Lists of Goals and Finding the Right Schedule

In the #RWChat last night on Twitter (this morning for me), they talked about writing goals and the end of the year and what goals do writers have for the last 3 months of 2017, what obstacles are in the way, what changes can be made, and how are you feeling as a writer about your writing…

That chat prompted me to write this post.

I hate and love my lists of goals and my attempts at creating workable schedules. Hate because, yeah… Love because they make me feel productive when I actually stick to them. Which, again, yeah…

I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks back that with the deep level of depression that I suffer from May through the end of July (I suffer all year long from depression, but it’s noticeably worse in Summer), my productivity suffers as well. I can’t write. I try and I can’t. I spent most of my Summer this year reading. I’ve read more in the last few months than I have in the last year. I watched movies and I read. I sat outside when it was possible (meaning when it wasn’t 300 degrees in the shade) and read. I read big books and a couple small books. I read physical books and Kindle ebooks. I read.

But I also thought, planned, and tried to get something in place in my head that when the fog began to lift, I would be able to tackle what needed to be tackled. I bought a Happy Planner and I keep track of what I’m doing every day in it. That has helped me a lot. And it allows me a little creativity to add to it and make it prettier than it already is. But, I’ll talk about that another day.

So, what does this all mean? Well… It means, I’m going to work off a school calendar. August through just a few days into May. Work meaning writing. I’m working off a goal list of 3 months at a time… August-October, November-January, February-April. I’ll wind down the writing around the second week of May and then give my mind and spirit the rest that depression demands of it.

I find that come August, I start feeling brighter, happier, more motivated, and more creative. It’s a different feeling than when I go into May which is a sensation of dread and darkness coming in from the edges. Those who suffer from depression will understand what I’m talking about.

We are in October now and so far, I’m still doing well. I’m working through my writing list and my goal list. I have a better idea and plan of what I want and need to accomplish with my time. There’s some refining I want to do to make life flow a little easier, but for the most part, two months in, I’m feeling good and staying positive, not so overwhelmed. I was afraid I might feel the overwhelm, but because I’ve set a stop date for writing after 9 months, it’s actually eased a lot of the anxiety and tension and stress.

I have realized that it is imperative with age and depression and learning/knowing myself better, that finding the right time of year to work is as important as finding the right time of day that is most productive. I’m still working on that second part, but I’ve put this all in motion to hopefully find that this is my right time of year, these particular 9 months.

I’ve been lost for about five years now. Maybe longer. Lost in life, in writing, in just who I am. And it didn’t seem to be getting better and frankly, I was losing more hope by the day. I no longer have the confidence, the support network that I once did in writing and publishing. Depression demons talk. A LOT. In whispers and in loud bullhorn voices. They feed other demons until there is no way to drown it all out.

My sincere desire is for this new schedule to work. For it to be the one thing that finally clicks for me and I’m able to get back to my productive self. The new Starbucks down the street can’t hurt, either, right?

If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment!

Have a great one.

~lissa

Bout of Books 20 Tally and What I’m Planning Next

So, my tally for Bout of Books 20 isn’t as high as I’d hoped it would be. I made it through 3 1/2 of the Magic and Mayhem books by Robyn Peterman. I had wanted to make it through all 5, but life happens. I don’t feel too terribly bad because I came into it so late, but when they have Bout of Books 21 in January, I will be totally prepared to put in all 7 days from beginning to end.

But I ‘met’ (on Twitter) some really cool people and found a lot of great books and blogs to follow.

The next read-at-thon I’m planing to participate in is the one I told y’all about on October 21st. It’s a 24 hour one and I think I have the series picked out that I’m going to dive into… Then again, between now and then, I may find several other series and I’ll end up putting all the titles in a hat and drawing one out.

I’ve finished writing Abe’s Will and have a few scenes to flesh out.

I’ll be starting on Witchin’ Spice, my title that will be in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World. It will be out in October.

There are many other books I’m making notes on and planning and several re-releases happening, too. I’ll keep y’all updated on those as they happen.

I’m also wanting to put together a read-a-thon of my own and a write-a-thon. I’m looking forward to finding people to help me with ideas. If you have any, let me know!

But for now, that’s all I have!

~lissa

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Let’s Talk Bear Shifters…

Because there seems to be some confusion.

In the beginning of Bear Haven, I said this: The ride in general isn’t over, but the ride in the Southern Shifters Kindle World, for me, is. At least for these characters. At least for the foreseeable future.

So, lets clarify some things. YES, Gus and Bex are over, but ONLY in the Southern Shifters Kindle World. I had to do what I did. I had to end Bear Haven as I ended it BECAUSE in order to tell the bigger story… to weave other characters in from other series, to connect some other dots into it all, I had to move Gus and Bex, Michael and Maxine, and other supporting characters OUT of the Southern Shifters Kindle World. (Remember… the Southern Shifters Kindle World does not belong to me and as such, there are limitations to what I can and cannot do.)

The Black and White series is, for the time being, done. I said that too (look above). I may go back and write another one. But only after I finish all the other tie ins.

Gus and Bex will be starting over. Elsewhere.

Michael and Maxine will be getting their own book.

Marcel and Mari will be getting their own book.

And ALL of these will be linked, loosely, but linked nonetheless with my Denali Heat bears which I just got the rights back to.

Keep in mind, as well, as I said in the back of Bear Haven, that none of these stories will be coming until either late 2017 or early 2018. I am sorry you have to wait, but other things happened (Samhain Publishing closing), that forced plans to be altered.

But, to reiterate… There are reasons I did what I did. I have mentioned it before Bear Haven came out AND after Bear Haven came out.

Please if you still have questions, ask me. I’m happy to answer them.

~lissa

Dear Readers… February 28, 2017

I… am a writer.

Of novellas.

This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. And damn y’all, I wish I didn’t struggle so much with so many things, especially when it comes to this writing business.

At the same time, with each struggle, whether internal or external, mental or emotional, I learn something new about myself. This is a really good thing. And… by the time I’m 100, I should have my path pretty much figured out.

In all seriousness, though, I have been struggling with relevance in regards to book length. Can I still call it a book if it’s a novella? Do I call it a story? Is it worth publishing? Charging for? Is it worth even bothering at all?

I have written short short stories before… 3000-5000 words.

I have written longer short stories, too… 10000-15000 words.

I have written many novellas… 18000-40000 words.

I have also written 45000, 50000, almost 60000 words.

That novella line though… more than 25 of those in the years I’ve been publishing.

There are some authors who make a really good living writing novellas. They publishing 10 or so a year. They charge $0.99 for them most of the time. And they’re usually part of a series, released in quick or at least methodical succession. This is something to learn from. Something to watch closely for someone like me who writes novellas.

My writing productivity has fallen off the last few years as all of you know. Self publishing has made me incredibly uncomfortable and doubtful in my ability to write. While it’s giving many authors a sense of power, it’s given me a great deal of anxiety and stress and way too many ‘what the fuck am I even doing anymore?’ moments. This has to change. There is no choice, no other option but for it to change.

And as the two big small press publishers have closed their doors in the last 60 days and the books that had been published with them revert back to me… It’s the majority of my catalog. 15 titles between Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. I have several titles that have reverted to me from Loose Id as well. All of them… there’s 18 in total… They’re novellas.

It’s my preferred length. That’s obvious.

I can write longer. I can write shorter.

But there’s a lot that can be done with novellas. It’s something I’d forgotten. It’s something I’d pushed to the back of my mind in the face of conversations that talk only of the success and desire for novels of 70000-120000 words. I don’t write that. I don’t even read that most of the time anymore.

Then, I began looking again at those who do write novellas and who do find success with them. And I remembered a conversation I had with someone in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds division about the success that writers are having writing novellas in different worlds.

I suddenly felt foolish at having doubted myself and what I wrote. For years I made money and wrote a lot of words in a lot of different stories that touched a lot of different people who still talk about those characters and want them.

So, yes… I… am a writer.

…Of novellas.

And that’s pretty damn awesome. It took me a long ass time to come back around to that realization. And it’s a strength, not a weakness as I was trying to convince myself it was, as others tried to convince me it was. Maybe for those writers, it is their weakness. But it’s not mine.

~lissa

Dear Readers… January 17, 2017

I think I’m going to take a page put of Kathleen Kelly’s book in You’ve Got Mail and begin as though we’re in the middle of a conversation… Or, maybe I’ll just talk. Or maybe… Who knows…

I’ve been writing and wondering and second guessing every word, every phrase, every scene. Time is really of the essence and I don’t have it to waste. This is a busy writing year. Or supposed to be.

See, I’m going to end something in a way that will pass off the majority of people who read it. That’s just all there is to it.

It’s like in Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson’s character Karen is at a point in her novel where she doesn’t know how to kill off her main character. She doesn’t believe in writer’s block, but she’s struggling to land on the death of this man.

I was struggling, too. Not on how to kill a character, but on how to end a book.

How do you end something when you never intended it to be what it became? How do you do that without passing people off? The truth is, you can’t. I can’t.

People will hate it. Readers will be disappointed. Upset. And that’s rather daunting for me and perhaps other writers as well. To know that I’ve written a tale that has made someone else FEEL something.

But if those who read it, dislike it… Then I’ve done my job. Then I’ve stayed true to what had evolved across the pages. Do I want that? To have my words disliked, my work reviewed harshly? No. I’d rather people love it. It’s much easier when they love it than when they hate it. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

Staying true to the work, to the words, to the characters… That’s my real duty. And once I freed my brain of the knots holding my creativity hostage, the What if’s, the Maybe I should’s, the Oh no, I can’t do that’s… That’s when I landed on what I am supposed to do, what the characters and events are leading me toward.

After all, it’s their story. Not mine. Not yours, the readers. But the story belongs to the characters.

One of my favorite lines in yet another movie, Wonder Boys, a classmate says of another’s writing, “He respects us enough to forget us. And that takes courage.”

I’ve quoted that line before on the blog and it has relevance here again.

I respect everyone who reads my books. I respect their opinions, whether good or bad. But I can’t write the story anyone else wants. I can’t only write the story that belongs to the characters who’ve come to life through me.

~lissa

 

(Movie images courtesy of IMDB)

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