I have insomnia

I have insomnia. Sigh. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s a real corker.

Why me?

Well for starters, I’m a natural worrier. I’m not talking picking at a small tiny hangnail sort of worrier. I’m talking full blown would-eat-my-own-hand-off-and-not-even-notice sort of level of worrying. Seriously. I have no idea how many years I’ve knocked off my age expectancy with the amount I worry, but I suspect it’s a lot. In fact, I’m starting to worry about that now, too. Wonderful.

Anyhow, why am I worried?

For starters . . . .

  1. I’m worried that I’m about to have a neighborly meltdown that will impact the rest of my years living in my house.
  2. I’m about to have kittens . . . literally, the kittens that is, not me actually giving birth to them.
  3. Tomorrow is the day before Thanksgiving and I’ve got a million and one things to do to prepare.
  4. I’ve pulled all the holiday crap out of the attic and it is still sitting in the hallway staring me straight in the eye with its evil glee.
  5. I’m not talking to my dad. What else is new?
  6. My disease is flaring. Awesome.
  7. I’m absolutely knackered yet
  8. Oh yeah, I can’t sleep.

I didn’t quite make it to 10. I thought it would be cliche anyways.

Ah, but number 9 . . .

I’m still on Chapter 12 a month later. That one really hurts big time.

I don’t even have a good excuse except to say that I’m not really feeling it right now. With the holiday madness starting and with my self-inflicted kitten fostering/adoption, I’ve come up with everything possible to do except sit down with the book. And it sucks. And I’m not sure what that says about me. Perhaps that I have the attention span of a gnat.

I was sorely deluding myself if I thought I would finish the manuscript by the end of the year. I’d effectively have to write 12 chapters in 6 weeks. Ooof. Yonkers. That’s pretty harsh.

Yet, I will get there in the end. Hell, I might even sneak back into the bedroom now for the power cable to my rubbish old laptop so that I can actually write now. In fact, that’s not such a bad idea . . .


Almost half way there

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new. I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t get distracted with my blog until I finished Chapter 9. As it happens, I have also finished Chapters 10 and 11 and I’ve only got one chapter to go before I’m halfway there. Exciting and depressing at the same time.

On one hand, I’m just about at the middle point of the story arc which is great fun. I finally got to write Chapter 11 which is one of the pivotal chapters of the story. Yay me. On the other hand, I still have another half of book to write. Ironically enough, I’ve already written enough for one book if the word count is anything to go by:


The breakdown is

  1. 7446
  2. 8291
  3. 7876
  4. 5260
  5. 6290
  6. 9354
  7. 6005
  8. 2473
  9. 7453
  10. 5983
  11. 5943

As you can see, there are a few problematic chapters, most notably Chapters 6 & 8. One is way too long and the other way too short. I had a few issues with the transition between 8 & 9 that I will have to go back and fix during editing. Revision now would be a bad bad idea. Even being a perfectionist I know going back to do re-writes now will set my time line back big time. Better to wait.

Anyhow, the upshot is I’m getting somewhere and if I can keep up the pace, I should have a completed manuscript ready for revision by Christmas. This is my hope anyhow.

And on a completely different tangent, I came across this on the front of Amazon this morning:

I have to say that Amazon is really pulling out all the stops to dominate the e-book market. I had no idea that the kindle software was as cross-platform as it is. Interesting that it’s up on the iPad as well as other mobile devices. They certainly are not throwing any punches, it’s more like KO power. Dominating as many platforms as possible is a very savvy move while others try to catch up in the race. I wouldn’t like to say who’s going to come out on top, but Amazon’s not taking no for an answer.

Stay tuned to this space. I’m sure it won’t be the last time that Amazon comes up on my blog.

Sleep Deprivation

It kinda went like this.

This week has been a sucky week in the Small household. Yes, the weather was gorgeous (until today). Yes, aren’t the pretty fall colors amazing? Yep. Don’t you juts want to bundle up and bake some awesome cookies? That sounds nice.

What’s not nice about the Autumn is the inevitable sickness/lurgy/disease that hits you like a Mack truck.

What’s worse than that? When said diease wipes out the whole family at once.

That aside, disease also makes for interesting book writing because on one hand you don’t want to leave the comfort of your easy chair, yet at the same time, you really don’t have the energy to use your brain for anything other than rummaging around the pantry looking for soda crackers and some old cans of ginger ale.

But in a peaked state of nervous energy I decided to delve further into Chapter 10: Conspiracy Theories at 12:30AM in the morning.

Which brings me back to the subject line.

Why is it that authors feel compelled to write at some seriously crazy hours? I understand that most people work a day shift and therefore have to type away in the few hours of solitude that they can actually get in a day, but honestly, it’s brutal. I mean seriously f*@ks you up.

I finished at 2:30AM when my fingers sort of just stopped (it was very odd). For some reason my brain was still switched on, but my body was like “enough already!” If my fingers hadn’t seized up and begged for mercy I probably would’ve written for another couple of hours. There is some sort of euphoric runner’s high that writer’s get. I think I might’ve almost gotten there.


And this is the kicker. I only wrote 4 pages in 2 hours. And it was 4 so so pages. If you had asked me at 2:30 how much I had written, I would’ve told you about half a chapter. For me that’s about 12-14 pages. Four pages is far from that mark.

This is what I mean about sleep deprived writing. You think you’re on top of the world, writing the best chapter of your life, when in actually you’re crawling through average writing at a slug’s pace. It’s tragically funny in some ways – I expect it’s a bit like being strung out on drugs and thinking that you are Albert Einstein when you’re more like Juan Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter.

My point is write when it makes sense to write. And by sense, I mean when you are really going to write your best stuff that’s not going to take twice as long to edit as it did for you to write it. For me, that’s first thing in the morning after I walk the dogs. That’s when my brain is alert, it’s had some sleep, and I can write coherently and pretty quickly. Even if I had to get up early before the family gets up, I’d still choose this time to write. Writing at the end of the day when you’ve already used up most of your good, positive energy is a recipe for disaster or at least a slow, agonizing and frustrating experience.

My attempt to write in the wee hours kicked my butt. Next day I felt like total crap – even crappier than I felt with just being sick. And to top it off, I had to be up by 7AM to run an errand. What was I thinking?

Never again.

The Ebook principle – vol. 1

So. I felt after my last post, I might’ve misconstrued where my post was going by using a graphic image that depicted the sales of hardback books vs. ebooks. It will not come as a shock for some to learn that ebooks have outpaced the sales of hardback books on Amazon. I can’t remember the exact date of the press release that Amazon put out about it, but I do remember hearing gasps of amazement from some normally cynical punters. I don’t blame them, and in fact, I’m sure there’s some marketing guy somewhere who got paid a big fat bonus for skewing the stats to put the Kindle in a favorable light. Let’s not kid ourselves – Amazon’s out for blood. And book publishers are scrambling faster than a bunch of Johns caught in a raid on a whore house. Yep, I actually used that analogy.

This woman might’ve said it better. (Go read the article, it’s a good summary of what’s happening in the world of publishing if you’re interested.)

Where am I going with this you may ask?

Publishers aren’t the only ones panicking. In fact, I’m trying not to panic, but you know me, I’m a professional worrier. If MacMillan is forced to take on the juggernaut (MacMillan won, but now we have ludicrous situations where some ebooks are more than HB) then what are the chances of the other publishers getting into the mix? What happens for the smaller houses that are more likely to pick up my work? Hell, what if I can’t get a deal and I have to think about ebooks? Do I want to deal with the trauma and the drama?

I would find this whole struggle between good and evil more interesting if my personal interests weren’t caught up in it. (It’s probably more like evil vs. evil as the author loses IP and money either way -ed.) A publishing deal is the golden chalice for most aspiring writers even if they get crumbs for royalty payments. These days any budding writer should count themselves lucky if they get a deal and/or advance at all. When I start to hear about experienced, published authors getting 5K advances, I start to hyperventilate and sweat profusely. That’s what I mean about equal doses of hysteria and euphoria although the latter seems to be lacking in this blog thus far.

I get the ebook model, sort of, once you look past the panic-stricken publishers. After all, it’s not much different from what’s been done with ESD in the games industry. Some indie developers are making great money from going solo from major game publishers and have never looked back. It takes perseverance, arrogance, and some good marketing tactics. Oh, and some handy dandy contacts in the OEM sector doesn’t hurt either. So I guess you could say the same could happen for aspiring authors if they were savvy enough and ambitious enough to run their own show. I’m not sure some authors have it in them and their chances of survival may be slim to none (unless of course, you’re already a famous author then you’re probably not reading this blog).

In the end, I’m still holding out to make a final decision about ebooks. And honestly, until I have a final submittable manuscript then there’s no point to speculate. I still have a way to go – complete the manuscript, revise like a lunatic, and grovel to the agent before getting to the publisher part. I know, ain’t life grand?

Anyhow, I promise to post more of the euphoria stuff. Hysteria is best served in small doses, me thinks.

The woes of a first time novelist


There will always be the lucky new author whose first novel ignites a hot auction. But more often today, many debut novels that would have won lucrative advances five years ago today are getting $15,000 or less, says Adam Chromy, a New York literary agent. Mr. Chromy was recently disappointed with the immediate response from editors for a debut novel he thought was exceptionally good.

So, I had originally anticipated writing my first bit of trivia about my manuscript today or perhaps had a little moan over Hazel’s (the small furry child) eye surgery. Maybe even combined them together into a nice little excerpt, but I couldn’t resist posting about the WSJ’s recent article about the publishing world.

I’m not afraid to admit that my soul dies a little bit inside every time I come across one of these articles. For those of you who keep up on these things, it’s not new news to you. If you are a budding writer trying to get your first book out into the market, you’re screwed. Okay, maybe not screwed, but frankly you probably have a better chance of winning next’s week Lotto. It’s brutal, I know, but I think it’s worse than that. Much, much worse. It’s no longer about separating the wheat from the chaff. It’s about the loss of cultural identity for every generation past ours.

So you might think that I’m a bit crazy. And I wouldn’t blame you. But I do believe that every age has books that help define the world in that moment, in that fleeting second of history. Books articulate a feeling, a notion, they imbibe us with a memory that we hold onto. And those books don’t necessarily come from the same old top selling author. Is James Patterson reaching the youth of today? What about John Grisham?

Think about this for a moment: what would’ve happened if no one had been willing to take Harper Lee’s first (and only) manuscript, To Kill a Mockingbird? Can you imagine a world without Scout and Atticus Finch?

What I’m trying to get across is that we need those new, undiscovered talents. We need to keep bringing new writers into the gene pool. And I don’t just say this with myself in mind. No. Variety is the spice of life, it what makes things interesting, compelling. Who wants to read the same old authors all the time. Isn’t it refreshing to pick up a new author that you’ve never heard of and actually like what they’ve written? I make it a point to go to my local book fairs and buy some random fantasy or sci-fi fiction authors I’ve never heard of. Yes, many times I’m disappointed, but sometimes, I’ll come across a real gem that I would’ve never found if I only stuck to the NY Times best seller list. (authors’s note: Listen to me people, loosen up and try it sometime. Go into a bookstore, go to your favorite section, shut your eyes and randomly place your finger on a book. Buy it, read it, and them let me know if you enjoyed it. 7 out of 10 times I reckon you’ll say it wasn’t bad.)

So you may ask me, “So Shawnee, if it’s so bleak out there, why on Earth are you setting yourself up for disappointment and the poor house?”

Because I can’t help myself and because I’m hopelessly optimistic that I will be one of the few. Because I really want it. Because I think I might be good at it. There’s a whole host of reasons, but mostly, because I have a story to tell. It may not be a story for everyone, but it’s my story, my characters, my little world inside my head. So there you go.

READ ARTICLE HERE: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703369704575461542987870022.html?mod=wsj_share_facebook#ixzz11Ogwsn6r