New Year’s Organizational Plan for this Blog

Doing a daily freewrite got to be a bit much as far as forcing myself to organize everything right. I don’t want this blog to become purely about my ramblings, nor purely about educational matters, and I still want to post free short stories for my devoted readers (who keep on making my stats go up, I love you all very much!).

I’m going to do all of them.

My plan is to do 3 freewrites a week, 1 educational post, and 1 update post. I think that is a fair balance.

I have 12 writing-related “educational” posts planned out in one of my new notebooks. It is dedicated to everything blog, you’re welcome I am using a Christmas present for this. Also, as a side note, you might be a writer if everyone gives you a notebook for Christmas…and you LOVE it.

Um, yeah, I’ve about said what I needed to say, but I just want to add in here how ecstatic I am to have received 3 120-page notebooks and a set of ballpoints from Mom and Dad, a beautiful hardbound 120-pager from my husband, and two journals and another set of ballpoints from my MIL (mother in law). I am thrilled, simply thrilled. Also very happy and eager about the drawing books and art sketch pad Mom gave me, and the set of 50 oil pastels I bought for myself. I plan to use them to make a new, beautifully illustrated cover for Feral Magic.

Also, I am celebrating 3 book sales and 1 book lending. Yes! People, keep on lending those books, I mean it!!!

I think that translates into one latte? Just kidding…kind of.

Anyhow, Till Later My Noble and Devoted Readers!

Your Dearest Nicolette.

The Book! And future plans.

So, when I was in the bath tub I had a billion and one things to say and talk about. Once I dug the computer and chord out and found a lamp to unplug in the hotel room, opened up my computer, and logged onto the hotel’s internet, I found that all those ideas were gone. Funny how that happens.

But, I’m excited because I’ve sold…one copy! W00t! That’s fine. I don’t have any reviews yet and I still can adjust the price after a bit longer. I also have 5 days where I can list the book as free. Plus, it is the Christmas season and most people shelve their computers for a while.

I am planning to do the following:

  1. Create a fan page on Facebook
  2. Start a wikipedia entry
  3. Pick promo free dates
  4. Upload more sample chapters to this blog
  5. E-mail family and friends because I’m so excited
  6. Possibly not in this order

Plus, I am already planning number two. I have been feeling pretty sicky that last couple of days because I don’t travel well and we’ve gone 12 hours of pure freeway travel.

My blog has had a great number of hits! I only need 5 more to beat last month’s record, so I’m posting this to facebook in the hopes that I will get said hits. I know, I’m bad, but I always seek to improve and seeing the site stats go up makes me happy.

If you have a kindle or a kindle app for your pc (which is free and available from amazon), please do share the news. Also, lend the book to others. Or if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for free. Though I’m not sure how exactly that works, but hey.

So, this is the URL for the book. 🙂

I will be planning a series of posts about how I start the next book, so check in for those if you are curious.

Till Later, my fabulous readers!

Your Dearest Nicolette.

My Christmas Gift to the World

…is my book Feral Magic. I hath finished it, I hath finished the cover art, and I hath seen so much of it I could vomit and hide under the blankets for the next week. Alas, the image appearing in my Kindle App is…erm…a test image, and I can’t figure out why. My guess is that my app has cached its image and considers it done. And I found the files but the names are all weird and I’d have to do a lot of opening files to find out which one was my cache–that is assuming that I am correct. Bleh. Which I might not be.

So I’m sending the file to my hubbs. If he opens it and the correct cover appears, we are good. Speaking of covers, why don’t I show it to you for kicks and giggles?


EDIT: We are good! It even showed the correct image for me! Hooray!

And I got it submitted and it is “publishing”, so it should be available any hour now!

And that’s all folks! I’m getting ready to hit the road in 7 hours….

Till Later,

Your Dearest Nicolette

Editing Update: 90% Complete! Also, Christmas story on the way!

Whoo-hoo! As of right now, there are 29 chapters in Feral Magic. Chapters 28 and 29 have only very minor edits to be made to them, but oh my is chapter 27 a trainwreck. 😛 Ugh! After thinking about it for a while, I decided to basically scrap what I have written (really only 6 pages worth or disjointed, unimaginative text). What I write will not influence the remaining chapters. So yesterday the hubbs, the puppy, and I all went last-minute Christmas shopping, and I had some time while sitting down and waiting to think about how to properly construct a conclusion that wouldn’t leave my readers all hot and bothered and frustrated as could be.  Then I had a couple of wiggy dreams that furthered my cause–and I somehow managed to remember them once I was awake.

So, today I wrote about a page and a quarter’s worth of  summary to “sketch” out the terrible Chapter 27; I hope I can cover it all in one chapter, but I might end up instead splitting it into two–possibly three–chapters. I’m just very happy that the changes don’t modify the other chapters. Also, today has been a wonderful day for thinking and writing because Terra the puppy has been busy cuddling with her early Christmas gift and therefore sleeping most of the day. If you know anything about this puppy at all, you know that being a heeler, she is hyper and always willing to go on a chase after her ball. This peace has been a fantastic anniversary gift!

Today is the hubbs and mine 6-month anniversary; I had hoped to have Feral Magic written by today, but I’m darned close to it. In a few hours we’re going to make dinner–my man is having a steak and I’m having a lobster tail. There’s a package of salad in the fridge, and I’m defrosting the top tier of our wedding cake.

I didn’t mean to go on a wandering track! I also meant to tell you fine readers that I’m planning a Christmas tale or some sort or another, to be posted (hopefully) before Christmas eve. No clue what it is going to be about, but it is going to be heart-warming and fairly short, so keep your eyes open for it!

Till later, my fine folks!

Your Dearest Nicolette.

Title Change

…I know, again! But the title is the one thing everyone will read, so I ought to make it count. I’ve decided to call my novel “Feral Magic”, in part because the main character’s name is Feraline, in part because feral means “having escaped domestication and become wild”, as is what has basically happened to her magic. Sorceresses with feral magic are considered by that society to be both brilliant and dangerous, more often feared than revered.  It also helps to encompass the overall idea that no matter how well-laid your personal plans are, they are going to be scattered to the wind.

And I wasn’t hooked on it at first. The husband told me three times he liked “Feral Magic” best of my ideas, and after I thought about it, it makes sense. So, yay! No more switching, I promise. It took the storyline a while to fully develop so I could accurately pinpoint a nutshell title.

Till later, my very tolerant readers!

Your Dearest Nicolette.

Illuminator’s Shadow IV

Thumping on a stump, I tried to warm my fingers in my armpits, but even they seemed ice to the touch.

I heard laughing.

I smelled campfire.

I did not dare to hope that whoever it was that was making camp would wish to help me; I crept close, following the smoke and noises until I was hiding in the bushes. There was a man and his son talking and assembling dinner into a cast iron pot. Simple fare of root vegetables and a few chunks of dried, salted meat and water. They shoveled out some coals and spread it about the pot, stoked the fire, then went around the bend. I did not know what they were up to, but I did not care. Slinking into their camp, I stood as close to the fire as I dared–and that was all too close for common sense–and held my outer shirt over the flames. It did not take long before steam rose from my shirt and pants, and that steam was hot against my skin, but should I step away, the damp clothes chilled me instantly again. My fingers tingled, and I relished the warmth from the fire. My shirt dried, and I was surprised to find my pants were half-dry–they would have been all dry if I was willing to turn my back to it.

I could still hear the boy talking in the distance, and I decided to take my leave before anyone returned.  Turning, I bumped into the man. Surprised, I stumbled over my heels and tumbled backwards into the fire, wincing and preparing myself for burns.

But I never hit the ground, nor was the fire more than uncomfortably warm. I was suspended midair, as though I were in an invisible chair. The man in front of me had a stick in his hand, and was watching me with an amused smile.

“Do stay and talk,” he said, his voice like he was laughing. “You thought you could outrun the famous Mentor, did you? I will have you know you are the easiest catch I have had. If you promise to not run, you may share our fire and food.”

I did not know who or what Mentor was, but I mutely said, “I would like that.” And then I proceeded to plan my escape. There was no way I was returning to him, and I was set on that.

The boy–he was about ten–brought a few stumps over to the fire and broke out three ceramic plates half way between a plate and a bowl. I did not complain when they had nothing for me to eat the food with, and I ate more than I intended to. The boy and man talked, but it was in a language I did not know, and so I ignored them.

“Why did you do it?” asked the boy, the question bursting from his lips.

I blinked at him, then decided that he was young enough to not understand the ways of the world yet. “No other choice.”

“There are always other choices,” said Mentor, his eyes flashing in anger. “What you did was unacceptable.”

“I ran away.”

“Precisely.” Mentor looked smug and holier-than-thou, and that flared my temper.

“I am not going to be a brood cow for that slimey war vet, I don’t care how barren his wife is!” I spat, surprising him with my venom, “And I’d rather die a million slow deaths out here in the wild than give you lot the joy of killing another magician, nevermind how poor I am!”

Mentor stared at me, and I noticed his green eyes sparkling with confusion.

I clapped my hand over my mouth, and wished I had left off the second part. When he still sat, staring, I dashed for the woods. He let me go.  I stopped after a short distance, sitting on a boulder and cradling my head. The boy wandered close to me.

“You’re from the other side?”

I was silent.

The boy pressed on. “What kinda magician are you?”

I swallowed, and choked, “I shouldn’t say.”

“Oh,” said the boy, “My name’s Kyle, and I’m a osteomancer.”

“Kyle,” came Mentor’s warning voice, “Leave her alone.”

“But she’s from the other side.”

“All the more reason to leave her alone.”

“But the Illuminator can help–”

I snapped my attention to the pair. “The Illuminator? Can you take me to him?”

Mentor’s eyes narrowed at me. “Why?”

I swallowed, picked up a stick, and sketched a butterfly.

Writing Blues

The problem with writing is that we writers don’t see a twice-monthly paycheck. Well, published writers might. To be honest, I don’t know how published writers get paid–I know it does vary depending on what you do and what company you are with. I worked for a while with Demand Studios, and I think we got paid weekly. I might need to go back to that, but article writing is a drag when it is set up as a double-blind so you don’t know your editor, your editor doesn’t know you, and you never get the same editor twice. I think I would enjoy it if I could start up a working relationship with an editor so I know what to expect 100% of the time. AHEM, I am wandering from the point.

The point is that we who have not been published and we who are devoting lots of time to the first manuscript face certain challenges. Amongst them is the financial challenge. I start to wonder if the time and effort is “worth” it, if I will ever look at the manuscript and declare, “I have done my best! It is time to send it off!”

It *will* be worth it. I know. I have heard plenty of laments over not finishing, and read plenty of success stories. They all point to the same thing.  That ninety-odd percent of writers will never become published. Not because their work is bad. Not because their idea sucks. Not because publishers are unwilling to publish. But, because they self-terminate their dream. They tell themselves that the publishers won’t take their book because it must be something wrong with the manuscript, something wrong with their writing. There might be, but usually an editor can help the writer fix things. But the real reason for the publishers rejecting work could be many things. Remember, they are companies with products who target audiences and milk the novels for all they are worth. The real reason for rejecting a manuscript could be because they already have one similar, or targeted to the same audience, and they do not want their books to compete with each other. It could be because they are adjusting their marketing plan, or any number of business-related things. It could be that the manuscript hit the wrong desk or was read by the wrong person. Maybe that person prefers mystery and only the stellar romances, and your is a romance that doesn’t tickle their fancy. In the end, these people are not only businesses, but people. How many times have you boasted about your favorite book, only to have a person call that book, “Just alright”? Those publishers are people. Maybe it went to the wrong person.

I find this financial hurdle a challenge for several reasons. First, the hubbs and I are newlyweds. We are celebrating 6 months in 14 days. We are poor. He has been out of college for a year, and I for 8 months, and we entered a pretty sour job market. We are grateful that he (a contractor) has managed to stretch his contract from 3 months to 6, and maybe more. We have no benefits. We live in a shoebox so we can save a little from each paycheck in case he gets accepted into grad school. We live in a place with scant businesses, fewer jobs, and an hour’s freeway drive away from places with slightly more businesses and jobs. We are impatient to start earning money from my writing, but I know that I won’t get much money if my novel is not as best as it can be. I have no editor, besides my friends, family, and ex-classmates.

Then there is a second hurdle: The self-qualification. I need to feel like my writing is up to par. Other published writers say that they could work on their book for infinity, and for the few publications I did for the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department, I can attest to that personally. At some point, you have to say that it is the best you can get it, then not read the publication because you *will* see something you would like to change. Had I been at this point in my novel last month, I would have cheered and submitted. But my experienced with NaNoWriMo and Merlyn’s Amulet made me more seasoned, made me see things differently and better.

And my day “off” (it is Sunday) from editing has let me think about my book, and realize some key changes that would make it much better. I was energized and enthusiastic, ready to take on all 154 pages…until I was reminded of the state of our finances, and suddenly my power-high came crashing down. I swore to Mom that I would get the book done in December. And I will. I have to, because I have to find closure on the last 5 months of my life. I have to move on to the next project. And I have to hope and pray that I will gain a following, and that following will spread the word and magically launch us to a point where I can earn at least two digits a month. Three would be worthy of tears. $125 would be worthy of a party, for $125 doth be the special number that it takes to purchase an ISBN number, where I could actually start selling a physical book and asking bookstores to stock a couple of copies. Should I get an ISBN, I would order my own book, never mind that I would loose money. Would I read it? I do not know. Maybe, after time had passed and I’d forgotten the little twists in the tale. But I would look at it. And it would inspire me to keep plugging away.

And that image of a book on my shelf written by me is what keeps me going when the hurdles seem overwhelming, when I am ready to call into SubWay and ask for a day job despite my husband’s hesitancy about the sort of customers who go in there. Well, our 4-month-old puppy helps keep me home, too. She’s awful young to be in the crate for an 8-hour shift, and I don’t want to imagine the energy she would have after that. (She is a blue heeler-pointer mix.) I am a writer, but I am also human, and in listening to other writers give their inspirational speeches, it is easy to forget the smaller every day challenges that we face–not just rejection.

Well, I’m back to writing in a scene. Hopefully tomorrow’s post will be more inspirational.

Your Dearest Nicolette.

My Editing Process

It’s a hobby of mine to read how other people edit. I know, it’s a strange hobby, but I do enjoy it so. And you sometimes pick up on some cool ideas. Like when I went to TeacherWriter‘s blog via Novel Girl‘s website (yes, I know I am finally discovering other writer’s sites) and TeacherWriter mentioned using AutoCrit to find redundant words and phrases. Hats off to you, TeacherWriter!

Anyhow, I thought I would describe how I edit. It isn’t the smartest strategy, but it is for me. I copy-edit on my first run-through, meaning I nitpick on commas, misspelled words, improper use of punctuation, and whatever other nits there are to sort out. This is not industry (or other writer) recommended, because then I go through and decide what to keep and what not to keep, which means I throw a good hunk of the work I just did out the window.

See, for me it is worth the cost, because I have this lovely tendency to only see “teh” the first time, and all other times I see it as “the”. When it goes on its merry way to wherever, I think I have solved all the nits, but in reality I have sent off a glimmering piece of writing with the occasional web-speak inserted in all the wrong places. Maybe I don’t do it with “teh”, that one is pretty obvious, but what about all those words who are nearly alike but for one letter, such as though and through?

I do have a small circle of critiquers, but I have this horrible tendency to do exactly as I just did yesterday. I took the last chapter, and set it aside. I took my chapter four, and set it aside. I took the two second-to-last (of the new last) chapters, and stuck them in the slots Chapters 7 and 8 used to be in. I have every confidence this new arrangement will work out better. It was the original placement before I decided against it. So, the one person I was having critique chapters 1-7 will now have to re-read some of them. Because I can’t stand to leave a project alone when I see a better way to do it.

Now, I have a plan ahead of me: I will go through my printed novel one more time, this time to take out what I feel needs it. I will also logic-edit the rearranged chapters for continuity in the new timeline. As well, I have a 3-step idea for emphasizing my style and making the story pop. I have yet another plan, this one is organizational and not skill-based.

I am going to make a folder on my desktop, and in that folder each one of my chapters shall have their own, separate file. This is so I can work faster. Ever scroll through a 200-page document looking for that one line in Chapter 13 that needs fixing? Yeah, it is amazing how fast one can become lost and disoriented in a sea of words. Be sure to read NovelGirl’s 10 Commandments of Editing, they are so true.

Writing is a journey, and if you are reading this, congratulations on being on this fine adventure with me.

‘Till later,

Your Dearest Nicolette

The Editing Blahs

All of us writers know the feeling. We know the exhaustion, the lower back pain, the unneeded snapping  at spouses and pets who distract us from deciding if a comma belongs right there.

I do feel accomplished that I got my manuscript printed, and I am feeling better that I also got it hand-edited. Now I need to get the typed edits done. Can I hope that will take a day? Or will it take two full ones? I was hoping to fix minor wording problems and mend one transition. Instead, I found that I had three or so scenes I hadn’t even written. Yes, I just wrote, “asdfghjkl” as a placeholder, or at least it was somesuch nonsense similar to that. Ugh. I annoy myself sometimes. Whatever, I wrote in all but one scene by hand and now I hopefully have the entire story in one contiguous line of thought.

Except that I want to go through my first three chapters with a very, very heavy hand to make it match the style and voice of the rest of the book. I think I would feel better if I knew I was not alone in this tendency to skip vital scenes.

I get too engrossed in my projects. I really, really do. Lunch was a soda and two carrots. At least they were the big ones. And now it is time to make dinner. Whee, isn’t life fun? Sorry, I’m being kinda whack-job-y. This is what 154 pages of 1.5 spaced, 0.25″ margined text does to you if you push too hard and too fast.

Anyhow! Not to discourage any aspiring writers reading my blog. It is just that I am fortunate to have dinner to go make from scratch, as it will pry me away from my manuscript (and computer) and make me do something physical.

Talk to you fine folks later.

…maybe I’ll give you guys another chapter, or an excerpt of the text for tomorrow’s freebee.

Till later,

Nicolette Jinks.