Word Count Updates

To hold myself accountable, I’m going to update a post once a week with my word counts.  As long as I’m making about 10 pages of progress a day, I’m calling it good. Now, I don’t want to spam anyone’s inbox, so it’s going to be a constant edit.  If you want to keep up, you’re going to have to come back to this post.

Before I get started, I also want to thank everyone who said they’d like a free digital copy of If I Let You Go.  As a new writer, I understand that the trust isn’t there yet, so I want to give anyone who is interested the chance to get to know my style. A few of you have said you don’t want a free copy and you’re going to pay.  That’s amazing to me.  Thank you!

So, here we go!

Starting – 44,244

December 28:  44,683 (approximately on page 20 – made changes and added a 300 word addition to a scene to improve tone)

December 29: Oops. I was so tired I fell asleep at 8 PM… Double the work tomorrow?

December 30: 46, 339.  Perfect, because I may be going away and be unable to edit for a few days. Added a badass new chapter and made changes.  Somehow, I’ve ended up with 13 additional MS Word pages since starting.

December 31: x

January 1: x

January 2: x

January 3: Way too tired. x

January 4: Way too tired and worked overtime… 46,376. Worked on 2-3 pages. Ouch.  This is harder than I thought.

January 5: 46,547. I added more to the prologue and cleaned some stuff up.  It’s hard to believe I’ve added 14 pages by restructuring things and making additions.  It’s a little nutty to think that I’m already about 20% into this edit.  I’ll definitely be done by the end of the month and probably sooner, barring anything disastrous.  I do feel a sore throat coming on…

January 6: x

January 7: Theoretically, I should be finishing up on page 110, but I’m only on page 46 due to the time it takes to write additions.  I’ve been editing for an hour, and I’ve only added 100 words (including many subtractions). Perhaps the 10 page a day goal was too much? Ending on: 46,879, page 51

January 8: x, out of town

January 9: 47,239. I’m in the middle of writing a new chapter, but haven’t gotten very far.  I worked overtime today.  The best part of editing is realizing I need to add more because writing is so much more enjoyable.  Here’s to hoping I don’t need to go over these additions 5 times like I have with everything else!

January 10: 47,707. In the middle of a new chapter in a totally new environment with new characters and it’s messing me up a little. Probably going to have to go back and revise later…

January 11: 48,054

January 12: 48,932.  This new chapter is getting long.  My new character is a total dick.

January 13:

Progress Report

When I told myself I wanted to finish my third draft of If I Let You Go by Christmas, I didn’t realize I had about half the book to go.

This is probably because I was using two different types of paper stock.  Oh well.

The first half of the book was painful to edit, but as the story went on, the writing got better.  Because I didn’t write every day, some of the plots were a tad disjointed. I’ve done a lot to correct that.  I’ve decided that I have chapters upon chapters to add, including a prologue.  I might even change my entire ending.  I still can’t decide.  My editor, my amazing boyfriend, threw out an alternate ending that somewhat appeals to me. My ending leaves room for a second story.  I’m not sure what route I want to take.

At current mark, we’re looking at 43,670 words.  I set a goal to edit half the book by Christmas.  Now, I’m setting a goal to type corrections and additions – at least 500 words a day/3,500 words a week – until it’s done. This will most likely be around January 20th. Keep in mind, I’m cutting some stuff out, so the book isn’t going to be 56,000 words.  It will, I think, be about 50,000. I’ll try to post status updates here.

Then we go into round 4, where I will beg my boyfriend to read through it again. And I’ll review his notes, make possible changes, and honestly…

After that, I’m going to take a break.  I’m going to work on cover art, learn how to set this up for publication, do some marketing, work on other stories… And then review it a final time.  With luck, it will be like reading any other book.  I think that after working with totally different characters and plots, I’ll be able to look at If I Let You Go more objectively.

I really want to get this story out there, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of being one of those self-published atrocities who makes typos and misses details and has the writing ability of a piece of cork.

This Christmas eve, one of my boyfriend’s relatives announced to the family – who wasn’t paying attention – that I wrote a book and she hoped she’d see it in the Yankee Swap.  It wasn’t there, but I am hoping it will be available sometime in March, or possibly slightly after.  I should have a date in mind roughly one month before I’m ready.

On another note, I do want to comment on sexism in this industry, because I’m finding it on some level.  In my quest to make writer connections via Twitter, I started DM’ing with someone – mostly conversational stuff.  What do you do for a day job? What do you write about? That kind of thing.  I did some research on the guy.  He’s written a number of books – all with God awful cover art – but they’ve sold some copies.  One in particular garnished several dozen reviews.  Now, you can go on Fiverr and pay for fake reviews.  Just because someone has reviews doesn’t mean they’re real. Let’s keep this in mind.  He also has over 50,000 Twitter followers.  Again, these can be bought.

Or, they could be real. I’m open to that disappointing possibility.

This guy started calling me sexy, pretty lady, etc.  I could see where it was going. Show me your tits and I’ll tell you the tricks of the trade!  Show me a kindergarten coloring book, and I’ll show you fonts that would look better on your book covers.

Lady writers, don’t fall for this shit. I promptly blocked this poser.



Twitter Marketing

In my last post, I touched upon how I’ve been using Twitter to meet more people and make more people aware of my writing.  As of this posting, I have about 11.2K followers and I’m following 8,500 people.  Ouch.

This doesn’t look good, but the reality is that a lot of people Twitter marketing actually follow MORE people than are following them.  Many of the accounts have never even posted.

This is what I didn’t know when I first started doing Twitter marketing back in my silly YouTube hey-days. I’d follow anyone with a digital pulse, even if it was pretty weak.

Needless to say, I’m still following a lot of these accounts.  They don’t post, they don’t speak English, they just follow me hoping I’ll follow them back…

“But Ashley, don’t you do that, too?”

Sure. But I do want to interact. I follow people who have similar interests. No one is just a number to me.

I used to use FriendorFollow to weed out accounts I didn’t want to follow anymore, but once I hit 10K followers, the site cut me off.  Now I use ManageFlitter.

It tells me who doesn’t speak English, the last time someone posted, accounts that are likely to be spam or have bought followers, etc.

It looks shady to have 50K followers, but be following 60K. People don’t realize that.  The number of followers doesn’t matter if you’re just a number to them and the engagement is weak.

If you like to write, tell me about it in a comment or on Twitter. My account is @peneraserlove .


2006 vs. Modern Day

As I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time reading J.A. Konrath’s blog.  I’m not sure where he’s disappeared to as of late, but his old content is very interesting.

For example, in August 2006 he mentioned that people should focus their time on selling physical copies of books rather than digital ones.  He went so far as to go on book tours, visiting hundreds of book stores, developing contacts – even my local one, which I remember ransacking 3-4 years later for discounted books as it shut down permanently.  My bet is that most of the stores he visited have also shut down, and here’s why:

As of 2012, more books sold online than in brick-and-mortar stores.  That’s huge – and keep in mind, these are old statistics. Today, e-books are blowing up the markets and self-publishing has allowed high-quality, inexpensive work to reach audiences, competing with great traditional authors like Stephen King.

Even though 2006 was only a decade ago, Amazon wasn’t the powerhouse then that it is now.  Things have changed.  Now, I know people who exclusively shop Amazon for Christmas. You can purchase more for less at Amazon than you can at Walmart, in many cases.  It’s not going away.

This leads me to wonder: where are all the bookstore contacts that Konrath worked so hard to acquire?  Are they even in the publishing/bookselling industry anymore?

The e-book phenomenon isn’t just affecting fiction.  College textbooks are going online.  Magazines are going digital. Just last year, I was a final candidate at a scientific publishing company. They cited layoffs galore because they hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon quick enough.  They weren’t sure if they’d properly recover.

Which is why I took the job at the metal shop, along with being given only two days to decide. Perhaps if I’d had more time to think, I would have worked for the publishing company. It would have been an exciting adventure. But we can’t change our pasts.

Going forward in my research about publishing, I’m going to take Konrath’s advice with a grain of salt, at least until 2010 or so.  It’s not that the information is useless; things have just changed tremendously. Most people get their names out there digitally now, whether that be through blogs or social media. Konrath understood early on that blogging would help him build an audience.

As for myself, I’m using Twitter as my primary means of getting my name out there.  I haven’t quite started marketing If I Let You Go yet, but people know it exists and that I write science fiction. I try to follow back other writers, although to be honest, things have started blowing up there lately and it’s hard to keep up.

Twitter is an excellent way to be a part of a community and encourage others. Seeing all the hard work everyone else is doing inspires me to get my ass in gear.  Follow me at @peneraserlove if you like.


Hectic Couple of Months

See title.

A lot’s happened in the past couple of months. Most of it has been negative, but I’ve been trying to take these experiences and swing them on their heads. Every experience brings about something new, gives you new knowledge, or spawns a change in perspective.  I mostly believe that. I think about these experiences when I write.

In October, my mom went to the doctor with a hoarse voice. We’d both been sick in August and she’s been a smoker for roughly 50 years. Her primary care doctor brushed her off and told her not to worry about the hoarse voice based on these facts. In October, she decided he was an idiot. And it’s a good thing – after a rush of medical tests, she had vocal chord surgery a month ago, on my dad’s birthday.  She had suspicious tissue.  It was precancerous and questionably turning into carcinoma.  She’s been about a month now without smoking, after FIFTY years.  I’m so proud of her.  She still doesn’t have her voice back and although she’s hoping to go back to work the end of December, my family isn’t sure how it’s going to pan out.  She has a very public, stressful job that requires a lot of speaking.  A lot of smoking triggers.  I’m trying to keep calm about this, not worry.

I lost an uncle to cancer in May 2015. It started in his liver and spread to the rest of his organs.  He died on an emergency operating table, probably aware that he was sick, but he didn’t have the support network he needed to want to get help – my parents cut off contact after he destroyed one of their apartments, even though he was… I don’t know if autistic is the right word. He was never diagnosed with anything, he could function. He had three wives during his life.  He just didn’t think the way you or I do. It’s something my family doesn’t talk about, but his death changed us. The cancer just swept him away before my parents could make amends, before anyone could swallow their pride. If he went to a doctor alone, he wouldn’t understand the results. He’d just lost his best friend, and my parents, and he gave up. I think about him a lot, and how important it is to be open and forgiving.  I cried for weeks in sadness and disgust – with everyone – until that sunk in.

My parents hardly understood the results of my mom’s tests – something about stress making everything go in one ear and out through the other. I know they were thinking about him, too. Worrying about bad karma.  Bad choices.  We get to come back from some of them, but not totally.  I have another uncle who isn’t doing so well, and my family is doing what we can this time around.

I want to say thanks to everyone who offered words of support during these times.  I really, seriously needed it.

I didn’t get much work done on editing while all of this was going on. I spent a fair bit of time Web MDing.  Talking with my family. Reading books to calm down. Stress napping.

Now it seems as though I’m going to be spending some time reevaluating my career… My job, really.  I spoke with my boss about my male coworker being paid exorbitantly more than I am and it didn’t go down well.  Unfortunately, when you have nothing to justify that kind of pay but gender, those conversations will never go well.  I took on a position I didn’t even want and wasn’t compensated fairly for. It physically made me sick.  My position hasn’t been as promised since I started.  Before signing my contract, management told me about all these great promotion opportunities and… there aren’t any.  I got a raise lower than the inflation rate – lower than I ever got in retail – after temporarily assuming the management role of someone who is making 20K more than me now.  One of my other coworkers earned a raise around $1.50 before he completed his first year.  I heard discussions about people getting 6%, even 10% wage increases.  Why am I getting below 1.5%?  I had exceptional performance, took on a new role, and the company had its best year.  What about when things aren’t going so well?  The answers are clear.  Even if an offer to reevaluate my pay in 6 months is on the table, it’s all just insulting.

I won’t go on and on endlessly.  I’ve reached the point where I’m tired.  It’s time to reevaluate and that’s all there is to it.  I like my coworkers, but they aren’t going to buy me a house. Pay my student loans. Buy me cheap furniture from Ikea. They aren’t going to make me look back on my life in ten years and feel fulfilled about doing something I love to do, because I’m not.  I’m widening my mind, I’m learning – construction is actually very cool, even if hardly anyone knows what they’re doing – but I’m not in a position to build a career.  Not because I’m inadequate, but because this industry is biased against females.  There’s nothing I can do.  A career is important to me.  It’s devastating that I’m feeling forced to look into alternatives already, but I suppose it’s got to be fate.

I don’t know if writing books is going to work out for me financially.  Writing and editing this one novel has taken the better part of a year – longer, when we consider that I took a long break before getting serious about it. I get marketing.  I can do marketing.  I can handle the shitty sludge work associated with it because I love spreading ideas and making people ask themselves questions.  Books literally (hah) shaped who I am.  But until I know that I can hit shelves (digital shelves?) hard and make a living out of it, I need a career.

I have faith that it’s possible – ask anyone who’s ever known me from a distance, and they’ll tell you I need to be writing or working with animals. When I announced that I wrote a book, people came out of the woodwork to say “finally!”

One of the wonderful things about Twitter is connecting with people who feel these same issues every day. Life getting in the way of dreams, having to put other people before yourself.  Having to stop and restore yourself before you pop.  We get through life’s obstacles and carry on, because this is what we love to do.  Thanks for the support.