Year End Review

My publication anniversary is here. Technically past but that’s fine, we’ll work with a generalized idea of it.

First off, let’s do inventory.

Last year about this time, I started my 12-in-12 challenge, meaning to write a book a month. Technically I have one more day to finish. I think I’m shy by one book, but my numbers keep slipping all over the place. It’s expected, but whatever, it’s close enough, right?

Published this year:

His Grace Oct. 25, 2017

Contract Gifted April 7, 2018

His Wings April 8, 2018

Fragments May 9, 2018

Isabella’s Story (boxset) Oct. 6, 2018

Seed Oct. 15, 2018

Published “next” year:

Crop Nov. 22, 2018

Harvest Dec. 31, 2018

Wraith’s Rebellion (box set) Jan. 2019

The Reaping (box set) Feb. 2019

Written this year:

Contract Claimed -NaNoWriMo appr. 89k words

Contract Sealed – Dec appr. 20k words

His Wing – Jan approx. 87k words edited and published

Contract Delivered – appr. 70k words

Crop – appr. 87k words (finished about 104k) edited and published

Harvest -appr. 90k words (finished about 108k) edited and published

The Last Prophet – appr. 90k words mild editing

Hera – July appr. 97k words beta read

Contract Gifted – appr. 25k words edited and published

Grim Port – Oct. appr. 101k words

Plotted out:

D.o.t.A. books x 4 (I cannot recall their names)

Savage Shores – m/f alien interaction on a giant paradise ship.

Contract Unspoken – m/m smutty novella of Mr. Wrightworth and an unnamed slave

Elysia – an Elders book about Elysia finding Kaz and turning her, though told from his perspective.

The Special Boy – a Coven book set in the Coffee and Blood world about the grown male witch

Grim Haven/Grim Travels – two books to fill out the Grim trilogy set in Scotland

In Planning:

Bob – (Coffee and Blood) an ‘Elders’ book, as Bob is technically an Elder, about Vampire Las Vegas. South American setting.

Ba En Ra – (Coffee and Blood) a trilogy set in the Ba En Ra family, said to be located in or around Egypt, where they lived for tens of thousands of years.

The Rebellion – (Coffee and Blood) a trilogy wrapped around the werewolves and witches and a treaty they are in the process of forming.

Bitches – (Coffee and Blood) I don’t care what the freaking wolves say, this title has to change. This is a couple of stories, or maybe a trilogy wrapped around Daisy and her adventures. I’ve given her a nudge and she might find herself in Mungo’s path. That’ll make sense later on.

Duality – (solo world) a book or series set around a world where mages need to pair off in order to access their magic.

Shade – (solo world) a series of random books of varying lengths about an immortal named Shade.

Savage Shores – this is supposed to be a series following the consequences of the book.

Alpha – a set of three smutty m/m novellas revolving around the ‘adoption’ of a new companion by an Alpha who has two already. They would then be released in a set. The series would continue on.


Something is missing. Maybe December was finishing off Contract Signed. It would take about four hours for me to find the information and then I’d get lost down the rabbit hole.

In the last year I’ve also moved, gone back to school, moved from full time to part time work, adopted a cat, got my license back… been making my own covers.  I like the cover making, but I need more experience and practice before I start selling, I think. I always think that, so we’ll see how it goes.

Cover design takes hours at a desktop, though. I don’t have that time. So no arts and crafts for me.

So…

What do I want to do in the next year? What do I want to see?

I want more than five books published. I want the entire backlog edited and published. I want to keep writing as fast as I am, so one or more books written a month.

I need to set a clear goal but I think I need to think on this more. Just like I did last year, I want to set up the books for writing and editing and such on. I want it all listed out.

Right now, let’s focus on right now: Finishing the Grim trilogy. Write that sucker. I could be done in two weeks with some pushing.

Once finished the Grim trilogy, finish reading Harvest. Grab Hera and do a read, then start the plot edits then do other edits. Grab the Grim trilogy as a whole. Read it all, do plot edits. Then start actual edits on the trilogy.

Given time and how things are falling into place, I’m actually hoping to have that almost done by January 7th when I go back to school.

So, my real hope is that my next year will look like this:

January: Wraith’s Rebellion box set

February: The Reaping box set

March: Hera

April: Grim Port

May: Grim Haven

June: Grim Travels

July: Grim box set

… and then? I dunno, but that would get me four out of 7+ books. Dum, dum, dum, what do I do then? I’m definitely on a Coffee and Blood kick but they don’t draw a lot of income so far.

Except I freaking love them. You know, if you couldn’t tell. Those who read them seem to like them, which is fantastic. I just need more readers.

So… oh, D.o.t.A, I guess.

 

 

Week Eight

Quick updated, I guess this is.

Mid-terms are this week and I’m thoroughly bored with school and trying to pay attention so I’ve started Grim Haven, writing on breaks and the like. I then wind up paying attention in class so that I can get the homework done the first time without having to redo it because I read through too quickly or something. Chapter seven is about to start so 30k words since Wednesday at lunch or so.

It was a long week, starting on Tuesday for work. The assistant has had to request a leave of absence and will be gone through most of our busy season. We have a new full-time of my position, which is good, except she’s still learning and we can’t lean on her. There’s also the problem co-worker but we can’t lean on her either.

Which leaves two functioning members able to do things like opening and closing. Me and the boss. So, with the new one off next week for training in another store, which thankfully is in their slow period due to their location and the fact that everyone travels south from them for the winter, she’s working something like… three weeks in a row?

Then she’s off because she booked time off before and tickets are already booked, or else her time off would probably be cancelled. Then she gets stats off basically.

Oh. My. God.

All I’m thinking about is how crazy I got doing the same thing. I like her, I respect her, I don’t want her to suffer just so I can be comfortable so I’ll be doing basically whatever she needs me to do over the next six to eight weeks.

So… I could be working Tuesday to Sunday and only have Monday’s off. She’s going to probably give me every other Sunday off because we did discuss how I can’t do that again because I go freaking crazy and just can’t do it again.

In school it’s all simple for me (for now) and we’re taking tests all this week so last week was so boring. We were reviewing and I knew the stuff and I’m struggling to stay focused in class because what if I miss something, right? I’d rather get it down now than struggle on the job. Which was why I started writing Grim Haven. It’s a weird thing, but it works so I’m going with it.

But due to work, I’m not at 50 or 60k words like I was with Grim Port after the same number of days.

With that all coming up, there’s been a change to the plan.

See, I have three weeks in December. Grim Travels will be done in that time. Which means I’ll be sitting on a lot more books.

Hera needs to be edited and published before the Grim books. So what is it now? Box set of Wraith’s Rebellion in January, Box set of The Reaping in February. Hera in March, then Grim from April to June and the box set in July. I’m desperately wishing for an editor and cover designer now.

I’ve got all these books on backlog but haven’t the inclination to edit them, I just want to write more. Which, I mean, in a way is good. But because of my position and how things are going, I can’t just not edit.

My beta is a lot of help, but she can only work if the freaking printer works. And no one in town seems to have ink! I went to exchange a non-functioning cartridge and they were out of ink again, they had to give me a refund even though it was against store policy. I mean, all I was going to ask was if I could come back with the cartridge in a few days and exchange it then because they said they were going to receive a shipment.

I might have a line on an inexpensive cover designer who does good work, so the styles could be changing some, but that’s actually the part I like the most. Of the two, I meant, editing and cover design, I prefer doing cover design, I just don’t have the time for it like I thought I would. I have to be at the computer and the computer has to be behaving, otherwise I have long gaps where I can’t get anything done because the program is thinking because the hard drive is a piece because it’s an Acer.

I really hope I can afford an SSD drive for my next computer. That would be just fantastic.

 

Updates

The site has a new look, at least for the moment. Well, it might be given yet another new look in a few days but I’m not minding this one. I’ve adjusted the menus up top and two new pages for sub-series. The only trouble I’m having is that the older cover images added for Contracted and Wraith’s Rebellion have a weird white border around them. I’ll re-add them later and see if that solves the issue.

I already want to go back to writing Coffee and Blood. I’m kind of thinking about writing Gaia next. We’ve kind of beat out the details, so that’s good. Ish.

I have not done up the timeline yet because I’m trying to figure out how to fit forty-thousand years of human innovation and exploration into forty-two inches of paper. Recall, the closer to modern times you come, the more events and inventions there are. I think in the first twenty-thousand years of Hera’s life the most significant human discovery/change was the domestication of dogs.

Of course, I’m generalizing the timeline. There were lots of stuff happening in there like the recent-ish discovery of stone jewelry, and I’ve read articles about them discovering agriculture as far back as forty thousand years.

I like history and I like myth. My retention of that information is spotty at best but I do love reading and re-reading it.

The past three days or so I’ve been consumed by anxiety. Sitting in my basement room, playing Sims, and basically pouting.

Because I knew I was anxious and that it was holding me back but I couldn’t drag myself out of it. You know, that ‘upset that you’re upset’ feeling.

I updated The Others yesterday and wrote part of a second post for that. At least I got something done. I had trouble sleeping which isn’t necessarily a problem, but as the anxiety has abated some but not entirely, it wore on my for three days, and I didn’t really sleep last night means that this morning I’m mentally exhausted.

It took an hour and a half to put a chapter of At Death’s Door through an edit. But, I did it. I’m going to try to do another when I get home. Then I’m going to make a cover, maybe two. My thought on Wraith’s Rebellion has changed slightly so I have to go looking again. I also need a colour that would go well with the books. I used a red-orange for The Reaping so that’s not an option. I could use the brown that is in the original covers because I had thought of using the original texture too but brown on a cover that’s not completely consumed by an image?

Might look funny.

Barring that, I can start an edit of Crop.

My only trouble at this point is that I want to play Sims but also work. I’ve done that before. It’s very possible. I just need the computer for At Death’s Door because nothing else I have is capable of running my editing programs. Which means I have to be done the edit and covers before I can move on to playing Sims and editing at the same time because only the computer can use the photo editing software.

The more I think about all this, the less I want to do the edits and cover design. Likely, I’m feeling burned out and I haven’t had a new book out in several months and yet have been reading and hearing too much about how you’ll never succeed if you aren’t pumping out books every couple of weeks.

I can keep that pace, if I don’t do editing and covers. At the same time, I’m not a big believer of rushing things to publication before I’m happy with them.

And you can succeed if you don’t publish constantly. And by constantly I mean once every three weeks.

But at the moment I’m in a slump and I’m feeling rather like the world is telling me I’m going to fail. That’s likely linked to the anxiety I’ve been having, as I know I get like this sometimes.

Then one day I wake up and decide the whole world can burn, I roll up my sleeves and get back to work.

I guess this is still linked to the ‘upset you’re upset’ that I’ve been feeling.

I still haven’t gotten around to making covers for sale. It seems the price of them has gone up meaning not only can I not afford them ‘even more’ but also if I was making them, I might be able to afford an editor/cover designer for my books rather than struggling through them finding what’s right for the book I just wrote.

Suppose this ended up half-rant, half-update.

Back to work after the day-job and until school starts. Then writing has to go on the back burner because working and full-time school and the boyfriend.

I don’t have time or money to do all that I want.

And my luck is poop so I can’t even joke about winning the lottery because I’d never win it.

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.

On Organization

When I decided to make my own covers, I moved them and then started getting confused so quickly. It’s nearly impossible to find anything, and I find myself cursing the moron who set it up.

That’s me, still.

I opened At Death’s Door in Paintshop and tried to make the wrap, except I couldn’t because I wasn’t organized. I had no idea where the texture was that I used, the original image is in freaking purgatory it seems, and, oh yeah, I don’t have the template to make the book because At Death’s Door is longer than my other books by a little bit.

The paperback version hasn’t been formatted because I don’t have Microsoft on my desktop.

Microsoft, why in the hell do you sell an operating system without the blood processor? Why does that make sense, in what world?

You money grubbing…

So there goes the small black number I had from my royalties. I was planning on spending that on Paintshop, which is still in the trial phase for me. Instead I will have to pay out of pocket for that, but Beth reassures me that if I keep all the receipts and I use it only for my work, I can write it off at the end of the year.

In the past, I have taken my document from my computer (which has OpenOffice and whose page numbering I can never figure out) to either my laptop (now dead for good) and my tablet (so close to dead I’ve left it at work over the weekend rather than lug it home). So I had to update in order to get the book to do what I wanted.

Which meant that I had to get office to do the format to get the template to do the wrap to get the paperback copy of At Death’s Door. If I had been more organized, I would have done this over the past couple weeks, but nope. No, I did not do those things because I am not a bright person.

I’m going to have to reorganize everything. Files and subfiles and folders and cover work and a sub folder for every step of the way then the completed cover and document in the outer most folder. That’s what I’m going to have to do, and I don’t know how long it’ll take to reorganize the entire thing.

But I also have to go out and buy clothing because the trip to Cuba with Dorian is in a couple of weeks and I have absolutely nothing I’d wear in public. Especially in the swimsuit or fun in the sun style of clothing.

That’s pretty well my entire weekend, and I’m already procrastinating by writing a blog post, go me.

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.