Kelly Maher
Nano Winner!

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!

Self-care during Nano and other fast-drafting sessions

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.

Nanowrimo 2014

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!

Book availability

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.

Being creative – Knitting

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?

Yarn of various blue colors on a yarn holder. Tag identifies it as Malabrigo Worsted. The colorway is Whales Road.

Two balls of Malabrigo Worsted in the Whales Road colorway--various blues and greens--wound up into yarn cakes.

WRW Blogger & Reader Luncheon and newsletter updates!

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!

Alexa Egan
Anne Barton
Avery Flynn
Caryn Moya Block
Christi Barth
Cristin Harber
Debra Dunbar
Delancey Stewart
Elizabeth Staab
Geri Krotow
Hope Ramsay
Jamie Farrell
Karna Small-Bodman
Kieran Kramer
Kim Headlee
Kimberly Kincaid
Krista Hall
Lavinia Kent
Liz Everly
Lynne Silver
Mackenzie Lucas
Madeline Iva
Mary Behre
Meredith Bond
Mia Kerick
Miguelina Perez
Nicole Pouchet
PA DePaul
Rachel Rawling
Robin Covington
Sally MacKenzie
Shari Slade
Solara Gordon
Sonali Dev
Tamra Lassiter
Terri Brisbin
Tracey Livesay
Tracy Brogan

Register through WRW

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!

RWA Recap

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.

Picture time!

My signing table at the RWA Literacy Signing:
My signing table at RWA 2014 showing an empty chair, and a table covered in a red tablecloth with a placard with my name on it and a display of copies of Best Erotic Romance 2014.

How can you go to San Antonio and not go see the Alamo? Especially when it’s right around the corner from the conference hotel?
The Alamo mission church in San Antonio, TX

The Passionate Ink party! Salsa instruction and shirtless cowboys!
Attendees of the Passionate Ink party at RWA on the dance floor learning how to salsa. There are shirtless cowboys in the back row wearing jeans, boots and cream cowboy hats.

The wonderful Christine d’Abo signing at the Grand Central Forever signing:
Author Christine d'Abo signing postcards for her book Quicksilver Soul.

Me and SuperWendy:
Selfie of Kelly Maher standing on the left wearing purple-rimmed glasses in a blue-green paisley-print halter style maxi dress, and Wendy Crutcher on right in half-rim glasses wearing a sleeveless blue dress.

Me and HelenKayDimon:
Selfie of Kelly Maher on the left and HelenKay Dimon on the right.

I think this is my favorite picture of the whole conference for the sheer fabulousness on display ;) Shelley Ann Clark and me:
Shelley Ann Clark standing barefoot on the left wearing a sleeveless red dress and Kelly Maher standing on the right in a royal blue dress and wearing 4-inch black leather shoes. Shelley's head is at the level of Kelly's shoulder.

Alive and a couple of reminders

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 ;)

Welcome to July!

Yes, I know it’s the 21st of the month when I’m writing this, but I’m finally getting my head in gear :) The first two weeks of July were crazy for me as I was in the middle of writing my latest novel. It’s still in first draft stage, but it is completed and I’ll be starting edits after I finish writing this post. In the middle of writing, we had the holiday weekend which also meant my mom came to town to help me celebrate my birthday as well as deliver a number of items which I’ve had in storage at home. Good times were had by all!

As an update to my appearance schedule (it feels a bit weird that I have one!), I will be signing this Wednesday (tomorrow when this post goes up!) at the RWA “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing in San Antonio, TX. If you’re in the area, I really hope you’ll attend. I will be signing copies of Best Erotic Romance 2014. If you’re attending the conference, I’ll be doing a panel with Jennifer Lohmann at 8:30 am on Thursday titled “Juggling Two Careers” and it will be in Conference Room 12 of the Rivercenter Marriott.

On Saturday, August 9th, I’ll be doing a reading at the Lady Jane’s Salon-Silver Spring which will be in Bethesda, MD. My co-readers will be Mary Behre, Mackenzie Lucas, and Janet Mullany. The admission is either $5 or a gently used romance novel.

Last on the appearance front, please join me and many more fabulous authors at the WRW Readers and Bloggers Luncheon on Saturday, October 11th (this is Columbus Day weekend if you’ve got that day off). Admission is $25 and lunch is included.

I do have some book news! The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica anthology which includes my short story, “Notes on a Scandal”, will be out next month! I’ll have the page for it up on my website by the end of this month.

I think that’s it for now! I hope you’re all having a fabulous July!

RT 2014 recap!

My oh-so-belated recap is finally here! I squarely place the blame on alter ego as she had day job stuff she had to deal with right after coming back and then was off to Book Expo America last week.

RT 2014 was so much fun! A lot of it was because it was in New Orleans, and there is certainly something to be said about the atmosphere. Also, the food. I had to try the beignets at Cafe du Monde at least once:

Beignets and orange juice from Cafe du Monde

The other part of the vibe was being there as Kelly for the first time. Alter ego had her chance to go the last three years, so letting this ego fly free was an interesting experience. The viewpoint of the author is very different from that of librarian, and it was sometimes hard to remember which hat to wear. While out exploring New Orleans with friends, I did pick up a hat to help remind me:

Kelly is modeling her green straw hat in a cloche style with brown ribbon piping around the brim and a taupe ribbon around the crown.

I spent a lot of time running into Jennifer Lohmann, which was good as we’re presenting a panel at RWA in San Antonio later this summer. One of the killer things for me was the day where we were wearing almost the exact same style of shoe:

Picture of shoes that Jennifer Lohmann and Kelly Maher were wearing at RT 2014. Both are Mary Jane style heels where Kelly's are wine patent leather with a thin leather cord tying off the arch strap, and Jennifer's are multi-colored spectators of taupe, yellow, and green with a taupe ribbon tying off the arch strap.

At the signing, we were almost back-to-back, too! (Ignore my hat hair!)

Jennifer Lohmann and Kelly Maher at the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention book signing. Jennifer is wearing a purple short-sleeved top with a blue skirt with a white floral print, and Kelly is wearing a pink wrap shirt with capri jeans.

The fabulous Ann Lorz, who has known me since before I was Kelly, was the first person to buy a book of mine at the signing on Saturday:

Ann Lorz buying a copy of Duty and Desire from Kelly at the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention.

On Sunday, I took a day of rest and rode on a New Orleans streetcar with my roommate. They were so much fun!

Interior view of a New Orleans street car featuring a concave white aluminum ceiling and wooden seats for passengers.

Roomie left *very* early Monday morning, and my flight wasn’t until the early evening, so I spent the morning doing even more touristy things.

Marie Laveau's tomb in St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 in New Orleans. It is whitewashed and covered in graffiti, mainly groups of three x's, to invoke her assistance.

Marie Laveau’s tomb

Buildings in the French Quarter of New Orleans, featuring the typical style of four stories with wrought iron balconies on the streetside facade.

A street in the French Quarter of New Orleans

Exterior shot of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. It is white with three spires, the tallest one in the center, with the other two symmetrically flanking it.

St. Louis Cathedral

I had such a fabulous time meeting fellow romance readers, and having the opportunity to speak with you about my work. I hope everyone who attended had a wonderful time!