Zombies, Kicks & Giggles

The not-so wise words of Adrienne Lecter

Category: NaNoWriMo2017 (page 1 of 2)

November (+NaNoWriMo) 2017 recap

A little late this month but hey, you get an extra week of December for free!

November has been a weird month for me. Productive, but weird. I wrote just over 50k words plus 19k on the blog, coming to a very neat 70k, which makes it in the top 2 productive months of the year. I “won” NaNoWriMo! I accidentally finished a novel as I realized my plot was too long for just one book and I’m now adding all the details in I skipped over (or hadn’t seemed necessary it the time). I also went swimming on 18 days out of 30, swimming over 22 hours. I’ve cleaned up my diet somewhat; sleep has been mostly good except for a few days. I’ve been socializing more than I expected. Overall, a pretty amazing month!

Doesn’t entirely feel like it, which makes me wonder: am I just sabotaging myself, or is it due to the shit ton of exercise that I’m doing that my mood has been mostly stable of late, letting me coast through the days at a max of 10% meh, which is feeling pretty normal and healthy to me. So, yay!

I’ve split books before but never like this. I’ve also re-written books, but also never like this. Not too fond of the process as I’m def. a first draft writer (meaning, for me, writing that very first version of the story is where the fun is). Editing is painful; sifting through it all now in detail and adding content is… taxing. But it also gives me a lot of opportunities to improve, that’s something I really like, and might get into. Just yesterday I realized I need to write two characters out of the story again. Didn’t really need them, and I’m not just dragging them along to kill off at least one of them (I think you’ll thank me later. You can take a guess now if you want. It will be pretty obvious once the book is out). It’s funny how sometimes, things change. Usually, unimportant characters push themselves to the forefront. This time two decided to take a step back. Means more changes but I think the story works better this way.

Book sales have been surprisingly good in November, for being the 3rd post-release month. Must be doing something right. I’m right now trying to learn more about copywriting so I can write better descriptions for my books, but mostly to run ads. While GF8 is going to the editor and beta readers, I will be starting a new campaign of ads and see if that helps sales. Not sure how much of a factor that is since most of my money comes from KU and I feel like KU readers are less receptive to ads, but let’s see! I know, terribly exciting for you, but that’s part of my job as well, as CFO and head of the marketing department of my own little business here.

I’ve also signed up for attending a conference near London in February. All Indie authors, that will be interesting. I knew about it before, then forgot, then was reminded, and when I found a good deal on flights and a hotel close to the venue I jumped the gun last Friday. It’s not that I’m averse to staying at a spa / conference hotel but I’m now paying as much for three nights as I would have for a single one, and it’s closer to the train station so that I don’t need to learn how to use the uber app. Yes, I might be at the forefront of independent publishing but I’m still not trusting these newfangled smartphone thingies! And get off my lawn! Instead I will make a day-long detour with the tube and national rail rather than a 10 minute taxi ride. I think every Brit reading this will now be convinced that I’m insane. But I get to visit London on my travel days while I leave my baggage at the train station, so that’s nice, too! I’ve been to London book fair twice now and will attend in 2018 as well, but this conference is different. It’s back-to-back business for Indies stuff with some craft info in the mix, but all centered on how we do our thing. Plus, I maybe get to brag a bit about my numbers. Or not. Many people attending will have been outselling me by a lot for years. Always good to learn from the success stories in your chosen field, I say! I’m both scared and excited about this. Don’t really like meeting strangers. Considering there will be 95% introverts attending, I think we will all be fine (after breaking the ice and babbling incoherently for the first 30 mins).

Not much else I can say, you already got waaaay too much behind the scenes with the NaNoWriMo blog posts. And that’s okay, but still scary as hell for me. I’m not someone who is, on the long run, comfortable with getting too familiar with people when I can’t gauge their reaction. Let’s not do that again. I know you prefer book updates, anyway.

As for what to expect on the blog in December:
– audiobooks (finally! Post is all done, just need to proof it one more time)
– burnout (a hotly discussed topic in the community at the moment, and maybe you’d like my take on it, seeing as you had to sit through an extended, 10-month waiting period last year)
– preorders & why I don’t do them / what my overall publishing process looks like

… and maybe more, particularly if I happen to come across something I feel like might be fun explaining. Writing non-fiction helps a little to appease the fiction Gods. At least in November it kept me writing. Of course, now I’m re-writing, which is hell, and I will take any excuse not to have to do it at the moment… like now… Shutting up now so I can get through the first chapter of revisions, then hop into the pool, and hopefully not work through the entire long weekend ahead (tomorrow’s a publish holiday here, thanks, Roman Catholics!)

NaNoWriMo 2017 roundup + update on GF#8

So I “won” NaNoWriMo yesterday at officially 50,188 words. Never mind what the site is saying, validation always screws with the final word count. I take mine from Scrivener every day so it’s a good benchmark. Did a great job, I’d say, as I almost, accidentally, finished a book! Now how did that happen?!

Let me explain. As you probably know (or read in my facebook fan group) I’ve been slogging my way through the 8th Green Fields book. The plan was to finish it in September October for NaNoWriMo, but when I finally got to what felt like the halfway point of the plot and I was shy of 100k words, I realized I might have miscalculated. I also wrote the perfect last line last week and thought, so sad, I’m not done with the book, but this would have been the perfect light cliffhanger ending!

Also factoring in that last week I only wrote 6k words (which on a good day I can do within said good day easily) I should have realized that something was going on. My subconscious has a habit of slowing me down when something’s not quite right (which in 9 times out of 10 is the reason why I get writer’s block, which really is “you wrote yourself into a corner and need to fix this” block). I guess the problem was, what I WAS writing worked well, so I didn’t see the issue.

I’m right now at 110.9k words for the novel, with about 5k of that over the mark where the book will end. I have a list of five scenes that I want to add to / introduce to the book, something that I’ve NEVER done until now. So yay, learning something new on book #15, or something like that. Being a writer can be very fascinating (and scary!) sometimes!
Looking over what I’ve written, it feels like a solid plot, but because I thought I had to pack it all into one book, I think I took a few too many shortcuts. It feels to me like I hewed my way with a machete through high grass without ever pausing or taking the chance and exploring something appearing along the way. Those are usually the best parts of the book so I really shouldn’t skimp on them…

I still think that my original idea is a solid one, and it would have made a solid book, but seeing as no one was angry with me for splitting the book when I asked, I think I can take a hint. Fact is, since that week in early 2015 when I had a massive boost of creativity that ended up turning a stand-alone biotech thriller into a 6-part zombie apocalypse series, I haven’t really had to go back to the drawing board and play around with plot arcs. When book #5 came out and readers wanted more, it was easy to leave some questions unanswered and add some foreshadowing, so #7 was a wrap when I sat down to write it. If you’ve read it already, you know that, like book #2, it has a very road trip like feel to it, and that’s pretty easy to write. You just check off boxes, and each of those boxes ends up being a part in the book about the same amount of words, usually 10-20k.

Book #8 (and now #9) doesn’t work like that. For starters, I wrote an extra 35k in the beginning that wasn’t planned, yet it just happened. I started writing just after finishing the first draft edits of #7 and sending that to my editor and the beta readers, and until I got everything back from them, I wrote the first half of the book, including that unplanned chunk. The opening chapter was supposed to be what ended up being chapter 10 or 11 now. It’s a great opening chapter, don’t get me wrong, but not the right first chapter if you consider how #7 ended. Because unlike every other book, #8 needed to start with what happens an hour after the end of Affliction. The day after. The week after. No spoilers here from me, but I think you would have all killed me if I’d just hashed over the next five weeks and confined what happened to a paragraph of reflection. Seriously, what writer can pass up 35k words of emotional and physical anguish!?

Well, not this writer, it seems. And so the “issues” started.

Everything I write usually runs long. Just ask my high school teachers. What ended up being Incubation, the first book in the series, at just over 90k words, used to be a 40k novella concept. Two of my books have gone to almost 150k words, which is 1.5x of what I’m always aiming for. Only the first stayed below that. It’s like once I’m writing, I need more words than I plan, and my plan for #8 was very tight, and very crammed. Oh well. So now you get to have two books, one coming out soon, the other likely in early spring, and I get paid twice. The horror, really!

So will it be two shorter books? Hell, no. #8 will likely clock in at 120k, just like #7, Affliction. And while right now I can delude myself into thinking that #9 won’t be as long, I’m not holding my breath there. That book will have a pretty heavy climax of about 50k realistically (I thought I could do it in 10. Ha!), with a beginning round-up section that’s 35k, I’d say, and I need connective tissue between those, so another 15k, plus the end, which will be around 10-20k… so about 120k again. Sounds legit! Now for real. Come to think of it, on the writing and structure part #9 is starting to feel a but like Resurgence, book #5–that ended up at 140+k. Damnit!

Have I mentioned I make most of my money with Kindle Unlimited, and I get paid by pages read for that? So actually, writing more means moar monayy! Bring it on!

Oh, right, I’m the one who has to do the writing. Never mind.

So what’s on my agenda for the rest of the week? I’m almost done proofreading my first draft, as it is. I will finish that today and type in all the changes (5-10 per page, printed in double space, 8pt font. Yes, I’m crazy, and apparently have a paper saving fetish). I have my short list of content additions that I will work on after that. One scene gets a massive addition, another some elaboration, and then some extra, mostly conversation stuff in a few strategic places. I definitely told Bree’s story in this book, but she’s not an island, and the other characters deserve some time on screen as well. Today I’m tired as hell as I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, and tomorrow I have some social obligations that involve great company and booze (plus, I really need a haircut!) so that will cut into my productivity, but I will have this wrapped up soon. I think. As I said, I normally don’t go back in and add stuff. All my foreshadowing is already in the book. I usually do that in a way that feels like throwing little balls of plot forward so my future self can then catch and unravel them, or continue to throw them forward. What’s missing from this book are non-essential things, but things that carry the very soul of the book. Details that make it feel more real, bits of research I was so excited about when I discovered it so I decided it needs to go into the book. Since I don’t have an agent, publisher, or developmental editor that tell me no, not essential so it needs to be cut, you’ll get your extra 15% soulful content! And, who knows? It might be those extra scenes that turn out to be the starting point of yet one more plot ball getting lobbed into future books. Yes, I plan my plot, but sometimes connections develop that surprise me as I write them. I believe that’s the secret of a plot that keeps readers on their toes. Have a good, solid foundation, but be prepared to catch a random ball that ends up fitting perfectly.

Damn, I need more sleep because that mental image just made sense to me.

So maybe you’ll get a book this year after all. If not, you’ll get it in January, and starting next week, I’ll work on the next one so that it will be out sooner rather than later. After all, I’m smack in the middle of the story and my head is in the right place. Gotta use that momentum!

Week 4 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Actual words: 49,139
Words to go: 861

Ah, yeah, so much for daily blogging. Just didn’t really feel like it last week. Got some writing done but not really a lot, just over 6,000 words for the entire week (although I had 2 days of zero words, and one with a glorious 164); I got some quality editing time in, though, which means I’m maybe two days behind in editing, which is amazing. That means that the day I finish writing will likely be the day I plug in the final edits for the first draft and the manuscript can go to the editor without a week or two of delay. Also had some admin stuff to do. I told you a while ago that, sadly, writing only accounts for part of what I do. This week I also had the (dubious) joy of crunching my 2017 sales numbers so my accountant could tell me how much more to invest to fully use the tax deductibles I’m allowed. The Austrian tax system is a wonderful maze of regulations and exceptions; that’s why I have an accountant. I can easily keep my books myself, but she’s the one who then works her magic and ends up with much more favorable conditions. In 2017 I will have made about 50% of what I raked in the year before, which, all things considered, is still amazing. But it’s still 50% less books sold and read, and don’t we all prefer those jumps to go up rather than down?

Extrapolating from that, I also did some thinking, then research in how to better those numbers for 2018. Not losing months at a time to writer’s block and soul crushing depression is a phenomenal idea, don’t you think? I think so, too! So far my November project of trying to be more healthy (ease up on my demands of myself, exercise regularly, eat healthy) is really working well. I swam over 5.5 hours last week, in four sessions of 1, 1, 1.6 and 2 hours. Yes, you read that right, on Saturday I swam for 120 minutes, and half of that was at full speed. Diet’s not that cleaned up yet so I’m not really losing fat but I’m slowly bulking up, which feels really weird sometimes but pretty much what I’ve been living with for most of my life (yes, just like you can have skinny fat people who don’t move at all, you can have healthy chunksters who are way fitter than most skinny people, and except for the strain on their joints because of their weight they pretty much lead a very healthy life). Thighs, butt, shoulders, obliques, and arms are def. feeling the burn. Which is also the reason why I constantly have partly numb fingers, only for once not the last three but the first. Pinkie and ring finger, sometimes middle, too, going numb I’m used to from carpal tunnel syndrome. The other side (thumb, index, middle finger) are from what you might have experienced if you ever smacked your elbow hard, and tennis players often have to fight with. With swimming breaststroke, I also have way more tension on the muscles all around my elbow which then push down on the ulnar and median nerve, and, tata! Number fingers. I know way more about the anatomy of the hand / arm than I ever wanted to know, but it’s been this way for way longer than my most recent books. I had a lot of issues with my fingers when I was still working in the lab, so the RSI issues of typing all day long have actually been a respite of sorts. Damn swimming, now screwing with my fingers as well! (please read that in a “get off my lawn!” voice.). I have no intention of stopping or slowing down unless this becomes a permanent issue.

I also want to do more with advertising next year, so now I have to get some copywriting expertise for that. I swear, the skills I had to acquire since I decided to become an Indie writer are enough to fill an entire CV, and that’s part of the fun. While time-consuming sometimes, that’s also a very comforting idea. If I ever couldn’t hack it as a full-time writer anymore, I could always get a few certifications and make money using said newly acquired skills. Maybe it’s because I’m Austrian and we don’t really brag a lot with our accomplishments, or it’s because lots about writing feels so natural to me that it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, but I think I’m doing a good job so far. Marketing and promotions is something I don’t really do a lot, so might be interesting to explore that for real. I have 14 books out with 4 possible ad “starters” and some extra that I can easily get up there to use, so I’m going to spend some time (and money) trying to make more money with as little effort as possible. She said, fully knowing that she was about to lose nights to numbers crunching, but I actually like spreadsheets, so no harm done. I also got a yearly subscription to SkillShare to have some nice videos to watch in the background and maybe learn a thing or two as well, and intend to put some extra time into honing my craft soon, too.

But first, finish this damn book!
It’s not looking so good for a 2017 release of GF#8. I’ve made great progress this month, 49k of progress, so far, but considering the book keeps expanding, I really would need to rush it to completion this week, and there’s no guarantee I could even pull that off and it would be good, so I’m not trying. I didn’t go into a hypomanic phase like I thought I would so steady as she goes is what’s happening. I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough as I’m waffling around, but that’s in my head. Again, 1/3 of the book I already wrote this month, that’s a lot even for someone who can write a shitton of words within a few days. And while I’m annoyed that it’s not going on huge leaps and bounds, I’m very stoked about the steady progress as that’s much easier to maintain. Plus swim, and read, and learn, and actually enjoy social, human interactions. I know you all want the book yesterday, but a few of the changes that came along because I took a little more time are making it better. Not saying that the books that I wrote quicker would have been better if I’d taken more time. I think every story has to be told at its genuine, unique speed, and for this one I need a little more time. And also, because it’s 1/3 longer than planned! Damnit. You’ll get to read the reasons for that in the book’s author note where I can spoil at will.

Going to do me some book writing now so I can spend the evening with copywriting and marketing shit. Ugh. Maybe more writing in the p.m. after all. Yeah, that sounds much better!

Day 17 & 18 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 28,333 / 30.000
Actual words: 0
Overall words: 43,006

Took the weekend off, pretty much (might add Sunday, too). Two hours in dental appointment hell was enough. Friday / Saturday we were watching the new Punisher series on Netflix, now on Sunday the last season of Longmire. Already November might become my most productive month of the year, won’t hurt to recharge the creative well in the middle, take a breath, and dive back in on Monday.

A few words about inspiration, and why Netflix did everything right with the Punisher.

I haven’t read the comics so I can’t say how accurate they were in portraying Frank Castle, but I’ve seen the two movies, and loved him in the 2nd Daredevil season. I’ve so far enjoyed all of the Netflix Marvel shows, even Iron Fist (although the bungled a lot there). My favorites are still the first Daredevil season, Jessica Jones, and the Defenders. I may have a huge crush on Mrs. Semi-Functioning Alcoholic. I might even lose the shows more than the movies, although the last Thor movie was amazeballs. The shows are great because they have more time to develop and explore the characters, and that’s where the Punisher was strongest, for me. Don’t get me wrong, he was great in DD2 already, but now we really got to dive into his head, see through his eyes, taste his frustration that was so visceral that, really, his dreams were the worst for me. The whole first episode was the perfect way to set the stage, and they really hit the street running from there. Could it have been done in 10 rather than 13 episodes? Sure, but I feel like it was the right decision to take the time for some extra side plots.

The show’s getting crucified in the media over here because, oh noes, how dare anyone still produce anything with a strong, hard, unforgiving male lead? I wonder if they saw all the episodes because there’s so much more to Castle, and his friendship with Micro, than just the general premise. Sure, they threw some nice punches to both the left and right, without getting overly moralizing, which would have ruined the narrative. I also feel like stressing that I had a few moments while watching where I went all, “Oh, no, I just wrote that!! People will think I’m ripping off the show with my next book!” (Well, not really, but having gotten inspired). I also feel like most of you will appreciate the show for what it is, and what they did with it.  Great characters. Great narrative. Also, the fact that one reviewer decried that there was no real villain is IMHO a string point for the show. It was neither black nor white but all about the gray in between. and that’s where I feel characters truly shine. Not-so-good people doing shitty things that then conflict with their moral code and kick off a cascade of shit that they then have to deal with, and that pushed them so beyond their limits that they cannot win, because even revenge won’t make up for what they lost? Yes, please!

In short, watching the Punisher was very inspiring for me.

See, the thing about inspiration is, it’s not a concrete thing like, say, food. Among any sort of creatives, there this idea of “refilling the creative well,” that you can’t create something from nothing. Goes hand in hand with the fact that a lot of writers, after finishing a novel and pouring everything they have into it, they feel empty. Sometimes I’m able to avoid that stage but it hits me eventually, or catches up with me (finishing the novel is okay, but usually, publishing it where it hits me). So I gotta refill, like everyone else. Reading books is a great way to do that, only that often, I just can’t because my mind won’t stay on task long enough when I’m this empty. I’ve recently heard another writer say she goes on “artist dates” with herself, like visiting a museum or art gallery. Don’t get me wrong, I like museums, but I’m generally not very inspired by them. that likely says a lot about me, and what I’m made up from. But watching a great movie, or TV show, or maybe even a documentary might spawn an entire new series in my head. Or a character. A setting. It might reinforce my decisions about how to handle a plot point, or make me realize that I went in a wrong direction with something.

So while that might seem contraindicative to some, I refuse to feel bad about spending a good portion of my evenings and weekends in front of the TV. Plus, I’m a storyteller. Pacing is important to any story, and movies and TV shows do pacing really well if they’re worth watching. We writers can all learn a thing or two from that. Sure, reading books is great for learning how to write well, but they’re not the only option.

Day 16 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 26,666
Actual words: 2,929
Overall words: 43,006

Had a good run through the day, but didn’t get anything done in the evening. Then 2 hours at the dentist this morning, I damn well deserve to binge on the Punisher tonight! Yay! Might not be much of an update tomorrow.

Day 15 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 25,000
Actual words: 2,822
Overall words: 40,077

Stayed up late last night to break the 100k words on GF#8 – so worth it! Also to get so many positive comments in the facebook group. I can’t tell you how much of a morale booster that 5-second effort from a reader can be to a writer. At least it is for me. I mean, of course I have my sale numbers, KU page read stats, review numbers (if amazon doesn’t randomly dock them. I’ve been lucky so far, I think?) – but it’s different to have a face (or funny avatar) to put it all in perspective when I get to interact directly with you guys. Really means the world to me! I’m getting all sentimental here… and I’m severely sleep-deprived because the cat wouldn’t let me have the two extra hours of sleep in the morning. Evil black cats are evil!

Writing went okay yesterday, and shy of 3k I can’t complain but I wish it was more. I really want to finish this book soon! Also so I can make the release estimate and have it out before the end of the year. Swam for 1.5 hours yesterday and that wiped me out a little. But hey, the 100k mark is surpassed, the rest should go quickly. Usually does. If anyone’s wondering about my mental state, I think I’ve stabilized to “normal” overall, Saturday was a fluke, thankfully! I mean, I would love to have the book done in under five days, but it’s nice to feel “okay” rather than any of the extremes for a bit. Also did some number crunching last night (October sales report was ready on amazon), year’s not half bad! I didn’t have the mega phenomenal numbers of 2016 but that year, I released three books in five months and the series was just taking off, that momentum is harder to recreate when you’re writing the long tail of the series. But for a 10 months break and two releases it’s been more than simply “okay”, which is amazing! Amazon pays royalties two months after the month in which they were accrued, so I pretty much know now what my fiscal year 2017 looks like. Pretty damn proud of myself for getting back in the saddle, and hopefully you’ll get that 3rd book of the year before 2018! The last two releases were certainly amazing!

I had a longer post planned but had to talk for an hour on the phone (I know, the horror!) so I’ll get to writing now and ramble on once the book is done. I know, that will leave you all heart broken!

Day 14 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 23,333
Actual words: 2,049
Overall words: 37,255

A mixed bag of a day overall. The morning was phenomenal that I spent with my fellow writer and friend, her second book is out today! Yay! And the first is free right now, so if you love urban fantasy / paranormal romance, give her a leg up and download it. After some quality socializing (and talking shop. We’re not artistes, we’re writers who see their intellectual property as business. I can’t talk for her, but I generally see myself for as an entertainer, anyway). Went to get lunch afterwards, duck with veggie rice, at my favorite restaurant, wrote a bit there–and then fell into a deep, dark emotional hole. Crawled back home and snuggled in bed with the evil black cat, felt pretty wiped–until at around 8pm I get a second wind and wrote another 1.1k words to at least reach the NaNoWriMo requirement. Skipped out of a marketing webinar for that, but might catch the replay tonight where I can skip ahead to the good parts. You wouldn’t believe how much crap is getting sold to us Indie publishers to get the job done, although this one was a good one for once. Still. I don’t have $750 lying around to invest in a marketing course that might or might not help me sell more books. But next time I can’t write, I might set out and do some heavy duty marketing research. Let’s hope the muse keeps kissing me because I really don’t want to do that!

Home sweet home, I’m in the office again today, weather is nice but cold outside. The fridge is here! As is the new lamp. I can now enjoy refrigerated goods that I can not just eat, but also see while I’m eating them! Welcome to the 21st century.

Today is the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, and so far I have to say, I’m doing better than I was afraid but I’m still behind my absolutely fantastic plan. Pretty happy with the progress so far. If it wasn’t for Netflix releasing Punisher and Longmire this weekend, I might even finish the book by Sunday. I need inspiration, and there are few things I hunger for like binge watching quality TV, so I might take the weekend off from 12 hour writing sprees. Might still get some words in, and probably some exercise, too, but 2-3 days delay won’t make a difference. But damn, 37k words in 14 days and I still feel like I’m not producing enough. That’s not a healthy mindset, even if I’m doing it to catch up on time lost. Still, I’m on track for top 3 most productive months of the year, and at 60k (which sounds very reasonable) it will be the most productive. Can we do NaNoWriMo ever month, please?

Anyway, I have lots of greatness to write and zombies to kill! Interspersed with some salad and swimming, because this is my life now! I was offered “comfort salad” yesterday. I’m allowed to by a little cynical.

Day 13 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 21,667
Actual words: 3,038
Overall words: 35,206

I’m writing this at night as tomorrow morning I’m meeting with a writer friend of mine (still squeeing every time I say this!). If you want to check out her books, she writes urban fantasy / paranormal romance, and her second book is out on Wednesday! Book #1 White, #2 Black! She even got mentioned in the Chicago Tribune because of some really amazing background stuff going on. Hashtag famous people I know. Why I mention this? Well, because I’m having a phenomenal antisocial streak right now and why not share that with semi random people on the internet?

The thing is, when I feel really down, I often hide from the world. I can’t even stand to work from my office because I can’t stand the idea of running into anyone, or not being able to crawl into bed at home. I can take my laptop with me to bed, so might even get some writing done. But no people! What’s happening right now is different. I don’t like to interact with people. So sorry if you’re one of the people I regularly talk to, or are waiting for a comment or email response. I just don’t feel like talking to anyone. Someone at the gym, who I coincidentally spent my last two long training sessions with at the pool, said “bye” when she left the changing room ahead of me today. I barely managed to croak out a reply. It’s really that bad. I try to explain this to people who I regularly interact with but I feel like most don’t get just how bad this can get. I feel good right now. Normal good, not 120% extra good, but I’m def. not depressed at the moment. I write, a lot. So no real apparent cause for turning into a true Viennese, right? Well, with moderate grumpy levels. We can be way worse than this.

Why? Why is my mind behaving like this?

I have two explanations. One is mental (ha!), the other writing related.

Let’s look at the writing related one first. The book will be running long, but I’m in the second half now where a lot of action happens, and I love writing these parts. I really do. I feel like I’m submerged in the creative flow right now. I recently got the question again how much I am like Bree. Right now I often like I AM her. My mind won’t shut up when I step away from the computer. Either I write, or I intensely think through what I will be writing next. It’s a stop-and-go but non-stop, kinda. Yes, that’s also a hypomania thing, but I always get that at the ending of a book. It’s like the story needs to be finished. I couldn’t stop now if I tried. Might still be a week or two until I actually finish, but it’s happening right now. And when my mind is pretty much locked inside a fiction character’s mind, there’s not much outside socializing for Adrienne going on, now, is there?

The other explanation is something that occurred to me as I was walking back from the gym today to get some more writing done before leaving for home. I’ve spent the last months in a bad state, where I pretty much spent entire days loathing myself. For being stupid, for being lazy, for finding excuses, for not even trying, for writing shit stories, for not writing better stories, for not writing in a genre that sells better, for not being happier about my stories–you name it. The darkest side of depression is that a lot of people really dig deep into hating themselves, and they are way harsher than they’d be with anyone else. Guess what that accomplishes? They feel even worse. But I pulled through and now that’s behind me (well, most of it) and I’m much more enthusiastic about what I do and feel good about it. I’ve put myself through the emotional meat grinder, and now I need a little time with myself. You know, to pat myself on the back, forgive myself, hug myself, feel good about feeling better, maybe be a little proud I made it through moderately okay, things like that. I think that time’s really needed, and deserved. Right now there’s no space inside of me for anyone else, or their concerns. So while I would like to be there for others, reach out, connect, catch up… I can’t do that yet. Maybe in a day or two. Maybe next week. When I’m ready, I will be happy to. But not now.

Now, I need to be selfish, and get this fucking book out of my head before Bree is driving me insane!

Day 12 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 20,000
Actual words: 1,984
Overall words: 32,168

Slow  start for me today as I didn’t get much sleep. Ended up going to bed at 11pm like the good little writer that I am, but then couldn’t sleep. So I read a chapter in Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, seeing as the show caught up with my re-reading progress from… two years ago? Anyway, reminded me again why I love reading her books (because they are amazing) and why I stopped reading them at the time: because they screw with my writing voice. Not many books do, but I’ve had the same issue with Gale Carriger’s books. Brilliantly written, but maybe because the voices of the books are so different, something in me kind of starts imitating that. You know, you and I, we wouldn’t know each other if I didn’t spend the last 20 years of my life inhaling English language everything, and imitation creates perfection (or at least moderately entertaining genre fiction). Anyway, still couldn’t sleep so I got up at midnight and did an hour of going up and down my living room and kitchen, loud music blasting in my ears, in the dark, this time avoiding kicking either of my cats. It happens. At 1am or so I finally went to bed, and now I’m bleary eyed and only half awake.

Doing some extra plotting was good. Weekend writing went well (4k in 2 days) but not exceptionally well. I was having a bit of a stop-and-go with the conversations, had a change of heart about some details that I’d only recently thought of, so it was more noodling through the words than blasting through the chapters. It happens. Plus weekend, and I cherish the time I spend with my guy (until I go off in his face that I can’t stand his clingy omnipresence anymore, but hopping into the car and driving to the gym helps). He’s about 1/5 done reading the book and keeps telling me what he always tells me: “So far I like it!” Of course I love that he likes it (he insists he really digs my books and doesn’t read them as an obligation), but I think it’s obvious how feedback like that, across 7.2 books, can drive a writer insane.

I also spent 4 hours (I think) playing Skyrim, and then ended up so sick to my stomach that I had to spend an hour in bed. Yes, I get motion sickness from playing video games! And the IMAX 3D logo thingie. Thankfully no issues with the movies, but I needed about 2 weeks to get used to my mac when I got it. Damn you, retina display! Crappy low-resolution displays, like the one I have in my office to plug into my laptop, are so much more easy on the eye. And the stomach. So all that taken together meant I only wrote for two hours, and it draaaagged. But I will finish that scene today, and then… then the fun part begins! Well, the next fun part. This book was already a lot of fun to write in places. This is where you, as the reader, should start getting concerned.

Day 11 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 18,333
Actual words: 2,018
Overall words: 30,184

So, I usually type these posts on the mornings after the day, but for several reasons, the first half I do on Saturday evening; the rest is Sunday morning. As I write this, I haven’t actually written anything yet, and it’s already 8pm, about time I get some words done. What I have done today, besides catch up on TV, is swimming for two hours. Consecutive, and I wasn’t just paddling around. I really pushed myself, and then just kept on going… listening to podcasts, not some upbeat music that kept me going. That I went to the gym in itself is remarkably, been 4x this week so I really could have stayed home. But after last month’s downtime, I decided that I won’t be using the old “I’d rather work than work out” excuse, because I need to take care of myself first to be able to keep doing what I love. So I swam, for 2 hours, and felt really good about it. Only the second time I ever did this. Later realized that it might not have been the brightest idea when I wash shaking so hard that I almost couldn’t put on my underwear, and still had a 30 min drive home, though the rain, around the woods of Vienna, where a deer running across the street almost smashed into the car in front of me.

Anyway, why am I telling you this, except to brag (just a little bit. To some people I just want to say, hey, I look like a manatee, might as well swim like one, too!)? As I was driving, and musing my way through this blog post to come, I wanted to say something like, doing fine right now, which is awesome. You saw my mind in a bad place a few days ago, this is me doing better, yay! While really, I just wanted to write… so I figured I should add, see, this is “normal” for me, not the start of a hypomanic phase… when I’m so full of energy that I swim for two hours and feel like I could write through the night… yeah. You guessed it. Need a few more days like this but today was def. NOT a normal day! Plus, I feel amazing! Like, really, really good. I’m happy, shit that keeps going on around me doesn’t bother me (compared to my mind sinking into it to the point where it’s an endless cycle of misery and self-loathing. Today I’m like, nah, not going this, moving on, got bigger fish to fry!). I wish I should take a biochemical imprint of my mind from today, label it “preset awesome,” and reload it when I feel myself slipping once more. Because this? This, right now, is just… awesome. I know I overuse that word and it makes me sound way dumber than I am, but I feel awesome. I also feel like the book I’m writing is really good and you all will love it, I don’t care that it might have pacing issues… actually, I don’t think it has pacing issues. Because after how Affliction ended, I’m sure you want to know what happens 2 hours later. And the next day. And a week down the line. So what, I could cut the first 35k or 7 chapters and start the book the way I had intended it to, but really, I was writing those words when I was in my last super productive phase, they flowed, and when I did the first proofread, they didn’t drag. Who complains about an extra 100-140 pages (that are interesting. And awesome!) that you get with the rest of the book, for free? In KU more pages mean more money, so it’s not bad for me, on the contrary. And for the USD 3.99 that the book retails, I feel like you deserve a little extra without having to download the novella from my website. And OMG my mind is DEF. running in more than normal speed, which I feel because after 2 hours of swimming, my fingers are still a little weird and my back muscles def. hurt, so yay! Don’t care. Have fiction to write and people to kill. Soon.

Life is beautiful right now. And amazing. And I’m happy, which after the last weeks I really needed. I’m also happy because the book is progressing well, I’m taking care of myself and even feeding myself well, and we found a good solution for our next summer vacation after not being 100% happy with what we did the last 2 years. Was great, was mostly born out of me going from broke to not-so-broke-anymore, but it’s time for a change. Also slept for 8 hours last night, that was nice, even though I woke up with a killer headache. And while the ghost of my last depressive episode is still very fresh on my mind (and in my Bullet Journal. I even stopped doing a monthly tracker for my exercise because it was so depressing to go that almost completely blank. And my word count was abysmal. Yes, I don’t need to catalogue my mood to know I’ve had a few bad weeks, I can simply look at what has been going on.) After seeing the last dregs of that, welcome to the swing side of the insanity that my brain produces. And why so many people who are bipolar don’t want to take mood stabilizers. Depression is hell. And if that’s all you get, please, go get help, because nobody deserves to suffer like this. But what I’m on right now? I don’t want to lose this. I want to keep holding on to this all the time. In fact, everyone should have some of this, every single day in their amazing lives!! Getting a little concerned about the racing thoughts here, maybe I should lay off the Pepsi max, but I only have 1.5 bottles left so that will have taken care of itself by tomorrow. Very important I told you that, I’m sure your life is so much richer knowing this. Welcome to my brain on hypomania. I’m so glad I’m type 2, because full-blown mania really must be feeling like you’re going insane. I just feel really energetic, like a dog right before a walk, barking, jumping, running circles, ready to be OUT!! Time to get off the blog and into crushing that daily word count (while my guy starts reading the first 17 chapters of said book to let me know if I’m right in that the beginning is good, and this is not just my “I’m large than life awesome!” brain weirdness telling me shit again and making me incapable of judging what I write. Everyone should have an alpha reader like that, particularly if they can’t trust their own judgment half of the time.)

And now for the Sunday part:

(side note: Still feeling good, and didn’t get much sleep yet jumped out of bed at 7am. Seems like I’m all caught up on my sleep backlog.)

Because I’ve been promising it in the past and haven’t delivered it yet, and it came up in the facebook group: A few words about the process of writing a book. Grab some coffee or tea, this is going to be a longer post (writing it while doing some nice Sunday morning TV binging. Hey, I need to watch TV as it’s inspiring. Seriously. I know, best job in the world, right?)

Concept and outline: hours to decades
The very beginning of any story, and the part that’s the least precise. I’ve outlined stories in days, like the short story in the recent anthology. I’ve started writing on an epic fantasy story when I was 13 (up until graduating from high school), and I’m still turning that over and over in my head to one day be able to do it justice. Not sure I will ever get to that. Maybe once my backlist makes enough so I don’t need a release every few months to be able to pay the bills. There’s no rhyme or reason to this part of the process as it just happens in my mind. I’m always plotting one story or another up there. Brushing my teeth, waiting for the train (and often, the consecutive train ride as well), you name it. It’s the part that feels the most natural to me, and what’s impossible to explain, really. I do the most thinking of the recent project that I’m writing, but sometimes, I love to switch it up. Only takes me about an hour or so if I make bigger changes to rearrange an entire book. It happens!

Writing the book: 1-4 months, usually – 35-40%
This is the part you know I do, or I presume that’s the case, but the actual writing part takes up less than 50% of my time, with some light rewrites. That’s pretty much me spewing out words that should form a cohesive story. Transcribing the movie that I’ve built in my head and fine-tuned to the point where I can write it. Plus some additions, minus some points that are redundant. I write in a linear fashion, so if I change something, it usually affects only the parts not yet written.

Proofreading & editing: 25%
I write a moderately clean first draft, with maybe 1-5 things that need changing on each page. Some of the cleanup I do right in my Scrivener file, but I find more issues when I print it out, in 8 pt. font, 1.5 spaced, on paper, and then go over it with colored markers. Never red because that reminds me too much of school, I favor light blues, or recently, orange ink. I also proofread and edit on my iPad. Once the draft is cleaned up, it goes to my editor (two rounds) and beta readers. That part takes about a month. After all those rounds of making changes, I use the text-to-speech tool of my mac to read the entire book to me again. That’s painful, but is awesome for finding homonyms and things the reading mind, even in editing mode, skips over. All in all, I probably go through the text somewhere between six to ten times. That’s not that I’m more or less a pro, have deadlines, trust in my writing, and know what I’m doing. It used to be way worse. My first first novel had four entire drafts and three completely different versions. Now it’s usually one version with only very few variations.
I spend at least 2 weeks just editing, one after the draft is done, and one directly before publications. Least favorite part of the process. I try to do some of it while I’m still writing, just to make that a little more bearable.
Once the audiobook is ready, I need about 2-5 days to listen through it all so I can tell my narrator/producer if there are any changes to be made so I can approve it. Depending on how things are, that means an entire week.

Post-production, layout, stats, accounting: 10%
Books might look like just text, but really, you need to format them. You need a cover, and even if you don’t do that yourself, you spend hours going back and forth with your cover artist. You need to check your stats and track something, at the very least your expenses. All that can eat hours at a time, maybe even days. I’m running a business, I can’t just play all the time. It takes me a few hours to do the ebook formatting, about 3x as much for the paperback. I really like doing that, and usually watch YouTube on the side to keep my brain from powering down.

Marketing, social media, research: 20-25%
I don’t count hanging out with you guys on facebook in the group, or writing these blog posts. That’s my free time. I’m not a heavy marketer, but even so, there are things that need to be done. Even more so, I need to know what works for others, so I spend a substantial time listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and being active in writer forums. The podcasts I now listen to while I swim, so that was six hours this week. Usually it’s around 2-4 (I sometimes hop into the pool without wanting to be bothered by anything). Marketing needs to be tailored to each individual author, series, and book, so even if I get a good idea what someone else did, I still need to test, implement changes, crunch numbers, you name it. I spent over half a year learning how to self-publish before I uploaded my very first book to Amazon, and I still need to put hours into that process each month. You can’t just take a word file, slap on an MS Paint marquee cover, and expect it to sell.

Not giving up: what remains up to 100%
Not much, but sometimes, simply restraining your ambitions and not giving up when something doesn’t work out is work as well.

To sum this all up, I LOVE being a writer. I strongly believe it’s what I’m meant to do. I love this job, but in the end, it IS a job, not just a hobby or something I spend a lot of time with. I work somewhere between 50-70 hours a week, and that’s not counting a lot of extra stuff like reading books on craft, or doing story-related research. That’s kind of part of the writing process. I don’t do all of it every day; there are weeks where I just write, and do minimal other stuff, but accounting, stat tracking, and lining up promos is something I can’t really ignore for long or it will bite me in the ass. I now have systems that work for me, and I try to keep it all afloat so I don’t get bogged down in anything for long that isn’t writing. Like editing. Which I hate, with the vengeance of a thousand hells. But I won’t release a book that’s not the best it can be, and that takes time, so even with all the outside help I now get, I still need to put in those two weeks minimum. I refuse to be one of the writers that hurl out books that are “just good enough,” and accept a 10-20% docking in ratings for all the mistakes that could be avoided with a little more time spent weeding them out. Are there still errors in my books? Yes, and they drive me insane, but there’s no real way to get them all out. Also, I refuse to do lengthier rewrites of already published novels because you’ve read them. You might love exactly the part I’d cull down, and I never want to disappoint you like that. My time is better spent making the next book better than the ones that came before, so that’s what I do. I go back and correct typos if someone tells me about them, and I don’t forget. Which can be an issue sometimes, but I usually correct my master files the day I get a notice, and eventually, that shows up in the published versions as well.

I’m not telling you this to discourage you from becoming a writer yourself. Actually, now is a great time to be a writer, or start being one. A decade ago, all you could do was hope that an agent and publisher would take a chance on you, which always is a years-long process. Now you can teach yourself how to do all the many things you need to do to publish a book, work with freelancers to do the things you cannot do yourself (everyone needs an editor / proofreader. You cannot do a complete self-edit. At the very least, you need someone who tells you if your vision actually works, even if you managed to get the grammar perfect on your own. Which you likely won’t because the brain reads what it knows is there, not what you actually typed) and then release it into the world. All you need then is luck, and the right marketing tools so people will find your book. It doesn’t happen on its own, sadly, although Amazon helps a lot once the algos see that you try to grease them. Then it’s up to the readers to love it, share it, or ignore it. For a single book, all the extra work really isn’t worth it, but right now I have 14 books out there that have vastly different sale numbers but are doing a good job keeping me in business. I definitely plan on adding a shitton more in the next decades. Because this is what I love, and I’m blessed to be able to do it for a living, but it sure isn’t just a passion, or something I do when it strikes my fancy. It may not be a nine-ti-five job, but it requires that I do the work, put in the hours, and get shit done. Some weeks that’s more writing. Some weeks that’s trying to find out how to best position my books on the market and pull in new readers. Some weeks that’s creating brand new worlds in my head. It’s the ideal job for me because it allows me to schedule my own downtimes and work around things that I cannot exactly influence. There’s always something I can do, even if I can’t write. Because writing is only part of what I do, even if it’s the part I love the most. So if you see a writer spending a lot of time on social media, don’t tell them to quit because they should be writing. Chances are, they are hungering for all the human interaction they didn’t get because they just spent ten consecutive hours churning out words. Or they do it while they watch movies for research. Or to make sure their audience is happy and slobbering for the next book. Being a writer is more like a lifestyle than a job, really. Best thing in the world!

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