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Thursday Thirteen (TT#53)

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

Thirteen Things about BLOGGING that WRITERS get Wrong
I’m guilty of some of these–I think we all probably are. If you read authors’ blogs, what turns you off?

1.BUY ME!! BUY ME!!! BUY ME!!! All the time, all caps, no other content whatsoever.

2.BUY MY FRIEND!!!! When they haven’t read the book themselves.

3.Going to another site — say a reviewer who didn’t care for your book or a ”competing” author — and posting anonymously about how FABULOUS the poorly received book was, or how TERRIBLE said competition is.

4.Sending all their fangirls over to another site to start a flame war.

5.Ridiculing readers, posting fan letters and making fun of them, talking down to readers like they’re stupid.

6. Trash reviewers who didn’t like your book.

7.TMI – Let’s just say I don’t want to read about an author’s personal sex life.

8. An honest author who has a terribly abrasive attitude that turns off readers to the point they refuse to buy the author’s books any longer.

9.Endless posts about depression, angst, sales numbers. Don’t get me wrong–I appreciate honesty and love to read about other writers’ struggles, becaue it makes me feel like I’m not alone. But CONSTANT downers turn people–readers–off.

10.Spam all the commenters by saving their e-mail addys and adding them to your newsletter.

11.Causing a flame war just because you believe negative publicity is better than none.

12.Irregular updates don’t encourage people to come back.

13. An attempt to be funny or snarky that ends up sounding jaded and bitter.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It

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Writing Scared

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

Anybody who’s been afraid of a book and feels paralyzed by the writing, please go read this entry on Tracy MacNish’s blog, especially Laura Kinsale’s comment. (link courtesy of Kate Rothwell)

Instead of an iguana, I have Gregar snarling at me with a wicked-sharp rahke in his hand. I can’t wait to head to that beach with him. How could I be afraid–even of RHP (Arcana)–with him beside me?

Which begs the question: a lot of you have no idea who Gregar is and why he’s my muse. Why he haunts and torments me with that vicious white knife. Maybe I should polish up some backstory I wrote for him ages ago and post it for Friday Snippets while I write his book. I hesitate to call it a short story, because it’s really not. It’s backstory, important and meaningful to only me. Still, if I think about it hard enough, I bet I could come up with a real “arc” that would be interesting without giving away too many spoilers to the Shanhasson series. We shall see.

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Busy Work

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

I got a lot accomplished last night; unfortunately, very little of it was “writing,” at least as far as new words were concerned.

I polished the synopsis and first 35 pages of Letters and shipped it off to another contest. Yeah, I’m insane and a glutton for punishment. But I love this story too much to sit around moaning about it. For long, at least. :D At least I’ll get feedback from this contest, and if nothing else, it made me sit down and finalize my plans for the revision.

Then I prepared ARCs for The Fire Within and The Rose of Shanhasson and requested several reviews. We’re targeting mid February for TFW and early March for Rose. We’re still working on covers and hope to do some interesting things, so stay tuned.

I also created a page for the Sha’Kae al’Dan, one of the cultures in Rose with a special language. I even found a really old myth I wrote about the Great Wind Stallion. I’ll polish it tonight and get it up, too.

I’m also trying to get back into a modified Dark and Early schedule, say 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. a couple of days a week. Once I get into the flow, I’ll do Letters in the morning and outline Road at night.

That’s the plan for February. Let’s see how many holes I can shoot in it before the end of the month. ;-)

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Fess Up Monday

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

It’s been awhile since I fessed up, because I didn’t think I had that much to report.

January was a bust in many ways. I didn’t get up Dark and Early (D&E) to write. I felt sluggish, sleepy, and lazy for most of the month. I didn’t come out the gate fast and hard like I planned, so I was rather bummed. Then came the last of the Brava contest finalists, of which Letters was not included, and my well-laid plans for the year had definitely gone awry.

However, looking back at January, I actually accomplished quite a lot, if not what I expected. I finished a first draft of the Arcana project plan, no easy feat. I got a few opening passages written. Yeah, they need a lot of work and the rhythm of the speech isn’t right yet, but I’m not going to stew about it now. There are some really good elements in there.

I finished a massive read, Passion by Jude Morgan, at 661 pages, and also finished The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. Awesome books.

Then I developed a project plan to revise Letters by adding Conn’s POV. This wasn’t as easy as I thought. I’ve got 16 new sections outlined for Letters, as well as 14 existing sections to revise into his POV. I added another subplot with his best friend. All in all, I might have enough to get me to 80K. That’s what I’m hoping.

Meanwhile, I completed the second and third pass of editor revisions on The Rose of Shanhasson, another brief pass on The Fire Within, as well as extensive discussions on cover, promo, etc. with Deena at Drollerie Press. We’ve got some awesome things lined up for this month and next, not to mention gorgeous covers we’ll be unveiling soon.

I also overhauled my website. Although it still needs work, it’s streamlined and much faster to load.

Including all the prework for Arcana, I ended up with over 17K new words.

All in all, not a bad month. In February, I’m shifting priorities. I worked over the weekend to get Letters in shape for a contest. I’ll be entering it tonight. Then my goal is to finish the expansion this month, while I work on the outline and Day Sheet for book 2, The Road to Shanhasson. I wasn’t sure where it’d fit in the year’s goals, but it was always on my list to write this year. After discussing a plan with Deena, I moved this priority up higher so we could tentatively slate its release for September.

I’ll also be sending out review requests for both Rose and Fire over the next few weeks.

In my free time, *snort* I’ll revise the Arcana plan and try to get a full “proposal” written, first 3 chapters. I think that will make it easier to come back to once I get Road finished.

So what’s the biggest thing you accomplished in January, and what are you working on in February?

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Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

Once upon a time, I refused to buy a fantasy tome if it didn’t have a nice map in the front of the book.

So of course I have maps of the Shanhasson world — which if you read yesterday’s post, you know I had a tiny bit of a panic situation. I drew new copies in ink so I could scan them easier for Deena, so I thought I’d upload them and show off my very meager (aka lousy) cartography skills.

If anyone can recommend an easy to use map drawing software, shout it out, please.

This is the main map of the region including the Green Lands, the Sea of Grass, and Keldar. Keldar is familiar if you’ve read Survive My Fire; the other countries will be introduced in The Rose of Shanhasson.

This is a close-up map of Shannari’s homeland, Allandor, a country in the loose federation known as the Green Lands. While raised in Rashan, she’s the Last Daughter and fights for the High Throne in Shanhasson.

I really, really, really wish I could draw!

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Panic Attack

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

I started using a control journal last year for my writing with mixed results. I really do like the idea and am trying to use one again this year, but something truly horrifying occurred to me today.

If I’m using a binder to control all my writing, and all my current stories are in there, and I LOSE IT…..

When I switched to Arcana (RHP) at the beginning of this year, I moved some stuff to a new 3-ring binder because I needed a large one for all the research notes. I’ve got several other binders, a few 3″ monsters, with everything from “how to” notes and interesting articles. Of course, my annual plan is already shot to hell with changed priorities, and that monster binder isn’t as useful now because I’m not working on Arcana for awhile.

Then Deena sent me a little innocent query today about whether I had a map of the world containing Keldar and Shanhasson.

Of course I do! But … er… I couldn’t find it.

I looked everywhere. I have dozens of binders. None of them contained the map of the Green Lands, or the map of Keldar I drew for Survive My Fire. Ironically, I filed a bunch of stuff around the first of the year so I could find it easier, yet I didn’t have a Shanhasson or Keldar folder. AT ALL.

Oh, and where were my notes on the Maya story I wrote for NaNoWriMo? Gone, too. I found my 2007 goals, several calendars from last year. Weren’t those in the control journal, and if so, where was the rest of it?

I could redraw the maps. But it was the sentimental loss that was killing me. Those maps were *years* old. I’d expanded, scribbled, doodled, dreamed… The thought of all those dreams, lost, forever–made me physically ill.

We left for dinner out and I began redrawing the maps. I must have been pretty upset, because That Man promised that whoever found my binder could have a trip to Toys R Us. He even helped look when we got home. The oldest and youngest monsters looked for awhile, but Hannah Montana was on, and they quickly disappeared. Middle Monster persevered, though. She kept coming back to the new maps I’d drawn to refresh her memory of what they looked like. It was so cute. She brought me dozens of papers and binders to examine, but none of them contained the missing map.

I’d pretty much given up. Maybe I’d left it at the in-laws at the lake. No, no, one of the monsters must have run off with it, and cut it up for mosaics or something and I’d never see it again.

Then Middle Monster came running from her room with a green binder containing all my notes. She’d found it stuffed in a plastic container beneath Littlest Monster’s bed. I hugged her until I bawled. So the priceless amatuerish maps are safe in hand, and Middle Monster gets to pick out her prize tomorrow.

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Pangs of Doubt

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

January is proving to be rather grim. I’ve blamed a variety of things–time change, cold weather, weird (tornado) weather–but I think it all comes down to one thing: self doubt.

The current project is outside my comfort zone, which is definitely not a bad thing. We need to grow, and I wanted to challenge myself with this “fantasy Regency” crossbreed. However, I doubt that I have an authentic historical voice. When I mention this project to others, they’re surprised that I’m working on a historical. I’m rather surprised myself.

The premise is fantastic. I’ve got a 3-ring binder packed with notes. I’ve drawn castles and maps, researched Crusades, castles, alchemy, and of course, the Regency era. I’ve read tons of Regencies over the years, from Christina Dodd to Amanda Quick to Jenna Petersen. Of course I’ve read the original Jane Austen. I own P&P (both recent versions) and S&S on DVD. My first short stories were Regencies, and they both were contracted by Arabella before they went belly up.

I really thought I could do this.

But as I begin drafting words in January, the doubt creeps in. Whatever I do, I’m going to sound like an American (from the hicks of Missouri!!). I’m not ever going to have an authentic British voice, and that’s okay. This story is NOT a traditional Regency, far from it. Yet I also don’t want a “fluff” Regency. i.e. throw a few slang words in from the Regency lexicon and describe the clothes a few times, and voila. It’s Regency! I hate that. If my characters were naked through the whole book, would anybody realize it was a Regency setting?

That’s what I’m afraid of. Which means I don’t have much to show in January yet, only 4,260 in actual new words (2,656 in outlining the story, which still isn’t finished, by the way). I’m torn. The fantasy elements of this “Regency” are very strong. I hoped they’d be enough to outweigh the obvious, that I’m not a historical writer, but perhaps not. Perhaps I should just make the damned story fantasy loosely based on a Regency-like culture.

Reading the fantastic The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne and Passion by Jude Morgan has only increased my doubt.

Is this doubt justified, or merely my mind searching for a way to do something easier? Should I set this project aside yet again and work on something else, or keep plugging away? Decisions, decisions.

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Need More Proof?

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

Lynn Viehl’s Evermore hit the bestseller lists! #96 USA Today; #21 NYT extended.

Again, if you haven’t read this series yet, here’s your chance. Comment to win the entire series! (Details here.)

As for the Thursday Thirteeners… Sorry. I forgot today was Thursday! *slaps self* I told you guys I’ve been in a bit of a fog lately.

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January Slog

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

[Comment this week to win Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series, including her latest release, Evermore! Details here.]

I was hoping this month would be extremely productive; instead, I’m struggling to get much work done at all. I’m still draggingly tired, even when catching up on sleep over the weekends. Forget about trying to get up at 4:00 a.m. Even 5:00 a.m. is proving quite challenging. In fact, most days it’s all I can do to get up and get ready for work.

I even went to bed at 9:30 p.m. last night! That’s huge. Did I make it D&E this morning? Nope. I’m blaming the bad weather we had two nights ago. That truly was a rough night for sleep with all three monsters up throughout the night.

So I’m having to get a little creative to squeeze in my writing. When events conspire against you and interfere with your goals, what do you to to turn the tide and get some of the magic back?