Wednesday, July 01, 2015

IWSG: The Last Lap

Today is the monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, in which we encourage each other. 

I'm on the final chapter of the first draft of Chaos Season. It should be easy going by this point, as I already know what I want to have happen. Yet it's coming out more slowly and not as fluently as I'd like. Maybe I'm just overtired, or maybe I need a break from this story for a while. Maybe I feel I'm not ready to finish the story when there's still so much I want to change. (It seems like I'm coming up with a lot of new ideas at this point. Pantsing isn't always easier than plotting in advance.) I don't doubt that I'll finish in the next week or so, but sometimes the last steps seem the hardest to take. It probably would be easier if I had a longer chunk of time to focus on the story instead of only a half hour at lunch or an hour at night.

I can't let excuses stop me from finishing this book, though. It may not be easy, but with the butt in the chair and the hands on the keyboard, it will get done, even if I have to stubborn my way to the end. After that, I can give myself a mental break from this story for a while and turn to a couple of half-finished projects. They've been slow to develop too, but I know I can get them done if I put my mind to them.

Are there particular writing stages that are most difficult for you? How do you overcome them? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reading Report: January--June, 2015

With June almost over, it's time for my semiannual reading report. My reading goal for this year is 200 books, and I'm at the halfway point with 100 books. (ETA: You can follow along with my 2015 reading challenge on Goodreads.) These numbers include everything from individual short stories listed on Goodreads to omnibus editions. I did include a couple of books I read over and over with my son, but most of them I generally don't track. (I also didn't track some of the Hugo nominees I've read.) I typically save my genre and format breakdown for the end of the year, but this time I decided to go ahead and do it. First is the genre breakdown:

Fantasy: 35
Science Fiction: 25
Other Fiction: 9
Non-Fiction: 31

Here's the split between eBook and paper formats:

eBook: 72
Paper: 28

Most of the paper books I read are from the library. If the eBook I want to read is priced above what I think is reasonable, I may get the paper version instead. (This is what I did for Prudence and Bujold's series.)

Diversity reads (I try to read at least one book a month by someone of a different sexuality or racial/ethnic background) so far include Sere from the Green, The Summer Prince, The Three-Body Problem, and The New Moon's Arms.

Finally, here are some of my favorite reads so far for the year:

We, the People of the Clouds
Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem
Company Daughter
Winter Queen
Big Dragons Don't Cry
Cordelia's Honor
Centaur of the Crime
The Mermaid's Sister
Her Instruments trilogy

What books have you enjoyed so far this year?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dean Wesley Smith: The Real Price of Traditional Publishing

In the interest of freeing up some blogging time for writing, I'm going to link to a very important post Dean Wesley Smith made about the real price of traditional publishing. With upfront advances and the prestige of working with a publisher, traditional publishing still holds appeal for some authors. But is it worth it, especially with advances for genre works shrinking and right grabs for life plus seventy years? What income might a first-time author expect to see from one traditionally published book over thirty-five years, and how many books would an indie author need to sell to reach that income every year? The answer may surprise you. Of course, best-selling authors may have better deals than the one Smith describes, but if you don't have that clout, make sure you read whatever contract you sign carefully.

And now back to Chaos Season for me. I may not finish the first draft by June 30th, but I should be close. Hopefully I can finish by mid-July at the absolute latest.

Monday, June 22, 2015

WIP Excerpt: Chaos Season--Jenna's Tree

Yesterday was the summer solstice. In my fantasy world of the Season Avatars, solstices and equinoxes are important in the country of Challen. The Season Avatars are all born on the first day of their seasons--in fact, no one else in the country is ever born on a solstice or equinox. The Summer Avatars have plant magic and bond with a tree to help them use this magic. Here's a scene from my current work in progress called Chaos Season. This book is told from the point of view of Jenna Dorshay t'Reve, the current Summer Avatar. Here's part of the scene where she sprouts her oak tree.

The embryo inside her chosen acorn cried out for joy as it sucked in its first drops of water. Having already missed the best sprouting time, it was eager to grow. Jenna needed to force-grow it past the most vulnerable stages.

She put her hands on the mud, reaching for the sprout and encouraging it upward, toward the sun, and downward to create a strong root network. A green tip burst through the soil. Jenna directed nourishment at it. She grinned as it became a twig, then shot out its first true leaves.
“Back off on the rain a bit, Kay,” she said. “My tree needs sun too.”

The leaves worked frantically to make its own nutrients. Although the tree grew much faster than it normally would, Jenna longed to see it reach its full potential. She laid a finger on the still-delicate sapling, watching it lay down rings of growth around its trunk. Soon it was as high as her waist and as thick as her thumb. But that wasn’t enough. The tree grew taller and wider. When it was as tall as her, branches split apart from the top. Now she could press both hands on it, urging it to keep going. It obliged. She stared at its most intimate parts, mesmerized by the dance of life going on at levels no one else could see…

I hope you enjoyed that and had a great solstice!

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