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“Everything Else Is Harder”

The real problem is that once you get out of the habit of publishing it’s very difficult indeed to get back into that habit.  Just writing stuff and then moving on to the next exciting thing is so much more fun.  Probably part of the problem is a lack of audience, it’s not like anyone is clamouring for my next thing.  I get the same feedback from writing something and setting it aside as I do from writing something and releasing it.  This makes it difficult to put energy into publishing.

Energy.  Yes.  I don’t have much of that stuff.  When I do have some, and the choice is between writing and not-writing, generally speaking not-writing doesn’t have much of a chance.

But anyway.  It is important to publish.  To judge a thing finished and release it into the wild.  I’ve got quite a few things ready to shove out of the nest.  Treasure Guardians, Bright Battle Story, Death Theory, this new exciting thing called Remember When Things Weren’t Broken, plus there’s the next book in the Charlotte Powers universe.  It’s about monsters, and also giant ants.

Enough blathering, let’s make some promises.  Seeing as we’re almost in February already I thought that’d be a good month in which to start doing stuff.  I’m not sure how I’ll go about it, but I’ll probably start with the episodic stuff.  Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, and Death Theory.  Then probably Treasure Guardians, the book I wrote with my daughters.  It’s pretty good.  They had some wild ideas.  Neon Bug City (the Charlotte Powers thing) needs more time, but maybe March or April for that one.  Could be longer.  Remember When Things Weren’t Broken I’ll probably just put out as I write it, I feel like it’s that sort of story and I need a bit of a shake up in that area.

Okay!  So.  That’s me.  How have you been?

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Of Writing

 

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So How Are You Doing, Clover Island Publishing?

Aha, pretty good lately? Getting a little better? I mean I can’t say it’s been a great year, in terms of productivity. I hit a low point around the start of the year, sick, tired, no energy, sales were hilariously terrible—in January I sold less than twenty books, in February less than ten—and generally I felt that whatever my personal thoughts about my books, the fact was that not a lot of people were much interested in them. Still, I kept at it, my pace reduced but still trying to do at least something every day, even if that was just reading over draft manuscripts and murmuring “hmm yes what a clever author person I can be sometimes” (we all need a little ego boost from time to time). So it was that I somehow managed to finish off Charlotte Powers 4, and without all that much enthusiasm publish it (the previous month had seen a grand total of zero sales of the first book in that series). To my surprise people actually bought the blessed thing, around thirty in that first month and then another thirty the second month, and then maybe they told their friends about the series or something equally wondrous and splendid because the first book started selling again. Which was lovely! I mean it’s all very well to be all ‘art for art’s sake create for the sake of creation the reward for making something good is having made something good’ but when you’re sharing stories it’s nice when other people are a bit interested in them.

So! I figured that I should do a bit of an update on everything, because it’s only fair to be upfront about where you are with series and such. So here we go:

Resonance
Oh, I love this series. But nobody else does. In three years the series has sold less than a hundred copies, and in the entirety of this year the grand total of sales is … zero. None. Not one single book sold. On top of this the second book wasn’t well-received even by people who liked the first one, so … I don’t know. I guess it’s one of those things where I’m completely in love with things that other people just don’t care about. Also, writing a Resonance book takes at least twice the effort and planning and time as another book—book two took over eight hundred hours just to write, not even counting planning and research and outlining and most of the edits. That is a hefty chunk of time and energy to put into something that people just aren’t interested in. So I can’t really justify continuing it right now. It’s a shame because I had such big plans for it, but there you go. You don’t get to choose what works and what doesn’t.

Miya Black
Not doing quite as poorly as Resonance, but pretty close. This year I’ve sold about thirty in the series, although in the last few months this has dropped to nothing. The main problem here is that I have the figures showing exactly how many people have bought the fifth book—the latest—and it is a nicely round but not overly large twenty. That means that the potential market for the sixth book is currently twenty people. It’s just not enough to justify putting it out. I mean it’s pretty much written, I’d just have to add a couple of things, put in maybe ten thousand words in the middle, do a bunch of editing and it’d be done. But the real problem is that the sixth book kicks off the next arc of the series and it ends in a way that I’d feel really uncomfortable just to leave hanging. Maybe in the future the series will attract more attention. For now, with the latest arc finished, I think it’s best to set it aside.

Charlotte Powers
Finally, some positivity! This is the one series I’ve written that actually sells. I don’t know why, maybe people like first person, maybe they like journals, maybe it’s the superhero thing, maybe it’s just more accessible. In any case it’s selling about two a day across the series, which is, like, amazing. Not to most authors, sure, people writing in popular genres can brag about dozens or hundreds or even thousands of sales a day, but for me in my comfortable little niche even a single sale a day is just brilliant. I mean, that’s progress! That’s one more copy of one of my books out in the big wide world. If a book isn’t selling at all it’s really hard to get enthusiastic about continuing the series—I know where the story goes, I’m interested, but if nobody else is then, well, what’s the point of writing it? Just keep it in my head, that’s the best place for it. But if people ARE interested in the story and the world and the characters, well, that’s a definite wellspring of motivation.

So anyway. Charlotte Powers is the series that’s selling—the series that people are actually interested in—so Charlotte Powers is the series that I’m focusing on. The fifth and final book is almost finished, and I fully expect to have it out before Christmas. After that, well, I do have an idea. Something I’ve been working on and aiming towards. I’m pretty excited about it, to be honest. But best to keep it under wraps until I have something more solid. For now I’ll just say that while this fifth book will provide a definite (and hopefully satisfying) ending to the series, as with all my stories Life Goes On (except when it doesn’t, on account of people being deaded).

Other Books
I’ve had a pseudo-sequel to The Boy & Little Witch in the back of my mind for years, but haven’t quite summoned the motivation necessary to write it. It’s always been a bit of an odd duck anyway, kind of a throwback thing, aimed basically at a target audience of “me when I was eight”, and there’s not much of a market for kid’s books in any case. Well, not this kind of kid’s book, anyway. Similar situation with Imogen Shroud, have the sequel in the back of my mind, can’t quite get excited about writing it—although partly that’s because I’m just a bit sick of zombies. It’s kind of like, there is so much zombie stuff in the world right now, I almost feel guilty contributing to it. Also the first book occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where people who are really into zombies don’t much like it and people who aren’t really into zombies won’t read it because zombies. For a certain kind of person I think it works really well, but that certain kind of person certainly isn’t in the majority. So. Set aside for now.

Future Projects
I do have a couple of things I want to do. The first is Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, my underdog sports story set in a kind of fantasy MMO SRPG, which I’ve been putting off releasing for just ages, literally years. Partly it’s because I know it’s so niche and odd, limited appeal, kind of a bit self-indulgent. Again, that ‘certain people’ minority demographic. Also because I’ll release it as a web serial and kind of keep waiting for a really good easy way to do that. But anyway. I do want to start putting it out there. Maybe a project for the new year, although I said that two years ago and look where that went.

The second project is something that I’m currently calling EndSong, or The Song That Ends The World. It’s a really, stupidly ambitious project that I’m a bit nervous about even starting. Massive story told over multiple series of books, kind of a light novel approach, multiple timeframes, locations, politics, timeskips, oodles of characters. Currently my focus point is another web serial-type series called Death Theory, which would be a very tight, plotty, fast-paced story set in the world but apart from it. Kind of a tester, to see if anyone would even be interested in what I’m doing. Anyway, it’s the kind of thing I have to plan and plan and PLAN and plan so I’m not expecting anything of it any time soon, but who knows.

That’s About It
So that’s where I am right now, and that’s where I’m going. In short, expect more Charlotte Powers, expect less everything else, maybe expect some new stuff sometime.

Just as a final note, kind of out of place but it’s something I’ve wanted to say for a while, if you like something—not even one of my series, just anything really—then dropping a note to the creator is a really good thing to do. Not just for the sake of the artist’s ego, but to pump up motivation and get the next one out sooner. Honestly, there have been a bunch of times where I just did not feel like being remotely creative, but just a little note or something charged me up and got me going again. It’s also a good way to get creators to pay attention to a series they haven’t been thinking about. Just knowing that someone out there is interested is enough to get me to look over my project files and remind me why I love that particular thing.

To get a bit painfully earnest for a moment, if it wasn’t for those brave and splendid few who have mentioned to me that they like my stuff, I might not even still be doing this. Certainly you make it more fun and easier and just generally better. Thank you for being there and for digging my offbeat little stories. I do not have a great quantity of fans, but you make it up in quality.

Okay, that’s it from me for now. Remember, be good to yourselves. And each other.

Love,

BJK White

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Of Writing

 

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My Decade Of NaNoWriMo: ReDux!

Last year I wrote a big long thing about my NaNo experiences, and as it was rather well received I thought I’d bring it out, hose it down, biff a hat on it and do a lazy lazy repost.

So then! November. NaNovember. Did I ever tell you about the time I was the first person in the southern hemisphere to finish NaNoWriMo? Ah, those were the days. The scent of lemon, the halcyon days of spring, something to do with birds quite possibly, and of course I was very, very drunk. If you’re thinking about ‘doing’ NaNo I really recommend it, it’s a great chance to just get some words out without worrying about anything except your wordcount. Some people say this is a rubbish way to write, that you should be focusing on quality, to those niminy-piminy naysayers I say away! Away with your negative applesauce, go spread your brand of gloomsome folderol elsewhere!

But anyway, here be the goods:

2001: I’m twenty years old (or similar) and everyone is too polite to tell me I’m rubbish at writing. I stumble upon NaNoWriMo, lo! What’s this? Fifty thousand words in a month, are they mad? With youthful arrogance and untoward bravado I sign up anyway. November 1st arrives sooner than I had expected, and I’m struck senseless with a lack of inspiration—what to do? I have no story! Aha, but I do have a project, a silly wannabe-Pratchett thing that could use some words. I’ll just write that! Days pass. My word count hovers at two or three hundred. What to do? Just keep writing, harder and longer than I’ve ever written before! More days pass. My daily word count is now in the dozens. No motivation, no plan, no outline, I don’t know where this story is going, I’m just making this up as I go along, I don’t know what to do!

November 30th rolls around.

I barely dare look at my word count.

But I must.

Shock. Disbelief. Somehow I’ve written fifty thousand and sixty-seven words in November. Fifty thousand and eleven of them are unreadable rubbish, but this doesn’t matter. I have joined the elite circle of NaNoWriMo winners. Fifty thousand words in a month; to this day I have no idea how I managed it.

2002: I am a year older; I am a year wiser (theoretically). This time I have a plan—vague, ill-conceived, barely workable, but a plan nonetheless. I will structure my novel into vaguely-linked segments, and each segment will be about anything I want, in whatever tense I want, in whatever style I want. Fantasy, comedy, slapstick, high adventure, Lovecraftian horror, all of these would have a place in my grand second NaNovel. My plan has a secondary component; daily word count goals. This worked better than I expected, and was something I kept as part of my NaNoWriMo armoury.

November 1st: I start writing.

November 4th: This is easy. This is fun. I’m getting some great words out and meeting my daily goals without hassle, who needs an outline, who needs a plot, I’m sure things will tie themselves neatly together once I get near to the end.

November 12th: Over halfway there! Yes, I’ve resorted to retelling my favourite myths and legends as stories-within-stories, no, the plot doesn’t seem to be anywhere near any kind of resolution, yes, I’ve lost track of at least two characters, but I’m sure it’ll work out in the end.

November 17th: WHAT AM I DOING.

November 20th: HELP.

November 22nd: I have met every one of my daily word count goals, but I am not proud of the things I did to achieve this. The story has figuratively exploded, a giant in-universe retcon in a desperate attempt to gain structure and purpose. On the positive side of things I only have twenty thousand words to go.

November 24th: THESE ARE THE LONGEST TWENTY THOUSAND WORDS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL THINGS.

November 25th: Screw it, I’m giving up.

November 25th 1/2: Oh all right then fine I’m not giving up, I never give up, let’s just write anything and see what happens.

November 26th: Uneventful.

November 27th: In a classic fit of anticlimatic activity, somehow I edge over fifty thousand words. The completed manuscript is unsalvageable, but once again, somehow, I have won. I suspect the daily word count goal may have been a contributing factor. Unexpectedly, I’m looking forward to next year’s NaNo. Yes, next year, I’ll have a PROPER plan then!

2003: I actually DO have a proper plan this time. I know you were expecting some kind of deflation joke but this isn’t a book, this is my LIFE. I write notes, I cobble together a basic eight-page outline, I make my daily word count goal chart, I start writing.

Eight days later, I have fifty thousand words and a completed story.

I feel fantastic.

This was the year in which I was the first person in the southern hemisphere to win. The book I wrote is … not terrible. Not entirely. The story of a girl who lets her imagination get the better of her, who is stalked by her fridge, who is visited in her dreams by a man she’s known since she was a little girl, strange and lonely. No, not entirely terrible. With work it could be publishable, but blech, work. On to the next; 2004 will be even better!

2004: This year is not even better. I come into NaNovember without an idea; blind, I start writing anyway. The first two attempts are dismal failures, I get five thousand words into the first before giving up, over ten thousand into the second before abandoning ship.

The third idea holds promise; a fantasy story with intrigue and machinations and spycraft and I didn’t outline it at all so everything fell to pieces after twenty thousand words. Nevertheless I struggle on, write some decent scenes and some cute dialogue and then realise that the story is never going to come anywhere NEAR completion in fifty thousand words. I snip it off with an utterly unsatisfying cop-out ending and call it a learning experience. Still, I wrote fifty thousand words in a month so that’s a technical win.

2005: Hectic. My November was spent in Japan, I think I arrived on October 30th or something ridiculous like that. Fortunately this was the dawn of the era of flash drives, so I wrote the whole thing on a one gig USB stick and borrowed computers. This was the year I came the closest to losing, I submitted my finished manuscript six hours before the deadline. Not a bad little story, actually, but it needed more than fifty thousand words to tell it—another cop-out ending, less unsatisfying than 2004’s, but nowhere near a publishable story.

At this point I am beginning to suspect that outlining may be a good idea.

2006: Despite my suspicion about outlining, I don’t outline this year. Instead I write Fairytale X/Once Upon A, Like, Time, which is a collection of fairytales retold by a semi-clueless teenager trying to understand just what the heck they were going on about, with a lot of MST3K-style snarking. Kind of fun, kind of quirky, kind of shallow. An easy fifty thousand words, but at what cost? I feel like I wasted this year. 2007 will be different.

2007: I don’t really remember what I was doing around this time, but 2007 saw the creation of brother-sister pair Apples and Oranges. They live in a world not unlike our own, except just a teensy bit more awesome. Kind of a fun book, but structurally rubbish. (Still not outlining at this point, and it really, really shows.)

2008: Last year’s book was pretty fun, I should write a sequel to it! That’s a grand idea! Except I was never clear on the story I was telling so the book kind of just fizzled out. Fifty thousand words of pointless (though kind of fun) fluff. On to the next.

2009: I’m starting to take writing more seriously. I’m also starting to appreciate the value of outlining; of having a plan before I begin. I have a lot of ideas for Apples and Oranges, so I outline and then write the third in their series, a quirky little thing about the creation of a Pokemon-like game by the Free Art Academy Apples attends. It’s fun but terribly, terribly self-indulgent, although the climax, wherein Apples and OJ use their spirit guides, David Bowie and Michael Caine, in a Pokemon-style battle, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever written. (To me, I mean, not to anyone else. Anyone else would read it and just think, “This author is mad, and not in a good way”.)

2010: I’m starting down the road to indie authordom. E-publishing has not come up on my radar yet, but I’ve put a few books out in print (to be universally ignored). At this point I had written Miya Black I through IV, was struggling with V, and had also written Birds Of Passage and The Boy & Little Witch. My intention had been to write the fourth book in the Apples and Oranges series, about the adventures of OJ’s band, and I had some great ideas for it … but in the last week of October an idea came out of nowhere and wouldn’t leave me alone, a superhero story, a diary thing—I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Come November 1st I wrote notes like a maniac, hammered out a pretty detailed outline, and by the end of the day I had eleven thousand words written. Day two, another nine thousand. On day three I got serious, put my head down, and got up to 41,000—and ran into a problem. The story was finished! There wasn’t anything more to tell! But I worked on it that night, I read through and thought about things I could include or expand on, and eventually I realised that there was something significant I could add to it and that took me over fifty thousand words. Phew. So last year I finished NaNoWriMo in four days, and came out of it with Charlotte Powers: Power Down. You’d think it’d be an unbelievably rough first draft, but in fact it turned out to be one of the cleanest I’ve ever produced. I took a couple of weeks to edit and proof and eventually I published it.

2011: The book I wrote in four days is by far my best-selling title; I’ve sold twice as many copies of Power Down as I have of all my other books combined. Yep, life is funny sometimes. This year I ran into an odd kind of problem, similar to the previous year: at around day six I ran out of story. I did all I could to try to add to the book, to wring out a few more words, but there was just nothing I could do. The story began where it began and ended where it ended and everything in between was doing what it should be doing, and adding more to that would be pointless—nay, wrong. I put that book aside and had a good sort of a think about things, and the next day I reset my official NaNo word count to zero and started in on a new book. Outlined it, wrote it, and got fifty thousand words by the 30th—which didn’t actually finish the story, but still, that’s a technical win.

2012: This year, I push myself. I want to get back that old feeling of panicked terror and crushing pressure. Fifty thousand words in a month is easy, if you’ve done it ten times before. Even a hundred thousand isn’t so much of a stretch. That’s why this year I’ve decided to write one hundred and fifty thousand words in November. I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but that’s part of the fun. Most likely I’ll write a literary wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing first, then probably Charlotte Powers #5, then Tactics Heart until I drop.

I’m really looking forward to it.

In any case that’s my decade (and a bit) of NaNoWriMo. I’ve had some laughs and learned a lot, especially the importance of planning and outlining. Doing NaNoWriMo has also helped with my focus and discipline, has greatly increased my writing endurance, and has left me with about half a million words of unpublishable rubbish (but it’s good to get words out, no matter how rubbish they are). All in all, I wouldn’t be the writer I am now without NaNo. If you’re interested, do it.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Jolly Motivation: Week Three and a bit

Goodness gracious where does the time go. My goodness. Saturday already! Nearly Sunday of all days. This past week-and-a-bit has been pretty good for getting allegedly important real life things done but absolute poo as far as writing is concerned. In any case my intended goals were:

PRIMARY GOALS
* Charlotte Powers #5 outlined.
* Charlotte Powers #4 sorted out in terms of continuity and such.
* Tactics Heart Episode 10 written.
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 outlined.

SECONDARY GOALS
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 written.
* Charlotte Powers #4 edited.

… and actually I did manage to write episodes ten and eleven of TH, so … well, I guess I did pretty well there. Some small progress was made with Charlotte Powers, too. Plus I got distracted in the middle and sorted through a whole bunch of stuff in early prep for NaNovember, so … well, I suppose I got more done than I thought. Even so, Will Try Harder.

Also, right now I really really want to just start putting Tactics Heart out there. It’s huge, it’s a massive thing, far bigger than I expected it to be—it is simply astounding how a straightforward two page episode outline can turn into 12k+ of actual words. I’m not even halfway through with Episode 11 and the silly thing’s already over 100k. Could even top 300k by the end, I’m still not sure how I’m going to e-book it—unfortunately there’s no real halfway point where I could neatly cut the series in two, I’d feel like I was just ripping people off if I did that, so … I don’t know, something to dwell on later. I keep thinking it should probably be a webcomic or something instead of a book, however episodic, but if it was a webcomic it’d take probably a decade to tell the story—pure text has its weaknesses, but as a storytelling medium it can be pleasantly efficient. Still, it’d be nice to have some illusts and so on for this, kind of a light novel vibe. I might start scouting DevArt for sickeningly talented artists.

Anyway, I probably shouldn’t start releasing it now. That would, perhaps, be a better thing to do for the new year. Fresh start, fresh serial, an episode a week for half a year. Which reminds me, I wanted to talk about NaNo.

Hello! Here I am talking about NaNo. This year I’m going to be a little bit ambitious. Fifty thousand words in a month isn’t exactly a stretch. So how about doubling it? 100k in a month? But even that feels a little on the manageable side. I want to push myself, so my goal for November of this year will be ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS.

That’s around five thousand a day, which is about my average when I’m in first draft mode. But consistently? Every day? For a whole month? Now that’s an actual challenge. Not all of these words will be on the same project, but I will proceed in a linear fashion—currently, my plan is to finally write that literary wibbly wobbly timey-wimey thing that’s been bouncing around in my head since before last year’s NaNo, then perhaps move on to Charlotte Powers 5 for tradition’s sake, then just pour everything left into Tactics Heart. Going into December I hope to have a whole bunch of rough as guts first draft words to polish up, as well as at least twenty episodes of Tactics Heart.

So, in order to do this I’m going to have to clear my slate. That means Charlotte Powers 4 has to be done, because it’s been hanging around too long already. I want to go into November fresh and clean, and so my goal for this month is:

SINGULAR GOAL FOR OCTOBER
* Sort Charlotte Powers #4 right out. Like published levels of sorted.

That means I’ve got three weeks to sort out the tangles, incorporate all the foreshadowing, and edit the living daylights out of the thing. To that end, here are my goals for this week:

GOALS
* Get Charlotte Powers #5 outlined.
* Sort out anything that needs sorting out re: #4/#5 connections.
* Get cracking on an edit of #4.

Everything else can just get pushed aside. This is what I need to be working on, and these are the goals I will have accomplished by next week.

So, with that said, see you then!

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Jolly Motivation: Week Two

Lost track of the days and a little late, but hello! Goodness goodness doesn’t time fly. Getting straight to it, my goals for this week were:

PRIMARY GOALS
* Charlotte Powers #5 outlined.
* Charlotte Powers #4 sorted out in terms of continuity and such.
* Tactics Heart Episode 10 written.
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 outlined.

SECONDARY GOALS
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 written.
* Charlotte Powers #4 edited.

Of those goals, I actually did pretty well. Charlotte Powers #5 is proving to be a buggering buggery bugger, but I’m crawling my way through a rough preliminary outline scene by scene and starting to make some headway—it’s one where for almost every decision I make I have to stop and check things and think and make notes and those notes lead to more notes and oh and ah and blah blah blah. It’s a slog, is what I’m saying, but I am getting there. In any case I can confidently state that I am in a much better place with it now than I was a week ago, and that’s kind of the whole point of this. I also started making necessary changes to #4, just a few small things, but significant.

As for Tactics Heart, episode ten is finally done. Phew. Episode eleven is coming along nicely too—outlined and halfway written. It’s funny how the addition of a single brief scene can change everything. I also did some work on the overall structure and arcs and so forth, a bit tedious and time-consuming but necessary.

So, for the coming week:

PRIMARY GOALS
* Charlotte Powers #5 outlined at least up to the first big moment.
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 written.

SECONDARY GOALS
* Tactics Heart Episode 12 outlined/written.

Onwards onwards!

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Jolly Motivation: Week One

Jolly Motivation: Week One

Well, here we are already! Week one of my ‘come on old chap buck up and fly right’ self-motivation schedule has come and gone, so how’d I do? Well, not terribly, but not terrifically either. I have yet to achieve either of my goals, but I wrote quite a bit and sorted out a couple of tricky things that had been hanging over my head. The arrival of hideously addictive space roguelike-like FTL slowed productivity quite a bit, especially after I got it into my head to take notes during a session and it turned into something I just had to write (Crew Of The Osprey: A Recollection). That wasn’t such a disciplined thing to do, although I had a lot of fun and it’s been a while since I got into that kind of writing space, where everything was clear and all I needed was time to hammer out the words—it feels like everything I’m working on right now is fiddly and intricate, with a lot of things to balance and think about and consider, and just splurting out ten thousand words of straightforward space adventure was a nice break from all that. All in all I can’t say I regret it, but in terms of focus I feel that I need to improve.

Taking down the rebel flagship with fire bombs is an accomplishment, but is it productive? (Spoiler: No.)

So! My stated goals for the week were:

1) Charlotte Powers #5 outlined to a basic degree; connection with #4 firmly dealt with.
2) Episode 10 of Tactics Heart outlined and written.

And on both counts I have failed. CP#5 still isn’t outlined and the connection to #4 needs further expansion. Tactics Heart 10 IS outlined, but only around three-quarters written. So, in terms of actual new words over the past week (not counting the FTL thing), I got around ten thousand out. Which isn’t bad, but still, Could Do Better. With that in mind:

PRIMARY GOALS
* Charlotte Powers #5 outlined SERIOUSLY.
* Charlotte Powers #4 sorted out in terms of continuity and such.
* Tactics Heart Episode 10 very definitely written.
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 outlined.

SECONDARY GOALS
* Tactics Heart Episode 11 written.
* Charlotte Powers #4 edited.
* Stop playing FTL so much gosh.

See you next week!

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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Jolly Motivation: Goals, Dang It

Jolly Motivation: Goals, Dang It

Lately I’ve been lazy; so very lazy. (“Lazy” in this case meaning “Still working like an electric beaver, except on ‘easy’ things like proofing and making notes and research and such; not actually producing anything new and that’s what needs to happen”.) I’m out of the habit of writing and into the habit of all of the other activities that surround writing, and that’s not such a good place to stay for extended periods. I have all these projects and so many notes but very few actual written words—I mean, I do feel that when I actually do write those words that they’ll be very splendid words indeed because of all this groundwork I’ve done, but I also feel that until you’ve actually produced those phantom words that nothing’s worth much of anything. First drafts are the only currency of worth, everything else is just … everything else.

Because posts are more interesting with pictures, here’s a picture of the gaang as fruit.

With all of that out of the way, I think what I should do—and what I will do—what I will attempt to do—is begin using this bjournal as more of an update on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ll set goals and then chastise myself for failing to complete them, or else congratulate myself on a job jolly well done. And so:

STATE OF BJK
I just released Miya Black V: Every Glorious Tomorrow, which was good. I sat on that one for probably too long. In any case it completes the first ‘arc’ of the Miya Black story (two more to go, phew), and is perhaps a good place to rest the series for a little while. Not that I don’t love Miya and want to continue her story, but I think at this point what I need to do is spread out a little more, try new things, and see if I can’t connect with readers with fresh projects.

With that said my priority right now is Charlotte Powers. #4 and #5, to be specific. The thing with those two books is that they’re pretty closely linked, and although #4 could be considered ‘done’ I just really feel that I need to get #5 into at least an advanced outline state before releasing #4. So, that’s what I’m mostly doing at the moment, working on #5 and figuring out a bunch of really quite astonishingly fiddly things. It’s not so much that I wrote myself into a corner, more that I made quite a few promises with books 1 – 4 and #5 is where I have to deliver on those promises in the most satisfying way possible. It’s a book that I just really, really want to get absolutely right. So, the bad news for Charlotte Powers fans is that #4 isn’t going to be out for a month or two, but the good news is that #5 will follow relatively closely, maybe even before the end of the year if things go that way. It’d be nice to have a completed series out, although (typically) I’ve already started sketching a follow-up series that could be pretty exciting. More on that after #5 is released.

Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart is another focus right now. Serialised story, free to read, with an ebook to be released once it’s done. I know most serials are a ‘write/release as you go’ kind of thing, and I was originally going to do it that way, but with this one … I just kind of want to get more of it written before I start releasing. Just in case I need to add foreshadowing or something, you know I love sneaking a tiny detail in at the start that becomes vitally important near the end. Anyway, I really really love this story and these characters (all seven hundred of them) (just kidding) (kind of) and really just want to get it out there, but I have to go with my heart on this; needs more time, needs more effort. I’ve already got the first nine episodes written, and it looks like there’ll be twenty-five in the series … I mean, I could start releasing now … and I kind of want to … actually, that might be a good ‘goal’, get Tactics Heart sorted out.

Other projects are other projects. I pick away at them now and then but it’s probably best to keep them in the background for now. So then!

WEEKLY GOALS

1) Charlotte Powers #5 outlined to a basic degree; connection with #4 firmly dealt with.
2) Episode 10 of Tactics Heart outlined and written.

Everything else can be worked on or not worked on as it happens; these two things are what I will have accomplished by next Tuesday. See you then!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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State Of My Personal Indie Nation – January 2012 Edition

Okay! So, January. I rested a lot and did a little bit of work. Numbers? Numbers.

January 2012 Sales

Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 41
Charlotte Powers: Power Play – 22
Charlotte Powers: Hidden Power – 26
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 7
Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 3
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 3
Miya Black, Pirate Princess III: Fractured Lives – 0
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 16
The Boy & Little Witch – 4

Total – 122

Additionally, 18 borrows across titles.

So! Down a little from December but that’s to be expected. To be honest I haven’t been so interested in sales lately, I’m not sure why. Getting them is great, of course, and I’m happy to get over a hundred in a month, but selling books just doesn’t seem as important as hearing from people who enjoyed them—am I getting jaded? I guess because my numbers are pretty low compared to a lot of other people, it’s hard to get really excited about them. I appreciate every single sale I get and still get a little boost whenever I see a number go up, but … I don’t know. I guess also I’m concentrating on things that I can control, like actually writing, and sales do tend to take a back seat when I’m in that kind of mood.

Anyway! Goals for January were … actually I didn’t have any. The end/start of a year is always a low time for me, everything catches up and I spend most days just resting, but I’m coming back into myself now. Still taking it easy but starting to build some steam, Miya Black IV is almost ready to shove out of the nest, just a couple more proofs and I’ll be happy to publish it, and I’ve started actually writing Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart as my #60KinFeb challenge (my principle fear with that one is that it’s just going to be so absurdly long, I’m only a quarter way through my outline for the first episode and it’s like 6,000 words already, if every episode is 20k then it’s going to be like 400,000 words long, eek). Resonance Book Two is slowly coming together, I’m almost in a place where I can finish the first draft of that. Charlotte Powers 4 needs more time alone, but it’s mostly written and I just have to figure some stuff out and maybe have an inspiration or two … in any case that’s for next month.

Actually, that’s a good idea, let’s sort out some goals:

February 2012 Goals
1 – Write at least 60k of Tactics Heart. (Which would be the first three episodes? Yeep.)
2 – Get Resonance Book Two first-drafted for the love of biscuits.
3 – Miya Black IV proofed and released.

The space I’m in right now, regarding writing … I have to admit that I feel a little distant from the whole publishing side of things. I feel like this is the time before anything has really happened, if that makes sense. Just preamble, prologue, the best is yet to come sort of thing. I am looking forward to getting Tactics Heart out there, I feel that it’s a really strong story with some great characters and that if it can find its audience it’s going to make people happy. Episodic structure is really fun, too, I actually found it hard to go back to a more traditional novel style afterwards.

Aaaaanyway, January was a slow month, but it always is. Plus I was in Japan for most of it, now that I’m back home I’m getting more settled.

As ever, onwards and upwards!

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in My Personal Indie Nation

 

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State Of My Personal Indie Nation – December 2011 Edition

December was a fantastic month, and a great end to a fun and eventful year. Before anything else, some numbers:

December 2011 Sales

Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 57
Charlotte Powers: Power Play – 46
Charlotte Powers: Hidden Power – 37
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 6
Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 29
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 6
Miya Black, Pirate Princess III: Fractured Lives – 5
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 16
The Boy & Little Witch – 3

Total Sales For December: 206
Sales/Day: 6.8

Releasing Charlotte Powers 3 this month definitely gave my numbers a boost, but it was the new KDP Select program that really brought in the sales, especially making books free (I know, it’s kind of paradoxical but giving books away really does help sales, mostly because of the magic of also-bought lists). So, aside from those numbers up there I also had a couple of thousand free downloads, and around thirty ‘borrows’. Giving away books is fun, and when it leads to actual sales it’s even funner.

So anyway, I achieved my goal of selling more than a hundred books in a single month. In fact, I sold over two hundred! And this with higher prices, too. (My new pricing policy is $3.99 for first-in-series, $4.95 for subsequent books.) (Seems to be working so far!) While I’m happy about these numbers, mostly I’m just pleased that I got to release Charlotte Powers 3 and that people like it. Number four is proving to be a tricky beast–there’s just so much I want to put in it, so many things that I want to explore, picking and choosing is really hard. I might have to write book five (or at least thoroughly outline it) before I continue on four, they’re pretty heavily linked.

Anyway! Since it’s the end of the year I figure I’ll make this a kind of wrap-up post too, so here come some more numbers:

2011 Total Sales

Miya Black I – 74
Miya Black II – 23
Miya Black III – 16
Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 425
Charlotte Powers: Power Play – 90
Charlotte Powers: Hidden Power – 37
Resonance One: Birds Of Passage – 34
Undying Apathy – 77
The Boy & Little Witch – 10

Total Sales for 2011 – 786

I started at the end of February so it’s not really a full year but whatevs. More than seven hundred books sold, some really lovely reviews, nine books released and a lot of valuable lessons learnt, I think that’s none too shabby for my Year One. Looking ahead to sparkly fresh 2012, I feel outrageously optimistic. Back when I started this whole indie author adventure I was really pretty directionless—just writing books and putting them out there with the vague hope that they might get bought or something. Now I feel like I might actually know what I’m doing, that I have a much better idea of what sells and why, that I’m comfortable with my simplistic, hands-off approach to marketing/promotion, and that (most importantly) I’m a much better writer than I was at the start of the year. That’s really the big thing for me, I feel much more comfortable and confident about handling a story now, I’ve got a good handle on my process for developing an idea into an outline and then a first draft, even editing and proofing is less of a chore than it used to be—just a necessary part of things that takes a certain amount of time to do properly. I don’t regret the hours I put into it. Anyway, all in all I like where I am now, and I’m looking forward to where 2012 will take me.

Moving on, to something I’ve been thinking about recently. I have two main long-term goals; to have forty books published before I’m forty, and to be consistently earning more than $4,000 a month from book sales. At this point in time, I feel that I’m going to accomplish the second goal before the first. Overly optimistic? Arrogant, even? Let me up the stakes a little; I think I’m going to achieve this before the end of 2014, and here’s why: by that time I’ll have twenty books out (at the least), priced between $3.99 and $4.95. In order to earn my target of $4,000 per month I’d have to sell around 1300 books/month, which is around forty books a day. Spread over twenty titles, that’s just two sales per day per book—not unrealistic, I feel.

But anyway. This is normally the point at which I’d talk about what I accomplished during the month but actually I didn’t accomplish much, mostly due to being in Japan for most of the time—I did edit and proof Charlotte Powers 3 to a publishable standard at the start of the month and fiddled around with a few things, did some rewriting on a couple of different things and did an edit/total freakin’ overhaul of Miya Black IV and picked away at Tactics Heart and Resonance 2: Resonate Harder but nothing of any real substance. I’m on holiday! I’m just relaxing. January will be more of the same (which is what happened last year too, I seem to recall), but once I get home things are kicking into gear—building a website for Bright Battle, figuring out more episodic mechanics, finishing Resonance Book Two (currently a priority), working on Charlotte Powers 4 & 5, maybe even working on this new ‘promises and sacrifices’ story that popped into my head like two hours before I had to get on the plane (that always happens). Plus I still want to do my timey-wimey story and and and argh there’s just too much. One thing at a time, though, one thing at a time. I think I need a new paragraph to help me collect my thoughts.

In terms of 2012 goals I want to get Charlotte Powers 4 & 5 out to complete the series, Resonance Book Two released sometime in the next three months would be nice also. Bright Battle of course, that’ll be an ongoing thing for most of the year, then I’ll probably kick Miya Black IV and V out of the nest too, they’ve been bumming around for far too long. I’d like to have fifteen books published by the time 2013 begins, which means six books over twelve months, but considering quite a few of them are already mostly written that’s not such an unrealistic target. Miya Black IV & V are easy, I just have the edit the heck out of them. IV is mostly done, it just needs around 20k added to the middle, it’s already vaguely outlined … maybe near the end of the year if I’m in a piratey mood (and if the other books are selling). I have around fifty thousand words of CP4 done already, but I’m not sure if I want to use them. The story isn’t as strong as it should be. Resonance 2 is about ninety percent written, I just have to do the last bit then take a good hard objective look at it and make sure the way I’ve structured things is the absolute best way to tell the story, because I suspect it’s not. Let me just give you a little tip here, if you’ve got a book with four concurrent storylines featuring dozens of characters … look, just try not to get in a situation where you’ve got a book with four concurrent storylines featuring dozens of characters. Sorting it all out and making sure everything lines up and makes chronological sense is a real headache.

Anyway, enough rambling. Let’s wrap things up with … a score tally!

[2011 CLEAR]


Words Written: 762,000 ……… 762pts

Titles Published: 9 ……… 900pts

Books Sold: 786 ……… 786pts

Stars Collected: 167 ……… 167pts


UNCOMPROMISED PRIDE BONUS ……… 50pts

EFFORT BONUS ……… 25pts


Total ……… 2690pts

RANK ……… B+

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in My Personal Indie Nation

 

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State Of My Personal Indie Nation – November 2011 Edition

NaNovember! And what a crazy NaNoWriMo this one was—my first attempt (Charlotte Powers 3) turned out to be only 40k long, which wasn’t so helpful with a 50k target, so I had to very quickly outline and write another book (Charlotte Powers 4!). Thankfully the second one clocked in at well over the necessary 50k and all was well, although it needs a lot of rewriting. In essence, my first effort was a technical failure but a success as a book, while my second effort was a technical win but a failure as a book. In any case NaNo was hugely fun and I had a great time with it, as always. That’s the real answer to any NaNo-naysayers; it’s fun. Like I always say, nothing’s a waste of time if you’re enjoying yourself, and getting a couple of first drafts out of the deal isn’t too shabby either.

Anyway, numbers!

November 2011 Sales

Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 58
Charlotte Powers: Power Play – 29
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 3
Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 1
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 0
Miya Black, Pirate Princess III: Fractured Lives – 1
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 0
The Boy & Little Witch – 0

Total Sales For November: 92
Sales/Day: 3

So! It’s finally happened! Finally and definitively I can say that November 2011 is the first month in which I sold LESS than the month previous. Phew! It’s such a relief to have that out of the way. Also, it’s only by four books so it’s not a huge drop. As predicted, the release of the Kindle Fire has resulted in a huge increase of sales of, y’know, ACTUAL comic books from the Kindle store, which has had the effect of pushing Charlotte Powers out of the Superhero Top 100 almost entirely. I’m actually not that upset about this, it was a great little boost for a while but I was never relying on it to continue forever (plus I’m mostly being beaten by The Batman, impossible to feel bad about that). Technically the books shouldn’t have ever been in there at all (it’s the superhero comics section, after all) but it really is the best category for a superhero story (as there isn’t a prose superhero category) (ALTHOUGH THERE SHOULD BE) (zombies too, there are MORE than enough zombie books out there to fill out a category) (but categories are definitely one area where Amazon is deficient), and it meant the book got exposed to people who became interested in it and bought it (and possibly read it and maybe even enjoyed it). What I mean is that I don’t think putting my book in that category was hurting anyone, so I never felt bad about doing so. Anyway! The free ride’s over and consequently sales are down, but that’s okay. YA’s a tough sell no matter what little lucky breaks you get, I just have to hope that enough people liked the story enough to recommend it to friends. (And hope also that it’s still showing up on some also-bought lists.) It might be that next year I have to do some actual (gnngh) marketing, but on the other hand naaaaah. Anyway, although I predict a further drop in sales for Charlotte Powers now that the Superhero Top 100 cheat code doesn’t really work any more, my hope is that they won’t stop completely. As long as I’m selling something I’m okay, it’s when nothing is moving at all that I get a bit down, worried that my fate is to write lovingly crafted, well-reviewed books that sell about ten copies a year.

Anyway, in 2012 I’ll be focusing on my episodic series, that’s going to be VERY fun. I was looking through my notes for it today and it really has the potential to become something pretty special. Of course it’s easy to say that when you haven’t actually written anything, but I’ve got a really good feeling about this one. I think it strikes a good balance between what I want to write and what people want to read, more than anything I’ve yet published—of course, when I say ‘what people want to read’ I don’t really mean mainstream people, I’m more talking about my people, those trope-savvy, webcomic, anime and game-loving people who are always on the lookout for something new and interesting and depthy to latch onto.

Milestones for this month? Over five hundred sold, that’s pretty special. Half a thousand! Also, with Charlotte Powers 3 & 4 done for NaNoWriMo I have now written over eight hundred thousand words of fiction in 2011. I’m not sure if I can crack a million words by January 1st, but I’ve surprised myself in the past so, y’know, we’ll see.

Aside from the aforementioned Charlotte Powers 3 & 4, what did I accomplish in November? Quite an entirely surprising amount, actually! I did take a break from NaNo for a few days to work on an unrelated project, around 30,000 words that may or may not be useful (I just couldn’t help myself, I really got sucked into that thing almost to the point of obsession, although I’m still not sure if it’ll go anywhere). I also picked away at some notes and research for Tactics Heart, and even started doing the second draft outlines for the episodes (up to nine already and having a ball). Charlotte Powers 5 also called, said, “Hello, I’m pretty much definitely going to be the last book in the series and I’m kind of slightly just a bit epic, so keep that in mind, okay?”. I’m almost certainly going to have the entire Charlotte Powers series published by the end of next year, it’ll be nice to actually have something ‘finished’ out there. This seems like an ideal point to segue into:

GOALS FOR DECEMBER
1 – Tactics Heart. Lots of stuff to do there. Most importantly, writing up proper outlines for every episode (twenty-one at this point, in the first season) and lay groundwork for the website. Maybe write an actual episode or two.
2 – Edit, proof, polish Charlotte Powers 3.
3 – PUBLISH THAT SUCKER.

That’s probably enough, considering I’ll be in Japan for most of the month (and the next). This does mean that I won’t achieve my goal of having ten books published by the end of 2011, but I’d rather fail a self-imposed challenge than push things out too quickly. I guess I could publish Miya Black IV but considering the potential market for that is less than a dozen people I’m not really in too much of a hurry. It is pretty much finished, though, and having it out there wouldn’t hurt … well, maybe. I’ll see how things go. In any case getting Charlotte Powers 3 published is a definite priority—in time for Xmas! Maybe I should churn out a Christmas-themed novella too. Haha. Kind of half-serious about that.

In any case, NaNovember was (as always) both fun and productive. December is going to be busy, but I’m always happiest when I have a lot to do and deadlines to pummel into submission.

Next year will be, I predict, unusual and exciting. I’m looking forward to it already.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in My Personal Indie Nation

 

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