Drum roll, please!
Here, at long last, is the cover for Dawn Before The Dark!
Available Sept. 9, 2019!
I have no idea how it’s June already, but my calendar says it is. I think it’s a lying cuss, but I can’t prove it.
May was marginally better than April. Not that April was hard to beat. The goal now is for April to be the worst month all year. Numbers for the month: 8,296 words, and nearly 13 hours. I did manage a 12 day streak at the end of the month. The second half was far better than the first. Now it’s a matter of maintaining, although I’m starting to wonder whether I should allow myself a day off once in a while and not concern myself with the streak so much. Maybe focus on days/month instead of days in a row? That might be a more workable solution.
I made some progress on Balphrahn, and I read some books. I’ve also been working the new day job, and that’s been zapping my creativity a fair bit, but like I said, it’s better than it was. At least I’m down to one job now, and that’s freed up some time. That’s good, because I put my garden in. Between the garden and pots, I have 20 tomato plants and 10 green peppers. I did potatoes and sweet potatoes in pots, but I think I drowned the potatoes. They don’t seem to be doing much.
One sort of odd thing I’ve noticed is I’m watching less TV. It just doesn’t keep me occupied like it used to. I still have favorites I like to watch, but between DVR and the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu trifecta, I can watch when I feel like it. That’s helped productivity in other areas.
Oh, and I figured out why my dryer wasn’t drying. The outside vent had significant lint build-up, and there wasn’t anyplace for the moisture to go. I cleared it out and it works like a champ now.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Plugging along. Sometimes that’s all you can do.
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.
Wow, that month went fast. It’s been a ‘head down and gitter done’ kind of month. It wasn’t without disappointment, though. I realized yesterday if I pushed a little bit more, I could double my word count for the year. I tried. I stared at the screen, turned on some music, and pestered Walter The Muse, but there were no words. I finally saved everything I’d already done and walked away, planning to hit it again after dinner. It didn’t happen. I missed my goal by 895 words.
I’m actually not too broken up about it. It was a really good month despite the day job challenges. I continued my streak of writing every day, and put in nearly 57 hours. Total word count for the month was 27,443, bringing year to date to 55,781.
I also read quite a bit. Currently I’m reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (I read it often and highly recommend it), and “The Story Equation” by Susan May Warren. I also read all of Susan May Warren’s Heiress Trilogy (“Heiress,” “Baroness,” and “Duchess”) again.
Based on my progress this month, I’m awfully glad I went to Deep Thinkers last month. It seems to be just what I needed to get things rolling. Here’s to April!
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.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or if you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard stories about the Alafia River Rendezvous. It’s a living history event held every year in central Florida. Thousands of people converge in what amounts to a huge field to camp, shop, and visit 18th century-style. My dad got me into it, and I’ve gotten Eric into it, now that he gets actual vacation time.
This year was a little different. I took my iPad and keyboard, and downloaded Scrivener for iOs so I could write while I was there. Mostly I wanted to have the option because it’s far easier for me to write daily than take time off and have to restart. It keeps my momentum up. The other reason was I wasn’t thinking when I signed up for an informal JanNoWriMo (similar to National Novel Writing Month, which is in November) organized by a Facebook group. I figured I could do 20,000 words instead of the 50,000 they require with NaNoWriMo. If I’d been home all month it would have been easy.
I did write about 5 times. My word count was about 3,800, so I didn’t get a ton done, but I did get the short story I was working on finished. Needless to say, I’m way behind on that 20,000 word goal. At this point I might make it, but since I finished what was the current story, I’m not positive. Regardless, I’ve written more this month than I usually do in January, so that’s something.
Here’s a few pictures of our vacation.
It can be tough finding the right name for all of your characters, especially if you write in genres where Mary and John don’t fit well. Fantasy and science fiction come to mind, but it’s also applicable if, for instance, you’re writing historical fiction about Chinese immigrants building the railroad. Baby name websites and books are great, and I use them a lot, but they only go so far.
So what’s an author to do?
Google Translate. Really, most translation websites will do the trick, but I’ve found Google has more languages to choose from than the other sites I’ve looked at. If French/Spanish/Italian/Latin is all you need, that’s great, but most sites don’t do less common languages.
Since Eric and I are exploring our Celtic heritages, I decided to base Balphrahn on Celtic culture. That gives me Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, with options for German and French, since parts of those countries were also Celtic. I went with French for the dragon names. I used their colors, or if that was too obvious, a personality trait, and translated them. In some cases, I tweaked the spelling.
When I expanded the world, I ran into an issue with a water dragon. I didn’t think a French name would fit him, so I went back to the Celtic languages. This particular dragon is curious and a bit of a philosopher. He can throw down when needed, but that’s not his main goal. So I plugged “curious” into Google Translate and came up with Chwilfrydig*. It just fit him. For what it’s worth, I’ve been using Welsh more and more lately. Scottish and Irish usually have a word or two to offer; I’ve seen dozens of words in Welsh that mean the same thing.
What tricks to you use? Have you used this method?
*If you don’t read Welsh, it’s pronounced Sh-will-fri-dig. Google Translate told me that, too.