Kelly Maher
Pre-Thanksgiving Thanks

Right now, I’m most thankful my plans to travel home for the holiday aren’t until the day itself. I’m thankful for work which affords me a roof over my head. I’m also thankful I live only a mile away from my day job, so I can walk there in bad weather. And that I have add-ons for my shoes which will make it easier to walk in icy conditions. Yay for winter arriving!! 🙂 What are you thankful for?

Reading for fun

I ran across a few discussions today, both in person and online, that made me realize how little personal reading I’ve been doing lately. I can almost completely lay the blame on the increased amount of writing I’ve done in the last six months. At dinner with a friend tonight, I mentioned how I would love to take a week’s vacation where I could do nothing but read. We both joked how neither of can figure out when we would go on vacation as we’re both also conference junkies.

I do love how much more writing I’m doing, and I’m enjoying the schedule I have when I’m writing the first drafts of my work. Basically, I get up (for me) stupidly early, shower and dress for the day, write for about an hour and a half, and then head into the day job. This means I have my evenings free to do whatever I want including read. I’m still trying to sort out an efficient schedule for editing mode. I’m awake just enough in the mornings to write, but not quite enough to do critical reading and editing. Since doing my writing-related work when I’m in edit mode first thing in the morning is not feasible at this point in time, I go into the day job earlier than I do when I’m writing with the expectation of editing in the evening. However, because I’m tired from the day job (especially when I work a longer day to build up my additional leave time bank), I spend more time on my planned editing activities than I’d like. This means less time reading for fun when I’m editing.

If nothing else, this is an education for me in prioritizing my time and adjusting my schedule as needed to achieve those priorities. If you had a week to do nothing but read, what would you read? I’d probably finally start Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.

A period of rest…kind of

This week is a down week for me since I finished the first draft of Project Parietal last week. I spent the weekend doing errand type stuff while enjoying driving around the area. Last night, I wallowed in the loveliness of Fox’s Monday night lineup. Seriously, if you’re not watching Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow, you need to give them a chance. They both have sharp senses of humor. Alter alter ego is taking the lead week on the writing front as she works on putting together the finishing touches for her release this month.

All of these little things, even the work that alter alter ego is doing, helps give me needed distance from Project Parietal. When I go back to it this weekend, I’ll be able to look on it with a fresh eye and dissect it. One of the things I need to sort out about it is where to place the chapter breaks. I experimented with writing a story straight through when I worked on Project Ulna. However, I did include a number of chapter breaks before I switched to the “free flow” style. I think PP is the longest work I’ve done with no chapter breaks. I do have breaks for switches between points of view, but that’s it. What this means is I need to discern the pacing of the story to figure out where to put those breaks. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to tackling. My goal for PP is to get it to my beta readers before Thanksgiving so I can get it back, edit it again with their input and send it out before Christmas. I know, due to the holidays, it will be awhile before I can expect to hear back. It will be nice to have it out of my hands as I spend time with my family, though 🙂

Holiday creep

As I was considering the myriad of topics which I could expound upon here, a commercial came on for a retail store advocating for you to do your Christmas shopping NOW! I have quite a few friends who are already done with their holiday shopping. I commend them for avoiding the holiday crowds. I’m one of those shoppers who only begins to vaguely think about shopping for Christmas gifts about now. I won’t really shop until about the second week of December. To me, that’s the perfect lull period between the Black Friday (and then some) frenzy and the “Oh God, Christmas is almost here!!!” scare shopping.

I love the holidays because it means time with my family. Goodwill seems to abound in the universe as the days grow shorter (in the northern hemisphere, at least) and approach the time of growing longer once again. In general, I consider it a happy time of year.

What I absolutely hate about the holidays is the notion that they need to start earlier and earlier every year. I don’t necessarily consider myself a purist, but I believe Christmas music should not be played on the radio until the day after Thanksgiving here in the States. A local station apparently started the day after Halloween. This year, a number of stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Not only in the evening (which is bad enough), but a few in the morning! I’m making a long list of stores I will not patronize for this reason. I love Christmas, but I don’t want to be sick of it weeks before the actual date!

Everyone celebrates in their own way, and more power to you! I’ll just be over here in the corner focusing on turkey and stuffing and remembering very young family members begin singing a toddler version of “Happy Birthday” as we lighted the table candles that one year because they had just learned to associate the lighting of candles with singing the song and then blowing out the flames. Happy times.

Production goals

Part of being able to produce the amount I’ve been able to produce in the last six months (over 160,000 words!!) is coming to know my production style. I’m a spewer of words. I only vaguely craft as I’m working my way through the first draft. If something catches my eye or mental ear as I’m typing, I’ll fix it then, otherwise I’ll worry about it in the revision stage. Periodically, I do go back. When I do, it’s almost always to add in words rather than delete. I have no problems deleting words. I’ve deleted whole chapters before. But that is *always* after the first draft is written. I need words on page. I need that high of writing “the end” when completing the first draft. I crave having something “done”. It’s what allows me to continue forward.

Coming to these realizations is not something I was able to do overnight. I spent a good six months, if not more, reflecting on what I wanted out of my writing career. Production goals are only one step of the whole, but they are the most vital step. If you do not produce, you have nothing to sell. In order to know what production goals to set for yourself, you must know what your overall career goals are. Once you have your overall goals, you can calibrate your other types of goals from there. Because there are certain things I want to be able to do in a few years which require a good deal of savings, I knew that I needed to significantly ramp up my production levels as I’ve not been the most prolific of authors in the past. I decided to “ease” into this goal by setting a very manageable target of writing 100,000 words in a year’s time. I even made a point to say “unedited”. Edited words were part of my second stage 🙂

Well, I’ve blown past my initial goal in half the time set. I now need to spend some more time reflecting on how to approach my upcoming writing schedule and readjust my goal structure. There are some external factors in play with regards to these, but if those external factors happen, I’ll readjust once again at that time. This is what any career is about: flexibility to see your way through to achieving your overall goals.

Nanowrimo

I’m not officially participating in Nanowrimo this year even though I’m registered since I decided to focus on writing *and* editing a novella. A novella is typically 25,000-30,000 words long, so significantly short of the 50,000 minimum for winning Nano. I’ve been at least signed up for Nano since my days of grad school. I won with the first draft of what eventually became End Balance in 2004.

I consider Nano to be a dual-edged sword. The year I won, I wanted nothing to do with writing for months afterward. I’d burned myself out. I seriously tried again the year after, but I recognized the beginning stages of burn out and I abandoned the project. I was not ready to write at that speed and have it be sustainable. I have always meant writing to be a second (and at times, third) income for myself. To have a steady income, you need a sustainable business model. Up until this last year, the pace needed to win Nano did not meet that criteria for me. This year, I think I could have easily won it, providing I was working on an appropriate project.

For the issues I had after winning Nano, at the end of the day, I did have a first draft of a story I was eventually able to go back and rewrite and revise and shape into a publishable manuscript. I think I cut at least a third, if not half, of the original draft of EB. Nano, for some people, is a means to write and nothing more. They do it for the love of writing, which is a fabulous thing. For other people, it’s a way to kickstart their work on a project they know is going to be longer, but they need the initial push to spew out the words.

Nano is what you make of it, but it is only one tool in the writer’s toolbox. If it isn’t getting the job done for you, use something else. Next year, I may work my writing schedule so I can dedicate November to a project of appropriate length and win once again. We’ll see. Are you doing Nano this year? Good luck if you are!

Project Parietal

Over on the sidebar, you may notice a new work in progress: Project Parietal (PP). PP is a hot contemporary novella with basketball, Paris, and art. There’s a few other things in there, too, but those are the biggies. I’m almost a quarter way through it and I’m about ready to tear my hair out. The words flowed when I first started writing it, and then yesterday, I may as well have been pulling teeth. Part of it was needing to look up and confirm a lot of stuff I vaguely remembered from history and art classes over the years. Thanks be to deity-of-choice the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay have interactive floor maps. I give the edge to the Louvre.

By the time I finish Project Parietal, hopefully by the end of this month, I will have written the first draft of a novel, written and edited two novellas, written and edited a short story as me, written and edited and self-published three short stories as alter alter ego, and started first draft seeds for a couple of other projects since June 1st. All of that will add up to around 170,000 words. This is blowing my mind. Comparing my productivity this year to any other year is comparing apples to oranges. I know I’m the most excited I’ve ever been about writing. Even when it’s painful the way it was yesterday. One of these days I’ll do a write up of how I got myself to this point. Maybe for Thanksgiving 🙂

Happy Halloween!!!

I hope you’re all having a great evening! We get very few trick or treaters in my neighborhood, and with the entrance to my apartment being very out of the way, I don’t give out candy. We did celebrate at work today, so I got my costume on 😀 What do you dress up for Halloween as if you celebrate?

Closing the Deal Excerpt

I’m still bouncing in my seat over the sale I announced on Friday! Closing the Deal features Julia and Paul, two co-workers who need to work out some non-co-workerly feelings for each other, and the island of St. Thomas is just the place to do so. Once they finish the business meetings they’re there for.

She’d made it only a couple of hundred feet down the path when she heard a bang behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw it was her neighbor. Dark suit, short copper hair, a good half-foot taller than her even in the heels. Her eyes widened.

Paul.

She turned back around and ran for the resort, not caring that her heels echoed with every step. The conference center loomed out of the vegetation as she rounded the corner. Through the glass walls she could see her boss and their vice president standing near the door. She paused to catch her breath. She was a professional. Inner turmoil had no place in international business.

Closing her eyes, she pictured the centering image her yoga instructor had taught her. Five seconds and she had herself in hand, her decidedly non-work colleague feelings for Paul shoved into a tiny mental box.

As the door opened as she approached, arctic air spilled out, cooling her down even further.

“Julia, there you are! Did you have a nice little vacation?” Her vice president was one of those guys who had gotten to his level due to a good dose of charm. At least he was one of the few who was as willing to dole out credit as to take it for himself.

“Yes, sir. Thank you. I’ve got all of the figures for the Monteblanca side of the deal ready.”

“Wonderful. Go on in and grab some grub. We’re still waiting on a few players.”

She nodded to her boss and did as directed. A tropical bounty was laid out on the side table. She picked at some fruit and eggs for protein. She glanced through the windows on the conference room door and saw Paul had arrived and been cornered by her boss. Taking advantage of his delay, she moved to the corner where another coworker already sat. As he was her counterpart for another section of this hydra of a deal, they compared notes as they ate.

Paul walked in to the room. Even though she tried to keep her body under control so not to draw his attention, her breath hitched. He was with her boss, so instead of making a bee line for her, he was herded to the buffet.

However, she’d underestimated him as he quickly filled his plate and distracted her boss by snagging another coworker before heading her way. There were no other unoccupied chairs in their corner, which was why she selected it. He made room anyway.

“Hey Dave. Do you mind if I sit next to Julia? There are some last minute projections I want to go over with her before we start.”

“Sure, man. Hey, want to hit the driving range when we’re done here?”

She bored a hole into the opposite wall with her gaze as she fought the compulsion to look at him.

“Maybe. I got in late last night and the jet lag’s still killing me. I may go for a swim in the ocean. Got to take advantage of being put up in a beachside villa.”

“Definitely. Catch you later. See you, Julia.”

“Later, Dave.” She waited until Paul sat and saw no one paying them much attention. “Did you have to sit there?”

He speared a piece of pineapple. Chewed it. “We need to talk.”

New sale!!

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably have already seen this news 🙂 Short Story B was accepted for publication! Its “real” title is Closing the Deal and will be a part of the Best Erotic Romance 2014 anthology edited by Kristina Wright! Something that I think is one of the coolest things ever is that Lauren Dane is writing the introduction! Alter ego has actually known Lauren for a number of years and I’m ecstatic to be included in anthology that she’s a part of. I seriously want to slap smiley faces on this post after each and every sentence! Also, isn’t this cover *fabulous*?!?

Cover for Best Erotic Romance 2014. Features a man and woman embracing. The man only has on white underwear and the woman is wearing a sheer black bra and panties.

If you want, you can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, or your favorite local bookstore! I’m doing such a happy booty shake right now! 😀