Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking Back

2012 is winding down and instead of waiting around for its grand exit, I figured I would take a look back at the year now.  And what a year it was.

In January I was sitting on a completed rough draft of Blood of Two feeling a bit discouraged.  I had shelved the manuscript because it was the first of many in that story line, which is not an easy sell for a first time author.  Don't take that wrong; I don't walk away from difficulty, but from what I understood it was such a hard sell that it would be counter-productive.  So, Blood was shelved and work was underway on a stand alone novel .

Progress on Condr (the stand-alone novel) was labored, which is why I felt discouraged.  It is, without a doubt, a story that will get written, but it now sits on the shelf where Blood of Two once resided.

In May I purchased a cheap book for my Kindle.  The story was engaging, though the prose was littered with errors.  Even some of the phrases used had no business in a fantasy setting.  I was quite surprised to find that the author was an Indie.  No publisher had gotten their hands on the manuscript (and it showed), but it was selling.  Thus began my travels down a road that has really changed my life.

I began in earnest to edit Blood of Two, with a little help from my friends.  A breath of life had permeated my writing and the obsession has yet to subside.  In August I published Blood of Two and in September I began its follow-up.

Sales have been as expected, which is honestly unimpressive to the outsider looking in.  For those in the industry, which I am now a part of, my sales are considered average.  Again, sales of Blood of Two are going as expected.  I have sold more books than I have friends, and have gotten positive feedback from people that I have never met.  All things considered, life is good.

Since Blood of Two went on sale my writing life has been divided between actual writing, marketing research, and marketing.  Busy is the word.  I work, then I come home and write.  Life is good and life is different.

As 2012 winds down I find that I am now a writer.  I am a published author.  Strangers have seen what bounces around in my head and they approve.  On one hand this is surreal, on the other I can't help but think 'It's about damn time'.

As I move into 2013 my goals circulate through the veins of writing.  I have a short story about Celeste that I intend on releasing as a freebie.  I have two others about Princess Elanya, one of them a bit more light-hearted than most of my writing, and another story about Jaron Senith's nephew, Alik, who is shaping up to become a player in the Drums of Rallinwar storyline.  And, of course, the follow-up to Blood of Two is in the works.

Looking back, 2012 wasn't busy at all.  At least not compared to 2013.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Word Count Trap

I took years to write Blood of Two.  What was the hurry?  I have a well paying job that I enjoy; writing was a hobby.  Now, I have a deadline for the follow-up (self-imposed as it is), and writing has transformed from hobby to second job (that I love).

In order to meet my deadline I should probably have a goal of where I should be at certain time; rough draft done by a certain date, first edit done by another date, etc.  Well, I don't.  Kinda.  Sorta.  Okay, I have a rough idea of where I need to be.  For example, by May I need to be working with editors on the almost finished manuscript.  By the end of July I need to be wrapping it all up in a pretty bow, and by August I should be publishing it.  Really, really, loose goals that some writer's would cringe at, while others would be like "That's about right."

In the writing world there is a lot of discussion about word count production.  Two thousand words a day!  You have to write at least two thousand words a day.  I stick my tongue out in your general direction.

I work a sixty hour week.  According to some studys, I should be getting about 56 hours of sleep a week.  Which leaves behind 52 waking hours I am not at work.  Take those hours and subtract a little thing called life.  Unclogging a drain, paying that guy named Bill, fetching groceries, eating said groceries, actually speaking with that other person who has tolerated you and your fantasy world for 25 years, and finally just a few hours of kicking back and enjoying what you have worked for.  Not much left over for a second career in writing.

I spend anywhere from seven to fifteen hours a week on writing.  Don't make the mistake in thinking that all of those hours are spent typing the next book.  I have to sell what I have already written, so a significant amount of time is spent in the marketing arena.  Then there is research, which just baffles me; I write fantasy because I'm too lazy to do research, yet I find myself looking up things like the anatomy of a sword...  And of course, there is other prep work involved with the new novel.  Maps to be drawn up, new characters to be fleshed out, etc.  All told, I probably spend around seven hours a week actually writing the book.

So word production should be a primary goal, right?  Wrong.  Granted, my initial brain purge is crap when compared to the finished product, but if I focus on that word count on the bottom left of the screen, then my focus is not where it should be.  My focus is creating an engaging story.  If you are focused on word count, then the story could very well suffer.

This is not to say that I don't track my progress by word count.  Every night, just before I close the laptop, I will write down the word count of the novel.  Sometimes I look at that notebook page and think "Damn, did pretty good last week."  I like to see that number get larger on a daily basis; it means I am moving ahead.  The number of words I write each night fluctuates between 900 and 3000.  I am happy with either number (though admittedly ecstatic with 3000).

Of course, I work in the Quality department at my regular job, so quality before quantity is embedded in my being.  Just don't get caught up in that word count trap.  If you have a smile on your face when you finish up for the evening, then I think that alone is worth 2000 words.

Shameless plug:  Blood of Two, Book One in the Drums of Rallinwar series by C. Hollis Gunter is available where e-books are sold.  Check it out at outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, and Smashwords.  Read it, rate it, review it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Words

When I sit back and look at my latest predicament, I just have to laugh.
I have written a book, several short stories, and have been plugging away at another book, so one would assume that words are not difficult for me to string together.  One would be wrong.  The most difficult part of writing, for myself, is coming up with the synopsis, the blurbs, and the tag lines.  Somewhere in this pile of blog posts, I fretted over the synopsis.  Now, I have spent weeks trying to come up with 25 simple words.

After quite a bit of research, I have come across an inexpensive, yet productive, method to market my book.  All I have to do is come up with 25 words to put on the ad.  Simple enough.  It will come to me in due time, I am sure, but what a mess this is.  I have a document open on my laptop where I have typed random lines of text in reference to Blood of Two.  I leave whatever I type and read over the lines from time to time to see if anything strikes a chord.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  %$@#

It's funny; it really is.  I know the book and what it is about; hell, I wrote the dang thing.  But for some redonkulous reason, I just can't come up with a good tagline.  It's like the guy who can build a hot rod from the ground up, but can't figure out how to put gas in it.

Shameless plug:
Blood of Two by C. Hollis Gunter.  Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deisel, Kobo, Smashwords, or other e-book outlets.  Simple instructions:  Buy it, rate it, review it.