Check out my Year In Books on Goodreads!
I really wanted to be able to show all the cool stats, covers and stuff here, but there was no way to do it. So click the link. It was a rocking year for reading!
I can’t believe I typed that. Saying “hashtag” anything has become one of my pet peeves lately, and now it’s dropping out of my own fingertips all of a sudden!
Anyhoo, it’s been a long time since I talked about my freelance
indentured servitude career. As most of you know, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to support yourself with the income from fiction writing. Unless you are one of those lucky souls that gets a ginormous contract and becomes the beloved of a ton of fans that auto-buy every book, you have to spend money and time not only writing, but promoting, as well as have some kind of outside work to generate that money. You must be in fiction writing it because you love it, because if you’re in it for the money, the glory, or massive fame, you’re in for a shocking surprise. Unfortunately, if you’re a single person with no other means of support, that’s not going to work.
Buckle up, there’s a rant coming!
I have been bashing my head against metaphorical walls what seems like every day lately. Why, you ask? Because I can’t believe the absolute rot that is passing for “professional” writing.
Now, I’m not talking about personal blogs or websites. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect anyone else to be either. Your blog is your playground. Mis-spell your little heart out.
This rant is about professional websites and blogs. The spelling and grammar mistakes aren’t the common ones that pop up and may almost be understandable. We are talking egregious errors like not capitalizing the names of places, books, movies, and even people. Not bothering to do something simple like match a multiple noun with the correct kind of verb. For instance, BLOGS DO something. A singular BLOG DOES nothing. See what I did there? Then there’s spelling that blew my mind — on top of the increasingly common problems with there/their/they’re and the like. It seems like people don’t even run a simple spell check anymore! WTF?
The biggest source of my ire was the sources of these errors. The one that stands out the most is the New York Times online. THE NEW. YORK. TIMES. And the Washington Post. And the Wall Street Journal. I realize print journalism is dying, but don’t they still have editors at national news organizations? Don’t they have even the slimmest of journalistic standards? I work in freelance internet content creation, and I’ve learned to expect the lowest common denominator reading that stuff. I do my best to make sure my articles have proper style — it seems the professional thing to do, even if I do make less money because I take my full time to complete articles. I’d rather take my time, run grammar and spelling checks, and then let it sit for a while before coming back and reading it several more times just to make sure.
When it comes to fiction, at least one more set of eyes (besides my own) reads my pieces before they get to the editor. Then the editor does her thing, and we could pass it back and forth four or five times before it’s polished. A lot of times, I don’t want to read a story again, EVER, by the time it’s published. Seriously — I’ve scoured the thing no less than a dozen times, gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, to the point that it doesn’t feel like a story anymore. It feels like a bunch of words mushed together.
But I do the work. That’s part of the job. I don’t want someone ripped out of my writing because of some ridiculous grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistake. There are a million other things that could go wrong with a piece of writing: someone might not like the story itself, or my writing style, of the way I put together information in an article, etc, etc, ad nauseam. There are always rewrites possible before publishing, when it comes to freelance work, but many clients don’t want to bother. With fiction readers, you only get one chance to put your work in front of a reader. If you blow it, you’re done. The client won’t hire you again, and the reader will never pick up another one of your books.
I swear, I dread reading the news online or self-published fiction. People — get a first reader! Run a spell check, at least! Argh! I realize I have weaknesses, and I’m actually considering taking a class in proper writing style, just to sharpen up. I think everybody else should do the same!
I am trapped in freelance/NaNo Prep HEELLLL. Which is SO much better than any other kind of hell I could be trapped in. I’m in the middle of this gigantic freelance project, and really scrambling now to finish my character development for my NaNo novel, so I can get down to plotting! OMG!
Oh, the foul wind of responsibility!
Anyhoo… LET’S SING!
On the Thirteenth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me:
Thirteen Bloodshot Eyes
Twelve Howling Ghouls
Eleven Chomping Skulls
Ten Roooooaaaaads to Salem!
Nine Looming Gargoyles
Eight Empty Graves
Seven Hungry Werewolves,
Six Unraveling Mummies.
Fiiiiiiive Screeching Bats!
Four Pumpkin Donuts,
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!
I’m afraid I didn’t have time to color every line today… for reasons I already whined about. But I did
procrastinate take a break today and create a little book cover for NaNo — like a soundtrack, it’s inspiring. Check it out:
And yes, that is Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow. He has such a sexy face, and while my hero is much more butch and large than Tom, there was something about that shot that really touched me. Love this little piece. And just for the record, yes, my heroine wears corsets, but she doesn’t wear top hats. As far as I know, I haven’t seen her in the bedroom yet, and considering her other kinks… anything is possible.
Well, I have to go finish some more work-work before I move off to getting some outlining done, so I’ll sign off for today. OH! NANO IS UP! Follow the link to see more about “All’s Fangs in Love and War!”31
On the 16th Day of Halloween, my truly creepy love gave to me:
SIXTEEN HOMICIDAL VEHICLES,
FOURTEEN VAMPIRE COFFINS,
THIRTEEN DEADLY TOOLS,
TWELVE GRUESOME PUZZLES IF YOU WANT TO ESCAPE!
ELEVEN CHAINSAW PSYCHOS,
TEN CREEPY GUSTS OF WIND,
NINE HOWLING WEREWOLVES,
EIGHT FLESH-HUNGRY GHOULS,
SEVEN POUNDS OF CANDY,
SIX FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTERS,
FIIIIVE MOANING GHOOOOOSTS!
FOUR CACKLING WITCHES,
THREE SHAMBLING ZOMBIES,
TWO SERIAL KILLERS,
AND A VAMPIRE BITING MY NEEEECK!
I’m really bummed that I’m so sick at this time of year. I don’t mind at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but Halloween is my very favorite! I love decorating and dressing up even if I don’t go anywhere — I’m kinda nuts like that. But unfortunately, unless I start feeling better soon, I’m not going to be able to do much fun stuff.
So I expect everyone reading this to do extra fun and creepy activities in my stead!
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about editors. I hear a lot of people complain about them, and others singing their praises. Today, working with the editor on my SOOPER SEKRIT alter ego’s upcoming short story, I’m reminded how amazing a good editor is — how much they add to a story and the way they take a writer’s flaws and smooth them out. And by “a writer,” I mean “me.” He does things with words, sees things in the pattern of them, that I completely miss. Seriously, every other correction and suggestion makes me go, “Ohhhhh! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.” He sees things that I’ve written that either don’t work, or that, frankly, would probably turn a reader off — because that’s part of what he is, a reader.We’re like two sides of a coin working on the same story — I’m the imagination, and he’s the technician. (I’m sure he’s a very talented writer in his own right, I’m just talking about this particular context.) It’s a symbiosis that I hope works out for the best for everyone who reads the story.
On the other hand, I’ve also had recent experience with a really unprofessional editor. It’s a different writing format (freelance), and has different expectations (an editor at the paper doesn’t necessarily do word-by-word work on every piece, although this editor said she did.). But this editor didn’t even return emails 99% of the time, let alone ever work with a writer to make a piece better. In freelance, it’s not uncommon to submit a piece and have it sent back or rejected for revisions without much personal interaction except brief notes, but there is ALWAYS some kind of a response one way or the other. With this editor, you never knew the fate of a piece you submitted until it appeared (if it appeared) in the publication. This included assignment pieces and supposed “monthly columns.” No comments, no feedback, nothing. Just emailed into the ether.
Of course, if this editor was desperate for material to fill up space in the publication, they had absolutely no qualms about emailing every freelancer on their list and begging for pieces… which the editor may or may not respond to, if you sent queries, pitches, or submissions in response to the plea. I once emailed this editor about the problems, and what did I receive in response? A two page SCREED about how ignorant and unprofessional I was.
This publication, unfortunately, was the one that paid the best out of all my employers. The money, however, just wasn’t worth the pressure. I would rather work harder and longer with better editors, than waste my time and maybe make bigger money. So I haven’t submitted anything to this publication for quite a while. Recently, I heard that this editor left, and another will soon take their place. I’m hoping for a smoother relationship, and maybe start submitting there again.
It was interesting that working with this excellent editor and the exit of a poor editor happened at the same time — it really got me thinking about the topic, and appreciating my great editor more.
So, thanks D! And writers — definitely give props if you have a terrific editor!
Yeah, I’m throwing a tantrum, so sue me. Every writer with another job does it, even if they don’t do it in public or on their blog… which I guess is redundant, since my blog is public.
So I’m writing this very simple article about a car — it’s only 350 words — and all I can see as I type is “blah blah horsepower blah blah V8 engine blah blah ragtop roof” or whatever. The rest of my brain is going VAMPIRES VAMPIRES! And our poor shapeshifters in Adirondack Shift haven’t seen you in DAYS! Not to mention The Valkyrie & the Vampire! And you have all those short Halloween stories to work on, and all the fun promo to do, and fun fun fun fun fun.
This is why I got through high school by the skin of my booty. I was so BOOOOORED. I wanted to do FUN STUFF. Oh, goddess, I’m still a teenager. Well, that’s okay. At least I’m a writer and I can focus enough to get done what I need to get done. I was, after all, REALLY good at college. So I’ll shut up for a little while and do some WORK. Blech.
Okay, me and the bulldog are done with our work-work today. I wonder what he’s writing? Probably a screed about cats and how mean they are.
I want to know how some of the authors I admire are so good about juggling the millions of little jobs that a writing career involves every day — including blogging! I’ve been starting blog entries for the past few days, and then never finishing them! I got kind of out of rhythm when I was so focused on the SOOPER SEKRIT KINKY STORY… which I really can’t wait to hear back on one way or the other.
It’s easy with freelance work. I just finished a piece this morning. I’ll do a second editing pass, clean it up, submit it, then wait to get paid. The end. With fiction, I had forgotten how much more there is to it. Not the writing — the writing itself is a greater joy, in spite of the greater work. But all the effort you have to put in to get your name out into the community, to make yourself stand out from all the thousands of other books in your category written by people just as talented. Plus, there are so many FUN things to take part in out there in fiction land: the blog hops, the giveaways, posting on forums, chatting with readers, reading authors’ blogs. It’s a full-time job all in itself!
How do you find that balance? Work, promotions, social life, AND writing? What needs to be sacrificed first? I suppose if you’re lucky enough to make your living at writing fiction… actually, thinking about it, that’s not any simpler. From what I understand, promo is heavily on the shoulders of the author even if they are in the “Big Houses” these days. So you still have to write, do promotion, and do tours, appearances, interviews and everything the rest of us have to do as well, and still balance the rest of life. The bigger authors just make a little more (and I mean a little, for most of them) money than us small fry.
Halloween is coming! Halloween is coming! Samhain is my absolute favorite time and holiday of the year. I actually have a few short story ideas on the fire that I hope to release in celebration. Can’t wait!
Now, see, the whole day got away from me with all the stuff I had to do, so I never really finished this post. A lot of it was really frustrating technical difficulties. I think I may have lost YEARS of Delicious links! I mean, a very large collection I depended on for research. Ugh.
Anyway, I’m posting this now. Will try to do better tomorrow!
Heh. My addiction to LOLCats is showing there.
Anyway, I WON CAMP NANO! W00t! Actually, I think I wrote a whole lot more than 50,000 words, but I didn’t take the time to count them all. And we know I was in it for the graphic anyway, so… *drum roll*
So yeah, it might be silly, but I’m proud. After over five years of not being able to finish, or even really dedicate myself, to writing any fiction at all, I’ve got a substantial chunk of one novel finished, 3/4 of a novella, and I even submitted a kinky short story under my new pseudonym. Now all I have to do is wait, on that one.
If only I could keep the same pace going. But I am going to have to take on some Freelance work, which I’ve been neglecting, and now I’m um… a little broke. *G* But that’s okay, I’m used to it. It feels so good to write fiction again, I’m willing to live on mac & cheese for a while!
Other writing related things: I set up my Amazon.com author page today! Please stop by and like me (heh, that’s not sad or anything) and feel free to share on FB and TWitter.
I swear, I’ve been so busy trying to get my kinky story ready for submission (heh) that I feel kind of dazed and disconnected from everything else. Plus my family was away, so not only was I busting my butt on that single story, but I was also tending our rather substantial garden and taking care of the house by myself — not something I’m used to! So I sort of slept in a bit this morning, since I didn’t have cats sitting on my face at 4 am demanding to be fed (I’m the lunch and dinner lady), and the early morning garden watering was back in my Dad’s able hands. As much as I adore living things, I’ve never had much of a green thumb. Plants are better off with me as an assistant than the lead farmer.
We’ve also had a sudden influx of field mice in the house. They usually don’t start appearing — or often, turning up dead, thanks to Elsie — until the weather gets really cold. I think the coldest night last week was maybe 50 degrees. Very weird. I always try to save them and set them free in the woods beyond the house if I can, which of course annoys the cats to no end. I try to praise them (the cats, not the mice) anyway, but they’re just not having it. They just want their toy/snack back! I’m really just curious why they’re moving inside so soon this year.
Okay, back to work. I’m going to type some of the early chapters of TVTV this afternoon, put in a few hours on Adirondack Shift tonight, and then try to get in a freelance piece tomorrow. Have a good one!
(I decided to give up doing the separate Camp NaNo math. It is what day it is.)
Between doing promotion for SWORD OF REGRET and suffering my usual litany of health issues, I just haven’t taken the time to catch up with you guys here. I HAVE been writing fiction, but my freelancing has fallen by the wayside for the time being. It kind of spikes my anxiety not to have any money coming in, but I had a very good month in July that will hold me through the rest of August and maybe the first week or so of September, if I’m very frugal (which I tend not to be by nature.) I just feel like I need a bit of a rest. When I get on one of those manic kicks where I’m working or writing fiction 10-12 hours a day, I just start feeling crappy. Luckily, I can stop… working. *G*
I need to do a word count, because it’s entirely possible that I’ve already WON Camp NaNo (do you win camp?) and not even known it. TVTV is going well, I haven’t touched Adirondack Shift in a few days, but it’s still on the agenda, and now I’ve taken on a THIRD story that I want to submit to Cobblestone Press for Naughty November — in a new genre even! Well, it’s sort of a new genre — there are vampires in it, which always makes me feel more free to write whatever dark stuff the characters might be into. This I learned from writing some darker/kinkier stuff in my fanfic days. I’m not sure how much promotion I want to do for that until I decide if I’m going to separate brands by having a nom de plume, or what. Vampire romance is one thing, but kink is something else entirely.
SO — there’s a new goal: Finish the first draft of THE MYSTERIOUS KINKY STORY by Sunday the 26, See if I can find a beta reader to take a look at it, then finish the FINAL draft by August 31 for submission on the 1st. Wish me luck!
LOL Guess what? I WON CAMP NANO! I had a feeling that all the work I’d been doing since I last updated might have taken me over the line, and I was right. W00t! Now all I have to do is type more of it so I can enter it in the NaNo machine.
WAHOO! I’m ROCKING IT, BABY!
I can’t wait to get my graphic! *G*
Oh, that just made me think of Old Yeller for some reason, and now I want to cry. We need a squee!
There, that’s better.
Okay, so you may have noticed I have not babbled in a few days, nor have I posted a word count. That is because, other than my work-work, I have written probably 200 words total, and I can’t be arsed to count them. I am very, very ill. Don’t know if it’s flu, allergies, heat, medicine or chronic illness related or… whatever. But I am so broken, ya’ll. Fever, chills, aches, pains, nausea… we’ll just leave the list of complaints there because you’re not my doctor and you just don’t want to know. I ended up going to bed at like, 9 last night, which is just unheard of. Which was very upsetting, because I got my friend Diane’s awesome YA LGBT Vampire book (so many subgenres, it makes its own subgenre!), Immortal Longings, yesterday, and I was already loving it. I was so exhausted, I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open.
Of course, it’s the kind of illness that wakes you up a dozen times during the night, so I didn’t sleep all the way through, either. I did get a smutty story idea… which is the last thing I need in the middle of TWO projects, but that’s the nature of bloodthirsty muses — they’re HUNGRY. These are hardly even stories — the plot is really just a skeleton to hang the sex on. But if I do it right, they’ll be 13 shorts that add up to a single story that sort of has an over-arcing plot. We’ll see.
Today I have one short freelance piece, and then I’m going to put some substantial fiction work in. I’m actually getting toward the end of Adirondack Shift, when we get into heavy action and away from sex for a bit, and I haven’t touched TVTV in a couple of days — just when I figured out a way out of a scene I was very stuck in. The problem there is, I can’t figure out how to get the heroine and hero in bed! Emotionally, they’re pretty much there, but they’re in such dire straights so much of the time, the moment never seems right to get it on. It’s WAY too far into the book for them not to have gotten it on yet, but their relationship developed very, VERY slowly thanks to both of them turning out to be incredibly damaged (more than I planned in their original character outlines!) There’s got to be a way to turn tragedy and near-death experiences into sex, but I want it to happen organically.
Allow me to point to my Hemingway sign again, and remember that if it sucks now, I can fix it later.