12-in-12 Challenge

Okay. I haven’t really bitten off more than I can chew, but I took on the 12-in-12 challenge last November to give myself a goal because I wasn’t quite certain where my writing was going besides into The Reaping trilogy. Now I’ve got that and the second Contracted trilogy done as well as one one-off.

The challenge seems to have boot-kicked my creative world building up into a higher gear which is fantastic and I love it.

Over the months I have learned more about editing and graphic design and now want to revamp all my backlog of books and update the covers for the Coffee and Blood series. I may have to revisit the Contract series as well, though I do like the style.

Coffee and Blood would likely follow the same style as the Seed cover. I like how that looks and the background colours for each trilogy will be the same colour and texture while the character changes. That’ll make it easier for readers to find the trilogies by glance alone, no?

There are… eleven books to re-edit and six or so more to edit.

I’m still waiting for an acceptance/rejection letter but I do want to go back to school. I want to do the editing. I want to get the graphic design up and running for real. Except the 12-in-12 is always there. And if I get into school, I can’t do the last two books of the year.

Basically, I’m considering ending my 12-in-12 because it served out a purpose and has jump started all sorts for my writing, editing, and goals for the coming years. Except now it’s taking up so much time that I can’t get anything done until November. I can’t re-edit until November, or re-brand until November. I don’t feel that would be a good fit to wait until November to start all this when I need Wraith’s Rebellion done for October, before Seed goes live.

So, I suppose this is now a to-do list:

-Rebrand website: I said I’d do this, what, back in November?

-Edit, in this order: Seed, Wraith’s Rebellion, Crop, Harvest, Contracted, D.o.t.A.

-Rebrand Covers: Wraith’s Rebellion.

-Get on with the Covers already.

-Blog tours?

-Revisit Blurbs of all the books.

-Adjust room/office area to actually allow for doing work.

-Update The Others.

Ark is still active, but I am dragging my feet because of the to-do list. Ark doesn’t have a due date, it’s not up for pre-order anywhere, I don’t have to rush through it. I’m kind of enjoying dragging my feet, though. Ark is set in a tropical biodome and is kind of giving me flashbacks of vacations but in a good way.

I’ve got a direction now, I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. It’s time to take off the blinders and make changes to further my writing rather continuing to do what isn’t getting books out until probably spring of next year. That’s too long.

April: Contract Delivered

Three days in and I’m already having issues. This sucks because I’m pretty certain this isn’t the same issue that I had with His Wings.

My pain returned yesterday, but no anxiety accompanying it. By the time I got home, because I worked through it all, the knuckles on my right hand were bright red against my pale skin. The index and middle finger of the left were the same thing. It utterly drained me.

Today the pain seems manageable. As in not really existing. My knuckles are stuffy but I feel exhausted to the point that I can’t focus on my writing.

The plus side of that all is that the last time my knuckles looked like that, I had to call into work because the pain made me physically ill. This time around it just sapped my energy.

To complicate my project schedule, I have a social event to go to tonight. I don’t regret going at all, but that means I probably won’t get work done until Thursday, which is my next day off. There’s a part of me that’s about ready to stomp her feet and throw a little tantrum over that, which is how I know this isn’t the same as His Grace.

I knew April would be challenging because my move happens during it. I knew that would interfere, that the anxiety would be high and I’d have a lot to do. That was one of the reasons I chose Contract Delivered.

After working with him for… what is, three years now? Mr. Wrightworth is practically a comfort when I’m sick or unwell in some way. Yeah, I’m team Mr. Wrightworth, but I’ve never had a proper, healthy relationship and have been known to be a masochist both emotionally and physically.

Contract Delivered is meant to be the end of the second year of Nathaniel and Mr. Wrightworth’s contract with Albert. In the original introduction, Nathaniel promised it would cover some of his time with Isabella. So the original plan was to have Contract Signed cover the year of servitude, Contract Sealed to be the years in between, and then Contract Delivered to cover the time where Isabella and Nathaniel were apart. Then four chapters into Contract Signed, Nathaniel changed it all.

He was all, “No, this should all be about Him.”

And I just sighed and shook my head but gave in and let him go with it.

In the meantime, I’m doing a read-edit of Contract Gifted, a novella that is like as not going to be expanded at some point in the future into a novel. That’s fine by me. I’ve got the cover done for it and have to work on the description. Once I’m done the read-edit, I can write up the description.

Both the edit and the description would be done on my phone. Since the read-edit actually involves reading it and making notes, then making changes on a computer.

See, for the next week, I can’t take my netbook to work. I’m worried I will forget it. Or be mugged… I’ve lived in this city for like four years and I’ve never been concerned that someone will notice what’s in my bag until now. Because that’s just my freaking luck. So, rather than risk the netbook being stolen, I’m leaving it at home. That also, of course, bites into my writing time.

So be it.

Four more work days, nine days until my move. Oh, which I probably won’t be able to write Contract Delivered during. I suspect typing on a computer would be super distracting to a driver so instead I’m going to have my phone with all the background stuff shut down, a traveling battery thing (I can’t seem to recall the word, so it’s probably best that I’m not writing this morning), and an MP3 player separate. I’ll work on Harvest instead.

For like… fifteen hours or so. Three hours is usually one chapter for that, so I could be about a quarter of the way done by the time I arrive.

Plans, etc.

If only my head was able to focus on writing a story today.

Crop Week Four

Obviously, I’m not working on Crop anymore. I’ve been editing like crazy.

The wrap for Seed is done, along with the cover of Crop. The wrap for Crop could be done in about an hour.

I like that wraps used to take me something like sixteen hours, and now it’s down to an hour or so.

I had an anxiety attack Sunday so bad that I was in tears. It continued into Monday. No reason for it, just over stressed about the day-job and the move coming up I guess.

Monday night, I played some video games and had a little wine. Just unwound basically. The attack passed sometime around midnight on Monday.

I didn’t get out of bed until one on Tuesday, and then only because my older cat demanded I get up.

So that he could sleep on the couch instead of the bed…

Jerk.

Sometimes caring for yourself means sleeping off the tremor created by attacks and the weariness from forcing yourself through a day. This was the first time in years that I didn’t want to get out of bed.

And last time it was also a cat that made me get up. Except that time it was so he could sleep in my spot.

Cats. They are so mean.

Once I got up yesterday I finished writing Contract Gifted which isn’t a big deal, it was only two chapters left. Then I put it through a chunk edit and started a regular edit. One chapter left for that edit and I plan to do it at work today.

I also started looking at photos for the cover. I have to figure out how many edits it needs, but it could be up as early as next week.

Novelettes are kind of nifty, but I’m not certain I have a plot or way to do another one. It’s just that Nicole popped up just before Christmas and was like, “Hello,” and it just worked itself out.

Tomorrow I start Awakened and I don’t have the energy to be excited about it. The attack is still riding the edge of my mood and it could be a while before I completely recover.

Or I could be tired because I forgot to take my pills and eat before leaving the apartment. Or it could be weariness in general. I want to move yesterday. And as much as I ‘booked’ six weeks off because I know all but one is going to be anxiety riddled and scary, I want it to happen and I want to be on the other side.

Awakened will have to keep me distracted until then. Four weeks, and supposedly twenty-four chapters to go. That’s about 100k words. 25k a week, or about 6 chapters.

Okay. Maybe I’m a little excited. Just a smidgen.

Crop Week Three

Crop is done! I even converted the files over but apparently forgot to check the word count. It’s probably about 66k words, but with autocorrect being labotamized I’ve found it less detrimental to the story to write it all out and then go back for the additional information. This is what I’ve been calling the description edit.

Or, alternatively, getting to the end and realizing you gave no one and nothing descriptions. Like. At all.

Ugh. It’s only been like fourteen manuscripts since I started chastising myself about the descriptions, you know. It totally takes forty before it clues in.

The plus side of such description edits is that I don’t have to stop and backtrack going, “what do these characters look like again?”

It never seems to stick. That’s what happens when you want to pump out stories to get the ideas down before you forget them.

The detail edit also lets me get really into the manuscript and paying attention to details and typos

I finished last Friday and proceeded to take almost three days off to drink wine and play video games. I got bored halfway through day one when I realized my controller didn’t have batteries and I was out and feeling lazy. So I didn’t get to play the games I wanted.

The third day, I set up the wrap for Seed and wrote two chapters of Harvest.

Yesterday, I edited four chapters of His Wings, read five chapters of Fragments, decided to rework the description of Fragments my next day at a computer, updated the Worlds on my website, started plotting Awakened, and began working on the cover for Crop.

Yes, that was all yesterday along with a full shift at the day job.

It seems I was suffering a B12 and D deficiency, both of which can lower energy levels and cause depression on top of my home situation which resulted in me being a lazy bum.

I’m back to myself again!

Except I’m not cleaning my apartment. It’s this whole thing. Landlord thinks I should live in a mouldy home and pay full rent while my ceiling is leaking in three places and I’m kind of hoping the leaks cause an electrical fire and take it all out. But not until I move my stuff out.

And cleaning it never feels clean thanks to the issues in the building. But I’m sure it’ll make good backstory for something.

Awakened is so far the contender for March. Mr. Wrightworth has walked away from Contract Delivered again. But it could be because once it and Contract Gifted are written, the world will be closed. Only because I feel like the stories have been told.

I will be writing Harvest at the same time, on commutes, after I finish a read edit of His Wings.

And I need to pack at some point. Right… much to do, sort of enough time to do it in. Basically, it’s crunch time.

Crop Week Two

Almost forgot to update because work changed my shift for today. I don’t mind at all, in fact I prefer an earlier shift, but I’m a creature of habit so I almost forgot.

On chapter sixteen of Crop. I’ve been editing and working on cover design too. Might have a design for The Reaping trilogy.

It kind of amuses me that the current setup has the title Seed sitting between Kaz’s legs just below his crotch. Greatly amuses me, actually.

I finished an edit of His Wings on… Saturday? Maybe. Started the chunk edit yesterday and got distracted by cover creation and packing.

Movers are booked. Huzzah.

Back to work I go.

Cover Making

Making a cover has a learning curve. Now, I’m not under the belief that just anyone can sit down and make a nice cover. Unlike formatting, it’s not something that can be explained in a single blog post.

For myself, I have a long history with both graphic design and art. Don’t take that as meaning I’ve gone to school or anything. I worked with photo-manipulation software when I was a teenager. There was nothing else to do and this was in the age where your computer still made sounds as it connected to the internet, and was slow as could be. If you wanted to grab a picture, you had to wait ten minutes to an hour for it to download, my connection sucked that much.

I have, over the years, continued to use photo-editing software in the form of Gimp. Gimp was not what I was raised with and I found myself frustrated over the things that I couldn’t do, or couldn’t figure out. The text box alone…

What I was used to was a pirated copy of either Paintshop Pro, or Photoshop Pro. I had used the good stuff and knew that my trouble with Gimp was the limitations of the software. Though it is free and great for beginners.

As a teenager and into my early twenties, I drew a lot. Except it always came out awkwardly un-balanced. Turns out one of my lenses is crooked or misshapen and without special man-made lenses, my perspective of the world was forever slanted. Isn’t that fun? Especially when you can’t freaking draw with them on because it’s very uncomfortable.

My jobs over the years have involved a great deal of visual balance. This is a requirement for graphic design. If you have no sense of balance, or how to make a piece balanced, something will forever bother the reader who glances over your work.

My most recent job involves colour, measurements, creating designs, and guiding clients through the design choices to create a custom look that suits their needs. In the past three years I have learned more about colour and balance than I thought possible, or that I ever thought I would need.

So, with all that, I had a shitty little monitor and a mouse with some photo-editing software. I found drawing and working with the mouse to be annoying and blocky, like I was making the shapes with my shoulder instead of my wrist.

I grabbed a tablet, just a cheap one, nothing overly fancy.

Still have the shitty little monitor.

Why does the monitor matter? Well, each computer monitor is a bit like a snowflake. The monitor I have now is several years old, has dead pixels all over the place and I swear is getting darker with time.

Creating the cover for At Death’s Door, I thought I did really well, until I got it onto my cell phone, which is a much newer screen, and spotted things which I couldn’t see on my monitor. Things which made it look like a three year old had tried to colour the cover.

I would have caught it, had I actually been able to see the colour problem on my monitor. Once I saw it, and I zoomed in, I could kind of see it, but I still had to use my cell phone as a guide.

Hence the monitor’s new title, “shitty little monitor.” It works great for all things not graphic design.

Even with the proper equipment, this takes time, effort, and practice. Lots of practice. I like the practice, it’s quite invigorating to work on something besides writing and editing constantly. I’m also not playing a game, so I don’t have that guilty voice at the back of my head whining about how I should be working.

After getting a cover done, I step back and think that there was a better, smoother way of doing that thing. I remember for next time. Yes, my first few covers are going to be a little lumpy. Yes, it could be years before I produce the types of things which others would actually pay for.

But that’s actually my end goal with this. Not just to make my own covers, but to sell covers as well. That way, when I get aggravated about writing or editing, I can take a break, do some arts and crafts, and still make money.

I just need the practice.