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September Update

Finishing up Harper’s book, Tribes, this week. Which means given time needed for edits and formatting etc, odds are it might not come out exactly in September, sorry. Might be the first or second week of October. The print volumes for the first 4 Twenty-Sided Sorceress books are  out first week of October, so it’ll be like double bonus?  Shiny hardcover 20sided. I am going to hoard ALL the copies.

Tribes has been scary and awesome to write. It’s longer than any 20sided book so far (you peeps asked for longer books, I’m doing my best to deliver while still keeping up action and fast pace that I love so much, hehe), and maybe the nerdiest thing I’ve written, which you know is saying a lot.  I’ve only done a little cosplay, so I had to do tons of research for various characters in this. I did almost lose part of a finger (3 stitches!) to making a bunny fur bikini once, but I’m not great at sewing or crafts unless you count painting D&D minis (and I’m only decent-ish at that). Anyway, enough rambling about a book you can’t read for at least 2 more weeks, sorry!

Brood Mother, the last Gryphonpike Chronicles novella (there will be 4 novels, it isn’t the end of GPC just end of novella length GPC) is basically done but again needs edits etc and I set it aside to work on Tribes.

Dungeon Crawl, Book 8 of 20sided, will be out by Christmas/Holidays. I’m not going to give a harder deadline than that until it is done, for obvious reasons.

Also have a couple other crazy projects in the works that I’ll be excited to announce. Tease? Why yes.

So that’s the September update.

What am I Doing?

I’ve been posting very sporadically, I know. And that will probably continue. I have too many things to write now that I’m feeling better and writing again.

I’m going to add a new feature to the blog though, probably as a new page in the side bar, which will list out what I have planned.  I’ll cross things off the list as I finish them (probably with a strike-through).  These are novels, stories, or novellas that I have outlines and/or cover art for already.

Right now the list looks like this:

Under Fountain (GPC #4)

Dead of Knight (GPC #5)

A Cold and Silent Dawn (GPC #6)

The Gryphonpike Companions (GPC #7)

A Debt of Sorcery (GPC #8)

Shelter from the Storm (GPC #9)

To Steal the Crown (GPC #10)

Casimir Hypogean (Lorian Archives #1)

Beyond Casimir (Lorian Archives #2)

Casimir Rising (Lorian Archives #3)

The Raven King (Chwedl Duology Book 2)

Avarice (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division #1)

Wrath (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division #2)

Hunger (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division #3)

Vainglory (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division #4)

Fresh Blood (The Hidden War #1)

Pure Blood (The Hidden War #2)

Ancient Blood (The Hidden War #3)

Heart’s Blood (The Hidden War #4)

The City is Still Hungry (Remy Pigeon #1)

Slow Beat Down (Remy Pigeon #2)

Unnamed Steampunk/Circus novella (have cover art)

12-17 Fantasy/SF stories (have cover art for awesome collection and 3 stories already for it)

That’s the “hopefully in the next year and a half or so” list of things to write.  See why I’m busy?  and that’s just under this pen name. I have other projects under three other names on my list here at home.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at Worldcon this weekend. I’m easy to spot, what with the blue/purple mohawk and all, so if you are there, come say hi or track me down after one of my panels.

Now, back to finishing things. ALL the things.

Three Years

Tomorrow is the 3 year anniversary of my writing journey. It’s been a crazy ride so far.  When I first decided to quit my job and get serious about writing, my plan involved something like “write a novel every year for ten years” while submitting short stories and hoping for a book deal.

How things change, eh?  I discovered Heinlein’s Rules, attended a bunch of workshops including Clarion, and the self-publishing/e-book world came into being.  Now my plan is more like “write ten novels worth of new material every year”, I’m hardly writing short stories at all this year, and I have quit submitting queries for books (for the moment). In these last three years, I’ve written over a million words, sold ten short stories, and self-published over twenty novels, novellas, and short stories.

I have seven years left in my ten year plan (I made a deal with my husband that I would be making a living from my fiction in ten years or I’d go get a different day job).  I’ve learned so much, tried a lot of different things, put in a lot of work, over the last three years. I can only imagine where my skills will be in seven more years.

So I start my fourth year as a writer with a lot of optimism and a lot of hope. Also, because hey, this is still me, a lot of experiments planned.  I’ve been absent from the blog because of one of these experiments. The novellas are going well and are a ton of fun to write, but also take a lot of writing time and energy.  So the serial novel and the neo-pro interviews are on the back burner until March.  I’ll probably be pretty scarce here for another month or so.

Three years. Feels like twenty sometimes and like a couple months others.  I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn, but this is still the best job I’ve ever had.  Here’s to seven more years of awesome (and hopefully another few decades beyond that).

The 2011 Wrap-up (with graph!)

And so the year ended and we come to the point where I need to look back on 2011 and draw some conclusions.  2011 was a roller coaster year. Both my husband and I dealt with health issues, we also had to deal with sudden unemployment and loss of income and insurance, I had a death in my family, and then there was Clarion, which disrupted the entire summer as well as being another unexpected expense.

I’m going to do the writing stats and talk about that for a bit, then I’ll get to the ebook stuff.  This year was not the greatest year for my writing. I spent a lot of it feeling very unsure of my skills and where my writing was going. Part of this was because I think I took some pretty big leaps in skill, but inconsistent leaps.  In April, I attended Dean Wesley Smith’s Character Voice workshop, and afterward everything I’d written before it looked weak and terrible.  I’m not sure that was Dean’s intention, but it is, in the end, a good thing.  I learned more during that 8 days about craft and writing than I’ve learned in the last 20 years.  I took that study forward into Clarion and I think it helped a ton.  Let me put it this way: last year I got very frustrated because I kept getting “this is beautiful writing but” rejections and I wanted to know what I had to do in order to hit the next level of skill, to get past that and sell.

The Character Voice workshop showed me. I’m still working on getting the stuff I learned in that workshop through my fingers and into my unconscious writing brain so I can do it automatically.  But this year, I sold stories.  Two of the sales came directly from stories written at Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith workshops.  Of all the learning experiences I had in 2011, those workshops were definitely the most valuable.  I believe that having Clarion after those didn’t hurt, of course. It gave me a chance to network, meet awesome people, and put the learning into practice while I had the captive audience of 19 or 20 first readers.

So, the writing stats with my 2011 goals and if I met them:

Word Count: Goal was to write 900,000 words. Total actual words written:  438,777.  I beat 2010’s word count, so not terrible.

Of that 900k, 240k was supposed to be novels. That goal was met. In fact, most of my 2011 wordcount was novels or novellas. I only finished 20 short stories in 2011.  I finished 3 novels and 80% of a 4th novel, plus more than half of two novellas.

Other 2011 goals included writing consistently, which I failed. There were weeks in 2011 where I didn’t write at all. This is a goal I will carry forward to 2012, along with not deleting entire sections of work, and finishing everything I start.

Short stories sold in 2011: 6 plus 1 reprint.  This is what makes me happiest when I look back on the year.  I feel that this is an indication that what I’m learning has started to show up in my writing and that my skills are actually improving.

Rejections: 97, over half personal.  Less rejections than 2010, because I submitted fewer stories this year and sold more of them on their first or third tries.  As I move forward into 2012, I’m focusing even more on longer work, so I think my submissions to magazines will fall even more. Oh well.

Other notable achievements this year: I sold too many pro stories and disqualified myself from the Writers of the Future contest. My final entry sneaked through the door right before the disqualifying publication.  Here’s hoping it is the magical Hollywood finish and I win, right? *grin*

I also qualified for SFWA membership, though I haven’t joined yet.  I’m still debating if it is worth it at this point in my career with what I’m doing and where I’m going.

So… on to the publishing side of things.  One of my goals for 2011 was to dip my toes more fully into e-publishing.  That goal, I met. I wanted to put up at least 15 more works as ebooks.  At the start of 2011, I had 3 short stories up under another pen name and the results were just enough to convince me to try with more work.

I ended 2011 with 18 works available in three different categories/genres (and under 3 different names).  Two novels, two mid-length (what I’m calling novelettes and novellas), four short story collections, and ten short stories published as singles.

Total ebook sales for 2011: 1174  (*these numbers are not final, because Smashwords hasn’t reported for some of the places it distributes, so I only have some December numbers)

Of those 1174 sales, 657 were sales of short stories, 94 were from mid-length, 167 were from collections, and 256 were from novels.

Amazon accounted for 1020 sales, Smashwords Distribution Channels and Direct accounted for 89 sales, and B&N accounted for 65.  I also sold 6 paperbacks of the one novel available as a trade paperback, bringing total self-published sales to 1180.

How did sales distribute by month? Let me show you! (I did promise a graph, didn’t I? Click image for bigger picture)

This graph shows some interesting trends.  One is clearly that sales grow when you put up more work.  As my husband was helping me put together spreadsheets, he asked “What happened in May?”.  Well, I put up three new short stories (one of which went on to be my best and most consistent seller).  Other things that boosted sales were offering something free for a short time (a week to ten days).  As far as I can tell, interviews, reviews, blogging, all that stuff does very little for sales.  New work and offering free work for short periods are what boost sales noticeably.

Of course, there is December, which broke the trend of up in my sales.  I was doing well the first couple weeks, and then sales fell off a cliff.  We’ll see if they rebound in 2012. I’m trying new things this year, including putting up many more novels and putting up books in series, as well as putting out work in three more genres.

As for the money, well, my total earnings from my writing in 2011 came to just shy of 3,000.  A nice bump from 2010, for sure.  I have not been paid on ebook earnings for November or December yet, so that is not in the 3k.  Nor are two of my short story sales, which have not been published yet and the magazine pays on publication.  I only count money when it is in my hand.

2011 was an interesting year full of surprises and a lot of learning experiences.  I hope all of that will carry forward into 2012.

 

Quickie July Summary

Final week of Clarion is upon me.  I’ll have my post-Clarion wrap-up post (and Kickstarter project book update) AFTER I get home and find out what sleeping in a real bed is like again.

So here’s some number for July (that’s the reason you are here, right? Dirty little numbers):

Ebooks sold- 103

Free ebooks “sold”- 3,257

Print books sold- 1

Words written- approximately 29,275

Stories sold- 0

So yeah. That’s my sad stats.  So far I’ve written 8 stories at Clarion so far with two more on deck this week (one will be workshopped, one will just go into the project book) and maybe one more started this week so that I can slot it into the project book if I need to.

June Summary and Other News

I didn’t keep great stats for June, but here goes the quickie version:

Ebooks sold: 87

Words written: 18,654

Stories sold: 2

Monies earned: 1959.17 (most from Kickstarter project)

So, in other news:

Clarion is awesome so far.  We have a really nice group here and everyone is super interesting.  This has led to me getting precious little writing done (about 12k words the first week, only 8.5k that I kept.)  I am going to be better about carving out writing time next week, I swear.  I’m learning lots (got a whole novel outlined using an exercise that Nina Hoffman did with us) and having a good time so far.

I also sold a story to Daily Science Fiction which means that come September when I think DSF has their first anniversary,  I should be SFWA qualified.  That’s a nice milestone and I’m pleased to have done it in less than two and a half years.  I’ve also sold half the stories I’ve written this year, so I hope it is a sign that my skill levels are rising.

Anyway, need to go read and do some stuff for tomorrow.  I will probably be pretty absent from the blog due to Clarion.  Must get up to antics and such, you know.

March in Summary

This month was terrible for writing.  Terrible.  Good things happened (like getting accepted to Clarion) but in general, I failed it hard.  The high point besides Clarion is that I’m selling more and more ebooks every month.

Here are my pathetic stats:

Words written: 21,648

Stories sold: 0

Stories finished: 1 (and a few starts)

Novels finished: 0 (almost one! Soon!)

E-books money earned: 42.86 (almost double last month, yay!)

New e-book projects finished and released: 1

So that’s that for the month. April will be better.  I have three romance novellas to write, a handful of short stories to finish, and a week-long intensive workshop on Character Voice to attend (that’s going to kick my butt, but everyone who has taken it says that it pushed their fiction to a whole new level and that’s what I’m always looking to do).

2010 Recap Addendum

I figured maybe I should post my submission/rejection stats for 2010 as well (all the cool kids are doing it… or something).

So here are the rough totals:

Current Race Score: 41
Current eRace Score: 3

Stories submitted: 34
Novels submitted: 3
Total Rejections: 151
Personal rejections: 93
Stories Sold: 3
Novels Sold: 0
Rewrite requests: 2 (one rejected, one pending)
Stories currently being held for “final” consideration: 4
Full novels out: 1
Writers of the Future results: Q1- HM, Q2- Semi-finalist, Q3- HM, Q4- unknown

So yeah. A ton of rejection, a few sales, lots of personal rejections, some interest in a couple of my novels, and mostly just me needing to get more work done, get better at writing, and get more out. If you count my 2009 totals into the rejections I’m at well over 200. W00t? But at least it is one measure that I’m submitting and writing and submitting more. Hopefully I can double or triple everything (rejections, sales, race scores etc) for 2011.

Chwedl Status: DONE

I intend to write up a nice long and thoughtful post about the process of writing this novel.

Since I just finished it in one marathon session, I think that post can wait.

For now, all you get is my YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Done.  Too short, probably a hideous mess that no one will ever want to read, but done.  Done.

Hey, there’s a reason they call it a rough draft, and that editing was invented.

But hey. Done.

Writing Progress Report and Lists!

Because we know how much the internet loves lists.  Sorry, no bullets.

First, got another nice rejection.  I entered into my tracking sheet and then for fun counted up the number of rejections and looked at how many are form and how many came with a note.  I have 15 rejections so far for short stories.  6 are form letter, 1 is a negative comment, and 8 are ‘positive’ rejections (good writing, well received, send more, that sort of comment).  So the positive rejections out number the negative or form letter ones.  Apparently this is a good thing and a sign of tremendous progress.  I’m just keeping my head down and figuring out where to send what next.  15 down, 485 rejections left to go!

On to the lists!

Things in progress:

Chwedl: 61,000 words so far, but I’ve hit a snag since I realized I needed to go back and add an entire thread of motivation to make the actions of my main char in the events ahead far more plausible.  I aim to have the draft of this done by mid September.

Casimir Hypogean: rewrite is sitting at about 9k I think.  This is what I’ll get to before the end of this year.  I aim to write the two sequels next year as soon as I’m done with the rewrite.  I thought long and hard about bothering to write sequels to an unsold book (conventional wisdom says don’t!), but I think I’m going to ignore that wisdom this time.  I’m unpublished, which means I don’t exactly have deadlines on other things at the moment, plus given an optimistic publishing time-frame, say this book was picked up for publication and then they wanted the sequels written.  It could be anywhere from 3-6 years from finishing the first before I’d even begin a sequel.  That’s too long for me, right now.  I have the story and world firmly in mind and while the first book works fine as a stand-alone, the second two are definitely tied together and I want them to work well as a unit.  Even if I spend another year writing these three books, I’ll still have learned something about writing (and writing a series) whether they sell or not.  So that’s my justification.

Steampunk detective novel:  started doing some research for the setting of the first one.  It’ll likely be a year before I start writing it, but I do love me some research.

Romance novel that has hijacked my brains:  I might start this just to see where it goes.  Series romance is only 70k words generally, so maybe I can tinker with it in my “spare” writing time.  I certainly love to read romances, so maybe I’ll try writing one.  This one involves a girl with a beautiful singing voice and a violent past and of course a handsome composer/violinist, an opera house, and dark secrets.  (No masked men living underneath the opera house, sorry…)

Werewolves in Space: now a novella!  I had the idea at Worldcon to turn this into a novella sort of prequel to a later novel.  I’ve actually cut the werewolf and love story from the plot.  I wasn’t sure this novel ever had enough plot to really sustain 100k words, so I think this will be a good compromise.  Now I just have to keep it under 17k words.

Short stories:  I have so many percolating in my brains at the moment, I’m going to have to write one a week just to clear my plate.  I’m hoping I can revive Monday Short Story Day starting next Monday.  Sampling of stories includes: Rusalka story, ‘glitter kitten’, ‘shrub daughter’, ‘I, vermin’, jellyfish in space, ‘sparks’, time traveling thief, ‘Tesla’s Daughter’, world as we know it ends (telemarketer) story, ‘The insanity of Mr Leads’, ‘Maskmaker’, and Bloodgood’s cat origin mystery story.  My notes make more sense than this list, somewhat.

On the plus side, I now have 9 short stories out making the rounds, which isn’t bad considering back in Feb when I started I only had two.

Time to prioritize and write like a madwoman.  It’s funny, before Worldcon I never considered myself that prolific, but I think I’m right in the middle as far as I can tell from the sampling I got there about other people’s work habits.  The last six weeks have been a total momentum killer, however.  Between Worldcon, Flu, Alaska, and moving, I’ve gotten almost nothing done (1 short story written, 2 revised, only about half a chapter on Chwedl).  Time to get back in the habit of the everyday and get some projects finished.  I’m giving myself a mini-deadline on the Werewolves in Space novella because I’d like to have it done in time for this quarter of WoTF contest.

So that’s the report for August 2009.  We’ll see where I’m at in December or there abouts.