Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chronicles of Marsdenfel Book 3: A Fistful of Water (and Other News)

A Fistful of Water is done!

Well, drafted. Now I'm putting it through Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" class—or, at least, I will be, soon. I seem to be running short on hours in a day, lately.

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you're probably unsurprised that I'm now running a Kickstarter for A Fistful of Water.

But before you click away, this one's a bit different than my others.

First, this Kickstarter is intentionally designed to let you pick up the next book (or even the entire series) at a discount.

Second, this Kickstarter includes opportunity to get a collection of all Aleyi short stories—including the no-longer-available "Butterfly Boots" and one as-yet unreleased one—which will only be available through this Kickstarter.

For you readers of my blog, any donation amount will get you the e-book of the limited-edition story collection. Just comment here with your Kickstarter username or PM me there with your commenter name, so I can know who you are.

And I do mean "any". Minimum donation amount on Kickstarter is $1.

Of course, there's always the possibility that it won't fund, but one reason I am low on hours in the day, right now, is that I'm seeking to apply a marketing class I'm in to Kickstarter. Which means—

Well, I'll let it be a surprise. But I think you'll find it amusing. :-)

Now, for other news: My First Draft Fridays over on Wattpad is on hiatus for this week at the very least. Possibly for a bit longer, but it will be returning.

Non-Writing News: I made brine pickles. I dislike them, but I'm not sure if that's a matter of how I flavored them or that I just don't like brine pickles. Considering they were a bit salty and I don't care for saltiness, I'm assuming I don't care for brine pickles and will be attempting vinegar ones, next time.

Writing News: I'm also doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Well, sort of. I'm falling under the "Rebel" classification, this year, where I'm focusing on writing 50k words rather than writing a single novel draft. (The "Rebel" classification is allowable under the formal rules of NaNoWriMo, despite the name being short for "National Novel Writing Month". Speaking of the official name, that missing hyphen bothers me.)

I've designated November as a "Month of Finishing Things". So the sequels to Thrice Uncharmed and The Nymph and the Goblin, my "How to Focus" guide promised to those on my e-mail list for my study guides (sign up here), and my book on how to write essays efficiently that people have been nagging me to finish for years.

I expect that to be about 8k–10k words of fiction, plus 45k or more words of non-fiction. If I'm wrong about how long the non-fiction books will be, I have some short stories that can be added to the "to finish" list.

Have you reached a "finishing" step on any projects, lately? How are your projects coming along? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Risk and Optimism

People call freelancing risky. I've tried the day job thing, and I was laid off from three day jobs in as many years, so my experience is that it's not. Freelancing income is intermittent, yes, and it can get difficult to pay for things when illness keeps you from working, but I can adjust my schedule to work when it suits me. I love that.

Does that mean I like when clients promise me work, then don't deliver? Not usually.

Does that mean I like when clients flake and don't pay what they owe? No. (But in my years freelancing, I've only had two clients flake completely.)

Does that mean I don't think it's risky, or that I think it impossible to crash and burn and destroy your credit by it? Or that I will never take another day job again?

No. I probably will have to take a day job again, sometime, possibly even soon. I seem to have a fear of success, so I'm even more likely to fail than someone who doesn't have that problem, because there's the likelihood of self-sabotage.

I'm aware of some reasons behind that fear of success. I suspect they'll spawn a story or thirty someday.

Any job venture is a risk. Life is risk. And there's no shame in failing something you try (assuming you didn't cause your own failure by unwise behavior).

I know that, I believe it…and I'm as pain-averse as the next person. Short-term pain for long-term goals—that's something I'm staring in the eye, right now, and my natural inclination is to avoid taking the risk.

Hey, I'm a natural pessimist. I see all the risks involved even in a conversation. (Which is part of why I often don't do well in arguments or debates. The other person wants a quick, direct answer. I usually can't give one, because I'm analyzing everything.)

I have to be careful when thinking through an upcoming conversation or situation, because I'll end up anticipating the worst-case scenario if I don't intentionally remember, This is a worst-case scenario. More than once, I've caught myself starting to panic about something that's merely a possibility—and an unlikely one, at that.

Awkward, much. But at least I don't (usually) inflict it on others. When it's probable enough that others might be affected, I'll warn them of the worst-case possibility, and I'll do what I can in advance to mitigate its effects.

So for this choice I'm considering, I see the possible outcomes, one of which would be horrible—but…even that worst-case scenario wouldn't kill me. Things might get incredibly depressing and difficult for a while. The short-term pain and everything involved in my attempt to reach those long-term goals could end in failure.

I do mean everything. It's possible for me to lose my intellectual property, y'all, which means it's possible for me to lose Aleyi and all those other worlds you've enjoyed reading. (To be honest, that's what gives me the most pause.) It would take some time to get to that point, but it's possible.

But I wouldn't be dead. Even in that situation, I could start again, the wiser for my failure, or change my goals.

Some people, significant in my life, believe I will fail. I very well could, and that has me hesitating, but…

I've faced other such choices in my life, and whenever I've picked the easier route, I've regretted it. When I've picked the harder route, I have never regretted it.

If I choose to not act, I believe I will regret it.

And it very well could end up paying off far better than I even dare to hope. In fact, if I look at others like me, with similar or comparable health issues, my goals are too modest.

You know what? I'm going to double the goal that will prevent that worst-case scenario, starting now.

(Pardon me a moment while I dig out some yarn and graph paper. I'm going to crochet that goal into a trivet—black with white text, I think, with that cotton yarn I keep meaning to use. I'm going to hang it on the wall behind my computer until I hit that goal. Then I'll use it as a trivet.)

I choose to be optimistic, which leads people to assume I don't even notice the negatives, much less think through them.

(Where is my graph paper? I must've not used it for longer than I realize.)

And if I happen to tell them I do think through the negatives—it is rare that anybody suggests a negative that hasn't already ocurred to me—they're either startled or disbelieving.

(Argh. I'll just mock it up on lined paper.)

But there's a reason my writing tends to have so much dark/negative in it—that's what I naturally think of. It's difficult for me to be optimistic. But I choose it, because it's better for me and those around me. I've been called naïve for pointing out that things—relationships, life—don't have to be [certain negative way].

(Hmm… This would be easier on a spreadsheet.)

Positivity is healthier than negativity. It's even safer, letting me seem unafraid in situations where perceptible fear could get me hurt. Such as when dealing with ticked-off animals.

(Ooo, I think I like that even more than graph paper.)

As for the current choice I'm staring in the eye, there's one major factor that I've not mentioned so far.

(Yes, that looks nice. Pattern's ready to use.)

God's given me peace about it. Even when certain things related to this choice looked impossible, God replaced my panic and worry with peace. There was no logical reason for me to be at peace, a month ago when I was looking at what I wanted to do and saw it as impossible—or, at best, as statistically unlikely. But I took the first steps anyway.

And right when I was wondering, "Um, now how do I do this next one?" a door opened to that next one, in a perfectly unlikely series of events.

So now I'm staring at the next factor in this decision. I still don't see how it'll work out…but every single concern has unexpectedly panned out and been addressed so far. And there are several possibilities in the air that could cause that concern to work.

Taking the step will be risky. It will require optimism. It'll also require trust that I'm interpreting God's messages properly…but I have so many signs pointing to this being what I should do. I claim to believe in God's Providence, so shouldn't I act like it?

But I'm not you. Maybe you're risk-averse to the point that you think I'm crazy. Maybe you're optimistic to the point that you don't understand what it's like to spot a truck with a pole strapped to the roof and to automatically consider how to move your car so you'll be unlikely to get impaled if the pole comes off. (I actually do that.)

That's okay. You're welcome to your optimism or pessimism or risk-aversion or risk-taking. Do it intelligently—don't, say, optimistically think that a wild animal can't bite you—but go ahead. Even the church is made of all types, like the missionaries who go to countries where Christians are persecuted.

Are you naturally more risk-averse or risk-willing? Are you naturally more optimistic or pessimistic? Do you decide to act differently than those natural inclinations? Why?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Natural Responses and the Trouble They Can Get You in

I'm a bit of a literalist. I have trouble figuring out when what someone says isn't what they mean. Oh, I can follow jokes and idioms and all—if I realize they're figurative. I don't always do so. I also find it amusing to take things literally that are obviously not intended to be.

And when I'm confused, I naturally try to figure out where the disconnect is—but the problem there is that, I apparently sound snappish when I do so. So people hear me as snide, when I'm actually bewildered and trying to figure out what's going on.

People who know me (should) know these things about me. They're downright obvious. But somehow, some people—ones who have known me for years—assume that I can follow when they're joking or when they don't want to get the point of what I'm saying (even when I'm not the only one who can't tell the difference). And call me rude and picking a fight when I react accordingly. (Even other people who respond like me are later discussed along the lines of "What's X's problem?")

At church last night, one guy, grinning, was good-naturedly attempting to give me a hard time. I didn't even realize it until he said outright, ("Here I am, trying to give you a hard time, and it's not working.") Which ultimately led to an interesting comment from him that means people who don't even know me well are noticing, er, certain stressors that are likely contributing to my poor health at the moment.

It can be quite interesting to hear opinionated people who often give others a hard time complain when others give them tastes of their own medicine. (Then there are the times they assume "People should just know!" something. I ask how, and the answer is, "Common sense!", when that's obviously not the case, else others wouldn't be doing the thing being complained about, like allergy-free people eating all the special allergen-free cookies that were made specifically for some members of the congregation who usually cannot eat anything else.)

My natural response to a disconnect is to attempt to figure out where another person is coming from, but that gets problematic when the other person does not have a similar desire or care to understand me. I'm attempting to bite my tongue, but it's difficult, especially because I usually don't even realize what's going on, at first.

Example: I recently got accused of being selfish and was told (in order to not be selfish) to do something I had already done. (I had even offered more than what the accuser said I should've done, and my offer had been refused.) And all the further examples conveniently forgot that, um, the accuser had been offered a portion in those "selfish" times and refused. (And the accuser had completely forgotten the freaking health reasons behind what I was doing, because my diet is extremely limited, right now, and not doing what I'm doing is making me sick, much of the time.)

But the accusations only got so downright ridiculous (without the accuser realizing it) after I attempted to point out an error in the reasoning. (And that initial accusation started because something I said was interpreted to say something…other than what I said—and I only spoke up to begin with because I was asked after I gave a slight [unintentional] sigh.)

(There are multiple accusers involved in this. We're all stressed, if not downright ill, but I'm a convenient scapegoat for all of them—and I know it's not just me being hypersensitive, because even friends of the accusers are commenting.)

If I'd controlled my natural reaction to begin with and bit my tongue, it wouldn't have gotten nearly so stressful and infuriating. (I know from experience that going the "That's not what I said" route would've been worse. As it is, I have to be careful which questions I answer in conversations with them, because a good part of the time, they won't even remember that the question was asked and scoff at me.)

So at least part of the stress right now is technically my own fault. In some ways, it's actually helping to remember that, because it helps me restrain my natural responses.

But in other ways, it's not helping, because I still get scolded for doing things I'm not doing, or for not doing things I am doing. Or called "lazy" for not doing something that selfsame person had, months earlier, told me not to do. The saying "Damned if you don't; damned if you do" applies.

It isn't helped by them mistakenly thinking they're fantastic at reading me. For example, I get called crabby (always by someone who is themselves crabby). I give them a look of "You think?", which they insist is me disbelieving that I'm crabby.

Oddly enough, other people—even ones who don't know me well—read my expressions just fine.

And I'm kinda stuck here, at the moment. (Long story, which involves mixed signals, theology, and attempts on my part to respect those involved.) God's given me a strong sign that I'm going to get out of it soon, but I don't see how yet. (Short version: too many medical bills…)

In any event, this is why I said nothing, last week, and why my posts have in general been very…news-focused, lately, rather than containing much meat to them. Because it's difficult to not go off on rants. Which would be uncouth/disrespectful, as well as blow things out of proportion. (Even as stressed as I am, I can tell some of the things bothering me wouldn't be a big deal at all if not for all the other things behind them.)

I'm pretty sure this post itself crosses some TMI lines, but I'm doing so for a point, and I'm trying to be polite and respectful about it. You've probably been able to guess who these people I'm speaking of are, to me, and one of the Ten Commandments does apply.

When someone else reacts badly, to what extent is it your responsibility, and to what extent is it theirs? At what point is it appropriate to say, "I've done all I can"?

And at what point does "emotional abuse" start, anyway? I mean, sure, if you look at a list of signs of emotional abuse, almost every point can be checked off, and other people have been commenting obliquely on it for years, but surely that's me blowing things out of proportion.

(That last one was sarcasm, by the way. When I'm tired, stressed, and frustrated, I can get caustic. I also cry, which is annoying. Typing this up has resulted in a headache and the use of several tissues.)

I don't say all this to complain. But this is what's going on with me, right now. (Some of it, at least.) And I thought it brought up a case in point for an interesting discussion:

What do you think of the line in Romans 12:18 between personal responsibility to "be at peace with all men" and the caveat "as much as in you lieth"? Or about the line between honoring your parents and how Romans 12:18 applies to psychologically abusive situations? Does emotional abuse even exist?


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nothing to Say, Today.

Between computer issues, adrenal fatigue, headaches, and some other things making me tired and cranky, I can't think of anything to talk about, today, so I'll just link to Kris Rusch's latest post on the Business Rusch, recommend her "How to Negotiate Anything", and bow out.

Hope y'all are well.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

This Is Why Many Pro Authors Don't Re-Read Their Work (plus some news)

The audio edition of A Fistful of Fire is in progress. I'm hearing every awkward sentence, every this-would've-been-clearer-with-a-transition spot. I'm noticing anew all the "problem" areas—some of which were done on purpose to fit the overall story and narrator.

I suspect I'll be one of those authors like Kathy Tyers, who has gone back and revised some of her early novels. Now, she waited a decade before doing so, and one of the reasons she revised was to strengthen the Christian themes. (Original publisher was mainstream; second publisher was Christian.) But still—she's one clear example of someone who has two editions published for more than one book. (I own, er, all the originals, some signed. I used to have all the revisions, too, but I gave one away and haven't yet replaced it.)

I'll probably wait at least a few more years before I attempt such a revision myself, though. (One thing I do want to do is a third person, past tense edition of the series. I started the conversion for fun, and it's interesting how it changes the entire feel.) Even if I do that, though, I'll leave the earlier editions available in some fashion, for those readers who prefer the original over whatever I change. (S.J. Maas? If you read this, when you get your rights back to Queen of Glass, please release an edition of the original that was taken from FictionPress. I know the plot wasn't as tight and there were problems with it, but I actually liked it better.)

So while my fingers are twitching and my inner editor is wailing, "That's wrong!", I'm firmly reminding myself that it's exactly what I wanted it to be. (Well, except for the handful of typos we've found.) And for my first released novel to be precisely what I wanted it to be—that's something that wouldn't have been possible, if not for God's blessing on my writing and friends who critiqued it, and if not for self-publishing getting viable before I finished it, because there are reasons to avoid doing what I did. Good reasons.

And that was part of why I did those things to begin with. I wanted a story with a fairly passive narrator, for instance.

But that doesn't stop me from cringing when I read those things, now, because they aren't what I "should" have done. Or they could've been done better. Or differently, which can seem "better" when you're just looking at what's on the page.

Ah, the joys of being an ever-learning writer. ^_^

I've been working on that Realities of Self-Editing e-book, and I'm torn between the urge to expand it, making each section clearer and more applicable to both fiction and non-fiction, and the urge to just focus on clarity fixes and not worry about the rest. I'm trying to do the former, but I'm almost always tired, these days, and I keep catching myself doing the latter.

(I have an appointment for later this morning with a practicioner of integrative medicine who should at least be able to identify what's causing my myriad of health issues. [She's helped at least two people I know, and she's currently helping my mother.] The list of what could be causing my symptoms is as long as my arm, and there's probably more than one factor involved, but I'm not sick enough for conventional medicine to do anything but start me on the cover-the-symptom funnel of medication. I've started one, which is helping one thing and possibly another, but it seems to be making something else worse, so I'm…hoping I can find an alternative.)

On the bright side, God's been blessing me with a clear mind, regardless of how my body's feeling—and I know from prior experience with some of these symptoms that this should not be the case—so that's good. (Never fear, clients and fans: You're still getting my full quality work. I'm just not working for as long in a day because I'm sleeping more.)

But I'm still getting a nice amount done. My e-mail sign-up form for my fiction releases is all nice and pretty and set up…and still not embeddable due to something in the auto-setup that I've not yet figured out how to hack. (The embedded form is too narrow and cuts off text. So I'm working on that.)

In the meantime, my testing has shown it to work perfectly fine, and I've set it up so you can sign up for updates on everything or on specific names/genres. First e-mail is almost ready to go out. (And I'm probably going to send it out before I feel as if it's "ready", because I probably won't ever feel "ready", since I've never actually run an e-mail list before. Though I've known for years that I should.)

Finding that balance between too much caution and too little of it—it's far easier said than done.

Do you like it or dislike it when an author revises an old work? What do you think of revising your own already-released work?


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