Tuesday, December 31, 2013

end of a year

The end of a year, even though it's purely a bookkeeping feature of human life, always seems a good time to evaluate what's gone well and not so much. Often rather than looking back, I have looked ahead for what I want in the coming year.  Some years I used to write a kind of focus statement with the elements I hoped for in the coming twelve months-- trying to keep them all things under my control. I haven't done that for a few years; maybe because I have a feel for it now and don't really need to write anything down. It's engrained.

Where it comes to the work I do and love, writing, this last year was a great one (ignoring consequences). In January I had just come back from being in Tucson, Arizona, and a book clamored to be written that would follow one I had written 20 years earlier but not yet published.


The new book flowed and within a month and a half, I had its rough draft. As I've mentioned many times, that's the start, not the end. Once I had its basics, I waited a bit and began editing it. Editing it. Editing it again. I like time between edits where I can look at it hopefully freshly. I double checked for dates being right, being sure any historical points were accurate, and created a trailer from images I'd been collecting. I was quite happy that the book that historically speaking came three years before it was not yet out as it allowed me to be sure the two books would mesh regarding those little details.

While that was going on, I was also collecting research materials for the fourth Oregon historical which I thought I'd begin writing during the summer. Actually I did but the clip I wrote won't even make the book as the research brought up new ideas, and my characters began to evolve as I got to know them better. That literally happens in my head with only taking notes to get details down.

To help me with that phase, I edited the third Oregon historical where the hero for the fourth has a part. More and more I knew what generally was going to happen with the fourth one in the series-- but wanted a trip to the country in which its based. That didn't happen due to a ton of real life circumstances getting in the way. Real life has a way of doing that.

Toward the end of the summer, I knew I needed an insight into that unwritten hero that I didn't have. He is a warrior. What did I know about warriors especially those in the United States Cavalry? So that's when I began researching George Custer as he was in the same time period, experienced similar wars although in different regions. That got me so interested in Custer that I not only read every biography out there on him or his wife, Elizabeth, but wrote several blogs here on them with what I'd learned. That might seem a divergence from my planned path but it really was part of it even though it put off writing more than the first chapter of that book.

Late summer is when I had decided to bring out the first Arizona historical. Marketing has become one of those things I have had to do to get the word out and hopefully build up some interest in the book. Marketing takes a lot of time, but I have learned a lot through my three years of doing it.

Traveling to the regions of my book helped for the feel. I've been in the region many times but it is good to have it fresh. I also visited four museums to assure my story is historically accurate. I have one minor point I've yet to find the right info but I haven't given up on finding it.

In the midst of that we brought out some of my books in paperback. So far that has meant five but probably more will come. That work has gone to my publisher, Farm Boss, who does it through our company Seven Oaks and CreateSpace. All I had to do was write a back cover blurb and make sure the combination with front, spline and back looked right.

Just before the end of November when I brought out the last Arizona book, I had a dream that led to writing a novella about as fast as I've ever written any book. I had 27,000 words in four days-- the right length to tell its story. When you get a dream with the bones for your story, the writing can fly. It will take editing before I bring it out the first of February. It's not a typical romance; so I have to think long and hard about how I can market it. I did though create a trailer as soon as I finished-- having images in my head can help with editing.

So here I am end of the year, Arizona Sunset and Tucson Moon are both out and their reception has been okay, not hot but not totally disappointing. In December I became dissatisfied with the cover I had originally created for Tucson Moon and redid it to something that goes better with the first one and I think is better balanced. I've redone covers quite a few times, but this was the fasted redo as when I had to look at the original cover every day where I had it alongside my blog, I got tired of it fast.

As one of the dicey elements to eBook publishing on Amazon, someone took eleven of my books with a purchase and request for refund the same day. Amazon makes it easy to get refunds without asking for a reason, but this was obviously not related to being dissatisfied with the books, rather seeing a way to get them for free. Those two things have gone into making the decision to not bring out the Oregon historicals as eBooks early in 2014 if at all. I might start them as paperbacks with the possibility that Oregon bookstores would be open to them as historical romances set in the period between 1852-68.

In the midst of marketing, the forum where I participate at the Meet Our Authors  decided to do a short story anthology. I had two ideas for mine with one of them seeming better for another Arizona novella . The second idea led to writing my first short story which will be in a western romance writers' anthology coming out probably in mid-March as is currently planned. 

Amazingly at the end of the year I began to think about one of my books that had hardly sold any copies. I had someone offer to read it while I redid its cover and edited it once again. New cover, sharper editing and maybe a promotional burst for Moon Dust come the first of January. I think the new cover does a better job depicting the story. This is a book that has a lot of hard truths in it and maybe that's been what has made it hard to sell to romance readers. Who knows but I believe in the story and creativity has you always willing to look at whether there is a better way to tell it.


In 2014, I will write the fourth Oregon historical (after the Arizona novella which will go faster. Its title is Yaqui Moon). Writing is my 'one' thing (I'd say raising my kids was years back), and I feel lucky I have it now with them busy with their own nests. Telling such stories has been my life since childhood and seems it will be until my last thinking days. Whether the consequences work out to be rewarding, that's not the point. The writing always is.

So new year. New inspirations. Doubtless more surprises with what comes after the Oregon historical but as I look back over last year's 'one' thing, I feel good. When you are writing, ideas are always flowing. If you are wanting to write, haven't started yet, then I encourage you to start. In the starting, your genre will become obvious and you will have the fun of being immersed in your story as more and more ideas come to you.

2 comments:

Tabor said...

I have meant to ask if you use a writing software to help keep your ideas and sections organized?

Rain Trueax said...

I should and have been told of several that writers use. My way to keep them organized is on the desk in front of me right now-- scribbled notes on paper. I do have one thing I began doing with the historicals because Farm Boss convinced me-- a time line for when each character was born, married or about significant dates. I consulted it this afternoon as I am laying out a third Arizona book which will either be a novella or novel depending on the length. It will be set in 1896 and I am glad to have the ages of the characters as it will make writing it simpler when I get to it.

An example of how I work comes from when we drove down here-- how will I begin this story? uh oh can't believe that was just said on the radio. Okay what is the conflict that challenges the characters? I sure like this hero and will be glad he gets his own book. It will be tough though as he's the first Native American hero I've ever used. Yaqui which I know some about but need more. Where will we park the trailer tonight? I better reach back and pet the cats. Traffic is crazy. I think I have it for the time to begin but better check AZ history for that period to be sure it's the best for action outside.

It's chaotic probably for most people, but it works for me at least to get the rough draft-- editing is when I need to get more detailed with dates etc. I work out a lot of plot elements in my head and then go looking for research if needed and this will be needed. Fortunately I am in Arizona where there will be quite a bit about the Yaquis which is who this guy is. They have two reservations right near downtown here.