Of Deadlines and Betas

Ah, the deadline for my beta readers was today, and with only a couple of exceptions, they were all really great about getting back to me regarding comments and critiques or notice they would be unable to fulfill their beta duties.

I have a bit of a reputation about deadlines, and that’s because of the copy background. Well, that’s not strictly correct. I have been anal about time since I was late showing up out of the womb. (Sorry, Momma!) See, in my line of business, time is money.

Notice there is silver in this pile. I usually see more pennies than quarters.

Being self-employed, I have to set my own schedule. And while I’d rather schedule marathon viewings of “Firefly”, long bubble baths to soothe my aching back, or hour-long sessions of cat-skritching, unfortunately none of those pay my bills.

Sometimes very difficult to explain to my Cat Overlord.

So, instead of leading the life of luxurious sloth I so richly deserve, I find my boss is an absolute bitch about deadlines. I know people depend on my finished work in order to accomplish theirs. I also know one of the best ways to kill your writing career is to make a habit of missing deadlines. That’s not to say when I set someone else a deadline I don’t understand when Real Life happens and things are derailed — sure, it’s happened to me. But I think the key here is communication. If I don’t think I’m going to meet a hard deadline then I’m in touch with the client as soon as possible to communicate that. To me, it is the height of unprofessionalism to stick your head in the sand and pretend the train wreck is not going to happen.

Do I miss the mark? Sure I do, but not often. It’s a personal thing. I know writers who blow off deadlines like it just doesn’t matter. That irritates me. Either you’re a professional or not — and if you are, act like it. Just because you have thirty days doesn’t mean you leave it to the last one. That’s stupid, and in NettaLand, a hanging offense.

Yes. I will find you, and I will hang you. But first, you will suffer.

The moral of this little story — if you’re not going to make it, communicate that factoid. This gives everyone a chance to make changes and shuffle important activities around.

***

Now that little lecture is over, let’s talk about something more fun, shall we?

Mired as I have been in writing web copy, I am very excited to be putting on my editor’s hat in the next week or so. Not only will I be editing the fabulous Lori Whitwam’s Make or Break, I will also be starting edits on the equally fabulous Patti Larsen’s second book in her Diamond City Trilogy. I’m very excited about both projects and can’t wait to begin.

Even more exciting, with the notes I’ve received from my blessed betas, hopefully I will begin revisions on Athena’s Promise.

This is Zach Carter. He looks like how I feel! Only he's so much cuter!

I’m not setting a deadline (heh) because I never know what the next day is going to bring and I have a wedding in August which deserves my full attention.

Don't worry, it's not me. I'd stick one of these in my eye first.

But, my hope is to have Athena’s Promise ready for publication in September. Of course, updates here as they happen. :)

And of course, I couldn’t let you go without expressing my eternal gratefulness to my beta readers. It really takes a special person to be a good beta reader, and all of mine are GREAT. Their insightful, perceptive and honest observations have confirmed some thoughts I had and opened my eyes to places where Athena’s Promise needs a little help. Thanks to them, I can take Pallas and her story to the next level, and for that I can’t thank them enough.

I Love You Beta Readers! *MUAH*
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Finito – Thoughts on Finishing a Project and Brass Balls

It is finished.

The first draft of “Athena’s Promise” is finally finished and in the hands of the beta readers.

Wooohooo!

I truly have mixed feelings about this. Oh, I’ve finished lots of projects, but this is my first finished novel. After I wrote the last sentence and affixed “The End”, I sat here for a minute in complete shock.

Not this kind of shock. Although it is similar.

Then, I was overcome with absolute joy.

This is Zach Carter. He looks like how I feel and he's much cuter.

After that, another emotion took control.


Photo credit: kakisky from morguefile.com

I started to feel like maybe I needed a dose of horse tranquilizer to even out this emotional roller coaster. And why was I crying, for heaven’s sake? I mean, I finished it! It was done! I should be happy and jumping for joy, right?

Well, maybe that’s how normal people are wired, but I’m a writer, remember? I know I laughed and cried through the whole thing. Traveling around with Pallas sure isn’t for sissies. There were parts which were a total joy to write and I’d sit here in front of the computer giggling like a lunatic, and others which were so difficult, and I’d cry a river for not only what I was putting her through but for the emotional toll it took on me.

I wrote the bulk of “Athena’s Promise” in about eight weeks. I’d say 75% — maybe 80%. Then, I was stricken with emergency surgery and I was derailed for a couple of months which turned into almost two years. I had a very difficult time with the ending — not because I didn’t know what happened…I did. For a long time I didn’t know WHAT my problem was, or why every time I took AP out with the intention of finishing it I bailed every time.

It wasn’t until a recent conversation with a fellow writer and very dear friend that I found the strength? Courage? to sit down and actually finish the thing. In the course of the conversation (well, there was actually more than one) there were two things he said that really resonated for me.

1. When I figured out exactly what the internal issue was, the ending would practically write itself.

So, I really thought hard about that. What was stopping me? OH!

What if I finish and it sucks? There goes all my street cred down the drain.

When I finish it, it’s the end of the relationship with Pallas. And I really love her. (Even though I have two other books planned with her. So this is bullshit.)

What if I finish it and it sucks?

Then my friend says to me…

2. “Get over yourself.”

Bingo. Go big or go home. Either I have the balls or I don’t.

Well, guess what? I HAZ BALLZ.

This is a brass ball. Mine are not so ornate, and I have two.

That’s all it took. In three days the ending was written and the first draft of “Athena’s Promise” was completed.

There now. That wasn’t so difficult. All I had to keep in mind is to get over myself, and that every new beginning is simply some other beginning’s end.

So off Pallas goes, first to the beta readers, then to revisions and editing, then cover art, formatting and on to tell her story to the wide world. I know she doesn’t suck. And now I know I can pull the trigger. Next up will be writing Athena’s Chains, and I’m looking forward to that.

I really like her, and I think others will like her, too. I can’t wait to introduce her to you all. Stay tuned for teasers and a release date… until then, please pardon me for a little bit.

I have to polish my brass balls. Heh.

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