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Neo-Pro Spotlight Interview #1

The Interview!

This is going to be the first in a hopefully long-running series of interviews with neo-professional writers. What’s a neo-pro? Someone who has started writing seriously, submitting seriously, and has a goal of making some or all of their living at writing, ie intends to be and/or has taken the first steps down the road to being a career writer.

It’s tough being a neo-pro. We might have a few sales under our belts, are likely getting more “nice” rejections than form letters, but we haven’t quite been here long enough to have the shine rubbed off. We’re past the “use correct submission format, follow guidelines, put ass in chair and write” kind of advice and into the deep end where there are only hints and no real, clear path, just hard work ahead. So I wanted to interview and spotlight some of the neo-pros I interact with (and hopefully I’ll meet more of us as I do this). While our paths may all look a little different, we’re all in this together.

And hey, this way I can say… “I knew that writer back when…”
So here’s my first victim writer interview.  Let me know in the comments if I missed a cool and/or obvious question that you’d like me to ask in the future.  Thanks!

Who are you?  What’s your genre/history/etc?
Tom:  My name is Tom Carpenter.  I have and will write just about anything I’m interested in, but I think my sweet spot will probably be fantasy and science-fiction since those forms suit me best (and it’s what I’ve most written so far.)  My day job is a Production Manager at Toyota which has kept me quite busy over the years.  Thankfully, I really picked up the old steam shovel and started working on my first novel when I was still in college.  I finished it a few years later but then got side-tracked by a few poor choices, kids, and insane amounts of work.  It wasn’t until I finished my MBA about four years ago that I realized I really do have time for writing…well actually, my lovely wife reminded me of that and I’m sure she’s regretted that decision a few times since (just kidding!  she’s amazingly supportive!)

What’s your Race score?
Tom: I’m currently at 48 which boggles my mind.  I was at zero about 1.5 years ago.  Granted, I had three novels I’d finished and was starting to write shorts, but it seemed daunting to make that score grow.  I started sending out the second and third novels (the first is not good enough by a long shot) and have been steadily increasing my score.  It’s strange to think that professionals are usually above the fifty level (though probably closer to one-hundred) and that I’ll hit that level soon.  Granted, I haven’t sold anything yet, but I feel like it’s coming.

When did you “get serious” about being a writer?
Tom: After the MBA.  I also gave up my World of Warcraft addiction.  It’s amazing how much time there is to write when you’re not obsessively playing games.

What are your goals with your writing?
Tom: I’d love to say getting published, but I can’t control that.  So I’ll stick to my 2011 targets: above 50 on race score (close!), 300,000 words written, over 100 rejections (close!), and over a 20 on eRace.  I’m also planning on editing and producing a yearly anthology about augmented reality (more details in a few months!)  The world of epublishing feels so amazingly freeing.

Where do you see your career in 5 years?
Tom:  I’m sure I’ll still be working for Toyota at least until the kids are in college.  If at that time, I’m making enough to safely leave?  Then I would take that chance, but until then I’ve got two jobs.

Do you have a particular story or idea you are dying to write? Or, if you could write a tie-in to any established universe/franchise, what would it be?
Tom:  Oh jeez.  I have so many ideas for novels that it’s hard to pin that one down.  Every project I start seems like the greatest thing ever when I’m writing it.  So really I’m always dying to write, what I’m currently writing.  I would love to work with other authors on some projects though.  Either ones of my devising, or maybe something like George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series.

What are your hobbies outside writing?
Tom: We’re allowed other hobbies?  Seriously, if I had time, I would still play computer games.  I do occasionally get together with friends and play cards or other nerdy games, but it’s too far and few between.

What’s your writing process like?
Tom: I have weekly goals for word count that I expect myself to meet.  If I’m ahead on other weeks, I will allow myself a little slack, if for a good reason, but otherwise I’m a slave to the targets.  I always write on Sat and Sun morns, but try to fit in one or two nights during the week.  I also do a lot of thinking during the work drive, or when I go running with the dog on the weekends.  Overall, I’m extremely taxing on my muse, expecting her to perform whenever I demand (read my post about creativity to understand that statement: http://thomaskcarpenter.com/2010/12/05/the-myth-of-creativity/)

What’s been toughest about your journey so far as a writer?  How do you keep yourself going?
Tom: When I finished my first novel I got an agent and she scammed me out of $300.  I was devistated at the time, but now I consider that money well spent, because that small amount (compared to what some authors lose) opened my eyes to the unregulated world of agents.  As for keeping going now?  I was an undisciplined youngster when I wrote my first novel.  I actually think my time in Toyota has helped me become more focused and capable of meeting difficult targets.  It has felt like a long strange trip though, and while that first big sale (magazine or novel) will be exciting, I think I’ve also reached the point that I know its just another step on a long and daunting staircase.

Any tips or tricks you’ve figured out for improving your writing?
Tom:  Listen to people with more experience than me (I recommend Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch).  Otherwise, I’d just parrot the usual advice you get from pros: read a lot, write a lot, write even more, send that stuff out and go back to writing.

And finally, got anything you want to pimp?
Tom: I jumped on the self-pub bandwagon and recently put out a novel I’m very proud of: The Digital Sea.  I also write for a tech blog about augmented reality called Games Alfresco (www.gamesalfresco.com) and I have my author website where I talk about augmented reality, writing, tech stuff and the robot apocolypse.
It’s an exciting time to be a writer!  Thanks for sharing me with your readers.

*Big thanks to Tom!*


The Streak Begins

So the writing in shifts thing has been working out pretty good except for one tiny issue.  I keep working on one thing.  Despite my brain being fully capable and willing to write two (or ten) things, apparently once I get into my groove, it wants to finally settle down.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  I am learning my limitations, however.  Like that it takes me realistically six weeks instead of four to write a novel because I like to goof off and procrastinate and do all manner of things that aren’t writing.  Or that I don’t really like working more than 4 hours a day (some days, I do.  Some days the words and flowing and I’m on a roll and don’t want to stop, so I don’t).  Four hours (broken up into a couple shifts) of writing brand new fiction feels pretty good.  I usually get 3-5k words done in those four hours, which is a totally acceptable pace for my goals.

So I’ve decided to start a streak, a writing streak.  I’m going to write every day for at least 20 minutes.  I find writing is like exercise, I don’t necessarily feel up to it instantly, but usually once I’m doing it I feel pretty good and want to keep going.  I’m usually less focused and more distracted on weekends (weekends being when my husband and cat and stuff want my attention most).  But I’m going to keep my streak up.  Every day. Every. Day. 20 minutes minimum.

I’ve also decided what I’m going to do during my streak.  I’m going to focus my efforts this year on the various novel series I already have going.  I’ve set up a calendar of novels and deadlines because I work best to deadlines.  Most of these books are already outlined.  I intend to use weekends for short story writing so that my short story submissions don’t fall behind and because shorts are awesome.  One and done.  One day (sometimes two) and I’m finished.  They are very satisfying.  When stuck in the middle of a novel, it is nice to remember what finishing something feels like, so I like to do short stories to mix things up.

So here’s the rough deadline schedule:

Wrath (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 2): March 19th

The Raven King (Cymru that Could Be: Book 2): April 29th

Delilah in Paradise: June 10th

Beyond Casimir (Lorian Archive: Book 2): July 22nd

Casimir Rising (Lorian Archive: Book 3): September 2nd

Hunger (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 3): September 23rd

The City is Still Hungry (A Remy Pigeon mystery): November 4th

Vainglory (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 4): November 25th

Delilah in Hell: December 30th

The Slow Beat Down (A Remy Pigeon mystery): February 10th, 2012

Sindra’s Storm (possibly a duology): March 23rd, 2012

So that’s the schedule.  Unless, of course, a giant wrench gets thrown in it due to either success (like a contract or two) or disaster (but hey, I could still type in a hospital bed, so I’m good, right?).  And of course keep the streak up and hopefully get 52 stories written and submitted.  I’ve done two shorts so far this year.  I’m a little behind.

Go go gadget streak writer *grin*

E-book Pricing

All right.  I’m going to take a stab at this issue.  But first, a lot of caveats.

1) I don’t think that price, once under a certain threshold, matters as much as a lot of “indie” authors think it does.  My personal feeling is that time is better spent writing more books and doing some targeted marketing (like sending out review copies) than messing around with price on books.

2) My personal threshold for ebooks is that the price be below the available paper version’s cost (ie if the book is out in hardback for 27, the ebook should be less than that (I prefer under 10 bucks, but I’ll pay up to 15 for an ebook I really, really want if the paper version costs more).  If the book is out as a paperback for 7.99, the ebook should be less than that, say 6.99 or something).  I am perhaps still clinging to my love of paper books on this, however.  Personally, as someone who buys a good amount of books, that’s my threshold.  If I want a book RIGHT NOW but it is two bucks more for the Kindle version than the paper one, well, I generally hold off and either order the book or go to a bookstore.

3) All that said, when you become a publisher, which is what putting your own books out yourself or with the help of a start-up small publisher (ie a conglomerate of your friends, which is what mine is), you do have to price your books somewhere and decide on a range and general guidelines so that you look consistent and your readers know what to expect.  You have to pick a price with each new title and it helps, I think anyway, to have a basic idea of where you are pricing things.

4) Basically what I found is that ebook pricing varies a great deal and it varies a lot by genre (not as much by length, once you get away from short stories.  I found plenty of novellas priced more or less the same as novels, for example).  In an ink and paper bookstore, books are priced (unless on sale or sold used) by the format.  A hardcover will always be in the 24.99-28.99 range no matter the genre.  If I walk to the Mystery section and pick up a mass market paperback, it will likely be 7.99 (sometimes 6.99, but usually these days 7.99).  I can then walk over to Science Fiction and pick up a mass market paperback and it will also be 7.99.  Ebooks are different and I find that very interesting.  I don’t know what it means yet, if anything, but I do think that I’ll be looking at pricing more by genre than any other factor.

So for my totally unscientific study, I decided to look at the genres I’m planning to put out books and stories in and see what the pricing looked like.  First I checked the top 100 bestsellers in each category and marked down where the prices fell for those.  Then I did a very, very rough general price look-up to see where the numbers of books in each price range fell in each genre.  Again, these numbers were as of yesterday and are not exact.  This is just a rough overview, not a deeply scientific study.  All of these are Amazon.com only.  I haven’t looked at B&N pricing, though I might, nor have I looked too much at Smashwords yet.  So far all but one of my sales on my tester short stories have been through Amazon (Amazon.uk accounts for most of them, strangely. I guess they like literary short fiction?), so that’s what I studied first since for the moment, they still have a large portion of the ebook market.

Here’s what the rough breakdowns looked like:

Romance top 100:  43 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 27 books between 3.00 and 5.99, 19 priced between 6.00 and 7.99, 8 books priced between 8.00 and 9.99, and the remaining three priced over 10.00.  The rough pricing distribution among all Kindle books in the Romance category was about 3,250 in the .99 to 2.99 range, 3500 in the 3-4.99 range, 4050 in the 5-9.99 range, and 1200 priced over 10.00.    So the bestselling books are definitely weighted to the lower end of that, for whatever it means (correlation is not causation, after all).

Romance novellas (what I plan on writing, so I did this sub-category even though it isn’t really one even on Amazon) broke down roughly like this (I only looked at top 100 for this category):  There were 18 novellas priced at .99, 7 novellas priced 1-1.99, 31 novellas priced 2-2.99, 17 priced 3-3.99, 11 priced 4-4.99, 7 priced 5-5.99, and the other nine were price over 6.00.  These are of course a self-selecting category since if the publisher didn’t identify the book length as novella, it wouldn’t have shown up using the search parameters I used.

Mystery top 100:  36 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 6 books priced between 3.00 and 4.99, 22 priced between 5.00 and 6.99, 25 priced between 7.00 and 8.99, 8 priced between 9 and 9.99, and the remaining three priced over 10.00.  The rough pricing distribution among all Mystery books on Kindle (and it is by far the biggest genre category I looked at) broke down roughly like this:  7,050 books priced .99 to 2.99, 6,400 priced 3-4.99, 7,100 priced 5-8.99, 4,700 priced 9-9.99, and 3,400 priced over 10.00 (the bulk of that priced between 10 and 20 dollars).

Police Procedural subgenre of Mystery top 100:  25 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 8 priced 3-4.99, 49 priced 5-7.99, 15 priced 8-9.99, and the remaining three over 10.  The general pricing breakdown for all books listed under Police Procedurals was 546 priced between .89 and 2.99, 264 priced between 3 and 4.99, and the bulk of the rest priced in the 5-7.99 range.  I wasn’t able to get good numbers on this due to the way I was searching (Amazon kept mixing in prices that weren’t in my search designation, probably due to their discounting? I’m not sure).  My rough look though showed a great deal of the books in this category listed at 6.99 and 7.99.

Science Fiction top 100: 39 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 10 priced between 3-4.99, 29 priced 5-6.99, 19 priced 7-9.99, and three over 10.  The overall breakdown was approximately 1,600 books between .99 and 2.99, 700 priced 3-4.99, 290 priced 5-6.99, 550 priced 7-9.99, and about 300 over 10.00.

Fantasy top 100: 29 books priced .89-2.99, 8 priced 3-4.99, 43 priced 5-7.99, 11 priced 8-9.99, and the remaining nine priced over 10.00.  The overall pricing looked like this: 1,500 books priced .99 to 2.99, 1300 priced 3-4.99, 2,200 priced 5-9.99, 300 priced between 10 and 20.

So that’s the basic data I collected.  My searches, other than the novella one, did not weed out short stories or take length into consideration at all.  I looked at genre numbers and pricing and at the top 100 bestseller lists at the moment of the search.  That allows for a lot of variance and other factors in this, but I just wanted a rough overview of pricing on ebooks.

What have I learned and/or decided?  Genre does seem to matter.  Science Fiction and Romance both had lower trending prices than the other genres I looked at.  There also seems to be a strange “deadzone” in the 3-4.99 range on a lot of those top 100 lists that isn’t always reflected in the number of books priced there.  Are readers avoiding books priced in that range?  Could the .99-2.99 book buyers be a whole different set of buyers than the 5.00 and up crowd?  I’ve noticed from looking at Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” sections that people who’ve bought .99 books tend to buy a lot of other .99 books.  I’m not sure what that means, if anything, but I think it is interesting to think about.  When I’m selling my books, who are my targeted customers?  I joke with my friends that the only thing I look for in a reader is recidivism.

I think when I put books up for my small press, I’ll definitely be pricing by genre and using what I’ve found in this data to decide.  For Romance, and specifically Romance novellas, it seems as long as I stay in the 2-4 dollar range, I’m right in the expected price range given the pricing of books on the bestseller list.  For the Fantasy Police Procedural books (yeah, that’s crossing genres, yay ebooks and being able to put things under more than one category), I think I’ll aim for the 5-6.99 range.  For straight mystery, probably aim at the same range.  For Science Fiction the price trend seems lower, but I don’t want to be in the 3-4.99 deadzone either.  More books in Sci/fi were priced in the 5-9.99 range than below 2.99 (48 vs 39), so I’ll probably take a chance and position the books on the lower end of the higher range.  Short story collections seem like an all over the place no-man’s land and I wasn’t even able to get good data on them, so I’ll probably go with genre pricing on those.

Again, no one really knows how ebook pricing will shake out or where the various prices will settle.  Length might become more of a factor, but it is difficult to see how long a book is on the Kindle. File sizes and location numbers can be way off based on things other than book length.  I’m going to make sure that if a book is less than 45k words or so that the descriptions reflect this so a reader knows they are buying a novella or short stories, etc.

But in the end, the price matters a lot less than other things.  If the books I publish aren’t any good and aren’t packaged well (good covers, good descriptions, good samples), they won’t sell at any price.  That’s what I’m going to focus my energies on.  More books, better books, great packaging.

Show Me the Money 2010

So in my first official “writing as career” year (2009 for those following along), I made exactly 0 dollars. So I didn’t do a post about it because, well, that’s a pretty short post.

2010 went better, though not “making a living” level better.  But hey, that’ll come.

So here’s the money.

Money earned on novels: 0

Money earned with poetry: 48

Money earned on short stories: 411.76

Money earned from self-published stories: 9.10

Total: 468.86

Hey, way better than 2009, right? Hopefully the trend continues.  Funny though, how it almost works out to one dollar per 1000 words written.  It’s like earning a dollar an hour.

I’m not worried.  I’m just getting warmed up.  Every word I write is practice, ever sale I make is bonus.  As I get better at the one, I figure I’ll earn more bonuses.

Nom Nom Nom

Technically, I have a couple stories eligible for award nominations. I had a long debate with myself about even writing this post, but decided, hey, first year I’ve got things eligible, I should at least write a subtle “zomg sold stuffz!” post pointing this out.

So here goes…subtle. Yeah.

“Some Like it Hot” (AlienSkin Feb/March 2010 issue) is eligible as a short story.
No Spaceships Go” (Daily Science Fiction, Dec. 17th, 2010) is also eligible as a short story.

So if you for some reason loved either of those and are in a position to do some nom-ing, there you go. That’s my list.  (My third story published this year doesn’t, I think anyway, fall into the speculative fiction category enough to be relevant.  However, if you feel like reading it and don’t mind dropping .99 on it, it is now available as an ebook with another short story here or for free on Contrary’s website here)

Happy New Year

Here on the West Coast of the US, it’s about 2 hours til the new year. I accomplished a lot this year, though I fell short of some of my goals. But overall, I’m happy.

My New Year’s Eve present was four more rejections. I think my 2010 total is now about 158. Oh well, champagne is made for drowning rejections, right? (I don’t normally drink much, so it’s easy to drown me).

I managed to slip over the 400k words mark with a lot of work in the last few days, coming it at 406,127 words for the year. Not 450,000 but over 90% there, so I’m not going to be sorry about it.

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that 2011 is a great year for all of us!

“This Book is Not the Boss of my Shit”

Normally I don’t just post to post a link, but I found something too awesome and fitting for my mindset right now that I just have to make a quickie post to share it.

Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com has posted “The Penmonkey’s Paean” and it is amazing.  Go, read, enjoy.

Haven’t clicked yet? Seriously, how could you not want to read a ‘prayer’ that begins with:

I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

I will not whine. I will not blubber. I will not make mewling whimpering cryface pissypants boo-hoo noises. I will not sing lamentations to my weakness.

My confidence is hard and unyielding. Like a kidney stone lodged in the ureter of a stegosaurus.

It’s amazeballs.  And now, I go back to writing, because this novel is not the boss of my shit *grin*

My Idea System

In the comments on the last post (about 2011 goals), one of the comments asked about my system for keeping track of ideas.  I do, in fact, have a system, though like most systems that have organically grown over the course of time, it doesn’t necessarily make a ton of sense.  I figured I could do a post on it, but I’ll add some visual aids just for fun and try to describe how the parts I couldn’t figure out how to get visuals for work.

So let’s follow an idea from inception to finished product/submission through my recording system.  The first thing that usually happens is a character or bit of story or a line or two pops into my head.  From there I let it sit.  If, after a couple days (or when the idea is super insistent), I still have it in my head, then I write it down in a notebook.  Yes, a good old paper notebook.  I use Moleskine Cahier notebooks because I love the way they feel and how well they hold up.  This is probably a hold-over from when I used to write every story by hand (something I did up until a few years ago when I tried to write a novel by hand and pretty much said fuck that).

If the idea has a title, I use the title to list it (each idea gets a fresh page).  If it doesn’t yet I just pick out a couple key words.  This is the beginning for both short stories and novels.  If I know that the idea is probably going to be a novel idea, I make a note of that on the page.  I have multiple notebooks for ideas.  In the past I was just sort of filling them up as I had the ideas, but for next year I’ve actually gone and separated out a notebook for novellas, one for short fiction, and one for novel ideas.  I’m not sure how long that level of organization will last since sometimes I don’t know if an idea is a novel or just a short one at the start (they tend to seem like they’ll be short, but then grow and get more complex).

From there the ideas sit until I’m ready to start on them.  At that point they have different fates.  Novel ideas get their own sections of a different notebook.  I give you exhibit A:

These are a few of my novel project notebooks.  Some of these novels have been written or are in various stages of writing (There’s actually a notebook without tabs in there, but it’s dedicated to a trilogy, so I didn’t tab it yet since I know which one it is, so this picture represents 11 novels and 4 short novels).  Inside these notebooks I outline, keep track of character descriptions and place names, and do all the little nitty note taking that I feel is necessary to keep track of the world for each of my novels.  I imagine that when I start actually writing multiple series books that I’ll gravitate toward having a single notebook for each series with my handy tabs dividing by book, but for now this system allows me to easily flip to whichever project I want to work on and to see which notebooks hold which novel at a glance.  I find this simpler than trying to use electronic notes, though I appreciate that if anything ever happened to my home (fire, flood, really bored thieves), that this system could fall apart.  At least I back up all the actual writing electronically in multiple places.

So that’s what the novel notebooks look like.  For short stories I just find the title/tag line of the story I want to work on (if I’m in a short story writing mood I generally flip through until I find something I want to write), and then I just continue with story notes and character descriptions and all the things I need to keep track there.  Which, once a story is done, generally leaves me with a couple of pages that look like this:

If you can read my handwriting at the top of the right page there, you’ll see that this story was originally tagged as “Race to Pluto” but then got its actual title “The Light of the Earth, as Seen from Tartarus” once I’d started working on it more.  (This story has already been through Writers of the Future, so I’m using it since I don’t have to worry about anonymity anymore).  I generally write short stories over the course of a single day, sometimes two (this one took two, but it’s 13,300 words long).  I don’t often outline short stories, but as you can see from the left page above, I did a rough time line because the timing in this story was important (And yes, I do have the crazy handwriting of a serial killer, but *I* can read it, usually).  Sometimes though I’ll be adding notes and ideas to a page for weeks before I get working on a story.  It all depends how long the story needs to percolate in my brain.

The next step is once I’ve decided to work on a story or novel.  I go into my writing folder and then into the relevant folder (Short Stories or Novels or Novellas).  Then I make a folder with the title of the story or novel.  Then I open a word document and label it as a rough draft (usually titleRD.doc) and go to work.    Recently I’ve expanded this system a little.  I don’t normally start short stories and then not finish them, but back in October I was working on hooks and beginnings, so I picked out a bunch of short story ideas from my notebooks and went to the next step without finishing.  So in my short stories folder I have a folder called AAAbeginnings (the three a’s are so it will sit at the top of my alphabetized sorted list).  In there I keep the folders of stories that aren’t done (I have quite a few at the moment thanks to that exercise). Once I finish a story out of that folder, it gets moved to the regular section.

I also have a few pages in one of my notebooks that is all titles.  Pages and pages of titles that don’t have an idea attached.  Last year I decided I was pretty terrible with titles and wanted to practice coming up with them.  So I tried a few different methods (ranging from putting random words together to using random title generators on the internet) and wrote down all the ones I liked.  So sometimes if I have a story idea I’ll scan those pages of titles and see if any fit or can be altered to fit.

Anyway, that’s how my system, such as it is, works.  I have tons and tons of ideas, more than I will ever likely be able to complete.   And more come in each day (I think I have about 15 notebooks in various stages of full at this point).  It’s one of the main reasons I’d like to be faster and more consistent, because then I’d get a lot more of these ideas developed and out to markets.  So hopefully this post helps show how the hell I keep track of all this.  I imagine my system will keep evolving to suit my needs and career, but for now it works for me.

November Summary plus Extras

So first, my story “No Spaceships Go” will be out from Daily Science Fiction on December 17th it looks like.  So go sign up for their daily stories already, geez.  (Though it will also be posted on the website at some point as well if you’re somehow allergic to getting awesome fiction in your inbox each weekday morning).   Besides this being my first pro sale, it is also a story I really love.  I write a lot of stories and I’m not sure I could even list the titles of all of them off the top of my head (probably, with some serious thinking, because I do have a good memory, but I might miss one or two).  However, I play favorites like woah.  This story was one of my favorites and I’m very happy that Daily SF took a chance on it.

So in November my writing went not too poorly, but I’ve discovered that writing while in pain really, really sucks.  Or perhaps rediscovered, since I had to do it this summer when I pinched a nerve in my shoulder.  I have my new keyboard now and am so far liking it (it’s only been a day, so no idea how it will serve in the long term).  I’ve also adjusted my desk and my chair and gotten a wrist brace to try for the more sore wrist.  All these things will hopefully contribute to less pain and a more consistent writing schedule.

All that aside, I managed about 52,000 words this month.  That means a handful of new stories out to markets and some of what will be the first novel in my Pyrrh Considerable Crimes series.  I’m going to be finishing up the novel in the next week or two, then it’ll go to first readers, then to the copy editor, and finally (hopefully!) on or around Jan 31st, 2011, it’ll be available to purchase.

For December I’m going to take it somewhat easy.  While I’d like to be writing 5-6 hours a day, I know that on many days I’ll have other commitments (I have a huge family, and the holidays are always made of crazy sauce).  So I’m setting my daily goal at 10 pages each week day and 5 pages each weekend day.  I’m planning on writing the second Pyrrh novel this month, as well as starting a romance novel that will go out to traditional publishers in Feb.  I was going to write my horror/western, but it needs to percolate more I think, and I’m debating writing it for e-pub instead of trying to figure out how the hell I’d pitch something like that to trad publishers.  We’ll see.  I like that I have all sorts of options now and can pretty much write whatever I feel like (not that I wouldn’t anyway, I’m stubborn like that, but nice to know I might actually get paid for this stuff).

So November was a mixed bag.  I didn’t hit my goal, but I got over the halfway point and I still got something done, which is better than nothing.  Even if I only get 50k words each month next year, that would still be 600k words of new fiction ready for various markets and experiments, which isn’t a bad production rate.  So we’ll see.  I’m going to aim for more like 75k to 100k a month, but it’ll depend on schedules and wrists and my own laziness.

Speaking of laziness, I’ve been playing some Mass Effect 2 (well, helping my husband play by mining planets for him and such).  I mention it because the world-building is boggling and awesome.  Flying around and reading the different planet descriptions alone has been a joy and very inspiring.  After I finish up the next couple novel projects (or perhaps in between), I’m totally going to get some sf stories done.  I wrote fantasy in November pretty much, so maybe it’s time to return to space.  Hmm, I wonder if I can write ME2 off on my taxes? It’s totally helping my writing, totally. *grin*

(Speaking of taxes, I’ll be filing my first schedule C this Jan.  I’ll definitely be posting about that process around then, because I think more information needs to be available on how this works exactly.  I’m going to hire a professional to talk me through it the first time, because while I’m competent as the house accountant, I’d rather not mess up when it comes to the IRS.  They aren’t exactly forgiving of honest errors.  So look for a post about that, and some neo-pro interviews coming soon!)

New Keyboard!

Due to wrist/tendon pain, I’ve taken a couple days off writing (oh noes!). But now, thanks to my many and awesome writer buddies, I’ve adjusted my desk, adjusted my chair, gotten wrist braces, and have a brand new keyboard due to arrive on Friday.

So hopefully that will end the pain, because while I’ve proven to myself that I can write through the pain (Over 50,000 words this month, which took some doing 20-30 mins of writing at a time, sigh), I’m not all that fond of pain and it really makes the fun part (telling the damn story) a lot less fun. I’ll let you all know at the end of next week how the new set-up and stuff is going. Hopefully solving this new issue will mean unparalleled personal productivity, or at least a couple novels finished by the end of the year.

Speaking of productivity and finishing novels, Kevin J Anderson put up an amazing and blunt post about writing and putting in the time. I recommend anyone who is still stuck in the “writing slow or writing less = better” mindset go read his post (or really, anyone who wants to be a pro writer should read this post). From everything I’ve read and seen, those writers who treat writing the same way you’d treat any business and day-job tend to do the best and stay publishing consistently.  This is why I’m following the path I’ve chosen and why I (try to) put in consistent hours of writing and treat my writing the way I’d treat starting up a small business.

Writing for a living, and a very good living, is totally possible.  But it is work 🙂