Author-in-Training- The Self Publishing Route

Last week, I talked about why I decided to trunk my young adult fantasy trilogy. During that post, I mentioned that I had intended to publish that series through traditional means. This is not something that I will be doing with Red and Black, my forthcoming superhero novel.

This wasn’t an easy decision. As someone who grew up wanting to become a writer, I had always assumed that I would go traditional, and that’s even after self publishing became a viable option. But once Red and Black got to a point where I was ready to start submitting, I began to realize that traditionally publishing just wasn’t the right option.

And here are the reasons why:

I really hate the submission process
Writing the perfect query letter. Carefully researching agents and trying to find a good match. Going over submissions policies with a fine tooth comb. Does this agent want a synopsis that’s a page long? Two pages? More? What about a synopsis for the whole series? Should the query letter ruin the ending of the book, or keep it a secret? Should I expect a response within a month? Longer? Not at all? Is it better to try a small press? A contest?


Don’t get me wrong, most people who are traditionally published seem to think that every hour spent on the submission process is worth it, and I respect that. But the truth of the matter is, while I was trying to find a home for my young adult fantasy work, I was pretty miserable. So when it came time to start shopping around Red and Black, I found myself dragging my feet. And once I did start looking, I started to come up against another roadblock.

The genre problem
Trying to find agents looking for young adult fantasy books? There are plenty of them out there. Superhero books on the other hand?

Not so much.

Sure, there are successful superhero books, even if you remove those associated with Marvel or DC comics: Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, or Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex, for example. But the impression that I’ve gotten from listening to agents is that superheroes just aren’t that successful in books. Now this may sound strange considering how well they do comics, movies and television, bit it actually makes sense. When it comes to superheroes, most people show up because they’ve fallen in love with a certain character or team, and want to follow their journey. They may not feel the same for some rando created by an author that they’ve never heard of.

This left me with a much smaller pool of agents to chose from. I tried more urban fantasy-focused folks, but that’s a genre that’s not nearly as popular as it used to be. Some people might call Red and Black new adult, but that term tends to imply… erm steamier circumstances then occur in my superhero book.

The one thing I’ve seen emphasized over and over again by blog posts and podcasts related to finding an agent is the importance of finding someone that’s going to be a good fit for you. And I wasn’t really finding that, at least not when it came to people who were currently available.

A higher degree of control
As I’ve been working on Red and Black, I’ve come up with a lot of ideas of how I’d like to release the series, as far as supplementary short fiction and such. But if I were traditionally published, a lot of those decisions wouldn’t be up to me. Many traditionally published authors say they have very limited control over how their books are released, including picking cover art, or even the titles of the books. The more I’ve looked into self publishing, the more having a higher level control over my own content has appealed to me.

High quality self published works
I’ll admit it. For a long time, I was one of those people, viewing self published works as little more than poorly written vanity projects with clunky cover art, and typos galore. And I had read one low quality indie book several years back, so that meant that they were all trash, right?

Then I read Rachel Aaron’s Nice Dragon’s Finish Last Back in 2014, and my mind was blown

Nice Dragons Finish Last (and the Heartstriker series as a whole) was like a breath of fresh air. A book that melded multiple genres (urban fantasy! science fiction! romance!) in really exciting ways. And it wasn’t published by a traditional publisher, but self published. Reading this book made me realize that I was being too judgmental when it came to indie books. In the years since, I’ve watched authors I respect (Gail Carriger, for example), happily go hybrid, causing me to more carefully examine indie publishing and the benefits that come along with it.

Being able to start small
As much as people like to complain about gatekeepers, there’s a good reason why getting traditionally published involves jumping through a lot of hoops. After all, they’re going to invest a lot of time and money into your work, and want to make sure that it’s worth it. And authors who don’t make a significant return on that investment are going to be penalized for it. Maybe that publisher won’t want to sign a new contract with them. Or maybe they’ll do it, but for a much smaller paycheck. This is something that Mur Lafferty has talked about recently on the Ditch Diggers Podcast in regards to selling her sci-fi murder mystery Six Wakes. Given that the book has since been nominated for a Philip K. Dick award and a Nebula, it’s clear that smaller advance had nothing to do with the quality of the book.

But when it comes to self publishing, the higher degree of control you have means that you can decide how much of an investment you want to make into that final product, and what you consider a financial success to be. In self publishing, the game is all about building an audience over time, rather then making a big splash with a debut, which I find very appealing.

Which brings us to our last point.

This is going to sound awful, but do you want to know the real reason I decided to go head with self publishing Red and Black? I finally had the money to do so.

At the end of 2017, I ended up switching jobs. Previously, I had been working two part time jobs. This added up to full time work, but from multiple locations. When I quit these positions for a more traditional 9-5 job, each place paid me out for my unused vacation time, and a portion of my sick time.

And let me tell you, I do NOT take a lot of sick days so those fuckers had built up.

This allowed me a small cushion that I used to pay off a few hundred dollars in medical debt, and invest in a professional editor. Self publication, for all of it’s benefits, is incredibly difficult to do when you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, but still want to put out a high quality product.

The decision on whether to self-publish or traditionally publish can be really tricky. Hopefully, in explaining why I decided to self-publish Red and Black can help someone who’s currently waffling back and for between the two options. Because there really are benefits to each. Despite my decision to go indie, I still strongly believe that traditional publishing is the best way to reach a larger audience, faster, if just based on the fact that people are more likely to trust a work that has already been vetted by a team of professionals. Regardless, I think that self publishing is the best decision to make with my little superhero book Red and Black, and I’m really excited to see what the results will be.


This post is part of the new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts. There’s not much yet, but more will be arriving in the future.


Off to Camp NaNoWriMo!

A few days back, I impulsively signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts on April first.

Some of you might be scratching your heads right now. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is very much a November mainstay-and given how the yearly event has grown in popularity over the years, I highly doubt that they’ll be changing that anytime soon. Camp NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is a writing program put out by the same folks that have made NaNoWriMo such an important staple in my writing life. Just like NaNoWriMo, it’s all about people coming together to tackle a specific writing goal over the span of the month. But beyond that, it can be quite different.

You don’t have to write 50k
The overall goal of NaNoWriMo is well known at this point: write a novel (which the program designates as 50k) in the span of one month. This is a task that many people (like myself) see as a worthy goal to conquer and surpass. Others may find the idea of putting down that many words in such a short period of time to be an impossibility.

If you’re in either of those categories, then Camp NaNoWriMo could be great for you, because it’s so damn customizable. Sure, you could do the traditional NaNo thing and write 50k in 30 days, but you don’t have to. Don’t want to write a novel? Then why not a script, a short story, or a work of nonfiction? You can even do poetry. Does the idea of writing something new, when you still have to revise your last NaNo novel sound inconvenient? That’s fine too. You can set a revision goal instead. And your success doesn’t have to be measured by word count. You can decide you want to write for so many hours or minutes. What about a page count/line goal? All options.

While NaNoWriMo is all about everyone working towards the same goal, Camp NaNoWriMo is about everyone working towards their own specific writing goals, while supporting each other. And that’s kind of beautiful.

Going to Camp
Take a look at the Camp NaNoWriMo website and you’ll immediately notice a Summer Camp, or writing retreat theme. And to that I’d say, have you seen the giant ass pile of snow still on my lawn?

Of course, this isn’t exactly fair. Camp Nanowrimo is a world wide event, after all. And given that the events also runs in July, I’m willing to suspend some disbelief.

As part of this Summer Camp-theme, you can be sorted into Cabins, which appear to serve as a sort of support group. The cabins can have up to twenty people. You can either set up a cabin yourself, or select to be sorted automatically. If you chose the later, it’s up to you whether you want the sorting to be completely random, or if you want to be placed into a cabin with people writing in a similar genre, with a similar word count goal, or of a similar age. If Cabins don’t sound like you’re thing (and I don’t blame you, human interaction of any kind can be kind of terrifying), then you don’t have to do one.

My Camp NaNoWriMo
I have completed (and won!) NaNoWriMo a grand total of seven times now, but Camp NaNoWriMo is a totally new experience to me. And in this spirit of newness, I am chose to do something different and not write a novel because fuuuuck that right now. I’m too focused on getting Red and Black published, and all the bells and whistles that come along with diving into indie publishing. Instead, I will be writing a novelette (probably 10,000-12,000 words) that takes place in the Red and Black universe.

As for cabins, I’m not sure what I’m going to do there yet. I want to take part in one, but I’m not sure if I want to customize it in anyway, or go completely random.

So while I was thinking that over, I’d thought I’d mention it here. Are you consider doing Camp NaNoWriMo? It sounds like a great way to get some writing done. If so, I’d be happy to set up a cabin. Just leave a comment here or send me an email at And if you’re looking for a genre specific cabin mate, I will be writing a superhero story (although it reads a lot like urban fantasy).

As someone blessedly fond of habits and repetition, I don’t do much (okay, anything) on impulse, but this sounded like so much fun. A nice way to flex my creative muscles in a time when I’ve been so focused on revising and publishing. I, of course, will be blogging the results of my time at Camp for any of those who will be participating, or are considering singing up for July, but aren’t sure as of yet, so make sure to follow here for the results.

And to my fellow participants, I will see you at camp!

Author-in-Training- 4 Reasons Why You May Want to Trunk Your First Novel

First off, thank you to everyone that has checked out my recent post announcing the upcoming publication of Red and Black, as well as The Author-In-Training Project. I really appreciate the support and encouragement that has been thrown my way so far. It has put me in a really positive state of mine.

So let me take that opportunity to talk about failure.

Although I have published a few short stories, Red and Black will be my first published novel. Now a few of you may be scratching your heads and thinking “wait a minute, didn’t this crazy chick talk about a young adult fantasy book a while back?” To those I’d say “Why yes! And that’s a damn good memory you have!”

Because a while ago I wrote not one book, but a complete series (called The Darkwood Trilogy) that went through beta readers, and various edits. I even published a short story in that universe (“The Paper Doll”) in the sadly defunct YA literary magazine, Inaccurate Realities.

These books will never see the light of day, and for good reason. Sure, there’s a lot about that trilogy that I am proud of (especially the third book!) but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to move on if I wanted to continue to grow as a writer. And I’m not alone here. A lot of authors I admire have admitting to “trunking” (or choosing not to release) novels written before publishing their debut, meaning that a writer’s “first novel” is often far from that. Fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, for example, wrote six books before his debut, Elantris was published. Nowadays, we live in a world where anyone can self publish, without the permission of a publisher, so how do you know when not to? When is it the right decision to put that book away and start something new? It’s true that I don’t have the answer for everyone, but here are some of the questions I asked myself when making the decision to trunk Lady of Darkwood and the Darkwood Trilogy as a whole.

Have I moved on as a person?
This was a big one for me. There are some things in Lady of Darkwood that may have reflected the books I was reading as a teenager, but feel more troubling from an adult perspective (a disturbingly large age gap in-between the teenaged female protagonists and one of the love interests, for example). I think it’s safe to say that if the book you’ve written no longer reflects your values, or outright contradicts them, it might be time to move on to something that represents you better.

Have I moved on as a writer?
This one is a little trickier, because you should always be growing as a writer. But if that growth is pretty fricken obvious, then you might want to sit down and think about the time you would need to invest into tearing the book apart and Frankensteining it into something else, versus the time you could be spending on a new and exciting project. The villain in Lady of Darkwood, for example, was incredibly ill defined. I remember asking a couple of my beta readers about what they thought their motivations were, and getting completely different answers (and both or them were dead wrong). This was a sign that I had been so focused on “shocking” the reader, that I hadn’t put enough thought into more important things, like character development. This was an incredibly rookie mistake. Your debut novel should represent the strongest work you have produced up until that date (or at least something close). If it doesn’t, then you have a problem.

Have I moved on as a reader?
I’m a big believer that you should write the type of book that you want to see more of in the world. Tamora Pierce, for example, wrote the Song of the Lioness Quartet because she wanted to read more books about girls being heroic, and was finding a serious lack of that published. Lady of Darkwood was conceived  when I was sixteen and reading a lot of young adult fantasy. And while I still enjoy books like that (speaking of Tamora Pierce, I’m really looking forward to checking out Tempests and Slaughter!), I, and the market at large has mostly moved on from the types of works that were popular in the late 90s/early 2000s. Red and Black, born out of my love for superhero comics, fast paced urban fantasy novels, and strong secondary romances, better reflects the stories that I am excited about reading today, which means I am more excited about writing them. And that’s important!

Is this book pushing me forward, or is it holding me back?
Have you spent years (maybe even a decade) working on a project that’s ultimately going nowhere? You might be. It’s a common problem with newbie writers. It was certainly was one for me. It’s hard not to look back on all of the time I spent re-writing those books, or querying agents and think about all of the hours I could have been pouring into another project. Could Red and Black have been finished earlier if I had only started it sooner?


Which, if you too have spent years working on a novel that you realize needs to be trunked, sounds pretty depressing. But to that I’d say that failed projects don’t have to be viewed as wasted words. When it comes to writing, we seem to be under the impression that if it doesn’t get published, then the time you spent on it was pointless. And that’s bullshit. Through writing the Darkwood Trilogy (and other, less complete novels I wrote through my teens and twenties) I learned so much, Especially when it comes to structuring a series, developing characters, and working with beta readers. Had I not written the Darkwood trilogy, Red and Black would be a much, much weaker novel.

Just because a novel never sees the light of day, or is only read by those nearest and dearest to you, doesn’t mean that the time you spent on it is wasted.

So, if you have a Darkwood Trilogy in your life, you may want to sit down and take a serious look at it. Because sometimes trunking a novel is the best first step you can make towards starting your writing career.

At least it was for me.

This post is part of the brand new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts. There’s not much yet, but more will be arriving in the future.


Announcing Red and Black + The Author-in-Training Project

Last month, I mentioned that exciting things were going to happen for me this year. And the most exciting of them all is the fact that I will be publishing my first novel, Red and Black!

Red and Black has been a work in progress for a long ass time now. Waaay back when I was in college, I came up for an idea for a story about a red-and-black-clad vigilante while I playing City of Heroes, a superhero-themed MMORPG that has tragically passed from this earth.

Fortunately for everyone involved, I did not end up writing that (very flawed) story down. Instead, it ended up percolating in my brain until November 2014 when I wrote an incomplete draft of a MUCH better story for NaNoWriMo. In the years since then, the book has been finished, re-written, through alpha and beta readers, rewritten again, and is now currently in the hands of a professional editor.

And this summer, I hope to bring it to the masses.

This process has brought a whole bunch of emotions to the surface: excitement that one of my books will not die a slow death on my hard drive, but instead make it out to the wide world. Dread that Red and Black will fail to capture the attention of any reader, and ultimately languish in obscurity. Eagerness over getting to pick out my own coverart, and the other more fun parts of the publication process. And of course, the crippling fear that I wills somehow manage to fuck this all up.

It’s the last one that keeps me up at night.

Since my head is filled to bursting with these emotions, I’m going to end up posting here a lot more. If you have any interest in self publishing, stick around, click the “follow” button on the left hand side of my blog. Maybe you’ll be able to pick up some good tips or ideas for publishing your own novel. Or maybe I will fuck this up majorly, and you’ll be able to get a clear road map on what NOT to do as a newbie author. Anything could happen! Regardless, my impeding success/failure will be documented under the “Author in Training” tag here on wordpress, so if you have any interest in reading more, all future posts will show up under that point.

For those of you with an interest in nerdy redheaded superheroes, I will also be posting more information about Red and Black as we get closer to the publication date, including information on how to get a free ARC for review purposes.

One way or another, 2018 is going to be an important year for me, and I’m so excited to take you on that journey with me.


On Creating a Regular Writing Habit- Part Two

Welcome Back! This post continues my tips for creating a regular writing habit– such as writing every day. For part one, click here. Part two begins now!

Tip #4- Eliminate Time Wasters– One of the biggest challenges when it comes to writing every day is simply finding the time. And it’s not that surprising. Between the regular responsibilities of juggling family, friends, a career, and something resembling a full nights sleep, the idea of carving out  time for daily writing may seem impossible. Fortunately it isn’t. You just need to be honest to yourself about what’s really a worthwhile use of your attention, and what’s just wasting that precious time.

To me, time wasters include spending a lot of time on social media, mindless shopping (online and in real life), or marathoning TV shows or movies. While participating in these activities may be beneficial to a certain extent (social media allows us to connect with friends, shopping allows us to take care of necessary purchases, and I’m the last person to look down on someone for having a favorite TV show!), people have a habit of taking things too far, which ends up eating into precious writing time. For me, my biggest time waster is youtube. I’ll start off with one news show, and before I know it I’ve fallen into a black hole of movie trailer reactions, and haul videos. And while watching a video or two can be a nice way to unwind, I know that I push things too far, eating into time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Recognizing what these time wasters are requires us to pay serious attention to how we spend our time. Be honest with yourself. Do you spend more than an hour a day on social media. How many weekends have been lost to maratoning the latest Netflix series? If you’re really going to make writing a priority, that means taking these time wasters, and minimizing them.

Tip #5- Create A Visual Representation of Progress (or your lack thereof)– This one is super simple. I have a calendar, and each day I write down how much I’ve written (either in time, or how many words). This visual representation allows for an extra layer of accountability. If I miss a day, I put in a big X instead, and seeing too many X’s when I’m not dealing with a planned break (more on that later) really shows me where I’ve fallen short. On the other hand, seeing several days all lined up in a row where I managed to get in an hour or more of writing is a real motivator. My old fashioned method may not work for you, so there’s always the spreadsheet option. And there are great aps like “Don’t Break the Chain.” The actual method is up to you. It just really helps to have something to keep track of your progress.

Tip #6- Be Aware of Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses- This one is going to be the most personalized one of all of my tips, because when it comes down to it, we all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. For example, I am an extreme creature of habit, in love with my precious, precious routine. An example of this is when I was in grad school, I spent most of my waking hours in the library. There were several glassed in doors at the front of the building, and I would always enter using the same one. After a while, one door stopped functioning property. They locked it, and posted a sign asking people to use another one. The first day I came across this, I, being a creature of habit, ignored the sign, went right to the locked door, and walked right into it. And then I did that the next day. And the next. And the next.

Fortunately, what makes me a horrible person at opening doors, makes me a great person for creating a writing habit. I just need to to write at the same time every day long enough, and eventually the habit will stick. Of course, it something occurs to break my beloved routine (say, ahem string of snow days mid-February), I often find its not so easy keep up my habits, and need to take serious effort to refocus.

Another thing I struggle is with is finishing. Once I come to the end of something, I have a habit of mentally checking out before I’ve actually reached the finish line. As a result, when I get to the end of something, I need to really push myself to get through those last few pages. To get it done, and get it done well.

Finding your own strengths and weaknesses is something that will happen over time as you spend more time writing. For example, you might discover that you struggle to get over the hurdle of that first blank page, but once you get going, everything falls into place. You might discover that you do really well at write-ins, and that writing with other people is a great way to keep you motivated. Or you might discover that you’re like me and need to do all of your writing solitary, in silence, oftentimes with the lights off like a creepy vampire hermit. Picking up on these quirks is something that will take time, but try to be aware of them so you can know when your writing will be the smoothest, and when you will need to push through a rough patch..

Tip #7- Work Towards Planned Breaks to Keep You Refreshed, and Focused- Writing every day has so many benefits. It makes makes my writing flow much better, and helps me when it comes to keeping all of my plot lines and character arcs straight. And it makes it a hell of a lot easier to finish things! But the idea of doing something every day for the rest of my life can be daunting. And like everyone else, I feel the urge to skip a day every now and then. Only, once I’ve skipped one day and the habit is broken, it becomes very easy to skip two days. Or three. And then, before I know it, the habit is broken and I’m back at square one again.

That’s why I’ve really come around to the idea of taking a planned break. Here’s how it works for me. I separate my writing into chunks- with an ideal chunking lasting about a month. Then I take a week off to do something fun, and come back at the end, refreshed and refocused.


Those were my tips on how to create a writing habit. I hope that they’re helpful to someone! Writing on a regular basis has helped me so much, not just as a writer, but just in general. I find I’m overall a happier person when I’m writing on a regular basis, which I’m sure makes life a of easier for my loved ones as well.

I would love to hear if anyone has any other tips for writing every day/creating a regular writing habit. As mentioned previously, these may be what works for me, but everyone is unique. Finding what works for you can be a hell of a challenge, but there’s no denying that rewarding feeling that comes with finishing something good. Creating a regular writing habit is completely worth your effort!


How I Learned to Write (Pretty Much) Every Day- On Creating Regular Writing Habits- Part One

One of the biggest tips that you hear from people when it comes to writing is the advice to “write every day.” This makes a lot of sense. I find that the quality of my writing goes up when I’m writing on a regular basis. Also, it just makes it a lot easier to accomplish something when you’re committing time to it every day.

I’ve gotten pretty good at creating a steady writing habit over the past few years, even if I fall short of writing every day. Since I know it’s something that a lot of people struggle with, I thought I’d share what works for me. The key words there being “what works for me.” Everyone approaches their writing differently. I don’t claim this to be a full proof method. All I can claim as that’s it’s made me a hell of a lot more efficient as a writer. And it mostly breaks down to being prepared, being specific, and being realistic.

Tip #1- Decide that You’re Going to Make Writing A Priority- This one may sound unnecessary. If you’ve decided that you want to write every day (or at least on a regular schedule), haven’t you already done that? To me, there’s a very big difference between saying “I’m going to write more” and “I’m going to make writing a priority” and the key word there is “a priority.” By mentally preparing myself in advance by setting up this specific goal, it ends up being a great way of dealing with distractions. Say I feel the urge to spend time clicking around on the internet during writing time. The second I pull up my browser, I hear a little voice saying “but Nancy, writing is supposed to be a priority.” Maybe there’s a book I really want to read, or TV show I want to watch? “No, writing is a priority.” But I want more sleep! “Nope. Priority.”

Of course, there are things in your life that are going to take priority even over writing (or at least should). You probably shouldn’t neglect your kids for example. And while it’s one thing to fight the urge to sleep in, neglecting your need for sleep for an extended period of time just doesn’t work. But creating this goal has really helped me stay focused in times when I would otherwise be distracted. We’ll get more into dealing with distractions in Part Two!

Tip #2- Pick a Project That You’re Excited About, and Prepared to Dive Into- This was something a concept introduced to me in Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k (a great book about writing), and one that’s worked well for me. Each year, I do NaNoWriMo. The years that I enter NaNoWriMo with a project that I’m really excited about, and well prepared for, are years that I’m a lot more productive. And by “prepared,” I don’t necessarily mean having a detailed outline written out in advance (although that may work for you!). Instead, I make sure that I when I sit down at my computer, I know what I want to write that day. Beyond that, I have a really solid idea of what I want to do for the next few chapters, and a vague idea of what I want to do for the rest of the book. This allows me to stay true to my discovery writer roots, without having to worry about my flow getting derailed by simply not knowing what to do next.

As far as excitement goes, I think it’s natural to become frustrated with a project during certain points of the writing project. But for me, the better prepared I am, I’m less likely to find myself dissatisfied on a regular basis. So that’s another example where a certain level of preparation can help.

This process works a little differently while editing (which is what I’m working on now), but I find that it still helps to go into the day excited about your project, and with a really solid idea of what you’re going to do next.

Tip #3- Pick and Time to Write, And Stick to It- One of the biggest tips I see when talking about setting up New Year’s Resolutions, or any kind of goals, is to make sure that they are specific and within your control. So, instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight this year!” you say “I am going to work out for at least a half hour, five times a week.” The second goal is focused around daily tasks that you can do, rather than some general goal you want to do sometime during the next year. Another benefit that comes when setting goals like this is it helps to break down something large, into smaller, more manageable parts. It’s why during NaNoWriMo, you’re more likely to succeed if you think “I need to write 1667 words today” not “holy hell, I only have a month to write a whole book!”

When it comes to writing on a regular basis, I find it’s best to set aside a specific time that you can write every day. Ideally, this will be the same time every day. For me, that’s an hour before I go to work every day. As my work schedule fluctuates from day to day (but is pretty stagnant week to week), this means I have to be a little flexible. Still, for the most part, my mornings go like this- wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for the day, write.

Of course, my path isn’t going to work for everyone. Maybe you’re a baker, and have to be at work at some ungodly hour in the morning. Maybe your work schedule fluctuates from week to week. It’s why, before actually sitting down to write, I recommend taking a good look at the limitations of your actual schedule. This may mean that you don’t find time to write every day. Maybe your weekends are just too full. Maybe your weekdays are too full, but you can find a nice chunk of time on Saturday and Sunday. The point with these tips isn’t to find an ideal situation, but to find something sustainable.

Cause that’s the point, isn’t it? To create a pattern. To make your way steadily toward a goal, step by step, through creating daily habits that you can stick with.

And speaking of step by step, this is turning out a lot longer then I suspected it to be. So as a result, I’m breaking this post into two parts. This is the end of Part One. Please check back for next week’s post for Part Two!


On New Years Resolutions, and Writing Goals

I’m a sucker for new years resolutions. I usually make too many, and don’t always stick to them as well as I should, but I’ve always liked the fresh new start that comes with a new year. The idea that bad habits can be left behind, and better ones can be forged. And sure, I get the argument that New Years Resolutions can be viewed as useless, especially when you look at people who sign up for gym memberships, but never show up, but I think there’s a lot of value in setting goals, and taking time to refocus. You’re going to fall off the horse every now and then, but if you continue to make time to think about what you want, and plan how that can be achieved, you’re in a helluva better place then you were if you never paused to make the resolutions in the first place.

For example, if I had never sat down and said, “I’m going to make writing a daily habit” I probably wouldn’t have written anything at all. And instead, I’ve written and revised three whole novels that have taught me a lot about writing (even though they will never be published). And now, I find myself working on new projects, and new ideas that I hope to make strides on in 2017.

So, without further ado, here are my writing projects and resolutions for 2017!

Project #1- Red and Black
Red and Black is a superhero novel (the first in a planned series) that I put MANY hours into over the past year and a half. I’ve brought the book from a broken, partial rough draft (the result of a very strange, often disappointing/frustrating NaNoWriMo in 2014) to a full manuscript, workshopped it with my wonderful writing group, brought it through multiple rounds of revisions, and have now sent it off to no less than a half dozens first readers (two of whom have already gotten back to me with encouraging comments and helpful suggestions!). This year, I hope to bring Red and Black through its final revisions and begin sending it out to agents during the spring. From that point, its future will bet out of my hands, so I try not to stress about it too much (of course, I don’t always succeed).

Project #2- Black and Blue
Black and Blue is the sequel to Red and Black. I wrote it during a very successful NaNoWriMo this past November (not only did I manage to “win” NaNoWriMo, but I also finished the damn book before the month was up!). Since the beginning of the New Year, I’ve been working on my first round of revisions. And I must admit… it’s going surprisingly well. Normally this part of the revising process is hugely painful. Like, “Dear God! I’ve managed to regress as a writer without realizing it! Time to throw in the towel! Abort! Abort!” Of course, the book has flaws- in abundance- but I’ve been able to figure out how to fix most of them. Thinking back on the rough draft, I have a pretty good idea where this smooth sailing will start to get choppy, but I’m going to enjoy the ride while it lasts. I hope to spend most of my writing time in 2017 revising Black and Blue, then workshopping it with my oh-so-helpful writing group.

And if you’re thinking “gee, Nancy, isn’t working on a sequel to a book before it’s technically done, like, a really bad idea?” The answer is… probably, but right now this is the project I’m the most excited about, so I’m just going to embrace that. My books go through a lot of changes in my revision process. Maybe I’ll just have to make a few more then planned as a result of Red and Black’s final revisions.

I plan on accomplishing these goals through daily writing. I try to go for at least an hour every day, and that’s been going well so far. Some days, time gets away from me and I just can’t get that full hour, but I can get in a half hour, and make up the lost time down the line. To prevent burning out, I will be working on my writing in chunks of about 30k. Once I reach the end of a chunk, I’ll take a little time off from writing (maybe a few days, maybe a full week. It depends on how I’m feeling, and my other responsibilities). I’ve become a big believer in taking planned breaks (with set end dates, rather than just skipping days here and there) from writing, In fact, I’m thinking about writing a blog entry on it.

As for other writing-related goals, I do hope to get back to updating this much neglected blog more often, as well as continuing to contribute regularly to Speculative Chic. As a result, I’m going to try to update here about once a week. At Speculative Chic, I have my big monthly entry, but I also contribute to group posts. It may be tricky to find a balance between my writing, SpecChic, and this blog, but I suspect I’ll be able to figure it out with some trial and error.

Does anyone else have any writing-related resolutions? Are you a fan of New Year’s Resolutions too, or consider them to be a waste of time?