October 2017 Mid-Month Update

It feels colder this time of year than last. It could be my imagination since I’m dreading winter so much this time around. The leaves are gilding, and the autumn rains have come. Thus begins the prep for hibernation.

I’m shipping out the beta drafts for Scold of Jays, then I’ll take two weeks to catch up on everything I fell behind on during the final hard push. Two weeks to catch up on house tasks, spend time with my peeps, and cooking large freezer meals to prepare for Nanowrimo. Those two weeks also include the planning and storyboarding for the next book.

This will be my fifteenth year doing Nanowrimo. During Nano this year I’ll be breaking through the manuscript for book three of the Pillars of Dawn. (working title to be released to Patrons this month)

It’s my goal to have book three in beta by the end of winter, then release Scold of Jays, and book three six months apart in 2018. This will depend entirely on funding, so I’ll likely be doing a kickstart to raise funds for the editor to do both books, and the layout design for two novels. Without a funding drive, I’ll be sitting on the manuscripts until I can afford to produce them, which could be a while out.

As I settle in for an autumn and winter of creative work, I hope to emerge in spring with two completed books, and a chance to kick the series into high gear. Once I have four books of the ten completed and on shelf, I’ll start a marketing campaign. Why wait?

I’ve been doing small batch campaigns, and testing the waters, but the constant feedback I got was that people wanted to be able to binge read a whole series, or have the faith the series would be completed. I knew that with the gaps in publications because I was working full time, I wouldn’t be able to keep pace with reader needs. I also didn’t want the constant pressure to produce at the possible loss of story quality.

My hope was to have at least four or five books done on the series before a large marketing push, for my own sanity as a writer, and for readers to want to engage in the large-scale storyline.

The small releases allow me to build audience slowly, and to socialize my concept, validate the production process and test quality. When it’s time for the big market plan, I’ll refurbish the first novels, clean up the typos that surfaced, and box them in a set for easy distribution. (Hence the desire to keep the 5×8 size uniform for all the books)

Anywhoo, that’s all planning and plotting for another time. Eye on the long goal. For now, I just need to build, and get a little more sleep. Baby steps.

In other news, my classes and workshops are wrapping up. I have a monthly creative session on the books for each month, but my schedule is loosening up, finally. Hopefully, this means I’ll be in touch more with folks.

I did manage a couple hours of mushroom hunting last week, and gathered about six pounds of golden chanterelles. They dried down to about a quart, which I plan to make soup with. Tis the mushrooming season, so I hope there will be more to come. This month’s Patron recipe will likely be a stew or soup to complement the season.

All in all the summer and early autumn have been good. I barely looked up from the computer screen last month, but the completed manuscript was worth it.

For what it’s worth as a writer:

I’ve been writing for twenty years, and self-publishing for five. After four books, this is the first year, the first manuscript that I’m happy with in draft process. It’s the first time I feel like I’m getting close to the marks I planned to hit, and the meter I hoped to establish. There are still six more drafts to go; prose to weave in, world to flesh out, character to develop, continuity to tighten, and sensory layers needed—but this is the first time I’ve hit print on a beta draft and been okay with what a beta draft represents. The first time I’ve burned through three reams of paper and a laser cartridge and slept soundly after. The first time, I can’t wait to keep going on the next one. This is also the first part of the Pillars of Dawn series that begins to show the full scope of the conflict and the other worlds and characters interwoven.

It finally feels like sitting on the verge of having the practice I’ve needed to be able to successfully blow the whole series wide open. On the verge of storytelling comprehension.

I’ve waited twenty years for that feeling.

There’s still so much learning and practice to go. I realize you never really stop developing as an artist, but it’s beautiful to finally get the sense that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that the process is making sense at last.

Here’s to two weeks of catchup and prep, and a winter of creation. See you all on the flip side.