A Speed up-Slow Down Kind of Month

Progress Report

It’s the end of March and Kansas weather is teasing us with a day of spring followed by several days of winter with a spring storm to top it off. This is my progress report for the month of March 2022. It was a speed up-slow down kind of month.

Making

I began the month with the copyedited manuscript for If I Should Die and scrambled to make corrections and rewrite passages that needed clarification. As soon as I finished, I sent the manuscript to my proofreader. 

With the manuscript out the door again, I stumbled around as if I had nothing to do for a few days. Then I got my act together—sort of.

I’m in the beginning stages of creating some fiction content for my newsletter readers. (I know… What newsletter? It’s coming. Honest.) 

I completed only ten out of fourteen blog posts this month. 

This wasn’t a very creative month… at least not in producing fiction you’ll see. You’ll never see all the background and behind-the-scenes work went on and is difficult to quantify. It’s all part of my process and it doesn’t feel very forward-moving.

 I spent about thirty-seven percent of my work time on Making. 

Managing

Learning more about managing this business was a big part of this month’s activities. I won’t bore you with the details.

I tweaked my website to get all the features looking and working in a pleasant and useful way. And I’ve been fine-tuning the integration of my new email service. That should be finished in a week or two.

I also spent a fair amount of time physically moving things around. Funny how small a house can feel when you put boxes of books on the floor in every room! SIGH. It will be worth it. The challenge has been to find places to put things and to put things where I can find them so I can continue to work. It will be another month before the office will show much improvement. 

The new lights I had my son install in the office were way-way too bright to work on the computer. My son moved that overhead light to my kitchen and installed a new, much dimmer overhead light in the office. Thank you, son!

I spent sixteen percent of my time on Managing.

Marketing

Marketing took a huge chunk (forty-seven percent) of my time this month. Rather, learning and adjusting marketing strategies and tactics took most of the time. Yeah, no boring details here either. 

If you are interested, I can recommend Mal Cooper’s Facebook Ads class based on my experience in her free class. Also, based on the few classes I’ve completed, I can recommend Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors class. Both of these are not currently open for new students, but watch their sites or subscribe to their newsletters for the next open enrollment dates.

Home

Housework is never done, especially when there are boxes everywhere. But having lights in the kitchen again is a blessing. Added to that blessing, I got to babysit my youngest grandson while his father installed the lights. 

What I Learned

Oh, my gosh. I have enough pages of notes that I could write a book! There were several times during this speed up-slow down month of learning that I thought my head would explode.

On a personal level, I’m working hard to be a healthier me. I’ve never been a physically active person, but over the past few years, I’ve become too sedentary. And I’ve paid a price in flexibility and comfort. It has taken some work to get the kinks out, but I am seeing results and those are keeping me motivated to learn how to make exercise a habit.

Going Forward

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Confucius

I will spend most of April finalizing the manuscript and producing the ebooks and print books for If I Should Die. Advance Readers will get your copies mid-to-late April. If you’d like to be an Advance Reader, please sign up

The preorder will go up on May 1. the release date will depend on the response time of the copyright office. It’s likely to be in late May. 

March was a speed up-slow down kind of month because I’m betwixt and between. It’s frustrating. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not in a race and that things are moving forward despite the fact that the movement feels slow and isn’t easily measured. 

What was March like for you?

Image Credits

First photograph by M W from Pixabay.

Second Image by Roland Mey from Pixabay.

Third Image by Lynette M. Burrows.

Reporting Actual Progress

Keeping track of my progress, reporting my progress to you every month is an important part of my process. The year, 2022, is galloping away from the starting line. It’s the end of January and this is my progress report. After a very long and difficult 2021, I’m happy that there is actual progress in this progress report.

Intentions

Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention. 

In order to track activities accurately, I divide my intentions into four large “buckets:” Making, managing, marketing, and home.

Making

Making is the process where words get on paper or the digital facsimile. I spent 68% of my work time on making. That’s not quite back where I’d like it to be, but it’s much closer than it’s been. Happily, I put more words on paper this month than any of the previous 15 months.

My intention was to be done with this beta-reader driven revision of If I Should Die by today. I came very close. Two or three days of double-checking punctuation and spelling, and If I Should Die will fly to my editor.

I wrote twelve out of fourteen blog posts. Several of them received a lot of comments and attention. Thank you. Story Time Reviews Valedictorian, Beware of Wet Footprints, How to Create a Safe Place in Your Mind, Story Time Reviews Operation Haystack, and 10 Warning Signs You’re Doing too Much ranked in the top five posts visited this month.

Managing

This bucket is huge in scope. It covers anything that is not creating words (blog posts, stories, or newsletters) or marketing. There are two big news items in the managing area this month.

First is that I finished the first stage of redesigning my website. It takes a lot of time to design and implement that design. Though most of the redesign time happened in December, I spent many hours on it this month as well. There’s still much to be done, but I can do it in smaller bites.

The second big news item is the new covers for the books in the Fellowship Dystopia series. Haven’t seen them? You can see them on my home page or on their individual pages. And of course, changing out the covers isn’t complete either. Having new book covers means new bookmarks and webpages and loading the new covers on all the bookseller sites and social media sites. Of course, I’m not quite finished with this either.

Marketing

Out of necessity, marketing got the short end this month. However, that will change over the coming months.

Home

I’m in the middle of way too many projects around the house. A little progress here and there means the upheaval can be ugly to look at and difficult to live with. Remind me, please, that the tortoise won the race.

New and Renewed Intentions

February will be a busy month. When I receive my manuscript back from my editor, I will turn my focus back on If I Should Die. Once I’ve incorporated recommended changes, I’ll set up a preorder, send the manuscript off the proofreader, and send the ARC to my team of advanced readers.

In between editors, I’ll start work on the third book in the series.

Redesigning is in my blood these days. In my *spare* February moments, I will remove everything in my office, install new shelves, tops, equipment, and a new sit-stand desk. I’ll be taking pictures and sharing them with my newsletter subscribers. Yes, newsletter subscribers, you will get a newsletter soon.

I’m taking a marketing course for authors, an area where I need lots of help.

There’s cleaning and rearranging planned for the “Home” bucket, too.

What I Learned

My focus for January was to finishing the book, so I only attended three short webinars this month.

Two webinars I attended taught new ways to use some specific web tools. The third one was on using touch in my writing. Not only did I learn new ways to write, I enjoyed learning from one of my favorite teachers, Margie Lawson.

My biggest lesson over the past year hits home again as I mark the first anniversary of my husband’s death.

If you’ve loved someone deeply, you will grieve deeply after that person is gone. But gone isn’t forgotten and love is not fragile. Love’s embrace may change, but it endures—always.

What do you think of my actual progress in this Progress Report? Did you make actual progress this month or are the pandemic or other stressors weighing you down?


Image Credits

Top Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Middle Photo by Alexey Turenkov on Unsplash

Final Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

New Year and A New Look

Welcome to my New Year and A New Look review and reveal. To say 2021 was difficult is an understatement. But there were surprising, positive moments, too. I’ll be posting my review of 2021 soon as well as my goals for this new year. But 2022 is a new year and I’m starting out with a new attitude and new looks for my website and my books.

Large numbers spell out 2022 in shades of teal, purple and pink with the words new year under them, all on a black background, the first image in Lynette M. Burrow's post New Year and a New Look

New Look

Have you visited my home page lately? I took the last week of 2021 to make some changes. Take a look. Scroll down the page a bit and you’ll see that my books also are wearing new covers. Please, feel free check it all out. Tell me what you think.

Unfortunately, the transformation is incomplete. So, if you would please, be my second pair of eyes and let me know if you find “debris” from the old website, typos, or other errors. Leave a comment or use my contact form.

New Covers and a Reveal!

It's a new year and a new look for Lynette's books, too. The Image shows three soft bound books sitting on a shelf, a copy of Fellowship, a copy of My Soul to Keep, and a copy of If I Should Die, all by Lynette M. Burrows.

There are new covers for My Soul to Keep and Fellowship, but the big news is the reveal for If I Should Die

The custom covers are by MiBlart.com. They are a team of designers located in the Ukraine. They were easy to communicate with despite the time difference. They were also incredibly fast and good.

The ebooks should be available in all online stores. Let me know if you have a problem with a particular store. The paperbacks are available on Amazon but taking a little longer to get processed on the other stores. Please be patient a little longer. They are coming. I’ll let you know when they are ready.

If I Should Die

The cover of If I Should Die. Background is dark green. The Fellowship shield is in a purplish-mauve. Over the top third of the shield is the Statue of Liberty in a soft green. Her base extends downward in a sword point shape that ends where the shield ends. The silhouette of a woman carrying a pistol, marches toward the camera. The book title, If I Should Die, is below the image in a modern font and the same soft green. The author name in the same font and color, Lynette M Burrows is above the image.
A choice between sister or brother, life or death, war or peace. Prayers won’t help her now.

Many of you have been patiently awaiting the next book in the series. I’m happy to report book two of the Fellowship Dystopia is moving forward. Beta readers have given me helpful feedback and I’m smoothing out the rough spots. I’m working on a tight deadline so I am able to get it to my editor when she’s available. 

I have a basic page for the book on my website now. Over the next month or so, I’ll add more information to it.

By the end of this month I should have an idea of when it will be ready for publication and I’ll put up a preorder.

Happy New Year!

You presence here, your comments and good wishes over the past year, have meant more than you can know. Yes, that’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true. And I’m looking forward to new challenges and experiences. It’s a new year. Time to write new stories.

What are you looking forward to in 2022?

Image credits:

Top Image Dung Tran from Pixabay  

Last Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay 

A Wild and Woolly Third Quarter

It’s been a wild and woolly third quarter. Emotionally and professionally, life challenged me. It was also a three-month period of growth and of promise for the future.

A wild and woolly third quarter represented by the image of a dart board with a yellow dart just outside the inner ring.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that I set Intentions not goals (though that’s mostly semantics). You’ll also recall that I divide my things to do into four buckets: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. And I analyze each month and quarter in terms of hits and misses.

Making

In the making or creating bucket, I edited thirty-two chapters of If I Should Die. That includes a baker’s dozen NEW chapters. I made another trip to Subtropolis to refresh sensory details and learned that I’d mistakenly put a does-not-exist cool detail into the manuscript. Then I had to figure out how to take that cool detail out and keep the story intact. And I did. *Smile*

September was the first month I posted three times a week in the past eight months. But my blog posts received a lot of attention and some comments from you all. Your comments are the best part of blogging.

Managing

The managing bucket has been more difficult for me to accomplish during this time. (If you don’t know why, see a grievous loss and new life journey.)

However, this quarter I made improvements to my internet and zoom connections, revised book blurbs, learned more about marketing (one of my goals for this year), and made some connections online and in person.

I read a critiqued a novella and Mars One by Jonathan Maberry. I enjoyed Mars One. The story is one take on the Mars One Mission I’ve mentioned in past blog posts.

There are exciting (for me at least) things afoot. You’ll hear about one of those things in a couple of weeks.

Marketing

I chose not to do any in-person marketing during the third quarter of 2021 for several reasons: emotionally I’m not in a place to socialize much, despite being vaccinated the surge in COVID cases gave me pause, and a planned trip to a conference for writers is coming up in the fourth quarter.

Online marketing is ongoing. I continue to learn more about this formerly foreign-to-me aspect of being an independently published author.

Home

It was an especially wild and woolly third quarter in the “home” bucket of activities and goals. Grief is the biggest influence on my ability to accomplish things. Triggers are many but are of varying intensity instead of always extremely high.

Friends are helping me organize, sell, and give away the tons of supplies and products from my husband’s business. This means I can see a small section of the garage floor again.

Last Year

Comparing this quarter to last year’s third quarter is difficult. This time last year I changed the things I track. Looking back, I can see that it needed to change. The changes create a more accurate glimpse of what I accomplish.

Beyond that, my circumstances have changed so much that it’s difficult to make meaningful comparisons.

What I Learned

I’ve known about and studied resilience for a long time. So it’s not that I learned more about it but I re-learned from an emotional place rather than an intellectual one.

Resilience is more than bouncing back. It’s a combination of giving oneself grace and recognizing one’s strength despite overwhelming emotions. It’s having support systems in place. Knowing when to push through and when to sit with the uncomfortable feelings is also a large part of resilience.

Finally, resilience is unique to each person. Some of us are reeds that bend in the wind and bounce back. Some of us lose weak limbs in the storm but continue to blossom. It will reshape others. Neither our scars nor our differences make us less. We are weathering the fierce storms called life.

Going Forward

For my wild and woolly third quarter and the transition to the fourth quarter this is Image of a long road across a high desert to distant blue mountains with a quote from Julia Cameron "Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves."

While I didn’t finish If I Should Die in September, I am certain I will in October. By the end of this month, I will proofread it and send it out to first readers. By the end of the year, it will go to my editor. Look for publication during the first quarter of 2022.

Opportunities are coming my way that will help me grow and serve my readers better. Sorry, I can’t say more yet.

I am ever grateful for my small group of really wonderful, supportive friends and family.

Redefining my home, my work, my life has created a wild and woolly third quarter. Rearranging of my life and work will continue for a long while. Bending, not breaking, isn’t easy, but I am more like a reed that bends than a tree that breaks in the wind. I grieve, but I am also excited about the future.

Progress is Invisible Unless You Track It

Making progress is invisible unless you track it. Especially when you’re a slow writer or working on a long-term project, you need to track your progress. Evaluating your progress is essential to learning how to improve your processes. And making my monthly reports to you keeps me on task.

Image of a black and white target with a red dart perfectly centered on the red bull's eye but how do you know when you've hit a project's target? For long-term projects, progress is invisible unless you track it.

How To Track Progress

My way involves a calendar journal and spreadsheets. Breaking a task, like writing a novel, down into its smallest parts helps keep the creator from being overwhelmed. Focusing only on the small parts can make the creator feel as if they work and work without making progress. 

The way I combat the disillusionment of I’m-not-getting-anything-done, is to track my time, word counts, and project “steps.” You can use your calendar, a tally sheet, or a day planner. Anything that helps you keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do next will work. The Write Practice has a basic post about tracking progress for writers.

Intentions vs. Goals

I use intentions rather than goals. Intentions allow business to give way to life and life to give way to business. I also use three broad baskets to describe what I do: Making (anything creative), Managing (any non-writing and non-marketing duties), Marketing (from creating ads to attending marketing events), and Home (all activities not related to creating or selling books—from appointments to yard care).

Making

I’m delighted to report progress! More words, more chapters revised, and more time on the making and creating side of business. I have not finished If I Should Die. SIGH. I’m seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. I doubt I’ll finish it next month but am hopeful I will finish this draft and send it to beta readers at the end of September or first of October.

Managing

No power outages this month, thank goodness. I’ve made progress in this area too. In the managing area particularly, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Thanks to my spreadsheet, I can see that I’ve caught up on several tasks. Not totally caught up, but I was nearly a year behind so there’s a lot of little things to get done.

One thing I’ve added back into my day is listening to podcasts about writing and marketing and history. Feels good to do that again.

Marketing

Fortunately, it takes very little effort to keep Amazon ads running. New ads on Amazon take a time and work. I’ve met my intentions in the Marketing area. And I’ve benefited from making a few tweaks I learned about in a podcast.

Home

Photograph of the living room of an old, abandoned house--a pedal driven sewing machine, a dining table, and upholstered chairs are thick with dust--progress is invisible unless you track it--in this place, I think it might be visible.

There’s even been progress on the home front. This has been the most neglected area during the past five months, so any progress is progress. My vertigo has lessened significantly. I am experiencing more and more time when I have no vertigo. Yay!

After a half-day of mini-drama, they delivered my new washing machine. Miracle of miracles, I can complete all my laundry in a single day. Guess I needed one more than I knew. *Smile*

I spent half-a-day with two different couples I hadn’t seen in—gosh, a long time. We are all vaccinated and quite isolated. Visiting in person with them was a real treat.

Not only did I get some more of my husband’s things sorted, I gave some items to appropriate persons/organizations. So the house is a bit neater. While no one would say my house is neat and clean, the health department won’t kick me out… yet. (I haven’t reached the level of dust in the house pictured above.)

Events

Felt good enough I attended my weekly write in group and critique group two or three times this month.I also attended a dozen online classes focused on the writing business. 

Last Month & Last Year

I came extremely close to doubling my word count over last month. Yet, I’m still woefully behind in words written compared to July 2020. 

Between all that’s happened the first six months of this year and the fact that I’m revising, I’m counting this month as a win. Higher word counts will come in time, and will soar when I draft book three.

What I Learned

I started reading Robert McKee’s Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen. McKee has an interesting take on what functions as dialogue in a story. His view is that all parts of a story are dialogue. I have to agree in that all parts of a story are at least a dialogue with the reader. I’m eager to delve deeper into his insights.

At the beginning of the month I struggled with “the next chapter.” No matter what I wrote, it wasn’t as compelling as I want my stories to be. It took a few days, but I finally remembered to stop and go deeper into the viewpoint character’s mind and heart. Once I did that, the writing flowed.

Going Forward

Creative work comes first. That’s my focus. If I’m not putting story words on paper, I’m not myself. Off my game, I am morose and certain I’m spiraling in a negative direction. Tracking it, evaluating it monthly keeps me mindful of what I do. Reporting here keeps me honest about it. In many creative endeavors, making progress is invisible unless you track it. Do you track the progress of your creative endeavors?