More updates! Such as they are I’ve requested back my rights to the stories I’ve published with Amber Quill Press (Family Jewels and Cimmerean League: Revelations) and Phaze (Spring Storm and The Man from HATHOR). I’ve had no complaints with either AQP or Phaze as a publisher, but I’m hoping to repackage and self-publish the stories along with the ones formerly published with EC and a few other stories I have floating around. I’ll leave this post up as a sticky and will post another update once I have more information.
When I’m asked where I work for the day job, I have a short answer and a long answer. I have many things tumbling through my head about the status of my books that had been published by Ellora’s Cave, but for now, I’ll give you the short answer: the publishing rights to Amuse Bouche, End Balance, and Tera’s Awakening have reverted back to me as of today, March 16, 2015.
I have hidden the pages for those books until I can deal with updating them (I’m heading into the day job in a few minutes). Until I have time to update them I’ll leave this post, or one with further information, stickied to the top of the main site page so that there is a clear record of them (it’s the librarian in me). If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
I crossed the 50,000 words mark on my novel yesterday! Woohoo!! I’m very pleased with myself in that I confirmed that I can write the first draft of a short novel in a 3-week period without killing myself. I did manage this same feat earlier this summer, but doing it again is proof the first time wasn’t a fluke.
I do have mixed feelings about this novel, however. Most of my writing yesterday was done just to cross the story over the 50K mark. The ending is beyond rushed, and some might say it doesn’t even exist. The story itself is wibbly-wobbly and is in dire need of revision. If I wanted to do anything with the story in its current state. And I’m pretty sure I don’t. As I said to a friend on Twitter yesterday, not only did the story go off the rails, but it went over the cliff. But do I regret spending my precious writing time on this novel? No.
I’m choosing to look at it as a palate cleanser. Last week, I was pondering some things I discussed with a writing friend at a recent convention. The main point was to write what excited you. Every project I tackle excites me to some extent. There’s something drawing me in. However, not every story is able to hold my attention through the first draft. Let alone all of the revision drafts that are necessary. As I was pondering the conversation, I had the spark of an idea. That idea grew, is still growing, and it’s getting me *very* excited. To the point that I’ve already plopped this new story on my writing schedule for January and February. Without working on the Nano novel and clearing the dreck from my mind, I would not have been able to sow the field for this new idea.
In my non-writing life, I’ve never regretted any job I’ve ever worked even though a few made me *supremely* unhappy for the time I was there. The reason I don’t regret them is because I learned something from each and every one of them. Whether it was a skill set I was able to take forward into the next job, or something about myself, I learned. This is the same with writing. If you learn something from every project you spend time on, your time is being well-spent.
For those still Nano-ing, good luck! Press on! Even if you do not get the winner’s badge, you are still a winner for ending the month with more words on paper or screen than you started the month with!
Fast-drafting is a challenge. Nanowrimo is essentially one of many versions of fast-drafting. This last calendar year has cemented for me that my process is very much aligned with the principles of fast-drafting. I vomit out words at a copious pace, and then I go back and heavily edit them later. I mentioned in my last post that previous attempts at Nanowrimo had left me burnt out. This is always a concern with fast-drafting if it’s not a process you’re used to. Increasing your pace at any time leaves you open to burn out.
You must listen to your body and your mind when fast-drafting or working to increase your pace. A couple of times this week, I ignored my alarm and slept in later than I planned on. I needed sleep as I’d been staying up until midnight (if I was lucky) with my alarm going off at 6 am. For some, this amount of sleep would be more than sufficient. It isn’t for me, and I’m not a morning person in the first place. The first time it happened, I got up in time to squeeze in a half hour of writing time before I needed to head into work. This is about half the time I normally spend writing in the morning. I’d already decided that I was going out with friends for a working dinner of writing, so I figured I’d be able to make up the remainder of my daily goal then. That didn’t happen, but the words I had written that morning had kept me ahead of not only my personally scheduled pace, but also the official Nanowrimo pace. I chose not to stress.
Then on Friday, I was exhausted. In addition to just being tired–and cozy warm in a nest of blankets with a chilly morning temperature, I was having a flare up of the dry patches around one of my eyes. This fall-to-winter transition has caused incipient psoriatic patches around my eyes to erupt as never before. My left eye is being hit particularly bad. Luckily, my issues with psoriasis are relatively light compared to others with it. Suffice it to say, before I go into a long discourse on psoriasis (I just deleted a bunch of sentences), my body’s yelling at me to rest. Friday, I listened to it and slept in a little longer. I compromised and went into work earlier than normal so I could leave earlier than normal. I came home, and despite not generally liking to draft new projects in the evenings, I got my words in.
The key to successfully fast-drafting is setting up a schedule. A schedule that includes downtime for you which can be shifted around as needed. One of the main reasons I get up early to write is so I can have my evenings free to read, watch TV/movies, or do chores around the house (ugh). When needed, like on Friday, I can put those more fun activities (not the cleaning) aside in favor of making up the work. I try not to do this often, but every once in a while is fine.
For this weekend and next, to get ahead of the Nano pace and finish the first draft of my novel (at least my project word count) prior to Thanksgiving, I scheduled myself to write 5000 each Saturday and Sunday. I know I can accomplish that in a three-hour period. On the days where 5000 words is my goal, I shoot for blocking out 9 am to 12 pm to do it. Yesterday, I started a little after nine, but that was fine. I was able to get the words done and then head out to my other scheduled activities without being too late. Even better, I hit the halfway point of my project word count for my novel. This morning, I could not crawl out of bed once again. However, I also had not scheduled myself for any hard-ish commitments like I had for yesterday. I started an hour later than I did yesterday, but once again, I completed my goal.
Ultimately, be kind to yourself. Figuring out the right pace for you is finding the one that will allow you to work consistently and produce the amount of work needed to meet your goals.
Ah, Nano. I’ve had interesting feelings regarding Nano since I first started attempting it way back in 2003. I became aware of it in 2002, but I think during November, so I didn’t actually have a book to write at that point. The manuscript that eventually became End Balance got me my one “win” in 2004. Ten years ago. Chills raced down my spine at that thought. I tried again in 2005 and 2006, but realized that the pressure of Nano was contributing to feelings of burn out. In the years since, I’ve kept my account active, but have not put effort into dipping my toes into the water again. Last year, though, I did consider doing it again as I had begun to achieve a rhythm in my drafting style that would theoretically allow me to win. However, the timing was not in my favor for a number of reasons.
This year, though, as I was plotting out when I would be drafting projects–though I hadn’t decided on *which* projects–I realized that I could schedule myself to draft a novel in November. And I knew I could absolutely win as I’d written two full novels and a few short stories in the meantime. One of those novels was written well ahead of the suggested Nano pace. All without really feeling a strain. This is not to say that some days weren’t grueling, because they totally were. However, because I’ve gotten to know myself, and what works best for me in terms of the time of day that I write and the amount that I write, I have been able to avoid burning out. Which has *always* been my biggest fear with Nano.
As part of my prep for this year, and what I’ve done for my last few projects, I’ve printed out a calendar and written down my daily writing goals. But I do that *after* I block out the days I already have other plans. For example, I went back to my hometown last weekend for a family-ish wedding. I knew I’d have some time here and there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to write, but I only scheduled myself for 1000 words each day. Part of this was to ease myself back into drafting mode, and part was to accommodate the expectations of visiting with family. However, I forgot my calendar here at home so I got ahead of myself on Monday. This did come in handy this morning as there were some errands I had to accomplish before going into work and I cut the goal for today in half. I’m still 1300 words ahead of my scheduled pace.
This is me, though. I was advising a friend a few weeks ago to give Nano a try because she needs a kick in the butt to start writing. She was focused on winning. I told her to ignore winning. What she needs to focus on is just getting words down on the page. Any amount she accomplishes during Nano is going to be more words than she had at the beginning of the month. And *that* is true for everyone whether you “win” or not.
If you’re participating in Nano this year, good luck! If you finish and “win”, yay!! If you don’t, you still have more words than you started with. But no matter what, EDIT that sucker before you submit it somewhere or self-publish it!
EDITED 1/18/15: As I am still waiting to receive a response from EC regarding my request for the return of my rights, I’ve decided to make this a sticky post until the situation has been resolved one way or another. ~KM
I’ve been debating for days on whether or not to say anything about this. As in, the Streisand Effect. Finally, I decided that my readers deserved to have a statement from me on why certain pages on the books section of the site look different from the others. Over the weekend, I removed the direct links to purchase my Ellora’s Cave published titles. I have done this because I sent notice to EC requesting the reversion of my rights to those stories. There is a lot of drama going on right now and, frankly, this is not something I decided on the spur of the moment to do. The drama was the prod for me to get off my tuchus and not wait for a condition I had been waiting on (outside of EC) to change. I control my career no matter what, and I needed to request these books back.
I will say that I have always received my royalty checks and statements with the exception of one month for which I was told (after I queried EC), there were no sales for that royalty period. I have been told by other authors this was not the case for them. There were other issues beyond payment (or not) of royalties that made me decide that EC was not the best house for my work. Frankly, my stories have not sold well to the EC readership. This is what allowed me to request my rights back under the clause regarding what constitutes a story being out-of-print. It really sucks to admit as an author that your work doesn’t sell well, but that’s reality. Not everyone’s going to be a New York Times bestseller. But I keep plugging along working on the next project because I live in hope *that* might the magic manuscript.
If I do get my rights back, I will consider whether or not to self-publish them at that time. If I do self-publish them, I doubt I’m going to revise them. The stories were written over a six-year period between 2004 and 2010. I had a lot of growth as an author in that time, and I’ve had exponential growth since then. What I don’t believe in is going back and reworking a project once it’s been published. To me, for me, that casts the work in amber. I’ve got new and fresh stories I want to tell, and I’d rather spend my time writing and revising those to make them publishable. Anyway, I wanted to update you on what’s going on. And as I say on Twitter every time I receive a royalty check, especially when they’re under $1.00: THANK YOU. I appreciate each and every one of you allowing me the chance to entertain you.
One of the things I really enjoy doing besides writing and reading is knitting. Right now I’m working on a shawl. I discovered yesterday that I had wound only one skein into a ball. Oops! As I want to knit tonight, I figured I should probably wind up a couple of balls. How do you guys spend your creative time?
The full list of featured authors for the WRW Blogger & Reader Luncheon on October 11, 2014 has been posted! Come join me and all of these fabulous authors for an afternoon of food, fun, and romance!
Caryn Moya Block
The “news” about the newsletter is that I’m updating the name from the Newsletter of Irregularity to the Newsletter of Releases and Events. Which basically means that it will still be a bit irregular, but I’ll send it out about a week or so before every new release and event. If there are a slew of releases and events around the same time, I’ll group them together into one newsletter so as not to bombard you Sign up for it today!
Since the year I graduated from college, I’ve enjoyed going to RWA conferences. I haven’t gone every year since then, but they are always worth it. This year was definitely the best to date. Much of that had to do with the people I connected with there. There were a number of people who I’ve known for dogs’ years (and we all look as fabulous as we did when we first met), others who I’ve gotten to know from attending RT and other industry conferences the last few years, people who I’ve known online but not met in person yet, and others who I’d never met prior to the conference. I go to RWA to learn more about the craft and business of writing, but that would be nothing without the fabulous attendees, volunteers, and staff who make it such a great conference.
My roommate this year was a friend from the library world who got into romance writing only relatively recently. This was her first RWA conference, and I really enjoyed being able to answer questions she had and give her advice so she could decide on her approach to it. I know there are photos of us floating around, but I somehow missed taking one!
Other highlights for me included presenting my first workshop at RWA with the fabulous Jennifer Lohmann (I think we rocked), going to my first publisher parties (thanks to being a librarian and a member of WRW), signing books at the Wednesday night literacy signing, and hearing so many great speakers! One of the best perks of the RWA conference is that they record many of the sessions and make them available for purchase. I’ve burned through *a ton* of recordings since I got home.
The wonderful Christine d’Abo signing at the Grand Central Forever signing:
Me and SuperWendy:
Me and HelenKayDimon:
I think this is my favorite picture of the whole conference for the sheer fabulousness on display Shelley Ann Clark and me:
Some very good things happened to me at the RWA conference in San Antonio, one of which has necessitated me putting lots of things on hold until I complete what I need to do to move on the the next step of the process. And while having family visiting for two weeks (okay, youngest bro is in town for training, but we typically hang out together every day when this happens) is a fabulous thing, it’s making my schedule for the next week and a half interesting.
I’m planning on updating the website with the information about The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica and my story, “Notes on a Scandal”, this weekend. This book will be releasing next Tuesday, August 12th, so mark your calendars! I will be sending out a newsletter next Tuesday, so if you’d like that as a reminder or want to read a more detailed report of my time at RWA, sign up here.
Finally, I’m reading this Saturday, August 9th from “Closing the Deal” in Best Erotic Romance 2014 as part of the Lady Jane’s Salon-Silver Spring, so come out to La Madeleine in Bethesda, MD from 6 to 8 pm. I may have a couple of copies that I’ll be giving away