Looking Back at 2018 Writing

Every January I do a new years post and look back on the year before. The highs, the lows, and the what I learned from it all. This year was interesting with fires, a job that took a lot of my time, and a brand new series that is going well.

First, I published three books in 2018. Ghostly Intentions in March, The Costume Shop in October, and Steel Soul in November. I meant to publish Steel Heart in December but ended up a little behind and instead it will be out this month. All in all not a bad year for publishing.

Writing was a different story.

February was the worst month with only 6700 words written. I honestly don’t know why February was so dismal. I do know that was toward the end of the “back to back calls every day” at work that went on for months and that may have had a lot to do with it. When I got home after those days I just didn’t want anything to do with words at all, ever. Still, I managed to finish, edit, and publish Ghostly Intentions in March, and I’m not sure how.

In April things started to look up. In fact that was when I found a lot of litRPG on amazon and started devouring it. I read so much of it that I had to write down my own story and on April 20th I made my first venture on a new series. On the last week of the month I wrote more than 3200 words in this new genre and had the basis for the new series.

In May I continued with the new litRPG and started to put aside Dragon’s Blood for the new series. The words were coming fast, and furiously, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was so excited to get home and write every night! From April till August I kept working on it, loving every moment, and fleshing out the first three books along with the world.

But the streak couldn’t last and in August my health took a nose dive. Or rather the air quality did. Fires that covered much of the west coast filled the air with smoke, and my asthma made it difficult to breath or think. I managed to find ways to mitigate the damage, and I still put out more words in August then I thought possible. But after the fires cleared I had to go back to work. September also was the month I started working on book three in the series, and this book was not as solid as the first two had been. That meant I got lost several times, back tracked, rewrote, re-plotted, and eventually decided it was best to go clean up the other stories first before pushing forward on book three. So in October I worked on editing book 1, thus I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo, but I did publish book 1 in my series in November. This lack of NaNoWriMo word count is what made 2018 my worst year for getting word counts in. Then November and December I mainly worked on finishing and editing book two so that it is nearly ready to be published which also were low word count days.

Also, average word count (on days I wrote) for the time I was working on the LitRPG was over 500 a day. On days I worked on anything else it was 2-300 a day. I attribute this more to being passionate about the project than anything else because I saw similar trends when I was working on other stories I was passionate about.

What I’ve learned

Editing is slower than writing. It’s also a necessary part of writing, and it takes a different skill than just putting down the words. I would prefer to have someone else do it forever, but that isn’t an option all the time so it is probably time to figure out how to make writing and editing something I do every day, and get them working together.

LitRPG is my favorite genre ever. Games meets books, how could I not love it? I plan I writing some more litRPG this year, but I also want to finish my Half-Blood Sorceress series too.

My health is important. So important that I have been working harder to exercise, eat better, and take mental health breaks when I need them. I have also had more health problems this year between acute asthma and allergies, to a strained back muscle, and just general colds and flues. Nothing I couldn’t deal with (though at times it felt like I was going to die) but definitely something to be mindful of. Exercise is the biggest thing and I’ve been working harder at adding that into my daily routine because I only have one body, and the older I get the harder it is to move it around.

2019 and beyond!

So what’s for next year? Well there’s the move to Texas, and the opportunity to write full time. I’m not taking this lightly. I am already updating my YouTube channel, adding videos, planning a stream schedule, and scanning in all my art work. This is for the artistic and gaming side. For my writing I am reaching out to people I know to get information on the best steps to take, letting my newsletter know there will be more news, and trying to branch out a little bit. It’s going to be a huge learning curve, but this is important. For my health both mentally and physically, and because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I never really gave it a shot. I need to try to make this work, and put my whole heart into it, or I will always wonder “what if.” I don’t want to do that.

So look forward to hearing from me a lot more in 2019.

#NaNoWriMo Fail

I am not winning NaNoWriMo this year. I guess I didn’t even really enter it. This is the first time in years that I haven’t even tried to do NaNoWriMo.

Even though I am not doing NaNo this year I’m still being productive. I’m finishing the last little bit of book two, and three for my litRPG series. I also took the first week of November to finish edits on book one, and publish it. It’s precisely because I’m doing all the edits right now that I am not participating. Edits take longer, and make fewer words,but are still incredibly important to get a book out. And I want book two or before Christmas!

But maybe I can have my own NaNo in January or something. We will see. First: Let’s get these books out!

Covers, all the covers!

 

I am expecting edits back soon for the first book in the new novels, and I’m tweeking the covers a little, but I have a finished draft.

I am so excited for this series. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, and I’m really happy with how it’s come out. I’m sure that the edits will make things shine! Plus book three is already half finished so I’m pretty confident it will be out in December.

Steel Soul: Jupiter and Cas log into the nerve gear for the first time and take on their first quest, rescuing the mayor. But things aren’t quite what they seem!

Steel Heart: The roads aren’t safe, and there’s more than in-game death at stake.

Steel Line: The Hub… and that’s the only hint you’re getting for that one till December. 😉

For the covers, the figures were all designed by Abi Grey. I did the backgrounds and typography.

Really, I can’t wait to get them out there. It’s going to be a lot of work once I get the edits back, but so worth it.

New books?

It sometimes feels like forever since I’ve had a new book out… even if it’s only been a few months. But….I have a new book out now!

 Costume Shop is available for pre-order, and released on the 12th of October.  This is a fun little story that is written a little like an RL Stein book, and would be considered young adult. Just in time for Halloween, too. You’ll also notice I’m releasing it as C.L. Moss instead of Crissy Moss. It’s a slightly different tone than my other books so I wanted to make sure it was a little separated.

Also, Dragon’s Flame is free his weekend. Now is your chance to grab it. If you enjoy it I would really appreciate a review.
This fantasy novel is the first in a series. Book two should be out sometime the beginning of 2019 (which isn’t far away. Boy does time fly.)

I will also be putting out a new coloring book called “Little Beasties” before the end of the month, just in time for the holidays.

The next book I’m sending to the editor is the litRPG series. Keep looking for them later this year.

FINISHED! Book 2 done!

I just finished the first draft of Steel Heart, book two in my litRPG series.

I finished the first book, Steel Soul, in June, and the second book today. That’s two months of writing. I’m getting a little faster.

Both books would be in the novella category at the moment, about 100 pages I think. Each is a full story on its own, but part of a bigger story. I’m going to go over them one more time, add in some details, some foreshadowing, and other plot things that I can add now (since I haven’t published them yet) which will add a few thousand more words to them both. I expect they will both still fall in the novella range, but I’m okay with that. A story should be as long as a story wants to be, and each of theses has a definite end point.

I’ve already started book three, which I might be calling “Steel Trap”, I haven’t decided yet. I also know this isn’t the final episode in the story. They are finally going to meet someone pulling all the strings, but it won’t be the end of the matter by any means. In fact…the game might start falling out into the real world. We’ll have to see. I’m still discovering the plot as I go as well.

Also, I wanted to let you know that The Ring is free this weekend. I won’t be putting short stories, or any litRPG into KU anymore, I’ll be taking them wide, so this will be he last time this particular story is available for free for a while. I will probably make a few of my short stories perma-free just because it might a few more eyes on my books, but for now I’m just writing more, and saving releasing them all at the end of the year. Look for that!

Currently ready to be edited:
Steel Soul
Steel Heart
Costume Shop

Working on:
Half Blood Sorceress book 2
Steel Trap

If I can get everything done….I’m working on it! I know that Costume Shop needs to come out on October 1st since it’s a Halloween story. I would like to release a book a month every month after that. I’ve got three so far!

Potions and Rings

I’m slowly pulling all of my short stories out of KU. I have a few reasons for that. First, the people using KU seem to like my novels more than my short stories. The biggest reason I used KU was for the free days so that I could advertise the free books and sometimes people would also pick up my other books. Secondly, I am getting closer to releasing my litRPG books. I think I’m going to be going wide with those books because it makes more sense, and I’m also worried about all the authors who have been having their accounts banned for “out of the ordinary activity.” I’d rather just not have that problem, and since it seems to be hitting litRPG authors the hardest I’m not willing to risk it with a brand new series, especially one I love this much.

Maybe I’m being a little paranoid, but that’s okay. The lovely thing about self publishing is that I can change my mind later down the road and try something different.

So, for now, I am using up all the free days available for my short stories. Here they are for this weekend:

The Ring: Illicit Gains Book 2
Potion Shop

Steeling my soul!

It’s been a few days. I finished book one (Steel Soul, here’s a first chapter) and I’m off and running on book two. I’m currently on chapter five right now, and working my way up to the big fight. I can already tell this book is going to be twice as long as the first, which is great because the first book was pretty short for a novel.

What I love? I’m developing the game world a lot more, creating new characters, and also developing how this game works with other games on that timeline. In this futuristic world setting all of the game worlds are centered around one hub and you can move between worlds. I can’t wait to get to explore some of the others. A world in which you can eat as much delicious food as you want and never gain a pound because it’s all virtual? A world of steam punk and gears? A world of futuristic super heroes and tech? Yes, all of them and more!

But FIRST they have to survive their encounter with a not so happy hacker who might want to make their offline life a little worse.

Something New

This week has been a journey of new things. I tried doing a few things that I’ve never done before.

I finally finished Ghostly Intentions! It is out right now. You can pick it up on amazon.

Yes, I’ve published books before, but this is my first ghost story.

 

It is a ghost story with a fantasy twist. Magic, a haunted mansion, and a creature that no one should go looking for.

 

 

 

I’ve also made some enamel pins. They are adorable, and I love them. And I’m selling them. I also started designing some fabrics, and they are also available for sale. I only have three patterns up at the moment, but more will come as I do more.

 

 

Create Space vs KDP Print

Yesterday I did something I’ve only dreamed of. I put up a print version of a book, hit publish, and ordered copies to be delivered to my door two days later. Two days from pressing publish to getting a book in my hand. That’s amazing….if it works.

I’ve been using CreateSpace for putting out print books for a while now. I’ve gotten to the point that I can format and compile a print book in a day or two. Once the actual print files (a pdf for the inside, and a wrap around cover for the outside) are created it takes a little tweeking, rearranging, and setting up to get them all compiled into a print file on CreateSpace. If you have a little practice this might take a few hours. For me, getting the cover exactly right was always the hardest part. Stretching it here, adjusting it there, and heaven forbid if I had to add a few pages in after hitting compile.

But it worked. CreateSpace also did something I loved. It let me order a proof for my boyfriend to put on his shelf. And it let me order printed books at cost so that I could give them away, resell them, or take them to signings.

When KDP print came out I decided to try it. The first thing on the front page when starting a print book was “you can not get printed proofs or at cost copies if you continue,” so I stopped and did the book in CreateSpace.

A few weeks ago I tried again because I had gotten an email from KDP saying proof copies and wholesale priced books were now available. I took the opportunity to create my first KDP print book.

The process was simple. All of the information from my KDP kindle edition was already linked to the book so I just had to choose a size, upload the file, and add a cover. The cover creator was the second change. It did not have all of the choices of the original CreateSpace, but it did have a very simple wrap style that allowed me to add an image to the front, and the back, and leave the spine a solid color. I chose to put an image on the front, and leave the spine and back black for this first edition. It will be easy enough to update that later on if I decide to.

KDP print has the same on screen proofing process as CreateSpace. If you know what you’re looking for you probably won’t even need a physical proof to fix things. I found a few errors and was able to fix them and reupload the inside file quickly. I did not have to change the inside drastically to update it, but it was a quick process of uploading the new file and just a minute before I could review it again. Once reviewed you can choose to order a print proof, or publish.

I did both. First, I wanted to experience the print proof process because this was a new thing. I also wanted to see the quality of the proofs. And I love supporting my boyfriend and his weird desire to have a proof of all my books (though it’s kind of cool to see old designs verses new designs of books, and my improvement.) I ordered a proof, then went back in and approved the book for publishing.

This is where the waiting happens. Generally with CreateSpace you push through the book then it tells you that it will be approved within a couple of days. Usually it takes a two to three days for CreateSpace to get back to me. Occasionally it has been 24 hours later. With KDP print it was just a few hours before they approved it. I assume this is because it’s still newer, and not as many people are publishing through there, but it was absolutely amazing to be able to publish a print book and order that same book before I went to bed!

The ordering process for KDP is where the biggest change is. With CreateSpace all you do is place an order, and it puts any orders into a shopping basket right inside CreateSpace. With KDP print orders you are taken back to the Amazon ordering site, and you order books directly from Amazon at the print only fee. You also can’t use your Amazon prime for these orders, which is expected. You’re getting your books at cost, so Amazon would be paying you to get books from them if they didn’t charge you shipping.

I did order a proof for my boyfriends shelf, and I ordered a stack of print copies for the table I will have at RadCon. I’m a bit nervous about ordering so many books sight unseen, but I am pretty confident it will arrive intact.

I’m very curious to see the books in person. I expect it will be the same quality of book since I’m ordering it from the same company, jut a different branch of it. Still, I’m surprised to see just how well I know the specifications of a print book, and what it should look like.

Anyway, this was not a five minute writing session, this was a lot longer than five minutes. If you have any questions please let me know, I am sure I didn’t answer everything here.

But that’s HARD!

I recently got an email from a young writer (young in her writing, I have no idea her actual age) and she described her writing to me in the same way I would describe mine. I write until I come to a hard part, jot down a little note, then skip to the next easy part to write. Anyone who is just trying to get their words down for the day has probably done this, or skipped that spot of dialog that didn’t quite work, or put down “battle scene with hero as the winner” or some such. I do this a lot for battle scenes because it takes me a while to puzzle through the moves to make it right.

The problem becomes, and this is me talking more about myself than anyone else because this is where I am in my writing… eventually you have to finish something or you have to admit this is just a project novel. Like that project car your dad had in the garage when you grew up. He kept it to tinker on, and play with, but never really got around to finishing it.

So here I am, 40, with hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in my idea journal, half written novels and partially written short stories, and only a small fraction of them finished. I keep putting aside the hard parts because… it’s HARD!

And damn right it’s hard. It’s hard because you’re writing something that is actually worth reading. Something with detail, and heart, meant to move people and get them to read. If it was easy then everyone would do it. If it was easy then there would be no value in it, but a book on a shelf has a value. People buy it and read it, then take their time to review it. If you expect people to spend time and money on your words then it should be good.

But there is good, and there is perfectionist. Finding that balancing point where you can actually finish stories, and get them out there in good order vrs tinkering on the story for years…that’s the edge that you walk.

Sometimes I do have to walk away from a story. Maybe it doesn’t work, or something isn’t quite fitting together right, so I put the story away and I work on something else. I’ve been working like this for years, and I have over a million words banked in my folders, waiting to be finished. (Here’s a picture, but this is not ALL of the stories I have started. The blue are published short stories and novels. Pink are finished, but not published. The rest plots, or started stories, but never finished.)

I have a whole shelf filled with tinker stories. I add a few words here and there, I might even binge through a few chapters on a novel, but finishing one isn’t easy. There’s always that point where it’s just hard, and I skip it.

I need to stop skipping it. I need to write down why it’s so hard and get my head back into the game. Last year was my worst word count in almost five years. That’s not acceptable, and neither is never finishing another novel.

So here’s to the hard parts! *Cheers!*