A Novel in 4 Days – Hold me Accountable!

Since last summer, I’ve been struggling to write Book 2 in my Angels of Sojourn series. This novel was supposed to be my July Camp NaNoWriMo project, but then June 29th happened.

I had the novel all outlined and waiting for me to write it…then a tree limb fell on my father, uprooting my and my family’s life. In subsequent months, we moved home to run the family zoo. My weeks were filled with sixty or more hours of work (balancing two jobs, four hours apart for a while), packing, finishing a house so it could be sold, moving the kids schools, etc. etc. etc. — not to mention nursing my father’s skull fracture back to health. Needless to say, this project (Fur & Feathers) did not get written.

Now, six months later, I’m still struggling with the story. I’ve been slowly jotting down words, one scene at a time, and am 20K into the novel. I’ve put it aside to do other, shorter projects (Hexes & Ohs and Darklight & Daydreams) and am feeling quite guilty the story’s not written yet. All my pre-accident writing routines and techniques have not been working for me.

So…I’m trying something new. Something I’ve seen writers on forums and Facebook groups do. Something I thought was impossible…

Since I only have 40K yet to write, I’m going to block off my calendar for four days this next week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (I have those days off, just by a miracle!) and I’m going to finish the novel! 10K a day until an official first draft.

What I need from you is to hold me accountable. I’ll be posting every day on my progress.

Here’s my plan:

PREPARE!

  • 1/19 (Test Day) I have most the day off, but have things to do with my kids. My goal is to spend the day writing. I want to see how many words I can write in an hour. (Update: I did this. It’s 2000 words per hours. That means I need to spend 5 hours per day writing to hit my goal of 10K per day.)
  • 1/20 (Organization Day) Get all my outlines and paperwork in one spot.
  • 1/21 (Rest Day) No writing. Answer all emails/social media, because it’s going off tomorrow!

LET THE WRITING BEGIN!

  • 1/22 Goal: 10K
  • 1/23 Goal: 10K
  • 1/24 Goal: 10K
  • 1/25 Goal: 10K

NOVEL IS FINISHED!

  • 1/26 (Celebrate! No writing)
  • 1/27 Let the editing begin! Still gloat that I finished it all by February. 🙂

I am disconnecting from the internet on the 22nd-25th, except to update this blog and a post on KBoards.

My writing days are mostly consecutive, but if this works, moving forward, I think I’d prefer a day or two between each mega writing day…Like two weekends in a row.

And I warned my family it’s coming. That I’ll be absent.

So…Technically a novel is 40K. So, if this works, I could block off four days per month and whip out a short novel per month. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Ready…Set…Write!

Magic in the World Around Us

Since I write speculative fiction, I’m always dreaming up some magical world or a world where science is pushed a little beyond it’s current limits. Sometimes while I’m thinking up superheros, angels, and human clones, I get detached from the real world and forget the magical things that surround me — in real life!

For example:

This past summer, I changed my branding to have the northern lights in the background. This phenomenon makes me wonder where science and magic come together.

Joynell Schultz (1)

Stare into the night sky. How is it possible that the galaxy goes on forever? Each of those stars is the equivalent of our sun…and is there other life out there? The concept alone is magical…not to mention how many stars are in the sky.

night sky

The bumble bee. Really, any animal in flight impresses me, but just look at the aerodynamics of this little creature. I think I read somewhere that by pure physics, their flight shouldn’t be possible.

Bee

A simple light bulb. It’s more of the electricity it represents. How is it possible for these little electrons to flow through wiring and do so much for us? And when you’re not using it, it sits in the wires, waiting.

Light Bulb

Okay, okay. You’re telling me none of this is magic — it’s science, but I think science is pretty cool. We humans only know a tiny fraction about what surrounds us. Even the human brain is amazing and not understood. To me, it’s magical…

As I thought more and more about this topic, I asked my newsletter subscribers what they find magical and a little different perspective was neat to hear. Here is what they had to say.

Serendipitous coincidences!  If you read about a coincidence in a book, it seems contrived, darn it!  But in real life, they usually spell love or a new job or something delicious.”

A word is so much more than just the combination of its letters (it has a meaning, which might be quite powerful) and a book (or any text that makes sense; it might just be a “simple” question) is more than all its individual words (I knew all the words before, but when you combine them, you are creating something new). Of course, some words and some books are more magical to me, but the idea that you can create all that (a powerful tool, which can change those who read it) with just the right combination of letters (just a finite set of characters, already known to all)… That’s magic!”

The beginning of life, both the emergence of life on earth in the distant past and the beginning of a new life in the present. Suddenly, something or someone is there that wasn’t there before. Magic!”

So, I’d love to hear.

What do you find magical in the world around you?

Simply post in the comments below.

Do You Give Your Book (1)

 

Where have I been?

Has anyone noticed I’ve been MIA?

No, I haven’t given up. Actually, I can’t wait to post my next 1000 True Fans post, as my mailing list is now over 10,000 subscribers…BUT my time has been limited.

Why?

Oh, let me tell you…

On June 28th, my father had a large tree limb randomly fall on him while he was walking through his zoo. He’s getting better now, but had to spend two weeks in the ICU while his skull fracture healed.

Those of you that have read my bio know my parents own a zoo. They work sun-up to sun-down seven days per week on their business. They love bringing a smile to visitor’s faces…just like why I write.

Well, with my dad out of commission and my mom having to care for him, that left the zoo needing management. My brother (who just graduated medical school) and I came rushing home to help with my dad and the animals.

Life’s been crazy. There’s always some emergency. From the Syrian brown bears getting crabby to a baby arctic fox needing ice blocks to handle some hot summer days. (Yes, we get them here in Wisconsin.)

Now, my parents are thinking of backing off a little and are wondering if my brother and I want to take over the zoo.

What an interesting life decision facing me and my family. We’ve decided to give it a try. All I know is it’s hard work, but quite rewarding as well. 

With all this, I haven’t done much new writing. I haven’t even blogged! Honestly, the little free time I have had has been spent trying to meet deadlines for projects I have in the works: The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey, Witch or Treat: Multi-Author Halloween Anthology, and a Twelve Days of Christmas Anthology.

Once we move (which we are in the process of right now) and life settles down, I’ll find my balance (September, I hope. When the kids start up at their new schools). Until then, I’m enjoying the challenges thrown my way. One of my old managers used to say,  “You only grow in times of change.” That’s so true. Take a peek at this article from the Huffington Post showcasing this idea.

Here are a few photos from my album (my friends, the elk, a two month old baby bobcat, and a newborn Heck/Tarpan horse.):

Thanks for sticking with me. I really appreciate all my loyal followers.

Are Physical Books Obsolete?

are physical books obsolete_

Stop! Don’t hate me for asking that questions. Hear me out.

I’m a bit of a minimalist and read almost exclusively in ebook format. This year, while doing some spring cleaning, I donated a heap of physical books to charity. As I packed up some nearly out-of-date reference books, I shook my head at the amount of money sitting in that pile.

Don’t get me wrong—I love physical books. I love to hold them and admire their covers. I adore the feeling of cracking open the binding of a brand-new read, of the smell of old pages, and of seeing the deep creases in the bindings, showing me how many times I read each one. And if I wander into a library or bookstore, I could get lost inside for the entire day!

I began to think of a book I read as a teenager, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Those of you who haven’t read it, it’s about the firemen of the future. Their job is not to put out fires…but to start them, burning books. Will our future have any books to burn?

As I pondered this question, I turned to my newsletter readers and asked for their input. Their responses surprised me! Overwhelmingly, the answer was NO! THEY ARE NOT OUT OF DATE. Their passion for physical books overly evident in their responses. In fact, I felt I may have made some of them uncomfortable for even asking the question.

I had multiple responses telling me about their personal libraries with thousands of physical books. My favorite quote from one reader was that books are his “drug of choice.” Oh, so true!

Some of the other comments that I enjoyed were:

  • They’ll come back like vinyl records.
  • Physical books have become a treat, since we do so much on electronic devices.
  • Come Zombie Apocalypse and we’ll be happy for our library of books.

My readers gave me these reasons (pros and cons) of physical books vs ebooks. Check out what they had to say.

EBooks are our future! Physical Books are here to stay!
Space saving – the ability to carry around thousands of your favorites everywhere you go. It makes trip packing super easy. Need electricity – some readers have a short battery life.
Reading ease – the older we get, the bigger we need our fonts. Also, you can read in the dark. No stress – they won’t break at the beach or pool if they get wet or sand on them. Won’t shatter if dropped and not as many worries about being stolen. There’s also the sun-glare issue.
Convenient – easy to carry everywhere you go, especially if you’re reading on your phone. You never have to remember to bring it along. Pricing – the cost of a reading device.
Pricing – physical books have become so expensive…especially compared to many ebooks. Appealing to your senses – Tactile readers feel they’re getting more with a physical book? You can touch them…smell them.
Storage – physical books may mold if improperly stored. Reference/nonfiction books – Cookbooks and other reference books are easier to use in physical format.

 

Size – especially for epic fantasy readers, some of the books just hurt your hand if you read them too long. (From being heavy.) Some place can’t use electronic books. Jails. Sending books to needy places like some spots in Africa.

Reviewing the above chart, it looks like it was a tie, but even those ebook supporters were clear that physical books had a place.

So…with that said. What do you think? Are physical books disappearing?

Oh, did you want to know my thoughts?

I always look to the next generation. My children don’t have textbooks in school. Is that a sign of what our future holds? I think so. Sure, physical books will always have a place and readers who love them, but I believe our supply of them is shrinking, per capita. But this is just one gal’s opinion. The only way we’ll know is to wait it out.

 

Camp NaNo – My First Sequel

July’s Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I’m excited to start my first sequel! I published Blood & Holy Water back in April, and since then, readers have been asking for a sequel…so…here we go! I have a tentative cover (since, for some reason, covers motivate me to write) and a working title.

bhw ff

Book 1 (Blood & Holy Water) was about an angel who needed a miracle to earn her wings…and it turns out her miracle involved a vampire with a secret to protect.

Book 2 (Feathers & Fur) will be about a recently fallen angel who can’t help but try to do good, but when his path’s cross with a werewolf mother that doesn’t want his help, he feels lost in this new world.

I have the whole thing outlined, and know the characters since they appeared in other stories. (The fallen angel was in Blood & Holy Water and the werewolf was in my story Bitten in my Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales freebie.)

Next, I need to come up with a series title.

So, who’s in Camp with me? What will you be working on?

Oh the Pressure! A Writing Calendar

I love creating new characters, worlds, and writing about their journey, but I have a problem.

I can’t do it fast enough. After that first draft is written, I spend countless hours rewriting, editing, and tweaking it until I’m not afraid to show it to the world. In the mean time, I have hundreds of new characters and adventures flowing through my head, begging me to write their journey.

On top of this, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed in the steps needed to complete projects and feel stagnant and lost when someone asks me when a story I’m writing is going to be published.

So, last week when I received an email talking about ways to increases your writing productivity, I jumped right in and devoured the content.

There were three simple tips, and today(1 wk) I’m talking about one: using a calendar/schedule to plan your writing life.

This made sense. I do it at work, so why not for my hobby?

First, I listed all the projects I have committed to, then determined how long each step in the process takes me. Finally, I arranged it all into a schedule…and what did I find?

Despite having WAY too much going on, I developed a plan with achievable deadlines. It makes me wonder why I haven’t done this before. Now, when people ask me when I’ll have something published, I can give them a good answer.

I found this technique useful, so I wanted to share it with you. Here’s how I did it. Keep in mind, I always overdo everything, so you can do this as simple or complex as you like.

First, I listed all my projects:

  • The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives (Novel)
  • The Stellar Life of a Superhero Wife (Short story hook for full novel)
  • Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey (Novella)
  • Halloween Anthology (Short Story)
  • Twelve Days of Christmas Short Story (for anthology)
  • Blood & Holy Water 2 (Novel)
  • Love, Lies & Clones 2 (Novel)
  • Non-Fiction Project

Then I came up with how long it takes me to do each of the steps from idea to publishing:  (I found this step to be eye opening. I need to work on streamlining this process somehow.)

  • Outline: Novel (2 wks) Novella (1 wk) Short Story (1 wk)
  • Draft Zero: Novel (6 wks) Novella (3 wks) Short Story (1 wk)
  • First Draft: Novel (2 wks) Novella (1 wk) Short Story (1 wk)
  • Beta Readers (Round 1): Novel (6 wks) Novella (4 wks) Short Story (2 wks)
  • Edits: Novel (2 wks) Novella (1 wk) Short Story (1 wk)
  • Beta Readers (Round 2): Novel (6 wks) Novella (3 wk)s Short Story (1 wk)
  • Edits: Novel (2 wks) Novella (1 wk) Short Story (1 wk)
  • Editor/Plan Book Launch: Novel (4 wks) Novella (2 wks) Short Story (2 wks)
  • Final Read Through: Novel (2 wks) Novella (1 wk) Short Story (1 wk)
  • Publish

Finally, I integrated these two steps into a spreadsheet along with hard deadlines, trying not to put to many labor intensive steps together on the same week (marked in red below.) Also, the blue steps are no work for me, so I make sure I have something going on that week to keep me moving forward…even if it’s for a future project. Here’s what my calendar/schedule looks like:

calendar

Now comes the easy part. All I have to do is look at my current week and make sure I’m on task with the little steps. As long as I am on task for the week, the overall project is also on task. Easy, right?

Ha. Not quite.

Do you use a calendar to keep yourself on schedule? Or do you wing it, like I always did?

My Writing Journey

My Writing Journey

If anyone is interested more about me (like, way more than you care to know) or just need a little motivation to keep you writing, here’s a summary of my writing journey. (Forgive me if I got a little “preachy” in the piece.)

Thank you E. Paige Burks (and Infinity Flower Publishing) for hosting me on your blog. I really enjoyed writing this piece.

Here’s a little snippet:

My Writing Journey – Perseverance – Joynell Schultz

The quote, “You are your own worst enemy,” sums up my writing journey and affects many artists. Heck, I think everyone struggles with this to one point or another.

As far back as I remember, I loved writing. My favorite part was looking at the finished product and saying, “Hey, I created that OUT OF NOTHING!” Each story always brought me some emotional satisfaction. The characters, their struggle, or just the way the plot was crafted. Not that I’m brilliant…far from it.

I think nearly anyone can write. It’s just a matter of how much work you’re willing to put into the story. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago I had this revelation.

… Read the whole article here: My Writing Journey – Perseverance …

Have a fantastic rest of your day!

–Joy