Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another year's progress, 2013 edition

I don't usually get retrospective at the end of the year -- I have random attacks of it. I suppose it's reasonable that randomness would line up with year's end once in a while. 2013 has been a busy year.

Looking back on a year's journey.
Photo by Sara Moses, available @ sxc.hu
Self-published two books.

Made major changes in my life.

Spoke as a writer, for the first time, at a workshop.

Started offering my services as a graphic designer, ebook converter, and proofer.

Wrote two novellas, two short stories, working on a third novella, and made major revisions to manuscripts from previous years. 160,000 words written in 2013 may sound like a lot... well, it is a lot, okay, but it's only about half what I wrote in 2012. I lost at least a month over the summer to hang-ups with my second publication, and was in the doldrums through the autumn. Still struggling for focus, to be honest, with my WIP.

But it was a good year. In 2014, I intend to...

Keep critiquing over at Unicorn Bell. My next week at the helm starts on the 6th -- get your 1,500 words in! (see the sidebar for where to send it)

Keep participating in the monthly Indie Life blogfest. I want self-publishers to have an accurate idea of the work involved -- and the rewards too. Those are in here somewhere, lol.

Self-publish at least two books, plus the Disciple Half-Omnibus. Look for that on February 1st and Disciple, Part IV on March 1st.

Send Hawks & Rams around to small presses and see if there's any interest.

Finish my WIP, revise it and the other two Jupiter Frontier stories, and see if I can get the idea codenamed "Bloodmagic" into a writable shape (it's feeling like a monster, but considering how I write that may just mean it's an actual novel, not a novella.) Tackle some of the hibernating ideas like "Continuum." Who knows. Anything could happen.

See you in the new year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Today's big announcement is over at my book blog,
Disciple of the Fount

And to properly credit the artist in the above banner, 
that is Alejandro Martinez whom you can find at DeviantArt.com
Check out the "painting speedies" folder in his gallery for more like this!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seeking a new unicorn

As you may know, I'm one of the regular moderators over at the Unicorn Bell blog. UB is a group effort by (currently) five writers who have one thing in common: we write. We hail from different genres and different parts of the US. We're self-publishers, small-press published, or unpublished. Our experiences and perspectives run the gamut, too.

Each of us hosts Unicorn Bell for a week at a time, in rotation, and each of us has our own approach to it. Personally, I offer long form critiques -- up to 1,500 words -- with my bitter, cynical eye. Other ladies prefer to crit first pages, or interview authors/agents/editors.

We're looking for more moderators. Writers who've been blogging regularly and are looking to get their name further out into the blogosphere. Can you spare a week every other month or so? Got an idea for a weekly blog theme?

If you're interested, email me at blankenship (dot) louise (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Indie life: Fell down the rabbit hole? Or crawled?

Welcome to Indie Life -- the second Wednesday of the month! Time to talk about the realities of self-publishing in the middle of the ongoing sea change that ebooks have wrought.

I posted sales numbers last month, so this time I'll talk about more abstract things...

Maybe this falls under "being a moody writer," but I go through phases. Sometimes I wake up wanting to engage the world, to see all that it has to offer, to suck the marrow from life (as Thoreau said...) and sometimes the world is just getting in my freaking way. It's just distracting me from the scenes I need to write and the notes I need to get down.

Sometimes once I manage to get the real world out of the way, my story's world is nowhere to be found.

That illusion of standing beside your characters and writing down what they do can get so fragile. It's especially frustrating when I know I've been deeper in the narrative dream than I am now. Writing Disciple was a breeze, in comparison to my current WIP. Feels like this story's fighting me, wandering off at the least provocation, fading like a dream that made me get out of bed and put my shoes on.

We all fear writer's block. Staring at an electronic sheet of paper with our minds as blank as it is. There are many supposed treatments and cures for writer's block, but I think it comes down to a much older bit of advice:

Know thyself
What gets your brain burbling? What inspires you? Is inspiration even how you power your writing? We all come into the writing world with preconceived notions about how writers (or artists in general) work. Those notions are based on movies, stories, biographies -- but the truth is, art is different for every artist.

You have to find your own way. To do that, you'll have to experiment and explore. Curiosity is a writer's best friend, IMO (and nosiness is a close cousin, lol.) Try new approaches, rearrange your schedule, meet new people. I once spoke briefly to a painter and he said something I've since realized was true: the universe will give you what you need for your art. (more thoughts on that) It may not arrive gift-wrapped, though. Go looking for it.

Some days, you don't fall down the rabbit hole. You have to jump. Or even crawl in on your hands and knees, scuffing your knees and elbows all the way.

And on a related note:

Be patient with yourself
This all takes a lot more time than it seems like it ought to. Ideas need time to develop and solidify, like a butterfly's wings after emerging from the chrysalis. Sometimes an idea will spring from your forehead full-grown like Athena, but more often ideas arrive in a lumpy mass that needs shaping and trimming.

That isn't something you hear professional artists talk about much, but in my experience it's the way ideas usually arrive. What the pros are good at is quickly shaping the raw ideas into a workable form. They can do it on the fly, in just the space between their brain and their hand (paint brush, mouth, feet, whatever their art requires.)

For the rest of us, a stream of misshapen ideas pouring through your head like, dare I say it, diarrhea, can feel a lot like failure. Like you're not producing anything worthwhile. Wasting time, paper, and effort you could be investing in other things.

Cut yourself some slack. And write down all those messy, newly-hatched ideas. Spend your dedicated writing time studying them like random puzzle pieces you found on the sidewalk and see if they fit together, if they're from different puzzles, or if they fit into another puzzle you're already working on.

It's work. There's nothing easy about art. But keep at it.

These are things I've been needing to remind myself of, lately. How about you?
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