bundle from Tyche Books, the Middlings bundle from BundleRabbit, and now an upcoming Facebook chat next week with a couple of other Dreaming Robot authors. One good thing about all of these is that they’ve given me more opportunities to experiment with SocialResponseApp, which I’ve been beta-testing. Developed right here in Cape Breton, it’s a very useful and intuitive app for helping schedule your Twitter promos. I like real-time and real interactions on Twitter, but there are some things that I also like to set once and let run for a little while. I find this app perfect for that. If you think this sounds like something you could use, you can sign up for early access here.

In between other things I seem to have a lot of sewing projects in the queue right now. Over the next few weeks I’ll try to share some pics of the finished projects. At least, I hope they’ll be finished. Because right now they’re taking over my sewing room.

*No, I’m not going to tell you what it was.

Photo credit: RebeccaMatthews at morguefile.com

Friday Desk Report – April 1, 2016

Would I write more, or sleep more, if this were my desk?

Would I write more, or sleep more, if this were my desk?

It was a busy week at the desk, although not all of it translated to actual word count. I did, however, finish out the month with my monthly word count goal for this year (15.5k) attained, which is a first for 2016. January was abysmal, February marginally better, but March gets full marks. And about time, too. I dislike being so unproductive and am very glad to have turned things around.

I also wrote journal pages at 750words.com every day of March, for a total of over 25k words. There’s a little bit of overlap between these words and my fiction word count, as sometimes I’ll write fiction there instead of the usual “morning pages,” but not much. Also, they’re not always in the morning, but they serve the same purpose–musing, parsing, reporting, and general brain-cleansing.

This past week I finally, finally sorted out the last of the novel draft fixes necessary to be able to start writing new scenes again. I’m not generally an advocate of stopping in the middle and going back to rewrite, but in this case, it was necessary for two reasons. I’d decided on such extensive changes that I needed to make them in order to see my way clear again, and I also needed to make them to get my head immersed back into the story so I could pick up all the threads and carry on. I’m still not expecting it to be a cake walk to get to “The End,” but I can see as far as my headlights again.

I did a school visit this week and had a lovely time–a presentation about storytellers in the gym for all the grade P-3 students (who were great participants and asked surprisingly astute questions), and then classroom sessions with grades 4 & 5. We all had a good time, I think, which is the very best outcome for school visits. I was struck by the instant hush that descended over the gym when I began to read aloud to the students. It really says something about the power of reading to kids when that many of them just go quiet and listen.

Apart from writing, I sewed a giant fabric d20 this week. It’s not stuffed yet, but I promise to post a picture when it is! I used these patterns and instructions, which were fabulous. You know, in case you find yourself needing to make giant stuffed polyhedral dice. As one sometimes does.

Friday Desk Report – Feb. 26/16

stack-of-books-images-k4233733Another week when I was not at my desk very much–it was school book fair week here, so I spent a fair bit of time organizing and manning that. We had a good week and will be putting a lot of new books into the library as a result. The other payoff is seeing the students get so excited about books. Not to mention dropping a certain amount of my own money there…but we won’t talk about that.

When I was at my desk, I was getting files ready for a bundle that will drop next month–it includes a new story from what I like to think of as “the Nearspace files.” That is, it’s set in the Nearspace universe, but prior to the novels. So it gives a little glimpse into the history of Nearspace, while telling a story that stands in its own. You might already have found the other Nearspace stories I have here on the site, but this novella is something new. I’ll post all the details here when the bundle is ready to go, but I’ll just say that my story will be in some exciting company! Oh, all right–I’ll give you a sneak peek at the cover, as well:

RamseyWaitingToFlyCover

…do you like it? Probably in next Friday’s report (or sooner!) I’ll tell you what the story’s about.

So between editing the story, tweaking the cover, setting up the ebook formats, and miscellaneous other related tasks…that was the week. Add in meetings on three of the five weeknights, and it’s no wonder this isn’t a long report!

I do have one other piece of news, though, and it’s that One’s Aspect to the Sun will be part of a new Space Opera box set, also coming in March. Again, I’ll post all details and links as I have them. This is going to be a great deal, so you won’t want to miss out on it!

And I think that’s the report.