Category Archives: goals

No Motivation

Life has been busy lately.  Almost all fun stuff.  My writers club had its last meeting of the year–our annual holiday carry-in–last Wednesday.  Dawn and David went all out to decorate their beautiful house for Christmas, and trees and holiday decorations brightened every room.  The food was wonderful.  It always is.  We gossiped and laughed, and since we’re writers, ended up talking shop here and there.

We won’t have another meeting until January 9.  And for some reason, that makes me feel like I don’t have to be a “good” writer and pound out so many words a day, like I usually do.  The pressure’s off, which is silly.  I still have 15,000 words to write on my fourth Jazzi mystery.  But no matter how hard I try, when I don’t feel accountable to Scribes for making progress, I revert to being a kid on summer break.  And I don’t even feel that guilty about it:)

I intend to still write, still work on book four, but I’ll write at a more leisurely pace.  I’ll enjoy the perks of the season more than usual.  We had friends over for supper on Friday night and I made Cheryl’s favorite dessert–bread pudding with rum sauce.  Next Friday, we’re having another friend come for supper.  She loves smoked meat, so I’m making smoked Cornish hens.  And Tuesday night, I’m going to a Christmas program with Sia.  I’m in the mood to play more than work, ready to make jolly.

I still have writerly duties to do.  Lyrical Press scheduled the book cover reveal for The Body in the Wetlands for December 22nd.  I need to go to Canva.com to design Facebook and twitter headers for the second book.  I need to find some excerpts I can share once in a while.  Today, I want to polish the Jazzi and Ansel Christmas story I’m going to post on my webpage this coming week.  BUT, I can work for a while, play for a while, because I won’t be reporting what I’m up to at Scribes.  I don’t have to be a responsible author again until January 9th:)

Happy writing to all of you, but I hope you get some play time, too!

 

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October writing

In case anyone here was following my mystery, A Baker’s Dozen, written chapter by chapter on my webpage, I put up the last chapter today.

Next week, I want to start writing an experimental story a week to put up.  I like to read C. S. Boyack’s blog, and he’s posting a story once a week for October on his blog.  He’s a darned good writer.  So you might want to check them out.    https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/macabre-macaroni/

Teri Polen is doing a special October blog, too, Bad Moon Rising, interviewing authors about the supernatural and paranormal.   And yes, ouija boards scare me.  https://teripolen.com/2018/10/03/badmoonrising-cusp-of-night-by-mae-clair-supernatural-suspense/   If you scroll down, you’ll see more authors’ answers, including Staci Troilo’s.

But a while ago, Craig (C. S. Boyack) wrote a blog for Story Empire about writing out of your comfort zone, and he asked what authors would write if they decided to let their fingers wander out of their usual writing zone.  https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/friday-group-post-questing-beasts/

I put down short stories I’d like to try:  an alternate history, magic realism (if I can ever nail what I really think it is–but I have an idea), something creepy, and the genre I almost ALWAYS fail at–horror.  I’d like to write the scariest, baddest short story I’ve ever written.  Which might still be too upbeat, knowing me.  Aargh!

Anyway, I hope you have a perfectly wonderful time writing this month.  And if black cats and witches wander onto your pages, so much the better:)

 

It Takes Two

I tried–really hard–to kill only one person in my third mystery.   I wrote plot points for every chapter and scene, had enough suspects and witnesses–I thought–to keep moving the plot.  I had two subplots to add depth.  I was happy with what I had.  The thing is, I got to within fifty pages of the end, and I just wanted more.  I wanted something dramatic, something I didn’t expect, something that would throw all of my carefully placed clues into turmoil.  So I killed someone.  And it just felt . . . right.

Having only one victim would be a challenge for me, I knew–a challenge I wanted to meet.    But I didn’t.  Maybe I wrote urban fantasy one time too many.  I got used to having battles that kept escalating in danger the longer the novel went.  Maybe I missed that adrenaline rush.  I thought about Elizabeth George’s latest mystery, and there was only one body near the beginning of the book.  BUT, there were two crimes, and the second crime felt worse than the first.  It provided the oomph that made the ending pages stronger.

I’m not going to walk around, hanging my head in shame.  True, I tried something and couldn’t quite pull it off this time, but I sure love how this book came together.  It’s been so long since I read Agatha Christie, I can’t remember how many bodies she sprinkled through her mysteries, how she built tension as the clues added up.  I recently watched a TV remake of Ten Little Indians, though, retitled And Then There Were None, and she set a record for body count in that book.  I’m going to think about that with the next mysteries I read.  You can learn so much by studying authors you admire.  And maybe I’ll find something that will make one victim plenty to work with.  Or not.

In any event, I only need to write the big last chapter and then the shorter wrap-up, and THE BODY IN THE DUMP TRUCK is done.  I hope to write The End on Tuesday.  (I’m not even thinking about tonight and tomorrow).  But that’s only the first draft.  So it will only be The End until my critique partners give me their notes.  And then who knows?  I’ll find out what worked and what didn’t.

In the meantime, I wish you happy writing and reading!

 

Marketing

I joined three friends to give a writers’ workshop on marketing and promoting your book yesterday.  It was a beautiful Saturday.  We had a small audience, but that’s never bothered me.  I know and respect some of the writers who came to hear us.  I love and respect my fellow writers on the panel.  A win/win for me.  And then we went to the Outback to eat when the panel was over, and what can I say?  I can be had for a bloomin’ burger.  And the company?  There’s nothing more fun than talking to fellow writers.

All four of us have been writing for a while now.  Kyra Jacobs, the newest and shiniest writer in the group, is probably more savvy than I am at marketing.  I try, but I’m no whiz kid.  The thing that struck me is that we’re all good writers–all in our own way–and it’s just plain hard to get your name out there and find success.  The other thing that struck me is how willing writers are to help each other.  If we learn something that works, we’re happy to share.  We WANT to see other writers succeed.

We shared sites that had worked for us when we advertised.  Of course, the best site is BookBub.  It’s expensive, and it’s HARD to get them to accept your book, but if they take you, it’s worth it.  At most sites, you have to have a set number of reviews to be considered.  Not always true of BookBub.  They factor in lots of things.  And often, you have to have an average 4.0 ranking.  That led me to thinking about reviews.

Every author needs reviews.  If you reach 50 reviews on Amazon, you get more visibility. Amazon might even spotlight your book.  The only time I got 50 reviews was when I was active on Goodreads and BookBub accepted my urban fantasy novel, FALLEN ANGELS.  I ended up with 67 reviews, most of them good.  I really enjoyed Goodreads, but for whatever reason, the group I was in sort of trickled apart and I still haven’t plugged into a new one.  My fault, but I’m writing more, and it’s hard to find the time.  The thing is, good reviews make a difference.  They open doors for authors.  We have more options.  I like advertising at The Fussy Librarian, but you have to have 10 reviews and a 4.0 average ranking for them to accept you.  Since I started over with a new pseudonym, I have trouble getting 10 reviews.

There’s another reason having more reviews helps an author.  It’s sad, but true, that your book just isn’t going to click with every reader.  That’s all right.  You can’t please them all. But some readers are more than happy to write the worst reviews they can to let you know how much they didn’t like your book.  It hurts.  I know people who just don’t read their bad reviews, and maybe they’re smarter than I am.  I still read mine.  I’m curious what worked and what didn’t for readers, but a really bad review feels like an open wound that takes a while to recover from.  On top of that, those reviewers give your book a low rating.  If you only have six reviews to start with, your average rating is shot. When you get a new review that’s positive, you feel like someone gave you a dose of sunshine. It affirms that you might be doing something right.

The other thing that I noticed on our panel yesterday was that every writer on it is hopeful.  We all think that the time is coming when we’ll “make it,” whatever that means to each of us individually.  For Kyra Jacobs and I, we both want to see our print books on bookstore shelves.  For M. L. Rigdon–she loves self-publishing and making all of her own choices–so she just wants to make more money.  And for Les Edgerton–well, he’s already pretty darned successful and writes pretty much what he wants to–he’d just like to sell more, too.

And so, I wish each and every one of us success.  And I wish you success, too, whatever that means to you.  Happy writing!

 

BTW, my 5th romance, FIRST KISS, ON THE HOUSE, comes out June 27th.  It’s available for pre-order now.  I think it’s pretty darned fun!  http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/35025

cover 5 judy

And, if you’re interested, I started a new Babet and Prosper story on my webpage:

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Deadlines & Writing

I did it!  I finished romance #6.  I met my deadline.  Time to toast myself and celebrate. This was the romance I thought might never end.  I kept thinking of new scenes to add to it, so it grew from 63,000–what I expected–to 73,000, which should make my editor happy.  He wanted me to make my books longer–if I wanted to.  I didn’t think I did, but this book disagreed with me.

I’m not suggesting that you can write a sprawling epic.  Every editor/publishing house has specific lengths they accept, and if you go too far under or over those, your book will be a hard sell. But I knew my editor wanted 70,000 words even though my contract was only for 60,000.  Those extra 10,000 words take longer to write, so if you have a deadline, it’s wise to write a little faster.  Which leads me to a little kernel of thought that I’ve rolled around in my head for most of this week.

I recently read a blog post that implied if writers wrote more than one book a year, they weren’t serious writers.  I guess we don’t sweat enough, suffer long enough to produce  good books.  I used to write one book a year when I had kids and my husband worked second trick, and there was ALWAYS someone underfoot, needing to do this, go there.  The kids are grown now.  I have more time.  And now, I write three books a year and squeeze in some short fiction, too.  Remember, I’m talking about 60,000 to 70,000 word books.  The good news–I’ve been at it long enough, (and that  makes a difference), that I actually think my writing’s BETTER when I write faster to meet a deadline.  I don’t ramble around as much.  Now, I aim for 10 pages a day, every weekday.  That gives me plenty of time to plot a book before I start it,  rewrite as I go (essential for me, even though it messes up other writers), give it to my critique partners, and then do a serious rewrite when I get back their comments.

This sounds good on paper.  It hardly ever works that smoothly.  I lose writing days when people come to stay and visit with us, when I get sick and can’t function, when the sky’s blue and I HAVE to play hooky, or I get a chance to go out for lunch.  But regardless of what happens, I have to meet my deadline.  And that pressure keeps the book in the back of my mind.  Writing faster also makes me more conscious of pacing, how the book’s moving.  I can FEEL it.

I’ve read novels by some of my favorite writers where I can almost tell they wrote TOO fast, that they were rushed and HAD to get a book done.  Things get lost in the shuffle–like characterization, telling details, description.  But Elizabeth George–yes, my goddess of writing–wrote her first book A GREAT DELIVERANCE–(which I consider  flawless)–in three-and-a-half weeks.  I’m guessing it had lived in her mind for so long, it gushed out.  But, in truth, there’s no perfect time schedule to write a book.  It’s according to how complicated the story is and if the story flows or fights you.   Some books come to you almost whole and you have to write fast to keep up with them.  Others, well, there’s a push-and-pull that takes longer.  One book a year or three books a year can both be good. Find your own rhythm.  Do what works for you.

Any thoughts on the subject?

I found this link from Elizabeth George on writing.  Lots of good advice:  http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/faq_writing.htm

And for you pantsers out there, I found an article on Linda Howard about how she writes: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/news/20130201/author-linda-howard-reflects-on-prolific-30-year-career

We have a solar eclipse this Sunday (we can’t see it in the U.S.).  I hope the planets inspire you.  Happy writing!

My webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost

Moving Forward

It’s December, and I’m not as far in writing my book as I meant to be.  I’m not as far at ANYTHING as I meant to be.  This year has sort of gotten away from me.  My broken leg didn’t help.  It’s cost me a lot of time, but next week, I have therapy on Monday and Thursday, and those are my last sessions.  I love my therapists.  Every single one of them at the clinic is awesome.  I’ll miss them.  I won’t miss the actual therapy:)  It never feels good, and it’s really cut into my writing time.  It’s made my leg better and stronger, but I thought I’d be skipping through the back yard by now, which made my therapist laugh. She advised me to just keep doing my exercises and getting better with my cane.  She said it’s going to be a long, slow process and that I probably won’t be feeling frisky again until next August.  She reminded me that I’ve come a long way, and I just need to be patient.

I hate being patient.  Hate waiting.  But I’m doing the same thing with my writing.  When I got a book contract and a publisher, I did a happy dance.  And my editor John Scognamiglio and all of the people who work with me at Kensington/Lyrical Shine are wonderful. They’ve done a fantastic job of promoting my books, but I’m still not a best-selling author.  I knew it would take work as a self-published author, but with a publisher behind me, why aren’t I selling more?  Because my agent and editor both told me that building name recognition takes TIME.  A fellow writer told me that she didn’t really start selling until she published her fifth book in a series.  Another writer told me her books didn’t take off until she published her seventh humorous romance, that she had to build an audience.  Aargh!  I’ve come a long way, but I have a long way to go.  Just like my leg.

Writers tend to think of agents and editors as enemies when they don’t have them, but if you’re lucky enough to get good ones, they’re willing to stick in there and help you grow. They know how the business works, and they actually DO care about writers.  They’re serious about books and authors.  They’re willing to invest time and energy in them, even when they’re buried under manuscripts and slush pile pages.  Most people in publishing are over-worked!  I’ve just published romance number three, so I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be an instant success.  Most people aren’t.  I’ve never been instantly wonderful at anything, and I guess writing shouldn’t be an exception.  But I’m making progress.  I’m moving forward. I’m working on romance number six right now.  And someday, I hope I have name recognition, that people look forward to buying my next books.

Wherever you are in your life, in what you’re striving for, have a great December!  Judy

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

@judypost

Hobby? Career? Or are you aiming for best seller?

My writer/friend, Ann, came to visit me on Thursday, and she brought me a Writer’s Digest she’d finished reading and the book section of the September 2nd Wall Street Journal that listed new releases coming soon by prominent writers.  Prominent, in this case, referred to what I’d consider literary fiction and nonfiction.  I’m more of a genre reader myself, but I enjoy reading about any author and his writing process, and it’s fun to read outside of my usual interests once in a while.  So Ann gifted me with a few hours of entertainment with a little bit of insight tossed in.

I especially enjoyed a sidebar on page D5, an article–How to Write a Bestseller–by Tobias Grey. Matthew L. Jockers and Jodie Archer have a new book coming out September 20th, THE BESTSELLER CODE.  They’ve identified certain things that make books sell.  They listed which verbs sell better than others.  What really caught my attention, though, was that, according to their theory, “Subject, not genre, has a much greater impact on driving a best seller.”  They claim authors “who choose two topics which feed off each other” do better than books which try to cram too many topics in.  And readers want topics grounded in reality, even if you’re writing mystery or an urban fantasy, so that they can relate to the human experience, like marriage, love, or crime, etc.  To read the entire article, here’s a link:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-algorithm-to-predict-a-bestseller-1472659425.

Now, I’d love to write a bestseller.  I think most of us would, but let’s face it, bestsellers don’t happen that often.  So most of us settle for different stages of success.  Writing, for most of us, is a step by step process.  When I wrote my first novel, my only goal was to come up with 65,000 words that all hung together and told a story.  And I failed at that on my first attempt.  I faithfully sent out each manuscript when  I finished it, because that’s what my writer friends said I should do, but  I never expected one to sell.  It wasn’t until editors wrote encouraging notes on my rejection slips that I thought I might be able to get a book published.  That’s when I started looking for an agent, and the agent search became step two on my  list of goals.  That was a learning experience, in itself.  When my first agent accepted me, I thought I was on my way.  Not so.  Just because I found an agent didn’t mean I could sell a book.   That didn’t happen until I found Lauren Abramo, at Dystel & Goderich.  In the meanwhile, I sold short stories, and while that helped my self-esteem, believe me when I tell you, the writer who can earn a living with short stories is few and far between.

 

Most of us write and are happy when we can cross modest goals off our lists of achievements.  Some people are happy to write in a journal.  It’s a personal way to express themselves.  Some write family events to share with their kids and future grandkids.  Some people write novels to express themselves and are happy to throw the manuscripts in a drawer.  Others self-publish, but don’t promote themselves.  And then some people search for the perfect combination to write and sell, whether its online where they promote and market themselves, or finding a small publisher, an agent, or an editor.  But those writers want to connect with readers.  They want to sell books–the more, the better.

Whatever your goals, whatever in writing makes you happy, I hope you achieve it.  And if you want to be a bestseller . . . well, choose your topics and verbs carefully and good luck!