Are You With Me?

Well, the holidays are behind us and most of 2013 lies ahead. If you’ve made resolutions for the year, my best wishes to you for carrying them through. For me, there is one goal for 2013—complete one of my WIPs and have it on track for publication.

Image credit: Microsoft clip art

How are the WIPs going? Why, thank you for asking. Let’s see….

On the WIP Front

I spent much of November and December struggling with revisions to Death Out of Time. Very little work was done on the manuscript, despite what I hoped was the breakthrough point when I wrote my Molasses post. So on December 22 I did an experiment. I printed copies of both WIPs—clean, note-free, comment-free drafts. And I would read each of them through again, fresh.

But which to tackle first? That same night, I tried one of those “dream directing” approaches. As I drifted to sleep, I thought about the question, “Which WIP should I read first?” I expected no help whatsoever. But uncharacteristically, I remembered enough details from two dreams to choose. One featured people in different universes getting glimpses of their world in others. Another involved an international hostage crisis. Both pointed to Summer at the Crossroads, not Death Out of Time.

Summer it was. Were there any major revelations? In what I take as a hopeful sign from my Muse and characters—I think so. (Hey, I’ve never claimed to be decisive.) They offered some new scenes and revisions that flesh out the characters and their stories. Kat and Michael, who hate sharing personal details, opened up on some aspects of their personalities. And Katarina and Mihailo made suggestions for showing more reservations about their potential relationship, which the story needs.

So, my immediate goal is to finish a revised draft of Summer by the end of January. Then it needs some careful betas. (Hint, hint—if you’re interested, please let me know.) While Summer is with betas, I hope to get through the remaining revisions to Death Out of Time. If I’m unsure of Death’s status when those are finished, I’ll send it out for one more round of review.

And then? Whichever one is furthest along is the one I take to completion first. I have to admit I’m leaning toward independent e-publishing. I’m not sure I can take another round of “passes” from agents. Even if one took me on, there’s no guarantee a press would make an offer. And even if one did, it could be two years or more before the book saw the light of day. And I’d still be responsible for at least 90 percent of the marketing. Is it any wonder so many writers are choosing to go independent, bypassing agents and traditional presses entirely?

On Vloffing, er, Blogging

(That typo was just too funny to fix, so I kept it.)

The main news here is that, with the New Year, I’m getting tougher on myself about schedules so I can meet those writing goals. To that end, I won’t be reading other blogs on Sundays or Wednesdays (with a very few exceptions for long-time blog buddies). I’ll answer comments on mine, but otherwise, those two days will be focused on the day job and my WIPs.

I love blogging. I love reading other blogs and having great conversations in the comments. But the cold hard fact is it takes a lot of time away from my writing. And while all writing is good practice, the reality for me is that blog posts like this aren’t fiction. Even Meghan’s stories are short, not novel-length. I need to spend more time with the novels if I’m going to complete one of them this year.

So that’s where my New Year starts. If I can stick with my plan, you might have one of my books in your hands by the end of the year. I can’t promise anything. Life sometimes has other plans. But I’m setting out with a hopeful attitude. Are you with me?

70 thoughts on “Are You With Me?

  1. Love the dream guiding approach. Good luck with you WIP and I believe in you! I agree that blogging can take away that valuable writing time. I’m trying to figure out a way to limit it as a time suck as well and still maintain the relationships that I’ve come to value so much.
    Hope you have a great year, and I’m inspired by your focus. Happy New Year!

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    • I was so surprised when I woke up the next morning and remembered those dreams. That just doesn’t happen often. And that they actually tied into one of the WIPs? Amazing!

      That social media balance is so elusive. I agree with other writers who say that writing posts counts as writing. But it doesn’t get my novels finished. That has to be my goal. And like you, I don’t want to lose those great blogging relationships.

      Now if sympathetic magic can just kick in and make my talk of focus become real! Happy New Year to you, too!

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  2. I’m with RFL… I like the idea of using your dreams to guide you. Your inner voice won’t steer you wrong! I’d love to beta read if it’s after the end of January… before that, I’ve got some more pressing things to finish up. Unfortunately, my WIP has had to take a backseat to the very real (and monetary) need to find a job. So I’m taking a class for the next month and job seeking and holding down the same freelance activities I’d been doing… I may have bit off more than I can chew. ; )

    Goal setting is good. And sometimes, the WIP just has to be patient. I’m telling myself that leaving it on the shelf for a short time will give me some perspective. ; )

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    • The funny thing is—I’ve tried those “dream directions” before and got nowhere. 🙂 I’m glad they worked in this case! End of January might be an optimistic date in reality. I suspect it’ll be February before I’m ready to let anyone read this story again. I’ll send you an email when it’s “done.” 😉

      Your January calendar sounds absolutely full! And I hope it leads to the right full-time job for you. It’s still such a difficult economy in a lot of ways. So I’m sending lots of positive thoughts your way!

      And those breaks from the WIPs are crucial. If I’d done that properly with Crossroads the first time, I wouldn’t have queried it before it was ready. Live and learn! 😉

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      • I know what you mean. It took a while before I got my first novel ready to send out, and I did it too early at first (then revised it some more). I’ll try to be smarter this time around.

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  3. I’ve set some timelines myself, and your post just reinvigorated my motivation. I find it impressive you have more than one project going on. That way you have something else to turn to when the other manuscript is out to betas or being queried. I wish I could do this, but like Rainman, I get very focused on just one thing at a time. 🙂

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    • Sometimes having two projects can be like a dog torn between two bones…. 😉 It does help to have another one to work on while one is “sitting in the drawer” before revisions or with betas. But it can be easy to lose focus and then do a not-so-good job with each. But we have to ride the horse we’re given, right?

      Boy, how many old saws can I fit in one comment?!

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  4. I’m with you, JM!
    Specifically, I agree with your ideas on limiting yourself. I try to do that, as well. I feel a bit bad about skipping or just-liking posts, but I’ve also got to devote some of my time to my own serious work (that’s not the day job or the household).

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    • There’s only so much time in the day, and we all have other jobs and lives with our family and friends. And I suspect if we found a way to get more hours in the day, we’d end up spending them at work and not doing fun things or writing.

      And I fully understand if you and others don’t have time to read or comment on all my posts. So please don’t feel bad when that’s the case. 🙂

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  5. “…the reality for me is that blog posts like this aren’t fiction.” I feel the same way. I get frustrated when I neglect my fiction, and it comes out in the mood of my blog posts. It’s tough because there’s only so much time, and I have to use it on what’s going to help me reach my goals most effectively. Good luck, JM!

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    • Thanks, Rilla! Yep, blogging is great writing exercise, but it doesn’t write the WIPs. I spent too much time last year on blogging and not enough on fiction. I’ve been working on these books since 2009. It’s time to get them finished. Yes, my Muse just kicked me in the behind to get me off the blog….

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  6. What a great choice of a pix for this post.
    You remember that myth with the guy that rolls a rock up the hill and then it rolls down and her has to start all over again? That’s what January and resolutions always remind me of – (hate to think it’s all down hill throughout the year…but cool weather in the fall after our long scorching heat always energizes me)
    I don’t ignore writing advice that surfaces during dreams..actually write and re-write when asleep sometimes – pretty odd, but…
    But you are right about blogging. Some just blurt out posts – but many do spend a lot of time crafting them…mini publications. While it is fun (and skills improve while audience gained) – such post drain off time, and creative energy. Serious writing must come first. (and 2009? it’s time to get those done – before things wander off!)
    Yea for you! Get things in gear and go!

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    • Oh, yes, Sisyphus. That’s a great analogy for how I feel after a round of beta reads, too. The next round of revisions can feel like starting over from scratch again. But that’s part of the novel writing process, unless you’re Tom Robbins, who supposedly writes only one draft.

      I wish I could remember more of my dreams. I did when I was younger, but not so much anymore. I know some of them were about the books, but I can never remember enough of the specifics to get them into the next day’s writing. (And writing in the middle of the night is something I just can’t do.)

      Sigh, 2009. When I started Crossroads, I was sure it would be published by now. Part of that was naivete about how long the process takes. But part is also not pushing myself hard enough. It’s definitely time to get cracking!

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      • I rarely remember dreams – but when I do I tend to take notice…oddly most are about writing/plots/word choices. Books are done when they are done…maybe it was good you didn’t know how long it would take? Rocks take time to shove uphill, so pace yourself…it you hurry too much, it might crack instead of you? (giggles)

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  7. I’m with you 100%!
    I’m amazed with your ability to handle a day job AND your full time job of writing excellent fiction. Seriously, how DO you manage it!?
    I like your goal of e-publishing independent of the traditional route. I’ll def be one of the first people to buy whichever book comes online first!

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    • How do I manage…. Actually I think I should be better than I am and be doing more. After all, my day job is part-time, and a lot of writers get more accomplished than I do even though they work full time and/or are raising children. There are plenty of days when I wonder where the day has gone and what did I do?

      Of course, I’m biased, but I think both books are interesting stories. Very different from each other, and also different from anything I’ve read. I’ve got some cover ideas in my head, and I hope to find someone who can bring them to life for e-books and print-on-demand.

      Tomorrow, being Sunday, is now devoted to writing. Well, with a little housecleaning thrown in there, too…. But mostly writing!

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  8. I’m with you, and I’d be happy to be one of your beta readers. I think we writers need all the support we can get to help us meet our writing goals and aspirations.

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    • Thanks, Jagoda! As I mentioned to Anne above, the end of January may be a bit optimistic on my part. But really I want another draft done as close to that date as I can. Then I can send it out to betas in February. I’ll let you know when it’s ready, and if you’re still interested and have the time, I can forward it to you. And I’m always happy to read something in exchange. Finding such a great support network has been one of the best parts of blogging. 🙂

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  9. I wish you all the best and do hope that I can interview you on my blog by the end of the year to promote your new book. Good luck. I love your goals for the new year. You’ll do great!

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    • Thanks, Char! 🙂 This last year I wasn’t sure how to invite authors to do interviews, but I want to change that this year. Then maybe we can interview each other before the year is done (or at least by early next year). So here’s to a great year of writing!

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      • Yeah, I was pretty perplexed when I first put my book out and another blogger said, “Let me know if you want me to do an interview for you.” I never said a word, because I was so clueless as to the marketing side of things. Live and learn/Blog and learn.

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  10. My first thought when I read your blog was to offer to beta read for you because I would love to, and yet I feel that maybe I can’t because I really need to focus on getting my book finished, which is my goal for this year, and with my full time job, and the kids, and my own blogging, I just don’t know how much more I can fit in, but keep me in mind maybe later in the year for it. Wow, that was a long sentence wasn’t it!

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    • Whew, yes it was long! 🙂 And you most certainly should be focusing on finishing your book, too. Beta reading is really time-intensive to do it right. I’ll certainly need another round after this one (if not more), so if that later one works well for you, I’d love to have you read it, then.

      Now, get writing!

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  11. I’m with you on this 😉 It’s good to set aside time for ‘writing only’. I find I have so little time to do much of anything because I’m doing so many little things (reading blogs, writing blogs, fixing the house, writing my WIPs, catching up with old friends). BLAH! Too many things to think about…

    Speaking of fixing the house – I had the great job yesterday of removing the ceiling in the bedroom (I was using a rake to bring down the ply) and I happened across a snake! He was about 5ft long and pretty cute I must say. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me 😦

    I really hope you get more time to work on your WIPs and e-publishing is definitely the way to go 😀

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    • Snakes in the ceiling? Oh, 4amWriter has to read your comment. I bet she would’ve loved to be there to see it! But aren’t all your snakes deadly in Australia?! Just teasing—I know a few of them aren’t. 😉 That sounds like a great story prompt—or something to work into one of your novels.

      I have to be better about setting aside that writing time—no cheating and peeking at blogs, email, surfing, or Facebook. Just me and the Scrivener files. I’ve done it before, so I should be able to again. If I’m going to call myself a writer, I need to finish these novels! 🙂

      I’m fairly handy with computer programs, so I should be able to do my own formatting for e-pubs and POD. I will hire a real graphics person for the covers, though. My talents don’t extend that far! 🙂

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  12. JM,
    This sounds like a great plan to me. I know about that dream stuff. I had a dream about a character and got up the next morning, inspired. I have the beginnings of a good short story. My goal is to finish that by the end of this month. My novel – I AM going to carve out a specific schedule weekly to get it finished in 8 months!

    Good luck! The blogs, reading others and commenting, although I love doing it can take up huge chunks of time. Sundays are for lazing around the house and watching movies. Sounds like a good day to stay away from the computer! Have a great weekend!

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    • Thanks, Brigitte—now if I can just stick to the plan…. I should have added a request in the post for all my readers to remind me about it now and again in your comments. 🙂

      Oh, to have dreams that provide writing inspiration! I’m sure I used to, but never followed through on them. Maybe that’s one reason I don’t remember them as much anymore. The Muse had to find a different way into my head, and the dreams now fade….

      There are a number of us who should make 2013 the year we finish our WIPs. Given your wonderfully written posts, I know your short story and novel will be good ones. I’m looking forward to reading them!

      Now, enjoy your weekend, too, and get some writing done!

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  13. Yes, blogging is not fiction writing, and not all writing is the same. I have no gift for writing fiction, I’ve always been a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of writer. Even so, I plan on having a go at expanding the facts a little and see how that goes…we’ll see…xoxoM

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    • I never thought of myself as a fiction writer, either, even though I did well in creative writing sections of my English classes. But writing a novel? That was never on my radar—until the Muse began nudging me (which I didn’t noticed) and then smacked me with the idea for Crossroads in April 2009!

      But you have creative skills in other areas like photography and art, so don’t be surprised if that little “go at expanding the fact,” turns out well—and turns you into a writer of fiction! My mother actually joined a writer’s group in her 80s and has written some lovely short stories. You never know where the Muse will lead… 🙂

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  14. Will miss Meghan and your blog posts if you put them aside a bit, but completely understand! And if it means I’ll have your book in my hands sooner – even better then. I feel I can learn a lot from your experiences, hope you are able to keep us up to date, when you can. PS: Love the pic and the typo: Vloffing 🙂

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    • Right now, I’m hoping to continue with Meghan’s stories in some shape, even when this current one is finished. But I might need a break while I think up her next adventure. Still, I plan to keep up my twice a week posts. They might get a little shorter, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      And I’ll do some posts to let you all know how the writing is progressing and also the road to publication. I love reading about other writers’ experiences, and I’ll certainly share mine, too.

      Microsoft clip art has some really nice photos and is a good source for graphics. And I loved vloffing, too. It sounds Scandinavian to me. I like it better than “blogging,” but it’s probably too late to change the word. 😉

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    • Great to have you on board, Weebs! My Muse has been kicking my butt for a while now, and it’s time I move faster. There’s no better time than now. 😉

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  15. I love your will-do attitude! And I think your choice to limit blog reading time is an excellent way to manage limited time. Will look forward to hearing more of your thought process regarding the indie approach. Happy New Year!

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    • Now if I can just carry through on it through the year! It’ll mean some adjustments, but the novels are why I started blogging and part of what attracted my readers. I really do need to finish them! Whichever way the publishing process takes me, I’ll be sure to share the details with you and other writers. Happy New Year to you, too!

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  16. I’m glad to see that someone else feels the same way about how blogging affects our time with our novels. I’ve cut down my blogging time by half of what it was this past summer, and I’m still not able to get to my novel as often as I’d like. But blogging is one of the few ‘extras’ in my life that I am able to negotiate.

    I am happy to be a reader for you when the time comes. I have never tried the dream directing approaches, but I think I will now after reading about your experience. Never know what could pop up. 🙂

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    • It’s such a difficult decision to cut back on my reading and commenting time because I do enjoy it so much. But those novels won’t write themselves, no matter how much we try to bribe our Muses. So it’s time to get serious about finishing the WIPs.

      I couldn’t believe the dream directing worked. I’ve tried it in the past and gotten nothing. But this time, it seemed to work. So, hey, it’s worth a shot! 🙂

      I’m so glad to have you as a reader. 🙂 I’ll let you know when I’ve finished this round of revisions, which will probably be early February at the soonest. I’m hoping the new scene ideas are a good sign. 😉

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  17. I’m with you! 🙂 Blogging does take a lot of time away from writing, so I know how you feel. It is fun and I’m glad to have met so many great people, but it’s frustrating because getting a book published is so slow anyway, but it’s going to be even slower if we’re always blogging! I’ve found it helps a little to not even log onto the blog on some days. Sometimes I’ll tell myself that I’ll only go on for a few minutes to comment on a couple blogs, then before I know it hours go by. Because of that, it seems better to force myself not to log on at all for a random day here or there. Your books sound great – I’m sure this will be the year! Happy 2013!

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    • Not logging on at all on some days would be my next step if this doesn’t work. I hope it doesn’t come to that because I really do enjoy the interaction with my blog buddies. But I know exactly what you mean about a few minutes turning into an hour! And that’s something I need to rein in, too.

      I’m hoping that by making such a public announcement about my writing goals I’ll be more likely to stick to them. After all, I would love it if this is the year I could get one published or at least in the pipeline for it. So here’s to a happy and productive 2013!

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  18. Happy to see you are pursuing with the books, JM. It’s very important to focus on the books. Btw… the word vloffing made me giggle. 😉 Happy New Year!

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    • Vloffing will make a number of guest appearances on the blog. It just sounds like a fun thing to do. 😉 But it must take a backseat to revisions this year. My Muse and characters are nudging me in ever-less subtle ways to get going—less vloffing. More revising. I must keep them happy. Wishing you a very happy New Year, too!

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  19. Pingback: Blogrolls—Yea, Nay, Or Maybe? | The Write Transition

  20. Balancing blogging, writing, and that little thing called life is hard! I’m struggling with the same issues as you. On one hand, fellow bloggers are a great support network. On the other hand, they are a distraction! Good luck to you. I support you from afar.

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    • If I’m serious about being a writer of novels, then I have to devote more time to writing them and less to hanging out with a bunch of fun, interesting, and cool folks here on the blog. And that’s tough. But my characters deserve well-written stories that get published. Those of us with books in progress should remember they’re most likely the reason we started blogging, and we shouldn’t lose sight of them. They deserve more of our attention, right?

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  21. Great goals JM! I love your dream directing. Best of luck on revising that manuscript. 🙂 Also I think your blog goals make a lot of sense. Writing has to be #1. You can’t promote something that isn’t ready to be promoted. So it makes sense for blogging to take a backseat to writing. I’ll be stopping by to hear how you’re progressing!

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    • I can’t believe the dream directing worked—it never has before! But I take it as a positive sign that my goals are on track. After all, I’ll never know if the books would succeed or fail if I don’t publish them. I can’t let fear of failure keep me from that goal. Sometimes I think blogging works into fear’s hands as a way to delay the process.

      Part of my inspiration has come from your journey, so you can bet I’m following your posts carefully! 🙂

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  22. Best of luck with both your works in progress! I know it must be frustrating trying to determine which one to finish first, but if you think about it, that’s a pretty good problem to have.
    At any rate, I’m with you!

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    • Good to know you’re on board, too—even if we duel over top-commenting bragging rights at The Write Transition this year! Two WIPs is usually a good problem to have. If I’m stuck on one, I can often make progress on the other. Once in a while, though, I can’t figure out which one to tackle. So I hope setting this specific goal (and getting the unexpected help from my dreams) will keep me on track to get the first one published sooner rather than later.

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