To-do List Be Gone: an update post

*stretches back*

Ahhhhh.

There’s something incredibly satisfying about knocking a bunch of things off the to-do list at once, isn’t there? I think that’s why I break all of my tasks down into the smallest possible denominators so I can cross things off more often and much faster. It’s not “publish this book”, it’s the 25 steps that go into publishing said book. Far easier to maintain my sanity that way.

What have I crossed off my to-do list today?

1) HOWL OF THE FETTERED WOLF (book 4 of the Invisible Entente series) has gone through it’s final first-stage reading & been sent to my incredible alpha reader to be torn to bits.

For the first time since the first draft, this book is out of my hands and someone else’s eyes get to see it. This is both one of the most exhilarating and terrifying parts of the process. What is the whole thing is garbage? What if it needs to be rased to the ground and started from scratch?! Well, best to know now before the readers get their hands on it or before I ruin my editor’s day by sending it to her in that state.

2) SONG OF WISHROCK HARBOR, whose cover gets revealed to the world on THURSDAY!!!, now has a blurb!

I’m weird, I guess. I like writing blurbs. I put on my “movie trailer voice” and see what I can come up with. Usually, I get the foundation of what I want in the first couple of drafts and start tweaking from there.

This one was challenging, and I have no idea why! I love the story, and the themes/threads are tight enough that it wasn’t difficult to pull what needed to be mentioned, but the order, the emphasis, all of the elements that make up a great blurb, were avoiding me. Huge thanks to the people who read it over for me and helped me. Now it’s at a state where I love it, and you can check that out with the cover reveal.

3) The Andvell short story, “The Search of C’Myan” (which also goes out to my mailing list subscribers on THURSDAY), has gone through it’s post-beta edit read-through and is nearly done! 

Only the proofread to go through next, and it’s on its way! The story fills me with so much happiness. Not only because I got to play with old friends, but also because it was a conversation between authors. It was a great reminder that we who express ourselves creatively have more power in the world than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. I feel like it was an especially important reminder right now.

4) “The Search of C’Myan” also has a blurb! And this one I won’t make you wait for! And if you like it, you should sign up for my mailing list if you’re not already there to make sure that you receive it on THURSDAY!

sfc-blurb

Tis the season

… to have an infinite list of deadlines – fa la la la la, la la la la

Is anyone else feeling the strain right now? The holidays are coming, so you’ve got dinners and gifts and decorations and holidays and family and “where do we keep the cat, because you know Aunt May is going to complain about her allergies if she detects a single cat hair” and on top of all that, trying to make sure your work is done so that went Christmas Eve comes along, you can have that ONE. SINGLE. HOUR of doing nothing and knowing you deserved that hour, dammit.

That’s where I am right now. Except for the Aunt May situation. No one we’re hosting for dinner has allergies, and even if they did… well, in this house, we know who’s boss.

(Psst, it’s not the guests. or us)2016-12-09-07-13-08

At the moment, I’m juggling deadlines on four different projects. To procrastinate from working on any of them for a moment, I figured I’d give a bit of an update post.

First and foremost: I’m gleeful (almost wickedly so) to be sharing an exclusive Andvell short story to my mailing list on December 15th.

No one else is going to receive this story.

It’s not mandatory reading for the Andvell Saga, but if you want to spend some time with some old friends and get a teaser for the premise of the next project I’m planning, you might want to get your hands on “The Search for C’Myan.”

And that’s not all I’m offering. There’s also a cover reveal for SONG OF WISHROCK HARBOR coming your day – the story of Gabriel Mulligan, the roguish Gorgon-Fae (cover art created by the ever fantabulous Ravven). People who are not on my mailing list will have to wait until early January to feast their eyes on this beauty, so if you want to be ahead of the game, make sure you’re signed up. If you’re not yet, you can do so by following this link: http://eepurl.com/GIJkz

Not convinced yet?

eyes

What about now?

As a bonus, if you’re not yet signed up, you’ll also receive two other Andvell short stories that are exclusive to my mailing list, so hurray! ALL OF THE EXCLUSIVE STUFF!

Because I don’t feel like I have enough going on, I’m also going to be recording a podcast tomorrow at The Leighgendarium, so if you have any questions for me, get them in today.

ALL OF THE EXCITEMENT!

Now I guess I’ll go back to work…

 

 

 

Book Sale!

dec-saleIt’s true! From now until the end of the month (2 more days!) you can get my entire backlist for 99c each (except for the ones that are already free).

Missing one of the Meratis and Cadis trilogy books to complete your collection? Looking to grab the first book of my new urban fantasy series, The Invisible Entente?

Now is the best time to do it.

You can even gift the ebooks to someone else as an early present!

This will be my final sale before the end of the year, so be sure to take advantage while it lasts!

Year 1 as a Full-Time Author

It really doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was sitting in my living room writing a pros and cons list of not renewing my dayjob contract.

Pros included lots of time writing, a chance to focus on my craft and really build up my backlist, doing what I love, not waking up to an alarm every day, having flexibility in my schedule

Cons: no guaranteed income, decreased socialisation (increased isolation, possibility of depression), high possibility of “failure” and having to return to work in 2017

Dream job vs. ability to afford the dream job is essentially what it came down to.

Fortunately, my family and my partner were incredibly supportive and encouraged me to take the leap.

Now, 12 months later, I get to evaluate my position, determine my plans for next year, and decide what I’m going to do differently.

Since I was having trouble coming up with questions for myself to gauge how the year went, I put out a request for questions and got some real thinkers to consider, so thank you for the ideas!

So here we go: My first year full-time authoring

What is your fave, and least fave, aspect of working from home?

My favourite aspect is the comfort. For the first four months, it was amazing to wake up without an alarm (usually around 7:30) and get to work by 8, working until 5 or 6, or whenever I finished my tasks for the day. I’ve always been good at self-discipline, so that’s only ramped up over the last year.

My fiancé moved in with me at the end of February and I had to adjust to waking up to an alarm again (yuck), but now we get up at 5:20, and I’m at work by 6am, going until 2 or 3, usually. The hours are early, but it’s still 100% organized and prioritised by me, and I love that control.

I also enjoy that I can go out for coffee or lunches with friends in the middle of the day without having to account to anyone but myself and my deadline. The freedom is something I’m grateful for every single day.

On the other hand…

I’m always home. Because money has been very tight this year with only bringing in book money (not including rent, because again, my incredibly supportive partner wants me to succeed in this), I have freedom to go for all the walks I want and take all the breaks I need, but I have to budget every single penny. That means I’ve had to cut down my social life significantly. Every coffee is a debate of whether the cost is worth it.

It means I’ve lost touch with a lot of people I would normally have been seeing a lot of. This has affected my social life (though, thankfully, not my established friendships, which are as strong as ever), and also my local marketing, as my network has slipped out of my hands a little bit.

Do you find it easier, or harder, to be creative when it is now your only job?

This question in particular has plagued me the last couple of months, and it’s only in the last week or two that I’ve approached the end of the tunnel – for now. At first, the creativity came as easily as ever. Things were new and exciting, and I had a schedule all planned out that was going to set up my year.

Then Bladelore got delayed from a March release to a June release and everything kind of went to hell. Sales dropped, I was stressing about the gap in releases between books 2 & 3 and working to reschedule my plans for the rest of the year. The shift meant my deadlines were more critical than the art, and that was reflected in the quality of my earlier drafts.

Now that I’ve got things settled and in a new routine, I’m starting to find the love of my art again, and I wake up looking forward to tackling the next outline or edit. It’s something that’s always in flux, but I’ve learned how important it is to take stock of my situation and remind myself why I’m doing this.

That being said, now that writing is my job, I do find myself in need of a new creative outlet. Something I can do when I’m not at my desk working. A break from the voices in my head. Right now, I’m split between my colouring books and getting back into my cross-stitching.

Did anything unexpected come from your move to full time authoring? Something you really never expected or guessed at.

Two big things, I think.

The first is that I expected my publishing schedule to speed up now that I had more time to work on things throughout the day. I figured that with no much extra time, I could do everything.

That turned out not to be true. With the extra time, I can fit more into my day, but I also have the time to slow down and focus on quality. So I’m still publishing at almost the same rate as before, but with more time at the beginning for outlining and at the end for proofreading, and hopefully that comes out in the final product.

The other unexpected discovery is how much I love accounting. I kept trackers from the beginning, but never really liked the way they were set up and had a hard time keeping on top of them. Finally, over the summer, I met with an accounting student friend of mine, and he helped me understand some of the basics. I went home, crafted a spreadsheet, and now I can see all my income and expenses and how much I spend on book production over the course of the month, and…. yeah. I always knew (and appreciated) how much of a nerd I was, but this year kind of cemented that for me.

(While the above is true, I think a third real answer is that I knew but didn’t know how many facets of the business there was until I started really paying attention. I learned a lot this year, but I still have so much more to learn as I move forward)

How do you cope with the distractions?

I’m sorry, what? I was playing some Spider Solitaire…

I cope with distractions by allowing them to happen. My brain can only focus on one task for so long, and I find that if I force myself to stick with it longer than it wants to, the quality of my work goes down, as does morale. So if I find myself slipping, I switch to a game of Spider. A few minutes of that, and I’m refreshed enough to go back to the task. It makes the day go by faster, and I find I need fewer long breaks, because I get by with a bunch of short ones.

To compare your output for an employer to your output as an entrepreneur, is there more overtime, or less hours devoted to your craft?

When I first started full time, there was so much overtime. So much. I was easily working 10-12 hours a day, sometimes 14 near a deadline.

Then my partner moved in and sort of put a stop to that, thank goodness, or I don’t think I’d be the well-adjusted (*snort*) person I am right now.

Does that mean fewer hours for writing? I actually don’t think so. If I look at my agenda for the last year, it seems that I’ve been good about being steady with my words. When I’m drafting, I don’t usually put anything else in my schedule. I wake up, start writing, and keep writing until the draft is done. Then I switch to edits, which is when I also do most of my admin work, because it’s a nice brain break from tearing my work apart.

At no point this year have I really felt creatively stunted, which has been an incredible change. When I worked at my dayjob, I would have these overwhelming moments of “I need to write. I need to get words down on the page RIGHT NOW”. Now, when I have those moments, I just can. It’s incredible.

What, if anything, would you have done differently this year if you were to do it over?

I don’t know the answer to this question yet. I made mistakes, absolutely, but I learned from them, so I wouldn’t want to not do them, even if they were expensive (courses that really didn’t come to anything, contracting work that didn’t pay off). I think it’s more likely that a year from now I’ll realize something I should have started in my first year that it never occurred to me to do, and then I’ll wish I changed things.

I do wish I’d made a bit more of an effort to keep in contact with people locally. Maybe attended more cons and events. I wish I’d taken more time for myself, up at my family cottage, away from my computer. I really wish I’d taken the opportunity to go for more mid-day walks just to get out of the house and enjoy a change of scenery. But in the scheme of things, I’m happy with how the last 12 months have gone.

You going to continue with the full time author gig?

I plan to give it another 12 months and see how I go.

The world is always changing, and I don’t know how those changes will affect my situation, so I’m happy to keep my plans short-term, but as it stands now (again, thanks to all the support in my life), I’m ready to take another leap.

Hopefully next year I’ll learn even more. I want to brush up on my marketing skills and learn some graphic arts basics so I can be more help to my cover artists than “That’s pretty”, and constantly learn more about my craft and business.

Has it been worth it?

Yes.

Undoubtedly, unequivocally, yes.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the last 12 months that I never would have learned working for someone else. I learned that my self-discipline wasn’t just something I squeezed in between other responsibilities, but is something that I’m quite good at. I’ve learned how to motivate myself and rely less on external carrots to keep myself going. I’ve learned how to slow down so that I can gear myself up when it matters.

I haven’t had a single day where I’ve been stuck on the living room floor because my back was in so much pain due to stress.

I’ve learned how to have fun again, and I hadn’t realised how much I missed it.

In September/October, this might have been a different post. I was feeling really down about things and discouraged that I hadn’t moved forward as much as I had hoped to this year. But the fact is I did make progress and created new targets for me to hit next year.

Success won’t come overnight, but I’ve proved to myself I’m willing to work for it and that lesson means more to me than however much I earned.

To anyone considering the same kind of leap, don’t make the decision lightly, but do consider it. Like is too short to spend time doing things that make you miserable. It might take a while to get on your feet, and you might need to think more creatively than you ever have for ways to get your business started (and you might stumble a couple of times before you find your footing), but in the end it’s worth it to say that you gave it a shot.

The final question didn’t have anything to do with writing, but I figured I’d answer it anyway, because why not?

A nice slow cooker recipe?

Tis the season for chili, amirite? My best friend gave me this one years ago, and it’s a favourite at home. Yum yum!2016-11-28-09-37-06

Heroes of Fantasy Book Bundle

If you love fantasy novels of all subgenres, then I have a great opportunity for you.

I’m honoured and excited to be a part of the Heroes of Fantasy book bundle that offers novels from fantasy genres ranging from epic to witch cozy. 10 books by 10 incredible authors – and all for only 99c!

boxset-promo

It’s already earned it’s pretty little orange “bestseller” sticker and has swept the rankings in a bunch of categories. How can it now when it offers this much awesome?

So grab your copy today and sit down to hours of magical entertainment.

** If you’ve already read Death at Peony House or any other stories in the anthology, please consider leaving a review to help introduce new readers to these fantastical worlds **

Evensong on InstaFreebie

Whoa, Krista, just whoa. You’re trying ANOTHER new thing?

I am. Gotta keep experimenting with this whole marketing concept until I find a method that works for me. A method that complements my dry wit and borderline loathing of computers (I realised that when I take a break from my computer, my arm needs to be twisted to come back to it. Me! Who used to be such an internet addict and now can barely drag myself to check my Facebook account).

Apologies for the rambling. I’ve started doing this 15 minute free-write first thing in the morning to get the brain juices moving. They usually end up being this long stream-of-consciousness bit, and it’s hard to wrangle myself back into coherent thought afterwards.

Anyway – yes! A new method!

I’m sure many people reading this will have already read Evensong. It was my first published novel and has been on the market since January 2014, and free since… I think sometime early 2015? In many ways, it’s still the story of my heart, and while I am saving up to overhaul the covers and maybe do a quick edit, I love every character and every word of it.

If you have read it, there might be other people who have not, so feel free to share this news in every forum, social media platform, or in a note that you slip under your neighbour’s front door while they’re watching some thriller film like Taken, so that when they receive the note, they’ll think it’s their trigger to take on a new mission, and assume that downloading my free novel is part of that mission (perhaps containing a clue to the next step in the puzzle).

*ahem*

*trumpet noise*

For a 30-day trial, Evensong is now also available on Instafreebie!

Evensong-Cover-V1-lowResWeb[1]Author Jeff Powell wakes up to find the impossible has happened. He is within his own novel—summoned into the fictional world of Feldall’s Keep by a spell he didn’t write. One the House enchantress hasn’t figured out how to reverse.

When the villain he’s been struggling to write reveals himself, unleashing waves of terror and chaos, Jeff must use more than his imagination to save the characters he created—and the woman he loves.

Trapped within a world of his own creation, he must step outside the bounds of his narrative to help his characters defeat an evil no one anticipated, even if he must sacrifice his greatest gift. In the end, he has to ask: are novels really fiction, or windows into other worlds?

Even if you already have Evensong, Instafreebie is a neat place to get all sorts of free offers from all sorts of authors. My hope is that it will be one more resource to introduce new people to Andvell, which would keep me motivated to add more to this world. There’s at least one more trilogy running through my mind right now, but who knows how this place of magic and distorted reality can branch out into new stories? I, for one, am interested to find out.

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Week 2 Check-in

Tomorrow, we’re 50% of the way through the month, which I guess means you should be creeping up on 25k. Are you feeling confident about doing it? Need some cheerleading? Post your numbers in the comments and I will do my “You can do it!” dance on your behalf.

I managed to squeeze some words on Saturday between a wedding in the morning and Dr. Strange in the evening (have you gone to see this yet? SO good) and hit 50k. So, yes, I guess technically I’m done NaNo for the year?

NOT EVEN CLOSE! There’s still another 15-20k that needs to be written to finish this draft, so I’ll be aiming for that for the next two weeks. And if I finish that, I’m going to start on an Andvell short story that I want to send to my newsletter subscribers in December (is that a plug to sign up for my newsletter? Yes, yes it is. Follow the link here, and I promise only to send emails once or month of if something crazy cool happens.)

Please don’t be discouraged by my numbers. Even if you’re only at 5k, it means that you have sat down often enough to get those words out. Closing in on 10k? That’s amazing! Many people say they want to do get started, but can’t make it past the first 25o words, so you’re proving to yourself that you have what it takes to get past that point.

It’s all about training, about learning what process and what schedule works best for you. It’s possible you won’t figure it out this month, but who’s to say you can’t do your own private NaNo next month and tackle it again? Or the month after that? Or after that? November is just the chance for everyone to suffer  write together, but if you’re really passionate about seeing it done, there’s never a bad time.

That being said, you still have two weeks to go – let’s make words happen!

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 7

I met to post a weekly report yesterday, but got wrapped up in family things…and then my brain decided it didn’t want to work anymore, curled up into a corner, and spent the afternoon snoring while I tried to get some reading done. Thanks, Daylight Saving Time.

So I’ll include a bit of a week 1 update now as I dive into the start of week 2:

I hit 25k, which puts me halfway through the NaNo goal and a little over a third of the way through my first draft goal of 60k (although I suspect it’ll be a little more like 70 or 75 at this rate)

The daily afternoon scene prep to get me ready for the next day’s writing has been incredibly helpful, and it’s probably a system I’ll stick with going forward. I found this past weekend, because of all the family stuff, I had a hard time connecting with the story. I was constantly watching the clock, but also wanting to get my words in for the day. If I hadn’t had my scene descriptions guiding me forward, I likely would have written all sorts of digressions or mindless babble just to fill the space. With the heavy lifting already done, I just had to turn it into words.

So if you’re struggling, consider that one of my suggestions.

As I get into today’s work, I’m still winding down from the weekend, so I might try a bit of meditation to clear out the clutter in my head.

How are you progressing? What tricks are you using to stay focused? What do you think of your novel so far? Share in the comments!

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 3

It’s kind of like running a marathon, isn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t know, I’ve never actually run a marathon, but I imagine there are parallels. I don’t usually begin my NaNo month blowing all of the words away. Usually when I start at the beginning of November, I haven’t written anything fresh in a while. It takes me a bit of time to get my writing fingers on, like training. As the days go on and the story develops the confidence builds and I feel ready to tackle longer stretches and harder scenes.

So if you’re seeing word counts float by that are higher than yours or if you’re not quite meeting your personal daily goals, don’t be discouraged. This is only the beginning.

My check-in: to remain accountable, I finished chapter 2 yesterday and am still liking the book. I do find the downside to prepping scenes in advance is that now I almost feel like I’m filling in the blanks instead of writing something new, but, again, that will change as I get deeper into the plot and really connect with the characters’ voices. I hope…

Why I NaNo

An interesting FB post prompted me to ask myself this question yesterday. It came from someone who noticed that many full-time writers stay they can’t do NaNo because they write full novels all the time and don’t have time to focus on one book in one month. I’ve seen statuses like this myself.

That’s cool. No one is forcing anyone to sit down and write 50k in a month, but personally it’s my favourite time to start a new project. So far in 2016, I’ve drafted 4 novels. Two of them have been during CampNaNo, and the fourth here for NaNo. The reason I stick with it is that I love the camaraderie.

Writing is a solitary endeavour, and while there are many FB groups for writers to talk about their craft, to work on sprints together, moan about the details together (I’m so grateful to social media for this luxury), NaNo is a time when writers of all levels are banding together to encourage each other to get those words down.

It’s the time of year when we’re louder, more determined – I can’t go on Twitter or Instagram these days without seeing a whole bunch of NaNo posts from people I didn’t even know were writers or from popular names who are still getting involved.

It’s great! I love being a part of that.

So to carry on with the wonderful tradition of NaNo encouragement: You can do this! You’ve still got 27 more days to get those words in, and I have full faith that you can.

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 2

ALL RIGHT! YEAH! How are you feeling as we move into day two? Did you learn methods of concentration that didn’t work for you? Have you come up with a method that did?

I managed to get the first chapter written, and plotted the next four scenes, and the best part is I’m liking the story so far. My alpha reader will probably have some words to say on a few things, but structurally, I feel like this is one my strongest books yet.

I’m looking forward to a scene I reach today where the love interest is introduced. Someone that readers of my IE prequel will have already met. I don’t think it’s going to go well for either of them.

Yesterday’s trick to stay focused:

I suspect this will change as the days and weeks go on, when one system breaks down and another needs to replace it, but yesterday, I took a very quick FB/Spider Solitaire break every 500 words. I find it takes the pressure off of “I have to get everything done RIGHT NOW” and gives me permission to step away for a minute.

My NaNoWriMo Tipdo something similar. The daily goal to hit 50k is 1,667 words a day. Break that down into smaller bites that you can do without pressure. First drafts are supposed to be fun – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take a short break.

My goal for today: write the next three scenes. I’m going to try my 500 word break method, but if that doesn’t work…

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I GOT THESE