Nancy: June Recap

june-15-strawberry-fields-fullIt’s that time again – time to reconcile my monthly progress against plan. The good news is, my writing projects are moving along nicely. The bad news is, I’ve lost track of what my actual monthly plan is. But now that we’ve officially passed the halfway point in the year, it’s a great time to revisit (or in my case, completely retool) the annual plan. More on that in a minute. First, a progress report.

Writing: Balancing Three Projects With One  Brain. When I discussed my 2015 writing plan way back in January, my number one goal for the year was to touch my story every day. Not only did I meet that goal in June, I exceeded it. I’ve been focused on three different stories, the first three books in my Victorian Romance series. Book 1 is just entering revisions, book 2 is in the dreaded (and dreadful) first-draft stage, and book 3 is in the honeymoon phase, aka discovery. This was an unplanned happening, an unforeseen convergence of time and space and…well, hell, I got off track earlier in the year and I’ve spent June doing a bit of catch-up.

The unexpected upshot of this is the amount of symbiosis happening between these stories. While working on upping the stakes in book 1, I came up with the perfect set-up for the conundrum that opens book 2. While focusing on the hero of book 3, I got some deep, dark dirt on his best friend, who happens to be the hero of book 1. I didn’t plan to be working various stages of three different books at one time, and by the end of the summer I might be bald from pulling out my own hair, but right now, this is the best thing that could have happened to the series. And I have to say, as challenging and stressful as it is, working on a different phase on each of these books at the same time is making me love them all the more. (For now. We might be having a very different conversation when I report my progress in August.)

Research: Drinking From the Firehose, Trying to Catch a Breath. When we writers talk about research, we often mean delving into historical tomes, poring over maps, and losing ourselves down multiple online or in-the-stacks rabbit holes. But sometimes we have to apply all those finely honed procrastination research skills to our writing career path. That’s how I’ve been spending a lot of my research time these past few months. As I’ve mentioned in some of the comment sections here on the blog, I’m equally fascinated and terrified by, attracted to and repelled from the idea of self-publishing. I’ve followed the recent changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and its many ongoing issues, and have been following Marie Force’s self-publishing authors’ loop.

I have come to the conclusion it’s a jungle out there, the only constant is change, and I’m still at the stage where I don’t even know how much I don’t know. Some days I want to hole up in my little writer-shaped bunker with a year’s supply of coffee, red wine, Bourbon, and chocolate. But only some days. Other days, I want to poke my head out of the bunker and take a good, hard look around, and think about where my books might fit into the self-publishing scheme of things. Until I figure out the best path for me (traditional, self, or hybrid publishing), the only thing I can do is more research.

Craft Work: Upping My Game. For years and years, I made slow, steady progress on my writing craft. A few years, due to personal circumstances, it was closer to one step forward, two steps back. Then in 2012, I signed up for the McDaniel romance writing program, met the terrific group of ladies you see here each day on the blog, and studied with our fabulous mentor Jennifer Crusie. That 2012-2013 time period was a banner year. My writing craft grew by leaps and bounds. For the next year plus, I worked harder on what we’d learned, cogitated on the vast amounts of information we’d absorbed, and finally ‘finished the damn book’ that I’d written for the class.

Completing My Girls and beginning the marketing process for it cleared space for new projects, and with them, new growth. I’d never before approached the planning and first-draft phases of manuscripts the way I am now. I still write fatal flaws into my first drafts (apparently, it’s part of my process), but now I come up with bigger, better, more inventive ways to write myself out of these problems. And as part of my 2015 craft work, I’m using multiple exercises from Donald Maass’s book Writing the 21st Century Novel to infuse my stories with complex characters, bigger character and plot arcs, and deeper meaning. At least that’s how it feels to me. I hope my critique partners and eventual readers will feel the same way about it.

Now, About That Plan. Plans change. They morph, they grow, they contract. That’s why they’re plans, not absolutes. July is going to be an incredibly busy month for me on many fronts. One of the pivotal events will be attending RWA Nationals in NYC. While there, I’m going to attend as many of the self-publishing sessions as possible. I’m also going to collect as much information as I can about the current state of publishing historical romances through traditional publishers. Depending upon what I learn, I’m going to redraw my plan with an eye toward either marketing the series to traditional publishers, or diving into the deep, mysterious, terrifying waters of self-publishing. Hopefully I’ll have an answer for you (and more importantly, for myself!) by the time I recap July’s progress.

So, how did your writing go in June? Do you have any creative triumphs or tragedies to share? What do you plan to accomplish in the second half of 2015?


4 thoughts on “Nancy: June Recap

  1. (-: Sounds like you’ve had a fantastic half-year! Great job, Nancy!

    If I am short-sighted, I’ve had a very bad couple of weeks as far as my books go. Emotions and problems from my dayjob leaked into my personal creative time, and I’ve just given up. Gone to bed early, and hoped that when life got less busy, things would come together.

    But if I look back at the half-year, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve done a lot of research and world-building. I know the bones of my plot, which is something I don’t often have the luxury of. Compared to January, I’m in a pretty good place.

    So, my goal for the next two and a half weeks are to finish up the major research phase. I’m going to read Tesla’s autobiography, two of Helena Blavatsky’s books, and spend some time looking up spiritualist thinking in the 1890s. I will write at least one character sketch-type thing each for Bunny, Tesla (not Nikola, my Tesla), Michael, Freddie and maybe Kitty. (Kitty keeps getting bumped further and further to the side — I’m going to be very sad if I have to kill that darling.) And I’m going to put my summer writing schedule down ON PAPER, and not waste my summer vacation.

    It’s really inspiring to see your updates, Nancy, and so good to see your half year has been so good.

    • That sounds like a solid and ambitious plan! Definitely try writing it down to see if it helps keep you on track. I hope you won’t have to lose Kitty, but if you do, maybe she’ll get her own book in the future!

  2. You’ve made fantastic progress, Nancy! I’m in awe. I wish I could say the same for myself. I make progress, but not as much as I’d like. And if one thing is clear from reading the posts of Marie’s group: you can define writing success by the quality of books you publish, but achieving economic success depends also on quantity. And I clearly have work to do in the quantity department. And also the quality department!

    • That’s one of the scarier aspects of self publishing – the quantity readers have come to expect. While changes to Amazon’s algorithms has made rapid release less necessary, you still have to get and keep your name out there. Unfortunately, not all writers have kept up the quality end of things, which has its own negative effect on the marketplace. I’m treating it all like one big experiment, so we’ll see how it goes!

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