Whirlwind New Year

2015 has started off with a flash and a bang, and has me holding on by the seat of my pants already! There are many things coming down the pipeline, including a sooper secret *shhhhh* project that I hope to announce in the next week or two.

I’ve also joined a group with the goal of 52 stories in 52 weeks. The story for the first week of January has already been submitted to a contest, so *finger’s crossed*.

In addition to that madness, I hope to have the 2014 Story of the Month Club Anthology edited and put together, and out by mid February. All of that is of course on top of my full time job and my part time job, both of which are starting to look insane for the spring. If you see me sucking my thumb, rocking back and forth in a corner around mid May, just drop off a pint of ice cream and a spoon and back away slowly.

It’s going to be a wild ride!

Updates and Year in Review

To say that it’s been a crazy year would be an understatement. 2014 saw the following achievements:

  1. I closed a business (believe me, this was an achievement not a failure.)
  2. I said goodby to some former friends
  3. I made quite a few new friends
  4. I submitted my first novel to a contest. I didn’t win, but I did submit!
  5. I opened a business (Story of the Month Club – go check it out!)
  6. I had my first short story published in Steampunk Trails 2
  7. I published my first book through WordFire Press: Charisma +1: The Guide to Convention Etiquette for Gamers, Geeks and the Socially Awkward 
  8. I published my first novelette: Sapphire Eyes Are Smiling
  9. I BOUGHT A HOUSE ALL BY MY SELF!
  10. I wrote my second book: Booking the Library – out in early 2015 unless it magically finishes itself by tomorrow.

The last half of the year was considerably busier than the first half, and I suspect that was just the ramp up to 2015, which so far is shaping up to be extremely promising.

 

Questions for Librarians that Organize Programing

If you’re over on PUBLIB you will receive this in your email, if you’re not on PUBLIB, please answer in the comments below!
Hi All!

For many years I worked as a booking agent, putting musicians and libraries together for their mutual benefit, now I’m writing a book for musicians and entertainers that would like to perform at libraries and haven’t quite figured out how to go about that. It’s basically a road-map for them to follow.

I’ve gotten feedback from a number of performers already, but now I would like to hear from the people doing the hiring. (note: particularly thoughtful answers may be included verbatim with proper attribution. I will follow up individually in those instances.)

What is the one thing you wish performers knew before they showed up at the library?

If you could give advice  to a new group that wanted to perform at libraries, what would it be?

Other than a bad performance, what is one thing that has actually happened to you that would make you say to yourself, “I will never hire that group again?”

What is one thing that would make you say, “I am definitely bringing that group back!”

Thank you so much for your help with this project. The working title is ‘Booking the Library’ (title suggestions welcome as well) and I expect it will be out early next year.

Best,

Jessica Brawner

www.jessicabrawner.com

www.storyofthemonthclub.com

Progress Report

I reached my 50,000 words for NaNo, but that wasn’t the end of my story by a long shot. In the weeks since Nov. 30th I have scarcely had time to work on Captain Jac and the Seven Deadly Sins.

I took a week off after NaNo to do edits and formatting for Booking the Library. Those are done, now on to Cover Creation for that project.

I also  took some time away from Seven Deadly Sins to finally finish uploading and formatting the hard-copy cover of Sapphire Eyes Are Smiling. I just got the proof in for that last night and decided, since it was short, and pertinent to Seven Deadly Sins as well, that I would actually read it again. Wow I’m glad I did. Somehow (probably a copy paste error) there were entire sentences missing, and entire passages that made NO sense because of it. (It’s amazing the difference 5 words can mean to an entire passage.)

So today I did a quick edit on the entire story and re-uploaded the interior files for SEAS. It will be a much better story now. It’s possible I need to do the same thing to the e-book version as well, I haven’t had time to check yet.

Now I’m back to working on Seven Deadly Sins. Instead of jumping immediately into writing I decided to give the whole 50k words a read through and edit, so that I can make sure things are making sense in the story still.  (Do you ever reach that point in NaNo where you’re putting down words, but not sure things are hanging together? Yeah, trying to avoid compounding those errors is what I’m doing now.)

Today between doing work at my actual job I managed to get 40 pages read and edited, and highlighted a couple of passages that either a) have to go entirely or b) need serious re-writes.

Question: What do you think about using a character remembering a first meeting fondly as a way to give backstory on a romance that has, thus far, not been explained?

Success!

Winner-2014-Twitter-Profile

 

My novel isn’t actually done, but I did reach 50,000. I figure I’ve got another 30-40,000 to actually finish, but it’s coming along nicely. Not sure I’m thrilled with the piece of software I’ve been using to write this one. It has advantages – it transfers across my iPad, MacBook Pro and iPhone with ease. Downside – it does not seem to have a find and replace feature which will be necessary in the editing process.  Find feature yes – replace not so much.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming novel – Captain Jac and the Seven Deadly Sins!

On Grief and Grieving

Over the past month I have been, as is evidenced by my blog posts here, working on my NaNoWriMo novel for 2014. In the midst of this most hectic of months, an unexpected source of tragedy has reared its unloved and difficult to get along with head. No, I am not referring to Ferguson, MO, or Cleveland, OH, or Iraq, or any of the other hotbeds of violence that can be found in the world.

Two weeks ago, a bright, young 18 year old man, recently graduated from High School – loved by his mother, his friends, his classmates, and people who barely even knew him, in a rash decision decided to end his own life. There were no warning signs that anyone can come up with, he was cheerful, he had made plans for the following week, he was just about to start a new job, and the world was his oyster (so to speak.)

Two days ago, another young man from this same small Colorado high school took his life.

Yesterday a third boy from the same community took the same route.

None of them showed any of the classic signs – depression, giving away favored items, saying goodbye to people, acting out.

My co-worker, the mother of the first boy, is the reason I know about these instances at all. She said when she was talking to the police about her son; they mentioned that a few years ago there was a string of twenty suicides within a short timeframe all within the same school district.

I really have no words to express how disturbed and how disturbing this is to me. I jokingly, flippantly said that they should check the water and see what’s in the water in this small town. It was a flippant comment, and I acknowledged it as such at the time, but I do wonder – are we as a society doing something – poisoning the well- figuratively speaking, that is encouraging this type of sad ending? Or is it just that the media (social and otherwise) is so pervasive that we hear about it almost instantly? Or is there in fact, nothing we could have done for any of them because their time had simply come?

I have not reached any conclusions – nor am I likely to. For me, death has always been a part of life, and grief is for the living. But my heart goes out to the parents, the siblings, the friends and the family of these boys, particularly as Thanksgiving and other holidays approach.

Hug a loved one, hug a friend, or hug a stranger (after asking politely!) Show people you care about them.

The end is nigh

Ten days left between now and the end of #NaNoWriMo 2014 and I’m not quite ready yet. I’m behind. Not horribly behind, but enough that if I don’t catch up before Thanksgiving, I don’t think I’m going to make it. So what am I doing? Naturally I’m writing a blog instead.

20,000 words to go, and there’s no way I can wrap the story up in that amount of time. I actually think this one will end up being around 70-80k total.  What did I decide to go with? Captain Jac and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Right now Jac is experiencing a classic dungeon crawl – by herself – Her two crew mates didn’t make it this far. I hadn’t planned on a dungeon crawl, and I don’t want it to take too long, but I don’t want it to feel rushed either.  I suspect this is the problem with pantsing a story!

I hope your writing is going well! Time for me to stop procrastinating.

NaNo is Coming

This will be the second time only that I’ve done NaNo – last year was my first year and I completed it successfully, barely. Between that and dating a writer, I jumped into a world of writing that has proven to be highly entertaining, full of fascinating people, and a learning experience I will not soon forget.

Since NaNo last year I have published a non-fiction book through WordFire Press, two short stories in anthologies, one in an ezine, self-published one novella, written another non-fiction book (waiting on the editor now), and written several more short stories that are awaiting responses. It’s been a busy year.

I’ve been told a number of times that professional authors frequently participate in NaNo, not because they need the word count, but because they want to support other writers. This seems great, and I like the idea – but for myself, I participate in NaNo because I need to sit and write, and doing it all in once chunk, with a difficult deadline, means I’m likely to actually get my project done, or at least to a stage where it might actually get done in the foreseeable future.

I’ve got one fully formed idea for NaNo, and one very vague idea – and I likely won’t know until Nov. 1st which one I will actually go with. The vague idea would probably be more fun, but as it’s a vague idea, might not turn out very well due to lack of planning. The fully formed idea has considerably more drama, but may not keep my interest long enough to write it, as it’s mostly planned out already.

What’s your take on NaNo?