Drum roll, please!
Here, at long last, is the cover for Dawn Before The Dark!
Available Sept. 9, 2019!
I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, waiting until everything was official. Today I signed a contract with Bear Publications for the current Balphrahn trilogy! The first book, Dawn Before The Dark, is slated to be published in the next month. I have a few edits to do and plan to send the manuscript back tomorrow. I have until the end of this year to finish book 2, which is currently titled Awakening In The Dark. That one should be out next year, followed in 2021 with Red Sky In Mourning. Of course, the timeframes are subject to change.
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Thanks for walking with me on this journey!
We got back from Vegas last night. My beloved had to go for a work conference, and he doesn’t fly without me, so I had a writer’s retreat. Nope, I didn’t gamble, didn’t see any shows, shoot, I only went outside twice, and the second time it was so hot we got about 100 feet and retreated to the air conditioning. I did a lot of writing, shopped some, and ate some really good (and some really not good) food. It’s not the traditional Vegas experience, but it worked for me.
The month didn’t have a great start. Early July never does since we always have company about that time. Mid-month it picked up a bit since I knew I had my retreat coming up. I got back on the wagon with some world building rather than jumping right back into the WIP, and it paid off. By the time we were settled into the Mandalay Bay Resort And Hotel, I had a clear picture of what I needed to do.
It wasn’t without drama. My laptop died last year, and since I only work remotely a few weeks a year, I write on my iPad with a wireless keyboard. It’s bare bones, but it travels light. This time, I arrived not realizing that while the Word and Excel apps are free, you need a subscription to actually use them. Not only that, but I didn’t have the current version of my WIP, even though I specifically remember saving it in the right place.
I busted out a new Google Doc and worked from memory. Amazingly, it only required the sacrifice of 38 words when I got home. I’d started with basically what I ended with in Scrivener, but I wrote it better, so the old words got cut. I’m not heartbroken.
Here are the numbers for those of you keeping score:
July time: 32.4 hours
YTD time: 199.67 hours
July words: 12,981
YTD words: 101,227
Yes, that’s right! I broke 100k! Today, as a matter of fact. I haven’t gone back through my old spreadsheets to see if and when the last time was, but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t in July. I have a lofty plan to average 25,000 words a month for the rest of the year so I can break another 100k. I know, the numbers don’t match, but I’ve got a good month’s worth of activities (excluding Christmas, because I don’t know what we’re doing yet) that will keep me away from Balphrahn, so that will carry me right up to the new year. If I plan 25,000 and only hit 20,000 I might not end up too much behind.
In the meantime, the book 1 draft is done, and the book 2 draft is started. I call that a win.
After looking over the May numbers, I took a look at June. I started the month over 80,000 words for the year. Sooooo close to 100k! Getting there is possible–I have to average a mere 691 words every day this month.
There’s just one problem. We have stuff going on, and people coming to hang out with. While I love my visitors, every day I don’t write piles goal words onto the heap. Add to that the fact that I’m in what CE Murphy calls the Novelist’s Event Horizon on book 1 and you begin to see my dilemma.
I was thinking about a solution, and I remembered reading on Holly Lisle’s blog several years ago about taking busman’s holidays. If that’s a new term for you, don’t worry; it was for me, too. It’s when you take a break from your job by doing something similar to your job, like a bus driver taking a long drive to unwind. Since I’m counting all the words and not just the WIP words, I think I might try something like that. Maybe I’ll pick a prompt once or twice a week and see what happens. I might even come up with a short story I can shop around. At this point I’ll try just about anything that increases productivity.
A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about telling the universe game on when it threw a monkey wrench into my carefully laid plans. Things have changed quite a bit since then. In fact, it’s a little mind boggling.
I fell off the wagon for a few days. April hasn’t been a great writing month so far. Transitioning from one day job to the other has taken a fair amount of time, and my word count totals dwindled little by little until I broke my streak when my kids were here Easter weekend. It was 65 days, if you’re keeping score at home.
It’s not that I’m broken up about it. Family is the best reason to take a day off, but I didn’t go back immediately. I let old habits kick in and let circumstances get in my way. Luckily, I recognized it much faster this time.
There is a possibility that life isn’t going to get easier this year. It might get harder. I realize there might be circumstances under which I won’t be able to write for a season, but the warrior is awake. The story wants to be birthed. I’m focused like I haven’t been before.
Game on. Again.
My day job hours are increasing a lot in the next two weeks. I have a coworker on vacation, and another who changed shifts suddenly, so the morning shifts were decimated. I’m training a new person this week, so it’s temporary, but it will eat a lot of my time short term.
As we walked into church on Sunday, I told Eric it seems like the two jobs never go well at the same time. If I have a lot of time to write, I freeze up and stare at the screen. When I’m on a roll, the day job explodes and eats my time.
As usual, that was me preaching to myself: It’s about balance. It’s about art and pay. If the art doesn’t pay, something else has to until it does. In the meantime, all you can to is the best you can do.
I wrote a few thousand extra words last week. It’s possible, although not probable, I could break 30k for the month. I’d be happy with 25k, which is entirely probable. The goal is to write every day. I’m not worried about word count right now. I have a streak going–I’ve worked every day since Feb. 7. I just need to keep the streak going, and the book will get done. The stubborn is still going strong.
So far, so good.
Last week I beat my word count goal by 369 words despite not making the minimum goal any day except Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was certain I wouldn’t make it, but I hit the right combination of coffee and music, and pushed it through the goal.
This week is shaping up to be similar, although I’m getting my butt kicking days in earlier. In a perfect world, I’ll get this week’s words in early and get about half of next week done, too. My day job hours spike next week, but part of them will be spent training the opener I just hired. The downside of that is I will likely not have time to write at work, hence my plan to start early. I’ll have the words done at the end of the month even if, on paper, I don’t make the goal next week.
As of this writing, the WIP is over 22,000 words. I’m to the point where I thought I would cut and paste from a short story, but it’s in the POV of the wrong character, so it will take heavy editing. Still, that should go faster than creating from whole cloth.
So it looks like I really do want this. Just don’t tell the universe. I don’t know if I can take any more surprises.
It’s been an interesting few days. Interesting in the Chinese curse sense.
I came home from Deep Thinkers with a writing and marketing plan for the first three Balphrahn books. I sat down and looked at what I have written and decided it was feasible to have the series done this year, and that I needed to aim for 780 words a day. Every day. That’s 780 book words and doesn’t include blogs. I did build in a month of time off for illness and/or travel.
It’s doable, if everyone cooperates.
Last week, one of my openers sent out a group text that she needed to take care of her grandmother in the mornings and couldn’t open any more starting the next day. She had four open shifts a week. Of my other openers, one has another job, one can only work weekends, and one is in school. That leaves me.
My boss set up some interviews for Saturday so we could get some help on day shift. As I was getting ready for bed Friday night, I told Eric even though I had to work on Saturday, at least I didn’t have to be in uniform.
Saturday morning, I got up, poured my first cup of coffee, and turned on my iPad. I had a text message from my weekend opener that she couldn’t go to work and no one else could cover, so would I mind?
Yes. Yes, I did mind. She pulls double shifts on the weekends, and I had evening plans. In the end, I put on my uniform, my boss came in early to help me, and I got someone else to cover the night shift. (I still missed my evening plans.)
By the time I got to work, I felt very put out. I told my boss I felt like the universe looked over my shoulder at my lofty plans and said, “OK, kid, let’s see how bad you want this.” And if that’s how it wants to play, game on.
As soon as I said it, my whole attitude changed. I shifted from victim to warrior.
Long story short, the other girls have stepped up and I only have to cover 2 of the extra shifts. If it works out, I’ll go back to only doing paperwork on Monday, and have two mid-week shifts. It’s not as bad as it could be, or as bad as it has been.
The series is going to get done. I’m going to move hell and high water to finish it this year. I might have to make adjustments, but even if I miss the mark, I’ll still have more done this year than I did last year.
How bad do I want it? Game on.
Life has been busier than I’d like lately. One of my coworkers at the day job has had family issues, which means more shifts for some of us. It wouldn’t be as big a deal except I’m at a place in the story where I have to figure out logistics. I’ve never ridden a dragon. It’s been a couple decades since I last rode a horse. But Charlie needs to learn to ride dragons, so I have to figure out how they do that. There really isn’t a lot of research available on the topic.
I’ve found, when I come to a prickly spot I need to think through, it’s best to go someplace away from the house (and my needy cats) and work it out on paper. There’s a new coffee shop in town, and they make better coffee that the national chains we have around here, so I put on clothes and make-up and ventured forth. I snagged the last parking spot on the block and paid for an hour of parking.
The coffee shop was packed. And I’d paid for a whole hour of parking. You might think my luck ran out, but it didn’t! I had ear buds and Rain In England on my white noise generator phone app. My phone battery was even charged.
I cranked it up because the guy sitting two seats from me was nattering on about his invalid mother-in-law. Goodness, so much talking!
In the end, it was productive. I got three pages of notes and, as I was thinking of going home, Eric invited me to come have lunch with him. I was half a mile from the train station with enough time to catch in inbound train, so of course I went to lunch. Now I’m finally settling in to get started on the scenes I brainstormed in the rain at the coffee shop that (sadly) was not in England.
I’m home. I haven’t completely processed, so I’m a little scattered.
The biggest take-away came within two hours of arrival during a one-on-one session with Susan May Warren. I’d sent a synopsis of what I saw as the Balphrahn trilogy to her a few days before and had already gotten some feedback. She helped me figure out how to plot the series and had a suggested marketing plan. For those of you who know the short stories, hold onto your hats. The book series will be quite different.
I also learned a method to write stronger characters. It skips the mundane details–your character’s favorite color/drink/band, etc. Instead, you dig into their past to figure out what makes them tick. Then you exploit it mercilessly until, at the end of the story, they can do something they couldn’t at the beginning. In theory, that will solve the Pit Of Despair moments in the middle of the book.
I did do a little writing and got feedback on that, too. I also reconnected with old friends, met some new ones, walked on the beach a lot more than in years past, and ate scallops for the first time.
Today, I’m trying to wrap my head around what feels like a lot of stuff. It’s not just processing what I’ve learned, it’s future planning. Balphrahn could take this year to write. I haven’t done any research yet about the best times of year to release, but the plan is to write everything, and then release all the books within three to six months. It’s a big goal, but I have about 60,000 words already written, so it’s realistic. But what about after that?
I have some options, but they’re new baby ideas. I don’t have to decide anything, really, before this summer. I think I can get all the books written by November 1, assuming summer doesn’t derail me. Again. There’s quite a bit of time to figure out what’s next while Balphrahn is in process.
Looks like 2017 is the year the rubber hits the road.