Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Visiting Juneta

Hey lovely people! I just wanted to let you know that I'm visiting Juneta's blog today to talk about my writing journey thus far. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 14, 2017

How Writers Can Stretch Time, in Four Steps

Unless the wheels have spectacularly come off my life in some way, people have a tendency to be amazed by how much I get done in a month. And every now and then, someone will ask me how I manage it.

After all, we writers have the same amount of hours in the day. So how do I stretch mine to get so much done?

Step 1: Set Goals and Break Them Into Smaller Chunks

How does that help a writer stretch time? you might ask. Well. One of my big secrets to getting stuff done is knowing what I want to do.

So I set myself some huge goals, and then I break them into progressively smaller chunks.

For example:

Goal 1: Make a living wage from writing books. 
  1. Write books. 
    1. Write this one book. 
      1. Write 1,000 words every day.
      2. Write 50,000 words.
    2. Write the next book. 
      1. Write 1,000 words every day. 
      2. Write 50,000 words.
  2. Edit books. 
    1. Revisions
    2. Edits
    3. Proofread
  3. Publish books
    1. Format books.
    2. Upload them to retailers. 
And so on. Now I not only have this big goal, but I also see the steps to get to that goal. (The ones that are in my control, anyway.)

I often break even the steps into smaller steps, until I have hundreds of little things I need to do.

Which might sound terrifying, but what sounds easier:

Make a living from writing? Or write 1,000 words today?

So what I'm doing is to break all of my goals into smaller, bite-sized chunks. And then I move onto Step 2.

Step 2: Set Your Priorities. 

Once I know what I want and how I'm planning to get there, I can sit down and decide what's the most important to me. 

But here's the important thing: I decide what's important to me right now. 

This bit is a trick to my success, because a lot of those big goals I set are pretty much equal when it comes to how important they are in my life. 

I don't have kids, but if I had, I wouldn't be able to say writing is more important than my children. But I wouldn't ever be able to call writing unimportant either. 

So the thing is, if you're sitting down to get going, there will be things on that specific day that's more important. If you know you want to focus on that, then focus on that. But also know when you've neglected some other aspect, so you can temporarily bump that thing up your priority list in order to even everything out. 

Step 3: Create a To-Do List.

Once I know all the things that are really important, I can quickly write down the 10 things that are weighing on me the most. (I like 10 for being a nice, even number, but pick whatever works for you.) 

Next thing I do is to number the order in which I'd like to do those 10 things. 

Why? 

Because if I decide upfront what I want to do after I've finished the task at hand, I don't have to waste time later trying to decide what I should be doing. 

How do I pick the order? 

This depends. Some days, it's in order of the shortest deadline to the longest. Other days, it's Writing first and everything else next. Today I'm not feeling a bit lethargic, so I'm making up for it by starting with something easy, then something hard, then easy, then hard etc. 

Step 4: Start Doing

Yeah I know. Obvious, right? But sometimes, people underestimate how important it is to just get going. There's a reason why, when it comes to the setting of my to-do list, I keep things simple. I don't try to schedule anything because I know it takes longer for me to schedule and re-schedule as my day shifts. Time that I could actually be using to tick stuff off my to-do list. 

So once I have my 10 things and I know in which order I'd like to do things. I start. If something happens to prevent me from completing one task, I move onto the next. (Writing this blog is task number 4. Number 3 is postponed because I'm waiting for information.) I might get back to it later. I might postpone to tomorrow. 

And no, there's nothing wrong with postponing as long as it's not going to break a deadline. Because unless you set the bar really low, there's no way you're going to finish all the tasks you set for yourself. 

So move the stuff you didn't get to. Just as long as you get it done. 

And My Big Secret? 

I don't multitask. 

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? 

Yeah, I know. People usually act like multitasking is the way to go. Especially if you have as many and as varied goals as I do. 

But here's the thing. No one actually multitasks. 

You're just rapidly switching your focus from one thing to the next thing. 

As I'm sitting here, I'm writing this post without looking at my twitter. When I'm doing my social networking stuff, I don't do it while watching T.V. When I am doing something to relax, I try to do so without bringing "work" along. Unless you count crafting as work. But that's a whole other story. 

Point is: If I'm at task number 1, I focus on that task until it's done, or until I take a break. 

And then I focus on the next thing. 

And the next thing. 

And the next. 

Why? 

Because when I'm focusing, I'm making fewer mistakes. And I actually speed up. Because I don't even have the smallest moment of thinking "what did I want to do here again?" 

And so, things get done one little step at a time. And then at the end of the month, I take stock and actually realize how much I have achieved. 

What about you? Are you a multitasker? Do you have a system for getting everything done? What tips do you have? 


Monday, August 7, 2017

5 Things to Remember When Giving Writing Advice


This morning, I watched a vlog post by one of my favorite writing vloggers on YouTube. And to be honest, the post left me fuming.

The post was about ten types of writers that are "the worst," as in people who suck.

And I did agree with nine out of the ten points, because they dealt with things like genre elitists, mansplainers etc.

But one was basically a take-down of character-driven pantsers like me. And that ticked me off, because she basically lumped a perfectly valid approach to writing right in there with writers who want to write but never actually do and people who write comments on writing without understanding what writing is about.

Because apparently, having a character who doesn't want to do something you wanted them to do isn't a justifiable reason to be stuck.

Which, as someone who actually has been writing while giving my characters free rein for years and actually has about 25 finished rough drafts as a result, I find to be a ridiculous assertion for a plotter to make.

But to give you plotter dudes an idea, this little inclusion in her "the worst" list is like me calling you chickenshit for insisting on a comfort blanket that is your plot outline before starting out. Because pantsing is true creativity, y'all.

*Eye roll*

And insulting people for using a method just because you don't use it, or just because you never thought to use it, is not cool.

Still, it did get me thinking about the things we do when giving and receiving advice and since I'm kinda in a mini-blog series about so-called "writing rules," I thought I'd write them down as tips of my own.

1) Even if you have a big following (and especially then), it's probably a bad idea to thoughtlessly mock roughly half of your following if you're not qualified by personal experience to comment on their method. 

Hell, this is a stupid idea in general.

2) Before you spout off on something, maybe consider if someone approaching writing in a certain way you disagree with actually helps that person write. 

Because if you're going to discourage a natural pantser from pantsing, you're not helping that person at all.

3) Keep in mind that people of various experience levels are consuming your advice. Tailor your information accordingly. 

4) Consider whether the limitations of your medium of choice allows you to do any statements you make justice. 

If you have under ten minutes in your vlog and you can't take the time to justify your opinion with more than a few trite, bullshit witticisms about why half your following is wrong, maybe this vlog post isn't the place to include this particular opinion.

5) If you're out to make yourself look smarter and better by insulting those different from you, you're doing it wrong

What about you? Have you ever seen or heard someone share writing advice that made your blood boil? 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update Day: Warning. This Is a Big One.

Hey everyone! Yesterday was the last Friday of the month, which means it was time for another Update Day. Sadly for me, I was forced to miss updating in time because the Internet went down.

For those of you wondering what on Earth I'm talking about, a few of us writers are taking part in a bloghop hosted by me and Jen Garrett, where we set crazy or just seriously important goals, and then post updates on the last Friday of the month.

A lot of stuff has happened though, which has solidified my priorities, so bewarned, this is going to be a long post as I set out and explain my major goals for the next few weeks and months ahead. Ready?

Okay strap in.


So How Did I Do? 

It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, with a lot of fails mixed in with my success. 

The big thing is: 

I finished drafting Book 3! *sparkly confetti*

Everything else... Meh. 

Book 3 got done with about 20k words left to spare, and once I did that, I just couldn't keep the momentum going on another project. Used to be that I could easily switch between projects, but I'm out of practice because Book 3 has basically been taking up all my creative mind space for the past two years. 

So this Camp NaNo, despite me doing awesome for as long as I was writing, is going to be a lose for me. Oh well. 

And as for my social media... I tried to update my blog once a week on Fridays, which I mostly succeeded at, but I skipped last week because I was drained from finishing Book 3. (I did the last chapters in an eight-thousand-word marathon.)

Because of this and a whole lot of other stuff I'll get into in a bit, I also didn't get around to vlogging. I have recorded a video, but didn't edit it because I thought it would be better if my first update in a while was for this post... And then I got busy with this other thing and didn't record the video. 

*Sigh.*

I was active on twitter and I estimate I've gained close to 200 followers between my two accounts, so that's a win. 

Then, I also did two mammoth editing jobs for clients and am now working on a third, AND I've been working on the covers for The War of Six Crowns, the series. And man. The updated cover for The Vanished Knight is gorgeous. I think it might be my best yet, and the concept for the series of covers really has me excited, because it's a major challenges. 

Then I've also managed to do some reading. 

AND! Once I've wrapped up Book 3, I've started kicking my unhealthy lifestyle to the curb. 

Wow. Now that I'm listing everything I've achieved... I've actually had an epic month. 

What Would I Like to Do in the Next Few Months? 

Writing 

Because Book 3 needs to rest, I'm going to work on something else. And some of you guys, who've beta'ed for me in the past, will possibly be glad to know I've decided to do some work on Eden's Son, my Historical Romance. 

I just really need a change of pace from Book 3, and I though it could be nice if I managed to wrap up ES1 and publish it this year, since it's the second oldest story I've written and the oldest of my story concepts. (I've been working on various iterations of this story basically forever. In fact, the first novel I ever started to write is a book in this series, before I realized that there was a lot of story before that book that needed to be told first.) 

Also, at the risk of sounding really cynical, it would be nice if I have a romance out to help stabilize my writing income. But I freaking love this story, so it's going to be a pleasure to get it done after sixteen odd years.

Publishing and Marketing Stuff

There is soooooooooooo much I need to do that I haven't gotten around to before. I just couldn't focus on all this when I had Book 3 staring at me like a baleful child. But now it's done, So I can at least to do the following: 

1) Regular blog and vlog posts.
I at least want to get back to my Monday/Friday schedule, with Friday featuring a vlog post of some sort. For that, I'm probably going to start filming a whole lot of videos on writing topics that I can edit as needed so I have a bit more of a buffer for when I'm busy, and then I'm going to do my more personal vlog updates on the fly when I have the opportunity. I want my Monday blog posts to relate to my Friday posts in some way, so that's also going to help me get some content done in time. Although I love being all nice and personal, I also realize that adding value is something I haven't been able to do for years, so I need to fix that. 

2) Continue with my graphic design self-study. 
Believe it or not, I've gone from designing my own covers because it's cheaper to designing my own covers because I love them more than I do when someone else designs for me. So to save myself the pain and tears of having to learn things the hard way, I'm doing a graphic design course so I can get a better concept of what's going on and how to achieve what I want to achieve with my covers. 

I'm a terrible boss to myself. My whole feeling is that if I'm going to self publish, all aspects of the production of my book needs to be better than what anyone else would have done for me. That means I'm learning some mad skills. Helps that my freelancing activities are basically paying me to learn stuff. 

3) Update my website. 
This is another thing where my graphic design is going to come in handy. My old author website is so out of date that I don't even point people at it anymore. So that needs to be fixed. Before that can happen, though: 

4) Update the cover to The Heir's Choice. 
I need to implement the ideas I have brewing for that cover and as a bonus, do a few fixes on the cover to Endless while I'm at it. Once those are done, I can get into building the new site. (Which is another skill I'm having to learn. Insane, but makes sense given my other job... More on this later.) 

5) Set-up a newsletter (or three) with a signup page on my website. 
I've resisted the newsletter thing for a while because I didn't believe I had enough people interested in reading a newsletter. Thanks to Wattpad, this has now changed. The Vanished Knight now has close to 250k reads and a whole lot of people who keep contacting me for updates on Book 3. 

6) Update the front and back-matter of my books to point to the website and newsletter. 
And while I'm at it, I'm just going to reformat the whole shebang. I've learned a boatload of new stuff since self-publishing the first time. So I'm taking the books up to the next level. 

CEO Duties

You didn't read that wrong. For the first time since I've finished my degree and started working for the family business, my mom's let me be the boss. 

I think I mentioned that we were working on another business thing where we had some investors interested in the project... Well... that concept underlying the business was my idea, so my mom and I agreed that I need to be in charge of it, although she's the MD, which means she's going to be the one to do the actual day-to-day running of the business once it's up. 

But basically, where we are requires a prototype of a site to be built for coders and also potential investors. And since this is a monster project and I hate people telling me "can't do it," we're going to build the first prototype ourselves to help outsiders see what we're envisaging. 

Which is, again, where learning some site-building skills will come in. Fun fact, the site has so many working parts that I'm probably going to be able to build a seriously ambitious author site...as practice. 

Freelancing

Depending on how much time I'm going to spend on the monster site, this is probably going to be the thing that gets a down-grade on my priority list. I'm going to try and not down-scale my freelancing in favor of my site because I still want to be a full-time writer (and the owner of a monster site.) 

But. It it's going to come down to a choice between my writing/publishing, the site, and the freelancing, I think you can see why the freelancing will be the first to give. 

Hopefully, though, I'll be able to get everything done. And the amazing amount of stuff I pulled off in July without feeling on the verge of collapse gives me hope. 

My Health 

Here's something I haven't really brought up in a while. Mostly because it's embarrassing, how bad I am at taking care of myself. 

Why? Because I know how bad certain foods are to me. I know how important it is, especially to me, not to just sit on my butt day-in and day-out. I know that eating healthily and exercising actually give me the energy I need to tackle major projects without getting drained. I know that sixteen-hour work days invariably come back to bite me in the butt at some point. In some really ugly ways. Especially when I'm not eating healthily or exercising.

But did that have any impact at all on my refined sugar intake, exercise habits, water consumption or work hours? 

Not.
One.
Jot. 

But when I finished up Book 3, I felt like I could rule the world, and then just kinda thought I could start by not screwing myself in the long run. I'd like to actually have a functional body when I'm old, so this is actually a bit of a priority.

1) Diet
No, I don't mean this in the "starve-myself and get trim" kind of way. I'm talking about changing my diet permanently. Which means no refined carbs and sugars. I know a lot of people have a fit every time I mention not consuming carbs as a major part of my diet. But you know what? The only time I really feel normal, when I'm not feeling like I'm going to crash, or get a massive headache any moment now, or just feel like I don't have the strength to do something, or even, for that matter, that I'm constantly hungry, even when I'm getting up from the table, is when I'm on a high-fat, low-carb diet. So that's what I'm doing. 

I'm not completely giving up carbs. I'm just getting mine in by consuming vegetables, fruit and honey instead of starch. 

2) Weight
Yeah yeah, I'm beautiful as I am. Really I am. This isn't a self-confidence thing as I was blessed with an ability to tie my confidence to issues other than my body. 

But. 

Being at the heaviest weight I've ever been at the age of 28 is not good for my back, which is something I have injured in the past. (More on this in a bit.) Also, my family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, both of which are tied to unhealthy diets and obesity. And yes. I'm blessed with a body that evenly distributes fat when I gain weight, but I am, in fact obese. 

So to save myself a lot of heartache and pain now, I'm going to get the weight down and keep it down. And so you know, I had just short of 40 kg (88 lb) to lose when I started on Sunday. So far this week, I'm 2.5 kg (5 lb 8 oz) down. 

3) Water
People always get told that they need 2 liters (half a gallon) of water a day, but did you know your requirement is actually determined by your weight? The heavier you are, the more water you require. 

So when I decided to track my weight and fix my diet, I also got myself an app to track my intake and remind myself to drink water. This might seem extreme, but I tend to forget to drink water when I write. So now I don't. 

And just so you know, the goal for my current weight is 3.5 liters (7.4 liquid pints) per day. And if you think that's impossible to do. It's not.

4) Exercise
As I mentioned before, I have injured my back in the past, so being overweight really doesn't help. And the whole reason I got injured in the first place was because my core was weak. And all I've done in the years since is let my core weaken further. 

No more. 

I've signed up for an app called 30 Day Challenge. It has a variety of exercise challenges based on what you want to focus on and how fit you are. The exercises are really intensive, mostly body-weight-resistance exercises, which means that the five-minute sessions I'm currently on are really making a huge difference to my body. 

One wouldn't think that five minutes would help, but my core has gone from being able to support me for at most five seconds of plank to thirty seconds of plank in a week. And if you don't think that's impressive, I don't think you've done the plank before.

The exercises never give me that "no-pain-no-gain" feeling, because they seem to be designed to be *just* enough to challenge the participant without demoralizing them. But every single day is just a little bit more challenging than the day before. And I assume that eventually, almost without noticing, I'll be in a place where I'll be able to do hours of exercise if I want without actually finding it to be daunting or impossible. (Which I do now.) 

This is mostly weight training, though, so I've started dancing again to get some cardio in. This week, I went to my first ever line dancing class, but I have a huge hankering for ballroom again too, so I might take that as well. 

5) My lifestyle in general. 
Other than the eating, water drinking and exercise, I also really need to sort out a few other things. Firstly, my sleeping patterns. Because of my insane (and I don't mean this as a self-compliment) work-ethic, I often work until 3 a.m. in the morning and start my day between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. I take almost no breaks from my computer once I sit down. 

So. I have to institute a stricter work-hour rule, where I don't pass a certain time, and where I then have to at least do something to rest in the evening. This can be reading or even some sort of craft. Or the dancing classes. 

Point is, I know I'm going to burn out if I continue keeping the hours I'm keeping, so I'm going to adapt now before I'm forced to by my own exhaustion. 

Balance is the thing I'm going for here, so I'm going to literally schedule in time to rest because otherwise I'm just going to forget. (Same way I forget to drink water.) 

Whoa that's a lot, so I'm going to stop here for now. But how did you do? Anyone feel like joining me on the 30 Day Challenge? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Update: Nooooooooo!

Still ahead of schedule... Just.

I know that second weeks of NaNoWriMo months are harsh. They're kinda notorious for being as difficult to get through as swimming through molasses. That's why all of the encouragement we get from the organizers in week two features some version of "Hey it's okay to struggle. You're far from the only one, so just keep chipping away and things will get easier." 
To be honest, though, I thought I'd skip the difficult second week. Not because week one was epic (and it was), but because I'm in the final sixth of my book. These are the final chapters leading up to the climactic point and the last ones to finish the book off. 

They write themselves. 

They always have. 

Usually when I hit the last quarter of a book, I can easily write up to 6k words in a day. (My record is 10k in a single push.) 

But what I didn't count on was that, when I threw a huge curve ball at my characters, they would retaliate with a massive one in return. 

You'd think, after having about six iterations of this same event in my draft novels without much of a dent, nothing would change when I let the same thing happen now. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

Because I hadn't taken into account one major thing: Every time before, the thing happened early in the story. This time, it happened near the end. 

And because of everything that had happened before the event, the characters were now armed with a set of information that pointed to something I hadn't even looked at. 

Et voila. 

Devastation. 

I've been struggling to write even 1000 words a day since Tuesday. The moment I get to scenes around this event, my unwilling fingers slow down to a drag and I want to burst into tears. 

But hey! Drama's good. So I can't complain too much. 

I just have to get over this. 

And hopefully my poor readers will cry just as hard when they hit this scene. I'm not going to say what it was, but... I think you'll know when you see it. 

How are you doing? Have you ever had a character spring a whole new world of pain on you? How did you recover?

Friday, July 7, 2017

CampNaNo Progress Update: Ugh I'm So Annoyed with Myself

Hey everyone!

I've had a bit of a whirlwind week since last Friday, which is why I've been so quiet. The truth is that I had a few minutes in which to whip up a post for the blog, but I felt bad to update when I know for a fact that I won't have the time to visit bloggers.

That said, I've made some epic progress this week.

It started on Saturday. See, I've been working on some huge editing projects, and the big one was waiting for me this week. 120 thousand words is nothing to sneeze at and the client was waiting. So I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get everything done and still write.

The solution, spend my off time on the weekend to write enough to make up for par on Friday. That way, anything I wrote in the week would basically be a nice extra instead of a cause for alarm because I wasn't making the daily word count goal.

I didn't quite make it, but I did write 8,000 words in two days. And then I wrote 4,000 more on Monday.

As of yesterday, I was at just under 17k words in total.

Which is... a bit insane, really.

Especially when you think I was writing that much while editing someone else's book.

But then yesterday went wrong.

I'm not going to go into it in detail, but my first writing block in the morning got knocked out without me being able to write. So I decided to sit down and push to finish the editing project.

The thought is that if I do that, I basically have today and the weekend to write.

Good thinking.

But I ignored the niggling head-achy feeling forming behind my eyeballs.

The result: I had to go sleep at 8 p.m. (which knocked out my second writing session for the day). With the mother of a headache. People who've had one of these will get it: burning eyes, burning neck and shoulders, nausea and please God just let me die in my sleep because it's night and I'm on a farm but the moonlight is too bright and it hurts. 

Luckily for me, the good Lord knows when I'm not completely serious.

Unluckily for me, I'm doing my best to type this without looking at my screen too much because after almost fourteen hours of sleep and three pain meds, I'm still feeling like it's there.

So.

I'm a bit angry at myself.

I've been on this ride before. I know the signs. There were things I should have done. For one thing, when I noticed the head-achy feeling starting to throb in my temples, I should have taken something. For another, I should have enlarged the text I was editing so it wouldn't stress my eyes so much. I should have dimmed my screen while I was at it. When I felt my shoulders, neck and jaw clenching, I should bloody well have stopped.

But I was just twenty pages out from being finished, so what harm would it do?

Some days, I'm a bloody fool.

Sigh.



How are you doing? Are you doing Camp NaNo? How's it going?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Update Day: Wait. Where'd June Go?

Hey everyone! It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for an update for my Got Goals? bloghop. More information and sign-up guidelines can be found here.


How I Did

Looking at my total income for the month, you'd think not that well, but that would brush aside the fact that I've had another surge of work coming in at the end of the month, which won't show until July. 

Besides that, I also did a lot of work that will hopefully have long-term pay-offs, which I won't see just yet. 

Writing-wise: I made my goal of a 10-minute average for the month. 
YouTube and Social Networking: ... Everything went well until last week Monday. I just haven't touched ground since then. To give you an idea, I'm writing this at 10:44 p.m. on Friday night. Because it's literally the first open moment I've had. I wanted to do this as a vlog post, but I didn't have the time to record, much less edit the video.

Goals for July

I did a crazy thing and signed up for Camp NaNo. So the goal is to write 50k words in July and hopefully finish Book 3. 

For me to do this, I really have to sort out my schedule so that I have at least two writing hours available every day, regardless of whether I have anything else to do. So this month I'll be aiming for a 2-hour daily average for my writing. 

If I don't make that, it's fine, but I think two hours a day is a nice amount that should be in the realm of possibility for me. So it'll definitely be something I want to strive towards. 

Here's the thing, though, I want to do that without disrupting my social networking and freelancing. And this is often where I falter. I get the feeling that one or the other will fall by the way-side as I'm trying to sort all this out, but I'm going to cut me some slack and say that I'm going to call any progress in July a win. 

What about you? Are you joining Camp NaNo? Do you manage to balance your life with your writing? HOW DO YOU DO IT? I HAVE TO KNOW!



Monday, June 19, 2017

4 Tips to Make Sense of Writing Tips

Hey all! Before I get into today's post, I just wanted to remind you guys of my new Before and After feature. It could be a way for you to get your hands on a really inexpensive custom design, so if you haven't yet, go check out my announcement.

Okay! Time to get into the post. This is last week's vlog that went live a bit too late, which is why it's only being put on my blog today. As always, the script follows the video, but if you choose that, you're missing an awesome Vader impersonation...



Show don’t tell. Never stop writing. Only write when you’re feeling inspired. Never start with a dream sequence. Never use a narrator. Never use prologues. Always plan ahead of writing. Never plan ahead. Edit as you write. NEVER edit as you write.

That’s only a small sample of the writing rules that one can get out there. And as you can see, a lot of it is contradictory. So what’s a writer to do?

In my sixteen or so years of writing stories, I’ve managed to develop a way to approach writing rules that makes it all… well… make a bit more sense. And since I’m awesome, I thought I’d share the tips with you.

Yes, I’m aware that this is a tip vlog about understanding tips, but there you go.

Let’s just get into it.


Tip #1: Before you even start researching writing, it’s a good idea to develop your own set of best practices first. 


The truth is that it’s a mad, senseless writing world out there. It seems like every writer has “advice” out there, and as someone who’s been around the block, a lot of advice out there is patently bad.

Terrible. Terrible advice.

And if you go into your research armed with your own personalized knowledge of what already works for you, you’re not going to be confused into the dark side all that easily. *Insert Vader Breath Here.*

Seriously though. If you know what works and someone’s acting like you’re doing it wrong, you know to roll your eyes and disregard at will.

Which brings me to my next tip.


Tip #2: If someone’s trying to convince you that theirs is the only, best way… they’re giving you bad advice. 


I don’t care what they’re saying. If they start off from the point of view that there is no other way to succeed at writing, you can’t trust the rest of what they’re saying. The guys that seem a bit hesitant, usually prefacing with a disclaimer of “I know other people do things differently and it works for them, but I find that…” usually are the ones that are worth listening to.

In particular, and this is a sad thing, there are some big names out there that try to sell themselves and their writing by making themselves seem like these literary geniuses that have the soul true knowledge to writing success.

DON’T LISTEN TO THEM.

Another bonus rule of thumb: If someone sounds like they’re talking out their arse, they probably are.

Tip #3: Understand why something is considered to be a rule.


Despite everything, some writers have a real, legitimate desire to help others, but because they’re not that experienced yet, they don’t quite understand what they’re saying. So their response is to come across as being dead certain about absolutes.

Never use adverbs. 
Never start with dream sequences. 
Never open with prologues.
Always do this. 
Never do that. 

The problem with subscribing yourself to these absolutes is that you’re actually limiting your own writing. But at the same time, those “rules” are there for a reason. So if you know those reasons, you’ll also know when and how you can bend the rules.

And that neatly brings me to my final tip.


Tip #4: Treat writing rules not as the x number writing commandments, but rather as guidelines. 


As I said before, a lot of the “rules” out there are considered to be such for some really good reasons.

That does not mean you’re doomed to always follow them slavishly. You’re the writer. You’re literally the master of your own story.

And if you say that rule doesn’t apply to you, that rule doesn’t apply to you.

Just remember, though, that if veering off from the rules results in bad writing, your readers will kick your ass for it. So don’t be irresponsible either.

And that’s basically it for me. Next week, I’ll share my own list of off-the-beaten-path writing rules that you might find useful. In the comments, let everyone know, which writing rules do you often disregard? 

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Bit of News

Hey Everyone!

Yeah, I know today is supposed to be a vlog update, but alas, everything is running late for me. (Refer to Wednesday's post for a deeper understanding.)

As it is, the fact that I had to shoot late meant that I had to do some heavy editing to make the video look good, which also means it's taking longer to render the edited video. Then I planned to upload render and upload early this morning, but Windows decided to update, which meant I'm now still waiting for the video to render. Sigh.

Anyhoodles. I thought I'd get some news and admin out of the way instead.

YouTube Posting Schedule for This Week

As a result of the delay, the YouTube post will go live for my Patreon patrons today, and everyone else tomorrow night. The blog post that includes the script will go live on Monday.

I Am Planning to Bring Before and After Back

For those of you wondering what the hay I'm talking about... Last year, I had a bit of a short-lived blog post series featuring me picking images and then turning them into something awesome using Photoshop, something like a cover image, excerpt banner or whatever. The idea originally was to post Before and Afters regularly in order to keep learning new things and also to keep my skills sharp, but then I thought... Why don't I open this up a little more? 

So this is what I'm thinking. Send me an email at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com and tell me what you want me to do. For example: 

Cover Image for a [insert genre here] book. It's about... [insert description here] and I'm thinking [insert what you think would look cool]. And then let me know what you want written on it.

Then (and this is the cool bit), I will put a price on the image and you can mail me to buy it with up to three adjustments. The price will be determined mostly by the cost of the images and partially by the amount of work I did, but my vision for now is to keep it more in line with pre-made cover costs than custom costs. 

Yes, that means you will get a custom cover in the pre-made price range. And if you buy it, it's yours. If not, I'm probably putting it on a pre-made list somewhere. 

Sounds good? Then do get in touch. 

What's up on your end of the world? 



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ever had one of those days?

You might have picked up that I'm starting to be more active on my social networks, including this blog. And the thing is that I've been wanting to get back to my usual MWF posting schedule again.

But man.

Today is just crap.

Have you ever felt like someone put your life on slow mo while time just marches on?

That's what my day was like today.

It seemed simple enough.

Wake up. Wash the floors. Move the horses. Write a vlog post. Write today's blog post. Record vlog post. Move horses back. Edit vlog post.

How did it go?

Woke up.

Wash floor, only to be told we have to move the horses now and oops! We and all the dogs are over the wet tiles.

Move the horses. Takes longer than usual.

Return to floor. Wash it a second time.

Brother and dogs walk over the floor again. So I hand him the mop.

Sit down to write vlog post. Get called to early lunch.

Sit down to write vlog post. Remember admin stuff I have to help my brother/assistant with.

Sit down to write vlog post.

It's time to move the horses back. But this time, they have to put on blankets, which they DO NOT LIKE. This takes two hours.

Return to record vlog post. 1) It's dinner time and 2) Battery's dead.

Charge battery.

Record video. Keep forgetting what I want to say, making me take twice as long to record because I keep having to check the script.

Download video.

"Open" video editing software. The program and the others in its suite need to update before I can open and use it.

It's 10 p.m.

*headdesk*

But at the same time... I have so much to be grateful for.

How is/was your day? 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Keep Calm and Chill Out: 4 Reasons Why Pushing Through Exhaustion Is a Bad Idea


My vlog post from last week has gotten me thinking a lot about why I almost always have to get to the point of burning out before I feel “okay” with taking a break.

In a lot of ways, I think it comes down to this whole mentality of Keep Calm and Carry On.

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, carrying on despite adversity is often the best thing we can do. But sometimes, I think we’re carrying on a little bit too far. And this is why:


1) Forcing ourselves to keep going despite exhaustion only exhausts us more. 


Yeah yeah I know. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Obviously doing things when you’re already tired makes the tiredness worse. It’s common sense.

And yet, we ignore this common sense all the time.

What’s more, people expect it from us. They even praise use for doing it. Think I’m crazy? Take a look around at people who are positively bragging about the fact that they’re living off of coffee and pulling all-nighter after all-nighter. And then see the comments. Only a few “buzzkills” will think to say, “Five nights in a row already? This is really bad for you. Please go get some sleep.”

And sometimes, that’s fine. We often do need to push through exhaustion, because we quite simply are exhausted all the time. So if we don’t push ourselves, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

But as with my five-all-nighters-in-a-row example, there are limits, and we’re all but ignoring them all the time.

2) There’s so much more to exhaustion than being tired. 


So let me tell you a little story. I committed to writing because it was my lifeline after I had proverbially drowned myself in a study course I’d hated.

I knew in the first week of my studies (in 2007) that I wasn’t enjoying the course, but the Keep Calm and Carry On thing struck again. And I carried on. And on. Often giving up my sleep—all-nighters for the win, right? The faculty acted as if this wasn’t only normal, but to be expected as a prerequisite for success.

Half way through 2008, I seriously considered throwing myself in front of a car to be a valid alternative to going to class.

It wasn’t even that I was suicidal. I don’t think. But I was exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. And by ignoring my exhaustion for about 18 months, I had lost the capacity for normal emotions about a class. I had lost most of the capacity to think straight. I say “most,” because in the moment I was about to take that step, something in my mind went “WTF ARE YOU DOING?????!!!!!!!” and I had a moment of clarity.

I crossed the street and skipped class. Instead I went to administration and changed my degree.

But here’s the thing. The damage was done.

3) Medium term exhaustion leads to long term damage. 


So I had taken myself out of the nightmare degree and made sure to get more sleep. Did that make me feel better?

No more than quitting smoking after being diagnosed cures lung cancer.

My mom not-so-secretly thought I was taking drugs because, simply put, I was broken more than a year after leaving that degree.

I literally can’t remember the second semester of my second year (2008). I know I passed most of my subjects, but the one I failed... It’s like a hole in my brain. I can’t even remember sitting for the exam.

I had issues at fencing practice in 2009. Why? Because parrying and self-defense is important if you want to win. And my self-preservation instincts had been all but destroyed. I could literally see the hits coming in, but my brain just wouldn’t react defensively.

My short term memory was blown.

And worse, I, a trivia queen, couldn’t recall whole chunks of the knowledge I’ve gathered over my entire life.

In the end, the only thing that stopped me from being clinically diagnosed with depression in 2010 (I think. Kinda hazy on the date there.) was the fact that I had 3D awareness in the psychologist’s test.

Everything else was blown to hell, as a direct result of my exhaustion.

I knew something was wrong, but didn’t realize how bad it was until the psychologist gave me a four digit phrase that I couldn’t repeat back five seconds after I’d heard it.

When did I start to feel normal? 2013.

As in a whole five years after I had quit exhausting myself. 18 months of damage, five years of recovery.

4) Exhaustion is like boiling a frog.


Yeah, I know quite a few of you might be thinking Oh this would never be as bad for me. I’m in total control. 

The thing is, pushing yourself through exhaustion isn’t a once-off. It’s cumulative. You know the analogy of boiling frogs, right?

Toss a frog into boiling water and it jumps out. Put it in cold water and then put it to boil.

It’s the same thing with exhaustion. Every time we push through, we’re tiring ourselves out just a little bit more.

And you might be thinking Huh. This isn’t that bad. But that’s just you acclimating yourself to your new normal of exhaustion.

If there isn’t a finite, certain end to the causes of your exhaustion, your new normal might end up being the complete destruction of your health and mind.

So when it’s looking like the crap that’s exhausting you just isn’t ending, the logical reaction isn’t to carry on.

It’s to pace yourself. To take a step back and pare back to the absolute minimum so that you can get to the end with most of yourself intact. Life is hard enough as a marathon, without you doing repeated 100m sprints as you go.

What about you? Do you have a tendency to push yourself too far? How do you deal with exhaustion? 

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Importance of Stepping Back

Hey lovely people! My vlog post ended up coming a week late, because I caught the flu. Sigh. Really complicated everything. It's finally done, though, so I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Going off of the comments I got last time, I decided to keep posting my script below the video for those of you who prefer to read.

And if you're not a Blogger user who somehow got to this blog, you can find this same post on Wordpress here.


I want to talk about a really understated bit of advice that can be vital to your survival as a writer. Namely: That sometimes, you just need to step back, take your foot off the gas pedal.

As you might know from my more recent vlog updates, things haven’t been going well with me lately. Basically, nothing has been quite going my way since 2014, but that was okay, because I was taught that old truism that we all get fed with mother’s milk:

If you work hard, everything will work out. 


Eh…

Turns out not so much.

See, in the years since 2014, I’d worked 16 hour days, often more in order to do more, and I’d do that until I was on the edge of breaking emotionally. I never stopped writing. Never stopped building at businesses and marketing and literally anything that I *knew* would get me ahead.

And it just kept feeling like everything was turning to dust under my feet.

The worst part? None of the hours I’d spent, of the health I’d risked, of the life I’d postponed… none of it actually meant anything.

Because there are always assholes out to get you. And they will steal your life and your hours of work and your very soul if they can, just to benefit themselves.

So yeah. After relentlessly pushing myself for almost four years, there came a point where I just…couldn’t. Not going to go into detail, but I came to the point where I was so exhausted that I couldn’t fight anymore.

I couldn’t keep acting like everything was okay and that it was business as usual, because it wasn’t.

And so, I pulled back. From as much as I could. Obviously there are some commitments you can’t avoid without incurring long-term damage, but if there was something I could leave with a cost I could tolerate, I did it.

This sadly included my writing, because the stresses of my life had basically drained my creativity. So instead of forcing myself to write, I forced myself not to. Instead, I spent my writing hours doing needlepoint or crocheting. Anything with an almost mindless, repetitive motion.

What this did was it allowed me to grieve. It allowed me to feel. It let me process my pain and frustration instead of allowing me to suppress them like I’d been doing for years. It put me in a place where I could regain some perspective. Where I could look at the problems and at least get to the point where I could see the value in the things I was doing again.

And that’s probably the most important thing about stepping back. When we’re writers, we basically take on an extra job, and when we’re published, marketing that book becomes another job. Which means that it’s go go go go all the time with no stopping, and when things aren’t going as well as they should, it’s so easy to be overwhelmed. It’s too easy to lose the meaning of what we’re doing in the mad rush to get it all done.

So it becomes imperative that we step back and breathe at least for a few days, just to regain a sense of balance before taking everything on again.

What do you do to recharge when you're pulling back? 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Update Day, May 2017

Hey all! I decided I'm going to try something different today. As you know, I have been vlogging for a while, but I also realized that not everyone can watch the video whenever they visit my blog. 

So today, I decided to put the video up top, and then follow it with the script from which the video is based. Please let me know what you think of this format!


Gosh, I can’t believe how much time has been flying by lately. It seemed like a few days ago that I last posted a vlog update, so I was quite shocked to see that it was three months ago. But there you go. Sometimes life and time get in the way, and the next thing you know, it’s the end of May. Ugh. Untentional rhyme.

But because we’re now on the last Friday of May, it’s time for me to share an update for my GotGoals bloghop. In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about…

I’m co-hosting a bloghop with Jen and Brittney, where we set some crazy, big or just really important writerly goals. Then on the last Friday of the month, we post updates on the progress we’ve made.

I also find it useful to set smaller monthly goals, which I then use as stepping stones toward my bigger goals.



So how did I do? 

Well, for the fact that I somehow completely let time get away from me this month, surprisingly well. Okay so I have to say that I didn’t set the bar particularly high, because I was trying to find my feet after quite a lot of crap. But I did say I wanted to write an average of five minutes per day.

And you know what? I hit that average on day two. It’s funny how averages work that way.

That said, the one thing that did take a hit this month was my freelancing. I’ve basically been endlessly working on some job or the other for the past three months, then got a big job at the end of last month and then… crickets. The frustrating thing is that I got that job and it was supposed to take two weeks, but my client hit a snag with the content I’m supposed to format. It’s really not her fault or anything like that, but the net effect is that I’m stuck waiting for her to get back to me. I know eventually that’ll get done, though, so it’s nice to know the money is still hanging around somewhere, waiting for me.

Then I went from nothing to having three jobs to do, but they all only came in over this past weekend, so I will only be able to record the income in June.

So things are really not going badly, but the sudden three week silence really got to me, because I’ve let everything else fall by the way-side over the past few months. It’s really annoying when I wish I could say I spent my empty days writing, but no, they were all spent catching up on a huge admin backlog.

I just realized that if I want to make any progress to the next level, and… you know, actually have more than five minutes a day to write, I need to get some help in. Luckily for me, I have an awesome brother who wants some flexible part time hours while he studies, et voila. I now have an assistant who’s going to help me keep everything rolling on schedule.

Which means that I’ll be able to regularly update as well. Eh…hopefully.

So with that in mind, next month’s goals: 


1) Write an average of 10 minutes every day.
2) Earn $1000 of writing or publishing related income.
3) Weekly updates to my vlog.
4) Sort out the snarling mess that is my social networks as a whole.

That’s it from me for this month. Please do leave me a comment about today's post structure. And how did your month go? Got any crazy writing goals that you’re chasing down? If you'd like to join the bloghop, you can find more information here

Monday, May 22, 2017

Putting Your Memories into the Story by Yolanda Renée

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Yolanda Renée to the Five Year Project as part of her blog tour for her new book, The Snowman. Take it away, Yolanda!

Putting Your Memories into the Story


Write what you know, we’ve all been told to do this, and I do it consistently. No, I don’t know anything about killing a person, or catching the culprit, at least personally, but I have studied and researched the topic. However, I do know a little about Alaska since I’ve lived there, and thanks to Google maps I can explore new and interesting places that I haven’t visited. I described 4th Avenue, written as Fourth Avenue, in my story because I could see it from my bedroom window when I lived in Anchorage, and yes it held some very risqué establishments. I’ve also purchased Alaskan Pottery that’s featured in the Reincarnation Chapter. I’ve visited several of the parks, Stowy’s favorite body dumping sites, such as Earthquake Park, a park created after the 1964, 9.4 earthquake that caused a residential neighborhood to slid into the ocean.

One of my first introduction to the state was the immense size of the bears that greet you as you walk through the Anchorage airport. Polar Bears, Kodiak’s, and grizzlies all skillfully preserved by taxidermists, (Stowy’s chosen hobby) all very intimidating.

I do that with all my stories, put a little of my memories into the mix, even statements once made to me by unsuspecting friends, or co-workers. Like when I first told folks that I was visiting Alaska during vacation. “Why would you want to visit that forsaken iceberg?” A former boss asked. I couldn’t believe his ignorance about our 49th state, but I never forgot his statement and allowed Fern Jenkins to use it when describing where she’d rather spend Thanksgiving.

“Don’t be foolish. Home is where Thanksgiving happens. Here. Not some forsaken iceberg.”

Another interesting side note might be the story as to how Stowy Jenkins got his name, Stone. I took that from a story my father told me about his father. How he’d taken my dad out to learn how to swim in an old coal mining quarry and threw him in. It was sink or swim! He swam, of course, but Stowy claims to have sunk like a rock – hence his nickname, Stone. This is a family story that I allowed Stowy to appropriate. He needed a good lie, and I’m sure way back when, that learning to swim in West Virginia happened this way more than once. Yes, my family is originally from West Virginia, and the name Stowy, is a family name. Another of my writing habits, using family names. . .

Writing what you know isn’t that difficult and I think it makes fiction writing all the more real! What do you think? Do you use your life in your stories? Please share a story or two in the comments.

Thanks, Misha, for hosting The Snowman Tour!

About Yolanda Renée



At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.

Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

You can connect with me here:

Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email


It takes a true artist to pursue his victims in the art of seduction, and Stowy Jenkins is no exception, especially with blood as his medium.

Stowy Jenkins, aka, Stone, and as Alaskans refer to him, the Snowman, is a true artist. His muse, Gigi, is the ultimate inspiration for his painting. Her rejection inspires him to use a very unusual medium…blood.

While art may be his passion, the taste for blood is his obsession, and multiple murders, the result.

Rookie, Detective Steven Quaid, is no fan of the Snowman’s murderous exhibitions. A twisted and deadly relationship bond the two men and neither knows who will come out of it alive.

Buy on Amazon

Thanks for visiting, Yolanda! It's always nice to have you stop by. :-) 

What about you, awesome readers? Do you include your memories in your writing?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Back, and I've brought back-up.

Hey lovely people.

So as I mentioned before, things are going better here, but I've still been quiet.

The reason for this is rather silly and kind of good, but annoying all the same.

The truth is, I've been so busy with freelancing jobs that I haven't been able to even so much as look at any of my social networks for almost two months. The only exception being my monthly update posts, and even that one I almost missed in April because I was so busy and exhausted.

In fact, it's come to the point where I didn't know how to get ahead again. I already had my first inkling back when I first hit my $500 goal.

I'd made it and that's *AMAZING*, but I only just made it. As in, I hardly had any time left after doing the work. But for the past few months, I've been doing month after month at around a $300 level, but unable to break through the barrier simply because I'm not ready to raise my rates to make more money per job, but I don't have more time to work either. And the worst is, it's not actually the work that's killing me. It's all the admin that comes with it.

But then I had a bright idea.

My brother was talking about how he wants a really nice and flexible part-time job while he studies, and I realized I could really offer him that. In exchange for a fixed percentage of my writing/editing income, he's going to start working for me for a month to see if we can make things work.

If it does work out and we can streamline the work, I might finally be able to do more, and finish my book, and actually have time to visit blogs etc. etc. And if that's the case, he can actually make a really nice income right along with me, all while studying at the same time.

I'm really excited about this, because it might be an excellent way to expand the overall publishing business that is me.

How are you guys doing?


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Update Day: DOH!

Sigh.

It's finally happened. After three years, I finally managed to forget my own bloghop. >_<

I remembered on Thursday and then yesterday, I had to clean out the garage (it was a public holiday in South Africa) and I was so exhausted by the end of it (huge garage... looooooooooots of stuff) that I completely forgot about literally everything I was supposed to do.

Sorry!

But I have to at least give a bit of an update, so here's my Update Day post anyhow. For those of you wondering what all this is about, a bunch of us have set some huge or just super important goals. On the last Friday of every month, we post updates on how we're doing. The accountability and encouragement just does wonders.

You're more than welcome to sign up. All you have to do is click here.


Last month, I decided to be a bit more kind to myself than I was lately, so I haven't really set much in the way of writing and money goals. 

It's just hard to chase down goals (impossible, even) if you're barely able to keep going because it feels like you're drowning. 

To give you an idea of where I was this past month, you can check out my previous post. It wasn't pretty. 

But then you guys reminded me that sometimes, it's just necessary to step back. So I decided to go quiet. To stop pushing and prodding myself. 

I picked up my needlework again because the repetition of stitch after stitch just soothes me. And good thing, because there's about 250,000 stitches to my current project.

And slowly, without me really realizing it, I started to feel better. 

So for this month, I'm going to see if I can maintain what I've been managing lately, plus a few minutes of writing every day. Let's say five minutes.

Just a simple addition, to see if I can ease myself in as simply and as painfully as possible. 

How are you doing?  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Paralysis

I want to write a blog post today, because I know it's good for me. The thing is, I'm struggling. Maybe I'm burned out, but it feels like my words have become a hopelessly tangled heap of strings, and every string I pull brings out a whole host of strings I didn't want to see.

So I guess the words are there (which is new for me.) It's just that there are too many of them. Too many emotions. But hey, it's April so it's unlikely that a lot of you will read this post anyway. So I get to just air some words and see what comes out. 

The truth is, I feel stuck. I've mentioned that my life by and large sucks at the moment, which is fair enough, but until recently, I've always had writing to give me a sense of movement. As long as I made progress on my work in progress, that was okay, because then I was actually working toward something. 

But that also meant that I have been flirting on the edge of burning out for a long time. And by a long time, I mean basically from March 2014. Maybe even earlier. 

The thing is, that thing I mentioned before with my family member who spectacularly fucked us over... It gave me a good old shove into the abyss, and now I'm here with no idea about how to get out. 

And if I'm honest, I might actually be self-sabotaging. 

See in the aftermath, I tried to sit down and write, because I know it's good for me. Because I need to feel like at least something is moving in the wrong direction and.... Nothing. Like... even the notes I'd left for myself to guide me toward the end of the story feel like some other parson wrote them. When I think about writing right now, I just feel... numb. 

And I hate it. So instead of writing, I spent the most of the past month doing nothing. It's not that I'm lazy per se. I'm still working, editing for people, formatting for people...that sort of thing. But when it comes to doing something for myself, something that could actually get me climbing out of the abyss again, I basically stare at the ladder out and do nothing. 

Maybe I've been knocked down one time too many. And although things are starting to go a bit better, I don't feel better. I feel like life is right there, dancing around and waiting for me to get onto my feet so it can hit me in the face again. And honestly, I don't see the attraction of it. 

Three years. 

Three whole fucking years of this shit. 

Two weeks ago was the third anniversary of getting my rights back from Etopia Press. So yes, it's almost exactly three years since everything went to hell, because the crap with Etopia was the start. And man, I fought. I fought like a lion. Things went bad and I wrote more. 

But here I am now, and I don't know if I have anything left. Because everything I do feels like I'm just setting myself up for more harm. 

So I do nothing. 

I stare without blinking and fill my hours with nonsense. Not reaching for the ladder out of the abyss because I don't want to face whatever is waiting for me up there. 

Because that's one thing I can say about being down here. If I don't think about it too much, the paralysis is at least peaceful.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Update Day at Last

Hey guys,

So I promised to post my update on Monday, but my headache only started to fade yesterday (and I also had yesterday as a deadline for an editing job that. would. not. get. done.)

For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, me, Jen and Brittney host a bloghop where everyone sets some crazy or crazy important goals. Then on the last Friday of every month, we post updates on how we're doing.

If you'd like to see who's taking part or to sign up, please click here.


So how I did...

In a word... crap. 

I think last month counted as one of the worst in my entire life, due to some personal reasons, which made it almost impossible for me to work efficiently, which in turn made it impossible for me to write, 

So. None of my goals reached. 

And if my personal life wasn't bad enough, my country's president literally fucked us all over by sacking most of his cabinet for a bunch of yes-men, thereby dumping our country in junk status. 

On Friday, it's looking like the whole country might be shutting down in protest as the ruling party has seen it fit to protect the president instead of our democracy. 

So... Fun times. 

Guys... I'm tired.

Just when I think I've dealt with my burn-out, some asshat comes up with a match and some kerosene. 

Maybe I'm pulling this thing on way too much, but I don't know what's scaring me more: everyone complaining and doing nothing while the president destroys our constitution or everyone rising up to the point where everything else but the constitution gets destroyed. Because as it is right now, I'm kinda feeling like it could go either way.

But yeah, thoughts and prayers could go a long way.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hi guys.

I haven't forgotten about my own bloghop, but I've been hit with a migraine this morning that's basically thrown my whole schedule out. As such, I'm going to postpone my post to Monday.

Sorry!

Misha

Friday, March 17, 2017

Getting Back to Basics

I briefly considered writing this post for my other blog (you know, the one that actually is supposed to contain musings about my life), but I put that one on hiatus more than a year ago, and I feel bad to take it off hiatus for what could potentially be only one post.

So here we are.

I've been really quiet. Mostly I just needed a break. The events of the past two weeks just really brought me to a brink I didn't like being on. A kind of mute terror that nothing would ever be okay again.

And no, I'm not being dramatic.

One day, I might actually write about this time here, but if you'd like to know exactly what's going on, I have a post about it on my Patreon feed, which you can get to (as well as some awesome rewards) for a $1 subscription pledge. Eek. That looks like a plug. It's really not. I don't like keeping secrets from you guys, but what's going on right now is so ugly that I can't just post it out in public. Patreon is a balance of both, offering easy access to those who really want to know while keeping it relatively private so it can't just come up whenever someone searches my name.

For those of you who'd rather like to skip to the current point I'm making: The shit situation continues, but I'm picking myself up (again) and dusting myself off (again) and getting on with getting on (again.)

Sometimes, it's really hard, almost impossible to do that. Especially when I've been knocked down and back so many times that I'm about a hair's breadth away from losing all faith in humanity. Because the most frustrating thing about all this is that I didn't put myself here. 

But I have to get out somehow and I can't do that if I keep wallowing in the rage I feel toward the growing list of people who've wronged me and those I love. I can't get out if I don't have hope that one day, something I or someone in my family did will pan out. I also can't do it if I'm snowing myself under with a laundry list of expectations when some days, just the act of getting up for the day feels like a chore.

So now I'm going back to basics. If I feel like I'm too burned out to write, I don't write. I've scrapped my publishing deadline for Book 3 because it's already too close and I really don't need the extra pressure. I'm putting in more time with my freelance work which, while still not quite in the "it's taken off" category, still is doing well enough to give me hope that it will take off in the near future. I'm cutting out as much negativity as I can.

This means willing myself not to dwell on the past, and particularly not this most recent thing. I let myself feel them, but then I remind myself I have to move on and do that instead. But also, I've found that the Trump election has turned a lot of people in my social networks (on all sides of the political divide) into toxic people to have contact with.

So I'm culling them out of my feed.

It's nothing personal, but for the sake of my own well-being, I'm doing what I must in order to keep myself in as good an emotional shape as I can.

Because I can still move for as long as I can function on some level.

And if being ruthless with my culling and stingy with my time is what it takes to just get anything done, so be it.

It's already helped too. Because here I am, writing when on IWSG day I could barely even type out a sentence without crying.

There is hope. There is progress.

Onward.

How about you? How do you deal when life gets really difficult? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Writer's Life for Me Tag

Hey everyone.

Still somehow alive and kicking, although part of me doesn't feel like that. But... you know... keeping on keeping on.

As part of that, I decided to take part in the Writer's Life for Me Tag, and since I got tagged on YouTube, I thought I'd do it as a vlog.

Enjoy!



What are your three best pieces of writing advice?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Holy Crap I Forgot It's IWSG

I wish I was kidding, but sadly, I'm not. The first of the month always catches me for some reason, because my brain seems to believe that the first Wednesday for the month must be the third or later. *facepalm*

No idea what I'm talking about?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a monthly bloghop taking place on the first Wednesday of every month. About two hundred writers are part of the IWSG, sharing our doubt, fears, insecurities and encouragement to let everyone else know that actually, they're not all that alone after all.

You're more than welcome to join, if you'd like. Click here for more information or to sign up.


So. 

Because I already eloquently explained myself last week by vlog, I'm going to re-post here. I did try to keep a brave face on everything, but by the end of the first third or so, I'm basically going into where I really am in my life at the moment. 

Spoiler alert, it's not pretty. (Also, this isn't family rated. Just so you know. And yes, the f-bombs I dropped actually did make me feel better. My mom always asks me that. No idea why.)



Since I'm just going to let that do the talking for me instead of writing again (because I've *just* managed to not burst into tears at the thought and writing about it again would open the scab, so to speak), I figured I'd answer this month's question for those of you who'd rather not see/hear me.

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes, I have. A long long time ago, I finished a rewrite to a book shortly after I finished rewriting Doorways. For those of you who weren't visiting my blog at that time, The Vanished Knight + The Heir's Choice = Doorways. 

It wrote like a dream. I backed up. 

I was backing up the file for the last time when something (and don't ask me what) went wrong. The entire file disappeared, replaced with an empty one of the same name. 

I was heartbroken. So much so that I decided to just shelf the whole project until I could look at it without mourning the project I'd had. 

It took about five years before I decided to look at that thing again, and by then, I'd grown so much as a writer that I ended up redrafting the whole thing from scratch, keeping only the characters and about half of the concept. 

Any you know what? I love it even more than I loved it before. I've started editing it and working on it with critique partners and they've enjoyed it too. 

But... it's still a to be continued when it comes to knowing if it worked out. It's not shelved per se, but because of my lack of time and the abundance of crap in my life as is mentioned in the vlog above, I just haven't been able to get to it when I'm supposed to be finishing the sequel to The Heir's Choice. But one day... Hopefully in this year... 

What about you? Did you ever rework an old story? Any good news to share? Really in need of some good news. 

One update I should mention: the business plan is in with the possible investor, so prayers would be appreciated. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Update Day: February Edition

Sigh. I really hate being late for my own bloghop, but technical difficulties made it impossible for me to post yesterday.

But here I am.

I decided to do a vlog post for the update. So I hope you enjoy it. :-)

For those of you who would like more information on the Got Goals? Bloghop and to sign up, please click here.







How did your February go? What are your plans for March?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Got a new vlog post up...

Hey everyone! I'm still getting used to the whole vlogging thing, and since I'm still new on YouTube, I thought I'd do more of an about-me kind of post.

So I shared a bit of information about me, my writing, as well as what I'm planning to read soon.

Enjoy!



What are you reading at the moment?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I'm at Untethered Realms Today.

Hey everyone!

Just a heads-up that I'm at Untethered Realms, talking about how I deal with empty pages. See you there!

Misha

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group

For those of you unfamiliar with the Insecure Writer's Support Group... A couple of hundred writers from around the blogosphere have signed up to this bloghop, which is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Then, on the first Wednesday of every month, we share our insecurities and/or encouragements.

This month, I'm co-hosting the IWSG Bloghop along with LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy, and Joylene Butler

Before I get into my post, though, I just have two more spots of admin to get through. 

First, I'm also visiting Ronel Janesen van Vuuren today, sharing some of my thoughts on Patreon

Then, if you'd rather read this exact same post on Wordpress, please click here

Right. Now that's done, let's get into it, shall we? 



As you may or may not know, I've recently started taking this being-a-writer thing seriously. Like... really really seriously. 

Like... I'm-being-a-writer-for-90%-of-my-time-and-using-my-writing-skills-to-earn-99%-of-my-income seriously. 

And how's it going? 

Surprisingly well, money wise. I basically started from scratch in September. And in January, I've made my country's minimum wage for the first time. 

Which is AMAZE-BALLS. You guys can't imagine how happy I am with that. 

Except. 

Most of that money's coming from me freelancing as an editor/formatter/cover designer (which I totally see as writing skills, because all of the above are needed for me to make it as a writer.) 

Not so much from selling books. 

But that's okay, because I always knew I should start of making money as I can and spending money on marketing etc for my books in order to grow my readership. 

Here's the thing, though... Growing my readership will actually happen when I have my next book out. Which I can't get to when my freelance list fills up out of nowhere. 

And I can't market my old books until I have them updated. Which some of you might now be chortling about, because I've been saying I'll update the books since May last year. And the cause of the delay? 

Newsletters. Website. I have no money to pay someone to design either, and because people are hiring me for a ton of stuff they don't have time for, I don't have the time to do either of those two myself. 

And I can't link to them unless I have them set up. So I can't update my books to include the links. 

See? One giant bowl of I-really-have-no-time spaghetti. 

So now, I'm trying to make writing time, which is making me feel bad, because the whole reason why I decided to go full-time was that I WANTED TO HAVE TIME TO WRITE! 

*gasp gasp gasp*

How do you deal with everything trying to steal your writing time? Any advice for me?