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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.

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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in Updates

 

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Penguins

I did an adorable piece of art this week.

Okay, maybe I’m talking myself up a little bit, but I really do love how this came out. I drew it in pen then scanned it, and colored it. It was inspired by the #kaseytheprompt challenge on Instagram. She has a huge book of prompts that she does and shows on youtube, then her fans make their own interpretation. Last week was penguin and shiny, so I drew two penguins star gazing.

I do love how all the colors blend, and the adorable penguins. I’m rather happy with this one. And of course there are posters up.

Truthfully, I wanted to do this on stream but it’s hard to do when I’m falling asleep every few minutes. Thankfully the smoke is clearing a bit, and they are taking me off the meds that might be contributing to my sleepiness while also keeping me breathing. We’ll see how next week goes.

I’ve also managed to keep writing, even if it isn’t as fast as I’d like. I have the cover art for book two done, and book three on its way. I’ll be able to do a reveal of all the covers soon. I’m also going to be contacting some people about edits really soon… I do need to have one more edit from myself to get all the numbers right before sending it to an editor, it’s just hard to edit when your mind keeps slipping. Smoke clearing though so I’ll be fine soon, I hope.

Till then I have a new piece of art and some more writing to do. This weeks prompt was unicorn and pirate 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in On Writing, Updates

 

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Free Books & Mid-Year Check In

First the free books:

Small Bites 1  – Three fantasy short stories.
Prophecy by Barlight – A comedic short story about self fulfilling prophecies.
Dark Angels – Four short stories about fallen angels.

I’m letting you know about them now because I’m taking all of my short stories out of KU and putting them up on other platforms. Now is your chance to grab them.

Now onto the rest of the post.

Every year I do a stats post to show what I’ve done and if I’ve improved or not. This year I’m also going to do a mid year check in. It’s a lot of stats and graphs, and chatting about writing so if you’re not interested in the numbers you might want to skip this one.

First, here are my weekly numbers for how much I’ve written. You’ll see the big spike at week 17. That’s the last week of April when I started writing my litRPG novel. Since then I’ve been writing more often, and more consistently. Plus I’m enjoying it again.

I’m going to admit it, writing last year was more of a struggle than it has been in a long time. This year I’ve written double every month, and in April when I decided to write something entirely different it changed completely. I started writing a lot, and looking forward to writing again. It was less of a struggle. And that, all on it’s own, showed me that I was on the right track.

But all the improvement I’ve done it hasn’t touched on 2015/2016. They were my best writing years so far. During that time I wrote the Witch’s Trilogy, and started my Half Blood Sorceress series. During 2017 I finished the first Half Blood Sorceress novel, and published a few short stories…but it was a struggle.

This year I started with book two in the Half Blood Sorceress series, and shifted to the litRPG. That shift has been a breath of fresh air. I even feel like I can go back to book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series to complete it. And that’s what I would like to do over the rest of this year, and next year…Finish more of the things!

I’ve got a few short stories I want to finish and publish, but I really want to focus on the novels. I have two first in series out and the second in each of those series is just sitting on my computer. Waiting. So it’s time I change that.

Anyway, if you made it this far thank you for reading. I guess the moral of the story is follow your passions, they might lead you somewhere good. And if you’re stuck try something new, even if it’s just for a little while before going back to the original thing. It might get you unstuck.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2018 in On Writing

 

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NaNoWriMo 2017 Aftermath

It is December first, and NaNoWriMo is over. Now we are all celebrating our victories, or licking our wounds. I am doing both.

For the second time in nine years I’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but boy did I come close. 4365 words from my goal, and I just could not go on. My brain, and my fingers, just gave out. I had been pushing all day long, and I managed to write 7284 words in one day, but I just couldn’t get those last four thousand words.

This was an incredible month, and I learned more about myself, and my novel, than I would have any other time. I threw away chapters, and rewrote a whole synopsis. I got stuck on the novel and went over to write some short stories for the day. I gave up on the original idea I thought I’d write because it just didn’t work. And I got that much closer to finishing book two and three of the new series.

Why did I fail? Well, I had a slow start. I fell into my stride about half way through the month, and finally found what I needed to say. That drove the story forward, and the words piled up. Had I found that story, and my perseverance, a couple weeks sooner I wouldn’t have had that epic writing day at the end.

However, that day writing 7k words was pretty exciting. That shows me that it’s possible, and if I keep pushing myself, and my endurance, some day I might be able to do writing days like that regularly.

I can make excuses about being distracted by life, children getting the flu, and feeling down the first week of this month, but ultimately they are all excuses. The truth is we all have those things happen. Life is not fair, life does not care if you’re trying to write every night. It simply is, and sometimes you have a bad day and you have to write anyway.

So I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, and you, and show exactly why I failed this years writing challenge.

First, for me I know that if I don’t write for a few days it is really difficult for me to keep writing. If I take a week off it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. If something stressful is going on it’s that much worse.

So here is a chart showing how many words I’ve written every year for the last five years.

I have one month left in 2017, and I am 83,000 words behind my worst year out of the last five. And 48,000 of those words were written in one month. THAT, dear reader, is why I lost NaNoWriMo. Not because the kids were sick and we had to take them to the hospital. Not because I lost the story. Not because I had a couple bad days, or didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because I haven’t written that much this year anyway.

It’s not easy to look at this chart. Writing has been an incredibly important thing for me for as long as I can remember, and it’s upsetting to see how little care I put into my writing this year. Yes, I’ve written 65,000 words just on my new series, but that’s half as much as I wrote on the Witch’s Curse books each year when I was working to get them finished. And the question is why? Why did I give up? Why didn’t I push myself? Why did I choose video games over writing? Or a movie? Or a craft?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot these days. What do I want out of my life? Out of day job? Out of my writing? And I think that’s why I’ve been writing less. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to focus on, because I wasn’t sure if it could get me the one thing I wanted more than anything.

Gregg, my boyfriend, started his own business this year. He works harder than ever, but he’s happier then he’s ever been. And he’s his own boss. No one to be accountable to accept himself (and maybe his audience) and….well no management to look over his shoulder, count the beans, and make sure he’s “doing his job right.” He’s accountable to himself, his art, and fans he’s gathering. And he’s so happy!

That’s what I want for myself, I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Writing seems to be the thing that I’m best at, but I’m still pretty horrible at marketing. I know that because I’ve tried a LOT of marketing this year with maybe okay results. But we live, we learn, and we try something new, right?

The world is a strange place. We have adages like “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and “fake it till you make it” but no one tells you that someone has to weed the yard. Someone has to fix the plumbing. Someone has to pick up the trash. They probably didn’t want that for their life’s work either, but there they are. Supporting their family and doing a job so they can have a home, and set the table every night. But when you believe those adages and you aren’t doing what you love as a job you start to feel like you’re not good enough. And so here I was, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Wondering if I should just give up and let writing be a hobby, like video games or crafts, instead of just working my butt of for the next novel, and trying to make a living on it.

And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make enough so that I can stop working for someone else. I don’t know if I will ever get a book out that strikes a cord with readers. I don’t know…if I’m good enough. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love to write, and I’m going to keep doing it.

So, this NaNoWriMo I learned to stop wallowing in my own self pity, and wondering what if, and just enjoy writing the story again.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow. Today was a day for reflection.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min- Publishing

It’s been a wild ride this year. I’m getting ready to publish my fourth real book. When I say “real” I just mean that it has more than 50k words in it and qualifies as a full novel. Most of the books I have up are short stories and novellas with the three main books that are full novels.

But I looked today and I have actually published 40 short stories. Not all separately, some are in anthologies. But, dang, that’s a lot of short stories.

Trying to figure out what I should be doing with those short stories. They don’t sell a lot of copies, but I give them away a lot. I get some reviews, and a lot of comments from people that read them. I am considering giving them away as a Patreon reward, or a reward for subscribers to my newsletters. Or both, maybe?

It’s the little things, though. Setting up the publishing details. Starting to do the print book set up. Considering where/how I might advertise it when I finally get it done. But! it’s at the editors now and I’m all set to go from here.

Of all 46 stories I’ve written over the years, and publishing so many books, I am so happy that I’ve continued on this journey. It isn’t always easy, it’s a lot of time, energy, and sometimes tears getting out all of those words. But the stories are worth it. Having the books on my shelf, or having something to show to others, or even the audio books, are all worth the trouble it took to get here.

And that’s my five.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min – Word Counts

It’s August, and I thought it was time to take a look at my writing for the year. It’s easier now, right after I’ve finished a big writing project, (YAY, completed book one in Half Blood Sorceress Series) to look back and see what I’ve been doing.

I keep stats of every days writing, and I keep track of actual story word count separate from things like blogs, newsletters, and other writing media that I do. I don’t keep track of every word I write, because I love social media, but I do keep track of things that matter to me.

So how does this year stack up to previous years? Well, it’s now the 8th month of the year and I have only written 50,000 words. For the past four years I have written about 230k each year, which includes the NaNoWriMo 50k write in Nov. So if I manage to get through NaNo this year I’ll be a lot closer to my usual yearly goal, but still much farther behind then usual.

Why did this happen?

If we take a look at my monthly word count for just this year we see that I started okay in January, then in February everything went down hill, and didn’t pick up again till July. That’s because I was going through a bunch of changes at the end of last year, beginning of this year. Mostly moving to a much more involved, and stress filled job. I couldn’t write at work like I use to and had to make sure I took time out at home to actually write. I also had to make sure I made time with Gregg, who now works from home.

Overall, it feels like I’ve finally sorted that all out, and I’m able to work on my next novel with a bit more confidence, but still, I shouldn’t take my writing for granted.

And that’s my five.

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min – The goal is right there!

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I just finished editing a few more chapters of Dragons’s Flame. That leaves one more chapter, and the epilogue, to finish. Once I’m done I can send it off to the editor. I almost finished it tonight, almost, but when I started editing the final chapter my brain started rebelling.

Writing is so much different than editing. For writing it’s often helpful to be slightly tired because then it’s easier to let go of that editor trying to fix things all the time, and just write. Sometimes I write my best words while slightly tired at the end of the night. Other times I write the worst. I think it depends on how sleepy I am. Just slightly sleepy with a cup of coffee, great. Ready to fall over on the keyboard? Not so much.

I’m so happy with how the novel has come out. It is currently 49,500 words long. After editing this last chapter I’m pretty sure it will be 50k. That’s perfect. I wasn’t trying to hit that number, but it is a nice number in instead. And the second book is already 40k words long and only about half finished so it will likely be longer. That’s about how the Witch’s Trilogy worked out as well.

Last month, and this month so far, has been the best writing months I’ve had all year. I think this five minute writing page has helped a lot. It’s gotten me to get out of my head, and get onto the paper. It’s also been very good at getting me to write instead of just thinking about writing.

But that’s my five.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in On Writing

 

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