2020 Marketing Goals: Midyear Catch-Up

Back in January, I laid out my goals for my book publishing and marketing efforts for this year. Now that we’re over the halfway mark of the year, it’s time to review–and likely revise–my goals.

By the way, does anyone else feel like we’re living in a completely different world now compared to January? It’s like we stepped into the dark timeline.

Most ridiculous moment of UK politics this year? : ukpolitics Continue reading “2020 Marketing Goals: Midyear Catch-Up”

Exercise 4, Part 1: Again and Again and Again

Back to doing the exercises in Ursula Le Guin’s excellent Steering the Craft book! Chapter 4 is about repetition and its power in storytelling. Thinking back to my English classes of yore, I remember being taught the opposite – to avoid repetition at all costs. One of my high school English teachers had this list of catchy “writing rules” and one of them was “NO PIZZA PIZZA” (after the overly prevalent Caesar’s Pizza commercial on TV) to remind us not to repeat ourselves. So it was refreshing to see Le Guin demonstrate how beautiful and useful repetition can be.
Continue reading “Exercise 4, Part 1: Again and Again and Again”

Leaning on the Small Things

Have you ever started writing something without knowing at all where it was going? That’s what this post is.

Today (Tuesday) was my first day back at work after a 5-day vacation to a family lakehouse. Five days doesn’t seem that long, especially over an extended weekend, but it was a strange return anyway.

I’ve found it more and more difficult to let go of work. Difficult is not the right word. I look forward to letting go of work things at the end of the day. But I feel more and more guilty about it. I don’t think anyone is placing that guilt upon me, except myself.

Our lakehouse vacation was supposed to be an escape from work, from our recent spate of home improvement projects, and from the occasional monotony of semi-quarantined life.

It was all of those things, for the most part. I just had one afternoon where I selfishly decided not to spend a lot of time with my son, and it’s been bugging me. I don’t think anyone else felt I was ignoring my family, but that’s how it felt to me.

All this is adding up to the notion that I am often too hard on myself, and I have trouble letting go of little things that have more to do with my perception of myself than with my interactions with other real people.

So I spent much of today (again, Tuesday) trying not to stress over things that are either done and in the past, or completely out of my control.

Fortunately, a few things made me feel better over the course of the day:

  • a solid yoga session, which is really the only reason I can be productive for 8-10 hours a day
  • reading and chatting with my son before his bedtime
  • This song, by an incredible singer/songwriter from somewhere near DC:

I’m going to listen to this for the third or fourth time tonight and then go to bed.

Steve D

July Write Day: The Return of the Summer Doldrums!

June was a slow month on the writing front, and kind of on every front. It’s yet another month that passed by so quickly, yet I can’t say with much confidence what I did.

We did a ton of work on our cellar, I suppose. It’s an old brick foundation with some cement, and we spent three or four weekends in a row filling in gaps and cracks with hydraulic cement, then painting over it all with water-sealing paint. We’re still not done.

As much as that stuff needs to get done, it definitely ate up my weekend downtime. But, no excuses!

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Finish the second draft of “Uprooted”.
  2. Write 12,000 words.
  3. Continue reading.
  4. Continue doing yoga daily (or almost daily).

So how did I do?

Finish the second draft of “Uprooted”?

No! Ugh, I have no idea what I did in June… aside from watching Community and sealing and painting our cellar.

What’s crazy is that I did not have an objectively bad writing month, it just looks so compared with the stellar progress I made in April and May. I wrote 4,031 words in June, but quite a bit of it was rewriting a pivotal section that I simply did not like from my first draft.

I had transcribed it the previous month, but then found that I couldn’t continue. It just didn’t feel right. So after mulling it over for way too long, I decided to change the scene entirely. That process of rethinking this one section of the story really slowed me down in the first couple weeks of June.

The rest of the time, I was just lazy. We’re going on a trip this weekend to a (socially distanced, non-touristy) family vacation home, and I’ve been looking forward to it all month. My brain started to slip into vacation mode, which always seems to happen to me around this time of year. Anyone remember this post?

Anyway, I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I had wanted to on “Uprooted”, but I’m not going to expend energy beating myself up about it. Maybe this was the mental hiatus I needed. Plus, I’m looking forward to starting part 2 longhand this weekend, while sitting by a lake sipping tasty concoctions.

Write 12,000 words?

I just realized that I had separate goals for finishing a draft and total word count, but the previous section flows pretty well and I’m not changing it. See above.

Continue reading?

Yes, but not as much as I may have liked. I’m just about finished my second Audible Original for the month, which always run short, but I haven’t read much in the way of paper pages recently. I’m just not yet into the fantasy book I had picked up, but I’m going to keep plugging away at it.

Strangely, a random post from a friend on Facebook led me down a rabbit-hole of Warhammer 40,000 related content, so I’ve been reading a ton of articles on a fan site. I started with the Night Lords and keep finding more things to read. Man, I miss that game. So expensive, though.

Continue doing yoga?

Yes! My one big achievement in June! I haven’t done it every day, but it has definitely been most days. I’m still using Sarah Beth Yoga on YouTube, and I now have a few favorites I’ll go back to for specific types of exercise, focusing on specific areas, etc. But, I’ve branched out a lot to and have made an effort to try new videos each week.

What’s great about yoga is that my workout can change depending on my mood. Some days I need high-intensity strength training. Some days I’m sore and want to loosen up. Other days, I just want to feel relaxed. Yoga gives me all of that, which has been incredible for my mental health as much as physical.

Goals for July

  1. Actually finish “Uprooted — The Herb Witch Tales #1”. I don’t think I’ll have a problem finishing. I’m now over a bit of a plot hump that coincided with the summer doldrums, and I genuinely want to complete this draft.
  2. Write 10,000 words. I’m going back to basics. Word counts sometimes put the wrong kind of pressure on my writing. I don’t care what I write for part 1 as long as I finish. Drafting part 2 longhand will be a longer process, especially starting out, so I’m aiming lower than last month.
  3. Continue with yoga and hit the gym. My gym is open with social distancing policies in place, so I want to get back into weight training. The good news is that I feel physically ready to do so, without the pressure of jumping into it too fast. For the first time in 15 years, weight training is now the complement to my exercise staple: yoga.
  4. Find a way to read more. Listening to audiobooks are basically the only thing I miss about driving all the time, but I can definitely be doing more. I still need to pad my 2020 reading goal for GoodReads posterity.

Steve D

Exercise 3 Part 2: Short and Long

Keeping up my goal of a post every Monday by the skin of my teeth and thank you for those 3 extra hours I get by being on the west coast! This is the second part of Le Guin’s exercise for Chapter 3 – the chapter on sentence length and complex syntax.

And this one is the first one that has flummoxed me. The instructions are simple:

Part Two: Write a half page to a page of narrative, up to 350 words, that is all one sentence.” Steering the Craft, Page 32.

I tried a couple of times with two different topics – but I didn’t get close to half a page to a page or 350 words. More than that, I think my long sentences are pale imitations of real long sentences – just lots of sentences joined together by semi-colons or em dashes (tried both and wasn’t happy with either).  And despite trying to channel my best A Tale of Two Cities opening sentence “It was the best of times…” I would say this was the most difficult exercise so far for me. Maybe it’s the fear of run-on sentences that my English teachers so carefully cultivated…

Continue reading “Exercise 3 Part 2: Short and Long”

Haiku Sunday – About

“About”

Familiar places,

unfamiliar surroundings.

New public order.

Steve D

We went out to a couple breweries today, and it honestly caught me off guard having to actively think about social distancing rules in a public space. I’m not against such rules at all — in fact, I’m really proud of how cautious the state of Maryland has been through this pandemic. It’s just strange to be out in an otherwise casual setting and have to rethink how I interact with people there.

Making a Character Death Make Sense

Creativity Sessions writing process. Evening Satellite Publishing.

I’ve spent way too much time this month rationalizing and over-thinking a character death in my story that I knew was definitely coming. Fortunately, after talking it through with my human sounding board (my wife), I think I’m ready to write The Death Scene.

And I’d like to share some insights I’ve picked up along the way. Continue reading “Making a Character Death Make Sense”