Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Back on Track

It's fall and, well, it's FALL! How did the summer flash by and I didn't notice? Busy life. Busy writing, busy with personal stuff. Busy. Not an excuse. Just an explanation. So, what do I post today? 

I've been struggling a bit with my current WIP. Or maybe it's me struggling with my writing overall. My motivation has suffered. I can guess why. I've always been the singular-focused kind of person. I spend twenty-four seven on one goal. All others end up with my leftovers, which isn't much. And for the past four months the goal has been to get my work published. I have queries and submissions going out in every direction to agents and publishers. It's grueling, disheartening, discouraging, but I'm always ending with a "let's stop whining and send out some more emails!" It's the kind of attitude which throws you into a revolving door situation, but it really helps. You don't quit.

Now back to that WIP. I think I've found something to keep me on track. It's called Pacemaker. No pun intended, although I would say the program has been able to "jump start" and revive my pulse to write on a regular basis. Pacemaker is a free word count tracker/planner. You set the word count goal and your target date to finish your project. And zap! You're good to go. 

Each day, I have a word count to complete and each day I record whatever gets done. And each day I hope to meet that goal. The planner will adjust accordingly for the remaining days' word count. If anything, it's put me back on a schedule. I'm writing steadily instead of once or twice a week at best. With any luck, I'll have my WIP baby finished by November.

I know this post is short, but I'm itching to get back to writing and meet my word count! Go Pacemaker! Here's the link...


Try it out!

Happy reading and writing, all :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Reads What? Some Interesting Stats

Being that author person, the one who always wants to know what's on the other side of my mirror or window or door (choose whichever metaphor you like), I seek out articles on readership, who's looking at what. Does anybody actually read anymore? This question posed by someone who obviously doesn't. *sigh* Yes, it is sad. I feel badly for those who think that way, for all they are missing...but let's move on. The Article. I stumbled upon one published a couple years ago, (see link below) that focused on Nielsen ratings regarding mystery/crime readers. That is my niche, so if you aren't into reading mystery, don't write mystery, you may want to move along. :-) 

Nielsen colleagues dove into the task to gather stats, asking questions... How do you acquire your reading material? What type of mysteries do you prefer? Where do you discover new authors? Interesting results given in a beautifully illustrative graph (again, see link below) show a couple of important facts--at least for me as an author of mystery. One, over 60 percent of readers are ages 45 and up with 28 percent being 65 and older. Makes me think about my story details like how old should my characters be? Does it make a difference if I use modern slang or references to modern culture that the older crowd may not understand? I'm thinking not. After all, I'm of a certain age, and those things don't bother me. Another fact finding detail: 70 percent of those readers polled were female. 

Here's the real gut-puncher, though: many frequent readers aren't buying books. They get them free. Probably waiting for those deals on Amazon or participating in book swaps where you trade in your book and get another in return. Oh, and of course, let's not forget libraries. I'll admit, I get the budget urge to find bargains, freebies, and such. Confession: I don't use the library as much as I used to because I can't seem to finish a book in time before I have to return it, or I'm on a long, infinitely long waiting list. Also, it didn't surprise me to find that 69 percent of heavy buyers are expert readers. Reading does that to a person. Frequent reading = expert reader. 

The concern stated by the author of the article is that if the mystery audience is the older crowd, what happens when they, well, are gone? As he puts it, the genre will need some new victims. Yes, I can see that. However, what's to say that the younger crowd, when older, won't turn to mystery? I've certainly gone through my stages. For ten years or more, it was horror/suspense with King, Koontz, and Saul at the top of my list. When I was in my early twenties, it was romantic suspense with such classic greats as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. Yeah, I was certainly a romantic. Then, for the past twenty years I've pretty much stuck to mysteries of all sorts -- gritty crime, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers and of course, cozies for my "be amused and laugh and get all warm and fuzzy" moods. Authors like Patterson, Cornwell, Johansen, and Brown on the more serious side. Evanovich and Joanne Fluke, to name a couple, on the lighter side. 

So, what's an author to do if he/she wants to grow a younger audience? One suggestion is Wattpad. Yes, I said Wattpad. Authors like the one mentioned in this article ( Elizabeth Spann Craig) tried it out and gained lots of readers. Caution: readers, not necessarily buyers. It's an interesting social media forum where you can upload chapters of your work and readers will flock and send you all kinds of nice comments, questions, etc. With luck, the trolls will stay far away. Below, I've placed another link to tips on using Wattpad, for those who'd care to check it out. 

As for me, I'll trudge along, cranking out story ideas, writing those mysteries, hoping people will notice, enjoy, and read more. As you might know, often, it's not how great your book is. It's getting noticed. If you're not, then who will ever discover how fantastic a writer you are? (Says any author who doesn't find their work rise in the Amazon rankings!) 

Cheers all. Happy reading and writing!

Who is Reading Mysteries?

Learning about Wattpad

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stuck in Limbo and All Those Other Uncomfortable In-between Moments

Stuck in the middle, hanging by a thread, twiddling your thumbs, caught in limbo... all these expressions and many more describe those moments in everyday life where you WISH you were moving BUT you're really sinking in quicksand, treading water ... okay, I'll stop with the metaphorical phrases. And it doesn't matter what it is you're trying to accomplish, you will find yourself in those in-between moments where nothing seems to be going anywhere. It's a struggle, and it's a gift to figure out what keeps you in that place and how to get out of it. Some people use mind over matter. You think positive and then you move forward, or at least in some direction other than standing still. Make sense? Okay, let's try it in reverse. Matter over mind. You see that obstacle in front of you, the one keeping your feet planted, growing roots ... sorry, at it again ... that obstacle, the one that won't budge? Well, back up, find some other "matter" to work with, i.e. another item on your to-do list, another goal you have in mind, and tackle that. Maybe your obstinate stinker pushing your buttons will give up and fly away. OR maybe you will come up with another solution later on to tackle your stubborn buddy. Never know.

Of course, there are plenty of situations where you have no control, someone else is in the driver's seat and you must be patient and wait. I got that. You all see that. Doesn't make it any easier being in limbo, but at least you know it's not your move. Ball is in their court. Wait for it. Keep busy doing something else. (How many times have you heard that one?!) Sure, you'll want to move on to the next step, the step somebody else needs to take care of, and there's nothing you can do to change the process. So, you wait for it. What's that other saying? Patience is a virtue? Says the person who had all the patience of a hundred people, I'd imagine.

Now, I get to the tie in... writing. It's a process. A very, very long process. You write. You finish a book. You query said book. You wait. And maybe wait some more. A process. And all the editors, publishers, and agents know this, too. Here's another tip--overused, overcooked, but totally true: get busy doing something else! Write another book. Plant a garden. Build a tree house. Do something! After all, a watched pot never boils. Okay, okay, I'm done. No more adages. Just saying good luck to you all, whatever your goals may be. Cheers!

Here's a post with a few more tips on how to cope with the query waiting game:
Tips for Query Waiting