Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Writing By Hand

 I'm not sure if October is giving me tricks or treats when it comes to electronics. Last week, my laptop's sound suddenly stopped working. When I tried troubleshooting the computer, it died. It was nine years old (I got it the week I published Lyon's Legacy), and I'd already replaced the hard drive on it a few years ago, so it wasn't worth trying to repair it. Fortunately, I'd started saving up for a new computer last year and had enough for a mid-range computer (still a step or two up from my old one). I ended up purchasing my new computer from Costco and even got it on sale. Of course, I had to wait a couple of days for shipping, plus a couple of extra days before I received the notice I could pick up my laptop. 

What does a writer do when her main writing tool breaks? I have a netbook as a backup, but it runs on archaic software and is very unresponsive. Even if I wiped its memory and tried to restore it to factory settings, I don't think it would work with Windows 10, and I might not be able to use whatever version of Windows it originally came with. So I went old-school and satisfied my writing urges with pen and paper. Although I have a printout of the first draft of Murder at Magic Lake, I decided I didn't want to revise it manually, especially when I need to add new scenes. I ended up starting a new story in the Season Avatars world, one set after Summon the Seasons.

 Writing by hand is much slower than typing. My cursive is hard to read, and my printing isn't much better. (I'm left-handed, so that's my excuse.) I used a legal pad, and my goal was to write at least one page every night. The words came fairly easy, considering sometimes I struggle to find words when I'm typing. Each hand-written page was about 200-250 words. When I finally received my computer on Saturday and transcribed my story with a few minor edits, it was about 1,100 words. It doesn't seem like much for several day's work, especially when some writers can manage a thousand words an hour, but it's still better than not writing at all. The experience makes me wonder if I would have been a writer if I lived in a time when computer's weren't available. Of course, many other aspects of my life would be different as well.

How do you feel about writing stories by hand? Does it make a difference in your story flow? Do you find handwriting or typing easier physically on your hands? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fall/Winter Projects

 As COVID-19 cases start climbing again in my region, I'm anticipating a fall and winter where we stay close to home. Our family hasn't trooped live since March (though I've done a couple of video and Zoom troops), we've cut way back on our normal seasonal activities (some of which were cancelled), and it's unlikely we'll spend the holidays with family. At least I have plenty to keep me busy.

Writing--Currently, I'm focusing on editing my first cozy mystery book, which I'm calling Murder at Magic Lake. The first draft was only 50,000 words, so I'm adding a new subplot to flesh it out. When I'm done, I'll see if I can get feedback from a few beta readers before getting ready to publish--probably either in January or February. I'm about halfway through Book 2 in that series (working title is Restaurants and Revenge), but I need to go back and change something before I continue. I also have one short story making the rounds of pro markets and am considering writing another for an anthology. Meanwhile, my urban fantasy trilogy and my Season Avatars series continue to simmer on the back burner. I usually end up taking a lot of vacation at the end of the year, so I will use some of that time to update my website, update my back matter in my books as necessary, and formatting my manuscripts.

Crochet--I'm planning to crochet blankets for my son, my husband, and myself. Currently, I'm working on my son's blanket, which will have red and black stripes. It's narrower than I expected it would be, but it can be as long as he wants. I'll probably make it between five and six feet. I still have to figure out patterns and colors for the other two blankets. Plus, I still have to finish making a fuzzy coat for a big Baby Yoda. I haven't made any crocheted characters for a while, so I should work on those again. I'd also like to make myself some slippers and maybe a sweater. 

Reading--I finally finished my hundredth book for the year. I changed my original goal of 150 books to 120, but I'll probably end up somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure how many books I currently have on my "For Later" shelf at the library, but it's more than enough to get me through 2021!

Other--These aren't really creative projects, but I'll probably continue to help my husband play through his extensive board game collection. It would be nice if my son was interested in joining us, but he has his own ways of staying busy. I plan to have him help cook our family dinners so he gets more experience in the kitchen. I'll also continue to experiment with nail art, bake scones and other treats, and hopefully learn more about birds over the winter. And if I really get bored, there's plenty of things in the basement to be sorted and gotten rid of.

I'm pretty good at finding things to do at home, even without the TV. In fact, about the only time I watch something is when I'm crocheting. What about you? Feel free to share your hobbies in the comments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Book Apps

 This weekend, after over three and a half years, I finally upgraded my phone. It had very little storage, and even adding a SD card didn't help much. The screen was so badly cracked I could feel it through the screen protector. I'd also been having issues with the GPS for a while, and the phone was finally starting to have some connectivity issues as well. The main reason I held on to it for so long was the cost of upgrading, but some mid-grade phones just came out that made it more manageable. The customer service representative at the store tole me I could get six or seven years out of the new phone, but if I can manage at least four, I'll be content.

Now that my phone has more storage, I can download more apps. Of course there are a lot of entertainment apps for movies and games. However, I can also download more books for my Kindle app and can now use multiple library apps, such as Hoopla and Cloud Library. I also have an Audible account, but I personally use it for lectures more than audiobooks. Books are available in other apps too. Google Play offers them (I finally managed to list most of my books on their store this summer), as well as Apple Books and Kobo. I'm not sure if Barnes and Noble has an app, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. There are also apps that offer free books, but I'm not sure if all of those are available legally, so I'll avoid those.

Do you read books on a device other than a dedicated ereader? If so, what apps do you use, and would you recommend them? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

IWSG: I Wanna Be a Working Writer

Welcome to October, everyone! The world's become a much scarier place than usual this month, but if we support each other, we'll get through it. One way to support each other is to be part of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed

Our hosts this month are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner.

Here's our question for October: When you think of the term "working writer," what does that look like for you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

I'm going to address the second part of the question first. Until recently, working writers were traditionally published writers. They would write one or two books a year, attend book signings and conventions, and spend a lot of time talking with editors and agents. These days, I picture a working writer as an indie writer. She (the ones I'm most familiar with are all female) publishes multiple books a year in popular genres and knows the tropes that readers like. She doesn't do bookstore signings or conventions but may be active on social media and promotes her work herself. She may hire editors or cover designers, but she's the boss, not them, and she doesn't need an agent. 

At this point in my writing career, I'd have to consider myself an aspiring working writer, though the IRS would probably consider me a hobbyist. I'm a parent with a full-time job, which doesn't leave me with much writing time. (Between making masks for my family and participating in Vote Forward, I've given up a lot of time this year that I could have used for writing.) I only have six full novels out, but advice I hear from other writers indicates you need at least ten books before you start seeing significant income. I'm also a slow writer, both with writing a first draft and editing, and I'm contrarian enough to push back against popular tropes in my work. I may never get to the point where writing is my main source of income, but if I can gain a few fans who appreciate my work, I'll be satisifed.

I can't resist ending this post with the Beatles' song about a Paperback Writer:

What's your definition of a working writer? Are you one? Do you want to be one? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.



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