Working Towards Goals Without Deadlines

It's all very well and good when you have a writing deadline to meet, because you have to have your manuscript finished by a certain date.

But what happens when you don't have a publishing contract? Or any way to force yourself to be accountable for completing a first draft?

If you already understand why it's important to complete the first draft (you can't edit a blank page, people), you're a step there. The next part - the setting a self-appointed goal - can be harder. If you want to start querying by December, say, how do you make sure you've done a first draft and an editing round by that stage? It's even harder with first drafts because you have no idea how many words the manuscript will end up being.

For Lintang 3, I didn't have a deadline because at that point I didn't have a contract. I wanted to write a first draft of it just in case, though. While I was waiting on copyedits for Lintang 1 and structural edits for Lintang 2, I set myself a goal of 500 words a day. Not much, but with full-time work and other manuscripts to think about, this was the perfect amount. I could get that done if I woke up early, or churn it out after school, even if my brain was fried.

I'm not saying it was easy. That first draft was an uphill climb the whole way through. Some days the words were so difficult to get out, I had to tally each hundred words to get myself to make the target. The next few drafts were better, but that first one was awful. I'm not sure I would've made it through if I hadn't given myself such a small, achievable goal. This kind of strategy is good for when you just want a draft finished, regardless of when it's finished.

For the Super Secret Project I'm working on now, again, I don't have a deadline, but I want to submit it to my agent by the end of the month. (My agent has a book-by-book contract, rather than taking clients on for life.) Now, I won't be anywhere near finished this book by the end of the month, but I'll be a solid chunk of the way through the first act and she'll have a good idea what kind of story she's looking at. I'll also have a synopsis prepared, telling her where the plot's going.

How I've set the goal this time is based on the advice of my crit partner, who warned me to write at least 50 pages before pitching it to anyone. That way I know whether it's going to last, or whether this Shiny New Idea will fizzle out (as so many Shiny New Ideas have in the past). So I need 50 pages written by August 31st. I currently have 21. I need to think about work, bookstore tours, and Lintang edits. The way I'm writing this manuscript is slow and careful, so I need to pace myself, too.

My goals are: by the end of this weekend I'll be up to 28 pages. By the end of next weekend, I'll be at 35 pages. The weekend after that, 48 pages. By the Thursday - last day of the month - I'll have hit 50.

From there I'll see what my agent has to say, whether she has any suggestions, and whether she'll take this project on. From there I can reevaluate my goals without necessarily giving myself a word count.

Note: buying pretty, goal-orientated things from places like Kikki-K have never not helped!

Do you have your own way of getting that draft done?

I'm Officially a Published Author!

I did it! I'm exhausted, but I did it!

It was the perfect weather for pirates - stormy and freezing. That didn't deter many from coming, thank goodness. We were all crammed in the school library and I signed book after book.

And now Lintang and the Pirate Queen is out!

You can find it in Australian bookstores. Here is a list of places you can buy it from online.

Hooray!

Two More Days!

Kind of.

It's almost 9pm on Friday. I said goodbye to my students for the weekend, reminding them for the millionth time to wear their pirate outfits on Monday (and to remember to come to the book launch AFTER SCHOOL). The forecast for Monday is hail, thunderstorms, wind, and rain. Cold, stormy weather, a proper pirate-y hello to welcome Lintang into the world. I just hope everyone still shows up to the launch.

Meanwhile, I've written the first draft of Book 3, seen a beautiful cover for Book 2 (now officially called Lintang and the Forbidden Island), received a bouquet from extended family and a fruit hamper from my crit partner, and had a story written up for the local paper!

I'm starting to get nervous. I walked into the staff room after the final bell had gone and had a sudden, jittery feeling of oh my god my book is coming out on Monday. I'm surprised it took so long to hit, actually. Guess I've been too busy with school. But no more lesson plans to do before the big day! They're finished. I'm organised.

Still, I have something else to think about before the launch. As I have family flying in for the launch, my sister decided it would be the perfect time to have her hen's night. And, considering I'm the maid of honour, I've been in charge of sorting that out. I'm picking her up at midnight tonight and we'll start on all the fun things early tomorrow morning. At least that will keep my mind occupied! I won't have time to really start panicking until Sunday.

Gulp.

Oh, and did I mention Lintang was featured in Total Girl's cool stuff? AND my publisher bought an ad for the entire back cover? THE AD LOOKS AMAZING, DOESN'T IT?

My Week (and the Big Announcement)

It has been a CRAZY week this week. Everything happened at once!

Monday: I received a REAL copy of my book in the mail! Not an ARC. An actual, bumpy copy (the word LINTANG is raised, so yes, it's actually bumpy). I filmed The Opening of the Parcel and posted it on my twitter.

Also! I donated a book to the Authors for Grenfell project, which is raising money for the residents of Grenfell Tower. If you want a pre-publication copy, head on over to my page and bid before 27th June.

Tuesday: A very large box of books arrived for me.

Wednesday: I went on a school tour with Tristan Bancks, who is the author of many books, including Two Wolves, which was an Honour Book for the 2015 Children's Book Council of Australia awards (that's a big deal). We visited a few high schools and I watched him present so I would have an idea what to do when I have to present. Gulp.

Thursday: I received an email from my publisher talking about my cover for Lintang and the Forbidden Island, which is the second book in the Lintang series. I love emails about book covers.

Friday: I can finally make my big announcement!

I'M GETTING PUBLISHED IN THE US!

Anne Hoppe at Clarion bought the North American rights to Lintang and the Pirate Queen, and it'll be coming out in the US around Fall of 2018. The announcement can be found here.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bid on an Early Copy of Lintang and the Pirate Queen!

Not only will this copy be SIGNED and available WORLDWIDE (BEFORE IT'S EVEN OFFICIALLY RELEASED) but you'll be raising money for the victims of Grenfell Tower.

My agent was so horrified by what had happened, she's hosting an enormous auction with over 100 authors/editors/agents/publishers offering everything from book swag to critiques.

Check out the site

Check out my personal page

The best thing is, because no one knows who I am (compared to people like Marissa Meyer and Marie Lu), you won't have to spend much to win this one!

My Latest Publisher Meeting

This was my second visit to Penguin Random House in Sydney. I'm trying to make it a point to see them each time I travel to the eastern states to visit family.

It's overwhelming meeting the people in charge of publishing your book. Trust me. They kept telling me all these wonderful things to do with the impending launch of Lintang and the Pirate Queen - marketing plans, festivals, school tours - and I just sat there in stunned silence. I'm sure I managed to get out an  "ugnn" at some stage. Lucky they're paying me for writing and not talking!

I also got a sneak peek at the draft cover of my second book in the series. It's not coming out until February, but all these things need to happen early on. My publisher should be sending me second-round revision notes sometime this week.

Meanwhile, I've just finished a fresh draft of the third book in the series. I'll do a revision over the school holidays before sending it to the publisher.

Sound like a lot? Because we're planning on having the books coming out every six months, we have to work extra hard. This is all as well as teaching four days a week! I have a busy life, but I'm enjoying every moment.

Book Updates aka Where Are They Now

Lintang and the Pirate Queen

This one's more or less done. There may be a few more editing notes coming my way, where I need to make minor changes (doubling of words in the same paragraph etc), but the ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are out in the world. The booksellers have them. It's out, at least in the world-before-consumers way.

Lintang Book 2 (title still coming)

I've sent this one to my publisher, and it will be sent back next month with a structural edit. That means big plot changes, rather than little easy ones. I already have a list of things I want to change thanks to my beta reader... who is Marissa Meyer, by the way, so you know those notes are worth taking seriously.

Lintang Book 3

I just finished a VERY rough draft. Some authors refer to this as draft zero. It's basically my brainstorming, plotting stage. I had no idea what was going to happen until I wrote it out. It's 40,000 words and a complete mess. I'll be rearranging scenes, adding and deleting characters, and putting some actual effort into it when the real Draft One comes along.

Super Secret Mystery Book

This one is bringing me MUCH joy. I started it last week. It's a YA spec fic, and that's all the information you're getting. I'm not really writing a draft zero for this one. I'm being careful, taking my time, trying to nut out the story as I go along, then go back and make changes to suit. Different book, different process.

And that's all of them!

The mythies are here!

But not "here" here. Just with me. Sorry!

I've now seen all six illustrations to go with the guidebook entries of my mythical creatures, and I'm thrilled to say they're incredible. James Brouwer has such a wonderful style that matches the tone of my story (he designed the cover of the book, by the way). One of his mythie pictures literally took my breath away. When I first saw it I was staring at the screen, unable to exhale.

This whole illustration process has been a dream. My editor, Zoe, chose James because she thought his previous work gave a good indication that it would go well with LINTANG. She and I decided which six mythies out of the twelve would benefit most from in-text illustrations. There were multiple reasons for choosing the ones we did - some mythies diverged so much from real world mythology that I wanted people to have a good idea of what they looked like; some were important to the story; some were just for fun.

Then Zoe sent James the guidebook entries of the six mythies he'd be illustrating. He drafted some design ideas, and Zoe and I sent him back comments. There wasn't much we wanted to change, to be honest. And the little additions he made were fantastic. It's bizarre to see how someone can take what you've created and make it their own. In some cases, the mythies he drew were different to how I imagined, but we left them how they were because he did it better.

I can't wait to share the guidebook entries and illustrations with you! Just under four months to go!

Some awesome things my family and friends have made

I am so lucky to have enthusiastic family and friends. There was much celebration when everyone found out I was getting published. My best friend had temporary tattoos made up, as well as a jacket!

Meanwhile, my mum gave me a litograph infinity scarf with the entire manuscript written across it. Aren't I lucky?

 

The lightning bird

The lightning bird

The propheseeds!

The propheseeds!

The Winda

The Winda

My amazing jacket!

My amazing jacket!

My litograph scarf! Can you see the tiny text across the fabric?

My litograph scarf! Can you see the tiny text across the fabric?