Chapter Three will be going out in a couple of days! Also, some babble.

Just a reminder on that! Remember, if you’re interested in signing up and getting the previous two chapters, you can! Just leave a note when you’re paying and I’ll send those along, too.

Remember how I said I’d be curtailing my social media presence in February in order to buckle down? Remember how I said I really wanted to meet my (albeit self-imposed) deadlines? Remember how I’ve talked about realistic goals, and knowing thyself, and all that crap?

Yeah.

So, to recap: going in to 2015 I recommitted to Writing All The Things. All the things in this case was: get the Marriage trio (need a serial name!) written (three books, roughly 50k each), using the 1st which is halfway done as the Story Subscription to give myself cushion to finish it, and get going on the next two. I also wanted to get Poseidon: A Narrative print ready. And I wanted to maybe find some time to write some short stories. Full time job, part time job at Fiberwytch, and the Story Subscription alone is a part time job, too. (An AWESOME part time job. My favorite job right now.) To that I wanted to add a second full time job, writing.

And maybe that was do-able. Maybe it still is. I’ve failed at my mini-goals, my deadline to get the first book’s rough draft done by the end of February, but the big goals for the year are still attainable . . .

Except, I’ve opted to participate in the Pagan Experience blog project this year, and I’m enjoying it, and I want to keep doing it. Beth and I have made significant headway into a book we’re writing together which, tragically, has required some research done and extra, unanticipated reading *cough*.

So, on the one hand, I failed at my mini-goal to have A Marriage of Land and Sea completed by tomorrow, but on the other had, I have met my word-count goals. I’ve also remembered something really important:

I hate writing every day on the same project. Deciding I’m going to write at NaNo pacing for the whole of the year on one project is worse than silly — it’s ignoring what I know about myself, my writing habits, what works for me, what doesn’t, and it’s making sure I fail before I’m even out of the gate.

What works for me? While I’m working full time at a day job, having some evenings home when I can veg out, knit, or read works for me, so it’s important that I have two days set aside to get large amounts of writing done. Having a goal of 10k for two days is a tad on the high side. 8-9k seems more sustainable. Part of the joy of working for yourself is making your own schedule, right? Who says you have to spread your work out over a whole week? Writing 1-2k a day on something 4-5 days a week bores me to tears, and by week two I just don’t want to see it anymore. Why set myself up to not want to write? I love writing.

Not over-committing myself works for me, too. This is frustrating, because I want to get more wordage out this year, I want to see a few projects through to completion, and I love fiction writing. I don’t have a huge blog following, and I’m not looking to becoming a blogger-name, but I’m owning up to the fact that writing blog posts count as writing and, more to the point for me right now, I really like writing nonfiction, tooWriting theological, spiritual, or even mundane nonfiction helps me internalize, reflect, and grow. It makes sure that I’m not just sitting and not engaging. It’s important, as important to my well being as writing fiction is. So committing myself to nothing but fiction? Not a good idea. I’m glad I committed to the Pagan Experience. Part of me knew this, because as soon as I said, Fiction Year! I came across the project and jumped in. There was some internal scramble to help me save myself from myself.

So, to re-prioritize these goals. I want to have A Marriage of Land and Sea done by the end of April. If I give myself one day a week to work on that and one day a week to work on the non-fiction book, I’ll be happy. (I suspect). And, obviously, I can tweak that as needed. But deciding at the start of the month that i’m going to write every day, 4-5 days a week, on a project? Psychs me into being tired of that topic before I even start. I suppose I could muddle through it and sacrifice the enjoyment I get in writing, in letting the next chapter or next scene steep in my mind for days until I sit down and let it go like a flood released from a dam, just so I can say I have discipline . . . but why? I don’t want discipline beyond upping my wordage and producing material. How that looks day to day doesn’t matter so much, and I’d rather be disciplined in knowing what my strengths are and then working with them, rather than against.

I have, over the course of last year, thanks to Beth and also to Shauna, admitted that writing nonfiction still counts as writing, even when it’s my own writing.  This year? This year I need to admit that I do know my strengths and it’s time to work with them toward my goals. I’m standing in my own way. Again. MOVE, Jo.

(I also need to stop deciding that easing off FB browsing will mean I can’t interact with people I only interact with on FB, or mostly on FB. Once I said I’d be backing away to focus on the writing. I was all I MISS YOU!!!!! and on even more. Feh.)

 

Story Subscription has gone out!

If you’re signed up for my Story Subscription, chapter two of A Marriage of Land and Sea ought to have landed in your inbox by now. It left late, and my apologies about that. I knew February was coming, I knew the end of January was in sight, and I still . . . just . . . I don’t know what happened.

Now that February is here I’m going to be tucking in to the writing, as I’ve got deadlines looming that i’m not quite ready to face. I hope everyone has a good month, and I’ll see you again in March!

Chapter Two will be hitting inboxes in a couple of weeks!

Just a reminder that the second chapter in A Marriage of Land and Sea will be going live on February 1st! If you signed up and didn’t receive your first chapter, I hope you’ll let me know. I did switch to a different email account for this, and there were a few (operator caused) snafus in the process. (My apologies!)

If you missed chapter one, it’s not too late! Just send along a request as well as your preferred format with your payment choice, and I’ll send that out to you within 24hrs. Also — and this is for chapter one only at this point — if you’re signing up for chapter two and you’ve got a friend who you think might be interested, send their email and preferred format along and I’ll send them out chapter one, at no cost to you or them! My thanks for your contribution already and, yes, a desire to get my work to more people! (I’ll be honest: currently staring yet another big vet bill in the face, and I don’t like the looks its giving me.)

Spread the word, talk my writing up, get to send a sample chapter to a friend! And, of course, have my gratitude, because you already do.

Writing takes work — writers should be paid.

So, my day job is not exactly a high paying day job. I watch the controversy (?!?) over minimum wage being raised, and over workers being paid living wages (again I say ?!?) and how some assholes think that just because you’re doing a menial job that it’s okay that you work full time and still have to resort to governmental aid to be able to have a roof over your head, have healthcare, and be able to feed yourself and your family. I don’t actually make minimum wage — but I do make less than a dollar more than my state’s minimum wage, at a job I’ve been doing for a decade, and at a place where people have been hired to do the same job I’m doing off the street making a dollar more than me, if not more. I frequently do the “what if” game. What if something happens to Beth? Could I maintain the apartment and the needs of the animals and still feed myself? (the answer? I’d be biking a lot more, because bye bye bus pass, and I’d be eating a lot less, because, you know. Food.) I’d be able to swing it if I was eligible for food assistance. But it would be tight.

Now, imagine we had children instead of cats and a dog. (I’d rather the cats and the dog, but they don’t need as much in the way of food. They don’t need clothing. They don’t need school supplies). This is what I think about when people bitch about people getting paid to do their jobs.

And that brings us to art, to artists and makers and creators and writers. Doing work. Artists and makers and creators and writers are just as important to a healthy, thriving society (oh, wait) health care professionals and teachers and trash collectors and service workers and people who flip your fucking burgers. Basic needs are the same. People need shelter. They need security. They need food.

So, this post? Shouldn’t infuriate, because it’s not a new thing at all, that writers are expected to get paid crap to write. Asking for $11 an hour to live on? Not. Rolling. In. It. Depending on where in the country you are, that’s barely a living wage. Why the hell should any be criticized for asking for that much? People, she wouldn’t be having $11 an hour of profit, of free money. That’s bills and rent/mortgage, that’s groceries and gas and car insurance. It’s people wanting to get paid to do their job. And, you know, you’re not obligated to pay authors or artists whose work you don’t enjoy. That’s fine. I want people who enjoy my writing to read my writing. But, if you are going to enjoy the art of others to the point of owning copies of it, support your artists. Don’t expect to get it for nothing. Not being able to afford it and not* going through authentic channels (like libraries, or used bookstores/not pirating) is utter shit and is, in a nutshell, a good example of what’s wrong with our culture. We lack empathy. We lack a willingness to humanize our fellow humans. We are taught to act as consumers with everything, and we follow as we are taught blindly too much.

Pay your artists, damn it.

~*~*~
edited because oh my gods did I forget a very important ‘not’ there. Libraries rock. Use your libraries. Don’t pirate. Do proof read your posts before hitting post.

Poseidon: a Narrative, excerpt

(in part just to keep this on the frontmost of my back-burners. This editing project is my dangling carrot to get through the trilogy, lemme tell you)

I knew I was being watched as I stood, dripping sea water and shivering in the night. It felt so bizarre, to be in air rather than water. My limbs felt heavy, and my muscles quivered from the effort standing took. My skin was over-sensitive. Maybe that’s why the weight of her regard felt so . . . prickly. I found her standing up the shore, her back pressed to the cliffs, her features cast in darkness. I stood, and I’ll admit, I was confused. The need to leave the watery depths faded like the ghost of a memory now that I was on dry ground, and I wanted to simply turn and dive once more. Why should I leave the ocean that cradled me? Why should I stand upon land, exposed, when I could be submerged, when water could fill my ears, my mouth, my nose with its low sounds and briny taste? In my time below I’d known stillness, I’d known calm, I’d known solitude the likes of which I’d never experienced before. What care did I have in this world?

Still, I stood, waiting. Something held me in place. Perhaps it was as simple a thing as her regard. Unlike with Hekate, this woman felt . . . akin to me, in some way. We had yet to exchange greetings; I could barely see her, but there was something about her that Meliboea lacked, something that Hekate could never hope to match, something familiar and compelling. Something that held me still while she approached.

The shadows slid from around her like veils, parting in her advance as though they were clouds and she was the sun whose luminescence could not be contained. The very night seemed to rearrange itself so that it was an adornment for her, rather than the atmosphere around us. Vision was not a problem – by the time she paused in her advance I could see her clearly. Plant life clung to her form in a riot of greens, yellows, blues, and golds. Moss framed her face and provided a second layer of covering beneath the vines and flowers that created the embroidery. She wore moss, lichen, and plants around her as though they were fabric. More plants twined through her hair. I saw eyes peeking out from under her locks that did not belong to her, but she did not seem bothered by them.

“The ocean suits you,” she said in lieu of a greeting.

Her voice. I closed my eyes to savor the sound of her voice, the power in her voice, the promise . . .

I hadn’t intended to kneel. My knees hit the sand, and I fell forward, awash in . . . I still, still have no words for what I experienced. Around us the whole world went still. I knew the solitude that I’d experienced in the seas for the lie it was, the quiet, the peace – they were nothing compared to what she could provide. Everything ceased to be, ceased to matter, as I knelt before this woman dressed in earth.

First weekend of 2015 — 9k words!

While it’s true that I still have to go through the earlier chapters of A Marriage of Land and Sea to polish them up, I can say with confidence that as of today I have seven chapters written in this book. My goals, as I’ve talked about elsewhere, is to finish this trilogy up by the end of June, to get back to the edits on Poseidon: A Narrative, and to get a few more stories written. Those of you who’ve signed up to get A Marriage of Land and Sea via the subscription service will receive the second and third books at no charge — because, damn, do I appreciate you.

I’m excited, because this weekend was my first weekend implementing my plotting and chapter mapping, an idea that I came across in 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. Oh, I’d already sat down and figured out where I needed to go with the whole series — the end goal, the signpost stops along the way, the overarching plot along with the individual, building the story up as we go plots of each book. I even figured out my typical chapter word count range (4k-5k), figured out how many chapters the book would have, and outlined what needed to happen in each one, for the first book, to keep the pace going. Much of Rachel’s advice was stuff I’d heard before, though I’ve been clinging to the idea that I am a Pantser, not a Plotter, all these years. And, yeah, maybe I am, but I’ve said again and again and again that I want to increase my output — so, maybe that had to change.

What really floored me in Aaron’s book — which should really be so obvious — was the idea of sitting down during each writing session and planning what your goals are for that specific session. In any other job, this would be your work list. Your tasks for the day. Why wouldn’t I do that when writing? Why would I sit staring at a blank page without any idea of what I need to accomplish beyond some vague notion? Why would I be willing to write thousands upon thousands of words, only to realize at the end of it all that they were all of them utterly wrong? There’s this idea that there is not such thing as wasted writing — I’ve said this mantra time and again over the years. It’s true, in that sitting and writing hones your skill as a writer, and in that having  the dedication and discipline to park your arse in the chair and write is never wasted, no matter the wordage you end up with. But, it’s also wrong — or, at this point in my life it’s wrong for meI work full time, I write part time, and I have another part time job besides that. I cannot give my time to words that aren’t going stick if I want to increase my output beyond the story subscriptions.

Er. I digress. The point is, this weekend was the first weekend that I was producing new material, rather than getting chapters two and four straightened out. It was the first time that I sat down, spend fifteen minutes jotting down what needed to happen where, and going along that list. It wasn’t perfect — chapter six came out of nowhere once I realized I needed to fix my pacing and give Roern another pov chapter before what I had planned as chapter six could take place. So, yesterday I sat down with a surprise! chapter, and did I take the time to plan that out? Did I take advantage of my new day off home alone to fly through writing?

Ha! HA I tell you!

I managed just over 2k yesterday. Frustrated, I went to bed, then mapped out the rest of surprise!chapter six. I finished it off (it’s awesome!!), mapped out chapter 7, and wrote it. It’s taken me all day, so I’m still slower than I’d like to be (I started around 11:30 today, and it’s 5:10 as I write this, which clocks me at just under 1k an hour. I want faster than that, but not at the quality’s sake) My hands are killing me, so I’m stopping. But, I’m pleased with this week’s work, with the result of taking the time to sit down and figure out before I start where I want the writing to go.

I think I’m going to like plotting out chapters.

Neech the Anti-Muse does not approve of the Plotter method. He will use his powers of Chaotic Neutral to thwart your progress.

Neech the Anti-Muse does not approve of the Plotter method. He will use his powers of Chaotic Neutral to thwart your progress.

 

A Marriage of Land and Sea — Story Subscription excerpt!

Charlie reached down blindly and snatched a bit of driftwood, throwing it with all her might back into the water. As if she could beat it into answering her. As if she could hurt it. “Why?” she cried again, quieter this time, her voice broken by the sobs she couldn’t hold back any longer. It had already been five weeks. Every passing day made their survival less likely. She’d held herself together for so long, but she couldn’t anymore. The breaking of her heart wouldn’t let her.

She seized more wood, more rocks, anything that came to hand, and hurled it back into the water, as if she could trade these things for her parents, as if there was some balance that, if only she found it, they would be given back to her. She threw and screamed and cried until her arms ached from the strain and her head started to pound in time with her grief. She staggered on feet numbed from freezing water as her hands closed around one last piece of wood. Splinters dug into her hand, the first physical discomfort to grab her attention. Pain and blood and the weight of the wood made her stop and look. Charlie sucked in a shuddering breath and squinted in the darkness.

It wasn’t driftwood she was holding. It was debris washed ashore. The wood was flat and, except for where it was torn, smooth. It was newly wrecked. The piece in her hand was small and indistinct, and it could have come from anyone’s boat, but she knew it wasn’t anyone’s boat. She knew.

Her rage evaporated, leaving with a sucking sensation that left no room for anything but shock. Charlie pulled the small piece of flotsam to her chest, letting it bite into her skin, letting wood pierce flesh and her blood mingle with the salt water. She sank to her knees. Water rushed around her, the waves hitting her mid-chest, some water spraying over her head. She clutched the wood as if it were a talisman that could stave off the rest of the world, and allowed her shock to swallow her completely.

“I’m sorry,” someone said. Charlie blinked dazedly, trying to see though the ocean seemed a million miles away. He came up out of the water. No, the water fell back from around him. No, he gathered the water around the two of them like a cloak. No – Charlie’s mind wasn’t working and could not make sense of what she was seeing. However he did it, he was suddenly before her, pulling her to him. He plucked the last piece of her parents’ life from her arms as though it was nothing and pulled her closer until all she could see was him. Arms held tight, wrapping around her back, around her shoulders, around her legs. “I’m sorry,” he said again when she opened her mouth to protest – not for her safety, not for his invasion, but for the piece of wood that was her last connection to her parents. “There isn’t any time.”

He lowered his head to hers, touching his lips against her mouth. She thought he would kiss her, but then water poured through her mouth, into her lungs, through her whole body, cold and icy and painful and wonderful. She had an instant to think, “I’ll die with them,” and then her skin was torn from her body in pain so intense it took her awareness with it.

~*~*~*~

(A Marriage of Land and Sea is forming up to be a short novel/long novella. It’s actually shaping up to be a trilogy, and chances are really, really good that those of you subscribed to the story subscription for book one will get free copies of books two and three when they’re ready . . . just sayin’ . . . )