One Million Words?

I just ran across a blog post on Karen Woodward’s site from a couple of years ago, digging into the origin of the idea that a novice writer needs to write a million words before writing anything good. Go ahead over and read it, I’ll wait.

Welcome back.

While no definitive answer emerged, the idea of needing to write that much to be any kind of decent writer is something we need to consider. It sounds like a lot, and probably seems impossible until you break it down to 1000 words a day for 3 years. That’s not so much. I’ve been blogging and writing for years, it wouldn’t surprise me if I hit that number some time back (no I’m not going to dig through all my old writing and try to figure it out!).

I think it’s great advice. You can’t learn to do anything well until you’ve done it again and again. It’s why people take writing classes, and get MFAs. You can’t improve your knitting, or guitar playing, or tennis, or anything else, by thinking about it. You have to do it, not just think about it. Working with the words, making your mind work at sentence construction, vocabulary, plotting, pacing, dialogue, etc., is how you get the benefit. I understand the desire to “get on with it” and not waste time, especially when we’re all so busy, and most of us work full-time jobs in addition to taking care of families. Trying to squeeze in time to practice writing, or throwing away a million words is painful. I’ve been dealing with this frustration for years . But look at it this way: If you didn’t need to practice  your craft to improve, you’d never to have to edit your first drafts, would you? You get better by working at it. I think of it like trying to dig my way out of an avalanche. I have to get all the junk out of the way before I can see the light of day. All those crappy million words have to be dug through.

What say you? Have you done your million words? Do you think you need to? Or did you shoot to the top of the best-seller list on your first time out of the gate?

Revenants Abroad Free through December 31

vampire-christmas

I decided to make Revenants Abroad free through the end of the year on Smashwords. Amazon doesn’t allow a price below .99 unless I put it into the KDP Select program, which I can’t do right now. I’m still hoping the Multnomah County Library will pick it up, and it has to be available on Smashwords for them to do it. So… it’ll be February sometime before I hear about that.

But, if you’ve been thinking about getting RA, please help yourself over on Smashwords. It’s available in multiple formats, including MOBI for Kindle. There are other reading apps you can get if  you don’t have a dedicated e-reader like a Kindle or a Kobo. Aldiko seems to be popular for Samsung phones, etc.

It’s a small thing, I realize this isn’t going to make your Christmas season, but if you’ve been thinking about reading it, now’s a good time to pick it up.

Don’t make me put a Santa hat on Neko. He wouldn’t appreciate it.

Happy Holidays!

Side Projects

Some stories take longer to gel in my head than others. The cast and crew of Revenants Abroad was nearly effortless. Andrej in particular, who was of course the genesis of the story, appeared in my head fully-formed, ready for action. Anne-Marie took longer for me to get to know. Neko … what can I say. He’s the bad boy with a heart of gold. Another one who showed up ready for battle.

I’ve been toying with a contemporary romance, which I started for a certain reason that I don’t actually remember. It was to have been a satire of bubble-headed, self-absorbed popular girls, but I don’t recall what particularly pissed me off at the time I got the idea for it, so I’ve lost that momentum. Then today I found a use for someone from my past. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for the last few years may remember a person at my previous job whom I referred to as The Princess. I think I’m about to exact my revenge on her. She’s just the foil I need in this new story.

Anyway, you know what they say:

Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.

 

Backing Away

How’s everyone doing? Boy, it’s been a tough week, hasn’t it? It’s been, at the very least, anxiety-inducing. So, in order to try to preserve what’s left of my sanity, I am beginning a new relationship with social media. I’ve been fairly active on Twitter since I joined in 2010, which has been both good and bad. On one hand, I have met some really really fantastic people, but on the other hand I’ve also seen some truly ugly stuff go down.

Lately it’s become a constant toxic stream. This is not a put-down to anyone, it’s just that it’s a constant barrage of (mostly) righteous rage, and very little else. I’ve also been dismayed  and disappointed by some I thought were a little more enlightened than they now appear.  It’s funny, the sort of back-handed tactics they employ to try to tell you what you should be tweeting, what they find acceptable. Well, you never really know people on Twitter, do you? I’ll tweet what I like, when I like. If someone doesn’t like it, they are free to unfollow me. I didn’t get on social media to argue. And as far as I can tell, arguing with people online never changed anyone’s mind.

But, that aside, Twitter has been consuming far too much of my time anyway. I’m always griping about trying to find time to write, so removing that time-suck seems the logical thing to do. Years ago I resisted joining, even though I had writer friends encouraging me to check it out. I finally caved back in 2010. So seven years later it’s sucking up my life as I feared it would. My fault, of course, for letting it. I don’t intend to vanish entirely from Twitter, but I am going on a Twitter-diet, and will be more strictly regulating my time there. I considered automating my Twitter feed, but I really hate when people do that. It’s more likely I’ll have a couple bursts of activity during the day, then shut it down again.

Additionally, I’ve been busily unsubscribing from a host of email newsletters that I signed up for in the dim past and never seem to actually read. I spend more time deleting them than reading them. I cleared out probably 1000 old emails  (I know, I know…) this morning, and it’s just a colossal waste of time. New rule: read it or delete it immediately.

I only recently joined Instagram, too, and though I really enjoy it, it too is a time-suck. All this social media may be fun, but it’s not writing. As with most of these things, you follow some people to be polite, then find you never interact with them, or even read their posts. It’s just silly.  If we’re not really interested in what someone is saying, why the pretense?  So, I unfollowed a bunch there. I expect to spend far less time on Instagram as well.

Indie authors like me are encouraged to have accounts everywhere, but it’s absurd. I have accounts on Ello, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Wattpad as well that I’ve all but forgotten about. There’s no way to keep up with it all. Even this poor blog is terribly neglected. If anything, I may try to get back to blogging on a more regular basis, but the rest will likely be very much more on the back burner.

Social media is not all bad, but it’s largely unproductive. I’ll be around, but not as much as I have been. At least, that’s the plan. Let’s see how long I can stick to it.

Indie Author News – Multnomah Co. Library Wants to Read Your Book

I was tipped off to The Library Writers Project just this morning. The Multnomah Co. Library is looking for books by local authors:

From October 11 to December 15, 2016, the library will accept submissions from local authors who would like to see their books added to the library’s e-book collection.

The book needs to be available on Smashwords.

You don’t have to live in Multnomah County to submit your book, but you do need to have a MCL card.

Live outside Multnomah County?

You can get a free library card if you are a resident of:

  • Clackamas County, Oregon – except for Johnson City
  • Hood River County, Oregon
  • Washington County, Oregon
  • Clark County, Washington
  • Klickitat County, Washington
  • Skamania County, Washington
  • Yale Precinct, Cowlitz County, Washington
  • Cities of Ariel, Cougar or Woodland, Cowlitz County, Washington

Also, October 8, 2016 is Indie Author Day.  You can check that to see if your local library is participating.

Sweetening the Pot — Limited Time Offer

This offer only good until Sunday, September 18, 2016 at midnight PDT.

One of my Twitter friends has hit a real low point right now, and has put up a GoFundMe as a last resort to try to keep from losing her home. The house is her mother’s, and her mother is a retired police captain. Robin has been struggling to find work in her area, which is very depressed with little industry and few opportunities. They’re not asking for much, just enough to keep the bank off their backs until they recover a little. Can we get 100 people to chip in $10? That’s all they’re asking for, $1000. If you can make a donation, I’ll sweeten the pot a little: Sun and Moon The Star

For $10 I’ll do a 3-card Tarot reading for you.

For a donation of $25, I’ll do a 5-card reading.

Email me with your name and amount you donated (you can reach me at fillingspaces at gmail.com or through the contact form on this site. Robin can verify the donation even if you choose to show as “Anonymous” on the site.

Anything over the $1000 will also help with on-going medical expenses, but the main thing is to keep the house. Thank you all in advance, and many blessings to you.

Oregon Vistas

Not much writing news lately. I did finally add another chapter to Lassuni’s War on Wattpad.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some nice views of the area from yesterday afternoon.  The clouds were spectacular.  I’ve also taken to photographing open fields, because they are disappearing at an alarming rate. There’s so much development now, so many views are being lost. I’ve uploaded the full size files so click to embiggen.

8-8-16 clouds fenceline

8-8-16 crepuscular MB

8-8-16 Sylvias house

8-8-16 Burkhalter clouds

 

A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter – Review

WGHP

I can’t say enough good about “A (Unauthorized) Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter.”

I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this from the author. This is probably the single most engaging book on writing I’ve read. It’s beautifully written, and full of clear direction to take your work further by asking the right questions. Sipal dissects and analyzes the Harry Potter series of books to illustrate writing techniques such as story and character development, plotting, world building, mythic structure, anti-heroes, POV, and more. I admit I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so that was a large part of the attraction to the book for me, but you don’t need to be familiar with the books benefit from this, and to see there’s a lot here for any writer. Sipal gives enough detail on the various characters and events so that even those with no knowledge of the books can see how much detail there is and, more importantly, why those particular characteristics and items were included and how they influenced the story. She discusses the use of subtext and how it energizes the story, how each bit of information had a purpose, and the foreshadowing Rowling peppered throughout that readers went wild for. For those who are familiar with HP, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the series itself. Too much writing advice consists of vague exhortations to “create fully fleshed-out characters” and “find your character’s motivation.” Here you’ll find concrete examples of what those mean, enabling you to dig deeper into your own work. This book was just the tonic I needed right now to regain enthusiasm for my own writing projects. I’ll be going back to this book again and again for inspiration.

Releases July 26, 2016