Well, it’s official. Blue Gentian’s new cover is live and the book is selling for $0.99 this entire week, starting today. If you haven’t read it yet, now is a good time. Enjoy!
Well, it’s official. Blue Gentian’s new cover is live and the book is selling for $0.99 this entire week, starting today. If you haven’t read it yet, now is a good time. Enjoy!
If the first week of the new year is supposed to herald the rest of your year, this one has been pretty good. We went to the zoo, lazed around the house, and cooked fancy meals for each other. Asher got his first haircut and looks instantly dapper and boyish instead of babyish. I started a fancy Bullet Journal that I’m very proud of. Brian and I have been watching Tidying Up on Netflix, and now I have an overwhelming desire to touch all of my things to find out if they bring me joy. The only thing missing is that I haven’t done much writing. Gotta add that in. Starting now, our first full week of normal since the new year.
Blue Gentian isn’t doing as well as it was previously, and I’m sure that’s because I changed the back cover blurb in an effort to improve it. Well, no improvement. I’ll be putting it back to the old one this week, and I’ll also consider changing the cover for a few months to see what we see. A lot of people liked one of the other cover options, so I’m thinking about trying it.
My dad has been bugging me to rewrite the first three chapters of Blue Gentian, since the overwhelming feedback was that the book starts slow, but is great after chapter 3. I am loathe to do this. I’ve been over those chapters dozens of times over the span of five years, and it’s already published and out there. The advice I’ve heard from other authors, too, is to let imperfections go. If you’re forever looking backward, your new work will suffer. I feel like I’m pragmatic about this book: a sweet little tale with profluence that nonetheless is not ever going to sweep the market with accolades. Fine. Next.
And Next is going decently, so there’s that to be thankful for too.
I’ve been extraordinarily bad about this blog lately. I think it’s probably because I’ve been extraordinarily bad at the writing at the end of this year. Teaching while going to school and mothering a small baby (while still trying to make room for Brian and his homework) is no joke my friend. Still, I have rosy hopes going into 2019.
And speaking of 2019… This is the blog post where I review what I agreed to do last year and see if I did it, and then re-calibrate for next.
In 2018, I vowed to publish Blatantly False and Blue Gentian. I vowed to read 100 books this year on Goodreads. Done and done (153, if you were wondering). I also wanted to have Easterbay ready for beta reads and write 20 days of the month. That last one I added in, like, July or something. Neither of those two things happened.
Easterbay is thisclose to being ready for Alpha reads. I estimate about another 2 months before I really feel okay about showing it to others, if I can keep up a steady writing schedule. I also wrote about 15 days of each month, give or take, and never made it more than 18 no matter how hard I tried.
Now, here comes the 2019 resolutions.
Personally and professionally, I’d also like to mention that I have aspirations of keeping up my new Bullet Journal all year, being a more confident teacher, and continuing to tweak Blue Gentian art and ads to maximize sales. Those things are harder to measure quantitatively, though, so I’ll mention them but not make them actual resolutions.
That’s all, folks! Send any good thoughts you can to me to help me keep this stuff up. I know I’m going to need all the help I can get as this baby naps less and less. Sigh.
I know I’ve been posting a lot about the baby lately. I mean, he’s the guy I spend most of my time with these days. And I promise that this is writing related, but unless you haven’t guessed yet, it’s also about the baby.
My church decided to put together an Advent Devotional this year – twenty five stories (one for each day of Advent) on what Christmas means to the congregation, one for you to read each day. A fun writing assignment for church?!?! I submitted. And of course Christmas means a different thing to me now that I’m mothering, which I started during the Christmas season. I’m December 6th in the booklet, so I feel good about posting it here. Especially because the only way for you to get one yourself is to go to the church and pick up a copy in person.
(Before you continue, here is also your warning for uber-religious sentimentality. It happens sometimes.)
What Christmas Means to Me:
My first son was born last Thanksgiving, and so my family charged into Christmas a little more filled with joy than usual. He’s the first grandchild, after all, and the result of many years of prayer. My entire extended family rallied to my side like Wise Men as I recovered, sharing the holiday season with us and bringing gifts of clean laundry, lunch, and naps.
I imagine that any family would feel a deeper connection to the Christmas season with an infant to share it with. I had expectations of what that would be like. I expected to feel new respect for Mary, for her tough journey and frightening birth.
But what I didn’t expect was the wide and tangible aura of potential in the air. It hovered like a halo around my son, Asher. In every moment friends and family spent with us, I saw the deep love that Asher inspired in everyone he met. He seemed to belong not to me, but to the world. And the love that he gathered and then dispersed out again was deeper than anything I had previously experienced.
The song “Mary Did You Know,” is a favorite one around the holiday season. I used to wonder the same as the song, if she knew what that small baby in her arms would become. But now I can guess. A few simple words in Luke 2:19 tell the story, in a paragraph filled with shepherds and prophecies, the whole world rallying to her baby’s side: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
If I could look down at my swaddled son sleeping in the dim light of the Christmas tree last year and see the possibility he holds, how much more did Mary look down at the Christ-child in the lamplight of the manger and see the divine love that filled her own son up full? Couple that with the miracle of his conception, and I’m sure she at least guessed at the transformation her son would give to humanity.
Because with Jesus, of course, all things are possible.
And nothing represents that more than a small and sleepy child who belongs firmly to us, but not to us alone; a child who belongs to the world.
The baby is one today. Which means that I also have been a mother for a year.
A few things stuck out to me today when I was pondering it all. I remembered clearly sitting in the hospital bed on one of the top floors. My sister and Brian were passed out on the little built-in couch in the room, and my own mother was sitting beside me for a bit. The two sleepers stirred and I pulled myself back from the drowsiness I had sunk into when they gave me the epidural after thirteen hours of labor. It had now been almost twenty hours since the contractions started.
Someone pulled back the vertical blinds and together the four of us watched the sun rise over the hills in the distance, knowing it wouldn’t be long until we met the fifth person in the room.
Motherhood is hard, mostly because you have no idea what to do and there are a million conflicting “methods” out there to make it even worse. I still have no idea, I’ll be honest, but I have a set of mores in place that allow me to review the options, evaluate them against our goals, and then make a gut-call.
Here’s what I strive for:
I find that if I weigh what’s happening currently and all the methods that are out there against the following five criteria, I end up with a solution that usually works pretty well for everyone. Sometimes it takes more than one try, but often it doesn’t.
I’ll be honest when I say that I’m worried about next year. I hear things about Two tantrums that make me think I might not handle it well. But I guess this year has given me a process for figuring it out. And that’s not nothing.
Cheers – to another year of becoming better at this mothering thing…
It’s Small Business Saturday, and it just dawned on me that I probably count as a small business now that I’m self-publishing myself via Amazon. At least I remembered before the day was over? This advertising part of being an author is hard, guys…
Anyway, here is a link to my books. If you’re in the mood for weird fantasy and want to support a self-published gal working hard, this is the place to go. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=casey+hamilton
On to Nanowrimo…
I am 7000 words behind in Nano now and trying not to panic. I’ve been down more than 10,000 now and still won, but I also feel like I only have another day or two of this magical interlude where people aren’t working and I have help around the house before school and juggling get real again. The baby has officially dropped his first nap, too, which means I get to cram in school and writing in the space of time where I used to only have to cram in one. Still, I have 33,000 usable words that I would not be ashamed to show an alpha reader. Not too shabby!
Also, I am determined to win. I have never lost the November event except for last year, when I had an emergency c-section in the middle of it. I think I get a pass for that. This year I don’t have major surgery and new parenthood as an excuse, so I’m being hardcore about it.
Lastly is my Thanksgiving report:
Our holiday was an epic celebration several days long, where we visited with my dad and husband’s side of the family on Thursday, and with my mom’s side on Friday. I am thankful for many things this year, but top on my list are Asher (who makes me laugh every day), Brian (who insists on being a full partner in taking care of our small boy while still managing to make my heart go aflutter), my amazing family and friends (without whom I would go stir crazy), and you (for being interested in this author journey I’m on).
Happy season, and I’m sure I’ll be back to blogging more regularly soon. The end of the semester tends to fry my brain and so does Nano, so I’m extra crispy right now…
Nanowrimo is going well, I guess… I’m a few thousand words behind at this point but finding that catching up is fairly easy since I’m rewriting and not writing from scratch. When I get to it. Although I realized halfway through that somehow the file had dumped the ending of my story and I DO have to write at least part of it again from scratch. Sigh. Such is the burden of bad organizational skills, though. I’m sure I did it to myself.
The new system I’m using has been working beautifully, in case you were wondering. I have the whole novel down on note cards with a description of what needs to be fixed, and they’re in a strange order since I moved things around quite a lot. Scene 32 comes right before scene 24 now, for instance. But it’s been nice to just drag that stuff around in Scrivener and then consult the card on what needs fixing, and not worry overmuch about reading through the entire document for the millionth time. Pretty prose comes later.
What’s really been keeping me from Nano are two things. One is that it is the end of the semester, and I’m going crazy trying to in fit my fieldwork hours (observing a school and teaching a week), and writing lesson plans for a group of students who is already behind where they should be (what will I be actually teaching in 3 weeks? No one knows…).
The last is the baby. I know he’s supposed to start skipping his morning nap sometime between now and eighteen months, and he fights me HARDCORE on going down in the am. But he’s sleeping for, like, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so I feel like he probably still needs it? His afternoon nap is still long, too. I don’t know. But by the time I’ve spent an hour lying on the floor of his bedroom being yelled at, I’m usually too frazzled to want to pull out the manuscript.
All contributors to why I’m so behind. But lets be honest, I’m always behind at this point in Nanowrimo, and I seem to have somehow missed the week 2 loathing, too, so perhaps I shouldn’t be complaining. I’m still well poised to win from behind.
Just keep writing, right?
It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’m gonna say it’s because I found this REALLY awesome book by Cathy Yardley called Rock Your Revisions. Her proceeding book, Rock Your Plot, detailed a first draft process that is REALLY similar to the one I already use. That gives me all the hopes that Revisions will work for me as well as Plot does. And we all know I’ve been looking for a way to streamline things.
So far, Revisions has lived up to the hype. I feel much more in control of Easterbay than I ever have, and I know what I need to do to move forward. It feels freeing, and I’m moving through things rapidly. Yardley claims that her revision process takes twice as long as writing the first draft. So if I go by her estimates, I should be ready for alpha reads in two months. To say I’m excited about that would be an understatement. All we can hope for now is that I stay motivated enough to make it happen.
I’m mentioning this for two reasons. One reason is because if you’re looking for a writing process, Yardley lays out a good one. The second reason is that it is Nanowrimo time, and we could all use a little extra help in the planning process before diving into a novel.
That’s basically all I have to tell you. I’m also diving into Nano this week, and expect updates to the blog to remain intermittent until December rolls around. We’ll see, though. Sometimes avoiding the morass of a Nano novel leads to more blogs instead of less…
Hence the need for motivation. As always come November, cross your fingers for me.
It’s that time of year again when I have to decide if I’m doing Nanowrimo. I am, as usual, swamped beyond belief. And I am, as usual, planning to do Nano anyway. I’m slightly worried that my loss last year broke my 6-year streak. But since I failed due to giving birth, I think I get a pass.
How will you Nano with a small baby in the house, you ask? Well, he’s recently started napping in his crib (!!!!!). It’s a small miracle, I know, but it has given me my life back. Or, you know, 2-4 hours a day of my life back, depending on how much he sleeps. I now have time for daily writing. As an aside… I had no idea how much it was affecting me to not write until I started again. Wow, do I feel like a human being again or what?
Besides, this year I’ve decided to be a rebel. I won’t write a whole new novel from scratch. I’ve been thinking HARD about my writing process and how I can streamline it a little more. Blue Gentian was five diligent years in the making and taught me a lot about my writing process. But even if I were to get out a book a year, that’s not quite best for a Self-Published author… I should be aiming for a book every six months. While I’m not in it for the money, I have grand visions of bookshelves filled with my titles. That means I’ve gotta get on it.
So, Nano this year is going to be an experiment on how I can get myself working faster. Here’s what usually happens:
I do Nano, and then return to whatever manuscript I was working on previously. A year later (maybe… sometimes it’s longer), I pull out the manuscript. It’s not in order. My plot has gone off the rails from the original outline. I have weird placeholders instead of names and the pacing on everything is Wrong. Obscure things don’t work correctly because I didn’t do any research. It’s disjointed and wrong. The story is also, at best, the main plot line with no other deeper meanings woven in. And sometimes you’re like “uh, wow. That main plot line sure took a nosedive into a dirty, dirty swamp…”
So, I do my best to take the thing about 5 chapters at a time, and basically rework those chapters until they’re polished. Then I move to the next set. I stop a lot of the time, sometimes for weeks, to ponder deeper meanings. I read history books about the time period, I realize that I need xyz foreshadowed in earlier chapters or that I’m off the revised outline. I go back and fix the beginning again before moving onto the next few chapters. It takes FOREVER, and there’s a lot of down time while I’m faffing with things. It results in a good book, but it takes a long time to get there.
So, for Nano this year I’m trying something else. I’m going to print out and completely re-type a novel. I’ll put the scenes in order and expand or rewrite when needed (without excessive polish). I’ll add blank “scenes” in Scrivener when I need to add a piece of the story that isn’t there yet. I’ll get from start to finish as quickly as possible.
I’m hoping this new method will do several things. First of all, I won’t be tied to language I’ve already written. I’ll be free to retype whatever words I want. Second, I will have the main story line all laid out nicely so that when I do start to polish, I won’t have to worry about forgetting elements or about the story line changing on me. Third, I will have the main story line firmly in my head from start to finish, making secondary story lines and deeper meanings easier to weave through. I can ponder that stuff while I type, hopefully doing away with the weeks of faffing. The weeks of research will still probably have to remain…
Right now, it takes me about 6 months to go from draft 1 to draft 2. Subsequent drafts are faster, of course, but I needed about 10 for Blue Gentian… I am hoping that I can cut draft 2 down to a month (maybe 2) with this new system. You know, if I can make it work.
In about two months, we’ll know how I fared. I picked Suffrage because it’s the only novel I have that’s currently untouched. Everything else has either been through a bit of edit or I have deemed it too bad to be salvageable.
I will, as always, report on how it’s going as I’m doing it. Cross your fingers for me. And if you have any tips of your own on how you streamline your writing process, I’d love it if you’d forward those along. I need all the help I can get!