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  • Christine Shuck

Like a Phoenix



Today was my official cleaning day. Every Friday, I clean two client houses. It means an income of around $800 per month, which is essentially our groceries/dining out budget.


My morning client was one that I always enjoy visiting with. Since the virus hit, she and her husband work at home, and she just has the best outlook in the world, so I love talking to her. The last time I was there, four weeks ago, she told me how impressed she was by my willingness to pivot, to go and work for Amazon. So I had been wondering what she would say when I told her that had gone kablooey.


True to form, she was very kind and incredibly supportive when I shared with her my plan. I count myself lucky to have plenty of really cool people in my life, who are rooting for my success.


I told her, "Like a phoenix, I will rise!"




Accountability


I sat down last night and started figuring out just how I want to see all of this go down and I'm going to share it with you, because damn it, if I share it, then I will have someone holding me accountable besides myself. So, going with the assumption that I am able to write at least 12,000 words per week, and that I'm aiming for an average of 85,000 words per book and that I don't have much waste in words, then it should take me between 7-8 weeks to write a book.


A few weeks ago, I was at 40k words with G581: Mars and now, I'm in the home stretch, total word count is 87,328 and I have a chapter, maybe two, left to write until the first draft is done.


I plan on editing in the evenings and on the weekends and diving headfirst into the next book, G581: Earth. That's right, no pauses in between, just straight into the next book. Figure it will take me at 2-3 months to properly edit it myself, read it aloud to my husband (2nd edit), and then send it off to an editor (going back and forth until it is polished), before it will be time to format it, upload it, and all of the other necessaries (cover, blurb, ads). So in other words, G581: Mars should be available to my beta readers by September 1st and hitting Amazon by October 1st.


So here is how it is going to go:

  • G581: Mars, done 6/20, beta 9/1, in print 10/1

  • G581: Earth, done 8/16, beta 11/1, in print 12/1

  • G581: Zarmina's World, done 10/11, beta 2/1/21, in print 3/1/21

And then straight into the Benton Security Services series (1st book was Hired Gun)

  • Book 2: Smoke and Steel, done 12/6, beta 2/15/21, in print 3/15/21

  • Book 3: Broken Code, done 1/31/21, beta 4/15/21, in print 5/15/21

  • Book 4: Deadly Sins, done 3/28/21, beta 6/15/21, in print 7/15/21

  • Book 5: Tempting Fate, done 5/23/21, beta 8/15/21, in print 9/15/21

  • Book 6: Code on Fire, done 7/18/21, beta 10/1/21, in print 11/1/21

  • Book 7: Sweet Revenge, done 9/5/21, beta 11/30/21, in print 12/30/21

And from there, I will head into a 12-book series that should be smaller, YA fantasy, the Chronicles of Liv Rowan. I'm shooting for a far shorter book, some 65k word length, so I've pegged it at taking 7 weeks per book, instead of 8:

  • The Glass Forest, done 10/24/21, beta 1/15/22, in print 2/15/22

  • The See of Payne, done 12/12/21, beta 3/1/22, in print 4/1/22

  • The Valley of Mud, done 1/30/22, beta 4/15/22, in print 5/15/22

  • Flea Keep, done 3/20/22, beta 6/1/22, in print 7/1/22

  • The Isle of Sasnak, done 5/8/22, beta 7/15/22, in print 8/15/22

  • The Heart of the Frey, done 6/26/22, beta 9/15/22, in print 10/15/22

  • The Tutelage of Liv Rowan, done 8/14/22, beta 11/1/22, in print 12/1/22

  • The Three Peoples, done 10/2/22, beta 12/15/22, in print 1/15/23

  • A Griffin's Tail, done 11/20/22, beta 2/1/23, in print 3/1/23

  • Promises to Keep, done 1/8/23, beta 3/15/23, in print 4/15/23

  • When All Things End, done 2/26/23, beta 5/15/23, in print 6/15/23

  • World Builders, World Breakers, done 4/16/23, beta 7/1/23, in print 8/1/23

And then I have one more book, Winter's End, which I plan to finish writing by 6/11/23, beta by 8/31/23, and in print by 9/31/23.


A total of 22 new books in a three year time frame. I also am considering writing a non-fiction book or two in the middle of that, in the evenings when I'm not editing or plotting the chapters out. I have one, a self-help book, that already has 58k words (which is pretty much a non-fiction book in its entirety as it stands), along with another that has nearly 20k written in it.



Go On, CHALLENGE Me...


In the past twelve years, I have managed to write seven books. And now I'm talking about writing triple that number in less than three years. Am I crazy?


Indisputably, I have been for years.


But that doesn't mean I can't do it.


Go on, tell me I'm nuts and that I'm never going to be able to do it. Personally, it would pretty much cement my certainty that I could. I'm obstinate like that.


500 Words at a Time...


If I sit down with the simple goal of writing 4,000 words in a day, I'm lucky if I get 2,000. I'm like a poster child for ADHD.


However, if I say, "I'm going to write 500 words, and then I'm going to fold one load of laundry, by 2-3 in the afternoon, I've written over 4,000 words AND all of my laundry is done and folded.


Seriously, it works. And I'll killing two birds with one stone. The house is getting cleaner (I wash dishes, dust certain rooms, declutter, etc) AND I'm kicking ass writing my stories. In fact, since I typically shoot for a 3,000 word chapter, it means that I'm writing at least a chapter a day.


This works for me on so many levels. I'm not sore from sitting all day. I don't feel guilty about only writing and not getting house work done. I don't feel guilty about getting house work and no writing done. Everything falls into place. And I'm usually done with plenty of time to fix dinner.


I definitely NEED the balance of writing and family and home, so the 500 word writing stints work for me. Even if I get up for just five minutes, it is enough to re-dedicate myself to the task at hand.


Speaking of Balance


While I am still struggling to write every day (weekends are the worst), I focus on writing a bulk of my words on Monday through Wednesday. Those are my 4,000 word days. If I manage to write 3,558 in a day, that's close enough, because there are also days when I manage 4,558, so it balances out.


In the past two weeks, I've exceeded my weekly goal of 12k words. And on Thursdays, I only commit to writing 2,000 - in the morning - because the afternoon is set aside for adventures with my wonderful, super-awesome kiddo. We go on nature hikes, sometimes grab a friend or two and take them with us. We go shopping, just have fun together, the two of us, and it is wonderful and special. Yesterday we went to Burr Oak Woods and saw a five-lined skink devour a spider, several bushy-tailed squirrels, and a garter snake, all within the space of a few minutes. We also managed to get my daughter some shorts at our favorite thrift shop and stop by Andy's Custard for some yummy refreshment.


Balance has become my mantra in the past few months. That, and knowing exactly what I want and how I mean to get it. It's important for us to be true to ourselves.


Cross-Genre, I Write the Way I Read


The other day, a fellow author admonished me for my stance on writing cross-genre. I get it, I do, in terms of encouraging a loyal following, I would be better off sticking to one genre and never wavering.


That said, he is welcome to his one genre. I write the way I read, wildly cross-genre and I doubt that will change anytime soon.


In the end, I write because I love telling stories. When it comes to non-fiction, I also love helping folks. So be it sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, dystopian, or Twilight Zone 'esque, it's all up in the air and likely to be explored.


There are plenty of folks out there who genre-hop like I do in their reading pursuits, and for those who aren't interested in multiple genres, that's okay too. I don't need them to read everything I write.


Hang in there, kids, books are coming your way soon!

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