Busy holidays

It's been nearly a month since I last posted, thanks to an extraordinarily busy holiday season.  I can maintain my new schedule under normal conditions, but I totally underestimated my ability to deal with it when I have extra things like holiday shopping to do.  Adding to the chaos was the fact that I worked different (and increased) hours last week, since the kids I nanny for were out of school.  I was contemplating increasing my hours over the summer too, but I may have to reconsider that — or at least how much I'm going to increase them!

This week, luckily, I have off, as the family I nanny for is out of town.  It's a relief to have an entire week to get caught up on reading, writing, sleep, and other things, but already two of those days are gone!  And the rest of my week is destined to be spent at home, rather than at the barn as originally planned: Our dog Emma was diagnosed with pneumonia yesterday, and needs to be watched closely (and fed lots of fluids) for the next few days.

 Aside from the pneumonia, we had a pretty good holiday.  I got a Nook Tablet for Christmas (though Michael gave it to me a couple weeks early), and I love it.  We had a fairly quiet holiday — my mom was sick, so we didn't have dinner with my parents Christmas Eve as planned, and Christmas Day we had to ourselves as well.  We did go to a late showing of War Horse Christmas Day, and we spent the following day shopping — some remaining holiday shopping for his family, and some shopping for our house.  The day after Christmas is the perfect time to decide to buy all new window treatments for your living room, didn't you know?

What about everyone else?  How have the holidays been for you so far?

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By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, December 28, 2011 At 1:30 PM 0 comments

What I've missed

I had a revelation over the weekend that may have changed my mind about how soon to start on the next book in my series.  I finished a book I've been reading for about 2 weeks — a ridiculously long time for me — and started reading a back issue of The Writer that I'd never gotten around to reading.  And I realized, Wow, I have time to read again!

What a concept.

So I might take the research for the second book a little slow, like I did with the first one (except maybe not quite that slow), to give myself a chance to catch up a little on my reading.  I have quite a few books that have been on my "To Read" list for a while now, and the thought of curling up with a book in the evenings instead of my laptop sounds downright luxurious!

What hobbies or pastimes are you rediscovering now that NaNoWriMo is over, and you suddenly have all this time on your hands?

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, December 05, 2011 At 10:58 AM 0 comments

Why novelists need to be good copywriters too

Barnes & Noble's self e-publishing service, PubIt!, linked to a very interesting blog post the other day: The No. 1 Overlooked Skill for Every Author.  The blogger makes the argument — and a very strong one, I think — that authors need to also be good at promoting themselves in order to be successful.

The most common place where a background in copywriting is helpful is with writing queries, of course, but there are other areas, too.  Writers typically need to do a lot of marketing and self-promotion (websites, blogs, etc.) in order to sell books, find work, etc.  In addition, self-published authors need to be able to write effective promotional materials — book blurbs, press releases, blog posts, websites, etc. — since they don't have a publisher to handle some or all of those things.

I couldn't agree more.  I think there are a lot of self-published authors and authors published by small presses that really suffer because they don't know how to promote themselves effectively.  A friend of mine has gotten two books published and is working on the third, but he'll be the first to tell you he doesn't do enough promotion.  From what I've seen, I think this is pretty common.

It's one thing that I think will work in my favor if — or should I just say when — I publish something.  Online promotion, especially written materials, are my background, so I feel pretty confident about my ability to do a good job of promoting my work.

I don't know if any novelists follow my blog, but if any do, I'd love to have you weigh in: How do you promote your work?

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By Katharine Swan On Saturday, December 03, 2011 At 1:15 PM 0 comments

Finishing my first draft - 855 words shy of the mark

I finished my novel last night — I'd put an ending on it a few nights ago, but last night I finally finished a scene that I had skipped over (not being sure exactly what to write) a few weeks ago.  The first draft is, unfortunately, only 79,145 words — 855 words shy of my original goal — which is a little disappointing.

I'll now be putting the novel aside for a little while — I'm planning on picking it back up and doing the first round of revisions in January.  In the meantime, I've settled on what I want to do next: I realized that the next book was going to require some additional research — I have some historical facts to get right this time, and not just a general setting — so after a short break to get caught up on some other things, I'm going to get started on that.  We'll see how long it takes me, i.e., whether I'll be starting the second book before or after the first round of revisions on the first, but I lean toward getting the first book started before I do revisions (in case the second book brings up anything that needs changing in the first).

As I write this, in fact, I am printing a copy of the first draft, to be set aside until I am ready to start revisions.  I will go through the novel first on paper and mark the revisions I want to make (I know, I know, not very green, but when I'm revising fiction I prefer doing it on paper rather than on a computer screen), and then put the changes into the computer.

Watching the novel emerge from my printer, page by page, is very satisfying.  Even though I know it's not really done yet, it gives me a tremendous feeling of completion to see and feel it on paper!

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, December 02, 2011 At 12:54 PM 0 comments

TGIO: Are we really glad it's over?

NaNoWriMo ended last night at midnight.  I'd reached 50k a few days before, after which I added 1,283 words Tuesday night, finishing my novel.  I had intended to add a little more before NaNo ended, as there was a skipped scene I needed to fill in, but I didn't get it done before midnight, so my NaNo word count ended at 53,557.  I did add 582 words after midnight, though, and wrote at least half of the missing scene.  A little more tonight should do it, and then I'll set the first draft aside until January.

There is all sorts of talk on my local NaNo forum about TGIO meetings and parties, but I can't really say I'm glad it's over.  NaNo always makes November busy, but it's such fun — it's such a high to get going at such a fast pace on your novel, and write-ins are always a hoot, not to mention the word wars provide plenty of incentive to write if you are struggling.

In short, I am going to really miss NaNoWriMo for the next 11 months.

What about you?  Did NaNoWriMo wear you out?  Are you glad it's over?  Or will you miss it, like me (perhaps even though it wore you out)?

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By Katharine Swan On Thursday, December 01, 2011 At 11:27 AM 2 comments

Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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