Monthly Archives: March 2023

Writing Accountability post #12

Illustration of office

Planning promotion; picture by author

I felt like I was making some headway this week when, truthfully, the most work went into The Cost of Power. I’m now at the halfway point in the book and am pleased at the way the hinge point neatly manifested itself. It wasn’t what I originally had in mind, but all the same, I liked what the results were. However, poor Federation Cowboy hasn’t had any work done on it. Neither have the Goddess’s Vision outline nor the Raven Alliance potential Vella serial. All the same, 14,000 words for the week (not counting today) is getting back to the pace that I should be writing. More on that later.

However, I suspect that once I sit down with the Federation Cowboy notes and put the pieces together, it will take off. I needed the processing break in order to work through some issues because, again, it’s hit a hinge point and stuff is gonna happen fast. I had to do that with Power, which was also at a hinge point. We won’t talk about the potential scenes that I–sigh–will most likely NOT be writing for Power. Then again, they might make nice little outtakes. I’ll consider that.

Another thing that just didn’t happen this week was any sort of significant promotional activity, and it shows in my sales. That said, I also think it’s a good idea to take a week or so off every now and then, to avoid promotional fatigue. I’ll be working on new promotions this week and may start doing some of those more aggressively.

I’ve started seeing results from setting my alarm to get up at the same time every day. I may push it back another hour because I just plain start getting fatigued by the end of the day, no matter what time I get up. It’s mental fatigue as much as it has been physical. Interestingly, I’ve had a couple of nights where thoughts about Power meant I was writing late into the night. Most of the time, I’m also getting words down in the morning, which is quite helpful.

Non-writing stuff is also making progress. I crafted two tote bags–at least one for a donation as a door prize, along with some books. Then I made a couple of decorative spring runners for us–they’re very pretty. Almost marketable, but I made these for us. I also have plans to make similar ones for summer and fall–this started with making them for Christmas/winter, and then I decided, why not make more and incorporate them into my regular seasonal decor? I think I’m also going to start making some for fall/winter online sales/swag/stuff like that.

Along the same lines, I celebrated the equinox by putting away the winter decor and bringing out the spring stuff. Haven’t done the same switch with clothing yet because…we’re still getting snow and cold. Old mare decided that it was blanket time. She’s a lot happier with life now. She does well for the most part in winter without being blanketed, but the last few springs, once she starts shedding out, she seems to be uncomfortable. Well, old mare, damp and cold instead of dry and cold, so it’s understandable.

Overall, then, a decent week of things accomplished. I have to remember that I’m now sixty-five, so…need to plan and channel my energy effectively. To that end, I bowed out of participating in an anthology series. I didn’t get a lot of positive reviews in comparison to the other stories in the first volume, and while I had a story ready to put in the second one, it wasn’t the best of fits.


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Writing Accountability Post #11

time icons over vintage background vector illustration

Whoa. I have never, ever been able to quantify the degree to which the time change from Standard to Daylight has thrown me off schedule like this. Oh, I knew it was a factor, but I didn’t totally understand the degree of impact until now. Some of this is also due to the change in daylight since we’re at the equinox–and, once again, I hadn’t quantified it until this year. Probably because until the last eight years, daylight hours hadn’t been a significant factor in horse time. I had access to an indoor arena with lights, so…the big change was being able to ride outside. Now I need to readjust my horse time–back in October I had started moving it toward noon because of approaching limited daylight hours, and had somewhat figured out how to work around that issue. Now it’s time to start shifting back to late afternoon because by May/June, I’ll want to be riding later, when the sun is going down. That works better for both of us.

But the weather this winter has also been a huge factor in keeping me unsettled. After all, I somewhat expect to have real winter in the mountains of NE Oregon. That’s a given. But we have remained cold and snowy a bit later than usual, and that also throws me off balance a little bit. Right now I’m out there looking for any sign of life from my bulbs, and there’s just not much. Too much snow and frozen ground–but I think it’s turning around pretty quickly.

I tell myself that nope, didn’t get much done this week. And yet…I look to see that I got two books up on Ingram (both republications). I started the process (with a new list) of transferring my newsletter from TinyLetter to Substack. I’ll be running the two newsletters in parallel for a while before I do the final move. We’ll see. I wrote and uploaded a new chapter of Federation Cowboy, bringing that book to around 38k words, and began work on blocking out the rest of the book for pacing’s sake. I’ve added some words to The Cost of Power, which has intensified the degree to which that story will deal with mind control programming.

Stuff is getting done. Just not as much as I wanted to have done by now, especially with Federation Cowboy. That book is a struggle, because I’m realizing that the amount of work that needs to go into worldbuilding in far future settings rivals that of a fantasy setting. Especially since this is a first book in what might end up being an occasional series, it’s a world where there are a lot of nonhuman sentient species and I’m trying to reflect the different ways they do things including speech, social patterns, and the nature of sentience itself. It’s a more complex world than I expected it to be.

All the same, even in spite of the assorted reasons, there’s another, huge factor. I find that I’m needing to do the work later in the day. Staying up later. My body still wants to be on Standard Time, and while that kinda works, I still do enough stuff where I rely on clock time that I need to shift my circadian rhythms to–ugh–Daylight Time. Doing writing work later in the day is not going to necessarily be a good idea in the long run, though we shall see. And I need to be able to do more active stuff in the morning as well.


Plus I need to get back to working out. I’ve been a bit too sloth-like the last couple of weeks.

So this is apparently the Week of the Wakeup Call. Let’s see if it really works.

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Writing Accountability Post #10

I’m now getting to the dangerous stage of any organizational process change. I recognize the phenomenon–a certain impatience, the thought that oh I really don’t need to do this anymore, I have the routine down, maybe it’s sufficiently internalized that I don’t need to go through this step when it comes to thinking about the executive meeting with myself every Sunday. Which always ends up becoming a big mistake, because then I am overconfident about the degree to which I’ve made these routines into habits and…yeah. Everything starts to slide, including productive patterns that haven’t quite made that final jump into habit. I overlook the reality that this past week was not as productive as previous weeks for various reasons, including body stuff, and that if I look back at what I have done this year already because of the new approach to organizing myself, these new methods work.

Yeah, this is a known failure point, not just for myself but for others who struggle with changing their processes. The 90-ish day of the method. When I was working with horses that were at the barn for rehab training, this was the period when old behaviors would start to crop up again, as a means of boundary testing. Same held true for students.

So this is why reflecting back (for humans) to see what has been able to happen is a good thing. I wish I had stressed that aspect more with my students. With the horses, it just meant a patient revisiting of early concepts and a restatement that the new rules are still in effect, no going back to the old ways.

And now I’m making myself push past this mark. I still need these organizational structures and probably will, in order to be an active and producing writer. There are no shortcuts.

What fell by the wayside this week was a lot of original drafting work. Oh, I did some edits on Federation Cowboy and got some new words down. But not every day, and not necessarily a lot of words. Cowboy appears to be one of those slow-moving works on the writing side of things, where I have to think about the process and the story. I think it is going to be a shorter novel, probably around 60k words, much like Beating the Apocalypse is. Which–would account for the slowness of the drafting. The shorter the work, sometimes the longer it takes to write. I’m packing a lot into this book and it shows, the more I work on it.

Other things. The dragon short story was the most popular of the freebies in the latest Smashwords sale. That makes me think that perhaps I should focus some energy into that particular world. I already have two of the stories written–Teacher-of-Dragons and Restoring Hope (currently out on submission under a different title). I can’t take it to Vella for drafting because Teacher has already been published, but perhaps I could turn it into an omnibus of sorts with Restoring and several other stories set in the world of the Raven Alliance. It might make more sense than pushing on with the Vortex books, which have their own issues. Hmm. The story might make a nice short book. Tales of the Raven and Dragon Alliance.

I seem to have finally settled into the new cover for Justine Fixes Everything. I didn’t like the previous image I had selected for assorted reasons, but this one evokes the mood of the book significantly better. Thematically, it hearkens back to the Netwalk books, which–Justine is heavy on the digital thought clones, which are a variant of the digital personality uploads in the Netwalk books.

I got the new version of Realization (light copy-edited interior, new cover) uploaded to Ingram and anticipate being able to approve it in a few days. Working now on the interior of Justine and plan to rerelease this week with the new cover, in hopes that it is a better match for the other People of the Martiniere Legacy books. Justine is the last of the revised Martiniere covers to be issued. Then it’s working on the paperback versions of the 2022 Netwalk books. Once I’m done with Netwalk, then I plan to redo the Goddess’s Honor covers and interiors. The interiors are…well, they were all done in Scrivener and there are issues. Fix those up while working on the new series set in that world, which is still being stubborn about telling me what it’s about. The Raven Alliance book may be the new distraction, or it may not be. We shall see.

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Writing Accountability Post #9

So, for a change, let’s have a touch of spring in the office picture photo! This one is from the spring of 2020, when I discovered that–alas–my lovely lilacs were prone to having ants on them, which became a challenge for bringing them indoors to admire. Sigh. But that was a lovely year for lilacs…and you can see some of the writing books on my office shelf. One of my office bookshelves, anyway.

This ended up being a fairly busy and productive week. For once, a lot of stuff got crossed off on the to-do list. I was thrilled to see it, but…sigh. Most of the stuff that got accomplished had nothing to do with drafting, and everything to do with production, promotion, and community service work. No craft work got done; and the most writing was finishing off and uploading a chapter to the Kindle Vella project. I need to pick up the pace on the drafting side of things. On the other hand, this week’s chapter was one of the difficult ones, because my characters decided that they wanted to be romantically involved. That provides a challenge because while they are formally married, the contract they signed requires them to negotiate intimate relationships, including whether they decide to reproduce or not. No, this is not near-future. This is far-future, in a somewhat puritanical world view where marital associations include contractual agreements between persons (sometimes of different species) who want the legal structures and protections of a marital agreement without the reproductive or intimate aspects. Everything is contractual in the Federation of Sentient Worlds. Doesn’t mean there isn’t room for love and intimacy, just that those get negotiated for the protection of all parties involved. That’s one reason why Federation Cowboy is taking me longer to draft than I expected.

I’m also circling back to some breadcrumbs I dropped in earlier chapters which are actually somewhat relevant to the story. This book is becoming more complex than I first thought it would be. Which is a good thing, really.

Additionally, all the discussions about A.I. this week had me going over to some psychometric resources I know about (psychometrics is the study and creation of cognitive measurement) to see what that group of experts had to say. It’s somewhat more nuanced and more precise than a number of the popular journals are saying, and I have much more confidence in psychometricians than I do in tech folks who don’t necessarily understand the gritty details of cognition. Digging into those journal articles was a heavy slog, however, and made me realize that while I had to think a lot about it, I still possess a better understanding of what they’re talking about than people who haven’t worked adjacent to psychologists engaged in this study. I’m contemplating printing the articles out so that I can highlight, underline, and otherwise process the information in a form that works better for me (I simply don’t do well with deep reading on electronics. Part of it is the need to refer back, which is more difficult, and the note-taking process is more challenging electronically. Just the way I process). I suspect that I might have material for a blog, at least, if not an article, and there may be material for more than one article or blog in this rabbit hole. So I plan to allocate some time to this work in the next week, just to see what the possibilities are.

I discovered that the books I have up on Ingram are also available through Bookshop, so I spent this week putting those pieces together. I now have a shop on Bookshop, where I’m coordinating my series books and getting them together.

This being the first week of the month, too, I had a bunch of first-of-the-month things to pull together. Appointments, Zoom hosting, and more.

And, on a personal note, I seem to be spending a LOT of time lately updating my underthings. Well, it has been a few years, and some things wear out. Hopefully that ends reasonably soon. Still haven’t bought the new office chair because every time I look, they’re either not suitable or else the reviews are horrific (I always always always look at the one star reviews first). I want a chair that either doesn’t have arms or has arms that can be put up. That works best for me ergonomically. The absolute best chair–a rather expensive one, that I tried out at my son’s and would absolutely work size-wise, has ARMS. That while can be moved, still have a section that comes attached to the bottom, and will force my mousing hand into a position which it won’t like. SIGH.

Ah well. At least I seem to be getting stuff done. And promotion keeps happening.


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