December Goals

Though my goal list appeared short for November, it was actually a really tough and time-consuming list, since I meant to write an entire book (with Tamara Shoemaker) in one month, not to mention continue writing a different book on my own. I stayed very busy. I’m planning to take on a lot for December, too.

In November my goals were:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped, but I did make some good progress.
  2. NANOWRIMO CHECK Tamara and I completed our novel, River Running, in plenty of time. It’s around 90,000 words, and right now we are reading it for the first time, making small revisions as we go.
  3. OtherCHECK My main “other” this month was doing a final line and copy edit on Mark A. King‘s Metropolitan Dreams. I finished the edit yesterday, and this book is really turning into a polished gem! Keep your eyes peeled for it when it participates in the Kindle Scout Program…soon.

 

My December Goals are:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. LIGHT Mage & Source revision. Last month I had a first reader take a look at Mage and Source. Now I’ll apply her feedback and revise, with the hope of sending it to editors Beth and Tamara in Jan 2017.
  3. BRAINSTORMING: Tamara and I have another co-write idea that we need to brainstorm. I’m really excited about this one. It involves music and magic and an 18th Century setting of court intrigues.
  4. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

November Goals

As I sit down to write my November Goals, I am struck by how very dark it is outside. We’ve had rain for almost a week here in Northern California, a feat that hasn’t occured in years, and I find the dark, wet mornings are perfect for writing. They make me feel quite inspired. I wish this weather could go on for longer! Alas, both the darkness and the wetness will go, as we change our clocks next weekend and the weather pattern is already shifting.

My October Goals were:

  1.  ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK.I finished this much faster than the actual draft-writing.
  2. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision. I’m in the thick if this right now. CHECK.
  3. Other CHECK. I worked on plenty of “other” last month. First, I formatted a box set for Margaret Locke. Second, I did a global read through on Beth Deitchman’s latest fantasy novel. Third, I finished line edits on Mark A. King’s Metropolitan Dreams. And fourth, I began a global read through of Tamara Shoemaker’s final Heart of A Dragon book, Unleash the Inferno!

My November goals are:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. NANOWRIMO I’m participating as one half of a co-writing team (with Tamara Shoemaker) in National Novel Writing Month. We are writing a fantasy romance book set in a Reconstruction Era-ish setting with a magic system that involves the elements and … indigo. My goal is to add words every day, with a target of about 1500 or more per day.
  3. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

Seven Questions : October 2016 : Tamara Shoemaker

Author extraordinaire Tamara Shoemaker reappears for her fourth round of Seven Questions. The woman can’t help it; she just keeps cranking out books! This month she is releasing both Guardian of the Vale, the third and final installment in her YA urban fantasy series, and the complete Guardian of the Vale Trilogy Box Set, in which you can get all three books in the series in one convenient and discounted file, starting today.

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1) Tamara, this is your ninth book. Wow! How has your book-writing process changed between Book 1 and Book 9?

I don’t recognize the author I was when I wrote Broken Crowns. I mean, I see shades of her in who I am now (I still sit down to write every day, I still set word count goals), but I’m much more disciplined about my story structure now. With my first book, I made up the story each day as I typed. Now, I write an entire history of my characters before I ever even start page one, chapter one. I’ll create timelines, backstory, personality profiles, outlines, find inspiration pics, all sorts of things I never did for the first book. It might help that I now write fantasy, which is all about world-building and setting. Broken Crowns was a mystery, and while setting up your world in a mystery is still important, it doesn’t hold the same weight that it does in fantasy.

2) Which phase of the book process do you enjoy most and why?

I’m pretty sure this makes me an odd bird among writers, as quite a few of my fellow authors have told me they enjoy the first-draft process the most–but I love the edits, particularly the line edits. First-drafting, while giving me a bit of freedom to just write without worrying about finesse or polish, sometimes chafes, because I dislike putting anything on paper that doesn’t immediately bowl me over. I realize in order to craft a book, that annoyingly poor first draft has to come out, so I do it. But I love the line edits–the final stage before publication, because that’s when I’m dusting off all the rough edges of my work and watching it transform into a true work of art. It’s lovely.

3) Novels are a tough form, time-consuming and sometimes underappreciated in the world. What keeps you so motivated?

I realized a long time ago that if my motivation relied on reader appreciation, I would have quit after the first book hit the market. Some will love you, some will hate you, most won’t even give your book a chance. I can’t focus on that, or I will get discouraged. For me, it’s all about the work itself. I am a book lover, have been all my life. I love everything about a book, from the smell of dusty old volumes to the crinkly, crunchy sound of the pages as they turn (Kindle, you will never own me!). The stories I fall in love with, I read over and over and over again. They become real to me, holding honored places on my bookshelves. I’m serious. I have a “favorite” shelf, and a “lesser” shelf, and a “I-don’t-like-these-as-much-so -let’s-put-them-in-the-corner” shelf. If authors have impacted and inhabited my life through their works of art, I want to do the same for others. So my motivation is to make my stories real, to me if to no one else. The satisfaction I gain from pouring all of myself into a project like this is beyond measure.

4) Do your book ideas arrive in your head in a particular way? As images, as opening scenes or sentences, as characters, as conflicts? Tell us a little about idea generation, brainstorming, and how you come up with a story? Once you have an idea, what are the next steps?

They come in all shapes and sizes and by any means: ridiculous questions my kids ask, an anecdote where something happens by accident, a dream that vividly sticks in my mind–anything that makes me ask: What if? Once I have that what if question, I write down the seed of the story, and then I spend days staring at the wall, thinking, occasionally jotting something down. The story builds on itself. Once I have the premise I want to write about, I have to build the world around it. What’s the setting? This earth? Another earth? What time period? Modern style? Medieval style? Victorian style? Ancient style? What government ruled during that time? Dictatorship? Monarchy? President? Pantheon? Who are the characters? What are their backgrounds? How are they affected by their culture? What’s the central conflict and how is everything in this world shaped by it? Once I have a good grasp on ALL these things, and not until that happens, THEN I start writing.

5) You have been forcibly recruited as an experimental space traveller (sorry). You are allowed to bring only what you can carry in a small backpack. What do you pack?

(Forcibly being the key word.) Space! Ack! Fie, fie!

Okay, fine. I would need tether ropes, first and foremost, because obviously, I can’t be trusted not to float off into nothingness forever and ever and ever and ever…

Whose bright idea was space again?

And then, several tanks of oxygen, again, because while I’m floating off forever and ever and ever and ever, I’ll need something to breathe… *can’t breathe, must breathe… air… help…

You say I can’t fit oxygen tanks into a backpack. Erg.

I’d like to take a few books to pass the time while I’m floating into nothingness until my eventual smothering, starving, helpless death…

Maybe I need to move on to the next question…

6) It turns out that your experimental space ship has malfunctioned, and instead of traveling through space, you’re traveling through time. What era/year will be your desired destination? And why?

Oh, thank goodness. Time travel is much more palatable.

I’ve always said I was born in the wrong era, as history has always fascinated me. I have a particular penchant for the 1850’s through the 1880’s. I’d love to go (and quite often do in the pages of historical novels and Civil War accounts). As my husband reminds me when I wish aloud for such things, air-conditioning and indoor plumbing weren’t really a thing, at least not in most households (indoor plumbing), and death by measles, typhoid, and the common cold was a thing. So… there’s that.

But I’d still love to go, because I’m a legit nerd-in-training, or so I’ve been told.

7) Tell us a bit about your next book (or books, since it’s you)

Hahaha! Thou makest me laugh out loud.

I am soooooo excited for November to hit, because that means it’s National Novel Writing Month, and I am planning to write TWO novels during it. First, I’m co-writing a novel with the fabulous Emily June Street (I suspect you know something of her), where we will explore a fantasy world set similarly to the deep south during the Reconstruction period, and where we weave a romance reminiscent of Jane Eyre and her brooding and passionate Mr. Rochester. I can’t WAIT for this!

My second novel will explore the theme of using music as magic. This story has been teasing my brain for many months–perhaps because music is important in my life, magical in its own way. It touches the very roots of who I am, and I’m really excited to dig in and tease out the ways it could be shown in this world I’m about to create. Here’s the logline I created for it: “When Alex Cale, a prodigy whose musical magic shapes the world, discovers the deterioration of his symphonies, he suspects sabotage by Edon White, the Conservatoire’s new Director. As the world begins to crumble beneath this incurable discordance, only Lyric, a mysterious eighteen-year-old girl with hidden talents, can help Alex restore harmony and magic.”

 Can’t wait to get started!

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About Guardian of the Vale:

Clayborne Training Institute, a school for teen Elementals, has fallen beneath a sweeping nationwide coup led by the Elemental Alliance, a party of power-hungry sectarians. Having narrowly escaped the fight for the school, Alayne Worth, Quadriweave and possessor of the Vale, flees Clayborne with twenty-three desperate students seeking the headquarters of the Last Order, the underground organization planning to wrest control from the Alliance. Danger shadows her steps as the struggle for the Vale and its power stalks ever closer to home. Conflicts, perils, enemies, and rebellions push Alayne toward a cataclysmic battle that threatens to rend CommonEarth at the seams, and the Vale is the linchpin that decides the victory or the defeat. When those closest to Alayne threaten her possession of the Vale, will she and the world in which she lives survive the fallout?

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About Tamara:

Tamara Shoemaker authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning two installments of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as her first completed trilogy: Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction, chases three children hither and yon, and tries hard to ignore the brownie mixes that inevitably show up in her cabinets.

Follow her on social media:
Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker
Website: http://www.tamarashoemaker.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

 

October Goals

Well, for the first time in a while, I really underperformed on my goals. I have no excuse, except that goal number one took me much longer than I expected this month. In other news, my Imitrex prescription has been a life-saver, allaying six migraines in the month of September!

My goals for September were:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision.  CHECK. I finished this yesterday, on the final day of the month.
  2. Finish ToB&L Book 6 revision. No check–didn’t even begin.
  3. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision. No check–didn’t even begin.

My goals for October will be:

  1.  ToB&L Book 4 revision. Now that the draft is finally done, I can start editing. Normally I’d let the draft stew for a bit, but this one took me so long to write I feel ready to dive back into the beginning parts– in fact, I’m eager to do so. The draft came out to almost 140K words; I’d like to get it down to 115K or less. This revision pass I’ll be honing the focus of the book, cutting extraneous scenes and information.
  2. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision: I really, really want to get started on this one this month, but, after last month, I’m not entirely certain it will happen. I’m putting it on the goals list anyway.
  3. Other I’m inserting this category because of all the various “other” projects that inevitably sprout up during the month and surprise me. I’m sure some will arise in October.

September 2016 Goals

August was a good month of writing and working for me. I also possibly made a big break through on a problem that often eats up my writing hours: migraine headaches. I am trying the most common prescription medication again (Imitrex) after years of using alternative solutions that all either failed (various diets, herbs, remedies) or made matters much worse (acupuncture). At any rate, so far I’ve fully aborted two out of three headaches with Imitrex, which feels pretty miraculous after twenty years of impenetrable cyclical migraines. What this means is that I may have 2-4 more days of good solid writing per month to complete these goals.

Last month’s goals were:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. CHECK, but still slowly plodding through the plot– or plotting through the plod, as the case may be.
  2. Finish posting the matwork series to my Pilates Blog (2.5 exercises left!) CHECK
  3. Keep working on the various formatting and editing projects for other authors. CHECK–I made good progress and finished two projects.

This month’s goals will be:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. 
  2. Finish ToB&L Book 6 revision: The final four books of ToB&L are intricately connected, and so, as I’m revising book 4, I’ve been reading Books 6 & 7 to make sure events and logistics match up. I started revising Book 6 last month to fix continuity issues, and I realized I needed to take the story timeline further and add a few chapters at the end. I plan to finish this book’s ending this month.
  3. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision: This book is getting a full rewrite similar to Book 4. I switched up the timelines and narrators in these two books and so they needed a complete reorganization. I’ve been having so many ideas about Book 5, and I’m very excited to share the narrators’ stories someday. Readers of the series have met these two narrators before in earlier stories, and one of them is the character most-asked about, and a personal favorite of mine.

 

Seven Questions : August 2016 : Taylor Rush

For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m hosting romantic comedy author Taylor Rush. Taylor, who hails from Portland, OR, wrote the quirky contemporary romances Mistakes Were Made and her recent release, Best Laid Plans. Learn more about her and her writing with my seven questions.

1) Pitch your latest book in three sentences.

Sam and Wil are madly in love. Unfortunately, they are not particularly good at communication and what starts as a silly plan backfires on Sam. They both still want love and friendship, but can they find it together?

2) Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

My books are indie-published by Silurian Press, a small business I started in June 2015. Among the many things I’ve done in the past, I’ve worked in web programming and digital marketing, and my partner is an attorney. We both also find running a business intrinsically interesting.

This means I can keep overhead very low — I program the website, build the e-book, review contracts, etc. without having to pay anyone. This has been really helpful during the start-up phase of the business. I also enjoy working on a business plan and managing the finances of the business. Marketing has been harder, but I have found it helpful to think about the books as products in an online business.

I’m always open to different publishing possibilities, but so far I’m really enjoying running Silurian Press.

3) Your book is a quirky, unusual modern-day romance. Is this your usual genre or do you write others, too? What draws you to certain genres or types of stories?

For many years, I’ve written fragments of adventure, fantasy, or science fiction stories that may include romance. I’m most interested in the messed-up ways that people try to do the right thing, whether in the context of a romantic relationship, a friendship, or saving the universe.

I also like exploring the many ways all of us can fail to communicate with each other (or even within ourselves), and I find the different ways we structure our lives with work, family, and friendship fascinating. Writing is a great way to play out a wider variety of possibilities than I can experience directly.

And I’ll get to saving the universe someday.

4) What’s the best book you’ve read this year and why?

Always hard to pick just one! I really enjoyed Blindspot, by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore. It’s set in pre-revolutionary war Boston and follows characters on the periphery of the rebellion. I love books that tell the story of people we don’t hear from as much, and there is some steamy hot sex. The plot is also somewhat similar to some of the gender-bending Shakespearean comedies, which I also always enjoy. It’s a dense, fascinating read, and you’ll feel smarter for having read it!

5) What do you think makes a great sentence?

One that makes me bark with laughter — usually with a twist at the end or a simple statement that no one (usually) says out loud.

6) What is your next book about?

My third book, Good Fortune, continues the story of Sam and Wil (from Best Laid Plans). It’s a bit darker, but still funny. I got to write a wedding and a death, both of which made me cry. The book is in the copy editing phase right now, and should be available in November.

I’m just starting to map out two more books: one focusing on the younger days of Sue, a character in Mistakes Were Made and Best Laid Plans, and another taking place in Portland after Good Fortune when the city is hit with the big earthquake.

7) What’s your secret super power?

Organizing stuff — legos, books, old cassette tapes, tools. I love getting them sorted and into order.

Learn more about Best Laid Plans:

Sometimes, it’s better not to make plans. Samantha Queezy and Wilbur Dale are madly in love. But they are masters of mediocre communication, and they quickly complicate their lives. Their blissful romance runs into problems when Sam casually shares her youthful plan of marrying for money. Wil takes great pleasure in teasing Sam about her lack of ethics while slowly becoming obsessed with the idea. Their relationship begins to fray around the edges and both Sam and Wil have to decide what matters the most.

And more about Taylor:

Taylor is deeply committed to eating, reading, and writing. Growing up in Portland, Taylor spent a lot of time digging around in the woods and daydreaming with legos. After going back east for college, Taylor returned to Portland with dreams of saving the world. After being kicked in the shins by reality for a number of years, Taylor got into technology, data organization, and helping people manage their knowledge. This was great fun, but the stories kept bubbling out.

Taylor has no pets due to allergies, but has a dream of guinea pigs. Taylor has no tattoos due to anxiety. Taylor does have an excellent appetite, so the anxiety isn’t too bad.