Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thoughts for 2014: Goals and Resolutions

So I've been thinking about what I want in life in general. Some days I find myself randomly sitting on my bed or the couch and think, I want to be more productive. And that's as far as I go.

Laziness is the enemy of mankind.

I love having productive days. I feel better about myself and life in general when I have them. Therefore, I'm making 2014 the year in which I truly reach for my dreams.

I don't suppose any of you know the story of Ben Carson's childhood? When he was just a boy, his mother became concerned that he and his older brother were watching too much t.v. and weren't really going to go anywhere in life. She wanted them to aspire to greatness and become great, so she started making them read and write and do those things that would get them there.

I've been very inspired by this story lately (I'm planning on reading the novel soon) and have decided to change my life and cultivate those habits that will bring me the success and life I desire. This may sound silly but at one point in the past few days, I literally thought, "But this is going to be hard."

*bows head in shame at the glaring laziness*

I'm proud to say my immediate thought after that was, "Of course it is, it's supposed to be. So what?"

Okay, I'm slightly embarrassed I actually admitted that. Moving on....

This whole thing is about making and cultivating habits. Therefore, the logical step to take now would be to identify what I need to do to meet my goals.

  • Finish that Writing Children's Books course....

  • Write everyday

  • Read everyday

  • Watch less t.v.

  • Find a critique partner (still unsure how to do this)

Obviously, this isn't going to all happen over night so I'm going to break this down to something more manageable as I begin to make these habits. I find that I'm more productive in the morning than I am in the evening so that means.... yes, waking up earlier. Here's my minimum requirements for every morning.

The Morning Breakdown:

  • Write for at least 1 hour

  • Work on writing course for at least 1 hour

  • Read for at least 1.5-2 hours

I have no idea what the evenings will look like so I'm going to skip to my weekly goals. (I'll probably write blog posts and read more.)

  • Read at least 2-3 books a week

  • Write at least 6,000 words a week

This now brings me to the things I can't do at all or as much.

  • I only get four hours of TV/Games per week

  • Only use the internet for what I need

The first one should be pretty easy but when I get into a TV/gaming mood you can bet that's basically all I do unless I make myself do something different, so this is a very important one to have. As for the second one... I'm sure we can all identify with that.

And to keep me responsible, I'll be reporting my successes/failures to you every Saturday.

So what are your 2014 goals and resolutions?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why I'm Revising Before Finishing

Two days ago, I was thinking about my untitled contemporary, which we will now refer to as Untitled Contemporary until I find a name for it. And I thought about my novel quite a bit. What I have is good. But it could be better and I'm hoping these changes will make it better.

Here's the thing, I haven't actually finished Untitled Contemporary. I'm close but I'm just not there yet. With that said, Daisy has come to her acceptance too early and it's throwing everything else off and I'm becoming... a bit stuck when I try to continue. I know I could muscle through it but this is supposed to be a beautiful story and I'm worried that would make it lose some of the beauty. I'd really love to just finish it all but these new changes are going to change quite a few things.

So do I finish it first and then go back and change things? Or do I change things and let the new ending come through as the first and only ending I write? At this point, I've decided to write the parts that speak to me so I've gone back and added a new chapter (which is needed for my revising plans). I really like the changes that are coming and feel like this will make for a much more meaningful and stronger ending.

Part of me still wants to just finish it but if I finish it now, I feel like it'll be almost a wasted effort. *gasp*

I know, I said it. No writing is wasted. But do you really write an ending you know isn't going to work? Do you write an ending that isn't right just to say you finished it? I don't think so. I'm a perfectionist and these changes are going to change how Daisy feels throughout the entire novel: the things she thinks about and blames herself for.

Therefore, I'm going to revise what I have and let those revisions shape my ending. I'll give you all a glimpse of Untitled Contemporary soon. I just have to find the right part and all that jazz.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tell Them You Like It

Yesterday I confessed my own feelings of nervousness at the thought of letting anyone read my work. In connection to that, I've been thinking about a few of these debut authors.

I just finished reading Defy by Sara B. Larson last week (it was amazing) and I had commented on one of her blog posts telling her I had done so and that it was "A-M-A-Z-I-N-G." Spelt just like that. I never expected a reply back or anything of the kind. When I finish a book I really love, I eventually end up at the author's website or blog. This is especially true since I've started book blogging this past year.

So when I made this comment, it was the first time I'd visited her blog and I just wanted to let her know. Plus, commenting on blogs is always appreciated by the author. It lets them know that what they're writing is important enough to someone that they took the time to comment. Trust me, it's fantastic when someone comments on a blog post.

Back to my story now....

I went to bed and when I got up this morning I had a lovely surprise waiting for me. Miss Larson had thanked me for my comment and was glad I had liked Defy. The fact that she replied and went out of her way to find me on twitter instead of just replying to the comment was surprise enough. So I replied with a "Thank you for writing!" because I am truly grateful that she and a lot of other authors out there write and are brave enough to let me read it. Her reply?

Now that one made my morning. But this all got me thinking. I'm nervous about letting two or three people read my work. Her release date is still a month away and plenty of people are already reading hers'. I can't even imagine how nervous she probably is.

But even for people who have a few novels out there, it must be nerve racking every time. So if you're reading a book you love, take the time to let the author know. There'll be plenty of critiques out there. I mean, don't be annoying (something I always remind myself), but don't be afraid to let them know you love it. You may not get a reply but they probably saw it and I'm sure it helps.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Conficted: Someone's Reading My Novel

It's not much of a secret that I've actually written five novels before my current work in progress (WIP). And since my mother is so trustworthy and wanted to read two of my earlier novels, I let her. Apparently she really liked my first one because she printed the sequel so she could read it (with my permission of course).

But here's the thing, it's been three years since I wrote the novel she's currently reading. Yeah....

I know it isn't like its available to thousands of people but I have to admit I'm nervous. I've actually become more nervous and less open with my writing in the past year or so than I was before. I doubt it more than I ever did before.

What if she doesn't like it? She won't want to tell me. But I know she won't lie to me if I ask. My strategy? If she truly likes it, she'll seek me out and tell me herself. If she doesn't... then she probably won't say anything as long as I don't bring it up.

Back to the whole nervous and being less open part.... This whole being scared of letting people read what I write is actually impeding my mental search for a critique partner. I've been idly tossing names around every once and a while for the past few weeks. I don't want to send it to just anyone. But I want to make sure whoever I send it to will actually help me improve it.

I'm quite a ways off from this stage of the writing process; you know, since I haven't actually finished my contemporary. But the prospect of sending this novel off into someone else's hands is much scarier than it was with any of my other novels. This one is different. It's more personal to me somehow; I'm not all together certain why that is though. It's not like I've experienced anything I'm writing about.

But I believe in the story. When I sat down to write, I knew I didn't want to write another romantic contemporary where the guy swoops in and everything is all right. As some of my book blogging buddies have pointed out, just because you get the guy doesn't mean all of your problems are fixed. It just isn't realistic. And while I don't mind reading stories like that (I'm not all that picky), I didn't want to write one of those. I wanted to explore the character development. I wanted her to learn how overcome her problems. I didn't want the very sweet Adam to fix Daisy because that isn't how life generally works.

I believe in Daisy's story - more so than any other story I've written. This could be great. But letting someone read it is both scary and exciting all at the same time.

So hopefully my mother likes what she reads and hopefully I'll find a critique partner who'll be helpful and trustworthy. I can deal with criticism, I just need to know I trust them with something so dear to me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beyond November

If you've seen my NaNoWriMo profile, it's not much of a secret that I didn't reach my goal of 80K, but that's all right. I almost reach 60K which isn't bad. I really needed to read so I put things down for a couple of weeks and chilled. Now I'm back to the grindstone though.

I sat down to write just 1,000 words this morning and ended up with 3,000, which is fine by me. My main character, Daisy, has grown a lot since the beginning of the novel and is finally realizing a few things. It's still hard for her and there's still stuff she has to get past, but she's worked through one big thing already.

I have to admit that I'm surprised she overcame this thing so soon but I'm just letting her take me where she will. That kind of sounds funny, doesn't it? I mean, I'm the writer, I get to choose where so goes, right? Logic would dictate that but art has a life of its own. And when your in tune with it, you don't ask yourself where you're going next, you ask yourself what she/he sees and what happens to them. Then you let that event take you where it may.

I'm nearing the end of Daisy's journey but I'm starting to realize that her mom has a journey of her own. How do I potentially end a novel when that is still there? But I've been thinking about this all morning. A revelation came to light and my first thought was, "I don't want to write that." Moms are supposed to love their children unconditionally. But you know sometimes when you see people say things to their kids or just kids in general and you think, "You don't say that to them."? It ends up that Daisy's mom is one of those people.

It's kind of sad but I'm coming to realize that Daisy's mom may not get the ending I want because Daisy, in the end, is making more progress than her. Her mother's progress is a fa├žade. She's made herself believe she's made more progress than she really has. And, because of that, Daisy is going to reach the end of her journey first.

But her mom just might come around before the end. I'm interested to see how that works out. Again, I know that sounds a bit weird, but remember I'm writing this as I go.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 16 - Why We Should Keep Going

Earlier this week I confessed that despite some slight difficulties, the Week Two Blues have basically passed me by. I'm here telling you now that they have come back to haunt me. But here's why I'm not giving up.

I've reached and passed 51,000 words. I've met the NaNoWriMo challenge goal so, despite my personal challenge of 80K, it's seriously tempting to take a day or two off. If I do that though, that means that I probably won't reach my 80K goal. But a much more awful thing could happen. I may not finish my novel.

It's times like these that you have to stick it out. Write what you can. Try your best to keep to that word count goal (whatever it may be) because the moment you let yourself slack, is the moment moving past this difficult phase will become more difficult.

This is the time you might be discourage. This is the moment you may want to give up.

This is the moment it all counts the most.

If you can't get past this stage of noveling, you aren't going to make it because that novel won't ever get finished. So don't give yourself permission to slack off. Yesterday I didn't get the last 800 or so words in. Am I beating myself up for it? No, because I ran out of time. But I'm not letting that slip become the regular for me.

You've got to hold to your guns now more than ever. I have plenty of things vying for my attention: reading, scheduling, t.v., twitter, and commenting on blogs. Lowering my personal expectation will make things harder though.

So don't stop now. Don't lower your goals and expectations.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 14

All right so Week Two isn't completely lost on me. I did have to force myself to start yesterday and again this morning, but always remember that on days like these, you'll most definitely never regret writing. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Now that you've heard me go on about my novel now for a few posts, I'll throw you a limb and let you in on my rough outline which is...well, predicated upon my MC's overall emotional experience.

0-20K - Depression and Isolation

20-40K - Anger

40-60K - Denial and Bargaining

60-80K - Acceptance and Recovery

All of that is subject to change but so far it's going pretty well. Having an emotional outline is pretty helpful as I fly by the seat of my pants. It gives me smaller objectives to meet that eventually lead to my overall resolution; thus giving me any idea of how to get there, even though I don't really have a clue as to what's going to happen that far into the future. There are one or two things but that's about it.

If I could write every novel like this, I think I would. But I think only the life of a contemporary can be created this way. I've actually had some interesting developments I didn't anticipate at all but they made sense when they came to me. You know? It feels like the MC's emotions are easily leading into each other so at this point I'm just seeing where all this anger takes me. All can be fixed later.

In other news, I've realized yet again that I try to mimic my character's faces when I write or read over dialogue sometimes. You know, to just try them out with the words they're associated with? It actually works. I try to do it discreetly but I'm pretty sure I've probably been caught by now....

Current word count: 45,286

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 12

We're two days into Week Two and I'm doing well - not really feeling the Week Two Blues. I just reach 40K earlier today and although my novel's length is a planned 80K, it's exciting to see that 50K isn't far off.

For those of you who don't know, Week Two of NaNoWriMo is famous for being the most discouraging week of the month. Most people are between 15-30K, fighting to get pass that very rough stretch. The story is still new but the enthusiasm is waning and you're starting to realize how much work writing really is. If you're a first timer, you're probably wondering if you love your novel enough to keep writing.

My advice? Keep going. Just keep chugging. Don't feel like writing? Force yourself to. No, your writing will not suck if you make yourself sit at the computer however long it takes to get your words in. The woes of Week Two don't just disappear when Week Three roles around. In my experience, they don't go away until you're at about 30K, which puts you about half way through Week Three.

My second suggestion? Trust your novel. I've asked myself more than once what will happen if I let this or that big thing happen. I can't let it go too soon! Which is right to a point but you have to let the big things happen. You have to let your character feel bad, good, and bad again. It's called conflict. Readers like it. Keeps things interesting. Ask yourself what could sensibly happen to your MC (or someone they love) that would help you complete your objective.

So if you can only think of one thing to write of next. Dive in. Write it. It'll present new ideas and possibilities during or after. It'll come. Deviate from that outline if you must. Add to it. All can be fixed later when you have the entire story laid out before you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 10

Yesterday was the great NaNoThon and I had a super productive day. I started with my usual 3,000 words written with my awesome twitter writing buddies Teri Brown (@teribrownwrites) and Natalie (@NatReads). After two one hour sessions, we all had or were pretty close to having met our minimum daily goals.

But, as I expressed on Day 8, by the time I had made it a little past 3K, I was in the zone, flying through my novel's brain. Or more accurately, my MC's. So I kept cruising along. I took a break, fed myself, and almost wrote another thousand before heading out to see Thor: The Dark World.

Yes, it was a writing marathon and I definitely could have stayed home for those three hours (we got there early and the previews were almost a half hour). But I decided to reward myself with a movie I've been very excited to see. I'm not kidding guys, I was excited about this movie the moment I heard they were making it. Thor is one my favorite Marvel superheroes. End of story. And he's played by Chris Hemsworth *faint*. And, just so you know, it was amazing. Definitely a  must see, you know, if you like these superhero movies. Asgard was beautiful and the acting was fantastic.

When I got home, I stayed up until almost 11 pm to write 2,151 words, surpassing my special marathon goal of 5K and hitting 6K written in one day. Plus I got to kind of watch Sherlock Holmes at the same time.

So what's my total? 33,005. (I haven't written yet today.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 9 - Morning

Today is the official NaNoThon (declared by the workers of NaNoWriMo at the Office of Letters and Light). I'll be writing just about all day so I'm hoping for at least 5K if not more. We'll see how well I can focus. The rest of the NaNo universe will also be participating (or a fair portion at least) today and you're welcome to join us, even if you haven't written a single word and sign up today!

For your entertainment, here are a few songs I've been noveling to this past week. If you have any suggestions for a story with a depressed MC, let me know in the comments!



Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 8

As the title suggests, it's day 8 of NaNoWriMo and I've completed my daily word goal and actually came in with an extra 1,037 words.

It only took me a little over 2 hours to get my 3,000 words in. How did I do this? I'll share a secret. But I suppose it isn't much of a secret. @NaNoWordSprints likes to do a lot of 5, 10, and 15 minute word sprints. But I've found that when I'm just opening my scrivener file for the first time in the day, it takes me anywhere from 10-15 minutes to actually focus enough to seriously write.

When I hit the fifteen minute mark, that's when I usually start panicking a bit. "Oh my gosh, how am I going to beat Teri Brown in this sprint if I don't get writing? And fast?" Maybe not those exact words, but that pretty much conveys my thought process for the past few days. At the end of the hour, I've usually hit my stride and, if I'm in a good spot, can keep going. If I'm still kind of hiccupping, a short break can be necessary. But, at the end of the second hour, more often than not, I'm in a good place.

Now, don't get me wrong, there have been those days where I'm like, "Phew! Hit 3,000 words. Hallelujah." Again, that isn't my exact thought but it's pretty close to the relief I feel at having hit that word goal.

My second secret? Long word sprints with people. No, I don't mean sitting next to someone (that has never worked for me). I mean tweeting something like this:
Finding even one person will help you focus even more because then you're really racing. You have someone on the other side writing at the same time and you are in direct communication with them (not via @NaNoWordSpints).

Don't get me wrong @NaNoWordSpints is awesome. It totally saved me back in 2011. But the more I write, the more I become aware of the best ways to help myself succeed.

If you're curious, then my grand total so far is 27,000  words and I was just cruising along. I could write more and I want to. I'm really in the zone. I've infiltrated my novel's brain. But, unfortunately, work calls and I must leave my novel behind for a bit.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Welcome, Readers!

Hey there! People of the interwebs, I am a yet unpublished author in the thick of writing my first contemporary novel. It lacks a name, synopsis, and, yes, outline. Because I'm totally flying by the seat of my pants here, only knowing my main objective and seeing only a few steps in front of me at any given time.

So, you've now entered my world during a time in which I have set a minimum goal 3,000 words a day for the entire month of November because it is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo or NaNo. For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization designed to help people write 50,000 words in the month of November. Winners receive bragging rights, prizes from sponsors, and a cute certificate to print out.

I've been writing novels since before my first NaNoWriMo in 2009, but it wasn't until then that I finally finished my first one. Since then, I've written quite a few. Things have changed over the years, and as long as things go according to plan, I'll be seeking publication this coming year.

As I've discovered (and not to my surprise), the 1,677 pace imposed by the founders of NaNoWriMo is the normal pace of a published author. Therefore, I've decided that since I don't do nearly enough writing during the year, I'll be building a steady habit of 1,677 words every single day.

Now that you know what this blog is about, here's a bit about myself.

I am actually a book blogger over at Chasm of Books, and have been busy building over there this past year. I play piano. I read (obviously). I go to church. I love music (yes, I novel to it too). And I work. That's about it.

I believe that the true test of whether or not you're cold is by checking you nose. If it's cold, then, well that is cold. If not, then you aren't that cold. I know this because I was cold for years. I have the fluffy socks to prove it. There were quite a few sweaters given to me for years. My grandmother (mom's side), always knew what to get me. As it turns out, the key to being warm turns out to be chasing children throughout the day to prevent them from hurting each other or themselves. Mostly themselves (you know, climbing on tables and chairs, standing on slides, etc.).

So now that I've introduced myself, let me know a bit about you and what brought you here!
In the mean time, you can follow this blog on Bloglovin' and keep track of my progress this month here.