Category Archives: Goals

100k & WIP Thoughts

I recently hit 100k on my current novel WIP and also passed the 2 year mark for how long I’ve been working on it, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to talk a bit about it. (As I write this, I’m really tired/worn out, so be prepared for a somewhat dry entry, but here goes?)

Before I talk about the novel WIP, I should say – if you’re curious about when Persinette‘s sequel Fairer will be ready, I’ve been holding off on touching its second draft until this novel’s rough draft is done.  Whether or not that’s entirely a smart idea I’m not sure, but I’d really really like to finish the rest of this novel draft in one go then use Fairer‘s second draft as a break between novel revisions.  The two stories also complement each other thematically in a way that pleases me, so if I can release them more or less together, that’d be cool.

Okay, now to talk about this novel WIP journey.

2015 was a rough year for me, so starting a new novel in January, beginning its draft in April for Camp NaNoWriMo and completing its first chapter (among other things) was super comforting.  I kept moving forward in the story over the course of that summer but eventually had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know the protagonists nearly well enough yet to feel comfortable continuing.  At the point I stopped, I think I’d written something like 5 or 6 chapters (I write long chapters, so between 50-60k?) before I realized I’d taken the story on a path that just…did not feel right at all and I didn’t have the equipment to fix it.  (Generally when I work well in a story, it’s because I’ve known the characters for longer than a few months.)  So I wrote a few more side/prequel short stories, exploring the characters, the world, and the…flavor–for a lack of a better way to put it–in more depth.

I was more or less successful with these?  The short stories took a lot longer to “get right” than I’d been expecting, and I sought a lot of help with one of the stories in particular.  I have no idea how effective or appealing they are as short stories since I’ve gone over them a bajillion times, but writing them accomplished what I set out to do, at least.  I know the characters a lot better now than I did at the start.

Midway through 2016, I paused in my efforts on figuring things out to move States.  I also took a break from frustrating short stories/novel to translate a few folktales, finish the translation rough draft of Fairer and dabble in a paranormal murder mystery for a while before I eventually got stuck on that too (haha >.>).

But! Getting stuck again forced me to reevaluate my priorities.  I decided that I really really wanted to see what I could accomplish with this novel project, if I could pull it off, etc, now that I knew the characters better.  So, after reevaluating, I ditched almost half of what I’d previously written and restarted there from scratch.

I’m now in the midst of drafting a whole new section of the story, carving a path through barely-charted territory.  I just used this year’s April Camp NaNoWriMo to help me add another 10k to the draft even through the midst of some really difficult personal-life things.  Ironically, this most recent chapter went the wrong direction again, but I caught it early!  So I ditched what I had, let the problem simmer, spent a day picking apart what went wrong and brainstorming fixes, and I’m about to dive in to start its replacement.

I’m not going to predict how long it will take me to finish this novel’s rough draft.  I don’t want to set anyone’s expectations, especially my own, especially since working on it isn’t my top priority in my day-to-day life.  My healing journey comes first, and this is just an appendage to that.   But the cool thing is that even though I’m slow enough to be writing only about 150k or so in two years at this pace, it took me four years to complete my 44k novella, so this is a vast improvement in my story-construction pace and really encouraging to me.  It’s not nearly the speed I wish I could go, but it’s still encouraging.

The one prediction I feel I can make at this juncture, however, is that even though 100k is a traditional novel’s length or longer–um.  Well.  I have a feeling this story is going to be at least ~200k.  I’m currently rereading the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst which is nominally three books but in my head is one book just split into three convenient parts, especially since I bought them lumped together in an omnibus.  (350k in total? Something like that).  And I adored reading 400k-a-pop monstrosities as a teen.  I love detail and exploration and character and sinking my teeth into story.  Sooooo, yes.  We’ll see what this draft produces. >.>

I do intend on coming back to the paranormal murder mystery eventually.  That one I predict will be much shorter than this WIP, too, and might make for a conveniently-sized palate cleanser or dessert.

If you want to stay informed with my (albeit very sporadic) updates, feel free to subscribe to my blog posts on the upper right side of this page.  I’ll have a proper newsletter for my fiction up and ready later this year or early next, but meanwhile that’s probably the best way to stay informed.  Or, if you’re here to learn about my fairy tale translation e-book releases, there’s a newsletter just for that, as well.

Updates will remain sporadic for the foreseeable future.  But rest assured that my silence means I’m focusing my creative efforts on becoming healthy and crafting good stories.  I haven’t disappeared. 🙂

 

 

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Persinette’s 1st year, Bk2 Update

Persinette_2Just dropping in to talk briefly about how Persinette did in its first year (pre-order in March; April 2015- May 2016).  For a bit of background, the only paid advertising I did was at the very beginning.  Occasionally I dropped the book into free promotional opportunities, but nothing regular.  I sought out its first review, but none of the others.  The only passive advertising I’ve got going is its book page on Goodreads and the link on my Twitter profile.

I could be missing numbers because I tallied things up really quickly for curiosity’s sake.  Canada looks low, for example, but the rough percentages are right:

Sold: 141 copies
Amazon: 116 (US), 9 (UK), 1 (France), 2 (Canada), 6 (Australia)
Kobo: 1
B&N/Nook: 1
Apple/iBooks: 5

Total free copies given away during promotion: 113
KU1 borrows, while enrolled the first 3 months: 10

Price point: $0.99
Earning roughly $0.30/book
Royalties: ~ $45

Goodreads: 14 ratings, 4 reviews – 4.14 starred average

Based off this, it’s not worth it to go wide-release with Book 2, considering KU1 gave me 10 borrows while I was enrolled and there’s been no traction at all at the other retailers.  So my plan right now is to leave Persinette in wide-release but release all subsequent books as KDP Select/Amazon-exclusive and see where that puts me.

If you happen to be reading this and you’re a Kobo/iBooks/B&N fan, feel free to buy a copy and leave a review on one of the other retailers and change my mind. 😉

And yep, Patreon is still a better “return on investment” than the Persinette e-book, but I’m doing this for love, curiosity, learning, and practice more than anything else.

~

As for how Book 2 in the French Fairy Tales & Folklore series is coming, I’m almost done with the translation rough/research draft.   The fairy tale is 96 pages (17th century style) whereas “Persinette” was 34.   It contains two poems, versus “Persinette”‘s one.

It takes me anywhere from a half hour to an hour to work through a page’s rough draft, although the 6-line first poem took me an hour to get to a satisfactory level.

I’ve got several ideas on how I’m going to present the tale in book form, but at this point I’m not sure if it will be released this year or in 2017.  We’ll have to see!

~

ETA: Updated books sold with Apple’s/iBook’s numbers.  And they’re all Australians! Hello, Australia!

 

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Story accepted!

Happy All Saints’ Day!

My Alsatian folktale retelling “What She Saw By Lantern Light” will be published in Enchanted Conversation‘s and World Weaver Press‘ joint winter anthology, Frozen Fairy Tales.  You can find out more information, including the announced table of contents, here. You can find Frozen Fairy Tales on Goodreads, here.

I’ll post more once the anthology’s released. 🙂

Until then, I put my Bibliography back up, fully fleshed-out.  I took it down a couple years ago because it was depressingly empty and I felt having it up was rather pointless (and discouraging).  But now it is much fuller! And there is a point to having one! Woot woot.

 

 


Persinette Stats

Persinette_2I love stats posts.  I don’t even know why.  There’s just something about them that are so fun?

Thanks to Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach for creating KDP Plus to consolidate Amazon numbers, though, or I might never have gone through the headache of doing so quite yet.  If you’re a self-publisher using Amazon, their graph-generator is absolutely fantastic.

So! Some quick stats for Persinette‘s first three months on Amazon.  I should also say, for its debut, I had enrolled it in Kindle Unlimited v.1.

Books sold from April to June: 51

Of those, 10 were from KU1/KOLL, 5 during pre-order

Books given away for May’s free-promotion week: 135

I’ll let you in on a secret, though.  July goose-egged! I was expecting a drop-off with the summer slump and the 3-month end, but not to fall all the way to zero.  Craziness. ETA: Oops! Misread my reports, haha. The confusion happened because I put a stop on my payments when I moved. Handy feature!

Otherwise, Goodreads has 3 reviews and 7 ratings (avg rating of 4.86) currently.  That’s fantastic for such a niche, little book.

Overall, I’m very happy with how thing are going, (especially since numbers picked back up in August even though I wasn’t doing any sort of promotion, haha).  I’m working on my next translations and projects, but in the meantime, numbers to grin at.  Not a shabby start at all.

ETA: I forgot a fun stat! Countries represented in the above? Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, USA, and the UK.

Hi readers! 😀


Promoting Fairytale Non-fiction

Persinette_2Here are some of the things I have learned in the past three months about selling short (46 page) e-books and folklore/fairy-tale translations & non-fiction.  You have to admit, it’s a slightly different story than trying to promote or sell a novel. In no particular order:

1. Being in the Amazon Top 100 in the Folklore & Fairy Tale categories isn’t enough to sell books, especially when you have no reviews. I figured this out when I was hand-selling copies of my book, before I made its existence public knowledge. These categories are just too small, and not browsed often enough.

However, the same isn’t true for being in the Top 100 in the corresponding free categories. Those do get drive-by “sales.”

2. Here are the three paid promotional sites that produced a spike in sales even though my e-book wasn’t a novel:

3. The Indie View was the only effective way of getting an early review from strangers out of every other method I tried, and it’s free. I searched the first 150 or so of their listed reviewers, looking for everyone who liked fantasy, Christian fiction*, non-fiction, and short stories. I applied to 5 reviewers who listed some combination of these. Of the 5, one responded that they were full up and would have to pass. Then another responded enthusiastically–and bumped Persinette up first in line, ultimately giving it its first 5-star review. 🙂

4. Getting a 5-star review as its first Amazon review has done more to sell the e-book than anything else. This is self-explanatory, and is most likely true for any kind of book, be it novel or non-fiction.

5.  Goodreads is hands-down the best way Persinette has been discovered by strangers, especially once listed on Listopia lists for its various categories.  If you haven’t listed your standalone or first-in-series book anywhere on Listopia, do so. Even just a single-vote by its author is enough to help readers find your book. You don’t need to go extort votes from anyone in order for Listopia to be an effective promotional tool. 😉

6. KDP Select results: I matched my genre pulse ad up with a 5-day free promotional period that started not long after I got my first 5-star review. I was very pleased with the results, though the genre pulse ad was only effective the first 2 days of the promotional period.

If I could do it again, I would split the 5 days of free promotion into a 3-day period and a 2-day period and promote each one.  Experiments, experiments.

Otherwise, the vast majority of my sales have come from the Amazon US store. Only now am I starting to get sales trickling in at the Amazon UK and Amazon CA stores. This is probably due to the fact that the 5-star review is now cross-posted to the other stores due to the fact that someone voted for it as being “helpful”.

7.  Kindle Unlimited results: Persinette has gotten very few borrows in comparison to sales. However, because the e-book is listed for sale at $.99, the royalties from the borrows should pretty much equal the royalties from the sales. I will know for certain when I get the full report.

8. Patreon is still my most dependable fairytale/folklore income stream. I find it ironic that the translations I post for free on my website do more to help support my hobbies than the rather more expensive-to-produce e-book. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision to publish Persinette.

– – –

* – Persinette isn’t actually Christian fiction, but I delve into the French Wars of Religion of the 16th century and their reversal during the 17th century in order to make a few points about Mlle de La Force’s life and bibliography, and so I wanted to be absolutely certain the reviewer wouldn’t be turned off.


Queen Cover

So, I’ve wanted a cover for my novella ever since I started putting it up to read on Wattpad last September, but finances are super tight and I wasn’t sure that would be possible.  Ideally, I wanted an illustration for my cover rather than stock art, but illustrated covers are by far the most expensive and my max budget for a cover at this point is $100.  So when I saw that Natasha Alterici had posted on Twitter that her freelance gigs had fallen through and she needed quick cash for her rent, I leaped at the chance to make one of my dreams come true.  And boy, am I ever glad I did.  Behold the awesome:

I have also been intrigued by Amanda C. Davis’ recent forays into designing covers for DIY practice.  She’s been tackling all kinds of covers, and I previously let her know that I was interested in her giving my novella a shot.  Am so glad I did that, too, because my laptop has been giving me all kinds of troubles, and there’d be no way I could do the cover design myself right now.  As soon as Natasha got back to me on the final cover, I sent it Amanda’s way.  Amanda posted her design/learning process here.

And here it is in all its gorgeousness:

8banners6-medium

Art by Natasha Alterici.

Design by Amanda C. Davis.


2014 in Review

This year I

  • Went through a full submission process for my novella Queen of the Eight Banners, then decided to use the novella to keep experimenting with publication formats.  Hello, Wattpad.
  • Wrote a novelette, got it read/critiqued, but haven’t managed to come back to it yet, for reasons further explained below.
  • Wrote a short story and a scene snippet set in a world am developing, though neither particularly stand alone.
  • Decided to stop submitting stories to publication venues and focus on playing in a rejection-free sandbox instead.
  • Launched my fairy tale & folktale translation website in July.
  • Annnnd… also in July I became a full-time primary caretaker and my writing, alpha-reading, &c. pretty much came to a screeching halt.  However, I am still managing small monthly updates on my translation website.
  • Caved and got a tumblr page so I can keep track of my favorite artists (after Google dropped their RSS Reader) and also to support my translation website.
  • Started a Patreon fundraising page to support my fairy tale & folktale translation website, and we hit the milestone goal that makes having the patreon worth it–with only two patrons, which surprised me.

In other words, 2014 has been a year full of transitions. We’ll see what 2015 brings.


fairy tale & folktale translations

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you’ll already know that I’ve launched a website for my fairy tale and folktale translations.  But we’re approaching the end of the year and I thought I would post an official announcement here.

I’ve had the website URL reserved for years, but only since July of this year have I started building it up, in preparation for an imminent e-book launch.  But that is news for another day.

My folktale translations are the only thing I’m writing at the moment, since I only have the time/energy to write a few sentences at a time every few days, but it’s working well enough to be able to post a translation per month.

For those interested, visit littletranslator.com


Queen of the Eight Banners

For long-time followers of the blog, you’ll know that I spent most of my early years here writing a novella entitled Queen of the Eight Banners.  I’ve done various posts about it, recording what drafting it has been like and what I’ve learned from the process of writing while battling the first years of my chronic illness.

Well, I set it aside in April of this year, not knowing what to do with it.  I’d pretty much resigned to just keeping it on my hard-drive, but I was also unable to fully “trunk” it in my mind.

Well, since September of this year, I’ve figured out something to do with it.

The experiment continues.

ETA: This post was auto-posted at the beginning of the month, but life has been so rough and health so bad I took it down until I was certain I could take Queen off hiatus.


Changing Focus

So…these past six months or so I’ve been really struggling with discouragement in regards to my writing.  This is in large part due to the growing suspicion that what I really want to write isn’t something that editors are going to want to buy/license.  The acquiring markets are really specific in what sort of stories and lengths and styles they’re looking for.  Most short fiction markets, for example, want stories within the range of 5k, and the stories must be standalone, must have a certain kind of hook in the beginning, and so on.  Novels, too, have to be in a certain range, with a certain set of criteria to hit, and that criteria may change per editor but tends to be about the same on the whole.

But what interests me are slower-build stories with multiple layers, connected as a part of a series with repeating characters and growth over the whole series, depth, beauty, wonder, sorrow, the battle between hope and fear, as well as action and adventure and humor and bantering and… of an indeterminate and varied length.

One of the things I hate most about where I am in my writing is that I feel very much alone.  I don’t have anyone I can really turn to and hand over my writing and say, Tell me truly, am I deluding myself, is this good enough? Is this bad storytelling, am I not ‘there yet’?  Or am I running into all these roadblocks because what I like and want is so niche and I shouldn’t worry about whether or not it’s “good enough” and just strike out on my own?

On the other hand, I do know I’m not the only one with this question.  Pat Rothfuss recently posted about his 30k short fiction foray into a story about Auri, which sounds like the same conundrum I’m in, minus the fact that his story is part of an already-established series and he has people he can consult for their opinions and an editor already attached.

I also feel akin to Andrea K. Host’s post about writing the Touchstone Trilogy, and am beginning to admire how she withdrew completely from the submission grind and just wrote and didn’t share her work with anyone rather than deal with the stress and what ifs and so on.

Part of my problem is that with my chronic illness, I don’t have a lot of energy to find readers who might like my style of story and writing and gain feedback.  I have a hard enough time maintaining friendships and doing things with and for people as it is.  I don’t have a lot of money or energy to afford or attend classes or workshops.  I also am not able to write much in a given year.  So, writing a story or two per year and setting that out into the world to be rejected over and over has become disheartening when I know I have learned a lot and my storytelling chops have improved since I started this blog and process 3 years ago.  I’ve been doing the best I can.  I hate it when that best isn’t good enough, though, especially when whats a “good story” is so subjective and I’m not sure what to make of the increasingly varied responses I’m getting.

I’ve also made the mistake(?) of telling a few people about the stories I’m excited about, developing and researching–and gotten the polite, closed-off expression full of misgiving that only has added to my self-doubt.

Another struggle I’m facing is that with my chronic illness, I have a really hard time developing characters and worlds, not to mention I have a really hard time slogging through the muck in my brain to put down words on paper.  Creating just takes so much time and energy, I feel like if I want to be able to do this, to work towards a steady career in writing, that every story I work on must count towards something I could use or could be publishable.

However, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s post on abandoning the preciousness of time and art is something to keep in mind.  If I think only in terms of “I should only write publishable material” that’s putting a lot of pressure on myself.  Pressure I really don’t need.  I’m not saying that what I do shouldn’t be important to me personally, but…I do think I’m happier when I’m not thinking about whether or not what I write will be acceptable to others or whether or not this story will break into community-approved markets.

That’s the other thing.  I’m currently working on a self-pubbed project, to be unveiled later this year, and it’s been a real eye-opener about how just how little money I currently have available for the self-pub route.  See again: disability and a lot of recent medical expenses.

So, if my work isn’t going to be acceptable at more traditionally-minded markets and if I don’t have the resources for self-publishing, what do I do?

I guess…the answer is obvious.  Keep writing what I want to write, stop worrying about publication all together for now.  Pull an Andrea K. Host and write in my bubble for a while since the submission grind is starting to get to me.  Work on improving my craft for myself, with whatever resources I have available to me.  Focus on my health and getting better.  Assume to myself I’ll find a part-time job when I recover and reevaluate at that point.

But I want to write, that’s not going to change.  I am bereft and easily depressed when I don’t.  Stories are who I am.

So, if I’m not going to be writing towards publication for a while, what do I do with this blog?  When I first started this blog, it was a great motivator.  It helped me combat my depression when I was first diagnosed and trying to sort myself out, what I could hope for and expect from myself and the new version of my body.  This blog still gives me an open book to work through ideas and thoughts, so I’m not going to close it, but I do think my focus will be changing.  To what, exactly, I don’t know.

If I’m not going to be pursuing publication for a while, do I really need an empty bibliography?  If I’m going to be reevaluating what stories to pursue or keeping them a secret, do I really need my Storybox?

(Yes, you can see that whatever thick skin I had a few years ago, is currently, strangely missing.)

I think I need a sandbox period.  I just need to play and figure things out and have fun.  I need to go into a mental space with no pressure, no rejections filtering into  my inbox, no criticisms from friends or strangers about how I’m doing everything wrong, no looks of misgiving, no judgments about how they don’t like what I’m doing, no confusion about who I should believe or what my stories are worth.

I have a short story that I’m writing/have written for an anthology I’m excited for, but that’s it.  Am going to draw a line in the sand and say, that’s enough. It’s play time!

ETA:  When this post goes live, I’ll have been sitting on this decision for a month.  So far, it’s made me a LOT happier.

I did backtrack to test the decision, though, to see if it was one I really want to do.  I submitted twice more.  One rejection was very nice,  quite cool and made me happy, the other rejection was extremely disheartening…and, to be frank, rejection isn’t really something I want to deal with right now.  Especially since the previous few weeks of sandbox had been fun and freeing.  So my decision stands, I’m going into sandbox fun mode.  No worries, no cares, no pressure.  Just experimenting and exploring and having fun and shaping worlds and having character adventures.  I know this won’t affect anyone but me and my own mental framework, but hey, you’re welcome to join me if you want.  It’s time to start taking everything a little less seriously.

ETA Again! Hah. I just found this blog post by Robin LaFevers on Surviving Nearly There, which pretty much sums up where I am and reaffirms the decisions I’ve made. It’s… rather uncanny.


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