April Progress/May Goals

Have to open with this of course:

Although ack-shu-a-ly April was an amazingly busy month, reading-and-writing-wise. Other than Sacrifice, I:

  • added 11,297 words to Into the Grey (current total; 99,150)
  • started publishing AT THE EDGE OF OUR STAR on Wattpad
  • started trying to build actual engagement with baby steps on Facebook:
Yes I know this is a baby infant goal (a fetus of a goal) but ya gotta start somewhere
  • Ran the giveaway for Identity which ended with 3242 (!) entrants and six winners (copies are on their way!)
    See my evil plan at work to get more reviews muahahaha
  • Adopted this cuddly panther
I guess he doesn’t have much to do with writing, but he is awfully cute

Goals!

  • keep adding to Into the Grey (I would dearly love to manage to add another 30k words this month… 1k per day keeps the, um, doctor away?)
  • work on the hardcopy complete collection of the trilogy (I have this idea of publishing the whole thing as one illustrated hardcover)
  • one chapter per week of At The Edge Of Our Star! I’m enjoying this Wattpad experiment. The daily tag rankings are addictive
  • Keep building engagement on Facebook (can I manage 1000 reach? That would be good!)

Oh, and shoutout to my friend Crow who published her first book in April! Congratulations!

Three days to go!

…until I can finally cross goal numero uno off this list:

Also the trilogy will be done done done. Can you believe it?

Actually, what I can’t believe is that since writing Identity in 2017, I’ve not only completed this trilogy, but added two new prequel stories. For NaNo this year I’ll probably add another one. I can’t get this universe out of my head.

I had the idea the other day that in a few months, I could release all three books as a single, 700-odd page hardcover. With, like, illustrations! It would weigh a ton though… not terribly practical.

I’m glancing over the proof one more time this week, but it looks good (although, randomly skipping through pages, I did notice that I repeated a phrase twice in a paragraph! It’s amazing how that can get through a literal year of review and multiple extra sets of eyes). I’m ready for it to be done. Honestly? I’m less excited than relieved, which might sound weird. But I have been working on this series since 2017, so.

March Progress + April Goals

Haven’t done one of these in a long ol’ while!

Last month was really productive. I mean, just this alone:

Yay. I got through the whole entire thing with purple highlighter + pen (not red pen though: blue pen).

I also started a revision of… The Spice Merchant’s Wife! I haven’t talked much about this project online. Originally drafted for NaNo 2010, this (…and its sequel, and its sequel) has been sitting on my ‘to-edit’ folder for years. What’s it about? Well, on a ~mysterious island~ populated only by women, down-on-her-luck gentlewoman Ciara is forced to marry brash spice merchant Ene despite desperate curiosity to explore beyond the shores. Why are there only women? What happened to the men? Will Ciara like the adventure she’s been hoping for when she finally gets it?

Right now I’m just doing a basic structure-and-grammar edit, because it’s in rusty shape (my first drafts ten years ago were nothing like the first drafts I put out now). I’ve got three about-50k-word manuscripts that I’m probably going to collapse into two parts, and add considerably to (they’re skinny lil things). Of course, that’ll take a bit longer than April, but progress is progress.

Sacrifice now has a release date of May 1. During April, I’m going to give Identity a bit of a facelift–I’ve been working on a slightly updated cover (see below), and I’ll go through again for stray words and general prettiness (and glossary-izing. Identity doesn’t even have a glossary… yet).

As always, I’ll keep puttering around the edges of Into the Grey. This monster now weighs 87 853 words. I’d still like to enhance the third section of it–it’s the least well described, at the moment. I’m thinking this draft is going to end at about 150 000, which is heavy even for high fantasy, unfortunately. There’s just a heck of a plot of plot there, what with Riann, Elisabetta, Damon, Sierra, Morley, the fae, the high court…

Another book, another round of edits

I got the proof copy of Sacrifice in the mail last week, so I’ve been going through it with a highlighter (purple, of course)

Now all of the pages look like that (some better, some worse). It’s amazing how many textual errors there are after I’ve revised after–goodness, six now? revisions. And multiple beta reads!

It feels good though. Once Sacrifice is completed, I’m going to go back and re-review Identity, then this will be… done? The trilogy will be done?!

Oh, that reminds me of my favourite part of Sacrifice:

Veni, vidi, vici

…is definitely how I’m feeling right now. Come Friday, it’ll be probably more like Alas!

Loyalty is now available for pre-order, and not only that, but I’ve actually submitted the manuscript.

And the manuscript for the hardcopy.

Which means both will be available come Friday.

It’s hard to believe I’ve managed to release a second novel in 2021. It’s been a lot of work–like, a lot. I need to thank & thank & thank again my readers, Crow no Yami and my wonderful husband Nic; everyone who listened to me griping about editing and character development in my Writing Buddies chat; and everyone on Twitter who encouraged me and motivated me.

Here we goooo!

Loyalty revisions & progress

So, last month I tentatively set June 30th as the drop date for Loyalty. I don’t know why exactly–but I needed a date to work around, and June 30th was as good as any.

To meet that deadline, I worked backwards: I’d need to send out to ARC readers in late May/early June. I’d need to get it professionally edited (I am not going through self-editing again). I’d need to have the final-final2-final.docx done mid-May for editing. I’d need to complete beta reads early May for revisions.

Well, my 3rd beta reader just completed her read through!

Oh man 🚀

Okay they’re mostly comments, and great comments, like:

and

Ah, joy.

Combining this with my other feedback, I think I have a game plan–add one more Loren scene (seriously, I’ve revised his portions about twice as much as the others!) , add a scene with [redacted] and [redacted], make a couple small additions and changes, and ship it (to editing, anyway). I’m quite certain I can have this done for the end of next week, which keeps me on track for June 30th.

Oh, one more thing I need to do to hit that date: finalize the Sacrifice prologue so I can include it as a preview! That was super fun last time. Right now I suspect it’s a bit too short at only 2400 words.

Since writing the above I’ve added 2000 words to the prologue! Now it might be a tad long…

April wrap-up

I cannot believe it’s the end of April already.

Seriously… what a month. Mostly in personal things–it was an extremely trying month. But! Looking at what I did get accomplished, I’m pretty impressed with myself! The biggest one, of course: condo is sold. Signed, sealed, delivered! It’s off our hands. After three months of reno-ing on the weekends with a three year old trailing along, it’s hard to express what a relief this is. Now we’re looking for a new place and 👻

Anyway, on to the actually pertinent stuff. Y’know, writing!

As you can see from the summary below–this month was focused heavily on two projects: Loyalty (which has moved into beta-reading) and Into the Grey (to which I managed to add 24k words). No real progress on other projects, unfortunately.

PROGRESS in April

DRAFTING/EDITING PROJECTS

  1. Bolfenn: beta reading (no updates. Is it OK to nudge a beta reader if there’s like no progress? I don’t want to irritate anyone but…)
  2. Into the Grey: drafting, 26k/100k target (broke 50k last night!)
  3. Loyalty: alpha reading (beta reading)
  4. Sacrifice: currently at 58k/90k target (no progress this month)

QUERYING PROJECTS

  1. Bootstrap_: Sent three queries:
    1. Another two rejections this month. Also submitted a couple more places.

IN THE SOMEDAY-QUEUE

No updates from last month 😭

  1. Lesbian Island actual title The Spicer’s Wife, historical spec-fic: needs a from-the-ground-up rewrite
  2. Sad Valkyrie, historical fantasy: also needs a from-the-ground-up rewrite
  3. That Sequel to Bolfenn, sci-fi/new-adult
    I am tentatively combining this with another prequel story on the history of the Ala’pr and the Niptae. Combined 5500/100k words.
  4. The Dreamers and the Dying, hard sci-fi: 2300 words, on pause
  5. The Vernacular of the Regency Romance, LGBTQ historical romance, not even started but I this idea so much ugh

And as for goals… it was a pretty successful month!

GOALS for April

Writing

  1. Get all the Loren-POV chapters in Loyalty in their own doc, read this story, and revise so it is a satisfying narrative
    if it’s satisfying or not, I don’t know, but it’s reasonably coherent.
  2. Commission character artwork of Casey+Norah in the Ll’Amh bay and begin offering this as a freebie for physical sales
  3. Add at least another 20k words to Into The Grey
  4. Sell five copies (or complete KENP reads) of Identity
    As of today–four. Sooooo close 😭
  5. Add at least 5k words to Sacrifice
    Haha nope.

Blogging

  1. People liked the post on Print Formatting! So I’ll publish Part Two this month
    Nope.
  2. Collate links and publish the initial Megapost of Online Writing Tools

Social Media

  1. I’d like to increase from 1400ish followers on Twitter to about 2400
    Another close one. I’m at about 2150 right now! 1000 per month was probably a bit too ambitious.
  2. Get another review!
    THREE new reviews. Blasted past this one.

Kindle Countdown

This whole thing is like a series of experiments, right? I try this, I try that. Amazon ads were a huge bomb, no clicks. Facebook ads were an expensive bomb: clicks, no buys.

I mean, it hardly matters. This is a hobby, and all I really want to do is try to get people to read. I don’t need to make money. But I do want to figure out what works.

(Because of course, in my heart of hearts, I’d love to be able to do this and support myself by doing it. This is a complete fantasy, because I’d probably have to be in about the top 5% of indie authors worldwide to replace my day job income. But I have so many stories to tell that get chewed up in the grind of working fulltime.

Okay that’s my sad story for the day lol! Moving on)

Anyway, with this in mind, I’m going to try a Kindle Countdown deal. Ta-da!

So the way it works is, Identity will be priced at $0.99 for two days, then $1.99 for two days, then return to regular pricing after five days. I have honestly no idea if this will drive sales at all! But I want to try it and see. I’ll keep this blog updated with results (if any, or none) so y’all can follow along with my experimentation.

Completed art

Is this an art blog now? The world wonders.

(Actually have you ever read the backstory to the phrase the world wonders? It’s really interesting! So in World War Two, were added to an encoded message as padding (they were meant to be meaningless). But the message was something like >>where is the USS Nimitz [author’s note: I don’t remember the actual ship in question] the world wonders<< and the admiral who received the message took it really personally, like, where the fuck are you admiral dude.

I guess the message is, choose your encryption padding carefully.)

Right, but this post did have a point. Uh. Art!

YAY

by acerolinha on Fiverr

This totally inspired me to go back and add (at least one) of these decompression scenes to Loyalty. It’s half-drafted now, about 1k words in (though it’ll probably clock in at about 3k). Anutea+Loren! If each book focuses on one character’s perspective, and the first book definitely focused on the Casey+Norah relationship, then book two is much more about Loren’s relationship with each of them.

(Although book 2 focuses on Casilim-la‘s perspective, so I’m not sure why it focuses on Loren’s relationship… this meta stuff is hard).

Can you imagine a more fraught relationship than Anutea+Loren at the beginning of Loyalty? Man, there’s some fucking history there.

I think I’m going to try my hand at turning the above ^ into a bookmark, plus also get some prints to send out with hardcopy signed copies of the books. I wonder what scene I’ll commission next? Possibilities, possibilities~

More art

Actually I’m not sure I ever posted about the first art, so I probably shouldn’t label this one more art. But the point of the matter is: I commissioned some art of Casey and Norah in zero-g and got a sketch version of it yesterday, and I need to share this joy with the world.

It still needs colour, but doesn’t it look so fabulous? They’re so happy, my goodness. My happy darlings ❤

If you haven’t read this scene in Identity, it’s Norah trying zero-g for the first time (with Casey, who is definitely not in zero-g for the first time). Casey is also completely ignoring about six hundred urgent messages (#goals).

Actually looking at this (it’s my phone background now, so I see it many times a day) it occurs to me that there isn’t really an equivalent scene in Loyalty. I’m not sure exactly where I’d add one, but those little happiness scenes are important, aren’t they? One of my readers told me this was her favourite scene, and another said her favourite was Casey and Norah playing video games.

Of course, the character dynamics in Loyalty are quite different. But the karlzn scene (above) in Identity was a second draft insertion, so it’s not like I couldn’t go back and add a little… release of tension scene. Or a couple. Loren+Anutéa? Loren+Casilim-la? Why not? Or, hell, a flashback? Possibilities!