6/1/17

Writer's Block, What Writer's Block...

At the end of April I finished a project I was working on. It was a full novel and I was super excited about it. It was fun to write and hopefully will stand-up to being read. I finished it on the first morning of vacation, so I didn't expect to write much for the rest of that weekend.

And then it happened.

I had planned on jumping back into my not-a-rock-star-any-longer story. So I brewed on it. Thought on it. Reread it. But didn't write a darn thing. Bit of a slump, I thought after the first week. Just coming down off that finished-book high.

By the 13th I was getting worried. I hadn't written a word all month. I wasn't going to hit my monthly word goal, THAT was for sure! (The creeping panic of I'm never going to write again was screaming in my head, but I'll ignore that.)

Then I saw a submission call retweeted about an alien romance. I happened to have an alien romance that I wrote yonks ago. It was roughly 2k and pretty much skipped all of the story except them meeting and the fun alien sex. So, hey, I already had a basic plot! I could write that. Not fret about it too much, get me writing again.

Golden.

Right?

Well, it sort of worked. I wrote a little, then a little more, then a little more. All told, I wrote just under 4K. And then I heard about a holiday submission call, and was like this alien story isn't due until later, let me work on THAT. And I wrote just over 6K.

In the end, I met my word goal for the month (I snuck in with 10,003) and I have two possible stories started. They might both be terrible and uninspired (one is definitely depressing), but I wrote. And that's a big step of the process--because once you start writing, it's easier to continue. It's that lethargy of not writing that drags you down.

Or at least drags me down. I don't write every day, but getting out of habit of exercising my writing gives me weak writing--in that there isn't any writing at all.

To my brother: Yeah, you were right, I did it.

5/1/17

A Progress Report: April

A progress report! (And an aside to say I had a couple post ideas to do this month and somehow failed to do any of them.)

WIP: In the month of April, I wrote 13K on my hot motorcycle boyfriend with tattoos story (...which needs a title) and finished it off on the first morning of my vacation (before my devices all decided to NOT recognize the hotel internet). It comes in at 62K and I hope readers will find it as sweet, funny and sometimes emotional as I did writing it. (WARNING: PUNS)

Also, check out the sweet setup I do most of my quick morning writing on (using Google Docs): iPad with a keyboard case. Works best with tiny hands, but is better than booting my laptop in the morning before a busy day.

Revision: I still have ONE scene to write to finish out the revisions on my trans cowboy story (totally not writing this post to delay doing that, I swear....). I'm definitely going to need another beta read, because it went from 26K to 40K. Which the story definitely needed, and hopefully it satisfied all the issues the beta found (and a shout-out to my beta for this, who was awesome and pointed out some weak points).

Knitting: I've also sorta started knitting for profit, but it's not really a venture, so much as when I can't decided on my next project I'll start knitting a pride scarf and make them available for purchase. I started with asexual pride, because I'm biased (and aces don't get nearly enough merch love!). I have three for sale (one with vertical stripes like pictured, two with varying thickness of horizontal stripes). But the pictured one has a "defect" that might not be noticeable but makes me feel guilty. I'll either keep it or sell it for less than the others.

Publishing: Nothing at the moment. One story I'm still brewing on publisher comments (and is with another reader for some more thoughts). One is still in a pub's submission pile (no word back yet). Have a few stories that might be ready soon to go out, but will probably be making a call for beta readers too.

Elsewhere: I also went to a small anime convention in Lancaster, PA, this past weekend (see the above comment about trying to sell scarves), which was a good time with friends, although exhausting as always. I was smart and took Monday off though, which is rocking.

Now I just wrapped up a WIP, will be wrapping up a revision WIP, and finished a knitting WIP. So I'm a little lost right now! (And I have plenty of new projects/currently projects I need to get back to, so no worries there....but I'm floating at the moment.)

Finally, if you want to see more random pictures from my life, be sure to follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alextherate/. Mostly pictures of food and horses, with some proof of me writing/revising, and a game of Where's Alex Now.


4/7/17

What's Alex Up to Now

Now that spring is finally spinging (aka, having a day of pouring rain for every two of sunshine), I'll start getting more motivated to do stuff! Of course, I also have more stuff to do... (see picture for a guess on what that is!)

But I hope by the end of April (that's what month this is, right?), I'll have finished the rom-com contemporary m/m romance I'm working on.  I've crossed the 50K mark and I'm happy with what I've got so far. Now it's just ripping out hearts and stomping on them. Um, lightly, I guess, since it's rom-com. And then making it all okay again.

My other current project is doing revisions on my trans cowboy story, which is going fairly well. My beta gave a lot of feedback suggesting some heavy additions, and I've been working them in. One fear I have is that the scenes will make the story drag instead of developing character and relationship like they're meant to, but I'm sure a re-read (in a different month) will clear that up. Again, I'm hoping to wrap up the revisions by the end of the month, which is going to mean putting my nose to the grindstone, but I've already added 4K-6K words? So it feels like good progress, even if it makes my end goal further away.

I want to say that's all I've got on the writing front, but last night, while mixing up tea flavors at Adagio, I suddenly wanted to write a story focused on a tea shop and then make teas for all the characters!

So now I'm sort of brainstorming that. I love the concept, but it's not a story that's jumping fully formed (or even vaguely shaped) from my head, AND I don't want to get distracted from my current story (plus all those stories I started and haven't finished yet). So it might end up coming to nothing. But we'll see!

For now, sexy motorcycle nerd...which desperate needs a title!

3/31/17

A Guide to Publishing

I had a thought one day and then it became this. 
Note: These are just guidelines/things to think about in your life/publishing adventures. They are meant to be both serious and a little silly (the advice is serious but presented in an Alex way).

1. You will disagree with your editor/an edit at least once. Likely more.
That's fine--as long as you and the editor can discuss it like civil human beings. If an edit/comment makes you upset, then just pass by it at first. Take some time to consider it, then re-evaluate. It keeps tempers calm when the trigger could just be a misunderstanding. The editor just wants to make this book the best it can be, but the editor is also human. It could be a misunderstanding, the editor could be seeing a different vision than you meant, the editor could have just misread something and just needs that pointed out. The editor could be stating it in a way that pushes your buttons, while the editor is completely unaware of how you're reading it. 

But, also, this is your book. Stand up for what you want to keep, whether it's for voice or flow or preference. However, keep in mind that editors have some experience, so listen to what they say and then decide. Don't, for instance, decide that the serial comma needs to die in a fire and be unwilling to change no matter what.

2. No matter how many eyes see it, the book will be published with at least one error/typo.
I'm pretty sure this is a law of reality or something. The longer the work, the increased the likelihood one (or more) will show up. Don't be angry. Just come to terms with this reality. Most readers will skip over it without even noticing it. If your publishers is amenable, feel free to let them know about the typo.

3. Writing is hard.
Not always, but sometimes. You probably already knew this.

4. Editing is hard.
You usually send to a publisher with a vague idea that this book is really good and finished and ready. Then they send back notes, whether in rejection or during revisions, and you realize your precious baby wasn't perfect. And you get several rounds of this, to the point where it's just wounds on top of wounds. (See back to point 1.)

This doesn't happen every time of course, but if you go in with the mindset that it's OK if your words are going to get poked at--sometimes hard--then it'll make it an easier journey.

5. Publishing is hard.
In some ways that feels like it should be the end. But then there's marketing and PR and unless you hire a publicity person for yourself, you have to take care of it. Even if the publisher has a marketing department, they aren't your personal slaves and you have to be out there and working it. The great thing about social media is you get to be out there! The bad thing about social media is you have to be out there! Obviously you can choose not to, but you'll be doing yourself (and your book) a disservice. 

6. Read your contract.
Every time you have to sign a new one, read it. Every publisher will be different and even the same publisher will make changes over time. Know what you're getting into. Don't be afraid to ask for changes--the publisher can always say no, and it won't result in them pulling the contract. You then just have to decide if you still want to sign. Don't be afraid to ask if you're confused about something. If you don't trust the publisher to tell you what it means (which should be a warning sign...), then google, ask friends, ask Twitter. It's important, don't feel (too) rushed.

There are lots of other points I haven't covered here, and I didn't cover any of them in depth, but this is just to get you thinking about your place in the process.

2/18/17

Keeping Focused

One of the hard things about writing, aside from all of it, is keeping focused on the current project. When the words (and ideas) are flowing, it's fairly easy to keep on task. After all, the story wants to be told, so it seems natural to tell it.

Until you hit a block--either a lost desire to write or a tricky scene or you're unclear where to go next. That's when temptation strikes.

It might be to not write at all. After all, you have two seasons of Voltron: Legendary Defenders to catch up on (and so much knitting to do). Or you'll suddenly get an idea for another story. And since that's new and exciting, you are raring to go write that one! Trust me, your brain/muse/shoulder-devil says, this story is much more interesting.

This is where focusing comes in. Because as tempting as that shiny new story is, if you run off with it, you'll be leaving the other story behind, likely to never get finished. Sometimes this might be a good thing--maybe you really aren't feeling the story and it's not something you want to finish. That's a decision that needs to be made. But if you want to finish the story, then wandering off with the newest floozy story won't help. 

I speak from experience. See, I have my current contemporary romance all plotted out (sorta) and I know where it needs to go. And I sorta knew how to get there. But there were a few scenes that were about to happen that were....not going to be incredibly exciting. And I didn't want to write them, because I didn't have the heaviest drama pulling me along, and I can't have the guys arguing in every scene. 

Then, while working one day, I got this idea for a steampunk story inspired by The Glass Menagerie. At first I threw the idea on Twitter, because I totally wasn't writing that story.

And then spent the rest of the day thinking about it, plotting it out, checking the original plot of The Glass Menagerie and now I have a fully fleshed-out plot.

The important part of this post, though, is that while I took notes, I didn't start actually writing the story. I said, "Well that's a fun idea, maybe later" and jotted everything down, and put it aside, and the next day I talked with the puppy and worked out the kinked section of my current story, and kept on writing.

Of course, I have a binder full of story ideas that are waiting to be written, so we'll see how that goes. But the important part is that if you keep getting distracted by the next pretty story, you'll have a bunch of unfinished ones littered around you that the world will never see. 

Keep on task! That's the only way to submit to a publisher, finish a knitting project....or complete anything in life, I suppose.

2/10/17

Dogs, Snow, and Marketing

For those of you not following my Twitter and Instagram account: I'm dog-sitting. They are an adorable geriatric corgi and a puppy mini-dachshund (though old enough that he's at his max size). This means there are a lot of little messes to clean up, but thankfully they are tiny! And when they're not BARKING NONSTOP at each other, they're rather sweet (and quiet and also asleep).

Of course, sometimes they are barking nonstop at each other while circling my feet. It's been a bit up and down.

We also got about five inches of snow, which meant shoveling a little so the dogs wouldn't get lost in the snow (or so that they'd go out to do their business). Thankfully these people have moolah and have a service to plow their driveway and clear some of the steps. So the snow wasn't that big of a deal.

In between work, dogs, snow, and watching season one and two of Voltron: Legendary Defenders, I actually was able to write a few thousand words so far this month.

Which really is a miracle, because my writing confidence has taken a pretty serious hit. I'm working hard on the "writing because I love writing" and "write what you love, no matter what" but I still want people to read my books. I know I sometimes write a little off the beaten path--trans college guy with surprise space alien and frog menage, hi!--but my last book was a straightforward M/M romance that was sexy and sweet and a lovely holiday read (if I do say so myself). Now, it came out the week before Christmas and it's only 20,000, but it has 19 ratings on Goodreads. Not even review. 19 ratings.

That's...depressing. So in addition to writing and editing and working full-time, I want to do more marketing. So if you have any tips, feel free to pass them along!

1/29/17

The Price of Art

If you've illegally downloaded movies, or music, or books (or audiobooks), this is for you.**

Now, I'm not generally referring to people under the age of twenty who don't have disposable income, especially if they might be downloading things that their family/town wouldn't approve. Should those young people illegally download things? No, they shouldn't. But I was that age once, and there were things I wanted and couldn't access and I downloaded things (music, as this was before such things as Spotify). It's not right, but it's maybe understandable.

But if you are an adult, and you're illegally downloading music, books (audiobooks), movies, and television shows...SHAME ON YOU.

"But, Alex," you say, "I am also lacking in disposable income. I cannot afford these pretty things!"
To which I reply: bullshit.

1. Yes, I realize some things will not be accessible to some people because of financial reasons. And it's sad, but also: tough shit. My car is a bare-bones vehicle because I couldn't afford something nicer. THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S OKAY FOR ME TO GO OUT AND STEAL ONE. We shouldn't treat a concrete object as any less worthwhile than a digital one.

2. There are various outlets that let you enjoy media for free! Spotify for music, Crunchyroll for anime, libraries for books (and audiobooks) and movies. Yes, sometimes that means sitting through ads. That's the price you pay. (I'm not as familiar with sources for television.)

"But, Alex," you whine again, "my library doesn't carry those books."
 a. Maybe it doesn't (I'm in a small town, so my library also only carries so many titles) but most libraries are connected through the county and so you can get books from all over the county! Check it out.
b. If you voice that you want these types of books at your library, there's a chance the librarians will try to get them for you.
3. And if libraries aren't a possible outlet, then ask for money for holidays from your loved ones, or ask for the books directly. This, of course, applies to other media as well. Heck, if you have a big social media following, maybe ask them to help you out sometimes!

4. There's a lot of LEGALLY FREE stuff out there. Search for it. Enjoy that media! Authors put out tons of free shorts you can enjoy. Musicians make things available on Spotify (or listen to the radio...really).

My overall point here is illegally downloading digital media is stealing, and stealing is wrong--not because I say so, but because you're stealing money from the artists who make these things. You can tell me "but it's only five dollars" (to which I will not point out that I could say the same to you). I will reply: Yes, but five dollars stolen by a hundred people is five hundred dollars. That's groceries and rent and gas for that low-end car I bought because I didn't have the money for the fancy one.
Entertainment media is not a necessity for life. There are accessible options that are free. Stop stealing from artists.

**Most of this doesn't discuss movies and mass market American television because I don't watch a lot of it. Mostly because I don't have the funds to pay for all of it (or else to pay for the internet fast enough to handle streaming). I rely on friends, holidays, and house-sitting opportunities to watch various things on Netflix, etc. Just to prove that I'm not all talk.

Also, in case you were wondering: no one thing brought this post on. I'd just seen one too many people, who supposedly love artists, who were advocating for stealing from them.