Yes, I’ve decided. I’m resurrecting Patreon as one of my platforms.

About time management and project planning…

PJD resurrecting PatreonI’d retired it some time ago until I could regroup and consider how Patreon might fit into what I do between my day job and writing careers. And recently, I’ve had a lot of questions come to me about when I’m going to teach more classes or hold more workshops on time management and project planning, particularly as they could be used by writers. There’s a lot of writers who are balancing a day job career with a writing career. Add in life, and family, and friends and finding time gets complicated.

I do teach at least once a year, maybe twice, at various conferences. But not everyone can attend those conferences or the workshops/panels that I might be presenting due to scheduling conflicts. I get a lot of requests for online courses or even asked when I’m going to write a nonfiction book on the topic of time management and project planning for writers.

I don’t have the bandwidth to offer those things and still be able to meet my deadlines for the fiction I love to write. So Patreon came to mind as a platform that would be great for sharing this kind of information in bite-size pieces throughout the year.

And writing via dictation…

PJD resurrecting PatreonI am also learning to find a new normal in my life due to medical challenges and the need to drastically change the way I write… anything. I started to try learning dictation earlier this year, just about the same time I started physical therapy. So I got the basics down. But as soon as the physical therapy started to help me get back my functionality with my hands and I could type again for short periods of time, I went back to typing my manuscripts.

That’s not sustainable.

I will experience flareups in my future and my physical condition will deteriorate. So I really, really need to learn how to dictate now, not later.

Wonderfully generous people have given me their advice, their insights, and some great tips and tricks. I need to practice in order to incorporate what they shared with me. I need to make dictation and writing via dictation a habit. And writing via dictation, for me, means retraining my brain. Patreon becomes the perfect platform again for my adventures in learning how to dictate. It’ll be a place where I can be accountable while I share my trials and tribulations, what works for me and what really doesn’t.

So. There we have it. I’m resurrecting Patreon and I will be sharing information in two major categories:

  • Time management and project planning for writers, particularly with the day job to balance with their writing.
  • My progress as I learn writing via dictation, the tips and tricks I pick up along the way, and lessons learned.

If you’re interested in what I have to share or would like to join me on this journey, I hope you’ll subscribe to my Patreon. I’ll see you there.

I strongly believe in the value of crit partners and beta readers. I also believe in gaining alignment and setting expectations upfront. Especially when those of us in the writerly world occasionally exchange reads, what’s needed in a critique varies from author to author.

Here’s a few insights into what I’m looking for in a beta read or critique. YMMV.

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive

In my day job, I’m often gathering user requirements and communicating the use case to our product team and software developers. I’m very careful to present what a user is trying to do and what their experience is using the software and how the software isn’t meeting the user’s needs. What I don’t do is tell the product team or software developers how to fix the issue. They write the code, not me, and I would break a whole lot of things in the software if I tried to tell them how to fix a thing.

When I look at my writing, I find Mary Robinette Kowal‘s take on critique very handy. She describes three types of feedback:

  • Symptoms – This made me feel this way.
  • Diagnosis – This made me feel this way and I think this is why.
  • Prescriptions – This made me feel this way, I think this is why, and this is how I think you should fix it.

When I have beta readers looking at my story, I am specifically looking for Symptoms. In particular, I’m looking for Symptoms that can be expressed as:

I didn’t believe this. It just wasn’t plausible to me.
I didn’t care about this or I skimmed this section.
I didn’t understand this.

I highly recommend checking out Mary Robinette’s post and video on both providing and receiving critique. She goes into even more detail on giving critiques and also receiving them.

The compliment sandwich

When I first started providing crits, I was told to always give a compliment sandwich, in which I start with something positive then follow with constructive critical feedback and finally end on a positive note again.

This is a useful tool for those learning to critique. It’s potentially useful forever. Receiving constructive feedback is not just hard, it’s brutal, and balancing the critical commentary with positive or encouraging comments can be incredibly helpful. A danger here is the recipient who focuses only on the compliments in the compliment sandwich and mentally dodges the critical feedback which is essentially the meat of the sandwich. Another challenge is when the complimentary and critical elements conflict, leaving the recipient confused.

Me? I do best with a sort of open-faced sandwich, if that’s not taking the metaphor too far. If you’re ever beta reading for me, please lead with the critical feedback. Don’t hold back calling it out as it happens throughout the text. Go ahead and tell me when something pisses you off or when something confused you. I am happy to hear when you think something is not plausible or if something seems out of character. I definitely want to know and be able to address when I might have written something problematic.

At the same time, I do want to know when something in my book makes you smile or laugh out loud. Bonus points to us both if a foodie moment makes you hungry enough to go get a snack. I need to know about those reactions. I need to know if my emotional elements worked or if they fell flat or were too subtle.

And so, dear crit partners and beta readers…

When it comes to what I’m looking for from crit partners and beta readers, that’s about it. Trust me, that’s already a lot. There might be more I’d be looking for from a subject matter expert or sensitivity reader, yes, and that’s probably an entirely different topic for another day.

I truly appreciate those who take the time to work with me to beta read my work. I hope this was helpful to you too.

Piper J Drake at BLC19

It’s time to play Find the Piper at #BLC19! I love New Orleans and it’s one of my favorite places to meet readers and hang out. I’m really looking forward to returning to NOLA for the first Book Lovers Con.

Book Lovers Con has a different set up from many conventions, with reader events open to the general attendees and lottery events designed to make sure readers who signed up in advance have great focused interaction with authors. I did my best to be a part of both kinds of events.

To make playing Find the Piper at #BLC19 easier for those attending, here’s my schedule. I love meeting readers both familiar and new, so please do say Hello!

Faery Make-Up Party
Thursday, May 16, 2019 – 4:30pm to 7:00pm

Wheel of Romance Bingo
Friday, May, 17, 2019 10:00am – 11:30am, Empire A

All Law and No Order
Friday, May 17, 2019 – 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Get A Clue – Win A Squishable
Friday, May, 17, 2019 5:30pm – 6:45pm, Strand 13 B

Book Bash Signing
Saturday, May, 18, 2019 10:30am – 2:00pm, Celestin Ballroom

It Had to Be You
Saturday, May 18, 2019 4:00pm to 5:30pm, Empire C&D

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing’s Forever imprint, readers will receive ULTIMATE COURAGE in various reader events. I’ll have EXTREME HONOR, the first in my True Heroes series, at the Saturday Book Bash. I’ll also be signing TOTAL BRAVERY, the first in the True Heroes series taking our heroes and heroines to Hawaii, and my latest release, FIERCE JUSTICE.

For those who might follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or in my newsletter, you may be aware I’ve been facing new medical challenges this year. My physical therapy has progressed but nerves in my left arm are still making signing (or using my left hand at all) very painful for me. So at Book Lovers Con, I will be signing one book per reader and using a stamp made of my signature for any additional books. I very much hope you all will be understanding.

This year has been complicated. In fact, right now, I’m waking up to the dawn of a new year in one time zone while it is still the previous year in the time zone where I actually live. I’m in between 2018 and 2019 and it’s an interesting time to look back and also to look forward, I think.

Matthew has been talking to me about what drives me. His perspective is valuable to me, not just because of who he is to me as a partner but also because he can observe objectively and provide shrewd insight.

We both agree that I am driven to continually accomplish and achieve, so much so that I run myself ragged. With every story, every deadline, I think if I can just finish this or hit that deadline, I’ll be happy. But then I immediately dive toward the next goal, writing the next story and hitting the next deadline. Where was the happy?

I agree with Matthew that I need to celebrate more. Savor. Be happy about what I’ve accomplished.

What did I do in 2018?

  • Moved from Phoenix to Seattle
  • released Total Bravery
  • turned in Fierce Justice
  • turned in Forever Strong
  • released Siren’s Calling
  • signed a 4 book deal with Sourcebooks
  • recorded 20 Minute Delay with Gail Carriger
  • featured author at Coastal Magic Convention
  • survived pneumonia, again
  • panelist at RWA national conference
  • survived medical challenges
  • instructor and staff on the Writing Excuses workshop and retreat cruise
  • panelist at Emerald City Writers Conference
  • featured author at Fresh Fiction Readers ‘n Rita’s

There’s more, though those are the highlights. Every book has an entire cycle of draft/edit/revision involved. Every convention or conference has preparation.

I also did all of this in parallel to my day job. I did this while Matthew was away on orders. I managed to keep Corbin and myself fed and in reasonably good health. I even improved both our physical fitness levels. I faced depression and anxiety, learned to recognize what they were doing to me, and am taking steps to navigate through.

That’s awesome. Looking back on 2018, it was a lot of accomplishments in the face of a number of challenges behind the scenes and I did some great things.

Looking forward?

I have hopes and dreams. I have ambition.

I want my writing career list to be more focused on actual writing.

I am exploring new genres.

I am trying to remember to celebrate with each accomplishment and enjoy each burst of happiness as I go.

Play Find the Piper

Play Find the Piper at the RWA National Conference in Denver, CO on July 18-21! I’m delighted to be attending the Romance Writers of America annual conference this year and looking forward to such a fantastic gathering of great minds. We all share a love of romance, a passion for the written word, and drive to achieve in this very tough industry.

This specific conference is always a huge learning opportunity for me, both for writing craft and for the business of writing. There are panels and workshops on both topics presented by fellow authors I respect. There are round table discussions on current issues. And there are ad hoc discussions in every corner, every seating area, most definitely at every bar in and surrounding the conference hotel.

We’re together and sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas. We’re sharing perspectives.

I get so much out of this conference and I love meeting the readers, bloggers, librarians, and other book lovers who attend and share their perspectives too.

Here’s where you can find me:

Thu
10AM Carina Press Open House and Author Signing
11AM Grand Central Book Signing
3:50PM Writing When Your Routine Is Disrupted

Sat
9:50AM Powering Up Productivity: Project Planning for Writers
3-5PM “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing
** Free & Open to Public

More details on the RWA annual conference here:
https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=538

Can’t attend in person? I’ll have random FB Lives from me and other authors via my FB page throughout the week!

Newest Release!

Fierce Justice by Piper J. Drake

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