The Beatles Schedule of Novel Writing

So last week, after entertaining you with a bit of mythological humor, I teased you with a hint of exciting news to come this week. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure I could pull off what I intended for the subject of that exciting news – which would have left me making up something exciting like winning the Pulitzer Prize (totally believable).

But because I knew you’ve come to expect brutal honesty from me, I somehow scraped my nose along that proverbial grindstone and managed to accomplish what I set out to do. And what might that be? Drum roll please….

I drafted a novel in a week! Okay, it was eight days, but if eight days counted as a week for the Beatles, it can count as a week for me.

How did I do it?

Um, I have no idea. I normally draft books quickly, but in the past “quickly” has meant three weeks at a minimum. Still, I have a few clues as to how I pulled this off.

  1. I knew (mostly) what I would be writing. I came up with the idea for this story in February and spent most of March jotting down ideas about the main character’s background, the basic premise, and how I wanted the book to begin and end. In early April, I outlined the book (which I think deserves a dedicated post next week).
  2. I busted my butt the week before and especially the day before I began the draft so I’d have as much time as possible to write. I still had a few chores to do, but this “clearing the plate” of any big chores meant my workdays over the past week were mostly dedicated to writing.
  3. I LOVED every inch of this story. Except for some hand cramping and achy shoulders, this book was so much fun to write, it didn’t feel like work. I’d even intended to give myself the weekend off from writing, but I just couldn’t tear myself away from the project.
  4. There was that sense of getting ahead. I hadn’t scheduled writing the first draft of this book until June, and I even gave myself two months to do it. Now that first draft is well out of the way, I have that smug sense of thumbing my nose at my Production Schedule!
  5. I know how I write most efficiently, but I was willing to experiment (see Testing Out New Writing Methods below).

Let’s look at a couple of these a little more closely….

Going With the Flow

In #2 up there, I mentioned clearing my calendar to allow as much time for writing as possible.  Why did this help? Because the absolute worst part of my writing day is putting down those first few sentences. They’re usually awful and stilted and I waste a lot of time mulling them over. But I know if I can just get them down, things will start flowing.

Grumpy Cat has a different take on going with the flow.

Since I only had eight of these starting hurdles to get over, the flow was only interrupted a few times. Most days, I spent about five hours (in 30- to 55-minute sessions) writing, but each time I’d start a new session, i was simply continuing with the momentum I’d already gained in the previous session (there were even a few instances where I stopped in mid-sentence when the timer went off, but this was mainly the hand-cramping, not to maintain the flow).

Testing Out New Writing Methods

I’ve heard wonders about using dictation to write a book. How it speeds up production, how it allows you to move around while working, etc. Always keen for new experiments, I tried it for a few scenes. Those scenes are the worst ones of the book. Words simply would not come to my brain, and those that did were pretty bland. I gave up on dictation and went back to my usual method. That method is writing long hand in a notebook. But this time I gave it a little twist.

This longhand approach shocks most people, but I simply can’t create well on a computer. The words don’t flow and if I get stuck, I seem to just stare at the screen instead of trudging on as I will do with pen and paper. However, I did find that if I could get things chugging along with pen and paper, I could spend a little time at the computer and keep up the momentum. I still only wrote about a quarter of the book on the computer, but it was a good tidbit to learn about my work methods.

Not Done Yet

Even though I wrote this book quickly, I’m not one of those writers who can (or want to) crank out a novel in a month or less. There’s still rewriting to do, areas to flesh out, and all the other little tidbits I like to fiddle with in subsequent drafts. Still, because ideas are bubbling in my head of the exact spots I want to change, I’m not dreading the rewrite stages like I have in the past.

When will I begin the next books in the series? Who knows? With this much excitement for the story and the characters, I may be whipping through that Production Schedule faster than I anticipated.

What about you? How do you tackle big projects? Have you learned anything about your work methods? Anyone out there still prefer to write longhand? I’d love to hear from you so be sure to leave a comment!! Oh, and Finn will be stopping by Saturday with a little exciting news of his own. See you then!

 

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Killing Off My Firstborn

That title sounds a bit biblical, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, I won’t be spouting fire and brimstone in this post. However, in an effort to hone my author brand and steer readers more toward my fiction, I will be going a bit Old Testament on my firstborn…book, that is.

A Look Back

In the beginning–oh, sorry, going biblical again, aren’t I, let me rephrase that…At the start of my road down the writing path I kind of sort of floundered about everywhere. I was writing short and long fiction, I was writing essays, I was writing articles, I was writing web content, I was a writing fool. Self-publishing was becoming a little more of a “thing” and I thought I’d expand one of my articles into a book just to try out the process.

And so, Easy Preserving was born. I really liked this little book at the time and was even able to cut and paste some of its content into a few more articles (which actually earned more than the book ever did). I even bothered to re-work it a few years ago with a new cover and some new content.

Your days are numbered!!

Taking Stock

Over the past couple years, and especially the last year, I’ve gotten a little embarrassed about Easy Preserving (and my second book Soup for You which I quietly killed off earlier this year). The writing in both books is a little silly (not that I’m not silly) and the recipes are nothing out of this world. Plus, sales of Easy Preserving have dwindled to nothing, proving that it was time to take a critical look at this book.

He’s coming for you, Easy Preserving!!

My fear is that people might pick up this book, think the writing is crap (which it kind of is), and never want to read another book from me again (not that the Easy Preserving demographic is the same as a fantasy fiction demographic, but you never know where interests might overlap).

And since, as I mentioned above, I really want to be known for my fiction, I don’t want to confuse people with a lackluster non-fiction backlist.

And so, it is with a big ol’ sacrificial blade that I’m killing off Easy Preserving.

Backlist culling…a bit like this.

Letting You Live….For Now

All that said, I do have a non-fiction title that sells well and that I’m not completely embarrassed by: Simply Soft Cheese (although I do admit some of the “bonus” recipes aren’t very creative). This was my third book (you can now see why it took me so long to get my first novel completed) and has always trickled in some steady sales.

Each year I go through my books and rework the keywords, fix the front and back matter (you know, that part where the Also By and Bio are), and do a little copyediting on the blurb. This year, I simply couldn’t stand the cover of SSC any longer. I mean, really, how did I ever think this was a good idea….

simply soft cheese, tammie painter, cheese making,

Playing around a bit, a new, classier cover was born…

Wait, What?

Okay, okay, I know I just went on about wanting to steer readers more toward my fiction and away from the non-fiction, but it’s hard to resist the royalties this book brings in. I will likely eventually say goodbye to SSC (and my gardening book Going Native) or re-release them with a pen name, but for now they’ve been given a reprieve…at least until the book publishing gods tell me to sacrifice them for the good of my fiction.

And as for that fiction, don’t forget that The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles is still on sale for 99 cents through the end of the month (details below)!

I’ll be back next week, but I haven’t quite decided what to share with you, either a bit about the world of Osteria, some news of the future, or maybe just some random cat memes.  

What about you, any hard decisions this week? Any thoughts on authors who mix genres? Share your thoughts and comments!!!

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Get your copy of The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles today….
For e-book fans and bargain hunters….

From now through the end of the month you can get The Trials of Hercules (Book One) and The Maze (Book Three) for only 99 cents each. Clicking on the books’ titles above will take you to a handy dandy site with direct links to all your favorite ebook retailers. 

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What Are You Doing to Me, Smashwords?!!!

I know Release Day for The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles is less than a week away (squeeee!!!) and I should be using this blog space to cajole/guilt you into pre-ordering the book, but something is frustrating me and, rather than bang my head on the wall, I thought I’d share my irritation with my lovely readers and see your reactions.

My gripe is twofold: Smashwords and NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It occurs each November and within the 30 days you’re meant to write a 50,000-word “novel.” I’ve griped about this terminology in previous posts, but my basic issue with NaNoWriMo is that it’s misleading. Unless you are incredibly talented, you are NOT writing a novel; you are writing a draft. And if you’re writing fast enough to crank out 50,000 words, that draft is probably in need of some serious work (again, unless you are quite talented).

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Movin’ Write Along

No, I haven’t been watching the Muppet Movie again (if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, see the video at the end of this post). And no, this doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of fiber I have in my diet as it relates to my colon health. What is moving right along is Book Four of the Osteria Chronicles!

But wait, I hear you say, you haven’t even released the third book in the series. I know! I’m still a couple weeks out from the official Release Day for The Maze, but I’ve already charted the course for Book Four and am (as Kermit and Foozie Bear would say) movin’ right along on it.

This is not a normal situation for me. Sometimes I might have an outline of my next book before the previous book is released, but never a draft. So what’s different this time? As you may remember way back when I was struggling through my third draft of my renewed efforts with The Maze, my wonderful blog readers helped me realize that stepping back and evaluating both books three and four would allow me to understand what needed to happen in book three. It was probably the best advice I’ve ever bothered to listen to. Continue reading

orvieto, italy, italia, orvieto duomo

A Little Makeover for Super Simple Book Marketing

As you learned last week, it was a loooooong process to get The Maze: Book Three of The Osteria Chronicles complete, but now that Release Day is looming it’s time to set the book launch plans into motion.

But before the book launch push (aka “be warned, there will be heavy marketing going on in this area very soon”) fully kicks into gear, I’ve been heeding the simplest book marketing ploy ever, trying something that makes me feel dirty, and getting ready for a pre-book launch vacation.

A Little Redesign = No-Brainer Marketing

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