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?)

 

 

 

An Interview with Linda Maye Adams – Short Flights Bundle Author

We’re back with another author interview today, this time with Short Flights bundle contributor, Linda Maye Adams. Linda lives in Northern Virginia, and enjoys writing science fiction, fantasy, and mystery, particularly military sci-fi, drawing on her own background and experiences. She keeps a website at lindamayeadams.com if you’d like to learn more.

You know, I sent all the authors the same batch of questions and asked them to choose a few and answer them, so I’m really enjoying finding out which ones different authors have chosen to answer. I hope you are, too! Now, let’s see what Linda has to say…

SDR:  Tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

LMA: My short story is called “Watcher Ghost.” Hope Delgado was recruited by GALCOM, a space military command, because she is the only person who can see and talk to alien ghosts. She is called to an older space station because the ghost haunting it has become violent and she has little time to figure out what he’s trying to tell her.

SDR: I absolutely love the idea of this story! Now, what’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

LMA: It’s the third book in the GALCOM Universe series, called Cursed Planet. Hope Delgado’s on a planet drop to assist Alien Affairs with a mediation over a ghost. But the aliens are hostile to humans and they are difficult to communicate with. I’ve been embracing my nerd side with this one big time—we have zero-gravity, meteorites, and even an aurora. So a lot of fun playing around with the cool side of science.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for your story in the Short Flights bundle? What was it?

LMA: I was working on the first book in the GALCOM Universe series, Crying Planet, and saw an anthology call. It had just hit me that Crying Planet was actually a series, so I gravitated straight into a short story with the same character for the call. The idea was a haunted space station. The bug sensors came into this story first, so I was adding them in the novel. I think I’ll have one of them floating by in zero-g in my newest story.

SDR: I’m always interested to hear how other writers work. Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

LMA: I’m a pantser. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating to start a story because I truly have no idea what’s going to happen next. I have to write it to find out. It’s kind of like sailors in tall ships going out on the sea with only a general idea of where they’re going and then they discover the island with the lost treasure and gets caught in a nasty storm that hadn’t been there five minutes ago. It’s always an adventure.

SDR: As a fellow pantser, I understand. :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

LMA: When I was growing up, there wasn’t much for girls unless it was a romance or Nancy Drew. I liked reading science fiction and adventures, and yet, if there was a girl in the story, she was usually wallpaper. The guys always got the adventures, and the girl got to be rescued. And then I saw Star Trek and Uhura on the bridge in this important and visible role. Even though she didn’t have many adventures, it was a lot more than what I was seeing at the time. So I write about characters I want to see, having adventures.

SDR: What’s the most challenging thing about being a writer in 2018? And what’s the best thing?

LMA: The most challenging thing is discoverability. There’s a lot of books out there, and it’s hard being found in the sea of them. I want to write full time eventually—have always wanted to—but discoverability is happening at its own speed.

The best thing? I can write books about women having adventures and no one’s going to reject them as not being marketable based on an executive’s fear of the risk. Indie really has opened a lot of doors, and places like Bundle Rabbit offer so much exposure.

SDR: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)

LMA: I wrote a memoir on what Desert Storm was like, which is currently in a Rabbit Bundle called Remembering Warriors, along with a lot of other great works. Though I confess that adventures are fiction are sooo much better than real-life ones! I also have my GALCOM Universe series, which includes the first book, Crying Planet. That’s about giant yellow alien slugs who are shipping the ghost population to other planets. The second book in the series is Lonely Planet, with a ghost spaceship that collides with the GALCOM space cruiser. It’s up to Hope to figure out how to save the ship. It’s just so much fun having a heroine save the day. I also have a new fantasy short story up called “Dark, From the Sea,” and I bet you never knew the real reason lighthouses exist…

Readers can find more of my writing on my website: http://lindamayeadams.com

SDR: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us, Linda!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Linda’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

Still more interviews to come!

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?

 

2017 in Review: Words

Well, this is what it all comes down to for a writer, isn’t it? How much did you write?

In January of last year, I began using Jamie Raintree’s Writing and Revision Tracker, which is a wonderful tool–as long as you remember to use it. Which is where I usually fail, when it comes to any number of time management/organization/tracking tools. So in order to write this post, I had to do some backtracking, some figuring, some fill-in-the blanks…and I’m still not sure what I might be missing. However, the final numbers seem reasonable to me.

Writing: 108, 883 words

Revision: 80,692

The writing count doesn’t include blog posts, presentations, articles, newsletters–basically nothing in the non-fiction realm. This is just short stories and novels. I’m reasonably pleased with this number. The revision number reflects the fact that there are different ways to track revision–words or pages covered, time spent, etc.–and mine is actually a combination of word and time goals. So, kind of meaningless as a total with no context, I guess. Maybe it’s more useful to know that all of my revision goals ended between 80-107% complete.

So, using these numbers as a base, I’ve set some goals in my new tracker for 2018. Will I reveal them in detail? Will I merely hint and leave you in suspense?

I guess that’s for the next post…

2017 in Review: Publications!

So, this post will be a little more upbeat than yesterday’s treadmill desk lament. I published things in 2017! And strangely, I realize, they mostly come in twos.

Two short stories in anthologies: I had stories in Where Evil Dwells: The Nova Scotia Anthology of Horror (“The Girl in the Stones”), and the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (“Station Run”). Two very different anthologies and very different stories! “The Girl in the Stones” is set in Cape Breton, when a couple moves into a house that comes with a strange pile of stones in the yard, menacing dreams, and a frightening history. “Station Run” finds a young girl on a space station discovering that her programming skills have unearthed a secret that will rock the world of the station and those who live there.

Two self-published novelettes, “Waiting to Fly” (set in the Nearspace universe), and “The Goddess Problem” (an Olympia Investigations story). “Waiting to Fly” is set in the early days of Nearspace colonization, when getting to a space station was only the first step, and getting off it again might not be easy-especially if you’re a young woman on your own. “The Goddess Problem” finds our favourite supernaturally-attuned detective, Acacia Sheridan, employed by a Greek goddess on a missing-persons case.

Two books: a new collection of short stories, The Cache and Other Stories, and the third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars. The story collection includes stories published since my last collection in 2011, as well as a couple of bonus stories you won’t find anywhere else. And Beyond the Sentinel Stars finds Luta and her brother Lanar embroiled in a desperate attempt to prevent another Chron war from ravaging Nearspace.

On the editorial side, 2017 saw the publication by Third Person Press of Rise of the Mudmen by James FW Thompson. I’m very pleased to have been involved in the publication of this first novel. The story follows a group of young survivors through a zombie apocalypse in an alternate 1980’s timeline in Cape Breton.

Submission Planner Updated

I’ve been using the submission planning spreadsheet I talked about here and realized that a couple of tweaks would improve its functionality.

I added a column to enter the word count of your story, and formulae in the “Projected Payment” column, so that now if you enter your word count and the pay rate for a particular market, the spreadsheet will calculate the projected payment for you (because I don’t know about you, but I’m all about doing as little actual math as possible). There’s also now a separate column for flat rate payments.

The instructions page has been amended accordingly.

Here’s the really cool part: if you’ve already started using the older version of the spreadsheet, don’t despair! Open your version and the new version in different windows on your desktop, and simply drag one of the updated sheets from the new version into your old version. It won’t update a sheet you’ve already started, of course, but you can use the new version for any new ones you start. You can take advantage of the new features without having to start a new file.

The new file is now linked below and on the original post’s download page. Happy submission planning!

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!

 

Submission Planning Sheet

It takes a while to get a story ready for submission–there’s a lot of rewriting, revising, editing, polishing, and agonizing to arrive at that point where you give yourself the green light — your project is ready to send out into the world. The act of submitting is not an easy one for every writer, often fraught with self-doubt, trepidation, and  anxiety. Trying to decide where to send your story can seem like a huge, time-intensive chore, which has to be revisited after every rejection (usually when we least feel like doing it!).

What you, the writer, need — is a plan. A submission plan for your story that will help you easily decide on the best markets to target and which ones to try first, and also let you turn rejections around quickly into new submissions. No more going back to pore over the market lists every time a story comes back; no more agonizing over where to send you work; no more letting a story lie fallow on your hard drive for weeks or months while you regather the will, nerve, or gumption to figure out where to send it next.

Enter the Submission Planning Sheet. I’ve kept one of these for years (inspired by an old article by my friend writer Terry Hickman) using this method, but I’ve recently updated it to an Excel spreadsheet from my old pen-and-paper method. I thought I’d share it here for any writers struggling with keeping their stories in submission. You can use it for as many stories as you’d like by simply adding a new page/sheet for each story. It comes with instructions and some sample data, and I hope you’ll find it useful.

You can download the spreadsheet file directly from my site right here:

The spreadsheet is free, but if you find it useful and feel so inclined, you can show your appreciation with a small donation – buy me a cup of coffee? You’ll keep me fuelled for creating more useful things like this. :)

 

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…)

NaNoRetro: 2002

nano2002Yup, today we’re going all the way back to the beginning. This was my first year of NaNoWriMo! And yes, in this picture you can see what I expect is a pretty rare artifact–the 2002 t-shirt.

My first NaNo novel was The Y Plague, a story about a future Earth where the male population has been reduced by a very large percentage. No, I did not write this because I hate men. I wrote it because it was an idea that interested me and I wanted to explore it. Here’s the blurb (from before I really understood how to write a good blurb, but someday I’ll write a better one):

In a future where genetic degradation has reduced the male population to only five percent of the total, fertile males are prized as research subjects and breeding partners. There’s unrest, however, as men begin to resent the bonds of society and start to form their own Freemen colonies. The radical X/Alt group wants to see the end of all research aimed at restoring the male genome, and in Rome, the last male Pope uncovers a secret that will either drive him mad or rock the Catholic Church to its foundations.

I had a one-year-old and a six-year-old when I wrote this novel, so it required getting up early in the morning and staying up late at night. I remember pouring up a glass of juice every night so that in the morning, I just had to stumble out to the fridge and retrieve it, sipping as I made my way to my office. Then I pried open my eyelids and tried to get a few hundred words down before the day started. This strategy worked out very well for me, as I found that by the time I got to write again once the kids were in bed, my brain had been working on the next part all day. I wrote over 2k words nineteen days of the month that year, which I think was pretty consistent.

Looking at my spreadsheet from that year, I see that I passed 50k words on the 25th of November! Wow. I was on fire that year. I finished out the month with 58,337 words, and an outline for the final fourteen chapters of the novel. I kept writing until the 3rd of December and reached 59,029 words, but wrote the outline when I realized that although I hadn’t gotten to THE END, I had to turn my attention to the upcoming holidays. I didn’t want to forget where the novel was heading when I picked it up again in January.

I have never written those last chapters. *headdesk*

However, I pulled this novel out last year and began looking at it. I think it’s good. Better than I remember, actually, and perhaps even more relevant in many ways than it was when I started it. It’s very near the top of my list of things to finish. I think it probably needs a new title, since the “plague” is not really a plague and has happened long before the book begins, but I can deal with that.

One thing I’m doing during this retrospective is considering these unfinished novels, what state they are in, and what they need. From this I’m making a to-do list for 2017, so expect to see some of these titles (or replacement ones) popping up over the next while.