Monthly Archives: July 2013

Writing and publishing news

Just a few odds and ends of news for those of you who may not follow me on Twitter or Facebook. My urban fantasy novel The Red Eye will be published later this year by Alliteration Ink. More details on that soon. Alliteration Ink is an ENnie Award-nominated publisher of fiction and non-fiction. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a copy of Sidekicks!, the anthology they released earlier this year; my short story “Doomed” is in it, as well as a bunch of other amazing stuff you should be reading.

The Red Eye was a labor of love for me, and I’m super stoked that it’ll be my first full-length novel to see print. More to come as we get closer to release.

My short story “Method Writing” will be showing up in the new Static Movement anthology Night Hunters, publication date TBD. My short story “The Found Girl” appeared in Wordhaus on July 24.

Working on reviving the Dayton-based literary reading event, possibly at a new venue. Stay tuned for news!

In other project news, I’m working away at The Curiosity Killers (SF), The Wraithmaker (UF), and other super cool books. My short story collection Grinning Cracks is still available, so get your meaty little hands on it!

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More tips on being a more productive writer!

Earlier this month, I talked about an excellent workshop I attended that changed the way I thought about my writing habits. Today, I want to show you the result of that workshop.

productivity_chart_screen_shot

Yes, I’m censoring some titles because I don’t want to spoil some publication and project surprises coming down the pike.

The above spreadsheet has increased my writing output and happiness and decreased my stress levels, and it’s so simple. Some of my deadlines are editor-, publisher-, or school-imposed (e.g. The Curiosity Killers is my thesis novel for my MFA program, and therefore it has set monthly deadlines), and some of them are self-imposed (e.g. The Wraithmaker and Late Bloomer are not currently under contract, but they’re first drafts of books that I want to get done by the end of 2014). But by putting in self-imposed deadlines, I also am doing a better job of prioritizing which items I need to work on a little bit more. The titles in green must be worked on every day for a shorter amount of time; the titles in yellow, orange, and red have deadlines coming up sooner; and the titles in grey are on the back burner until other items are done. I have goals for how many minutes per day I want to work on higher-priority titles, and sometimes I’m making it and sometimes I’m not. But the point is to work on the high-priority titles every day, even if it’s for 10, 20, or 30 minutes.

Am I perfect at it yet? No, clearly not, as evidenced by the fact that some of the projects’ last date worked on is last week despite their appearance in the “every day” sections. But because a lot of this is indeed self-imposed, it’s okay. At least I am making some headway, and at least I am thinking about (and usually doing) high-priority writing every single day.

It’s essentially the NaNoWriMo concept made a little more practical. The best way to keep discipline with writing? Write every day. Full stop. There’s no secret weapon, there’s no shortcut, it’s just sitting down and doing the work. By tracking it, I’ve now got clear evidence of how my discipline is going. Before, I was scattershot and simply tried to work a little on too many pieces all at once. Now I feel a lot more systematic in my approach.

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Be a more productive writer!

I recently attended a workshop on being more productive with your writing, and the presenter spent a great deal of time on the idea of keeping a writing tracker. While I do keep a submission spreadsheet so I know what stories are where and all the places I’ve submitted, I don’t really keep a writing log. I have a loose to-do list that isn’t terribly well-prioritized, making it daunting and inefficient. I’m inspired enough by this workshop to change how I work.

The main suggestion the presenter gave that was simple yet eye-opening was to actually give yourself deadlines, even if they’re self-imposed, and spend time working on one to three projects at a time, all of which you devote varying lengths of time based on how soon they’re due. Sounds logical enough, and yet I’ve been writing with serious intent to publish for over fifteen years and this never occurred to me.

Why? Because deadlines so seldom exist in my writing life.

When you’re a fiction writer, if you’re not under contract to do a series or a specific book, you write when, how, and because you want to, for the most part. You work when you’re inspired, basically, though a good, prolific, and dedicated fiction writer will usually write every day or at least every week (I make it somewhere in between, usually). Unless you’re doing National Novel Writing Month or a degree program with a creative thesis (as I am now, which is why I took this workshop to begin with), there is no deadline swinging its blade-edged pendulum ever closer to vulnerable little you, hurrying you onward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m relatively prolific with my short prose, but I’m a slow noveler1. Since I’m doing an MFA that requires a set number of pages every month, however, I need to become a fast noveler and definitely a write-every-day-no-matter-what noveler.

In the next few days, as I construct my version of a better writing tracker, I’ll share my end results here, so that if you’re a procrastinate-y, reluctant composer of prose and verse, you may find something useful here.

1 Yes, I know “noveler” and “noveling” et al are not real words. Blame Chris Baty’s entertaining book No Plot, No Problem on that, for he uses the adorable term so much I have come to embrace it.

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