Sunday, October 19, 2014

Time Management

So here's the thing: I should be able to tell you a lot about how to manage your time, but I'm pretty sure I'm not really an expert.

I'd like to claim that I am, but the truth of the matter is, I work 30 to 40 hours a week on my day job, I work 30 to 55 hours a week on my writing career, depending on the week. Some of that is networking, doing the online presence thing and working on series proposals, but most of it is writing.

Next month is NaNoWriMo. On the incredibly slim chance you don't know what that means, it's National Novel Writing Month (or some close approximation thereof). It's a neat challenge. A great concept and one I endorse wholeheartedly. Why? Because you're supposed to write 50,000 words in a month. That's a hefty goal. A respectable sum of words.

I've already stated that my goal for November is 95,000 words on the next novel project. That doesn't include articles for Word-Whores, reviews, the occasional rant on genrefied  or anything I might get written for my website. Those others are extras.

I don't set that sort of goal because I want to, per se, but because it is a necessary evil. I have a lot of projects that I'm spinning and I want to sell them. I also have another novel due at the end of the year and I have only barely broken 15,000 words on it. My plan is to make this a big beast, probably close top 150,000 words, because that's what the publisher wants. I have three different proposals out there that will, hopefully, bear fruit. They didn't write themselves. I still have at least one more short story (10,000 words) that I'd like to finish before the end of the year, and I have the weekly essays here, and I have several projects that I'm still toying with.

Listen, the largest novel I've ever done was 340,000 words. I wrote that in a year, between other paying writing gigs and the day job. Since I started writing I've and a day job. I like having a stead income and I love having benefits. Maybe someday I'll get that deal that allows me to break orbit and head into the heavens but for now I'm still working on staying in the air. My fastest novel as I am fairly certain I have pointed out here before, was around 128,000 words and written in a three week span of time. That included three edits (with assistance on the editing part)

How do I do it?

I write. Every day. At least a few hours. The ONLY exception is when I'm at a convention and even then I have been known to get a little work done. It's a necessary evil.

Today I worked an eight hour shift. I opened the coffee shop I work in. Last knight I closed it. Somewhere between the two I got a good, solid four hours of sleep. When I'm done with this article it's crash and burn time and I'll have cleared just at 3,500 words for the day. Not a great day, not a lousy one. But it'll do.

How do I manage my time? I sit the hell down and I write. I'm a widower. I have spare time. Before, when I was married, I managed it anyway. I still got in around the same word count per day (between 2,500 and 4,000 per day) and I still managed to spend some time with my wife, and I did the day job. I might have gone on three hours of sleep a few times (okay, more than a few) but I managed it.

I could have survived writing less, but I wouldn't have been pleased about it.

My goal for November is 95,000 words. I also have World Fantasy to attend in the first week of November. Like I said, not likely to get much writing done on that trip. One way or another, I intend to achieve my goal. If I have to sacrifice a little sleep or give up a little of my social time to make it happen I will.

It's what I do.

James A. Moore

Increasing Word Count and Training for #NaNoWriMo

This seemed like an appropriate photo for the topic of the new week - Managing Your Time: If You've a Deadline, You've a Schedule. How Do You Get Back On Track When Your Schedule Goes To Crap?

I'm in this place right now, getting back on track on a number of levels. My schedule didn't really go to crap. But I did take a huge step back in September and now, it's turned out, a good portion of October. It's been deliberate in some ways and very likely much needed. Also weird.

See, in August I wrote 68,050. The most I've ever done in one month. It was a lot for me. More, that followed a straight run since the previous August when I wrote at least 41,000 words every month. In 2013 I wrote just over 497,000 words and so far for 2014, I've written 455,000. To do the math for you, that means I'll likely have somewhere around 550,000 by December 31.

Once I get back on track, that is.

Because, in September, I only wrote 22,402. So far, for October I have 16,831. These are my two lowest word count months since May of 2013. I haven't been doing nothing, precisely. I edited the novel that comes out in January, Under His Touch - developmental edits up through proofreading - and developmental edits on The Talon of the Hawk, which took a lot of focus, though a minimal additional word count. I worked up a proposal for three more Twelve Kingdoms books and started the first in the concept for another contemporary romance series. There's been a lot of promo with the release of Rogue's Paradise in September and preparing for The Tears of the Rose in November.

But I haven't been doing much drafting. Which takes a whole other muscle.

Speaking of muscles, I was also sick in September. Some kind of low-level respiratory crud that nevertheless laid me low for several weeks. I got behind in exercising, too. Though managed to use the treadmill desk some every day, if only to keep my lymph flowing, I couldn't run or lift weights. The treadmill served as a cat bed more than it moved. All of this was by way of necessary recovery. I truly believe that. I don't have another book deadline until March 1. I haven't gotten sick in a long time. It worked out okay for this to be my down time.

However, it's now time to ramp up again and the question, the focus of our topic this week, is how do I do that?

I take my own advice. The sort I had the opportunity to hand out a couple of weeks ago when Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, visited our local chapter meeting, something I mentioned in last week's post, too. One gal asked if Chris had advice on how to get going on writing those 1,667 words/day to make the 50K words/month that's the NaNoWriMo goal. He said he didn't so I offered mine. I told her that the temptation is to do the math exactly that way - to divide 50K by the 30 days of November and focus on achieving 1,667 words for each of those days. The problem with that approach is that writing that many words on the first day is akin to learning to run a marathon by going out and running ten miles right off the bat.

Yeah, you can probably do it, but you'll feel the pain later.

In fact, you might be able to do it for a couple/three/four days - and then the crash occurs. Like my recovery time recently, it's a natural sequel to going flat out.

Better, I told her, to treat it like that marathon training. Build up a little more every day. Stop before you're tired, because that energy will translate to the next day. Consider setting up a schedule for NaNoWriMo like this:

1 100
2 200
3 300
4 400
5 500
6 750
7 1000
8 1250
9 1500
10 1750
11 2000
12 2000
13 2000
14 2000
15 2000
16 2100
17 2100
18 2100
19 2100
20 2100
21 2100
22 2200
23 2200
24 2200
25 2200
26 2200
27 2200
28 2200
29 2200
30 2200

By the end of November 30, you'd have 50,150 words. Best of all, by the time you've got yourself doing 2,200 words a day, it will feel very easy and natural. Because you'd be in shape for it.

This is what I need to do, to get myself back in shape. I've gotten back into running and weight-lifting, working my way back up to my previous levels. I'm tracking my treadmill desk miles, making sure I do a little more each week. I need to get back into drafting, but not to 2,200 words/day. Not right off, tempting as that is. I'm going to ramp up like this. Get the words flowing.

Back on track.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Am I Online? Let Me Count the Ways

When I sold my first book to Carina Press in Summer 2011, I had no online presence at all, hard as that is to believe nowadays. I did blog weekly behind a firewall at the day job but that doesn't count much in the general scheme of things.

So as soon as I became an about-to-be-published author I established my blog. It's a simple Wordpress site, not even a web page, but I'm not very tech-y so it had to be something I could handle. My first post in September 2011 was "Why Egypt?", attempting to explain my fascination with all things ancient Egyptian. This was in honor of the fact that Priestess of the Nile was to be my first published work. I blog 2-3 times a week, usually about things that interest me or that happen to me - also magazine quizzes (I love to take those), reviews of old movies, a Wednesday Whimsy feature where I'm currently showcasing my collection of 1880's Victorian trade cards, which can get very whimsical...guest posts, my own books occasionally....I do the Weekend Writing Warriors eight sentence excerpt blog hop every Sunday...I almost never write about matters of craft.

I save that for here, on Saturdays! I also blog about once every 45 days on Here Be Magic, and once a month on Paranormal Romantics...

I write the SciFi Encounters column for the USA Today Happily Ever After Blog, every other Thursday and specials maybe once or twice a month. Despite the column's title, I also cover Fantasy and Paranormal (a tiny bit).

TWITTER! After my blog, that's my number one favorite online social media. I LOVE twitter. I'm @vscotttheauthor Yes, with three T's. Unfortunately when I joined twitter, the other iterations of Veronica Scott were taken and I was trying to make it clear I was the author, not the fashion designer or the TV reporter. I use Tweetdeck to keep up with the twitter timeline and Tweetbot on my smartphone.
Victorian Trade Card
tweeted over 66,000 times....who knew I'd enjoy it so much? It's like one big conversation to me and I enjoy talking to people. I occasionally tweet promo for my books as one does, but I also curate content, retweeting all kinds of things I think some segment of my quite diverse Followers might enjoy. And I just plain converse. Snark and sarcasm extra, when called for.

Here was my first ever tweet: Should be working on new novel but wanted to get going on Twitter today, no more procrastinating!

OK, I'm on Facebook but it's not my natural habitat the way twitter seems to be. I came to it late, not until 2011, and thanks to some very good friends, I've kind of gotten the hang of it and I try to Share and Post daily. I find I do enjoy keeping up with people this way and my wonderful aunt and uncle in Florida were delighted to find they could now include me in family news. (We have a big, sprawling, Irish family.)

I'm on Goodreads but still learning the ropes and trying to be very respectful. I've recently joined two really terrific groups and I'm starting to feel a bit more at home there. (And by the way I did NOT write the book Indonesian Betrayal, which somehow shows up on my profile. That's another Veronica Scott, who I'm sure is a lovely person but not me.)

I don't do Tumblr, Pinterest or anything else. Although I love looking at the Tumblr photos my fellow Word Whore Jeffe Kennedy collects! Usually NSFW but oh so tasty....I was deathly afraid that both of these would become huge time sinks for me if I started pinning and posting, and I already spend wayyyy too much time on twitter, versus working on my novels.

I did join Google+, about one day before it was announced that Google wasn't investing any more effort or energy in the tool. Great timing on my part, yes? (I think they've said since that they are still planning great things for it but I sure haven't seen any evidence. Still, I keep adding people to my Circles and sending my blog posts to  it, just in case.) I also send my blog posts and book news to LinkedIn but that's another "it can't hurt, right?" thing.

So there you have it, my online presence in a large nutshell! Hope to see you there...or here....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adrenaline, Online Presence, and Invisibility

This will be short and to the point because FINALLY the boat is back in the water - all repairs completed. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did, and kept us on dry land days past our original splash date. But it's all over, now. We hit the ground running at 5AM. The boat was in the water at 10:30 this morning. My father and I have been on the water since, delivering the boat back to its regular slip. Add in two solid adrenaline rushes while I did things with that boat I'd (A) never done before and (B) had no idea I could do and you may understand that my brain is oozing out my ears. Maybe you've hear that the most exciting parts of flying an airplane are landing and taking off. In boating, the most terrifying parts are getting off the dock and then putting the boat back on the dock (without killing anyone or sinking anything). So. I'm pretty much toasted. But I can tell you about my online presence, such as it is.

Website: There are really none of the following save the author website that I think are critical - and I know a couple of authors who laugh at even that. They have no website at all. Their argument is that if you're looking for information on them, they want you to find their books, not them. Shrug. Dunno. I have a website.

Blogging: I have three. Word-whores, Darker Temptations, and my much neglected personal blog. I tried working both on Blogger and on Wordpress. One person swore that Wordpress made it much easier for you to be discovered - or to go viral, however, I saw no real difference between the two. Thus the Wordpress blog will be closed out and the content there will be moved over to the longer running Blogger site.

Twitter: I am on Twitter where I listen more than I speak. I find my snark is strongest on Twitter and I have to rein that in. It's way too easy for that to come off as mean. Do Not Want. So I listen until I have a ridiculous day that begs for quick shots into the great dark expanse of the interwebs - mostly about the boat or the cats.

Facebook: I have an author page and my regular page. FB has done their best to make FB utterly useless and irrelevant in the recent past. Not that I'm bitter. Author pages are no longer visible to your followers unless you pay FB's extortion - ehem - page promotion fees. Thus, I've asked anyone who liked my author page to friend me on my regular page, assuming they can handle the cat photos and geeky silliness I post there. I'm nowhere near my friend limit and at least the few book updates I post have a shot of showing up on someone's feed.

Tumblr: Lurvs Tumblr. Most of my reblogging is science, artwork, fashion I will never get to wear, and assorted stuff that tickles me. This is the least 'branded' thing I do. Which may be why it's so much fun. I'm not in the least concerned that I might 'do it wrong'.

The Thing I Do Not Have and Am Likely to Never Have: Pinterest. I know my limits. And I know a massive, unending, never write again time sink when I see one.

Curious thing. I am not crazy about any of my online presences. Some writers have spent most of their lives being invisible. The sudden emphasis on getting online and staying online in a meaningful (and up to date way) can feel overwhelming, impossible, intrusive or any combination of those things. Those of us who fall into that category are bucking the tide to get online in the first place and when we do, we're plagued by constant inadequacy neuroses about them. All of them. If you fall into the category with me, take a deep breath, and do one thing. Right or wrong. Pick one. Start there. Bonus points if you can make it fun for yourself. I know. That sounds like an oxymoron. Think of it as challenging your comfort zone. You're stretching. Growing. And getting your website online.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughts on My Online Presence

There's something strangely meta about writing about my online presence here, as this is part of my online presence.  My blog-writing is more or less the centerpiece of it.

Managing one's online presence, especially as an author (or any other creative-type-promoting-oneself) can be a full-time job in and of itself.  No one has time for that.  I'm actually quite surprised when I see big names constantly blogging, tweeting, facebooking, etc.  But, hey, if they can make it work, good for them.  There's no way I can do that.

Here's a piece of advice I received on the subject a few years ago: Pick one aspect of on-line presence to be your center-of-gravity.  This is the primary place you'll put original content.  For me, it's my blog.  Every other bit of social media or online presence should be designed to direct back towards that central presence. 

That means that my Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. are all designed to be a public face, and lead you back toward the blog, which is where you'll see new and interesting things from me.

I even linked my blog to my LinkedIn and Goodreads page.  Those update automatically when I do.  And that way I can put most of my online-presence energy into writing creative and interesting content here, and still have energy to also write books. 

And that's important, because what's the value of having the online presence if it isn't in service of your books?

AND SPEAKING OF... over at Goodreads you can enter to win a free copy of Thorn of Dentonhill.  Head over there and sign up!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Managing Online Presence

My online presence would probably be considered minimal. I work. I parent. I like sleep. I write. There isn't a lot of time for other stuff.

WEBSITE Though I believe a website is very important, this only gets updated every few months...if there's something newsworthy to add.

I'm here at the bordello every week on Hump Day...unless I have overwhelming life stuff going on and flake out. Sometimes the attempt to muster even one word to add to the topic is a futile endeavor.

My personal blog, has gone untended for a long, long time.

I'm here A LOT. I wouldn't say daily, but its close to that. My love/hate relationship with the big blue fb isn't a secret. Love seeing what my pals and fans are up to. Love the articles I come across that I otherwise wouldn't. Hate the game invites and yes I mean ALL of them. Did I say ALL of them? I meant ALL of them. I don't play games on fb. And I hate the general timesuck that the big blue is...but that's my fault for tuning in.

GOODREADS I visit here occasionally. Usually because someone has messaged me through it. My relationship with Goodreads is kind of like a phone ringing. I answer it...but more often than not its a sales call.

Book recommendations sent me are useless, as are inviting me to online events and all those book requests from foreign countries. I agreed to send one, once. Then learned my lesson. It cost me about twenty dollars to send one book to a blogger in Romania. I'd have to sell more than 32 books to break even. I'm thinking that's very unlikely. And after I sent one, I got dozens of requests from others. I wish I could. Truly.

TWITTER Rarely visit here. Thought it was the thing to do, but this format just doesn't enthrall me much. If I'm posting something here, I'm probably pretty excited about it.

Ditto the above for Pinterest and a handful of other places that I don't remember the names of. When I got a new phone, I didn't even bother downloading the apps I had on the former phone. I've added only fb (no messenger tho), Spotify, weather, calendar and a History channel app. Oh, and the one game I do play: Spider Solitaire.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Web Presence: KAK Attack

Photo found: Google Images
Where, oh where, can one find me on the interwebs?

This Blog. Every Tuesday.
I participate in this blog to connect with the many writers and readers who pass through here. Also, it allows me to have a regular web presence for those in the industry who care about such things (yes, there are still folks out there who actually care).  How much time I spend here is ... strangely consistent. Regardless of length of finished product, writing the post takes two hours. Even the pithy super-short posts.  Longtime readers of this blog will know I'm not a fast writer. I write the post then delete the whole post. Write it again, then delete half of the post. Write again, and delete a quarter of it. Eventually, I get 'round to my point sans epic tangents. I do read the comments and respond. It doesn't take much time, and I believe in demonstrating my appreciation for the commenter's participation.

My Website & Related Blog 
The website exists for when I have books available, so readers will be able to find said books quickly and conveniently.  It is informative, not interactive. It is mostly evergreen -- aka static information.  At most, there's a week once a year when I try to update it using my very pathetic web skills.

The blog exists for when 140 characters aren't enough for my soapbox. It is purely self-indulgent. Mind you, I post to my blog maybe a dozen times a year, usually when the industries I follow do something noteworthy (or bitch-worthy; either way).  Posting might increase slightly when I have topics relevant to the release of my books. Again, informative, not really interactive. At best, it's like a lecture with Q&A opportunity.

I use FB to stay in touch with folks I've known over the years and assorted spite of the business's rampant data harvesting, illogical algorithms for display feeds, and offensive ads. I scan FB daily, usually twice a day. I'm one of those users who "likes" a lot of posts--because other people's updates are interesting--but I only comment sporadically. For me, Facebook is the equivalent of digital small talk, which is not this introvert's forte. I do try to be more engaging, some months more than others.

I'm on this service the most; yea though, you might not be able to tell of late.  I frequently check Twitter, but often forget to tag into a conversation I'm following. It's here you're more likely to learn of my TV viewing habits, my obsession with bass-baritones, my penchant for booze, my interest in global economics, my random musical earworms, and the seasonal antics of my niblings.  For whatever reason, I am most comfortable on Twitter as a social media platform. I use Twitter to connect with interesting people on a variety of topics. When it comes to forging new online relationships, this where I'm most likely to do it.

There you go, dear readers, feel free follow or friend!