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First Love Stays with You Forever

I started outlining The Raven King, the sequel to A Heart in Sun & Shadow, and started thinking about fantasy novels in general and why these books are the ones I’m choosing to share with the world right now.  As the title of this post hints at, Fantasy was my first love, starting way back when I was eight.

My love affair didn’t start where you might think, however. Many of the people I know got their introduction to fantasy via Tolkien, but that isn’t where mine began.  It began with four women.

The first was my mother.  This was probably an accident on her part, since she used to tell me all the time that the genre fiction I read would rot my brain and was popcorn for the mind.  Yet she read us Mrs. Pigglewiggle, books by CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander, and kept giving me money for whatever I wanted to buy at Powell’s each time we went (anything under four dollars, she’d say). She did her best to put literature in front of me, but she didn’t start early enough, I suppose.  Now, mind you, she’s a dedicated George RR Martin fan and even read Juliet Marillier’s fantasy books on my recommendation.

Una was my teacher sixth through eighth grade, but she helped out sometimes with the fourth and fifth graders at the tiny private school I was banished to after being kicked out of the Public School system.  Una encouraged me in crazy ways.  She didn’t mind when I snuck fiction books inside my school books or when I wrote stories about ancient Sumer instead of research essays.  She taught me Irish and introduced me to the Dewey decimal system.  But the most important thing she ever did for me was tell me that it was okay to write fiction, to “make stuff up”.  She gave my very young mind the permission I craved to dream, to wonder, to explore, and to live inside my head.  Without her encouragement and teaching, I don’t think I’d be a writer today nor as educated or curious about the world around me.

My mother read aloud to us as kids, and between CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander, I had a preliminary introduction to the fantastical, but it wasn’t until I started reading on my own that my love affair turned serious.  When I was nine or ten, I really wanted to read something that didn’t look adult and boring, but all the books on the shelves at home were either kids books I’d read or boring looking.  All except one.  It had a blue cover and a woman riding a pretty horse (and I was as horse-crazy then as now). The title was The Mists of Avalon.  I pulled the huge book down from the fourth shelf (the highest I could reach on the wall) and started reading.  Soon I was buried in Arthurian myth.  It was the most amazing book I’d ever read.  When my mother next dropped me off at Powell’s, I went to the Gold Room (the F&SF section to this day) and looked up that amazing author, Marion Zimmer Bradley.

And I discovered the Sword & Sorceress anthologies.  In the front were always these scathing, insightful, amazing introductions by Marion Zimmer Bradley that I would read and reread, amazed that real people wrote these stories and that writers weren’t just names on books.  In the back were writer’s guidelines.  MZB died before I could ever get up the courage to send in a single story, but to this day, I see those S&S books as the earth my little creative seed buried itself in.  I wrote story after story, all horrible (I was 11 when I started, after all), but all trying to capture the wonder I found inside those pages.  MZB and the anthologies made writing fantastical stories seem like more than a dream and lit the fire that started everything.

Then, just to toss a little oil on my love affair with Fantasy, my mother came home from a trip to Canada with a giant book for me.  It, like Mists of Avalon, had a blue cover and was super thick.  The woman on this cover was also riding a horse, but in full armor, fighting a couple of giant white wolves.  Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion took everything I’d thought about fantasy and pushed it further, opening up an entire world for me.  I fell in love with Paks and her adventures.  I cried when she was tortured or when characters I loved died, I literally cheered when she triumphed over adversity, I memorized the map and the currencies and started looking into the SCA to see if I could become a knight, too, because I wanted to be just like Paks.  When I was 12 and home alone, I cut my heel badly (right down to the bone).  I stayed calm because I asked myself, I kid you not, “what would Paks do?” and I cleaned the wound with alcohol pads and bandaged it up until it could be stitched properly later that night when my dad got home.

The Deed of Paksenarrion made me fall in love with Fantasy even deeper because the characters were so real, so fallible but heroic in their humanity and because the world was so detailed that I felt I could almost just pack a bag and move to Brewersbridge.  I started to see the possibilities within the genre, even at that young age, and started working those things into my own writing.  I still re-read The Deed of Paksenarrion at least once a year and have for the last 19 years.

There are other authors, other people, other books, that influenced my long affair with the genre, but these women stick out in my mind as the main early influences.  It was a long road to writing A Heart in Sun & Shadow, but I see the start of the path back there, in my youth, curled up with a giant book with a pale blue cover and a woman on horseback, a book full of sword fights and magic where flawed, interesting people chose to make heroic or destructive decisions.

That’s how a good fantasy novel will always be for me.  Opening the book is like returning home to my first love, her arms open, waiting to embrace me.

I Have a Plan

A cunning plan. How cunning? You could tie a tail on it and call it a weasel. (Yes, I’m sort of quoting Black Adder. I’m that old.)

As I’ve been watching my sales and reading about the sales of others in this brave new e-book world, I’ve noticed some interesting trends.  I’ve watched people promote their little hearts out and then cry about no sales.  I’ve watched people stick up what I like to call “ugly” books (bad cover, bad blurb etc) and cry about no sales.  I’ve watched books I would think were the slightly better-looking cousins of “ugly” books sell like crazy.  I’ve watched books that were actually “ugly” books in disguise sell better than things I thought were actually worth reading.  I’ve watched as my literary short stories under a name with zero internet profile out-sell my SF/F titles 5 and sometimes 10 to 1.

Basically… no one knows what will sell and why.  We’ve got the four principles that Konrath and others go by: Good Book, Good Cover, Good Blurb, Low Price.  I’ve seen plenty of titles with the magic four sell very few copies.  Maybe they will be slower to take off, maybe those writers need to just keep at it and good things will happen (what one might call the DWS principle.)  I don’t know.

One thing I would add to the above however, is “write in a popular genre”.  Now, one might argue that good writing will find an audience, and I believe that.  But would you rather aim at an audience of thousands, or hundreds of thousands?  Does genre really matter?  It’s hard to say.  Mystery and Romance are very popular genres, but there are also a ton of books written in those genres  (Romance on Kindle has more books than Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror combined).  Chicken, egg, right?

But hey, what would be the point of experimenting in this awesome new world if I couldn’t run some tests.  So here’s what I’m planning:

I’m going to write ten novellas (20-30k words each).  Five in SF/F and five in Romance.  When all ten are done (by end of September, hopefully), I’ll stick them all up online at the same time, for the same price.  I intend to do zero promotion of the titles for six months (other than mentioning them here so that people will know when the experiment goes live).  I would say that the Romance ones would be at a disadvantage since they won’t be under the name that has an internet presence, but my lit fic doesn’t seem to suffer from being under a pen name so I’m going to rule that the name doesn’t matter (it isn’t like I’m anybody anyway).  I will do my best to make sure each novella has an awesome cover, a great blurb, and is of course an awesome book.  And then I’ll sit back and watch and see how the numbers do.

My prediction, right now? The Romances will out-sell the SF/F titles 10-1.  That’s my early prediction.

See? Isn’t this new world fun?  All kinds of crazy experiments to run! *grin*

May Summary

May was tumultuous for me.  A lot of things happened (like depressingly turning 30) and I had a lot of difficulty adjusting my writing schedule to deal with my husband’s sudden unemployment (he was laid off at the end of April).  My writing nose-dived (as you’ll see from my stats below).  I was just getting into the groove again and finding some momentum when I lost my Grandfather yesterday morning.  I found out he was going rapidly downhill (he’d been sick, then was much better, then suddenly very sick again) on Sunday and managed to finish my novel but not much else this weekend.  I feel sad and a little scattered.  Hopefully I’ll be able to just write through this and keep momentum up (I didn’t write at all Monday or yesterday).

Anyway, here’s the stats for May.  In the ebook world, it was a pretty good month.  I sold over twice the number of copies in May as in April, though not for twice the monies.  Here are the numbers:

Ebooks sold: 84

Stories sold (trad publishing): 1

Novels sold(trad publishing): 0

Writing monies earned: 80.11 (all from ebook sales)

Words written: 19879

Ebooks released: 3 short stories, 1 short story collection

Novels finished: 1

Race score: 39

It’s interesting to see the progression of sales as I get things up.  I’m pretty much a total unknown, but if I held off from putting things online as some advise, I’d be missing out on hundreds of dollars.  I’m broke enough that 20 bucks a month extra makes a difference.  50 bucks? That’s a week or more of groceries. 80 bucks? That’s groceries and the phone bill.  My sales might be tiny when compared to people like Hocking, Locke, and Konrath, but they are growing.  And it is money that comes from work that didn’t sell, for whatever reason, to magazines and trad publishers.  Work that readers enjoy, but yet would have been tucked away in the proverbial trunk in the old world of publishing.

Want to see how sales build for an unknown?  Here’s my stats so far:

July 2010- put up 3 literary short stories under a name that has no publishing history (not that I had any name with history anyway) and sold- 3 copies

Aug 2010- took down one of those 3 because I sold it to a magazine, so 2 stories up- 4 copies

Sept 2010- (2 short stories up)- 3 copies

Oct 2010- (2 short stories up)- 4 copies

Nov 2010- (2 short stories up)- 2 copies

Dec 2010- (Put the sold short back up when rights reverted)- 12 copies

Jan 2011- (released an sf collection under Bellet name, so collection + 3 shorts)- 17 copies

Feb 2011- (released an sf novella, so that plus collection + 3 literary shorts)- 18 copies

March 2011- (released fantasy novel, +collection, +novella, + 3 literary shorts)- 39 copies

April 2011- (novel + collection + novella + 3 literary shorts)- 34 copies

May 2011- (released 3 more shorts, 2 fantasy, 1 literary, + novel etc)- 84 copies

What will June hold? No idea. I just released a second short story collection, this time all fantasy stories.  I might have some romance novellas ready under another name to go up by end of June, but that will depend.  So far growth is steady and as long as that continues, I’m happy enough.  After all, groceries and phone bills paid are nothing to sneeze at.

And in final bright news as I go into June, my Kickstarter project to help fund Clarion is now funded.  It won’t cover all of Clarion, but it certainly helps take a lot of burden off me.  I am super thankful to everyone who made the project funding happen and I will write you all amazing stories at Clarion, I swear.  I hope that “Souvenirs from Other Worlds” will be my best work to date once I’m finished with it (and Clarion, after all, the whole point is to go learn to be an ever better writer).  So thank you, all of you.

New Stuffs and a Sale

I am pleased to announce that I have sold a short story titled “Nevermind the Bollocks” to the new monthly anthology series Digital Science Fiction.  The story should be out in their second installment, so sometime this summer I think.  This is my fourth pro-rate sale and, counting reprints, my seventh overall sale in the two and a half years I’ve been doing this.  I hope this is a sign that between the books I’ve been studying, the workshops I’ve been doing, and the writing practice itself, that I’m still growing and improving.

I also have finally posted a collection of fantasy short fiction, which is will be available soon on Kindle and Nook and is already through the new, streamlined Smashwords grinder.

Here’s the cover:

It includes eight of my fantasy stories.  More information can be found by clicking on the picture or you can get it directly from Smashwords by going here.

As for writing, well, I’m doing better. The novel is literally one working session away from done.  I’m dropping my better half off at the airport today and then I’ll have almost three full days to get work done with zero social distractions.  My top priority is to finish the novel and then finish the story I owe for the Mirror Shards anthology.  Then it’s on to outlining the sequel to A Heart in Sun & Shadow and getting some other short fiction done as a warm-up to Clarion.

Speaking of Clarion, I’m starting to get excited and nervous about it.  As we get ever closer to the start date and things begin to get sorted out like travel plans and housing, it feels more and more like this isn’t something abstract.  And hey, at this point I don’t think I got in on an administrative mistake, since no one has corrected it yet.  My Kickstarter project has only five days left, but it is pretty close to getting funded (only a few hundred left!) so I’m hopeful that the money will come through.  The outpouring of both financial and emotional support by my friends and my fellow writers has really touched me.  I thank all of you and I’m going to work my ass off at Clarion to make sure I don’t waste this opportunity.

So that’s what is going on with me.  Lots of work, not a whole lot of blogging, sorry.  I’ll do my usual monthly round-up next Tuesday (e-book sales have been pretty good to me this month, yay).

Post #200

Yep. I’ve written 200 blog posts now just on this blog.  What have I been doing with my life? *grin*

Here’s what I haven’t been doing.  Writing.  I’ve poked and prodded at a couple short stories. I’ve added a few pages (and removed a few pages) from my current novel project.  But mostly, I’ve been reading. I’ve been hanging out with my unemployed husband and playing videogames.  I’ve been going for walks and planning and replanning things in my head.  I’ve been doing admin work updating stories, covers, files, getting stuff linked properly, etc.  I’ve been getting rejections and sending stuff out again despite feeling like a kicked dog over and over.

None of which is writing. Not really.  My schedule got totally messed up when my husband lost his job.  I knew there would have to be some adjustments there, since I need my quiet time and space to get work done.  Before, I usually wrote between 11am and about 5-6pm (not straight through, I like my breaks) when I had the whole house to myself and everything was quiet.  Now…not so much.  Music is on in the other room. Or Anime. Or I just sit at my desk and know that my best friend in the whole damn world is right outside my room and instead of doing this work stuff, I can just go out there and spend time with my favorite person on earth even if all we’ll end up doing is curling up together and reading.

On the one hand, this isn’t so bad. I mean, hey, I get to spend a ton of time with someone I love.  On the other hand, we’ve both been somewhat lazy these last few weeks (though I’ve been pretty good about letting him have computer time to job hunt, but if he’s on the computer, I’m not, which means more excuse to NOT write).

It’s an adjustment.  I think I’ll have to just start carving out more hours.  I’m aiming for 20 pages a day finished, but I’ve really only been getting anything done at all while he’s either asleep or at Jujitsu (which is how I’m even getting this blog written).  So yeah, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet lately.  Between trying to get what I can done and then also not really being at the computer much, I’ve been a bit AWOL.

And I’ll probably still keep being fairly AWOL until Clarion (and during Clarion? I don’t know if I’ll blog the experience. I’m hoping I’ll blog a bit at least).  I’m not horribly behind on my writing schedule, which is surprising to me, but if I finish Avarice this week, I’ll only be a week behind.  I owe a couple short stories to anthologies, so those are also on the top of the to-do list.  Being a week behind means finishing only 4 novellas instead of 5 before I go, but I can live with that. I’ll be halfway through the novellas for this one series by the time I leave, plus have my anthology stories turned in and hopefully one or two other stories out to market (I’ve got three that are partially written and just waiting on me to focus and write the rest).

20 pages a day.  3 are done for today already, with 17 more to go.  I’ve got three hours before my distraction gets home from jits.   Go go go.

Clarion Funding: Kickstarter

Well, I took the plunge and planned out a Kickstarter project for Clarion.  I’m going to make a book of the best stories I write while there and distribute it to the internets.  But first, it will go out to people who donate via my project.

Here’s the link:  Souvenirs From Other Worlds: stories written at Clarion UCSD

The nice thing about Kickstarter is that if I don’t make my goal, nothing happens.  Of course, that’s the bad thing too.  But nothing tried, nothing gained.

And, of course, there are always my ebooks to purchase (under Read My Fiction in the sidebar).  Every bit helps.  I’m already blessed to have awesome friends, both in real life and here on the internet.  Thanks to all of you for the support and good wishes that have already been sent my way.  You guys cheer me up when I falter and help me keep pursuing my dream.  Thank you.

April in Summary

April was a wonky month due to life rolls (my husband lost his job) and workshops.  But it was a good month for learning and a decent month for writing, though I fell short of my ever lofty goal of 100k words.

Here’s the stats:

Ebooks published: 2

Money earned from writing: 68 (48 from ebooks, 20 from reprint sale of a short story)

Words written: 52,307

May is going to be a busy month. I have another neo-pro interview lined up (should be up in the next week), I turn 30 (oh noes!), and I have three novels to finish, two of which should go up in May depending on cover art.  I will hopefully have a couple more short stories online as well as possibly a collection.  Clarion funding is coming together thanks to a couple of angels in my life, but I’m still going to try a Kickstarter project to get the rest of what I need so that I can maybe lean on my angels a little less.  Besides, my Kickstarter project idea is just neat, it’d be a shame to not at least try it.

That’s that for April.  I learned a great deal this month and I’ve learned some new ways to study as well.  I hope that going forward my writing will be even stronger.  My toolbox certainly has some new additions for me to play with.  May will be a good month.

Brainz Fried

First order of business, I finally have paper copies of A Heart in Sun & Shadow.  They are up in the Createspace store and available directly through Amazon.com as well.  I will probably be offering signed copies of this directly as well, so if anyone wants a signed trade paperback, let me know.

I have been basically MIA online this last week since I spent the last eight days out at the beach working my ass off in a Character Voice workshop taught by Dean Wesley Smith with some help from Kristine Rusch.  I am still processing all I learned this week. I am not even sure where to begin.   The entire focus of the workshop was on how to build characters that have dimension and feel like whole people who leap off the page and suck readers into books.  You know, basically the most important thing a writer can learn.

Each day looked basically like this:

9am, meet for breakfast.  Noon- meet for first session, turn in our coloring assignments (basically a few pages by a best-selling author that highlights what we were focusing on that we had to go in and mark up) and sometimes we turned in big assignments in the mornings as well (especially as the week went on).  We’d break generally by 1:30 or 2 and then have to be back at 7pm with our big assignments. We’d generally break again for the night between 8:30 and 9pm.  Rinse, repeat for 7 days.

The big assignments were 3-4 story starts, 2 pages each, working specifically on whatever character voice technique we focused on each day.  (So 6-8 pages of writing each day).  Then we also had two short story assigments, 3-6k words each, one was due Tues evening (we got that assignment on the first Sat) and one was due Friday evening (we got that one on Tues night).  We also had to all read everyone else’s assignments so we could see what others were doing that might work and or not and learn from that as well (there were 10 of us in the class, so about 50-70 pages of reading a night plus whatever our coloring assignment was, plus all the short stories once those were turned in).  In the middle of the week the class as a whole basically flubbed an entire assignment and had to re-do all the exercises with whole new story starts and characters, so that added even more work on.  But we did better on the re-do and I, for one, feel that I have a better grasp on what we were supposed to be learning in that exercise.

The things we focused on were: Accents, Attitude, Content through dialogue, Opinion, Actions, and Structure (look & flow of manuscript as it relates to characterization).  We also covered some more advanced tips and tricks at the end of the workshop, but those were the biggies.

Let me say this: One week was NOT enough.  It was a good, intensive start, but I know I’m going to be working hard on this stuff for probably the rest of my writing life.  So much of it can really only be put into practice through subconscious feel, but I’m glad that we did the exercises we did.  They are ones I can do at home if I feel I’m struggling with something.  There were also six major things, and there are six weeks of Clarion.  I know what I’m going to be working on while at Clarion.  Getting characters to look, feel, and sound like breathing, interesting, full-dimensional people is a HUGE part of writing well.  Ideas are neat and all, but people won’t keep reading books with flat characters.  I’ve got a great opportunity for focused practice while I’m at Clarion, and I’m going to make use of it.  I have new tools in my tool box now, and I’m certainly not going to let them get rusty.

I am exhausted, still.  I hit the wall on Saturday morning, on the final assignment.  I opened up the blank page and my brain just said “no”.  Guess what? I wrote the three assignments anyway and made two out of the three really work.  That was me brain-dead.  It’s good to push and push sometimes because I really learned what I was capable of even when it felt like my creative muscle had finally stopped moving.  I literally had no ideas. None. I needed three story starts on Sat morning and my brain just said “no”.  And I, writer me, said “yes”.  Out of all the story starts we did that week? One of mine on Sat morning is probably the only story I’ll actually go back to and finish.  A story start that came out of the dregs of my exhausted brain but the character when she started speaking was there, ready to go and I just let the two pages happen.

So I’m really glad I went. Despite the problems that cropped up in my life right before, despite the frustration and exhaustion, despite it all, I think I’ve grown as a writer in just one week and I think I’ll be able to use these skills going forward.  And again, if you are serious about being a professional writer and don’t mind being made to work, the workshops on the Oregon Coast put on by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch are worth every penny, every tear, every moment (as any of my fellow writers who have come through that crucible can tell you as well).  I’ve learned amazing things from them and met some amazing writers who have, I hope, become amazing friends.

Now, I’m going to go read a book, drink some tea, and let my brain rest.  But not for too long *grin*

Clarion Funding Part Deux

All right. A couple weeks ago my awesome blog readers chimed in with funding ideas for how to get me to Clarion.  I then hung out in limbo waiting to see how much (if any) scholarship monies I might get and to find out what my final bill is.  In that time I’ve been putting together some plans for how to raise money that now I get to put into motion.

Limbo is over.  The bill is in and my life becomes like the plot of a bad TV movie. *movie voice-over voice* One girl. A dream. A career-changing experience. 2 weeks. 4,107 dollars.

(Of course, if this were a bad TV movie, some guy named Bruno or Hutch or Segei would come break my legs if I didn’t come up with the money, so I’m a step up on that one I guess).

In the immediate short term, I will probably have to take out a loan or something to that effect.  Which would cure the initial issue, but won’t cure the whole “don’t actually have the money” problem since loans have to get paid back.

So, initially what can be done to help are these things:

Buy my books! I have a fantasy novel which was professionally edited and is pretty darn good.  You can find the information for it here:  A Heart in Sun and Shadow.  If I sell 1300 copies of that, I’m golden.

I also have a science fiction short story collection which contains mostly stories that got honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest.  And I have a near-future science fiction novelette/novella (14,000 words) that also got an honorable mention in the contest.  If I sell about 2000 copies of those, I’m golden as well.

If you’ve bought my books or they don’t look like your cup of tea, a boost in my signal would be appreciated.  Maybe a friend reads this sort of thing?  Please though, don’t spam on my behalf.  Annoying people will not make them want to help me (which is why this blog post and the one on my Kickstarter project will likely be the only mention I make about this besides a Thank You! follow-up if/when I hit my goal)

I will also be starting Kickstarter project, mostly likely involving making a book out of my Clarion stories (the ones I’m going to write while there) and perhaps some extras.  I will make a separate post when that happens.

To everyone who has boosted my signal already, or offered up ideas, or bought my books, you have my sincere thanks.  With your help, I’m closer to my goal of going to Clarion than I would have been without it.  Thank you for your support 🙂

Learning and Spring Plans

I’ve been reading some really good stuff on story, plotting, and outlines lately.  I have always felt, personally, that plotting is where I run into issues.  I can handle simple plots (straightforward quests, zomg must run or die now sorts of things) but don’t really have a handle on how to write something super epic or how to keep things so tight the reader can’t breathe for fear something will happen in the book and they’ll miss it on the exhale.

But I’m learning.  I don’t like not knowing things so I’ve set out to fill in some of my writer knowledge gaps.  As always, I have a plan. (Am I the only one who hears Black Adder in my head whenever I say that or hear someone say that? No?)  Book 1 in my Law & Order with swordfights series is almost done.  After that, I’m going to try to get the other three done and to the editor before Clarion.  Hopefully I can manage to get the second book in the Chwedl duology finished by Clarion also, because I’d like to focus solely on short fiction while there.

So here’s my modified schedule for this spring:

Avarice – finished by April 10th
Wrath- finished by April 30th
Hunger- finished by May14th
Vainglory- finished by May 28th
The Raven King- Finished by the time I leave for Clarion (around June 25th)

As for plotting, here are some of the books I’ve been reading:

Save the Cat and Save the Cat Goes to the Movies by Blake Snyder

The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat

I got Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and the Breakout Novel Workbook out of the library as well.  I also picked up The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by R. A. Salvatore and Philip Athans because I heart Salvatore and wanted to see what he said about writing the fantastic.  So far the book is very basic, but interesting.

I mention all this because I know that when I do bother to blog, I tend to talk about goals and numbers more than the actual work itself and what my daily job entails.  But, personally, I find the details of what I do pretty boring.  I mean, I get up, I read some stuff, I write some stuff, I read more stuff, I might make notes about things I want to work on or some such, etc.  It’s… well, a job.  Writing is fun, but the creation part is the fun part and it’s hard to talk about that in any real way because it’s easier to just point at the created work and be like “yeah, I did that”.  But I think just posting goals and such leads to it looking like I’m sitting in the dark beating up a keyboard.  There’s a whole lot more that goes into me writing and improving my craft besides the practice part.

Now, mind you, all the study in the world won’t improve my writing if I’m not doing the practice and putting in the writing itself as well.  It’s like what I pointed out with Starcraft 2 a while back.  I watch tons of SC2 games and can talk the theory with the best of the best (you know, same as any dedicated sport fan *grin*) but I can’t PLAY SC2 worth a damn because I haven’t put in the practice.  Writing is the same way.  Read books, soak up knowledge, and then GO USE IT.

That’s why I’m trying to get four books written before the end of June.  I want to take these things I’m studying and put them to use.  These books are a good way to do that since they all will require tight plotting, are set in worlds I already have mapped out and researched (so I don’t need to lose any writing time on world creation) and I’ve got the basic stories in my head already with characters and structure, so they should be fairly quick to outline once I get my new methods worked out.  The books are for study, the novels I’m writing are for the practical part.  I think of it as Class Time (reading about writing and studying other novels that have worked) and Lab Time (putting what I have learned into practice through practical, hands-on application).

So that’s the plan and I’m (maybe) sticking to it! 😉