Liner Note #15: Tuesday Serial blog hop & February incentives

Cecilia here. OK, so, with the holidays and all, I didn’t want to put a time-consuming or wallet-straining task on you all to earn January bonus posts. So we’ll have three posts a week until February 3rd! In the past we’ve asked you to accrue points with dollars, with comments, with blog posts, and with retweets/Facebook mentions. This time, let’s have them all!

Dear readers, you have until February 3rd to accrue 100 total points to trigger bonus posts for the entire month of February. One point will be awarded for:
-every dollar donated
-every top level comment on a post
-every retweet or Facebook link
-every new follower to Twitter @daron_moondog or “like” on Daron’s Facebook page

Five points for any review on a website or blog (or review of the DGC vol 1 ebook on Smashwords or Amazon!) and five points for every copy of the ebook sold!

TUESDAY SERIAL BLOG HOP
Next up, our friends at Tuesday Serial recently had a guest blog post by Sage Cohen, whose new book The Productive Writer just came out. She asked a series of questions in her post, and invited web serial writers to answer them in their blogs. So I’m doing that today as today’s liner note. Here are the five questions I’ll answer:

* What has writing web serials taught you about writing a successful story, building an audience, and sustaining a writing and publishing momentum?
* What did you read that taught you something about your craft, your platform or how to take your writing and publishing forward?
* How did you nurture and sustain your well being–in mind, body, spirit?
* What did you learn about your writing rhythms: time of day to write, managing procrastination, how and when to revise, making use of slim margins of time, etc.?
* When and how were you successful at juggling the competing demands of family, writing, work, and everything else in your full life?

* What has writing web serials taught you about writing a successful story, building an audience, and sustaining a writing and publishing momentum?

I’ve actually been publishing two serials this year, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (DGC) and an X-rated one entitled The Prince’s Boy (TPB). They’ve been studies in opposites. With DGC I started publishing with a huge backlog of material so my focus has been mostly on the audience-building aspects and other parts of running a web serial, while with TPB I’ve been writing it as a go along. The challenges have been completely different. With DGC, it’s on a stand-alone web site where the only reason to go there is to read the serial itself. TPB is serialized on circlet.com, where many other things run including microfictions by many authors, sample chapters of books Circlet publishes, and the serial Chocolatiers of the High Winds by H.B. Kurtzwilde as well.

There have been weeks where I wrote the TPB chapter after midnight the morning it was due to post. It’s also turning out to be twice the length I originally predicted. And yet it’s been one of the easiest-flowing writing projects I’ve ever done, especially of that length. There were times when it flowed so much I had to write 4-5 chapters in a single day, other times when my life was so busy that I had to wait until the deadline loomed to get it written and queued to post. But I never missed a post (we’re on week 77 now, with about 20 more to go…).

What I’ve learned most is to trust my subconscious. My muse knows what its doing, and if I just keep writing, it will all work out in the end. All the little plot twists and character quirks and details that I didn’t know why they were there, all come around to be wrapped up if you just keep on writing. TPB will be coming in for a landing in a few months. DGC, on the other hand, I don’t know when that’s going to end. I will soon have run through all the pre-written material, but when I had tried writing it as a novel years and years ago I didn’t end it so much as force myself to stop.

That’s the other important thing I’ve learned. A serial is different from a novel, or it can be. The pace is different and the ways in which you shape reader expectation from chapter to chapter are different. It’s very different to end a chapter with a cliffhanger when all a reader has to do is turn another page versus when they have to wait days or a week to find out what happens next. I’ve also been very interested to see how commenters on both serials try to predict what will happen, and how often they are right or wrong.

The feedback from readers also makes running a serial quite different from the usual experience of writing a novel in a vacuum, or just for a few beta-readers or a writers group/workshop. The audience really lets you know if you got your point across or not.

* What did you read that taught you something about your craft, your platform or how to take your writing and publishing forward?

Sometimes the best advice is when you hear something you already know, but when someone else says it, it validates it and brings it home. That’s how I felt about reading the writer/artist advice series The Three Micahs by MCA Hogarth. It’s required reading for anyone aspiring to a career, or even side-earning, in writing or the creative arts. (She’s also the author of a web serial, Spots the Space Marine, of which I am fond.)

* How did you nurture and sustain your well being–in mind, body, spirit?

I seem to learn two lessons over and over in life. One is that if I don’t write, my mental and physical health suffers. I need to write to live; I need to do the thing I was put on earth to do, or my body starts punishing me. The other lesson, though, is that I need to not do too much. When I try to juggle too many responsibilities, it eventually comes crashing down in the form of poor health, too. This winter I caught a cold at the end of October and I haven’t been able to rid myself of it! I am tired and run down. I need to delegate some other responsibilities while jealously guarding my writing time.

* What did you learn about your writing rhythms: time of day to write, managing procrastination, how and when to revise, making use of slim margins of time, etc.?

I’m a night owl. I’ve known that all my life. So I do a lot of my writing between midnight and 3am, which also happens to be a time when very few other things demand attention. It’s not a time people tend to want to make social plans (except for the occasional midnight movie premiere), the phone isn’t ringing, Twitter goes quiet, meal-preparing and eating is done for the day, the gym is closed, etc.

But to meet all the deadlines I’m juggling, that means also writing in doctor’s waiting rooms, or in an hour in the cafe outside the doctor’s office before returning to my own office and multiple other projects there. On airplanes, in hotel lobbies, on trains. It has taken years to develop the focus to just write at will. I like to write in my office with music on and a pot of tea at my side, but if I have to, I don’t need any particular cues or aids. Just put hands to keyboard and do it.

I discovered cafe writing this year, too. I know, people have been writing in cafes for a century, but I never really had before. But to plow forward on a few projects I found it a great way to give myself more focus on a specific plan or section of my to do list. It’s like making a writing date with yourself. “Tomorrow I will work on Project X.” I spend 1-2 hours in each cafe, sometimes moving from one to the next to the next so I don’t monopolize a chair in a single place if I’m going to write for several hours. I’m spoiled rotten to live in a neighborhood with literally 15 cafes walking distance of my house. But I remind myself this is why I live here and I should take advantage of it!

* When and how were you successful at juggling the competing demands of family, writing, work, and everything else in your full life?

That’s the big one, isn’t it? I know I need to write to live an stay healthy and happy. But if I’m trying to make a living from my writing? One of the goals of earning well from my writing is so that I don’t have to do as many of the other things in my life to make money. Those are the things with the biggest demands on my time. The more money I make, the higher a priority I can place writing on the scale of importance that others see, as well as my own internal scale.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a millionaire from my writing. But this little online garden I’ve been nurturing, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, bears enough fruit to make it a viable and sustainable part of my writing life. Like a garden, the more time I spend on it, weeding and cultivating and planting, the more it can flourish.

Below, more responses to Sage’s questions from other Tuesday Serial participants!

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Comments 7

  1. PJ Kaiser wrote:

    Thanks so much for joining the hop Cecilia! It’s so nice to have a behind-the-scenes look at your writing … I didn’t realize you had two serials going on at once! Very well done :-) That balance between writing and family and work is often a toughie for writers like us … you take care of that cold and try to get to bed before 3am, eh? :-)

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Dang, it’s 2:45 am now as it is…!

    [Reply]

    Posted 18 Jan 2011 at 10:35 pm
  2. daron wrote:

    Points tally so far on the February bonus campaign:
    2 comments + 1 retweet + 2 FB like + 1 new twitter follower = 6 points.

    Please post with a link if you review so we won’t miss it.

    [Reply]

    Posted 21 Jan 2011 at 1:49 am
  3. daron wrote:

    Tallying more points: as of today 3 more comments + 1 Kindle review! (Thanks Navada!) = 8 more point, total 14 so far.

    Don’t forget to send me links to reviews I miss, guys.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Actually 15, at least, since I just found a retweet that Twitter was refusing to show me for no good reason…

    [Reply]

    Posted 23 Jan 2011 at 2:14 am
  4. ctan wrote:

    Updating the tally. Started today with 15, added 5 comments to the latest post, 1 to a previous, and sold one ebook for 5 more, puts us at 26!

    [Reply]

    Posted 25 Jan 2011 at 12:02 am
  5. ctan wrote:

    5 more comments today, plus a RT, no new followers or likes, though. Sold 2 ebooks, for 5 pts each! And no new reviews on Amazon, SW, or Goodreads. So 16 more points for today, bringing total to 42!

    [Reply]

    Posted 28 Jan 2011 at 12:49 am
  6. daron wrote:

    7 more points as of today, 6 in comments and 1 retweet. I didn’t gain any new followers on Twitter or Facebook, and didn’t see any new reviews or ebook sales — but ping or comment here if you think you had something not counted.

    Total is at 49… seems a little doubtful we’ll get to 100 by Thursday?

    [Reply]

    Posted 01 Feb 2011 at 1:16 am
  7. ctan wrote:

    Final tally on this campaign! On the final day, $26 came in donations plus 6 more comments, which totals to 81 points… 19 points shy of the goal. So we didn’t reach the threshold to trigger bonuses for the whole month. However, because more than $25 was in donations, there will be three posts this coming week.

    And we’ll announce what the next campaign is. I have a new experiment in mind!

    [Reply]

    Posted 05 Feb 2011 at 2:00 pm

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