Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: January 2013

Meanwhile, In Real Life…

Sorry for the radio silence this week, folks. I’m buried in work right now, and I’ve got a couple of client projects that I’ve got to buckle down and get cleaned off of my plate ASAP. So this is just a quick note to let you know that the blog’s on another mini-hiatus until those are done.

Now you kids behave yourselves while I’m gone.

Other Writer Wednesday: Indie Spotlight on Christopher Nuttall

This week’s Indie Spotlight falls on Christopher Nuttall’s science fiction series, The Empire’s Corps.

You Should Never Speak Truth To Power…

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker of the Terran Marine Corps makes the mistake of speaking truth to power, telling one of the most powerful men in the Empire a few home truths. As a result, Captain Stalker and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire. It should have been an easy posting…

Well, apart from the bandits infesting the countryside, an insurgency that threatens to topple the Empire’s loose control over Avalon, and a corrupt civil government more interested in what it can extort from the population than fighting a war. The Marines rapidly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of political and economic chaos, fighting to preserve Avalon before the competing factions tear the world apart. They’re Marines; if anyone can do it, they can.

The battle to save the Empire starts here.

No Worse Enemy (The Empire’s Corps)

Six months ago, Colonel Edward Stalker and his Marines were abandoned on Avalon, left to fend for themselves as the Empire withdrew from the Rim. Since then, Avalon has been isolated from the settled universe…until now.

As a mysterious pirate organisation attempts to take over Avalon, the Marines find themselves struggling against a shadowy figure with dreams of power, while a young civilian is kidnapped and press-ganged into a pirate crew. They’re fighting to preserve something of the Empire’s order in the wake of its departure, but the pirates appear to have far greater resources and a plan that seems unstoppable.

The Empire is gone. What will take its place?

 

Both of these books, as well as other books by Christopher Nuttall, are available for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Learn more about Christopher and check out free samples of his work at The Chrishanger, and while you’re at it, be sure to check out Chris’s blog and Like his Facebook page!

Story Time Tuesday: Eucha Falls, Part Five

Finally! Without further ado:

Eucha Falls

Part Five

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

It was lunchtime when Shane returned to pick her up. They grabbed microwavable burgers at the gas station where they stopped to fill the car on the way out of town, but even then it was late afternoon before they reached the stretch of highway that led to the park.

“You’ve still got it programmed into the GPS, right?” Melanie asked as she consulted her map.

“Yeah. Our turn should be coming up soon.”

Melanie looked up from the map and looked out at the highway. Up ahead, she saw a billboard coming into view, and as they grew closer she recognized the ad for the marina. “This is it.”

Shane slowed the car and took a right turn, and they heard the familiar crunch of gravel under the tires. But after a few yards, as the gravel gave way to black tar pavement, he stopped the car. “This isn’t right.” He looked behind them, where they could still see the highway and the billboard. “Wasn’t there a Dead End sign?”

Arranging My Plate

Note: If you’ve somehow landed here from the IWU New Year’s Blog Hop, please note that you’re here by mistake and I’m not participating in the current hop. But you are nonetheless welcome to hang out here and peruse my blog.

That’s right, dear readers, there is another Blog Hop going on this week, so if you didn’t win that Kindle Fire during the Holiday Hop, here’s your second chance.

I was originally planning to participate, but then the new year threw a whole bunch of work at me all at once and something had to give. So, no giveaways here on my blog this week, although I am planning something for after things settle down a bit, so don’t wander too far away for too long.

Speaking of being overwhelmed, this time management tip from the International Freelancers Academy arrived in my inbox the other day just when I needed it the most. I was feeling sick and overwhelmed and had actually just drafted a resignation letter for one of my contract jobs because I was so overextended. I haven’t sent that letter yet, but let me tell ya, this particular job not only pays the least of all of my current gigs, it’s also the most demanding and stressful. The only reason I’m hesitant to resign is fear that if I do, all of the other jobs will dry up all at once and then I’ll have nothing, a fear that is neither unfounded in the freelancing world, nor unprecedented in my freelancing career. So I’m going to give this piece of advice a whirl and see if I can continue fitting them in without losing my sanity or letting them push all of the higher-paying work, not to mention my writing priorities, off of my plate.

Basically, this tip suggests diagramming all of your projects as a jigsaw puzzle to help you visualize how to fit all of the pieces together in your work day. I tailored it a bit and diagrammed it as a plate instead of a jigsaw puzzle, because that just makes more sense to my brain, and because since I’m always talking about my plate being too full, I thought it might be useful to see just what that looks like.

Also, instead of listing every single project and trying to fit them into this chart (because that would just make me want to shoot myself), I divided them up into broad categories, and then charted each category on the plate, like so:

The plate itself represents an eight-hour work day (my days usually go longer, but that’s mainly because of interruptions and distractions; so I’m charting the actual time that should be spent working). I have five categories of stuff that I need to get done each day: Writing & Publishing, Marketing, Freelance Writing, Web Dev & Graphic Design, and e-mail and miscellaneous little stuff that always has to get done.

Writing & Publishing is pretty self-explanatory — this is my noveling time, and I try to make it the first hour of my day (because otherwise it won’t get done). This covers all of the various tasks from drafting a story to revisions to formatting and book design, depending on which stage I’m at with a particular story. If all my dreams come true, this category will someday take up about two-thirds of my plate, and Marketing will take up the remaining third. But for now all I get is one measly hour a day to just be a writer.

Marketing covers all of my various book marketing tasks, as well as blogging. It also covers marketing my freelance business and looking for new clients. It’s actually quite a lot of work to cram into one hour a day, but right now I’m just counting my blessings that I actually have other work and don’t need to spend all day hunting for work and trying to hawk my wares.

The biggest chunk of time is for Demand Studios and other freelance writing jobs. DS is actually paying pretty decent money right now and they would actually take up the rest of my day if I didn’t have other client obligations.

But I do, and so I’ve carved out two hours for client projects — mainly web development and graphic design stuff. This is where the object of that letter is going to have to fit in, and only after my other (better-paying) clients are taken care of. And when they learn that they’re relegated to two hours a day on days when I don’t have more important things to work on, that letter might just become moot; but that’s what they get for being both the lowest and most difficult rung on my income ladder.

Before I did this little exercise, I asked myself how useful it would really be, but now that I’ve done it, I think it has helped me feel less frazzled and more like my work is actually manageable. I know I have readers who are juggling multiple projects and feel like they’re spinning a lot of plates — hopefully, this exercise will help you guys figure out how everything fits on just one plate. And hopefully it will help ME attain my 2013 goal of budgeting my time better and finding more balance in my life.

Writing & Publishing Plans for 2013 And Beyond

2013 looks like it’s going to be an interesting year for my writing and publishing agenda. I fear that it’s not going to be a very productive or eventful year; not because I don’t have any projects in the works, but because work is threatening to keep me too busy to market my books or write and publish new ones. Needless to say, this is frustrating, and also somewhat ironic. Out of all of the things I know how to do, writing fiction is the only one that I actually want to have as a lifelong career, and yet it’s the one I’m able to devote the least time to, because as of yet it brings in the least amount of income. It’s hard to justify setting aside something that does pay the bills to make time for something that doesn’t, you know?

Heavy sigh.

I do, however, have writing and publishing goals. I don’t know if I can call them 2013 goals, because it’s doubtful that I’ll be able to get to all, if any, of them this year. I have no fewer than four fully-formed novels in my head currently, all of them vying to be my next project. These include the aforementioned Radium Town, my Weird West Steampunk horror adventure; a romantic paranormal thriller that’s sort of a follow-up, but not really a sequel, to Restless Spirits, although it might have some cross-over; and the next two sequels to Dominion of the Damned, which, surprise, is actually a trilogy.

I keep going back and forth on which one to focus on next. Both common and business sense seem to dictate that I should stick with the Damned series until it’s done, while that world is still fresh in my mind, and also to appeal to all of the genre series fans, of whom there are many. And part of me wants to keep going, but part of me also really wants to take a break from that world. There are legitimate reasons for focusing on each of the others, too. I’m considering just powering through the rough drafts for each of them and then going back and editing them in turn, but that will pretty much guarantee that I spend all of 2014 editing and revising, and probably won’t have a new book come out until late next year at the earliest. Although I suppose I could always work on short stories if I need to write something fresh and new.

At any rate, I am hoping to pull my Faeries in Hollywood novel, The Hero Factor, out of the trunk and dust it off and polish it up for release later this year. And I’ll also be finishing and polishing Eucha Falls for e-book release in the next month or so. So it’s not like 2013 will be entirely void of new releases.

And in light of the fact that self-publishing is a lot of work (really, if you’re still on the fence about self-publishing, I’m tempted to advise you not to do it if you don’t have a budget for hiring people to edit, design your cover and layout, help out with marketing, etc. because it cannot be overstated how much work goes into this stuff if you DIY it), I’m also considering alternative routes to getting my books out there. I’m not ready to jump back on the traditional-publishing wagon yet, but I am thinking of maybe submitting to some small press indie publishers, just so someone else can do all of that other work and I can focus mainly on the writing.

I’m also thinking about entering Dominion into a couple of contests. There’s the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which seems basically to be American Idol for indie writers; and the IndieReader Discovery Awards, which doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract for the winner, but looks like great exposure regardless of whether I won. The latter contest has an entry fee large enough to be potentially prohibitive, though, and the former looks like a lot of time and work just to prepare my entry, and as things currently stand I don’t know if I’ll be able to make the time to prepare an effective pitch. So we’ll have to see.

At any rate, that’s more or less what I’ll be working on for probably at least the next two years. Do you have an opinion on which book I should write next? Feel free to share it in the comments.

It’s a New Year, And That Means New Old Goals

Happy New Year!

We survived 2012, although I’ve got to admit, there were times when I thought a little wistfully about our supposed impending doom, because that would’ve been a great excuse to take a vacation. Between hauling hiney to get my book done and published before the end of the year, and then marketing it, and juggling all of that with both finding and doing freelance work, I was feeling pretty burned out by the end of the year.So it wasn’t too hard to force myself to take full advantage of the last two four-day weekends and recharge my batteries.

This last weekend was particularly restful. I stayed in, and caught up on sleep, and was totally lazy for most of it, and actually read a whole entire book just for fun (Cold Days, the lastest Dresden Files entry — it was good!). Then we spent yesterday the same way we’ve spent all New Year’s Days since we moved into this house — cleaning house and putting away Christmas decorations. Now I’m feeling quite a bit closer to normal and am actually able to think straight and have creative ideas and such once again, and I’m ready to tackle some goals for 2013.

Usually, before I set goals I spend a whole blog post reviewing the previous year. But there wasn’t a whole lot to 2012, really. I mean, on a national & historical scale, there was plenty. But on a personal scale, it was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t wholly without highlights, though: in addition to publishing my second novel, I also lost some more weight and made some brief forays back into Full Time Office Job territory, and got back into the practice of doing job interviews. Also, thanks to Un-Eff Your Habitat, I actually experienced having every room in my house clean at the same time, and even maintained that state for a while before everything became ridiculously hectic. Mostly, though, 2012 turned out to be one big hunt for paying work, which is boring, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

Looking ahead to the new year, instead of resolutions, I have some goals (yes, I’m one of those people), primary of which is to achieve some prosperity. We’re off to a good start, thanks to the fact that the Big Job/Gig Hunt of 2012 actually paid off, to the effect that here at the start of the year I have three steady, long-term freelance gigs and two short-term web dev projects, one of which could turn into a steady retainer. There’s also still the IT contract employment agency I signed on with back in November, although I have a feeling all of the positions they were considering me for are on hold until their client companies see what’s going to happen with this whole fiscal cliff thing. Honestly, this whole business is making me more thankful to be a freelancer than ever before, since I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m going to lose my job in the next few weeks. And Matt has decided to take the semester off to work on his various business pursuits and help me with mine. So, we’re starting out the new year in a good place. Here’s hoping the work stays steady long enough to make some real headway.

Naturally, I have a weight-loss goal–I’m about five pounds away (according to my cheap bathroom scales, at any rate, so it’s probably more like 10 in reality) from achieving my ultimate goal weight, which will put me firmly in the middle of the healthy BMI range. So I’m going to focus on shedding those last several pounds, and also toning up and making my butt look unlike the butt of someone who sits at a computer all day. This will necessitate rebuilding my wardrobe, because everything in my closet will officially be one to three sizes too big, so that ties back into the first goal.

My other major goal for the new year is simply to keep making time to write, and to not let the hectic freelancing schedule deter me. I haven’t been writing lately — after scrambling to finish revising and polishing Dominion and then publicizing it to death, I needed a break. But I’m back in the saddle as of this morning, during which I wrote the next scene of Eucha Falls. I hope to finish that by next week. As for what I’ll write next, that’s not quite decided and it probably needs to be its own blog post, along with my publishing goals for the year.

I have smaller goals, too, which probably count more as resolutions: to get back into the UFYH habit, as mentioned above, although for the last six months I haven’t even had time to read that blog, let alone put any of it into practice; to make more leisure time for myself and spend it away from the Internet, doing things like going outside and reading books and playing my bass and actually making craft projects instead of just pinning them on Pinterest, to keep myself from getting so burned out again; and to take a real vacation this year, one where we actually leave the house, even if it’s just a long weekend camping at the lake.

Pretty much it all boils down to that I need to work on balancing things better this year, and on doing a better job of budgeting my time.

What about you guys? Did you have a good New Year’s weekend? Let’s hear about your big goals for 2013!

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