The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

Office cat’s guide to blogging

Office cat’s guide to blogging

Hi there, I’m Office Cat.  My pet, Kai, has graciously allowed me to come onto her blog today to introduce the ‘office cat guide to

Blogging’.  But first, may I offer my feline feliciations and give you an idea of who I am

Kushka

Kushie, the Office Cat

and my (blogging) pedigree.

My name is Jenuine WildTansy, and I am an F4 Bengal.  But my mom (and pet) calls me Kushka, or Kushie, or Fuzzbutt, which is very undignified.

But what my pet has told me about Blogging is *really* valuable, so valuable in fact that I wanted to share.  She’s doing the 30 day challenge, and so am I!

From now on, the ‘Office Cat’s guide to Blogging’ will appear on WPforAuthors, but mom has graciously allowed me to start on her blog first, and get everyone interested.

And here’s my first tip.

1) Personality

Forget worrying about SEO, forget worrying about domain names, the first thing you’ve GOT to do is find your gorgeous voice.  Like my piercing stare, a gorgous, sleek voice will be strokable, skritchablle and entirely memorable.  Once you’ve got your voice, you can plan your blog.

Remember, I’m appearing DAILY at Wpforauthors, and I hope you’ll join me there from tomorrow!

Till next time!  Kushie, the Office Cat

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So, the new world order

So, the new world order

Kindle 2.0

Image via Wikipedia

I discovered a couple of things this weekend – the first being I don’t like being out of control – meds haven’t changed how pressured I feel when things start dropping out-of-order.
The second thing I discovered is I’m really freaking out about my dissertation – and with all my focus on trying to keep work flowing and keep up with all of my commitments, I’ve been pushing that to the back of my mind and going ‘la la la’. Not good given it’s due in just under 60 days and I’m only confident in about a fifth of it (of 10k). I have a meeting about that today…
The third thing I discovered – and keep discovering is that if I don’t commit to writing at least a little fiction daily, I become very negative. It’s not because my self-worth is tied to my writing – in fact it’s worse than that – it’s because without fiction, I really feel like I’m a failure.
I guess that needs to be examined some more because I can’t handle not writing fiction – but at the same time, I’m afraid to ‘put it out there’ so it sits, worthless on my hard drive. Ultimately too, I don’t need people to tell me I’m being silly, or demand it, or anything else – it’s not how my psyche works. I need to put myself out there, but before I do so, I have to start writing again.
What this means in practicality is that i am going to start small. A couple of times a week I’m going to take time out for my projects. Instead of investing (wasting!) time surfing the net, or vegging on Facebook (because I do that more often than I’m productive and helpful on there) I’m going to write my ‘own’ stuff. I’m not sure how I’m going to balance work and this yet, but it starts with my assignments and my dissertation. As they are fiction, that suits me quite nicely.

And yes, I know, I said this a couple of months ago, when I said ‘making it easier on myself’, but you know what?  Sometimes it takes me a while between making a decision and actually actioning it.  It’s a personality flaw I guess 😉
After May, I’m going to finish producing a couple of short non fiction books for the Kindle platform and start redressing this balance that’s out of whack. Ultimately I’m not earning ‘enough’ as a copywriter now and that needs to be addressed – not by taking on ever more work – but by balancing copywriting part time with being an author and publisher part-time. I have lots of marketable expertise – I really should share it.

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30 posts later – where I am, where I’m going etc

30 posts later – where I am, where I’m going etc

I noticed this morning that I hit the magical 30 post mark, from the 30 posts in 30 days (in my case, really it was 30 posts in 45 days!) and wanted to do a quick round-up, along with some observations.

First up – I suck at timetables.
Actually, more accurately, I suck at working within timetables, when there is lots going on around me.  In the last month I went back to Uni for a new term (my last one), I moved laptops to a much sleeker, faster, sweeter piece of kit (which leads me to a point I’m going to make later), and I finally discovered that my love for writing definitively needs fiction to keep the flames burning.  And that simply reading it for now isn’t enough.
I also discovered that 30 billable hours equates to much *much* more than that, and I procrastinate too much, which lead me to another project idea for this month/next month.   I discovered that I’m not in the best shape mentally, or physically, and that I really need to find and adhere to boundaries.  That means less answering email on my phone when I should be chilling out, and more spending my time working on the things – all of them – that makes me happy. Journaling, despite being suggested, isn’t something I can get into any more – I had a horrible time of it when my then psych council got his hands on one of my stories and tried to commit me because it was about suicide, and jumping out the windows of my flat.  I know mental health care has moved on in leaps and bounds since then, but there have been other incidents where people have used my journal against me.  Next best idea is to go back to fiction :).

Specifics though

  • Of the 30 posts I had planned, I’ve still got 14 drafts left.  I’ve also added to that and have ideas for about another 60 blog posts – or partial posts.  If I got them scheduled and farmed to the right blogs (because some of them might not belong *here* when I’m done) then I’ve got content for two blogs for a month, or several blogs for several months depending on posting schedules.
  • I’m so not over my blogging apathy.  I still find it difficult to interact on Livejournal, where I started to blog – I don’t know if it’s transient but it’s lasted about eight months so far and hasn’t abated any.  I work a full-time job, study practically full time for Uni, write when I can, plus I’m the primary parent for a nine-year old with emotional difficulties (she’s getting MUCH better), and an eleven year old that is an amazing wee guy.  And then I fit my relationships with friends, family and my fiancée into that massive mix.  It’s not an easy balancing act, and gets harder in November, when I run the Nanowrimo, and in April for ScriptFrenzy.  I think it’s a symptom of my life being too busy, but it could just be that I’ve outgrown how I used to blog (24 blogs, updated on a three-day schedule).  It could just be that I’m burned out still – and that I need more time to myself.  It could be that it’s just one of those things.  The 30 day challenge brought me back to a lot of that, but  there’s still a lot to be said for needing more time to fall in love with blogging all over again.
  • I really don’t write enough fiction.  I’m not editing at all – I’ve got this one task in my task manager that keeps getting bumped to next week to actually sit down and write Glass Block – which lead me in a very circumlocutory way to a project I want to try.  More about that below though.
  • Emotionally, I’m not over any of the miscarriages I’ve had in my adult life, but of all of them, this last one was the hardest.  I think it’s a mix of us both being on board with the idea fully, and the traumatic way we found out I wasn’t pregnant, plus the hospital stuff afterwards, but now I’m not doing well with any of that stuff.   The last one resulted in the problems we had when I moved and the referral through the Crisis team in Gloucester (who, really I can’t praise enough) to the Recovery team and my wonderful worker, whom I really *really* miss.  This one seems to be worse in some ways, because I’m still feeling it all and I’m ON medication.  Time will tell I suppose.  December doesn’t seem that long ago, but that morning in the hospital feels even closer to me still.*

Moving on

I guess the positive in that phrase is that I actually know where I’m going and what my plan is.  Well, kinda anyway.
There’s two immediate projects I want to get out of the way and through before I decide what I’m going to do with myself full-time from now on.  Lots of the projects I’ve got in mind are just going to have to wait till after I’ve graduated – realistically, I don’t have time to blog in all the places I want to, but I will soon.

But the two big projects.
I want to show the impact social media has on someone’s day – so I’m going to do a Friday *with* full social media interaction, and a Friday without.  The Friday *With*, I’m going to use Facebook and Twitter through my laptop – without I’m going to check in on my phone.   To get to that point though, I need to rebuild my tweetdeck and reader set-up, plus update what I’m looking at because I’m pretty scattered all over the place right now.

I’m going to journal what I’m doing, and track the time using an app that I’ve long since gotten used to called ‘Rescue time’.  I’ll log my full day on (and off) the computer, and post the results and some conclusions I’ve drawn at the end of it.  It’s a teeny tiny project, but it’s one of those wonderful things that others can attempt to duplicate and they too can talk about what they found, so it’s going to be interesting.  I’m going to stick that happy little project up on Work at home Writers, because it’s primarily about productivity.

The second is a little more hazy now.  I’ve got to get the books I’ve written into Scrivener, and then move on from there, but I’m deliberately declaring Sundays ‘fiction day’.  I’ll most likely have to skip a couple of them to get my dissertation finished, or when there’s a massively pressing deadline, but if I’m so reluctant to write non fiction, it’s maybe for a different reason and I want to test that 🙂  For that second, specifically, I need lots of encouragement.  I am deliberately removing billable hours from my schedule, and guilt aside, I’m not sure that I’m even particularly confident in my fiction abilities any more.  So if you could hop onto one of the social media areas where I talk writing, cheer me on at Writers-bookshelf or otherwise play ‘cheering squad for me’ I’d love it, I really would.

* I don’t talk about what went on – and would appreciate that people don’t pursue this one reference to it with me.  I’m not interested in baring my soul about it and while I appreciate it’s an area that women really don’t talk about enough, I’d rather err on the side of not talking about it.  That said, I’d rather people knew why I was prickly, than simply smack them upside the head.

Toys and tools for writers – part 2 – the novelist

Toys and tools for writers – part 2 – the novelist

Ok – so, one way or another, you’ve got the tools I recommended – whether you went with all free, or a mix of free and paid, or you’re ready to experiment with each.  Or you’ve got your own go-to tools, that you work with – that’s ok too – the list I provided wasn’t exhaustive (though, if you think I’ve missed something, please let me know – I’d love to hear about other tools people use).
I also didn’t list ‘Write or die’ – deliberately – that goes under a whole ‘nother section – writer’s block.

Anyway – tools for novelists and why they work well together.

For idea collation I suggest Evernote – simply because it’s search able and is as handy as your mobile phone (if you’ve got a smart phone).  It lets you store notes, inspiration, voice recordings, images, the works.  This is crucial, because there are occasions you won’t be able to stop and grab a piece of paper, but you might have your phone with you, or times when you’re in the middle of writing something else, and need to take notes.
I suggest having a couple of tags to categorise ideas – I’ve got ‘story idea’, ‘snippet’, ‘research question’, ‘blog post’ and ‘misc’.  I categorise them at home on my laptop because it’s easier to catch them that way than tag on the fly.

Writing

If I’m writing a novel, I pick the tool that best fits the job as soon as I get settled, but I tend to do my outlines and other basic work in Word, just because sometimes it’s hard to tell which is ‘best’ to use.

I’ve found though that it pretty much splits into two easy categories – serials, in which case I find it easier to work in Liquid Story Binder (and will explain that on a later post :)) or stand alone which works best in Scrivener.  If it’s a stand alone with lots of notes, Scrivener copes, I’ve just yet to adapt to writing longer serials in Scrivener.

I edit though, in Word – simply because it’s easier to do cohesive line editing in there – though, again that comes down to personal preference.
Other tools a novelist needs – books in the genre they’re writing in – so they can keep their ‘finger on the metaphorical pulse’ and some support.  I recommend finding a crit group to chat about your writing, and get feedback.  I like OWW-SFF but your mileage may vary.

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Pen Names aren’t cowardice

Pen Names aren’t cowardice

Illustration of a pointed pen labelling the di...

Image via Wikipedia

Though the writing community has moved on somewhat on the subject of pen names, it’s hard not to feel that the community itself has elements that are a bit behind the times.

What is a pen name?

A pen name is, quite simply, when you use aliases to write under.  For example, my real name is Donna.  Everyone online knows me as ‘Kai’.  Technically, I write everything under a pen name.  While this can sometimes be acceptable (like using your middle name instead of your first name) some people still frown on it.  But why?
The main bulk of pen names are made up of people who want, for various reasons, to disassociate their writing from one or another area of their lives.  Sometimes it could be because they write a genre that is family friendly and another that isn’t.  In some cases it’s because they don’t want their ‘old’ name to impact on their ‘new’ name – either because they had very poor or runaway success with the first name.
Or, like me, they write over distinct genres, and want their fans to know what they’re getting into when they pick up a book.  While it’s normally wise to develop one voice and ignore the others, some of us just can’t do that.  Like me.

The problem with pen names

‘Problem’ is a loaded word, but in this case, the ‘problem’ with pen names is that people sometimes see it as ‘dishonest’.  after all if you’re hiding your real name, what else are you hiding?  This kind of attitude seems to be most prevalent in people who would criticise anyway, so it’s easy to ignore, but if it’s something that happens on a mailing list, it can degenerate very quickly.  Especially if people start using emotive comments such as ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ to justify what they’re saying.  It’s vital in these cases to stand your ground, politely and then take a step back.

One of the main problems that comes from Pen names, funnily enough, is paperwork.  I run my writing as a business (and I’ll post on that later this week at my other blog at Work At Home Writers).  Especially if you’re making sales in different places under different names – so pen names aren’t as straight forward as ‘today I’m going to be Marty Mcspuspu’. (not my pen name!).  Actually, scratch that, it’s more work in general.

What’s good about them?

I’m not sure how other writers see them (but would love to know!), but for me, it’s a clear ‘job description’.  If I’m writing as Sabrann Curach, I know I’m doing horror.  If I’m writing under D Kai Wilson-Viola, I know it’s thrillers for me.  Kai Viola, chick lit.  Brittany Harkness is romance, and D Kai Wilson is non fiction.  It’s straight forward for me.
I initially started out with one pen name – – Fayth C Reeves.  She was necessity of a different kind.   I joined some mailing lists where being a parent (which, by the time I was 21, I was), and writing erotica was somehow the worst thing *ever*.  So I wrote under a persona.  And in doing so, I opened up a whole new world and new understanding of pen names.  Fayth wasn’t just a pen name – she was a whole new character – one that I quite enjoyed ‘playing’ with gusto on my sites for a while.  She still resides on some of my older hard drives, but time moves on and erotica isn’t the ‘bad thing’ it used to be.

Pen names are cowardice

One of the few things I really object to, when discussing pen names, is the idea that they are in fact cowardice – that somehow they’re underhand.  I’d like to vehemently refute that – sure if someone is writing something libelous under a pen name, that’s a different matter entirely, but one of the big problems with the writing community is that there are certain people who can’t see others happy.  These ‘policers’ as a whole, are a massive minority compared to those that *do* give back to the writing community, but they have two major issue – one, they’re not writing themselves (so really have no reason to judge another person’s choice.  It’s not even a case of ‘a mile in their shoes’ – it’s more that some people just seem to enjoy ‘teh dramas’)  and two, and probably more importantly, they are tearing people down instead of building them up.

If someone is writing under one – or more pen names, I say ‘good on them’.  I don’t even think in terms of ‘how dare they, they haven’t even ‘paid their dues’ on one, why should I support a second.  We should be supporting each other, period.

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