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November is over, and as the dust settles (quite literally) December has come upon us to take hold of our lives.

Ugh.

 

With NaNoWriMo 2017 finished, the first thing that had to be done was rallying the troops, my unwilling participants (aka the family), into a day of binge cleaning.

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Custom hat made at Lids

We did my birthday.  Happy birthday to me.  The best present being the custom made hat from Lids and Tuxedo cake from Costco.

Then the dreaded mall crawl.  That ovicerous mental and physical torment that involves traipsing through crowds to buy presents for the people in your life, who you have absolutely no idea what to get for them because a) they can’t think of anything they want, b) they don’t do anything, no hobbies, no interests, and c) your gift picking skills leave something to be desired, namely actually having gift picking skills.

 

P.s.  I just completely made up that word.  Ovicerous.  There is no word in the English language that describes my dislike of crowds over-filling the too small aisle spaces in the aimless pursuit of shopped for products.

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The #BigDumbBunny aka Roxy the shelter dog no. 2

I came home to find the furniture rearranged.  I now have a desk view of the back yard and the rascal, the wild rabbit that lives under the deck and continuously teases and torments the #BigDumbBunny, aka Roxy the shelter dog no. 2.  It’s better than looking at the wall, although It’s only dark Monday to Friday and all but between the hours of too late in the morning to way too early in the afternoon.

 

Now, nine days into December, and the dust that settled over November only to be disturbed at the start of December is finally starting to settle.  We had to do another mini purge, this time getting rid of furniture to make room for a Christmas tree in our new to us house with less space than the old one.

Yeah, after fourteen years living in a small town not far from the city, we moved inside the world of city living.  Sort of.  More on the outskirts, but still within the bubble of city life.

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Mouse pad at Cafe Press

 

I made a mouse pad.  It’s not bad.  Great for home, a little thick for on the go.  I refuse to learn how to use the mouse pad built into the laptop because it makes me swear too much.  A pair of runners gave up their life for me to get the photo used for the mouse pad.

P.S. you can buy this mouse pad here

 

So what now that it’s December?

Today, we will find the tree and decorative remnants among the boxes of still unpacked debris of moving and put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house.

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I am making pancakes.  Oops, in thawing them out, the package of breakfast sausages sucked into itself like a bowl of half soggy wieners intent on avoiding being eaten.

 

 

 

And it is time to prioritize and sort out what projects to concentrate on.

The Gypsy Queen is in final edits.  A read through, an upload and download on Kindle for another read through.  Then I can decide if it is good enough (is it ever in the eyes of the questioning uncertainty of the author?) for anyone else to read it and brave the opinions of the beta readers.

I need to finish my NaNo from this year.  The next installment and hopefully the last (except for White Van which is a standalone) of the McAllister series.

I also promised a book two of the Latchkey Kids.  That is a work in progress.

And I made a promise to myself to focus on editing and finishing the myriad of completed, mostly complete, and semi-completed drafts that have been left to sit over the years.

And there are my more beloved projects that I just don’t want to leave sitting on the back burner.

There is also that one immitigable truth.  Editing is not fun.  I would much rather be immersed in the spell of some dark scene flowing through me spontaneously onto the page than endlessly editing and re-reading the same words more than a hundred times over.

Unfortunately, like every author I know, I don’t have the luxury of saying, “Wow, I am making so much money off this writing gig I can just quit work and do it full time!”

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I don’t expect to have a lot of time this weekend to get done what I need to do for me, for my writing.  Laundry, groceries, house cleaning, and all the other drudgeries of real life.

 

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We also have only a few short weeks to consider finishing the Christmas shopping, baking (it’s not Christmas without some damned Christmas baking!), the endless list of various donations to everywhere you live, work, school, play, etc joining the cause of bettering Christmas for the less privileged, and the family get togethers.

 

 

Next month is January, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the nonstop Christmas merry-go-round has stilled, and greet the NaNo start of the “What Now” months with the making of an official promise to revise your NaNo novel.  Are you game?

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Photo by Al x on Unsplash

Photo by Al x on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month has come quivering to a close.  We lay down our exhausted pens, pencils, laptops, and other writing tools, take a long sigh, and rub our weary foreheads.

It is done.  As of midnight tonight, wherever you are, this chapter is closed.

We laughed, cried, and groaned at our writing ineptitude.  We spent hours feverishly pushing our writing abilities to the limit, staring in mute despair at the page before us with bleakly blank minds for even more hours.

Our stories soured and then soured.  Words turned cryptic and characters spouted overlong speeches, the words pouring from their mouths as if vomited in a panic to get words on the page.

We revelled in the thrilling flow of action pouring from us, uncertain where in our imagination it is coming from.  We bowed our heads in deference to the darkness oozing from our fingers onto the page, the love, the laughs, and the diabolical diatribes.

Now that it is done we move on.

Validated to confirm your wretched loss or your voracious victory, you pour yourself a stout glass of wine, brandy, vodka, hot cocoa, or whatever it is that soothes your now shredded soul.

Take a hot bath with soothing mineral oils, bubbles, a warmed brandy, chocolate, soothing music, and a good book.

Tomorrow you can resume the normality of daily life glowing in the aftermath that whether or not you reached that 50,000 word score, you did it.  You faced NaNoWriMo and stared it straight in its insidious eye.  You stared down the gullet of a veritably impenetrable goal.  You did what your friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones feel is incomprehensible, dedicating your soul for thirty days to something that will always  make you a little mysterious to them.  Something they likely will never truly understand.

What comes next?

Now that normality settles on your life and you perhaps feel a little empty for leaving that part of you behind, you ask yourself a simple question.

Now what?

Keep writing.  You don’t have to push. The drive of the impossible no longer hangs over you.  Take what you learned about yourself over the past thirty days, the newfound ability to find the writing spark on demand, or keep working to discover that ability if you are still struggling with it, and just enjoy the writing.  Let yourself gently guide your story to completion on your timetable.

Come January and February, the ‘Now What?’ months, it is time to follow the pledge you will now make to yourself and the NaNoNite community.  The pledge to not abandon what you just wrote with wanton abandon.  Come January and February embrace your work and dig in with both feet and your hands as you rip and shred it into a new masterpiece through editing both savage and refined.  It is revision time!

 

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Inspiration is one of the great tools of the author.  Without it, we would be, well, a reader.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a reader.  It’s an important part of being an author and books are magic.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” –Stephen King

 

Inspiration is as varied as the writers being inspired.  It can take on any form.  Music, taste, scents, the things you surrounding yourself with.

 

As a kid, I imagined having a Ray Bradbury Theater inspired writing office, filled with an eclectic collection of inspirational prompts.

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The adult reality: I’m lucky I now have a small desk crammed in the corner of the living room, where I am working in the midst of family life going on around me and dogs trying to wrestle under my feet.

 

We also can’t rely entirely on waiting for that inspiration to come.  We have to make it.  And when we can’t, we have to just plug away and work through it.

 

When you just can’t feel it, when the writing just won’t come, and you are sitting there telling yourself you suck, your writing stinks, why are you even doing this…

 

There is only one cure.  Just write.  Shut up. Stop imagining the criticism you think others would heap on you and just write.

 

Your writing won’t be perfect.  It won’t be spectacular.  Nobody would expect it to be.  That’s what the editing monster is for.  You can’t take that rough gem and make it shine if you don’t first dig it out of your imagination.

 

Here is why it is important to write even if you aren’t feeling it, even if the story won’t come and your mind is blank: by making yourself write, you are teaching yourself to write.  You are teaching yourself to be able to write whether or not you have that special pencil (ie George Stark’s (Stephen King’s the Dark Half) Berol Black Beauty pencil), the right location, the right mood, etc.  You are teaching yourself to take the inspiration from the act of writing and from the story itself.

 

What inspires?

I found my best, most inspiring moments of feeling inspired in one particular place and time:  At the camper, in the fall, waking up before everyone else including the dogs.  It’s quiet.  I sit at the kitchen table, the blinds open, and my view the array of fall leaves outside the window.  A cup of coffee.  Peaceful.

Unfortunately, that amounts to a handful of mornings each year that I can count on two hands or less and all in the span of those few short weeks.

 

When I can’t get the mood, I just write.

 

And if that fails, I edit.  I’d rather be writing, but just going back and editing can bring new ideas.  Edit your current work or something else that you put on the back burner.

 

If you are stuck and don’t know what to write, skip it.  Yes, just pass that scene over.  Leave a marker, whatever notes you need to remember what you were thinking and move on.  You can always come back to it and if it never comes then maybe the scene does not move the story forward and should killed.

 

Give them purpose and depth.

If a character is not inspiring, then make them be inspiring.  If they can’t drive your interest, they won’t drive the readers’ either.  Give them more depth.  More purpose.  Write a back story separate to the story if you must.

The same applies to the plot.  If the story itself is not enough to drive your inspiration, then something is probably missing.

 

If all else fails, add a Nathan.

Yes, Nathan.  You don’t want to meet Nathan.  Nathan is special.

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_KindleIn writing Hunting Michael Underwood, I was in that very un-special place where I just did not know where to go next.  I knew what needed to happen to drive the story on, and I knew what I was leading up to.

I needed a catalyst.  Something to make the story implode.  Something that sucks the story into itself like a sinister entity in a B horror flick; that adds a new level of drama.  A sucker punch that neither the readers nor characters see coming.

 

I assumed I would edit it out on editing.

And thus Nathan came to be.  Nathan is unpredictable by nature. That makes the story unpredictable.

Nathan took a life of his own, added a whole new dynamic of drama I did not see coming, and pushed the story over the brink.  It was supposed to end there.  But Nathan spurred so many ideas that the story did not end.  Now I have to write another book in the series to reach that new conclusion, and it is not even about Nathan.

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But Nathan does live on.  The voices are still whispering to him.  The monsters are still trying to get out of Nathan’s head.  And now I have to write Nathan’s story too.

Don’t be surprised if Nathan shows up randomly in other stories too.  After

 

all, Nathan is Nathan.  Nathan is unpredictable.

 

What inspires you?  What drives the writing urge, making the words fly through you to the page or screen?

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strange thing 2

A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

 

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh oh

It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?

Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.

I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.

I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? – and – How did you happen to find me?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.

Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

 

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.

Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.

And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 

leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.

It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.

The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.

I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”

I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.
impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 

magic quill

What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

 

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”

I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.

Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.

Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.

With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.

intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.

If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.

I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.

I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”

I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”

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I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

 

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?

Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

 

Let the game begin.

Can you handle a little darkness?

L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series and Garden Grove.

Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find …

where the bodies are

Learn the secret … behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is …

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The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax… but no story truly ends.

 

Sabotage, vandalism, poisoned work crew, buried bones, and two strange old people … why is someone trying to stop the new housing development?

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

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job experienceAt first glance, they may not seem to have anything to do with each other, the slogging away through job postings, sending out resumes, hoping for some slight recognition in the form of an interview that may or may not get you anywhere, let alone get you a job, and trying to plug your book.

 

When you think about it, they really are not all that different.

Both are selling yourself, who you are, and what you have to offer.

 

one in a crowdYou are an unknown entity, one small piece of paper in a sea of mail.  A single job posting can elicit hundreds of responses from hopefuls.  In the same way, your book is only one in a sea of books vying for the reader’s attention.  Worse, you are not competing against hundreds, but against thousands of hits that may show in a search before yours.

 

While it is easier for the professional to brand themselves, many professions being close-knit groups where everyone knows pretty much who everyone else is, publishing is more like the mainstream office flunky.  You are literally one in millions.

 

brandingBranding yourself and getting your name and image out there in local circles definitely can help.  Make your name itch their scalp with a sense of familiarity.  I heard that name.  It’s familiar.  It makes you harder to ignore.

 

But how do you do that?

 

I sent out news releases for my new release, Garden Grove, to every local news outlet.  One – only one – posted it.  And they got my gender wrong.  But that’s okay, because apparently books of this genre from male authors tend to sell better, but that is a topic for another day.

 

you are not famousApparently, if you are not already a well-known celebrity author, most news agencies won’t touch your new release.  Like the big publishing houses, they know big names sell.  Unknowns don’t.  So, now the challenge is to get past that.  After all, nobody will ever buy or read your book if they don’t know it exists.

 

Any skills you’ve learned in life in selling yourself or anything else, whether is the job hunt circuit or through your daily job, you can use that knowledge to help you sell yourself and your books.

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First, you have to get their attention
.  Why, out of the faceless stack of emails, letters, and other media, should they bother looking at yours? Don’t get buried, get noticed.  When there are literally millions of published books, hundreds coming out daily, on every site, how do you get the reader, or the person filtering through those news releases, to notice YOU?

 

get into their heads.jpgInsinuate yourself into their heads.  Plug yourself wherever and whenever you can.  Make your pen name go from the great white unknown of white noise to something that rings a vague sense of familiarity.  A sense of familiarity brings the world together.  When a reader is scanning a list of books, when nothing special about the covers pop out, what catches their attention?  The feeling of the familiar.  Familiar is safe.  Familiar is home.  Familiar is friends and family.

 

 

who are youThen, you have to make them know who you are.  Brand not just your pen name, but your photo as well.  Whatever that photo may be, whether it is you or not, that is your brand.  That is what becomes familiar.  Like the logo of so many products and stores, once it becomes familiar it is instantly recognizable and the human brain will target it in a lineup of unfamiliar images.

 

branding3What is branding?  In simple terms, branding is making something familiar; making it consistently familiar.  When someone sees it, they know exactly what it is about.  Branding is making it reliably about something meaningful.

 

When you see or hear the name Stephen King, you know exactly what it is about.  You know immediately, this is not a car or brand of chocolates.  You are not wondering if the book cover will be fanciful imagery of a scantily clad love-struck young woman mooning over a buff man in a field of flowers.  You know immediately who this author is and what he is about. You expect demonic clowns peering out at you from sewers, possessed cars, and anything else that may titillate your fears.  That is branding.

 

Find those little ways to get you and your book to show up, even if only randomly.  Advertising can be expensive.  So can trying to get yourself into local events.  In addition, there is the cost of printing up a bunch of books to give away or have on hand.  As a newbie author, you likely don’t have that kind of money to commit.

 

Randomly placed posters might be one way.  Get out and talk to random strangers.  Heck, maybe even show up for those fundraising used book sales where you can talk to people and maybe give away a few free autographed copies.  It may not do anything at all for you, but it may get a few people talking about you.

 

word of mouthThe best sales gimmick is word of mouth.  When I heard non-book readers talking about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and all the negative hype about it, and how they needed to read it to find out what all the fuss is about, I knew immediately that his people nailed it.  They nailed making the word of mouth advertising work.  Instant hit.

 

But the hardest part of getting anyone to notice you and your book is to get anyone to notice you and your book.  There are as many ideas out there on how to do this as there are people trying to do it.  Some will work, some won’t.  None will work every time or for everyone.  It’s a bit of a crapshoot.  But you will try because it’ the only way to sell books.  Obscurity sells nothing.

 

 

i am addicted to youMost importantly, give them a reason to love you.  Your writing must be quality, and your editing even better.  Without a quality product, you are nothing.  The junky dollar store stuff that looks cheap, and is of poor quality, is quickly forgotten or tossed out.  But whether something cost a dollar or twenty, if it is quality that is what stands out.  People remember good quality.  They brag about it.  They are impressed and want others to be too.  They come back looking for more.

 

 

Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove can be downloaded in multiple ebook formats FREE on Smashwords using coupon code YV67F until Dec 31/15.

 

Reviews left on your favorite online retailer are very much appreciated.

 

 

Can you handle a little darkness in your life?

  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/587705

 

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end of the world.

It’s the day before the last day of the world.

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Okay, so the world is not going to end tomorrow night at the stroke of midnight.  This is not a Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, or Stephen King the world is ending thing.  Nor is it the end of the world in real terms.

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end of nanowrimoTomorrow is the last day of November.  The end of National Novel Writing Month, a month of madness where authors, writers, aspiring hopefuls, writer wanabes, and whatever else they choose to call themselves join forces in a mass online campaign to deluge the world with newly and hastily crafted works of literary art from the atrociously bad to brilliant.

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The last few years have shown me how easy hitting that 50,000 word mark can be.  After the initial years of failure, disappointment, and even abandoning all hope (and abandoning writing the NaNo novel) as early as halfway through the month, the past few years were a revelation; perhaps one that made it seem too easy.

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This year has shown me once again how hard it can be to reach the goal.  A mere 1,667 words per day, made easier by the good days that allow you to slack on others, can seem so simple.  And yet, it can be so out of reach that you stare forlornly at your measly 156 words you managed that day, wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

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its not about youIf you are like me this year, and utterly failing at NaNo, I am here to tell you that it is not you.  And it is not about you, not in the sense of whether you achieve that magical number of 50,000 words.

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This year, for the first time in an absolute failure year, I did not give up.  I know I cannot possibly scrape together the necessary words to meet the 50,000 goal, not without cheating and copy and pasting.  (But then, who would I be cheating if I did that?  Only myself.)  I still plug on.  Even if I only manage a sad 76 words right now.  I will still write on my NaNo today, and I will still write on it tomorrow, even if tomorrow will likely give me a whopping twenty minutes to work on it.  I will still post my results and validate my failure.

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keep calm and don't give upWhy don’t I give up?

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Why should I?

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Sometimes life has plans other than yours.  Life can be busy.  This year just happens to be one of those years for me where life takes control of my plans, other priorities come first, and too many priorities leave too little time for each.

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That doesn’t mean you should just give up.

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NaNoWriMo is more than just slapping a bunch of words on a page.  It is about releasing your inner creativity.  It is about allowing yourself to let go of your preconceptions of what a writer is and what they must do.  Release yourself from what holds you back, the fear of somehow doing it wrong.  Gleefully wallow in knowing that what you write does not have to be perfect.  Every word does not have to be carefully plotted, formulated, or follow strict rules and guidelines.  Imagine what the greatest painters in history would have accomplished if they aspired like so many writers do, to follow *the rules* of what other artists before them said was allowable art.  I doubt we would have any greatest painters in history.

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be realIt is about being real with yourself.  Embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses, your doubts, your feelings of writing success.  Embrace your writing limits and push them.

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It is an exercise in writing.  Teaching yourself to conquer the doubts you call “writer’s block” and teaching yourself to write regularly.  The more you retrain yourself to write regularly, the easier it will come.  It is the exploration of your capabilities.  Nothing is done well without practice.  The more you write, the better you get at it.

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Post NaNo brings a new challenge.

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challenges aheadDecember first will bring with it the month of post-NaNo blues or victory celebration valedictory.  Will you continue the novel to its end, or abandon it?  Maybe you already finished it.

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Maybe you will go back now to do that careful plotting you were gnashing your teeth over the need for all month.  Now you can return to the novel, tear it down, and rebuild it if needed.  Edit it until both you and your story cry.

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Months and endless hours from now, when you have finished writing and editing until you simply cannot edit it any more, after you perhaps let it sit and then attack it again with more edits, you might declare it publish-worthy.

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If you thought National Novel Writing Month was a challenge, you are now about to face an even bigger challenge.

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Are you ready for what could be the worst streak of rejection you will ever experience in your life?

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Did you think dating as an awkward teenager was hard?  Did that fear of rejection make you abandon all hope of every finding love (or at least a comfortable semblance of it)?

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You may choose the traditional publishing route.  If you do, the best of luck to you.  The reality is that it will probably take more luck than talent. Unless, of course, you happen to be a celebrity.  But that does not mean it’s impossible.

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Smaller independent publishers will give you better odds.  They don’t have the big corporate name, money, and advertising of the big publishing houses.  And you may not get your book onto the shelf of the major bookstores.  Your odds of having smash success sales are smaller too.  But, are you looking for moderate success, or to be the next J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, Stephen King, or Dean Koontz?  Be warned, though, to thoroughly research any independent press you choose to court.  Research them more if they actually offer you a contract.  They are not all equal.  Some are more helpful, some less.  Some you may find yourself locked into a contract that is not worth the paper it is printed on, your book languishing unpublished indefinitely, or as on your own in every sense as if you are self-publishing, except that you are forever waiting for them to reveal whether or not you sold a single copy.  Others will prove to be fantastic publishers and allies.

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You might decide for any one of many reasons to take the self-publishing route.  Here, you are on your own for everything.  No one is vetting your manuscript for salability.  It is up to you to make sure your manuscript is written and edited to the closest to perfection that is possible.  You need to find a book cover that fits the story, and appeals to the readers.  You are your own publisher, editing manager, marketing team, and everything else that goes with it.  Your book will only be as good as you can make it, and that might be mediocre or marvelous.

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welcome to rejection.jpgRejection and obscurity.  Two ugly words.  All three publishing routes are filled with these two words.

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My first published novel, Where the Bodies Are, took what felt like an exceedingly long time to be published after signing a contract with an independent publisher in the U.S.

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In its first year of publication, I made enough in royalties to buy a coffee.  Depending on where I bought it.  The second year was worse.  Now it sits in limbo, waiting to be re-released under a new publisher name, with little hope of improved sales.

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The second book, The McAllister Farm, is in pre-publishing limbo.  The contract is signed, promises are made, and a book that I am told is even better than the first sits unpublished and unread with no end in sight.

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But I do not give up.  I know any publisher is in it ultimately to make money.  Even if they are in it for the love of literary art, they have to pay the costs associated with it.  That puts authors like me, lacking in a history of selling large numbers, on the backburner behind the authors that already make them money.  It isn’t personal, it’s just business.

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My newly released book Garden Grove has already had more success in the fifteen days since it was released than my first book in two years.  That success is not counted in paid sales, unfortunately.  It has “sold” more free coupon copies than the first book did in total sales.  And even those free copies are a very small number.  It is too soon to have sales numbers from most of the retail sites listing it.

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no failSo, why do I call that a success?  Simple.  If nobody ever reads a single thing I wrote, not a short story or book, then how will they know if it’s any good?  People have to experience a thing to love or hate it.

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Millions of writers sit in obscurity, their books not even showing up on a search. If I search either published book title, I get books by others with both similar and not even vaguely close titles.  But not a sign of mine, unless I include my name in the search.

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What hope do you have of anyone reading your work, hating or loving it, if they never know it exists?  Each click, like, rating, view, download, sale, and review up your chances that just one other reader might accidentally hit on your book.  Each person who reads it increases your chances someone somewhere will talk about it.  Word of mouth is your most powerful sales tool.

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The biggest reason I don’t give up?  I don’t do it for fame and fortune.  I’m a realist.  I know that likely will never happen.  I don’t care to make a name for myself.  I write for the love of the art, for the artistic expression.  I publish because art is meant to be shared.  Hate it or love it (and if you don’t have a propensity to be drawn to the dark world of books, you will probably hate it), each person who reads and is moved by a story is a success.

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.where the bodies are


Where the Bodies Are
is still available on Amazon while waiting for the changeover to the new publisher.

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Garden Grove Cover-FinalGarden Grove is available in multiple formats on various online retailers, if you can find it in a search, including these places:

Amazon author page

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

McNally Robinson – watch for Garden Grove to hit the bookshelf in physical form for a limited time (time dependent on sales volume)

 

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the half way point..

The first two weeks of National Novel Writing Month are down, we are half way there, and today we all gear up for the second half.

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.just not feeling it

This was supposed to be a light-hearted post, full of encouragement and humor because that is what NaNoWriMo is about.  But, I’m just not feeling it.

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With the recent terror attacks in Beirut and France, all the blind hatred against so many who are innocent of these crimes and knee-jerk fear it has caused against people for the sole crime of their appearance as someone of middle-Eastern descent (as if that even were some heinous crime), and the daily atrocities being committed across the world by a multitude of terrorist and hate groups, today I find it impossible to feel light-hearted.

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farHate is an ugly thing.   It makes people live in fear, hating people they know nothing about, just because of what they look like, which church they go to, how they dress, what little piece of dirt on this planet their ancestors were born on, how much money they earn, and even whether they were born male or female, among countless other non-reasons.  Hate has touched every single country, every people, every culture, at some time in history.  People make assumptions about people because of how the look.  No one is immune, and it never makes sense.  Haters hate for the sake of hating, it seems.

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Terrorism is even uglier than hate.  It is a power game.  A cry for attention.  No one will ever truly understand why people commit acts of terrorism, why they feel the need to join with others and do horrible things to other people who they don’t even know.  They are the schoolyard bullies of the world, only they seriously up the ante.  We can only cry for the hurt, and pity those who are so broken inside that they cannot live their life without the need to hurt others.

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Okay, now that I got that out, let’s turn the focus on what this blog is about, writing.

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PrintIf you are participating in National Novel Writing Month, at this point you are falling somewhere in the spectrum of the three groups of the half-way NaNo point.

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  • The woot-woot, I totally have this group.
  • The hopefully optimistic group.
  • And the I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.

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The woot-woot, I totally have this group are those who are so on track they are smoking.  Maybe you already have the 50,000 words and are just waiting to sail across that finish line at the end of the month with a record-smashing work count.  Maybe you are just at or above par, but you know you have this.  You rock!

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The hopefully optimistic group are in the zone where they may fail or they may triumph.  You are at par, struggling to keep up, but you are still hopefully optimistic because you know that if nothing unforeseen happens you can still do this.  Maybe you are behind a little or a lot, but you still have hope.  Hell, you still have half a month to go!  If you knuckle down now, you can push your way through to make that 50,000 count by the end.

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The I’m so dead in the water I should just roll over and quit group.  Yeah, you know who you are.  You are feeling it.  You are still plugging away at that NaNo novel, even while you wonder, “Why am I even bothering?”  You are so far behind, haven’t the time, and know that you have already lost.  You feel defeated already, without hope, lost.  But you are still plugging away at it, too bloody stubborn to give up even though you keep telling yourself to give it up and just go have a glass of wine and drown your losses.  So why are you even still trying?  Why?  Because you are a writer and that’s what writers do.  They write.  They keep writing when all feels lost, when no one around them understands what they do or why they do it.  They keep writing when people around them think they should just quit, when they themselves think they should quit.  They keep writing when even they don’t know why they bother to keep writing.  Why?  Because they must, it’s who they are, a drive only other writers truly understand.

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This would be the category I fit best in, although I am trying hard to be in the hopefully optimistic group.  I am woefully behind on NaNo.  I’m maybe just not cut out for this, but am too stubborn to give up, no matter how many times I voice out loud that I give up, that I quit.

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I did the stay at home parent thing for years, and have now been back to work for four years (holy crap, has it been that long already?!).  And now, it feels more like I’m still a stay at home parent, with all the things a stay at home parent has to do because that’s all the things every parent has to do, only ten hours a day, five days a week, are sucked out by the need to earn a living and pay bills.  The kids are hitting the age where their bed times are growing later, their activities more numerous, and their demand for attention even greater, as if that were even possible.  And the housework is forever behind.

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So where does that leave writing?  That leaves writing in the world of blind determination.  Sitting in a corner with my laptop while the kids have their taekwondo lesson.  Spending my lunch breaks writing or editing.  Impossibly trying and failing to tune out the chaos of kids surrounding me because I have no quiet place at home, and finally knocking off some real writing after eleven o’clock at night on a weekend night when I don’t have to be up at five-thirty in the morning.  And throwing in whatever words I can manage when and where I can manage in between.

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Writing needs inspiration.  But inspiration does not always come just because you are writing.  Without inspiration, your writing is dry and as lifeless as that soggy sandwich you didn’t eat two days ago when you missed lunch.

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inspiration just aheadNational Novel Writing Month is about committing yourself to trying to knock out those 50,000 words regardless of time and inspiration.  It is about pushing away all your preconceptions about what writing is about, the rules you think you must follow, and just giving yourself the freedom to write without stressing over whether it is good or bad or whether you followed every rule.

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And, if this makes no sense to you, then you might be missing the point.  Writer’s block is yourself not being willing to let that inspiration flow.  It is a self-made crutch.  Do you go to work or school, look around, and say, “I can’t do this today because I’m just not feeling it.”  Do you stare blankly at that unfolded laundry basket, sink full of dishes, or empty stove and decide you just can’t do it?

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These are things you do every day because you must.  You trained yourself to do them, to know automatically how to fold those socks vs. a pair of pants, to take separate things and put them together into a creative work of art called “supper”.  The thought process to do your job comes automatically, whether your job is data entry, flipping patties, or creating something masterful and inspirational.

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NaNoWriMo is a month long exercise in pushing yourself to maybe do something you did not think you can, to write on demand when and where you can, whether you *feel* it or not.

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lets get creativeTo train yourself to bring on that inspiration on demand.

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Now let’s get out there and NaNo!

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