Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview with Brendan P. Frye on Community Fridays

Welcome to Community Fridays! During this weekly event, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Today's guest is Brendan P. Frye, editor for the Canadian online and print magazine Comics and Gaming monthly.

You’re a writer, as well as an editor, for the magazine Comics and Gaming Monthly. Which did you start out as? How did you transition from one to the other?

I started writing when I was in university, where I did movie and album reviews for local newspapers. First came unpaid opportunities, which I used as a chance to expand on my writing skills. From these jobs I moved to an online publication, Lucid Forge. I worked as content editor there for about 3 years, and while I was there, I ensured everyone worked together, but also that the site had the best coverage of the best music and film events for the area. The transition between the two was not as complex as you may think; once I took control I had a solid team of writers that ensured the move was easy and painless. Really it just comes down to doing what you love to do, and keep doing it until people notice you.

I’ve thought about becoming an editor myself, so that I can toy with the pawns – I mean, writers. How is the skill set that you use for writing different than the one you use for editing a publication?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Forward to the New Year: Writing in 2012

I have to say, I'm really excited looking towards the next year. I know, I know, it's really just an arbitrary date change, but like many people I find it useful at some point during the year to take stock, and this is as good a time as any.

A lot of changes have happened in 2011, both writing related and otherwise. They include a move, career exploration, and a huge shift in the ways that I've managed to leverage my freelance writing. Despite all of the changes, a lot of the year (like many years before) felt like a set-up for things to come in the future. I hope 2012 will be the year the wheels actually start turning.

There's mixed opinion out there as to whether it's better to share your goals or keep them to yourself (I probably mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating). Derek Sivers of TED talk fame says not to share; a host of others, among them The Change Blog and Goalmigo, have the opposite opinion. I've found both techniques to be equally useful (or useless, as the case may be), though certainly writing them down for personal use is better than leaving them to rattle around untethered in your head.

So I've decided to describe the coming year as a seer might, putting out ideas rather than hard-and-fast goals. Mmm, yes, the crystal ball is showing me something... I can see clearly now... There is another move in the near future. Writing, lots of writing. More fiction. More blogging. More connecting with writers and helping to showcase their work. More opportunities. And something else, it's not quite certain, but I'll be doing something next year that's unlike anything I've done to date.

Okay, so maybe the crystal ball was a bit of a bust. Anyway, the point is I'm excited to be going forward, and I hope that all of you are, too!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Interview with R. S. Guthrie on Community Fridays

Welcome to Community Fridays! During this weekly event, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Today's guest is R. S. Guthrie, a writer exploring different publication types and an activist promoting the use of writing to make a difference.

Your embrace of the philosophies of both self-publishing and traditional publishing struck a chord with me. Many people are vehemently for one side or the other. Can you explain why you think some books should be self-published, and others traditionally published?

This is a great question! I think traditional publishing still carries with it a (somewhat deserved) badge of prestige, whereas self-publishing carries with it a bit of a stigma. Whether we all want to admit it or not, the sea of self-published books is wide, deep, and in spots, a bit smelly. It is like everything else in life: nothing comes without cost. The problems with going the traditional route, other than potential rejection after potential rejection, I see as primarily twofold:
  1. The time to publication. In this market, unless you are well-known, you might as well be an indie. The uphill marketing battle is nearly the same (and requires nearly as much work on your part). That said, getting more books out there is pretty important. If you have to wait a year and a half for your book to be released, you could be falling behind.
  2. You likely lose some, if not all, rights to your work. This means your publisher can demand changes, controls price and distribution, and takes a cut. You can't just sign up for a promotion or drop the price of your book for Christmas. Not unless you obtain the permission of your publisher.
If your work is good enough for the traditional route, it may be worth it to go through the time and heartache to have it published by a known publishing house. I certainly wouldn't go through all that for a no-name publisher. Both options mean a ton of marketing work for the unestablished author. I think more and more the self-publishing route is becoming the better option, but showcasing your needle in a nearly indefinite stack of needles is a huge challenge.

On your blog, you talk about the difficulty of finding good books based purely on ratings. What do you think is a better way for readers to discover good, new authors?

Monday, December 19, 2011

How To Write a Draft... and How Many Drafts it Takes

How does one write a draft? And how many drafts does it take until a story, blog post, or article is complete? There are plenty of people out there searching for the answers to those questions.

As a freelancer, I have a lot of different projects going on at one time. Not all of them are computer-based, so I don't always sit in front of my computer for long spans of time, nor do I always have the luxury of spending my computer time focused on a single piece of work. This can be very frustrating if I'm trying to achieve a certain goal in one sitting - such as, say, "finishing a first draft." I'm sure the same is true for many people who live and work in the writing world. Whether it's kids, pets, other jobs, or something else that takes your mind away from the draft, it can be hard when you don't know when it's time to "move on to the next stage."

Now that I've been thinking more about drafts in general, and how to get my work done more quickly specifically, I think that the problem is with the carved-in-stone definition of "draft." For example, when I write an article for a site online (such as Trail's Edge Blog), I used to try and force myself through to my desired word count on the first pass. That led to me either staring at the screen angrily when I was halfway through and coming up blank, or just procrastinating until I had that perfect slot of time available. Which never happened, by the way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Interview with Gord McLeod on Community Fridays

Welcome to Community Fridays! During this weekly event, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Today's guest is Gord McLeod, tech blogger, fiction writer in the steampunk genre, and owner of the new site Fiction Improbable.

In the comments section on a post on your blog, we had a little mini-brawl over whether it was better to write the first draft quickly or slowly. Just kidding; it was all very civil. Honestly, I'm still on the fence on this one. What, in your opinion, are the benefits of taking your time on a first draft?

The big benefit that comes to mind first is that when you take your time on a first draft you have the time to plan it out well and make sure you’re not missing any vital pieces of the story. Rushing carries the risk that your draft will have giant holes. The potential problem is the same thing though—you have the time to cover ground. A lot of ground. So much ground that you risk not finishing at all, of getting caught up in an unending cycle of editing that leaves you unable to write and make progress.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing a Book Is Just Capturing a Moment

My feelings about getting a book published have never been stable. When I was younger, I thought it would be cool to see my name printed on the pages of a novel, but I never got much farther than that. Now, with 4.5 finished first drafts under my belt (and yes, the 0.5 one is finished because I don't intend to take it any further), I can't say that I'm feeling any more certain about the prospect of being published.

It's never been a question of confidence. I know that, with enough perseverance, I have just as much chance at getting published as anyone else. And, barring that, I've explored self-publishing and know that I could easily take that road if I found myself with a project I cared about that didn't fit into the traditional publishing framework.

No, the real problem has been uncertainty over whether my work can meet the high standards I've set for myself. I've read some excellent books in my life, books by Tamora Pierce and J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Dickens and others that have changed the way that I view the world. How can I hope to make a mark in an environment that already has so much great literature in it?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Interview with Dianna Gunn on Community Fridays

I'm thrilled to be bringing Community Fridays back to my blog!

During Community Fridays, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Today's guest is Dianna Gunn, an intern at the speculative fiction emagazine Penumbra, and also a writer and blogger. Stay tuned for promotion ideas for writers and tips about getting published in e-magazines.

You're working as an intern at Penumbra eMagazine, which publishes speculative fiction. Tell us a little about the magazine's focus, and how it's different than some of the others available.

First off, Penumbra is an eMagazine. Running everything online means we have a pretty low overhead compared to other magazines in the same genre, so we can afford to sell Penumbra for less without sacrificing the authors' pay. Second off, we pay our authors the professional rate of five cents per word. There are only a handful of other magazines that pay the professional rate for stories. So when you buy from us, you know you're not just supporting Penumbra--you're supporting the authors you love.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Freelance Writer Vs. Online Entrepreneur: What's the Difference?

Source: Emma Larkins
I often describe myself as both a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur. In some ways, the difference between these two types of employment are greater than you might think; in other ways, they're actually pretty similar, and involve a lot of related skills, techniques, and abilities. If you're interested in trying either one, it helps to know exactly what they each entail.

Freelance Writing

The main identifying factors when it comes to being a freelance writer are writing for other people and (almost) always getting paid a set amount. In general, you work for one or more clients. The clients specify the type of work they are looking for, and the amount of money they're willing to pay (although sometimes there is negotiating involved). The writer provides this work, and in return receives the agreed-upon payment. In order to increase income, freelance writers search for new clients and new writing markets.

There are a variety of different ways you can get paid as a freelance writer. You can write articles for online or offline newspapers and magazines, either as one-shot deals or as a regular contributor (at some point you might end up becoming a staff writer). You can write copy for marketing purposes, to be included in advertisements, brochures, websites, or other mediums. You can ghostwrite fiction or non-fiction pieces.

One thing remains the same: you are guaranteed to receive payment for your work, and that amount is almost always agreed upon before the work is completed.

Online Entrepreneurship

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Working On Niches: Backyard Weddings and Homemade Costumes

Phew, I've been busy lately! No, I didn't have a wedding; but my sister did, and I was there to plan, assist, and document every step of the way. Which is a good thing, because I was working so hard that I didn't even have a chance to think, and I can't even remember parts of it due to all the stress!

I learned so much during the process of planning and executing this backyard wedding that I just had to share. For example, I never knew there was quite so much involved in making nice-looking table settings, or that decorating wedding cupcakes isn't quite as easy as it looks. We tried some things that were decidedly non-traditional, such as growing our own wedding flowers; we were also happy to give some non-traditional things like having your dog at the wedding a miss. Finally, working out the wedding budget was a big part of making sure that we kept things affordable.

You can find a complete list of all my thoughts, hints, tips and suggestions here: How to Plan a Backyard Wedding.

Creating all of these mini-sites on Squidoo has meant that I've moved firmly into the backyard wedding niche. I'm excited to explore this are in the future, and see what else I can contribute.

As for an older niche - homemade costumes - working on the wedding stuff has meant less time for that. However, I'm really happy to add How To Make a Punk Costume and Nerd Halloween Costume Ideas to my existing list (which already includes such wildly popular items as How To Make a Viking Costume and Homemade Rockstar Costume Ideas).

I'll get more into building niches and working as an online entrepreneur (which has a lot of overlap with freelance writing) in a future post. For now, hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor, and please let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Writing Updates for YOU

I've been pretty busy writing over the past month, and I've got some great stuff to share.

First up is The Smoking Jacket. Five Tips for Determining If Your Girlfriend Is A Spy is a great piece about finding out whether your girlfriend is really just good at learning languages, or whether she's actually got something to hide. Then there's Five Ways to Afford Beer On a Budget, which provides some excellent tips, including bartering any useful skills you might have for some refreshing brew.

Over at Trail's Edge Blog, there's a lot about flirting with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts. For example, you always want to be prepared for romance when you're roughing it (you never know when you'll run into your future mate!) That's why you should check out Guys: 5 Tips For Staying Sexy in the Wild and Girls: 5 Tips For Staying Sexy in the Wild. No less important is knowing the right gear to have on hand with you at all times. If you've read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you won't be surprised where I'm going with this: 5 Uses For the Towel.

And don't forget, Halloween is just around the corner. Which means I've been busy updating my awesome site about Viking cosutmes, discussing tasty Worms in Mud dessert recipes, and asking people what their favorite Halloween monsters are.

All in all, a very productive month!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Article Rundown: Combat, Camping, and Nerds

I've been pretty good about updating my list of published articles over on my humor blog, You Amuse Me, but I thought I'd do an update here as well for anyone who is interested.

First of all, I'm pleased to be writing for a new humor market called The Smoking Jacket. It's a subsidiary of The Playboy Network (gasp!) but it's been described as "surprisingly safe for work." I've recently published A Guide to Leveraging Your Nerd Cred into Dates there, in which I talk about how you don't have to be a generic "stud" to woo members of your preferred sex. I've also created a handy list of Five Occasions When Going to Hooters is a Bad Choice. Hint: you might want to consider ix-naying the popular chain during first dates and family vacations.

My writing for Trail's Edge Blog is still going strong. Check out this list of Things To Watch Out For When Beach Camping if you're going to be enjoying the beach overnight for the first time. And although the last thing I'd want to do would be to scare people off of camping, I still think you should read about 5 Makeshift Weapons For Defending Your Camp in case of emergency.

To round out the list, here's an article from my old standby site, Weird Worm. If you think that all action movies are the same, then you obviously haven't watched the movies that contain these 8 Ridiculous Close Combat Fight Scenes.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo Gets a TED Shoutout!

Saw this interesting video today (thanks to Karl from the Startup Daily for sharing).

If you've never seen a TED talk before, you're in for a treat. The tagline is "ideas worth spreading," and I've found this to be true for all of the videos I've seen there so far. Whether you've got Bill Gates releasing mosquitoes into the audience or two scantily-clad dancers from the group Pilobolus performing an acrobatic, interpretive dance while bathed in blue light, you'll find your mind being blown in ways you never expected.

The premise of this video is great for what it is. I'm a huge believer in the idea that small changes are more likely to stick. And I'm interested in becoming more formal about 30-day challenges. But most of all, I love that Matt Cutts gives a shoutout to something near and dear to my heart - NaNoWriMo!

Never heard of NaNo before? Gasp! Well, in short, it's a challenge that charges writers with writing 50,000 words during the month of November. Click here to read more about last year's NaNo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Looking for Guest Humor Bloggers on You Amuse Me

Interested in bringing more attention to your humor writing? Then you should definitely write a guest post for my humor blog, You Amuse Me!

What we're looking for: Anything funny and original. List-based humor tends to be pretty popular. Funny pictures are also welcome. We're always open to new format ideas.

What you get: Kudos, endless love and devotion, your work in front of a quickly growing audience, a link to your website/blog/Facebook Page/Twitter account/smoke signal generator.

How to apply: Send an email to emma (at) youamuseme (dot) com with a link to some of your humor blog, a humor writing article, and/or a short sample (at least 250 words) of your writing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thoughts on Setting Writing Goals and July 2011 Update

I was thinking earlier about the writing goals that I set for myself in June. I was frustrated that I hadn't done as well as I'd hoped, and I was trying to figure out why I was having trouble. Although I did manage to write all my Trail's Edge blog posts, and I blogged even more than I said I would over at You Amuse Me, I fell short with Weird Worm articles (seven instead of eighteen), didn't start my mystery blog, and didn't read The Happiness Project. Out of all of them, the Weird Worm goal bugged me the most.

Later in the day, I went for a swim (trust me, this is an important part of the story). My goal was to swim for at least fifteen minutes.I didn't have much more time than that to spend, because I had to get back to work. So why was it that I felt so frustrated after a fourteen minute swim? It was surely close enough to my goal to make the difference not matter. It bothered me that after all the work of getting ready to swim, going to the pool, and actually doing the deed, I still didn't feel like I'd done a good enough job.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Don't Always Love To Write

I don't always like it, even. And to tell the truth, it makes me feel kind of guilty. Once upon a time I figured that when I found my "passion in life," it would be something that I'd want to do every second of every minute of every day, and that it would never, ever be too hard or bore me. So how could writing possibly be my passion, if it's just so darn frustrating 90% of the time?

Well, it turns out that I'm not alone. I was flipping through The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and I came across this passage: "Well, I don't actually love writing, but then practically no writer actually loves the writing part." I was stunned, and had to re-read her words several times to make sure I'd gotten it right. Writers don't like writing? But what about the colorful image I have in my head of truly great writers happily chaining themselves to their desks for hours on end, joyfully slaving over their computers, typewriters, or sheaves of paper, giddily conjugating verbs and delighting in finding just the right balance of descriptive nouns and adjectives? After all, writing isn't something that tends to be hugely profitable, or gain you a lot of glory, unless you work really, really hard at it for a really, really long time. And sometimes not even then. So why on earth would so many people do it if they didn't actually like it?

It's hard for me, personally, to answer the question of "why I write." I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm putting things out into the world, and leaving my mark in some small way. I like influencing people, and seeing their reactions to the things I do. I like the fact that the harder I work, the more I get rewarded. And I like continually learning new things. Although Gretchen's words didn't make me understand why I'm subjecting myself to this writing thing, they made me feel much, much better about how I feel about writing. It's so good to know that I'm not alone in not liking writing all the time.

What do you think? Do you have times when you don't like to write? Leave your lovely comments below!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 2011 Goals

A little late to the game, but I wanted to make sure that I wrote these down to hold myself accountable...
  1. Write 18 15 Weird Worm articles. I'm not cutting myself slack just because I had trouble reaching my goal last month! I've written three so far, so I've got a bit of catching up to do.
  2. Write 8 Trail's Edge Blog posts. I'm liking this gig a lot. Stay tuned for more info! If you're interested in checking out my most recent article, it's here: Best Outdoors Activities for Father’s Day.
  3. Four posts per week on You Amuse Me. I've got a formula set up, so this one should be pretty straightforward. Blogging takes less time than writing articles!
  4. Keep up with social media/promotions. A little more work with the new Facebook page and Twitter account, but still doable.
  5. Launch my new mystery blog. This will also require more scheduling of posts, but I'm really excited about the new niche. We'll see how the timing goes with everything else that's going on.
  6. Exercise. I'm going to start going to Ultimate one day a week, and running twice a week. I ran a mile last Sunday and my legs are still sore - that simply won't do!
  7. Reduce the number of exclamation points I use! At least, in my articles. It's been pointed out to me that I sometimes use them to excess. I can't help that I sometimes want to convey my excitement about things!
  8. Read The Happiness Project. My mom enjoyed it, so I figure it's worth a go.
Yay! I'm pumped up for June!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May 2011 Goals Recap

Wow, May was intense... more productive than I'd hoped in some ways, and less productive in others.
  1. Write at least 17 Weird Worm articles. Phew, only managed to do eight. Then again, moving totally threw me off. I'm going to have to recommit for next month!
  2. Continue to exercise. Well, I've been spending more time outside, but not exactly "exercising" very much.
  3. Work on writing four hours per day. Again, the move made me lose focus.
  4. Fully explore niche online markets. The Best Kinect Games niche isn't doing quite as well as I'd hoped. I might do a little more work here in the coming months.
  5. Explore new article markets. This actually worked out surprisingly well for me! Sticking with the writing has paid off, as I've been approached by a new market called Trail's Edge Blog. My first article for them is called 5 Tips For Buying Your First Running Shoes, and you should check it out because it's funny and informative and sweet (if I do say so myself).
  6. Move. At least this went pretty smoothly. I got to drive one of those enormous U-Haul trucks for three hundred miles, which was quite an adventure. And now I'm prepared for the next stage in my life journey! If "being prepared" is the same as having all of you stuff in boxes and not being able to find any of it, that is...
Stay tuned for June's goals (I know, time to get cracking!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

You Amuse Me Now on Blogger

Not much to mention today, except for the fact that I've switched You Amuse Me over to a Blogger platform.

I was hosting it with Weebly before the switch. I really like Weebly, and I'm still hosting my personal website there. However, I wanted the main part of You Amuse me to be a blog that I'd update on a regular basis, and Blogger is just a better platform for blogging (not surprisingly).

If you haven't checked it out yet, give it a look. Tons of fun and entertaining stuff to see and do. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You Amuse Me: New Humor Writing Site

It's amazing how fast things can happen online when you've had a little bit of practice!

Yesterday, I had the brilliant idea to set up a niche for my funny and weird writing. I've written a bunch of articles for Weird Worm, and I'm getting back into pitching for Cracked now that I have more experience understanding the kinds of things they're looking for.

Why did I decide to set up a new site specifically for my humorous writing? Well, when it comes to doing well on the Internet (driving traffic, getting followers and views, etc.), the more "niche" you are, the better. I love the focus that having a new site and blog brings. I know exactly the kinds of things I am going to write and promote there, and other people know what they can expect by visiting.

And so, I present You Amuse Me, a site meant to enlighten and entertain. I was so thrilled to get the "youamuseme" domain name, and I think that's what really spurred me to set up the website, associated You Amuse Me Facebook page, and a You Amuse Me Twitter account. And, late last night, to draw a fun little doodle to use as a logo, then bring it into Photoshop and clean it up a little.

In short, if you want to learn more about my funny articles, check out You Amuse Me!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Exploring Niche Markets In Online Business: Best Kinect Games

In my post about my May goals, I mentioned that one of my goals was to explore online niche markets such as the niche of the best kinect games.

To do this, I'm creating a bunch of mini-websites on a couple of different publishing platforms, then linking them together to form a network of related sites. For example, here are some of the Squidoo sites (aka "lenses") that I've created:

Games Compatible With Kinect
Best Kinect Fitness Games
Best Kinect Dancing Games

And here are some of the HubPages sites (aka "hubs") that I've created:

Should I Get a Kinect?
Xbox Motion Sensor Controller
Xbox Kinect Requirements

The two sites are slightly different, so I use them to target slightly different types of keyword phrases. For example, HubPages is more article-based, so I use it to create sites that require mostly text. Squidoo is more module-based, so I use it to create sites in which I want to spotlight various items.

Going forward, I will continue to create sites on both Squidoo and HubPages, and perhaps branch out to other platforms. And I hope to see a return on my investment of time!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 2011 Goals

May is here, so it's time for a new crop of goals!
  1. Write at least 17 Weird Worm articles. My goal last month was to write twenty, and I managed to write thirteen. I figure seventeen articles should be a good goal this month.
  2. Continue to exercise. Last month I did about twelve miles per week. I'm going to try and stick with that this month. And also, get better running shoes and stretch so I avoid IT band problems.
  3. Work on writing four hours per day. This was my goal towards the end of last month, and it went okay. I'm finding that increasing things slowly over time works better than trying to take huge leaps.
  4. Fully explore niche online markets. I've been working on the Best Kinect Games niche market using Squidoo and HubPages. This isn't exactly freelance writing, although it does use a lot of the same skills. Ideally, I'd fully realize a niche market with a blog that I can keyword optimize. The tricky part about this is finding a niche that's both a.) profitable and b.) something I'm interested enough in to keep up with.
  5. Explore new article markets? I've been toying with this goal on and off for a while. Again, this involves finding new markets that I really want to write for; After all, I'm supposedly doing this job because I enjoy it, and if I'm going to do things I don't enjoy there are plenty of more stable and better paying opportunities out there. I'm learning that, as a freelance writer, I don't need a ton of different markets; I just need a few that I really enjoy writing for, that pay enough money to make them worth my while. I'm interested in writing for health, cooking, fitness, and travel markets: I'm also worried that the competition in these market might be fierce. I guess I just need to keep chipping away!
  6. Move. My lease is up this month, so I'll be moving to a temporary location while I figure out where my next step will take me. So I'll be spending time packing, getting rid of junk, hiring a moving truck, and all of that fun stuff.
That should be enough to keep me busy for the month. If not, I'll add to the list!

Monday, May 2, 2011

April 2011 Goals Recap

April has just come to an end. Time to see how I did on those goals!
  1. Decide on where I want to go with writing fiction. Well... so far I've taken a break from fiction this month. I need to make sure that the passion is there before I throw myself into another project, or spend more time working on my old ones.
  2. Write Weird Worm articles. I want to get at least 20 13 7 done this month. I managed to do a total of 13, which isn't too bad.
  3. Plan for travel. I haven't made too much progress on this. My mom is trying to drum up support from the relatives.
  4. Keep up with exercising. I want to average 10 miles per week by the end of April. I did great with this goal! 51 miles of running/walking/biking, a personal best.
  5. Start a cooking blog? This has fallen by the wayside as I realize that at this point, it will be hard for me to optimize keywords for this type of blog, and there probably won't be a lot of potential for income. I've noticed that people who look up recipes usually aren't looking to buy things. As long as I'm trying to increase my income, I need to focus on moneymakers. 
  6. Keep improving traffic to my online articles. My Squidoo traffic is increasing slowly but surely. Still looking for the best niche markets to explore, which will help this.
One thing I did this month that I hadn't planned was to submit my first travel writing article. Still waiting for a response, but it's a pretty cool step no matter what happens!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Decide on Writing Fiction and Other April 2011 Goals

I've been too busy doing the things on this list to make this list, which is an improvement over being too busy slacking off! Here are my April goals:

  1. Decide on where I want to go with writing fiction. I'm starting to come to the realization that my heart just hasn't been in the fiction novels I've written. It's a hard thing to come to terms with, because I want to be a fiction writer. I'm just not sure how much I want to write fiction. Or maybe I just haven't come across something that I'm passionate enough about yet. My goal as far as this goes is to gauge my enjoyment of this activity, and see if it's worth it.
  2. Write Weird Worm articles. My Weird Worm articles didn't get written last month. But now that I'm used to writing 3,000 words a day, it should be a breeze. I want to get at least 20 13 done this month (7 done already!). And that will give me enough money to buy the digital camera I'm eyeing!
  3. Plan for travel. I have an ambitious plan to visit my granddad in England and then my relatives in Norway in May once my lease is up. I also want to leverage this into a travel writing opportunity. I plan on tackling a bit of my huge to-do list each day. I've already started contacting travel mags and writing sample articles.
  4. Keep up with exercising. I've been averaging 6.5 miles a week of jogging/walking/biking/hiking, and I want to average 10 by the end of April. So far I'm good with 20 miles this month.
  5. Start a cooking blog? I'm playing with the idea of starting a cooking blog. I love to cook, I do it regularly, I love to take photos of food, and I love to blog. However, I'll have to see if I can swing it with everything else that's going on.
  6. Keep improving traffic to my online articles. So far, the work I've put into my online content isn't really paying enough for the amount of time I've spent. I want to make sure that I'm using my energy in a productive manner.
That should be more than enough to keep me busy until May!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recap of March 2011 Goals

Here's a quick recap of how my March 2011 goals went:
  • Get the plan for my next novel into reasonably good shape (due March 5). Finished this on time! Whoo hoo!
  • Write 50,000 words. Actually ended being about 82,000, as my mentor upped my goal!
  • Write 12 articles for Weird Worm. Woefully failed at this one :(
  • Approach 2 new markets. I think I need to decide exactly what I want to write before I do this.
  • Publish about once a day on writing site Squidoo. I've made another important discovery, that I've written a lot that just isn't earning. To that end, I spent more time editing and deleting lenses than creating new ones.
  • Do taxes. This, thankfully, I finished without too much trouble!
  • Run 3 miles in 28 minutes. My time hasn't improved greatly, but I think it's better to focus just on getting my total number of miles per week up.
In the next few days, I'll post my updated April goals! Yay!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tracking Novel Word Counts With Handy Excel Graphs

I'm happy to say that, with only a minor amount of frustration, I've remembered my Excel skills enough to create a chart of my daily word count goals and achievements!

As you can see, I'm a little bit behind from where I'd ideally like to be at this point. I'm heading for a total novel length of 87,000 words in a little under a month, which makes for about 3,000 words a day.

I just broke 12,000 words, and I'm actually feeling pretty motivated today compared to the past few days. I have at least one more fifteen minute sprint left in me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Day of Word Count Tracking: Writing a Novel in March

It's getting late again, and again I really want to get a few more words in before bed. I've been busy with non-writing activities over the last few days, and I know that I can catch up on writing once I get some more solid blocks of time, but I'm worried about falling too far behind right in the beginning of my challenge.

So. It is now 12:34 a.m., and my word count is 4,828. I'll be back to record my word count in fifteen minutes!

15 minutes is up! My word count is 5,279, for a total of 451 words. I think I'll do one more spurt, and then finish for the night.

And done again. 5,776, for a total of 497. I think it's time to sleep, though I might try to break 6,000 words first. To all those people out there writing on a deadline too, I wish you luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Staying Motivated To Write My Novel in March

I've been falling behind in my word counts, so I figured some accountability was in order. Here's my word count as of 1:49 a.m.:


I'm going to come back in 15 minutes and post what I get. Wish me luck!

Edit: 3634. Woot!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Starting a New Novel and March 2011 Goals

So it's that time again - time to post my goals for the month!

Here they are, in all of their March-y glory.
  • Get the plan for my next novel into reasonably good shape (due March 5). Finished this on time! Whoo hoo!
  • Write 50,000 words. Just signed up for MarNoWriMo (March Novel Writing Month) to help that along! I've also just started on the first draft today, boldly plunging ahead even thought I'm definitely scared to be writing in a completely new genre and finally with the intention of seeing this manuscript through to publication.
  • Write 12 articles for Weird Worm. So far, I've done three this month, just have to be careful not to fall behind.
  • Approach 2 new markets.
  • Publish about once a day on writing site Squidoo lens per day (aiming for 20 this month).
  • Do taxes
  • Run 3 miles in 28 minutes. My best time so far has been 30 minutes.
I'm also keeping track of my 2011 goals on Squidoo, if anyone is interested in following my progress and encouraging me/yelling at me when I fall behind :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Guest Post on Attending Writer's Conferences at Fractured Fiction

I've got a guest post up on the Fractured Fiction blog: Tips For Attending Your First Writer’s Conference.

Thanks to fellow writer Lady Lovelace for having me! She's got tons of great stuff to say about all things writing - craft, publicity and promotion, what to do after you've finally perfected your draft, and even some free fiction. Make sure to check her out!

Wow, I also just realized that I recently passed my three-year anniversary for blogging! True, I haven't always blogged on a regular basis, but it's pretty cool that I'm still here. In those three years, I've written more than 400,000 words, won NaNoWriMo two years in a row, finished the first drafts for three and a half novels, published a bunch of articles on online markets, and more. Life's not too shabby :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Working To Finish My February Goals - Writing and Other!

Well, the end of February is just around the corner! Here's a look at how my goals are coming:
  1. Finishing my editing assignment. Already mentioned this, but it's extra fun with the strikethrough!
  2. Finish starting my new book. The current plan is that I turn in the character sketches and an idea of what the book will be about by Saturday. I'm on schedule, but still a little nervous about whether my plan will work!
  3. Ten four articles for Weird Worm. I've written six so far, and started on the seventh. Really hope I can get around to finishing the one article and brainstorming two new ideas today, but I don't wanna! :p
  4. Approach one new market. Well, I approached a market, but it turned out to be not exactly what I'm looking for. Sigh. Why is finding new markets so hard? I'll keep my eyes open, but right now I don't know if looking for new markets will be as effective as maximizing the income from my current markets.
  5. Run three miles in 30 minutes. I managed 32 minutes today. I've been sick, so I don't know if I'll make the goal by the end of February. We'll see!
Still got a ways to go to get all of my goals done. Here's to coming in just at the deadline!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finish-Up Friday: Articles, Market Research, and New Project

It's the end of the week, and time to finish up all the loose ends!

So far, I've written three of my ten articles for the month, and part of a fourth. If I can finish another article tonight and send in my next pitch, I'll be super happy!

I've gotten a bit stumped while looking for new markets to write for. I like writing for Weird Worm because I can pitch pretty much anything. Which means that I don't have to take a chance on writing an article that may or may not get accepted. I know I'm being a bit picky, but what can I say? Finding new markets is hard!

Luckily (?) I'll be starting a new fiction project soon, and that will take up enough of my time that I'll probably be happy not to have lots of article markets to write for!

And finally, here's a picture of flowers to make it seem like spring really isn't all that far off. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grand Editing Goal #1 of the Year: Complete!

I just finished editing my very first novel-length piece. Granted, it was just for practice, but it was very good practice.

It's funny, when you're right in the middle of it, going over word after word and page after page, it seems like it will never end. Editing a manuscript is not my favorite part of the novel writing process. It's time consuming, thankless, and it forces you to question everything that you know is fact. In fact, you might find yourself starting to question the fundamental truths about spelling and grammar. Time and again, you laugh at the silly notions you held that this would be the best thing you've ever done, and it's hard to keep going when you can't know whether or not it will amount to anything.

But the thing is, just making sure you keep going keeps you going. It turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you've gotten into it, it becomes worse to stop than to go on. You don't want to waste your effort, after all.

So to all those who are struggling to edit a novel, I say this: don't give up! You can do it! And here are a couple of tips that might help:
  1. Give Yourself a Deadline. I'll admit, my deadline was set by my mentor, which gave me a little added responsibility; so you might want to share your deadline with a trusted friend or two who will keep you on your toes. I received two months to edit an 86,000 word rough draft. I won't say there aren't successful novels out there that have taken years to edit, but that kind of time span won't fly if you're writing fiction commercially.
  2. Break It Into Small Steps. My FlyLady timer is my best friend. When I simply feel like I can't force myself to work, I set it for fifteen minutes during which I can't do anything except work. You'd be amazed at how much you get done when you have no other option.
  3. Fill Your Life. This is one I still need to work on. I'm one of those people who 'quit her day job' to become a writer, which means I have plenty of time to stare at the computer screen. Too much time, in some cases. Writing is time consuming, but at least for me, it's not something you can do 10+ hours a day. You need to bring other things into your life or else you'll end up going crazy inside your own head.
Now I get a short break, and then it's back to writing a first draft!

Have thoughts or questions on editing manuscripts or writing in general? Share them here!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Year, New Writing Goals

I suppose it's a little past the time for making New Year's resolutions, but these aren't exactly resolutions... they're goals. Things that I have solid plans in place for how to achieve them, that I'm reasonably certain I can stick to. Writing goals include:
  1. Finishing my editing assignment. I'm working on editing an 86,000 word document as an assignment for my mentor/author friend. It's not something that's going to be published, but at least I'll know that I can edit a full length manuscript over the course of a couple of months. Deadline for this is in two weeks.
  2. Writing the first draft of the first book in a series that my mentor and I are working out the details for. This will probably be done sometime in March.
  3. Roughing out the plans for the rest of the books in the series, to be done by mid-April.
  4. Editing the first book in the series, to be done by the end of June.
  5. Submitting the book to editors and/or agents and working on sequels for the rest of the year.
  6. Keeping up with writing articles for Weird Worm.
  7. Possibly searching for new paying markets, depending on whether I decide to focus my free time on article writing.
At this time, I don't have plans to edit and submit Mechalarum. I'm happy that I wrote it, and I may come back to it someday, but right now I have bigger fish to fry!