Category Archives: Write Now!

Writerly Wednesday – Nuts & Bolts Edition

I drafted most of this last week before I found out my kiddo was on his way to the ER. Obviously, I didn’t get to the publishing part of it then.

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You may or may not know that as an indie-published author, I am not raking in the dough.

I’ve published two books this year (with a third coming out in…checks the countdown clock in the sidebar…less than 48 41 days *cue panic*). In order to publish a decent book, there are a lot of things one must do in addition to being a decent writer.

One must hire a professional editor. This is not cheap. Nor should it be! You want quality! One must have a proofreader. Preferably someone who is not also your editor. Because the more eyes, the better. One must, if they are not graphically inclined, have a cover designer.

Seriously – if I was in charge of my covers, they would look like this (real sketch I shared with my cover designer):

I still have the original if you want a signed copy of this. hahahaha. My kindergartener can draw better than I can. (Full Ruby Blade Pinterest board if you click!)

You can see why I pay cash money for a cover designer, right? There are other expenses, as well. ISBN numbers, formatting (I’m fortunate that my formatter takes Amazon gift cards), copyright filing fees, and the biggie…advertising.

Advertising is something that I’ve not quite figured out the magical formula for, but I can tell you right now, that’s the second largest expense I have (after my editor).

I am not making the big bucks. I’m new, I’m unknown, and I don’t have the backing of a publishing powerhouse for promotion. (There have been two days this month where my daily GROSS was less than $1. I am not even kidding a little bit.)

All of this isn’t to complain – not in the least. I knew, more or less, what I was getting in to. I expect that as I keep publishing, I’ll get a little more traction, attract a few more readers, and get more reviews (I’ve heard that 50 is the magic number on Amazon, and I’m almost half-way there with The Cardinal Gate).

Maybe there will be a day in the future when I’m not squeezing in my writing and editing time around my dayjob. That is my ultimate goal, but for now – only two (almost three!) books in, that’s impossible. Where you run into an interesting problem is when you think about how often it’s recommended indie authors publish to stay in the readers’ minds. I’m publishing three books in a calendar year this year. Three books that average 100,000 words each. It takes me roughly 2-3 months to write a draft of that length when I’m working full time and editing on the side. Then, another 3 weeks for a second draft. Off to the beta readers, a few days to incorporate their feedback, a couple rounds of editing (that’s 4-6 weeks of work for me) and proofing (another week), final changes and readthroughs. Formatting. Uploading and reuploading and swearing. My writing calendar looks like this:

The Ruby Blade is Red (of course), book 4 is Orange, Editing is purple, blogging is yellow, novella/sekrit project stuff is green, and that’s just the writing calendar. I currently have five active calendars. FIVE.

As you can probably imagine, that’s a lot of juggling – especially since I do occasionally enjoy having a social life and because I do have a kiddo 1/2 time (which is just not enough…sigh).

**this is where I left off; talking about my 1/2 time kiddo who is awesome, but accident prone**

I’m starting to book a fair amount of editing clients, and I really love it. I love writing. I hate editing my own stuff, but it’s part of the process.

My dream – my ultimate goal, and the thing I’m working towards – is financial freedom. I don’t know how realistic that is. I know people a few years ahead of me who make enough money writing that they can also do a fair amount of travel (yes!) and others who have more books published, but are still reliant on secondary sources of income (such as a day job or a partner with a good day job or some combination thereof).

If you asked me where I wanted to be in five years, I’d tell you it’d be 100% debt free (thanks marriage, divorce, and master’s degree!) and making enough $$ writing and editing that – at the very least – I’m able to cut down to half time. (I kinda like my sweet, sweet health insurance, and if the ACA goes away, there’s no way I’d be able to afford insurance on the open market. Mental illness is a horribly expensive pre-existing condition and is the reason I’ve gone without insurance the few times I didn’t have a job that offered it.)

Ultimate dream? Doing the writing/editing and living in a country where you just get health insurance because it’s a fundamental right and not a privilege of the wealthy! (I’m not harboring any illusions that this country will be the US, of course. For a country that has such a vocal contingent declaring it a “Christian Nation” we’re sure awfully stingy about taking care of the poor and sick (Matthew 25:41-46).)

For now, though, it’s a slog. I work at my day job where, for the first time since I was 22, I’m an hourly employee which means if I take off an hour to pick up a sick kid, I don’t get paid. I spend my evenings after Bean goes to bed with my editing clients (not actually with them; I do not provide that level of service) or writing. I try to hang out with friends and Beer Guys regularly. And I’m still not making a profit. Yet.

I’m confident I’ll get there, but this is hard, hard work. It’s the best hard work I’ve ever done, but I’m not rolling around in my piles of money, laughing maniacally yet. (YET!)

 

As soon as I make it big, I promise to take a video of me making a money angel.

pinky swear

 

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Book Review: Shameless Begging

Hey readers…quick request. If you read either The Cardinal Gate or The Waning Moon, can you pretty, pretty please go post a review for them? I don’t care if you didn’t love them. (If your last name is Cissell, though, you can’t leave a review.)

It doesn’t have to be much. Just pick a title (This book was aces!) or (I liked it alright) or (Meh), a star-ranking, and a couple sentences that make it sound like you actually read the book. (If you didn’t read it, don’t review it. That’s weird.)

You can set up an anonymous name and I’ll never know who you are. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t like it. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about my books (and more than enough positive things to balance it), but reviews are really awesome to help indie authors like me gain traction.

I really appreciate everyone who’s supported me by buying, downloading, and reading…and I’d appreciate you so extra hard if you’d review.

(Pssstttt…I’m gonna be doing a HYUGENORMOUS giveaway involving three signed paperbacks and a few other fun goodies as soon as The Cardinal Gate gets to 50 reviews…we’ve a ways to go, though, so don’t hold your breath.)

In the meantime, I’m trucking along with writing and editing and eating regularly and sleeping and watching too many murder shows late at night when it’s windy and the branches scrape the house and things get blown into the doors. Still working on getting to my ideal state, but I’m feeling a little better about it today.

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Monday Brain Dump

It’s been a ridiculous week. I have a lot of thoughts in my head. I’m not gonna share all of them, but I’ve got some stuff for you.

You all know my kiddo was in the ER for a head injury Wednesday. We went for a followup visit Saturday and he is AOK – just needs to try to take it easy for a few more days. Limited screen time (I think, all told, we’ve had <45 minutes total for the whole Friday-Monday morning time), limited running, zero falling down and whacking his head any more.

Peak bruising was Saturday morning…it’s starting to fade to yellow, although it’s still spreading.

Friday, I took the Beer Guy to the airport for his 2.5 week trip to Belgium. I already miss him like crazy. (As does the Bean who was super disappointed that the Beer Guy didn’t make it home for waffles and bacon Sunday morning…”Mom, he loves waffles and bacon. Why didn’t he come back for breakfast? It’s because you didn’t buy enough bacon for everyone, isn’t it?” Yep…totes my fault on that one, kid.) So when I picked Bean up from kindergarten on Friday, I said I’d take him anywhere he wanted to go for dinner.

AB: “Oooh – Pizza Fino is good!”

Me: “Okay, let’s go there.”

AB: “But Atomic is even better. Can we go there? The Beer Guy will be so jealous because he loves it and we can take a picture and send it to him and he will miss us.”

Me: “Interesting motivation, but sure. Let’s go there.”

As we approach Atomic Pizza, Bean says, “Mom. I don’t really want the Beer Guy to be jealous. Let’s go to Lucky Lab. He won’t be sad that he missed that.”

Truer words, kids…

Lucky Lab dinner date. I don’t really like that place, either, but I’d said he could pick.

Saturday late afternoon/evening we got to have a play date. Well, Bean played with his BFF (and eventual roommate – he’s planning on moving into their basement when he graduates from high school) and I got to hang with my good friends and former neighbors who were gracious enough to have a kid the exact right age for play dates.

Yesterday was a mellow day. Bean was wiped out and needed a break (and I needed to finish up my editing project for a client so that I’d be ready to start edits on The Ruby Blade when it comes back this week). We putzed around the house, did lego projects, messed with the kitten, and had a pretty quiet (activity wise, definitely not volume wise) day.

We kept watching the sky for rain, and it came in fits and starts, but not quite what I was hoping.

I stayed up too late Saturday and Sunday (Friday, I was asleep on the couch by 9, dragged myself to bed about 10, and then woke up at 1:30 am and was awake for 2.5 hours…dammit.) but still don’t feel too exhausted.

I got the final cover for The Ruby Blade and will be doing an exclusive cover reveal preview for all newsletter subscribers in a couple weeks – so if you want to see before everyone else, sign up for the newsletter (check the sidebar).

tiny sneak peek

This week is all about writing and editing and reading (and work, of course) for me. I have a milestone on book 4 I really want to hit. I also want to – now that I’m starting to feel a little better physically – start moving again on the regular.

But mostly, I want to snuggle my Bean up tonight and tomorrow night before he heads back to his dad’s for 5 days.

Rainy Days and Mondays…

Family Friday

Tonight, my baby (I AM NOT A BABY) comes home for five nights in a row. That’s never enough – I hate that Wednesday morning I’ll drop him off at kindergarten and won’t see him again until the following Monday after school – but I love my long stretches with my boy. In a month, we’re switching the schedule to eliminate the mid-week transition and I’ll get him for week-long stretches at a time (of course, this also means he’ll be gone for week-long stretches at a time, which is a major bummer…sigh). I would give almost anything to have him more. The sticky, cotton-candy kisses I got last night at back-to-school night are everything.

 

My other local family, the beer guy, is on his way to Belgium, which is his very favorite country, right now. He told me he’s eventually coming back, although for some reason, I had the return date wrong in my head (and on my calendar), and even though he kept correcting me, I still couldn’t remember the right date. I think I finally have it now, which means I’ll show up to the airport on the right day to pick him up and not leave him stranded for 24 hours. One of my favorite things to do when he’s traveling is to sky-stalk him with the Flight Aware app. He’s currently (as of this very second) flying over the flyover state of Nebraska. (Sorry, Nebraskans – but I’m from the flyover state of South Dakota…it’s just how it goes.)

One of my biggest challenges when I’m sans beer guy is to remember to eat and sleep. Yes, I know that sounds dumb, but it’s my biggest challenge. So I’m putting it out here that I will eat and sleep on the regular for the next few weeks. That means no skipping meals, no having “fruit salad” for dinner, and going to bed and to sleep at a decent hour every night.

This will NOT be me. Most of the time.

Fortunately, I have a lot to keep me busy. I’m wrapping up an editing project this weekend, just in time to get The Ruby Blade back from my editor to do revisions. I have a Raj chapter to write, I’m deep in Eleanor book 4, and I’ve started outline books 1-3 of my new series. Plus, all that kid time with the world’s best kid and future leader of a unicorn cult.

GAH! That bump!

 

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Writerly Wednesday: The Ruby Blade updates

Last Saturday night, at approximately 11:30 pm, I sent my revised manuscript of The Ruby Blade to my editor. I managed to add almost 6,000 words in my rewrites last week and am pleased with how it turned out.

Even though it was late AF and I was tired, I still broke out my traditional bottle o’ bubbles to celebrate.

snapchat filter to make me look slightly less tired

Fortunately I had plenty of help along the way. In addition to my first readers, new intern Rupurrt Giles was exceptionally eager to take his place as my scribe.

Is that not the best bow-tie collar in the land?

In the meantime, I’m plugging away on book 4 (and I think I’ve settled on a title…reveal will be going out in my next newsletter!), drafting the outlines for my next series, and working on such an exciting editing project that omg, you guys! I can’t wait for you all to read it!

I feel like that’s keeping me busy enough for now, but just in case that wasn’t quite enough, I have some travel planned! I’m headed to Mexico next month for a 100% non-research trip, then Santa Fe in November for a 100% research trip (to finish off book #4!), and Ireland/Spain/Portugal next spring for an at least 50% research trip (that’ll be for Eleanor books 5/7).

I’m debating on whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve done it every year since 2013 and dedicated it to my dad each year (he was my first NaNo friend), but I’m not sure I can balance writing 1700 words/day with editing and working and momming and traveling and spending time with the beer guy. (hahahaha…of course I can do it! 2016 was the first year I did it while not employed full-time, and this job is much less emotionally and temporally taxing than my previous. talked myself into it. totes signing up.)