Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Home Stretch

First of all, I wanted to note that I got a lot of emails from a bunch of you during the time that I was transitioning jobs, and you were all wishing me good luck and other awesome stuff. I wanted to thank you all, even though I didn’t reply to all the emails, ‘cause they really made my day.

And since you were all so interested… Yes, the New Job is going great. I really like it there, and the environment is (so far) so much healthier than where I was before. Now, all work places have their issues, and I’m sure I’ll figure out the ones that pertain to the New Job eventually, but for right now, I’m just basking in the novel idea that I’m not ANGRY all the time. It’s wonderful.

So, that brings me to my Other Job, which is writing.

My status on JJD4 is thus: Right now, I have edited it to the best of my (and my betas’) ability. I have also given myself a crash course in both ebook formatting, and formatting for CreateSpace (Yes, this means that there WILL be a print copy of JJD4 available. More on that in a minute.). The formatting process is not nearly as confusing as I feared, and I’m actually feeling pretty damn proud of myself. I’m trying so hard to make sure that you, the Reader, get a quality product.
So what happens next? Once I get the final formatting done (ie: number of pages set in stone for the print copy), I will be sending this to my cover artist. Then, I’m subject to her schedule. I don’t know what that timeline will look like, but I’m hoping to have things to her by this weekend. (Y’know, barring alien abduction or other natural disasters) She, however, is a really awesome artist, and I will assume much in demand. I gotta wait my turn just like everybody else, but I think it’s going to be worth it.

Once I have the cover art from her, I can start to get things ready for public consumption. The FIRST thing I want to do is order myself a few proof copies of the print version, just to make sure that it’s not horrendous.

What this means for you, if you are a book reviewer: I have decided that I will be using those proof copies as ARCs, for those reviewers who would rather have it in print than ebook. IF this is you, Mr. or Ms. Reviewer, please let me know ahead of time at kari.stewart21@gmail.com so that I can try to make sure I have enough. I may not be able to accommodate all requests, but I’m going to give it a valiant effort. (I also realize that my ARC vs. release date schedule may be too tight for some reviewers to actually read the book/post a review prior to release. This is OKAY! I’m more interested in getting it reviewed at all, than the timing.)

If you are NOT a book reviewer, I will also probably work up some giveaways pre-release date, so do not despair.

And speaking of release dates. I’ve been saying all along “Summer 2014”. Still hoping that’s going to work, don’t see a decent reason why it shouldn’t. Like I said earlier, I’ll know more once I can do my part and get everything to my cover artist that she needs. That said, I will say that I’m going to shoot for an EXTREMELY TENTATIVE (note the use of extreme caps, there) release date of July 8th. This will be subject to change, if required. (and mostly, I picked that date because I already have that week off from the Real Job, and it seemed fortuitous.)

Now, the process of getting books, both print and e-version, out and available for purchase is not an instantaneous “Push the button, Max” kind of process. I will actually probably start navigating that maze a week or two BEFORE my actual release date. This means that on some platforms, you may see the book available earlier, and on some platforms, it may get there later. I can’t control when retailers update their systems. However, we will plan on at least celebrating the release on July 8th, pending necessary adjustments. I’ll keep you all posted.

Wow, this was a lot of info. I think part of the reason I needed to write this post was to just get it all out of my head so I have room for other stuff!

Which brings us to the last and final tidbit of info, a reward for all of you who actually read this entire post and didn’t do a TL;DR. (Yes, I totally just pulled a Marvel and put the good stuff after the credits)

The title of Jesse James Dawson #4 is going to be A SNAKE IN THE GRASS.

Tell all your friends.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Giant Gaping Hole in My Head

Yesterday was a momentous day for me.  First off, Peacemaker released, and if you haven’t downloaded it yet, why not?  You’re going to make Ernst cry.

Why do you want to make the jackalope cry??  What kind of monster are you?

Second, I finally finished JJD4.  It’s not really a first draft. It’s more what I call an ugly draft.  I’ll mess with it for a few more days, and then I’ll probably send it out to my Beta Slaves this weekend.  (If this means you, brace yourselves, it’s incoming).  While they’ve got it, I’ll probably be pricing some editing services, as well as cover artists, to try and find some folk that I can work with (and can afford).  I’m desperately wanting to do this one without running a Kickstarter, so financial stuff has to be considered.  What this ultimately means is that we’re still a few months out from you, my awesome readers, being able to see it, but it’s closer!  It’s so much closer.  I’m still shooting for this summer, at some point.  I’ll keep you posted.

However, finishing a book always puts me in a weird mood for a few days, and I thought I’d blog about it. (As one does about such things.)  I actually wanted to do this post when I finished writing The Musicbox Girl, but couldn’t wrap my head around everything that I wanted to say before the feeling just faded away and I kinda lost what I’d wanted to do.  So, you get it now, hopefully while all my thinks are still freshly thunk.

Completing a novel feels great.  Heck, for me, completing a grocery list feels pretty damn life affirming.  Anyone who has ever tried to write anything knows that there is a satisfaction to coming up with a coherent beginning, middle and end, no matter if you’re writing a novel, a short story, or a dirty limerick.  (Love me some dirty limericks)  You have done SOMEthing.

But the part that gets to me, every single time, is this profound sense of loss I feel.  Suddenly, all of the scenes and lines and people that I’ve been living with in my head for months are gone.  You have no idea how long some of the things you read have been percolating in my gray matter (multiple years, in some cases).  And once it’s on paper, once it’s brought to life, it’s just…gone.  I have a giant, novel-shaped hole in my brain. 

Part of me has to wonder if this is what it’ll feel like when kiddo grows up and moves out of the house.  You spend all this time, tending and nurturing something, and then suddenly it has a life of its own, and it doesn’t need you anymore.  Yeah, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and you’re happy, but for at least a little bit, you’re also suddenly lonely.  There’s a genuine feeling of mourning.

Now, this giant gaping hole won’t last forever.  I think of it like a foot print in wet soil.  Slowly, the water seeps back in and fills up the emptiness.  Already, I can feel my plans and plots for my MBG revision seeping in there.  Soon, the hole in my brain will be taken up with that novel, and once I finish revising that, then another novel will seep its way in.  And another after that, and another, ad infinitum.  (Hopefully)

So the loneliness and loss don’t last very long, especially if I’ve got other projects loudly demanding attention.  But for just a few days, finishing a novel is a bittersweet victory.  So long, Jesse & Axel and the rest of you crazy kooks.  I’ll see you again in a few months.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

As The Year Turns

And what a year it's been.

I'm looking back on all my grand plans, trying to figure out if I should be disappointed in myself for not meeting all my goals, or satisfied with what I DID get done.

Suffice to say, I wanted to be done with Jesse #4 by now.  I'm not.  The last two months has been a total wash, though I will say that I think I've made a brainstorming breakthrough and I'll be starting back up with the writing again probably as soon as I finish this post.  I'm so very close, if I can just get over this little bump.  I know how it ends, I just have to get there.

I fully admit, my writing was a victim of stress in other areas of my life.  I know that I've mentioned my Real Job(tm) before.  Well, for the last....oh, probably two years, if I'm being honest...I've not been happy with the Real Job(tm).  In fact, I've been scrambling to get clear of there.  Sadly, I'm not in a position where writing full time is feasible, financially, so getting clear of one job requires a new job.  And in the industry where I work, that's easier said than done right now.

However, over the last three months, I managed to apply/interview/finally get hired at a new place!  I'm simultaneously thrilled and terrified.  I mean, I worked at my old job for eight and a half years.  It's been a while since I had to get all dressed up and go make new friends.  But it'll be fine.  It has to be.  At the very least, it can't be any worse.

So, last day at the Old Job was yesterday, and my first day at the New Job is Monday.

New Job schedule is slightly different (Old Job started at 7 a.m., New Job starts at 8:30 a.m.), but I think I'm going to parlay that into some early morning writing time.  I recall that when I was working on The Musicbox Girl, my Saturday mornings were very productive.  No one in the house is up, it's quiet, I'm not exhausted...  It sounds worth a try.

Also, I find it very poetic that the winter days were getting darker right up until I quit the Old Job, and now when I start the New Job, the days will be getting lighter.  Happy Solstice, everyone!

So.  Goals for the new year:

January - Finish JJD#4, get it out to betas.  I'm about 30K words from the end of a first draft.  Once the holidays are past, I'm going to buckle down and knock this thing out.

January 21st - Peacemaker release.  Advance reviews are trickling in so far, and people seem to like it!  This makes me happy.  It's a fun little story, not intended to change the world, and I hope people enjoy it.  I should probably come up with some promotion events centered around that, but honestly I'm a bit tapped out of ideas given the absence of actual physical copies.  So if anyone has a thing they want me to do, let me know!

February/March - I will be revising The Musicbox Girl per my Lovely Agent's advice.  Kinda looking forward to getting my hands back into this story.  I will also be hopefully assembling beta reader notes on JJD#4 and once MBG is done, go through the Jesse book again.

April - Find an editor & cover artist for JJD#4.  My actual release date for that book will depend on deadlines for these two things.  Starting to look like a summer release for the book, which is apt, since the first three always came out in summer.

Rest of the Year - I want to start outlining/drafting Arcane West #2 (a sequel to Peacemaker).  I also want to start working on a new project that has been driving me nuts called Valkyrie, Inc.  It'll be a little different than some of my other stuff, but it feels like it's going to be fun and I'm excited about it.

Hoping that I can get MBG into a shape where Lovely Agent will want to start subbing it.  She also has Muse to read, and I'm hoping to find out if she wants to try subbing that too, or if I'll be trying to self-pub that one.  Also hoping to make a decision on whether or not to self-pub Night of Fire and Ash, but if I did that, I'd officially have three series going at once, and that way lies madness.  So that one's going to take a bit of thinking.

And of course, once JJD#4 is done, I need to move on to #5.  There will be six Jesse books in the end, and I'm very devoted to finishing the series.  It's just something I need to do at this point.

As we've seen, my best laid plans often go awry, but I like having a starting point from which to veer off dramatically.

Happy Winter-Holiday-Event-of-Your-Choice, and may the New Year be fabulous for us all!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's all about the tease...

I'm gonna quit apologizing for not updating the blog.  Most of you are stalking me on Twitter & Facebook anyway, right?  (And if not, why not?)

So, what's going on with me?

Well, I'm working feverishly on JJD4, and I'm pretty sure I actually have a title now!  I know, I know, I've said that before, but I've actually started using this one around the house, and I still don't hate it, so I think it's going to stick.  I'll announce it soon, hopefully in conjunction with finishing the first draft of the book.  Don't think I'm gonna make my November 1 deadline, but that's mostly because I should have copy edits coming in on Peacemaker sometime next week, and then I've only got two weeks to turn those around.

(Copy edits are not as fearsome as they sound.  I actually rather enjoy it, and I hope to have them turned around over a single weekend)

Unfortunately, that particular weekend also coincides with some major system upgrades at the Real Job, so it's entirely possible that I may be trapped doing stuff for them too.  Bleh.

Once I get JJD4 done, and Peacemaker copy edits turned in, I'll be returning to The Musicbox Girl to see if I can revise it per my lovely agent's input.  At the same time, I'll be starting the process of getting cover art commissioned for JJD4, and lining up some editing and such so that I don't totally embarrass myself.

Hm...let's see, I feel like I was supposed to do something else...

Oh wait, that's it!

Speaking of cover art...  Here's Peacemaker!

(Yes, I totally made you read all the way through my blog post to get to see the cover.  I am bad, and I should feel bad.)

Peacemaker will be out January 21, 2014, and is available for preorder now.  Remember that it's going to be an ebook-only thing first, and then if I have enough sales, they'll think about doing it in print.

It always feels more real once there's a cover...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Latest and Greatest

Once again, my lack of posting astounds even me.  In my defense, though, I've been working.  Like, actual writing working, not Real Job working (though I've been doing that too)

So, what's been going on?

Well, I took the entire month of June to do edits on Peacemaker, and turned those in two whole days early.  Go me!  And just this week, I got an email back from my wonderful editor saying that those revisions have been accepted, so Peacemaker's almost a finished product, and that's a bit of stress off my mind.  Granted, I've never had revisions NOT accepted, but a little part of me is always fearful that she's going to come back and say "this is the suckiest thing in the history of sucky things that suck, do it over".

Right now, I'm working on JJD4.  I'm about 11K words into it, which doesn't seem like very much, 'cause it isn't.  But I've been writing almost every day, even if it's just a little bit, and I'm really starting to sink back into the world again.  It's kinda comfy there, like a big pillow.  A big, fluffy, demon-infested pillow.

I'm still struggling with a title for it.  I thought I had one, months ago, but the more I think about it, the less I like it, so it's back to the drawing board.  Figure, if I'm self-publishing it, I can come up with a title whenever I feel like it, right?

Been learning a lot about self-publishing over these past few months, too.  It's starting to not feel as daunting as it once did.  Ideally, if I can stick to my own self-imposed timeline, I hope to have JJD4 up and functional by March.  All of this contingent on me actually finishing it, of course, and cover art & editing schedules.  My intention is to do ebook on pretty much all platforms, and maybe do a print edition through Amazon's Createspace.  It won't be the same size as the first three books, because they don't offer a mass-market paperback size, and I fully admit that this makes me a little crazy.  They're supposed to match, dammit! Ah well, we take what we can get.

My lovely agent has read The Musicbox Girl, and given me some really great revision notes on it.  She's completely right in everything she said, I just have to wrap my brain around how to fix it.  Right now, that's not going to happen, because I'm trying to work on JJD4, and quite frankly, the writing is different enough that trying to do both at once might scramble my last two brain cells.

I've also sent Muse to the lovely agent, mostly to see if it's something she'd be interested in trying to sell, or if I should just start pondering self-publishing that too.  Honestly, I read through parts of it again, and the whole thing still gives me chills.  It's still one of the best things I've ever written (in my admittedly warped mind) and I'd like to see it available someday.

And, in case you missed it, Peacemaker is up for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  It's also up on Goodreads, if anyone wants to add it to their to-read list. No cover art yet, of course, but I'm hoping soon.  Do you realize that we're actually less than 6 months away from release on that one already??  Time flies when you're having fun.

Remember, Peacemaker will be ebook only at first.  If sales are good enough, they may release it in print later.  I've had several people lament that they don't have a Kindle or a Nook or whatever, but remember if you have a smart phone or a computer, the Kindle app is a free download, and you can read my book right on your phone!

So, current timelines are looking like this:
Autumn 2013 - copy edits on Peacemaker (actual deadline unknown)
November 1 - finish JJD4
Nov/Dec - editing & cover art for JJD4, and revising MBG
January 21, 2014 - Peacemaker release!
Jan/Feb/Mar 2014 - drafting Arcane West #2?
March-ish 2014 - JJD4 release!
Summer 2014 - drafting JJD5?

After that, everything's a moving target.  Heck, half the stuff ON the list is still a moving target.  Ah well.  This is the good life, right?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goals Revisited

I got to looking at my goals post from way back when, and y'know, I'm really not so horribly off track.

Goal 1 - Finishing Night of Fire and Ash. Check.

Goal 2 - Write JJD4 - temporarily on hold

Goal 3 - Speak at RT.  Done!  Love love loved it.

Goal 4 - Choose/write a new project - well, I kinda DID that already, with The Musicbox Girl, so that one's done, just out of order.

Goal 5 - Publish JJD4 - Still a goal, just pushed back a bit further than originally thought.

So really, what does the rest of my 2013 look like?

Peacemaker - My edits on Peacemaker are due July 1st, assuming of course that I get my edit letter in good time. (I feel pretty safe making that assumption)

JJD4 -  Come July 1, provided that Peacemaker is turned in on time, JJD4 becomes my priority.  Planning on having it done by November 1.  Four months should be sufficient enough time.  After that, I want to spend November/December getting it edited and the cover design and formatting done in preparation for hitting the button to make it live.

And holy cow,that brings me into 2014 already.

At some point in January (don't know the precise date yet), Peacemaker will hit.  Kinda want to spend the month of January dealing with that, but I also want to spend it plotting out the second Arcane West novel.  My current plan with that series is a trilogy, but who knows?  Never say never or something.

Spring of 2014 could conceivably be spent writing AW2, and pimping JJD4 with a spring release.  Then, JJD5 will need to start being a thing, and... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

And just like this year, my best laid plans could come to a screeching halt due to unexpected (but hopefully still good) events.

It feels good, though, to have a plan.  It may not even be a great plan, but at least it's a plan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post RT Stupor

To begin, let me say that not only was this my first RTConvention, but it was also my first convention at all.  I mean sure, I attend the local anime con once a year (Naka-Kon) but in all honesty, I’m a day-passer, and I mostly go to cruise the vendor room.  So this was my very first all out, balls-to-the-wall convention.

And it was AWESOME!  I would gladly go again, if my finances could afford it.  (That was the advantage of it being here in KC this year, I could attend and not worry about travel/lodging costs.)

First, everyone there was so freakin’ NICE!  Authors, readers, aspiring writers, publishing folk, I didn't meet a single person who wasn't completely welcoming and helpful.  Especially after they found out it was my first con, ‘cause I think I looked a bit lost at times, and someone always came along to adopt me.  (Con lesson learned:  If you stand in one place long enough, someone cooler than you will come along and tell you what to do with your life)

Second, the panels there were very interesting!  I attended quite a few on self-publishing, given my plans for the JJD series, and I learned a whole lot.  I’m not sure all the advice applies to me and my specific situation, but it still gave me some very interesting things to mull over.  As one presenter said, there are many roads to Oz, and Oz means different things for different people.  I attended a few craft panels too, usually because someone I knew was either attending or presenting, and I always felt like I learned something. 

The panel I was actually on was great!  First off, I was up there with Jackie Kessler, Caitlin Kittredge, Margaret Stohl and Jeaniene Frost, and the amazing Nicole Peeler was moderating.  Seriously, if you haven’t read any of these fabulous ladies, you and I can no longer be friends.  Run out and rectify that situation immediately.  We had a huge crowd, they were involved, they asked awesome questions, and I didn't make an ass of myself.  Always a plus.  In reality, I would happily do panels again, it was HUGELY fun.

When there wasn't an actual event going on (or I just needed time to decompress for a bit), I spent hours just sitting and talking to people.  It really is true that almost everyone will pass through the hotel bar at some point or another.  I met a good chunk of the League of Reluctant Adults in person for the first time, and hung out with John Scalzi who is just sweet and charming and super-duper nice.  I also made some really great new friends (and found new books that I’ll just HAVE to read), just by striking up conversations with total strangers.  Anyone who knows me in real life knows that that in and of itself was an accomplishment.  Also, no one seemed to care if I wandered around a bit starstruck.  I fully admit, I fangirled all over some folk. (I told Diana Rowland I loved her.  Seriously.) 

There were multi-published, NYT bestselling authors there, standing next to debut authors with one book out, standing next to self-publishers, standing next to aspiring writers, standing next to readers who just want to love the books.  Do you know how cool it was to just walk past groups of people sitting in the lobby and overhear in-depth discussions of plot devices, or current books, or character tropes, or…?  It was writing/reading paradise. 

So what did it all mean?

No idea.  Other folk have sounded off on things about the con, and since they’ve been to more than one, I’ll leave it to them to make the really deep judgments on it.  However, I know that I had a really great time, made a ton of new friends, and learned so much my brain is still buzzing with it.  It was totally worth the money I spent to attend, and I’m really envious of everyone who is already planning to attend next year in New Orleans.

I have enacted what I call the “lottery ticket caveat”.  If I win the lottery between now and next year’s RT, I will definitely be there.  Other than that, it’s pretty iffy, and I will watch Twitter with great longing while it’s going on.