#birthdaywritingchallenge: a recap

Just The Facts, Ma’am:

  • 11,287 words
  • Aug 25-Sept 25, am missing entries for Sept 11th, 15th, 21, 22, 24.
  • Some days have multiple entries — I have two for the 13th, two for the 26th, and three for the 8th.

Insights

I had two goals for this  writing challenge. The first was to become practiced at writing without editing as I go. The second was to give myself the gift of a slew of new material to use however I see fit in the coming year. I succeeded in both these things and, totally unexpected, I also fell in love with writing, all over again. I also learned a few important lessons along the way.

I learned that sitting down and writing for ten minutes every day feels good. One of the easiest ways I have to give myself shit is by not writing. Not writing gives me the perfect weapon to give myself grief, make me feel badly, and bully myself in general. Having a  goal that isn’t based in a word count is a perfect counter to that. To return any attempts at tearing myself down with a simple “shut up, you wrote,” is . . . Well, perfect.

I learned that word counts are for the editing phase, not the drafting phase. Once upon a time, I started striving for daily counts because I’d gone a year with writing less than 20k, and I didn’t want to do that again. More recently, my monthly word count goal has become 4k, so that I’m producing an acceptable [to me; I realize I’m the one judging this, no one else] amount of material for my patreon supporters. It was needful for me to have that goal for a while, but it’s less needful now. Habits die hard, and I never considered dropping that approach. I kept dropping my daily goals (most recently it had been 250) but I don’t always write, and then I’d fall behind, and would beat myself up over that, and it didn’t matter that I’d get my counts in by the end of the month, I wasn’t doing it the way I’d decided, and so the psychological mind-fuck would be there. ‘You can’t even commit to a measly 250 a day, how can anyone take you seriously  as a writer?’

And then this happened. 11k words while I wasn’t counting. Ten minutes a day is a far better goal for me. Some days it would be less than 200. Some days it would be over three. Some days I’d just keep going after the timer went off, and I’d stop with 500, or 700, or, sometimes, 1k. Giving myself permission to sit and write and not edit and not worry if what I was writing had anything at all to do with anything else  gave me freedom in creating, and it has been glorious.

Going forward, I’m going to continue this practice. The only change will be that I’ll focus more on current WIPs, though.

I missed five days. One was a rebellion against doing something Every Day. One was due to a vet appointment throwing off my sleep schedule. Three were due to it being the birthdays, and spending time with Beth, catching up on sleep, and yeah, indulging a bit too much in the wine.  You know. Birthday things.

Wonder of wonders, that I missed five days, in the light of having reached 11k? Pretty hard to beat myself up over those missed days. I’m not even trying all that hard, so I think I’ve got the inner critic on my side, too. So:

11k words. Joy of writing. Inner Critic seeing reason. Yeah, I’m going to call that win.

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Day 22, or, The Bear At the Door

Normally, bears weren’t a problem this far south, but none of the past year had been normal. All of our livestock was wasting away, the crops were failing, and our well was drying up. My family were, collectively, as paranoid as they came. They didn’t trust the government. They didn’t trust the neighbors. They didn’t trust the townies. They didn’t trust strangers. They barely trusted one another; I think they only did because there was no other choice.

Our grandparents and their siblings never spoke of where they came from. We rarely left the farms. There were five in all, spread across a large amount of land that was forest, pasture, and field. It wasn’t the best land, and our livestock was never the best of the lifestock, but between what we managed in a year and what we had set by from years past, we survived.

Winter closed in early, cutting us off from help even if we’d been inclined to seek it out. Our own parents were not quite so insular as the generation before; my father had a good relationship with some of the folks in town, enough that I knew some people my own age that weren’t cousins. Enough so that I had dreams of getting off the farm. Of being normal.

Of leaving, one day.

Then came the bears.

It didn’t seem, at first, like this would be the answer to our worries. Polar bears showing up this far inland, this far south . . . How could that be a solution to anything? Winter closed around with a tight hold that slowly choked the life from us. The last of our sheep died. The chickens began to freeze in their coop, so we moved them into the house. The well froze over completely, and somehow our cellar flooded, ruining everything that hadn’t been stored in water-tight containers. The cousins farms around us were cut off by snow shoulder deep. Wolves and bears and coyotes ranged through the yard, seeking for an easy meal.

And then Father fell ill.

He would die. We knew it, we all knew it. My oldest brother strapped on his snowshoes at dawn and headed for Grandma’s farm. Dread nestled in the pit of my stomach as he sloughed off. We wouldn’t see him again, I knew, but I didn’t speak the words. We waited two days before my second brother did the same. We were growing weak with hunger, foolish from the cold. We moved into the kitchen and closed the rest of the house against the cold, trying to conserve the fuel we had.

Mother wrapped my brother tight in an embrace. She cried openly. “If it’s too much, you come back to us,” she made him promise, and then let him go.

The knock at the door traveled through the floor where I rested my head, sounding through my head. From his place by the stove, Father moaned. Mother sat upright in her chair, her eyes wide. I was closest, so I climbed to my feet, brushed out the skirt of my nightgown, and shuffled to the door.

The bear filled the doorway, standing on two legs the way they sometimes do. A massive paw was held forward, like a hand might be when it’s about to knock a second time. Black eyes glittered wetly, catching the oil light at my back and reflecting it back.

“Ah,” said the bear. It came back to all fours, sidled to its left, and shifted so that I could see behind it. “I believe this is yours.”

This was my second brother, laying limp and blue in the snow. “No!” I tumbled past the bear and fell to my knees in the snow. “Thomas!”

The bear came closer. It bent awkwardly to lift Thomas with its forearms, like a man carrying his bride over the threshold. “He lives yet,” the bear assured me. “He needs warmth, and he’ll be right as rain. May I?”

“Bring him here.” Mother was at my back, her hand pressed onto my shoulder. To steady herself, or to steady me, I wondered. “Place him by the fire.”

[What is my #birthdaywritingchallenge? Simply put: a gift to myself for my upcoming birthday. Ten minutes of unfettered, unedited, uncensored writing every day for one solid month. The goal? To give myself, at the end of this, a collection of material that I enjoyed writing. Could be a continuation of the previous day’s writing. Could be something totally new. Could be a scene that ties in with other works already completed. There will be no editing. There will be no rules at all, other than sit down and write. Ten minutes, uninterrupted, every single day. Cheer me on, if you’re so inclined, and happy reading!]

Day 20

[Note: I missed a day, yesterday, but, look it, I sliced upon my palm at work. My right (and write!) palm. The upside is I cut it open with a brand new blade so while the cut is deep, it is also clean, and already trying to knit back together. I figured one day of not typing would be beneficial, and I’ll more than make up for it over the next two days. One day out of 20 isn’t so bad, and again — wounded!]

birthdaychallenge20

Sherri smiled her beaming smile, the one that she saves for the people she’s trying to use. She thinks she’s clever, that she’s cunning, that I can’t see through her, that her smile blinds me. “I love that bag,” she says.

She doesn’t love my bag. It’s the same bag I’ve carried to school with me for the entire year, frayed around edges, holes started where the corners of my books rub into the fabric. It’s black, and plain, and boring. I’d sewn decorative stitching around edges, simple patterns that meant nothing to most people, but kept me safe, kept their eyes off me. The look-away charm was a family secret, passed down from mother to daughter since we’d set sail from the Old World.

“Thanks,” I mumble as I twist the combination dial. Why the hell is she talking to me? I slip the bag from my shoulder, pull out the book, notebook, and tablet I need for my next class, and shove the bag into the locker.

Sherri is still beaming at me, her blue eyes gleaming. “So, listen, Aubrie, I was wondering—”

I don’t roll my eyes because I’ve been taught to guard my reactions by women far more cunning than this young woman who wants to be a witch and isn’t, can’t be, will never be, but it’s a very near thing.

“It’s Aubryn,” I correct her. My tone may not be as guarded as my expression, but for crying out loud, we’ve been attending the same school since the second grade. The least she could do is get my name right.

“—do you think you’d want to come over for our next sabbat? We could use another person, and Mari said that you might be interested.”

Maribella. The only person in my grade I could stand even a little bit. Grandma Elsin delivered her, saved her life, and checked in on her every year. Her mother never told her why she came by, on the eve of her birthday, for Granny’s elixir. Far as she knew, it was superstition — her mother’s gran had come from the Old Country, too, and though my kin had been here longer, some of the old traditions were the same.

She knew my family was . . . Not like others. From Sherri’s comment, I realized that she’d assumed incorrectly.

I could say no, and alienate the only person I could carry on a conversation with, or I could truly, truly be an outcast.

Granny Elsin wouldn’t like that. How could I take on the business, eventually, if I was an outcast.

Damn it. “I guess so.” I couldn’t keep the sigh from coming out with the words.

SHerri linked her arm with mine. “Great. I was thinking that we could . . .”

 


What is my #birthdaywritingchallenge? Simply put: a gift to myself for my upcoming birthday. Ten minutes of unfettered, unedited, uncensored writing every day for one solid month. The goal? To give myself, at the end of this, a collection of material that I enjoyed writing. Could be a continuation of the previous day’s writing. Could be something totally new. Could be a scene that ties in with other works already completed. There will be no editing. There will be no rules at all, other than sit down and write. Ten minutes, uninterrupted, every single day. Cheer me on, if you’re so inclined, and happy reading!

Happy Patreoniversary!! (okay, not yet, but soon!)

August marks my 1 year Patreoniversary! When I began my story subscription back in 2013, I knew that some of my friends and long-time readers would support the project. Either they liked my writing, or they liked me, or they felt badly that I was facing dental surgery with no real way to cover the cost, or all of the above. I knew they’d support the project because I ran it by them and they said yes, they’d support it. When the first person suggested I take it to Patreon, I decided I’d look into it, and then I didn’t touch it again for over a year.

Since I launched my Patreon page, I’ve gained some additional supporters, and I’m extremely grateful for all of you. You support my writing by allowing me some breathing room when it comes to getting bills paid — without this, a second job would have been necessary long before now, and that would have killed any writing time I’d hope to have. Am I greedy? Do I want more support so I can write more, so that I can put more time into editing than I manage now, so that I can learn skills to design better covers and/or be able to afford to support artists to create covers for me? Yes! I am greedy. I do want these things!

More than anything, though, I want to have more time to write, to create, and enough to also give back. I’ve been touched beyond words to be a part of this giving exchange, and I’m inspired to do more, and create more, and share more.

I want to present things that are finished and polished and professional, but you know what? That goal is not one that’s being true to who I am, and how I am. Yes, obviously, when it comes to the stories, the finished written projects, I want those as polished as I can make them. But I also want to share this process with you, and I can’t do that while making it professional and polished and finished. This is messy. It’s complicated, and it’s an adventure, and it’s all over the place. I’m learning so much about who I am as a writer, and I want to share that, too. I’m not polished. I don’t have my shit together. I’m not interested in pretending that I do.

Going forward, I’m going to share more. It’s selfish, because I know I do my best when I’m being vulnerable and terrified in the sharing. It’s also not selfish, because I know I give my best when I’m in that space, as well.

TL;DR: things are changing, and I hope for the better!

Gushing and gratitude aside (as if it could ever be aside!), what is changing? Well, I’m glad you asked!

A brief run down of what’s changing. While I am grateful, and will continue to be grateful, (have I mentioned that I’m grateful yet? Because, I want to be clear that I’m grateful!) for the support of my patrons, in my first year on Patreon, I’ve seen that most of the proposed rewards for pledges have not been taken advantage of — which can only mean that they’re not rewards people are interested in. I know we’re supposed to be all altruistic, and support the creators that we choose to support because we believe in their creation/talent/passion/what have you, but I also know that what I’ll get as a reward does enter my decision-making when it comes to who and what I want to support. It’s not the most important part, no, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a factor. I want the rewards I have to appeal to my patrons — so feed back, suggestions, and encouragement are welcome! In the meantime, let’s take a look at what Rewards v2.0 entails:

Everyone who makes any sort of a pledge at all will gain access to exclusive content on my feed. For those already pledging, you know that that’s an underwhelming promise. To date, my feed has been pretty dismal. I haven’t managed to find time to create new work, work at the day job, and pay attention to my Patreon feed, and I’m sorry about that. I’m committed to being more mindful of this going forward. I’m going to be scaling my sneak peeks that I post publicly way back, and making an effort to have my patrons and subscribers get the first looks at all new material — even the teasers. To that end: pledges of $1 or more will receive sneak peeks, some behind the scene access, random thinking and plotting ‘out loud’, and other ‘shop’ related blather, as I feel inspired to share. That’s neat, right? But wait, because there’s more.

All supporters will also gain access to my new adventure: Kitten, Witchin’. This is going to be an as-sections-are-available story and (bad!) art, as I stretch my drawing muscles and explore a new (to me!) way of telling story. Originally, when I got this idea, it was going to be a higher pledge reward, but 1) I don’t want to pressure myself to release before I’m ready and 2) the art is going to be bad. I basically don’t draw. I can make shapes look vaguely like they should. I can draw a cat, and you can tell it’s supposed to be a cat, but I want to get better. I want to get better because there are images in my head that I need to get out into the world, that other people aren’t going to want to do. (Read: all the Poseidon images. All of them. So many.) (read also: cats, and Corbie!) The world at large will be gaining a sneak peek and teaser of what I’m talking about, and you’ll learn more about this particular story before it goes live. Two words in the mean time. Witch. Cats. Yeah. I thought you’d be interested.

The $10 pledge reward remains the same: access to the above, and also to my story subscription. A new installment sent to your inbox each month consisting of 4k words or more (that’s roughly nine pages) of new material. My stories run to novella length, so it’s generally 5-7 months to complete a story, though I have done single installment stories before, and I want to again, once the When the Worlds Collide series is finished. If you’re interested in subscribing, but don’t want to start in the middle of a story, don’t worry! Why would I make you do that? We’re only two installments into the When Worlds Collide II; contact me, and we can work something out. Also, the first in this series, When Worlds Collide I  is available for purchase at Amazon, for $0.99, though if you contact me after you’ve subscribed and let me know you haven’t read the first one yet, I’ll be happy to email you a copy of the file. (for that matter, if you’re interested, but buying anything at all is out of your price range atm, contact me! Review copies are available.)

The $15 pledge reward is changing, mostly because no one has taken me up on the old rewards — which is fine, but also, I want you to be getting something more for your generosity than just nothing! Now, a $15 pledge will grant you access to all of the above, as well as to material I’m releasing for my The Poseidon Liturgical Year Project: small ebooks released over the course of the year detailing the holy days I observe for and with Poseidon. This includes the already released Vigil for the Bulls.

The $25 pledge reward grants you all of the aforementioned rewards, and access to exclusive videos. What are these videos? I don’t know yet! I’m thinking: tours of places that inspire some of the stories I’m writing, virtual book readings, answers to questions people might ask about my work, etc. I’m also planning on trying my hand at audiobook making, of my own books/stories/the subscription, so if that becomes a thing, the $25 pledge will also grant you access to audio versions of the installments as well.

Those are the biggest changes. I’m eyeballing the higher rewards but right now I have no idea what I might be able to offer, which is fine, because I’m not at a point where people seem interested in those anyway. Plus: let’s be real here, yes? We all know that Kitten, Witchin’, is holding all my interest at the moment. Pledge a dollar! Pledge five! Don’t miss out on the kitten’s witchy adventures!

Oh, you want a sneak peak right now? Well, I suppose that’s acceptable.

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Hey, I said it was *bad* art.

 

Vigil For the Bulls e-book is live!

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(Yes, alas, only for Kindle so far, though, you know, I know the author pretty well. If you want it in another form, I’m sure something can be arranged.  *wink wink*)

(Note: I’m uploading a new file with hopefully corrected chapter links. If you bought a copy already and the lack of properly working chapter links bothers you, please contact me and I’ll send you a new file)

Oh, and also? The Poseidon Liturgical Year Project site is officially live! Some of you have caught a sneaky-peeky of this (and by caught, I mean, were given) but if you haven’t checked it out yet, you may want to mosey on over. Or not. It’s not that exciting yet (and it’s only going to be exciting at any point if you’re into Poseidon, honestly) but I am going to be sharing bits of this year’s Vigil experience throughout the week. Pictures, thoughts, impressions, maybe poetry, I dunno. Whatever strikes my fancy.

Can I talk a moment about how awed I am at myself? Because I am. Not in an ego sort of way. More in an “I still don’t recognize myself, who IS this person??” way.

Ten days ago, the only thing I had for this project was a cover, and an idea. That’s it. I was fed up with not having accomplished with this blog what I’d first envisioned it being, even while acknowledging that I prefer what it is to what I thought it would be. I wanted one place for people to find material specifically about contemporary Poseidon devotion. I wanted this material to be available to people. No, it’s not the be-all, end-all. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: I’m not special. But, if I’m not special, then it follows that my own struggles over the years are not unique, and that means that the things I’ve learned and experienced may help others along their path, so shouldn’t I be sharing? I know my writing has helped people before; they’ve told me as much.

Ten days ago, none of this existed. It was a cover, a vague notion, and a deadline.

Four months ago, it would have gone differently. Four months ago, I would have had the idea. I would have become overwhelmed. I would have put off writing any of it. I would have wondered who the hell I was, to even dare write such a thing. I would have maybe started the intro, and then set it aside.  We’d be here, now, and I  wouldn’t have it done. I would have failed, and it would have become a weapon against myself, a reason why I was worthless, as if I needed any more reasons. A reason why it was pointless to even try.

Who am I to write this? Simply put: a devotee of Poseidon’s. Yeah, He’s been in my life for two decades, and yeah, that’s granted me experience to draw upon, but in the end, it comes back to simply being a writer, and a devotee. This is what I can do.

Is it definitive? Fuck, no. If you ever hear me talking about anything I write about Him as being definitive, please slap me. Remind me to get my head out of my arse. Something. Anything. It’s just my experiences with creating a particular ritual for my beloved Poseidon. Nothing more. But I hope it helps.

When Worlds Collide Final Installment, and info about the new story.

The last section of When Worlds Collide is in the hands of my editor, and will be coming back for final fixes today. *rubs hands gleefully*. I’m super excited about this novella, and I’m grateful for all the positive feedback I’ve been getting.

There will be two other stories in this series, and the first installment in the second will be going out in July. I’m taking a break to bang out a stand alone short that will not get out of my head any other way. The new story is currently without a title, alas, but I’m a quarter of the way into it after just two days, and loving it so very much. She’s a swamp  witch, you see, and something of an outcast, so it’s not very surprising that she winds up with a greenman for a husband. What happens when he gets a yearning to explore his roots, when he decides to seek out family he doesn’t even know? Will she still have a place at his side? Will they accept her, human as she is? Will they even accept him?

In July I’ll be returning to Loki’s children, and we’ll take a look to see how Mundi is dealing with this chaos his brother brings to their lives . . .

If you’re interesting in getting the previous four installments, please contact me at jolenedawe at gmail dot com. Each installment is $10. For more information, please see my subscription page. You can also opt in via paypal, on the button in my sidebar.

When Worlds Collide Chapter Two is live!

For my subscribers: emails should have hit your inboxes last night. If you’re expecting an installment and you did not receive one, please contact me. I triple check the addresses before I hit send, but I’m also human. I plug those in by hand (one day I’m going to look into a fancier way of doing it, I swear!) and I was working through a nagging headache last night, and omissions have happened before, so please, please  don’t hesitate to call me on it. Edited to add: I skipped a whole group of subscribers. See? This is why I ask. It should be remedied now, but again, if you haven’t gotten your installment, call me on it. As always, thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy this installment.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, but are curious: I run a story subscription. For $10 a month, you receive a story or story installment (let’s be real, it’s usually a story installment; novella is my ‘sweet spot’ length) of unpublished, brand new material, 4 thousand words (roughly 8 pages) or more in either .PDF, .mobi, or .epub format. We’re on the second installment of what is looking to be a five installment long story, When Worlds Collide.  There are a few ways you can join in on this. I have a Patreon set up, so if you want to pledge $10 a month for the duration of the story, you can. You can also pay via paypal.com. There’s more information about that here.

Even though the story has started, you can still opt in, and that will be true until the very last installment is set to go out. When Worlds Collide is a paranormal romance, and an amusing glimpse at what it might be like to count Loki as family. It centers around some of His more famous children, and is the first of three such stories. Personally, I love this story, but then, I would, and Loki — even as a secondary character — is wonderful to write.  If you like gods as characters in stories, if you like the illusion of the mundane being shattered by the presence of the magical, if your favorite themes are First Contact and Finding Home (those are totally my favorite themes), you might want to check this out.  (Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1) [When Worlds Collide 2016 copyright Jolene Dawe]


“So . . .” Meliah groped for words. Usually she wasn’t unnerved by silence, but this was a tense silence, the kind you wanted to break, the kind that got heavier and heavier the longer it stretched on. They were both, she realized, extremely nervous. Which made her want to laugh. What the hell was he nervous about?

Possibly that she was going to press charges.

“Your father has a bad temper, then?”

Hest very nearly laughed beer out his nose. He turned a few shade of red, managed to swallow without choking, and set his empty bottle down. “He’s not my father,” he said, “but, yeah. He’s sort of legendary for it. It’s unfair — he’s not unreasonable in his anger. He doesn’t just pop off randomly. Unless his kids are involved.”

“So, they’re all your half siblings?”

“Yeah.”

Meliah nodded. Fiddled with the label on her bottle. “Did—” She stopped. Inhaled. Tried again. “He threw that man out the window. Eight stories. And he got up like he’d tripped.”

Hest lifted his bottle to drink, found it empty, and frowned at it. “Yup.”

“That’s not possible. The windows. My apartment.” Meliah heard her voice going shrill, and stopped again. “Is it going to be safe for me to stay here? Or is he going to come back.”

“Oh, he won’t be back any time soon, love.”

Meliah had the satisfaction of seeing Hest flinch, so she didn’t feel so bad that the woman’s voice startled her half out of her skin.

She stood in the open doorway dressed in a neat, tidy pantsuit. Dark auburn hair brushed her shoulders in a riot of waves, suggesting that it’d been tied up wet and was newly released. She offered Meliah a slight smile before her eyes fell on Hest. The wattage of her smile hiked up to brilliant, lighting up her whole face. She lifted her hands and crossed into the apartment without an invitation. “Ach, my boy.”

Hest folded Meliah’s neighbor into his arms, squeezing tight, and dropped his head to her shoulder. Meliah hadn’t noticed him looking particularly tense —  then again, she was rather focused on her own stress — but she could see the tension draining out of him. “It’s so good to see you, Ma.” His voice was muffled.

Meliah stood, feeling awkward and intrusive in her own kitchen.

After another long minute or two, Hest stepped back. He held his mother at arm’s length. “Are you all right?”

His mother shrugged a shoulder. “Oh, him? Please. It’s a familiar song and dance, nothing more. Some of us simply like our routines. Others of us like to seek out something new, now and again.” She shifted so that she could look at Meliah and Hast at the same time. “I’m sorry to have met you under these circumstances,” she said, holding out a hand. Her grin was almost all teeth this time. “I’m Loki.”

 

Story Subscription News, Writing News, Read All The Things!

By now, those of you who are already signed up for my Story Subscription will have received the twelfth, and final chapter in A Marriage of Land and Sea. From the bottom of my heart: thank you. Being able to check this particular story off my to-write list is rewarding for so many reasons. Roern and Charlie have been with me, in one form or another, for over ten years. While the troubles they’re facing aren’t completely over (there are two more books to come), the story of their arranged marriage is, and I couldn’t be happier. I hope you enjoyed the book.

A Marriage of Land and Sea was part of a plan for 2015 that more or less failed. While getting that book written was a success, everything else about my writing plans for the year was not. Of course, it would have helped if I had planned realistically, but that’s neither here nor there. The plan going in was to get aMoLaS and its following books all written by the end of July. Maybe not all written and ready to been by the world, but at least the rough drafts finished. I thought this was reasonable, a reasonable outgrowth of upping my word count every year since 2011, and of participating in NaNoWriMo for the previous two years (‘winning’ the one, and coming close the year previous by stopping at 45k). Let’s never mind that participating in NaNo taught me that I hate writing at that particular pace (though it’s the schedule more than the pace) and never mind that this meant I’d decided I would write 150k in seven months while working full time at one job and part time at a second. And, too, never mind the nonfiction writing – neither the blog posts I write, nor the 20k that I got done on the Sacred Marriage book. Never mind that that sort of writing pace was going to me miserable and thus unlikely to stick to it. I was going to get it done, using A Marriage of Land and Sea as a buffer for the Story Subscription. I was going to get all the writing done and it was going to be spectacular and wonderful and prolific and perfect.

Yeah, see . . . No.

I went into November deciding at the last minute to participate in NaNoWriMo, and I managed 20k on the new book, and realized in the second week that I’d allowed NaNo fever (get the words out, write the words, do it now!!) to distract me from everything I’ve learned about my writing practice, how to make discipline work for me, etc. I’ve had to unruin the story from where I brought it, and it’s taking me a bit longer than I’d like. I’d planned to use NaNo to get the new project (The Midnight Circle – about an insomniac and not entirely human knitting circle, originally going to be a collection of novella-length stories) started, at least . But suddenly I was writing a book, instead of stories, and the pacing was all off, and it was rushed and also not fast enough and just wrong.

I have other things started, and even though the wanting to finish the stories for themselves should be enough motivation for me to stick to them until they are done, what I’m learning is that, having an audience, a real audience and not a hypothetical audience, makes all the difference in my staying on track. Charlie was with me for thirteen years, but it took knowing you were reaing along to get her to the end of that book. So maybe I’d drag McCredie out before you, or maybe I’d revisit Brittany and Thistle –

Except those are both book length books, and I’m jonesing for something a tad shorter. Possibly a bit sweeter. Certainly not so dire. And, I’ve been owing Loki a story for a while . . .

I still don’t have a name for it, but January’s story installment will kick off a brand new story, and while Loki’s proving reluctant to be a main character, Loki will be involved – and so will Loki’s children. I can’t promise you a length – I’m still toying with having two POVs, which will necessitate a longer story than just a short short story. If I had to go on feel (what do you call that, the feeling of the substance and complexity of a story that tells the writer, this may be 5k, it might be 10k, there’s no way it’ll be as little as 30k? Is there a word for that? Am I watching too many old Vlogbrother videos, that I’m looking for words for things?), I’d say this might be as long as Igraine’s Flight, but possibly shorter, and not much longer. So, novella, not novel, not short story. I’ll be posting a sneak peek in the coming days. If you’re curious about my writing, there are places you can got to read some of my stories for free. If you’re interested is subscribing, there’s more information about what that entails here, but for a quick run down:

The subscription is $10 a month. This gets you four thousand words (roughly eight pages of new, previously unpublished material) in .mobi or .epub, direct in your in-box once a month. I accept both Patreon pledges or payment via Paypal.com.  (I need to get a button back up on my page. My paypal is bluedolfyn at yahoo dot com) Right now I’m mailing the material out on the 15th, so if the payment hits my paypal before or on the 15th, you will get an installment.

I am incredibly grateful to my subscribers in 2015 for supporting the release of a Marriage of Land and Sea – I don’t know that I’d be happy with getting chapters of books fed to me one at a time for twelve whole months. (I lie. I totally would be. Chapters are noms!) I won’t say never again, but I will say that I’m tired of writing books, bring on the shorter stories! So, if you’re curious and you want to give it a go, now might be the time!

In other news, I’ve got another story collection in the works for release in the coming year. Most of the material will be republications of fiction I’ve already had published, but I won’t say that new original fic won’t find its way into the collection, too. This is one of two that I’m looking at releasing, (re-releasing?) mostly to get my work all together in one place, for my own satisfaction and convenience. More about that as progress is made.

Plans for 2016? Keep writing! I’m staying away from big goals, keeping my mind on what I know works for me, and am just going to enjoy the process.

 

How Do YOU NaNoWriMo?

This year, I am determined to make it through the 3rd week of NaNo before I allow myself to get burned out! I’m going to make it different this year!

Over at her blog, Stevie Miller wrote about an idea she came across — making up a NaNoWriMo survival kit. There’s something to be said for seeing what works for other people, and it’s been fun reading up on the topic. I have to say, I quite like Stevie’s handmade kit, and it’s got me thinking about making my own. It’s got me thinking about rewards and mile-marker celebrations, and taking the time to enjoy the accomplishments along the way.

I’ve given myself the gift of a writer’s high by releasing Igraine’s Flight shortly before Nov 1st, so there’s one thing. But what about presents for myself along the way? Something more than just “I’ve got word counts!”

What makes it difficult for me to create this for myself is: I’m not a collector of stuff, beyond books. And maybe yarn. The rewards I want to give myself are things like: new yarn, or more books to read — which is fine, but also are nothing I can really enjoy during the month when I have to write 2k a day in between working full time plus.

I did pick up Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which I’m going to spend time savoring on my commute. It’s both a book that essentially cheerleads writing (yay!) but it’s also sort of memoir-y, and that’s a genre I want to read more, in preparation for my We Are Our Stories (for you Massachusetts peeps, that’s We Ah Ah Stories!) (the series whose first installment I have failed to write and publish before Nov 1st. Too late now. Oops).

I’be purchased Ruby Lionsdrake’s Frost Station Alpha series. And I bought Rebecca Buchanan’s A Witch Among Wolves. And I purchased C.E Murphy’s Heart of Stone. So I have things to read as rewards.

I’ve got dangling carrots, too, for if I complete it. Like this cat tarot deck that I’ll never use but will want to spend hours looking at. And likely This Victorian Life and Victorian Secrets, which were going to be birthday presents but instead were not.

And maybe that’s all I need for rewards?

What are your rewards for meeting NaNo goals?

More for me than for you — To Do List for NaNo prep

  1. Finish final edits on Igraine’s Flight (56 small corrections to make; why did I not catch this on the first five passes through??) and get that baby uploaded. Definitely Amazon, maybe B&N, I don’t know about Smashwords or Kobo.(edited: right now, just Amazon)
  2. Edit chapter 11 of Marriage of Land and Sea and get that ready to be sent out. Conversion can wait until closer to the due date, but get the bulk of the work done.
  3. Get first installment of We Are Our Stories drafted. Not sure if it’ll go live, and I know that the rest won’t be touched until after November, but this first one is almost all written already, just in my head, so we’ll see?

Monday and Tuesday are my next days off, and my last weekend before NaNo begins. I already know I’ll be AFK on Nov 7th, as Beth and I are having an acquisition day for Beth Wodandis Designs (woot!)

and yes, I did post this for the satisfaction of coming back to strike them through as I complete them. 😉

To my Patreon supporters: I’m hoping that NaNo will generate material to share on my snippets and teasers stream. I realize that I’ve got nothing up there, and I’m sorry, and thank you for your support. Time, you know? I need to find more of it!