Tag Archives: time

Sunday Synopsis: Word Counts and Retirement

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I just reread this post and it came across to me as if I am very unhappy, so I want to qualify here before I push the publish button. I am very happy. Most likely the happiest person you know. I have a really good life and know that I am most fortunate to have the support that I do. I am going to post this anyway.

I have a good number of author friends who hold day jobs and have careers. Often, they speak of retirement and writing full-time.

It is a delusion that having more time will lead to more writing.

Before you attack, allow me to explain from my own personal point of view.

writing box 002I was looking for my old Brother word processor, after having found a couple of boxes of floppy disks. The floppy disks hold some writing I did in the 80s that was never printed. I wanted to see if the rocket scientist could, maybe, get the Brother up and running well enough to get a screen, and perhaps print off some of the content. I have at least two packs of ribbon cartridges. Don’t know if they’ll work. They may be too dry. I know there are places that can take your floppy disks and convert the files, but I don’t even know if it is worth the bother/expense. It would be nice if I could remember what all I wrote, but I can’t.

While looking, I ran across an old plastic container and a few shoe boxes filled writing from that era. Now you have to keep in mind that was a time when I wrote during every spare minute I had. Those were far and few between, because at that same time I was going to school 40 miles away in one direction, working a full time job 20 miles away in another direction, (and sometimes a part-time job, too) raising three kids who had school, tae kwon do, softball, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, scouts, and so on. Granted, I had some downtime after my youngest son was born in 1985. Two years.

Yet, here’s what I found:

  • 1200 pages (yes pages, not words) of the story of my life. About every memory I possessed at the time; from tossing my New Testament out the window and into the rain at the age of two (when I got my first spanking) to birthing my third child while wearing tennis shoes at age 25.
  • A 300 page story about a young contemporary witch (a pharmaceutical chemist) who inherits a magical ruby ring from her grandmother and her witch family (probably influenced by reading LOTRs, or maybe Anne Rice, can’t recall the exact years I read Anne).
  • Six chapters into an historical fiction about Martha Washington’s relationship with the African American mother of Washington’s mulatto children. (Perhaps based on a true story I read…most likely somebody has already done this).
  • A horror story about a lady with cats I had published at age 17 years.
  • I have this really cool sci-fi fantasy started about this league of aliens from different planets coming back to earth to reclaim the races…in 2020. It’s very interesting reading.
  • Dozens of short stories (or at least what looks like the start of short stories). Lots of them are southern folklore I learned growing up and recorded in my own words. There’s even one where John Lennon lives. (You know, like Elvis.)
  • Tons of dark poetry. (four shoe boxes) We’re talking nuclear destruction, biological and chemical warfare, death and dying, pollution and environmental catastrophe, loss, psychotic mind breaks.

I’m not saying this is good writing, but it is writing. I couldn’t recall having written so much.

Now all of this was written (either on a typewriter or a word processor, NOT a computer) in my twenties, when I had first been diagnosed with bipolar, and before I was stabilized on meds. I don’t doubt that most of this was written in the midst of some manic or depressive episode.

I first started thinking about the story in Red Clay and Roses in 1992. I wrote nothing. The nineties were filled with teenagers, professional career, and divorce. Then I was single, struggling to survive and socialize myself in another state. There was no time for writing. Life just got in the way.

We come to 2012. I’m stable. I’m retired. I have nothing but time and support. Perhaps coming off of a manic episode that followed suddenly stopping a thirty year career; I wrote Red Clay and Roses. Not as a novel, not that formally. It was a story in my head that I had wanted to write since 1992. A visit to Georgia that included reuniting with a cousin whose life intersected with that story in ways I had never known about inspired me to write. In my newfound serenity of retirement I pounded that story out in four months.  I researched and wrote during every waking moment for four months.

98,362 words.  Writing Monday through Friday, that’s roughly 88 days, which comes to 1118 words per day. That’s if I wrote every day like a 9-5 job. That includes research time, which is something I spent a lot of time on.

So I set myself what I considered a reasonable word count goal with my current WIP, 500 words per day.

I thought surely I could at least write 500 words per day. Most certainly I could get my next first draft written in a year.

I was also blogging, so I put myself on blogging restriction for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was getting too intimidated by rules. Writing rules, rules, rules and more rules. Every post I read explained these rules, and advice. I’m capable of learning. I wanted to improve my writing. Seriously. The rules suck. They have thwarted my creativity beyond belief. The perfectionist in me, my internal editor, is too damned concerned about following the rules to get anything much accomplished.
  2. Time. Blogging takes time.

Now I think. I spend the minutes thinking. Hours, days, weeks, I spend thinking. I think all the time. I think about writing. I wake up thinking about writing. I think all day about writing. I think about writing hours after I have laid myself down at night. I think about the rules. I think about the story I am trying to tell. I think about the characters, their motivations, emotions, behaviors, words. I think about the plot, the hook, the pace, the development. I think about the right words, the right phrases, and the right prose. I think about backstory, information dumps, showing, not telling.

Sometimes I’ll have a thought, a really good one, and I can’t hold it. I lose it almost as quickly as the thought occurred. I have no memory. I used to recall phone numbers two weeks after I was given them without ever having written them down, and now, I can’t seem to be able to hold a creative thought from my mind to the screen.

I’m overthinking. Yet I can’t recall my thoughts.

Screw the rules and I can sit down and pump out 3000 words in one day.

Then I spend hours and hours rewriting, revising.

Other days I am lucky to write one sentence.

Many, many days I spend thinking.

Word counts? Pfft!

So what is it that stifles my creativity and cripples my mind? My word count?

Rules, too many years on psychotropic drugs, old age?

I have nothing but time, and yet the clock ticks.

Retirement plans. Word counts. Discipline. Stability. Too many stories in my head.

I just want to effectively tell a story.

I have been working on this since November and don’t have 20,000 words.

Capture

http://forlackofabettercomic.com/                                       Jacob Andrews

Profound Appreciation for Your Time

Time2-150x150First, I would like to offer my most sincere appreciation for all of the people who have taken the time to read and review “Red Clay and Roses”. As busy as life is, to know that these 23 people took time out of their hectic schedules to read the book and write thoughtful reviews warms my heart and highly motivates me to continue to write passionately.

There are 20 five star reviews and 3 four star reviews and I can’t even begin to describe the joy found in pleasing a reader with my literary work. I won’t reprint them here, but you can find them here at Amazon.

I don’t know how Amazon decides what should be on page one, but you can go to the bottom and see Newest First. The most current reviews may reflect better the work effort of the edit and revision made in October, 2013.

On Goodreads, the ratings fall from 4.9 to 4.3 and there are 2 three star reviews with the remaining ones being four and five.

Today; however, two things or three things occurred that were most disappointing, but I am not taking it personal.

1) A reader returned a book. I know that it could have been an accidental purchase or a dissatisfied reader. Either way, I was sad to see it.

2) A Goodreads person left a 1 star review. There were no words, just a rating, so I do not know why this reader was dissatisfied. There are sensitive issues in the book from the very start, so it could have been not to her liking. There may have been issues with the negro speak in the three chapters about Moses Grier, that bothered her, as I have read many reviews on other books that spoke to this as an issue. I am speculating and probably don’t need to go there. I am most grateful, that although she was dissatisfied, she did not trash talk the book and I know that she is most certainly entitled to her opinion. I can appreciate that she was honest. I also don’t know if she was able to read the entire book, and for that, I am sorry. I am also disturbed that she is from my home state, as I thought being a regional piece, it might be better received there. Reflecting a brutal past in that area may have been disconcerting. Still, I am grateful, and feel I have been slightly anointed with the realities of authorship.

3) A couple of weeks ago I was turned down for a promo on BookBub. They would like to see more editorial reviews and more reviews in general.  I have encouraged people who have read the book to write reviews. That is as much as I can do about that. I have eight copies out to people that have indicated that they would like to read the book in exchange for an honest review, so those are coming.

Now, on to editorial reviews. Unless you have an in with a famous author, or traditionally publish and get recognized by a worthy newspaper or periodical, you have to PAY for these editorial reviews.  You do expect for them to be honest and professional. I broke down and submitted to Kirkus, although the expense of doing so appalls me. They do have a stellar reputation and I suppose, even though people have told me that they mostly read the reader reviews not the editorial reviews to make up their minds about purchasing books, this was an inevitable necessity if I want to continue to promote in broad reaching venues.

I also submitted to Awesome Indies: an additional expense. I am concerned about that one in as much as I have read their criteria and knowing that I don’t have a, “Clear and Concise” protagonist, and may not meet other points on their check off list, this list being quite long and IMHO, not necessarily “all telling” about the quality of a read…well, it is a risk to take.

Finally, I submitted to Reader’s Favorite. Less expensive at $200.00 for five reviews. This one really sent me to a place that I did not need to go. The first three that have come back have been five star and one has been a four star. I should be happy and quite satisfied. It was disturbing to read one of the five star reviews though and I will tell you why:

For those of you who have read the book, you know that the beginning is set in 1992-93, and the bulk of the story takes place in the 1950s-60s.

I took extra care to provide citations to dates of historical events that affected the everyday people…both in their personal lives and from the larger historical/political events of the times, and described how those were interrelated. They were a significant part of the plot and storyline. Dates clearly marked dozens of passages.

************Possible SPOILER ALERT************

In the bulk of the story that takes place in the 1950s-60s, which is mentioned in the book description, the effects of WW II and the Korean War were explained. Also, these modern people were riding around in convertibles and fancy automobiles and trucks, listening to record players, radios, watching T.V. and going to skating rinks and drive-in movie theaters, they were reading Playboy, Sybil opens a hair salon, Nathan graduates from medical school, Trent has a pawn, radio, bicycle repair shop. Women were just being introduced to the birth control pill. Sybil goes into a treatment facility for alcohol and depression. Her husband is jailed after an encounter with the FBI and the IRS.

These are hardly things anyone would encounter a hundred years earlier, in the 1850-60s. I am thinking pre-Civil War, horse and buggy days.

But one of the reviewers, whose review I had to question through customer service, wrote the following:

“Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls is a story based on Southern America during the time of slavery.”… and went on to say … “It all takes place during a time when blacks were slaves, the Jim Crow Law was in place, women were often seen as the inferior gender, and racism was very strong.”

The 2 paragraph five star review was very beautiful and eloquently written. When I contacted customer service about the very obvious issues here, they contacted the reviewer, who apologized and said she, “Thought it was about 18*50s-60s”…………………PLEASE…………………….and offered to correct the review. She insists she read the book.

Now I know that people read and put a book down and pick it up again. I know that people are reading with their own experiences and education supporting their thoughts while reading. But there was no mention of slavery, except when Moses was telling of his father’s birth as a free man on the same farm his grandfather had been a slave on. Moses is 86 years old when he is telling this, and there is NOT ONE slave in this book.

The book is about the issues that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and touched on women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities in the 1960s.

Needless to say, I have lost my faith in editorial reviews. Most of them appeared to be synopses of the book blurb.  Maybe I need to work some more on the book description so editorial reviewers will have a better grasp on what to include in their very flattering reviews. Perhaps NOT ALL editorial reviews are of this nature, but this one was shameful. I do hope the young lady learned something.

And to think,

Advertisers are insisting on these!

I am feeling like I should have just stayed in my comfortable little place of having sold a few hundred books and called it quits on the extensive promo attempts.

They offered to refund me and give me the reviews anyway and I declined.  I was not looking for free, just honest. So I will take her correction, and post the reviews that I feel most positively and accurately reflect the material in the book. GEEZ.

What a journey. Please be aware that I am writing this, not out of spite, but to share my experiences as a writer/author in hopes that my experiences can help others. I am sure other authors have had better experiences with editorial reviews.

Welcome to my bipolar moment.

Perhaps I was just a wee tad overzealous.

“Red Clay and Roses”: Paperback Progress

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Got my latest proof in the mail from CreateSpace.

I think the brighter book cover image looks much better.

I am going ahead and accepting this proof and proceeding with the process.  I have been over every word. I am not totally 100% satisfied with it.

  1. There is a place in the book, secondary to a revision, where the pronoun “he” was used, instead of the proper noun “Nathan”.
  2. There is a place where quotation marks were used around an enclosed, handwritten letter erroneously.
  3. The preposition “to” is missing from a sentence.
  4. My chapters were long and I opted to put the chapter titles in the header on the left side.  I know it isn’t customary, but I thought it best, now I am not so sure.

None of the issues are the fault of anyone but me.  I would submit another manuscript and make the changes, but each time I have done that in the past, CreateSpace has screwed up something else, and I don’t want to risk it.  It takes too many days/weeks back and forth to get any changes accomplished.   I do understand now why it takes so long for traditional publishers to get anything accomplished.  It seems the more steps and people involved in the process; the more likely it is to be a lengthier process.

♥ I’m Lonely and I Miss You ♥

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Every day, I invite hundreds of people into my home.  We laugh, we cry, we banter.  I love the company and can’t wait until the next day to start all over again. I have had to put myself on restriction. Last night, I had to cull my email.  I was getting dozens hundreds a day and being the anal person that I am, I couldn’t go to bed without reading them all.  Most of them I just have to respond to.  It’s my nature.

Until I retired,  I was a social butterfly in real life.  Things changed after I found myself going out less and less.  Sometimes I think people just don’t understand me. I am open-minded, and have a weird sense of humor. I am often opinionated and just plain “Out There”.  I care about you and I love being an integral part of your lives.  I am; however, sleep deprived, because sometimes I am reading email until 3:00- 4:00 in the morning, (and I get up at 6am-7am).

I am also not getting much work done around here.  There are clothes in the washer, clothes in the dryer, enough dog hair on the floor to stuff mattress with, and a sink full of dirty dishes every time I turn around, no matter how many times I empty and load the dishwasher.

So, if you don’t see me around so much in comments anymore, know that I haven’t forgotten you. I will still post SOMETHING almost every day. I will still review my Reader thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes every evening.  I still love what you do and am grateful to be part of your family and friends. My next book IS REALLY going to get written. (Seriously, it must!) And most of all, I LOVE YOU!