What have I been up to, you ask? Well, let me tell you….
Yesterday I hit page 220 of my THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC first draft, a nice healthy number. I usually aim for about 350 manuscript pages. That’s roughly 85K or so. Anyway, I just hit 50K which means that I completed Nanowrimo successfully…ten days late. Oh well! November was more of a brainstorming and ramping up writing month and I really couldn’t push myself and write salvageable prose. December is when I’m bringing this puppy home. My personal 1st draft deadline is next Sunday. I think I can do it. Then I’m revising a spec project (ie: something I’ve written without a contract or any guarantee of publication just because my muse is pushy) between Christmas and New Year’s and starting the second draft of TOBM in January.
Tomorrow is the holiday social for Toronto Romance Writers and marks the last month I will be President for this chapter. After that I go back to being a general member with no responsibilities…until I get bored and volunteer again, of course. It was definitely interesting and rewarding to be a board member for two years and I’d recommend it to anyone associated with an RWA chapter. It’s a great way of feeling involved and getting to know your chapter mates. I took on the reins as prez for two reasons, 1) because I wanted to give back to an organization I believed in, and 2) because I knew it would help me work on my confidence when it comes to public speaking.
It definitely got me started. I now feel rather confident when I get to be bossy and order people around and call attention to myself. I love doing panels and answering questions and having a conversation with a group of like-minded people. I’ve realized what I don’t like to do is give speeches, talking AT a crowd, especially when I’m ill-prepared to do so. I need to feel extremely confident about the presentation and my subject matter before I get over my stage fright. As a writer I know if I’m in this for the long-term, I will inevitably be called upon to speak publicly, so I’m easing into it the best I can.
Next year I’m doing two workshops, both with my wing-gal, Eve Silver. She, unlike me, is endlessly excellent at public speaking, having previously been a teacher. But I’m learning. And now, after a year as President and the previous year as VP, I feel like I’m a little farther ahead than I was before.
Hmm. Wasn’t going to talk about that in this post, but there you go. Michelle Rowen is facing her public speaking fears and stomping on them like doubt weasels. Good times.
Anyhooo… the writing on THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC is going well. Things are always a bit shaky in the first draft and I have to continually remind myself that I always feel this way (stomp that doubt weasel) and that a first draft doesn’t have to be PERFECT right out of the gate. I love the movies that show the novelist sitting down at her desk, pen in hand, and writing with a smile on her face. Yeah, not so much. Some days are great and the words flow, but other days…it really feels like work. Which is exactly what it is. Once you start doing this gig for a living, it becomes less of an expression of art and loveliness, and more of a job. And nobody likes their job, everyday, do they? No they do not.
People are sometimes astounded when they learn how many books I’m producing at the moment (currently, it’s approx. four a year…next year’s looking like it could creep up to five). Quite honestly, that’s a bit more than I feel comfortable with writing in the long run, I think I’d feel really happy with 2-3, but when you’re writing for eight plus hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, you’re going to be producing pages. Lots of them. Currently I have very few distractions in the Rowenverse, which is good because I’m currently booked (Ha! A pun. Booked), through 2011 with contracts.
Following TOBM, which is due February 1st, I need to immediately start writing NIGHTWATCHERS #1 (specific title forthcoming), my exciting new YA for Harlequin Teen. On its heels, after it’s due May 1st, I’m jumping right into BLOOD BATH & BEYOND for NAL, which has been moved up from 2013 to have a nice, cozy Summer 2012 release date, which I’m extremely happy about. That’s due July 1st. Seems like a while off, but that’s a whole lotta books purging forth from my imagination on a rather tight schedule. Plus promo for the books I have releasing, editorial revisions, copy edits, galley proofs…. dude, this is a full time job. And then some.
And I’m totally fine with that, believe me. Obviously, I’m working this hard because I’m focused on having a book come out bigger than previous, hitting some major lists and helping take my career to the next level, and every decision I’ve been making lately (well, most of them) is with that solidly in mind. I’m really hoping that 2011 will take me closer to this goal, even taking the current dire state of publishing into consideration. Here’s hoping!
So I have lots of books on the burners, which is awesome, but I have three specific categories that I’m trying to adhere to so I don’t get too scattered and distracted. Who me?? Yes, me. I tend to get several ideas for new books weekly, so I need to keep myself focused.
My game plan:
1) Darker urban fantasy with romantic elements (allegedly very marketable at this time in the publishing world, plus this is my preferred genre for reading) — like NIGHTSHADE.
2) Young Adult urban fantasy with romantic elements (because I honestly LOVE LOVE LOVE this genre and I’m extremely determined (pigheadedly stubborn…say what??) to keep writing in it, thank you very much) — like NIGHTWATCHERS.
3) Light Paranormal Fiction (this, actually, is my natural voice, that fun and humorous women’s fiction feel that I love to write best of all and feels like home to me, but also with an edge of mystery and danger to keep it interesting) — like BLOOD BATH & BEYOND.
Unless my ideas fit into one of these categories, I file them away and try to ignore their siren-like call. TRY TO. I still have that sexy space romp that begs to be finished one day. Um, no. Not right now, dear.
Plus since I think always in continuing protagonist series — as opposed to different hero/heroine in each book — I need to structure my writing so the books are still individually satisfying. I’ve made the mistake once now to end things with a lot of questions left unanswered, with new books in the series not guaranteed. I swear on all that is holy I will try to never let this happen again. We live. We learn. We twitch.
So there you go. That’s what I’ve been up to and where I’m headed. And I still, quite honestly, can’t believe it’s already December…..