Kay: Getting There!

From homeofservice.com

The Ladies have been writing this blog for five or so years, and we’ve all made significant progress in our writing and publishing careers. Despite life changes, major events, illnesses, accidents, day jobs, volunteer work, writers block, and the demands of family, many of us are nearing the goals we set for ourselves when we embarked on this path. Just in the last few days we’ve heard from Jilly, Jeanne, Justine, and Nancy about major milestones. Reading their thoughts on edit reports, blurb writing, and revisions is a good reminder that it takes a lot to put out a book.

I thought of our collective efforts recently when I listened to a podcast by Mark Coker of Smashwords. He talked about best practices of booksellers—and he meant people like us, people who write books and publish them independently. I enjoyed it particularly because he discussed the things we’re doing, and he put them in context, and he included data that Smashwords has gleaned from analyzing the sales of the half-million or so books that authors have published on that platform. There’s a transcript as well as the link to the podcast here. But these are his major points. Continue reading

Kay: This Girl Is on Fire

Happiness is a warm fireplace. The new brickwork still needs painting, but you get the idea.

I’m a slow writer. Even when I’m well-rested, well-fed, well-caffeinated, focused, comfortable, with good light, and have an idea I can pursue, I’m unlikely to hit 1,000 words a day. My goal is 500. Usually I hit that. Some days I hit a little more. Some days, I regret to say, I hit less.

Despite the slowness of my pace, despite the “thought” and “care” I can theoretically put into my daily output given the time I put into it, on any given day I’ll delete half of what I wrote the previous day.

And sometimes—fairly often, really—things snarl up anyway. Just two weeks ago, I reported that I’d hit a wall with my WIP. I needed to work out the story question. That question answered, the “wall” that I saw two weeks ago is now just a distant memory, something that turned out to be merely a bump in my writing road, a problem solved quickly and almost painlessly.

In fact, lately I’ve been—for me—streaking along. I’m writing 600 or 700 words a day most days, and I don’t delete that much from day to day. Every day I have an idea. Every day I can express it. Continue reading

Kay: Hitting a Wall

I’d been progressing well on the WIP, galloping along at what for me is top speed, until this week, when I hit a wall. I’d written through my first act and was heading into the second, otherwise known as the Middle. And in my case, although barely begun, the Sagging Middle.

I queried my critique partners, who are only too familiar with the problems of Phoebe and her errant friends and fiancé. What to do? I asked. Within minutes, I got a reply.

What’s your story question? Patricia asked.

Ah, yes. What was my story question?

It’s not good if you don’t know your story question. A person can go down a lot of rabbit holes if she doesn’t know what she wants to say. Continue reading

Kay: Going Jack Reacher

My traveling tote, sitting at the front door, with a mug of coffee to show size.

Many readers of mystery/action novels will be familiar with the series that Lee Child writes featuring Jack Reacher, a former Army MP who drifts across the country finding trouble and fixing problems. Reacher has no home and no possessions. He travels with no baggage. He carries only his debit card and his toothbrush. Every three days he goes into a cheap clothing store and buys a new outfit, skin out, and throws away the old set.

I find this character’s travel habits very compelling. I myself travel as lightly as possible. I have not checked any baggage for airline flights in decades. I don’t pack for marginal clothing contingencies that expand my luggage requirements. I figure that if I need something, or I forgot something, there are stores everywhere. Go native, that’s my motto.

For the holidays, I went to Wisconsin for two weeks, visiting family and friends in two cities. I wondered if I could do it with no baggage at all, just like Reacher. I decided to make it a challenge.

Could I, in fact, travel with no luggage whatsoever? The short answer is…well, wait and see. Continue reading

Kay: Botticelli Pizza

Photo courtesy of fearlesshomemaker.com

Every year Elizabeth gives the Ladies the words for the holiday writing sprint in advance, and this year the words go up tomorrow, on December 22. As you see, my post runs December 21, and if I wait two weeks to publish my story, I might as well be writing something about Groundhog Day. So apologies all around for jumping the gun. Here’s my story. It’s pretty long—Elizabeth asked for a happy ending, and I had a little trouble getting to it. But I did it, I think, and I used all the words, too. See if you can guess which ones they are.

And if you don’t get to the end of this post, let me say now, happy holidays and best wishes for the new year to all of you and yours!

Botticelli Pizza
For some insane reason, I decided I wanted to throw my parents a surprise buffet party for their anniversary at Christmas. I’d fretted about it for weeks—the menu diary, the signature cocktail, the tiered cake, the special music, the decorations, the tableware, the linens. I’d just started my catering company, and, I suppose, I wanted to show off. Continue reading

Kay: Time to Vote

What’s in a name? Photo via persnicketypoop on Reddit (2012)

I have to choose a name for a new character, and I wonder what you think.

Picking a name for a character is serious business. I’m sure every writer has a method s/he prefers. I usually go with a combination of the phone book for last names and baby name web sites for first names. When I want a name to sound particularly ethnic, I also search web sites for “common names” for whatever ethnicity I want my character to reflect. I usually go with fairly short names if it seems that pronunciation might be difficult for, say, me.

In my new WIP (!), which is book three of my Phoebe trilogy (book two is finished! Cue fireworks!), I have introduced a character, a young man, who is taking the coursework necessary to become certified in protection driving—the kind of driving that celebrities and politicians hire when they feel threatened. Continue reading

Kay: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This is maybe my favorite holiday of the year, unburdened as it is by the anxiety of gift-giving, focused on a simple but bountiful harvest meal shared with a community of friends and family. And if my family leaves money, religion, politics, and some nephew’s haircut out of the conversation, I am extremely thankful.

I tend to think of Thanksgiving as an American and Canadian holiday, but vestiges of the American holiday, as well as general harvest festivals, are celebrated worldwide. For example, Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving (and many other American traditions) because it was founded by freed American slaves. Continue reading