And Another Year Approaches!

This year has not been a writing year for me. I had planned to write at least one novel and one nonfiction book, but… well, let’s just say that it’s the end of November and I didn’t do it. I haven’t done a ton of marketing, either, although my sales have stayed reasonably consistent. Which tells me something about how much money I’ve spent on marketing prior to 2014, which is another post!

So what happened?

I think a few things:

I got burned out. I wrote 7 novels and a nonfic in 2 years (less, really). Plus edited, produced, published and marketed them. It was awesome and fun and fulfilling while I was doing it, but I think it was more mentally exhausting than I realized. Every time I’ve tried to start back in 2014, I just can’t get the juices flowing. So for the rest of 2014, I’m not going to worry about it. But in 2015….

gonecrazy_backsoon

We moved, downsized and empty nested. As everybody knows, moving sucks. I was trying to think of some wonderful synonym, but honestly, it just sucks. That was in January, after which this area where it *never* snows had 3 huge storms where we were snowed in. My husband wasn’t able to move until the end of March. My son, who was taking a gap year, left for over a month to visit family. Spring was late and wet, and I put in a huge (40×30′) garden. Summer was late and wet. I worked part time at a summer camp because…. I’m not really sure why, except that it seemed like a fun idea. My son, our youngest, left for college. I spent almost a month in Uganda. And now it’s almost Thanksgiving. Surprise! Basically, the year has been full of new, hard but mostly good things that took a lot of energy.

IMG_6024

I started a new business. Funding for nonprofits has been down across the board in recent years, including mine. We’ve started a new socially conscious, fair trade business in hopes of funding it a different way – think of a Toms sort of model. But it’s taken a lot of effort, including an Indiegogo campaign, product design, and a LONG trip to Uganda to set up women’s co-ops. It’s up and running as of this week, though – check it out!

Ndoto-Collection-final

So that’s next?

Well, I’d like to write more screenplays. That’s actually what I’m best at, although it’s pretty hard to break into that world. But… why not try, right?

I’m aiming for at least one novel and one nonfiction in 2015. That’s very doable! If I say more… Well, better to under-promise and over-deliver, right?

Grow the Ndoto Collection and the non-profit. Continue to search out funding sources/opportunities. Travel to Uganda.

Live. Let’s make 2015 great!

adventure

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Getting Back Into the Groove – 6 to-do’s

welcome-back-to-reality

I have been on a much-needed hiatus, but I haven’t been idle! We moved 3 hours away, and into a much smaller house (but on the water, so no complaints). We’ve had some business stuff going on, my grandmother’s 100th birthday, the holidays, and a big ice/snow storm, which the coast of NC isn’t equipped to handle very well. Now that we’re thawed out, I’m mostly unpacked, and things have settled down, it’s time to get to work.

There’s the rub. I’m out of practice! I had my schedule and did so well with it… Until I abandoned it and life got in the way. I don’t have my “knock out 3000 words a day” mojo going. I don’t even have my “hyper research NaNo style” thing going. I feel like I’m back at square one! I haven’t even been spending much time marketing or Tweeting or any of the “easy” things lately. My books are still selling, but that’s a miracle given my neglect.

So what’s the plan? It goes something like this:

  • Spend a couple of hours a day researching Artificial Intelligence/Artificial Super-Intelligence, which is the topic of my next dystopian sci-fi adventure. And it won’t be like anything you’ve read or seen before – no Terminators allowed.
  • Get back to regular blog posting. I have 3 blogs. They’ve all been neglected. That ends this week!
  • Use ManageFlitter to keep my Twitter presence alive. Daily. Three tweets a day. Done.
  • Get some marketing on the calendar. With 7 books now, it’s more complicated (and expensive) than it used to be. I’ve also been *sort of* managing marketing for my husband’s 2 books. I did some stuff over Christmas, but that was a month ago, so time to get a plan, work the plan, BE THE PLAN. (Okay, that might be a bit much…) One day a week on marketing.
  • Go through my email files. I have a habit of leaving a ton of windows open with articles I want to read. They could be interesting tidbits for a story, marketing blogs, world building ideas… It drives my kids nuts, because I’ll have 10 windows open. Far be it from me to drive my kids nuts, so I developed a system. If I haven’t read the articles by the end of the day, I email the link to myself, and save it in the appropriate folder for later. Only later seems to rarely come around… So I have way to many things to read. I want to spend a day or two culling that out, keeping the good ones, making notes, and deleting. I’ll feel a lot better when it’s done (until 6 months from now when I’m right back here… But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!).
  • Get my accounting caught up for 2013 taxes. I just heard your collective groan, and believe me, I joined in. I did the books for 2013 for my nonprofit yesterday… You know what that means. Writing stuff today. As my daughter used to say when she was young, “Poo and pooier.” But it’s gotta get done.

I’ve been looking at February 1st as my “new year”. We moved January 10, but did it in stages starting in mid-December, so January 1 was kind of a lost date for me. So far, to be honest, February 1 has been lost, too. But I am still going to plow ahead! The marketing landscape has changed since I last plunged in heavily. Amazon now has the Kindle Countdown Deals, which are bringing in good sales. BookBub has totally changed their eligibility, but I’m over 6 months from my last ad with them with several titles, so time to try that again.

Spring is coming, and I’ll be working on my little homestead. I’ve got a big garden planned, and my son and I are bulding a chicken coop this weekend (that may be a story in and of itself!). Soon it’ll be boating and fishing weather. Before all that starts, I need to be deep in my writing habits, or 2014 will be a sad year for my career as an author. Since I want to get at least 2 books out, and keep the other ones selling, I need to get off my backside and get moving. So I’ll be seeing you around!

chickens

 

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Guest post from Grammarly! Why Proofreading matters

As most of you know from earlier posts, I’m a big fan of Grammarly. When Nick Baron emailed me to ask if they could post an article on my blog, of course I said yes! It’s a great kick-off to 2014 for this blog (we moved in January, among other distractions!). Enjoy!

Why Proofreading Matters

proofreading

Anyone who puts pen to paper or finger to keyboard as it so happens today, needs to understand the importance of proofreading. Proofreading is the very thing that can separate good writing from bad writing and greatly impacts your chances of being published. Further, proofreading is a simple task that takes very little of your time.

I should know, my name is Nick and I work over at Grammarly. Grammarly is a site dedicated to proofreading and improving your grammatical skills and part of my job is to study the writing habits of everyday writers to greater improve our site. As you can imagine I come across hundreds of texts daily with terrible usage and believe me when I say, it makes understanding the writers point near impossible.

So let’s start off with the basics—what is proofreading?

Proofreading, also known as line editing, is exactly what you think. It is the process of meticulously analyzing every word, line, paragraph of your writing for spelling errors, punctuation errors, usage errors and other typos. Proofreading is not a natural ability; it is a skillset that takes practice and patience to develop. Though it can be rather tedious at times, a well proofread piece is the true sign of a professional. It is the creation of a text that has the highest level of clarity and therefore understanding.

Therefore, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer and if you want your point to be understood you HAVE to proofread and proofread well.

This is why today we are going to review some resources that are available online. These resources will pave the way to your understanding of proofreading and editing, which will ultimately mold you in a better writer. Many of these resources deal with grammar and usage as these are typically the bulk of errors you will encounter, while others provide tips for making the task of proofreading easier.

  • Purdue’s Online Writing Lab—understanding the true mechanics of grammar has never been easier with the aid of Purdue’s famed OWL. The excellent writers over at OWL take those confusing grammatical elements and break them down in easy-to-understand language. It is a wonderful resource that will definitely advance your knowledge on both grammar and various writing styles.
  • Chicago Manual of Style—if you want to bring you grammar game to the next level, consider thumbing through the Chicago Manual of Style. What better way to learn the rules than from the people who make them? The manual itself is a little thick and boring, so should only be used as a reference or in a school settings however definitely check out their forum. There you can find endless discussions on virtually every grammatical topic known to man.
  • UNC’s Writing Center—like Purdue’s OWL, UNC’s Writing Center is an excellent resource for both academic and non-academic writers. Here UNC provides some excellent articles on tips and strategies for revising your writing. Working through their incredibly well-formatted website will leave you a proofreading pro in no time.
  • Daily Writing Tips—as the name implies, this site is dedicated to offering writers daily tips to help hone their craft. The site is filled to the brim with a number of proof related articles and covers many topics like grammar, spelling, punctuation and more. Further, many of these articles are not just well written but fun to read! Daily Writing is a must have on your “favorites” tab.
  • Grammarly—falls into the category of “online proofreader” but it is a lot more than just that. At its core, yes, Grammarly is an online proofreading site (arguably the best online), but a proofreader that does more than just proof. Grammarly is a tool that totally encompasses every aspect of writing as it can provide stylistic edits, word replacement suggestions to expand vocabulary, checks for plagiarized material while suggesting proper citations and more. However, the truly unique bit is that Grammarly teaches you along the way. Grammarly takes your grammatical errors and teaches you proper usage. Undeniably Grammarly is an excellent tool for any writer and proofreader.

Obviously this list does not include every resource out there but will get you started on the right foot. Proofreading, much like writing, takes time and effort to hone. If you are committed to learning the above sites will make your proofreading education much easier than your old high school grammar classes.

 

 By Nikolas Baron

Bio:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Release day is ALMOST here!

I was hoping to get Darian’s War released earlier this week, but that didn’t happen. However, I’ve proofed both the print and e-versions, and am just waiting on the final files and artwork files, then however long Amazon and Createspace take to process. I haven’t seen the boxed set stuff yet….. I realize other people celebrate Thanksgiving, too, so I’m trying to be patient! (Not my strong suit!)

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving, and that you’re not killing yourselves trying to shop. I don’t shop this time of year, since I don’t like crowds, but my daughter’s in-laws were out in the wee hours of the morning. Stay warm and safe!

Christmas-Countdown1I’m going to have some free days and sales going on around Christmas and New Years, so stay tuned!

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Did you think I disappeared? A writer’s tale…

I’m alive! yeehaw!

I realize you couldn’t tell it from my blog activity (this blog, at least). That’s because life just came along and slammed me in the face. True story. In fact, I’m taking time out from packing up our house to write this post out of guilt for not having written in so long!

So what’s up in the writer’s house? Glad you asked!

First of all, and a huge HALLELUJAH, I got Darian’s War off to the production team yesterday, only a month-plus late. Here’s the cover reveal: TA-DA!!!

Darians War cover 2

Do you love it? I do!! Here are all three covers side by side so you can see the awesome work Glendon at Streetlight Graphics has done:

IXEOS 800 Cover reveal and Promotional Ixeos Rebellion 800 Cover Reveal and Promotional Darians War cover 2

Not only will Darian’s War be released (fingers and toes crossed) next week, we’ll also have a boxed set of all three available for Christmas! So that’s really exciting. (I won’t tell you how stinking hard it was to wrap up a global war… Whose brilliant idea was that anyway?!) Now for marketing and all that stuff, and hopefully some good sales coming up to and just after Christmas.

In other news, we’re moving three hours away in January. I’m pretty excited because I’ve wanted to live there for years, but it’s kind of complicated, since we’re moving to a house we already own and which is already furnished. Plus it’s 1/3 the size. So that’s proving to be a logistical nightmare.

My grandmother will be ONE HUNDRED (yes, 100!) on December 1, and we’re all headed to FL for her big party the following weekend. She still lives alone, walks her dog, makes her meals… All my cousins will be there, so it’ll be chaotic craziness. But we’re driving, which is nine and a half hours, so that’s two full days. Then helping my mom get everything ready. It’ll be a fun but not very productive week.

My husband and I have been doing some national radio hosting. It’s been a blast! We’ll see if it goes anywhere, but, as the guy said last night, “You guys are a great team on the air!” I told him we were a pretty great team off the air, too!

C&J wedding brunch

Then there are the holidays just upon us… How is 2014 almost over??

So that is life at the moment, and I must say, I’m SO glad I’m not trying to do NaNoWriMo, and so glad to have Darian’s War done. I won’t be writing fiction for awhile. Maybe February? Or I might wait and see if the Office of Letters and Light does another April Camp NaNo. The next book will probably be a sequel to Undaunted Love. We’ll see!

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on fundraisers for my nonprofit. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know about our work in Uganda and Andros, Bahamas. The end of the year is coming, and we’d love to have your help with our work. Please check it out, and you can donate on the website or at our GoFundMe.com page. A little goes a long way, especially in Uganda, so thank you for anything you can contribute!

That’s about it. I’m going to try to be more regular here, or at least repost some “best of” blogs. I’m going to be crazy busy until the end of January, so don’t think I disappeared! I wish you all a VERY………

Happy-Thanksgiving

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