Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Revisions: A Changing Perspective


Untitled Fantasy (AKA Traitors & Tyrants) arrived this week. My instructor provided some feedback, which was mostly really minor and disappointing, and I have their copy now as well as my own. This time though, I have the rest of my lessons and I've already learned some new things.

My first step is to read the manuscript without editing or making notes. How in the world am I supposed to do that? I've been unsuccessful so far, but I'm trying to limit myself at least to just the really big changes. There are some things I have to chew on before they can be discarded or put into action.*

*see post-it note in the picture above

My brain just keeps churning though and focusing is terrible hard. In the past, I would have been horrified at the work that lays before me. I don't know why it's different now, but when I think about all the changes that need to happen and how flawed it is right now, I'm both excited and relieved. Excited because of its potential. Relieved because it can still be changed. What I have here now, doesn't have to be the end of the journey.

There are scenes I've already decided that need to be completely cut and I'm finding it freeing instead of horrifying. Of course, I've had some thoughts that are still hard to accept as very possible solutions and changes. I've grown attached to some things but I'm learning to let go. Just because you have to get rid of one thing or a character thought, doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to them forever. That thought is comforting and liberating.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Writing by Hand

I'll cut the Camp NaNoWriMo report short and say that I didn't get far into finishing Rogue Beings. I'm sure I'll finish it someday but that day has not come yet. For now, I'm focusing on just writing for me and enjoying it.

I've sent Untitled Fantasy in to my instructor-editor and am waiting for their feedback. I was going to edit the first draft before I sent it but I decided not to (and the instructions were to send it as soon as I was done without editing anything). As far as I know, it has arrived at the school but I have no idea when I'm going to get any feedback. It's only been a week or two though so I'm trying not to think about it.

In the mean time, I've been rereading The Two Towers and The Return of the Shadow. For those of you who don't know, the latter is a book on Tolkien's writing process while he was creating The Lord of the Rings. I've read the first and second drafts of the first chapter so far and am amazed at the difference already. It's so interesting watching Tolkien figure out what is going on.

As I've mentioned before, Tolkien is one of my inspirations. I love knowing that much of The Lord of the Rings' creation was sporadic and disorganized. I'm slowly learning to enjoy the writing process. I have a habit of rushing myself and I'm trying not to do that. In my efforts to enjoy the journey, I've started writing by hand. I'm not quite sure what it is that I'm writing but I'm also trying not to think about it too much. My main goal with this project is to let my pen take me where it will.

An entirely different creative door opens when you step away from your computer and go back to pen and paper. When you're typing, the mind has a tendency to take over. It's almost like your hands are instinctively creative and that creativity tends to flow uninterrupted when given a pen. Magic blooms across the page and your mind remember words you don't usually use and phrase things differently.

That's my experience at least...

Sometimes you need a project just for you and this one truly is just that. I'm not ready to figure it all out yet, I just want to continue to write it in scenes and watch the story take form from there. It can be anything it wants and I don't intend to get in the way of that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All I Can Think About

I've finally finished Untitled Fantasy and I'm supposed to be taking a break from it and writing Rogue Beings for Camp NaNoWriMo. The thing is, I keep thinking about Untitled Fantasy and how much I want to give a real name and how much I just want to read and fix it already.

I keep telling myself it's only 20K. I can do that easy. I also tell myself that I need to buy ink and paper so I can print Untitled Fantasy so I can't work on it anyway. This isn't helping me not think about it though. I need to just sit down and write, but now that it comes down to it, I remember the fact that I have to re-acclimate myself to a story that is near its end and entirely different.

I haven't worked on Rogue Beings for... I don't know, a year? That's a long time. And to just plop down 62K into it and write? That's not the easiest thing to do. I have to capture the character's voices, their problems, argh! Why did I not finish this before? It was an awful mistake. *sigh*

While all of this is going on, I remember how many times I wanted to quite on Untitled Fantasy and how glad I am that I kept going. I'm holding onto that knowledge and am pushing myself to just sit down and do this thing with Rogue Beings. I can do this and I will be glad I did.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

First Draft - Completed

Wow. It's been a long three months. I've been officially composing Untitled Fantasy's first draft since March and had begun brainstorming and character interviews a month or two before then. That means I've been working on it for the past six months (approximately).

And it's finished.

Three months.

I can hardly believe I've finished the first draft. You'd think I'd be excited but, right now, I'm sort of in a state of disbelief. It has finally happened. I came in at 60,010 words. I thought I had finished when I was just 500 words shy but I like even numbers so I went back later. Those last 500 words were some of my favorite to write.

All of today's writing flew by and I wrote the bulk of them (if memory serves) in two hours. I figured the last of it would flow like crazy, but I honestly was surprised at how much they just poured out of me.

Final stats:
Untitled Fantasy
6 Months
60,010 words

The Moment Before the End

As I write, I have Untitled Fantasy open on my desktop, waiting for me to begin typing the last 3,443 words. I worked all day yesterday, so I didn't get my 1,000 words in but I was able to think about the ending some more and figured out a better direction and one I am entirely too excited about.

I wanted to savor this moment before I finished Untitled Fantasy. I have the rest of the day with nothing to do (except renewing library books and vacuuming) therefore, it's my goal to get the last few thousand words in today.

I've been thinking about Untitled Fantasy's chosen ending for quite some time. I honestly didn't have a clue about how it would end until this past week. I keep trying to think about when I started Untitled Fantasy. I began brainstorming and outlining sometime in January I believe and actually started writing in March. (I think... it's hard to remember.).

Before beginning Hector's POV (which I consider to be the draft's real beginning writing wise), I wrote four chapters in Rachel's POV. Those first few thousand words flew by and poured out of me and I knew that this idea was one I wanted to see all the way through to the end.

 I also experimented with Hector in that time too. My vision of him has changed since then so his chapter is much different from the rest of the novel and not included. But I kept every one of those chapters because they helped me discover the characters and the novel itself.

Untitled Fantasy may or may not ever see the light of day (I hope it does!) but I will be forever grateful for the experiences it provided me. I still doubt this novel a lot but I keep reminding myself it's a first draft. With that mindset, I'm pretty proud of this draft. I'm sure it'll change a lot during revisions; and I hope it does, because it can be so much better than it is right now.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

50-60K Update

I haven't reach 60K quite yet. I'm a little more than 3K off from it. I believe I hinted that I thought Untitled Fantasy's first draft might end up with more than 60K but from what I have planned and from what I've written, I'm going to hazard a guess that that's not going to be the case.

Of course, this novel has surprised me several times so who knows? But I'm pretty sure this time. I'm so stoked to finally be finished with the first draft. I just want to finish, give it some time and then read it so I can figure out what I have. I'm oddly excited to start revisions. This might be because I'm not quite sure what it is exactly that I've written. I know that sounds odd but this novel has thrown so many curve balls at me, I kind of don't. If that even makes sense.

Plus, I'm anticipating it's finish on either Saturday or Monday, which means, yes, it'll be done before Camp NaNoWriMo! This also ups the likelihood of me actually finishing Rogue Beings this July.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Return to Camp NaNoWriMo

It's Camp NaNoWriMo time again. After April's hideous performance, I have decided to return once again and give it another go. But, first, here's a sort-of interesting fact for ya'll: I've participated in Camp NaNoWriMo since its beginning in 2011; in that time, I've only finished one of those novels.

Here's a more comprehensive outline:

July 2011: The Memory of Trees (mystery)
I was already half way through this novel when Camp NaNoWriMo began and successfully completed the second half.

August 2011: History of Races (high fantasy)
I had already completed the first draft for this novel and was planning on revising it. I didn't get far.

June 2012: Across the Ribbon of Time: Pricilla's Story (high fantasy)
I almost reached 18K with this one.

April 2013: Rogue Beings (high fantasy)
I had started this back in November 2012 but only reached the 52K mark and didn't finish it that month. I was supposed to finish it in April. I almost reached 3K.

April 2014: Untitled Fantasy (high fantasy)
This is my current project that I keep blogging about and am hoping finish in the next couple of weeks. I almost wrote 9K in April.

So there you have it - a list of my failed attempts (well, with one success). You never truly fail until you stop trying though so I'm giving Camp NaNoWriMo another go. I originally wanted to finish Untitled Fantasy before July but I don't think that's going to happen. Still, I think it'll be almost done by then so that's fine.

Therefore, July will hopefully see the finishing of two projects, Untitled Fantasy and *drum roll* Rogue Beings! I'm actually not too far off from finishing Rogue Beings. Ironic I know. I should just sit down and finish it. I've been thinking about it a lot lately and am dying to work on it. As soon as I finish Untitled Fantasy, I'm going to throw myself into finishing Rogue Beings, which is a stand-alone novel.

July's monthly goal will only be 20K though. Honestly, I'll be happy as long as I finish both novels.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good-Bye Part 2, Hello Part 3

It's been a while so I just wanted to check in with ya'll. Unfortunately, I was only able to write two (maybe three) days last week. Hopefully, this week will be more conducive to my plans.

Surprisingly, I've decided to split the rest of the novel into a part three. We'll see whether or not that sticks but for now, while I'm writing the draft, it helps so I'll run with it. I'm actually now switching POVs from chapter to chapter and anticipate my two main characters meeting very soon.

This story sure does like to throw me curve balls though. I've come up with something interesting today but I haven't a clue what it means yet or how it fits in. I'm looking forward to learning and figuring it out though. It's more like the characters revealed something than like me making it up. I actually tried to get the character to say something different but nothing seemed to fit so I just went with it. These things tend to be good surprises in the end, as long as you use them properly.

In other news, Little Brown Books for Young Readers approved me for Salt & Storm on Netgalley today so you can imagine my excitement over that, especially since I didn't think I'd get it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Draft Celebration #5

Dudes, I'm super excited here. I hit 50K this morning! Actually, more specifically, I have 51K. That means only 9K to this draft's goal! You know what this calls for right?

That's right. We need some straight up JLaw celebration there. Part 2 has been an absolute joy to write so far. None of it has been particularly difficult but I wouldn't say it's been easy. I guess its just kind of been happening. The words come at a steady pace, not fast or slow. Okay, sometimes they are a bit slow but I've simply employed techniques I've already learned and have been able to work myself out of those awkward, "what next?" moments.

I have an idea of how to end things (which I happen to be working out in my brain while writing this post) and I think it's not bad for a first draft. Considering the fact that I've had to do a bit of searching for this novel's heart and purpose, I would say this isn't too shabby.

I'm most excited to see what I've got all together and am beginning to think the draft may be a bit longer than 60K, which is totally fine. We'll see what happens but yay for 50K!

Also, I forgot to tell you but... Bloomsbury did end up approving me for Heir of Fire on Netgalley! Very cool and exciting! Can't wait to read it now! I've got a couple of other books I've got to read first but after... *rubs hands eagerly* I finished In the End last night and loved it! Five stars baby! If you haven't read In the After go do so now. In the End will be out on the 24th.

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Goal - Great Results

It's been a full week since my last update and I had some time so I thought I'd go ahead and give you another! I haven't quite reached 50K yet but I'm less than 3K away. I've recently changed my daily word count goal from 2K to 1K (excluding Sundays, which is a rest day - if I write, then bonus words!). This has actually helped a lot since I write best in the morning and my time is limited.

The fact that I know I can write 1K in an hour really helps my productivity. Every morning, Monday-Saturday I officially have a date with my manuscript from exactly 9-10 AM, then I have to move on to other things, whether or not I've met my word goal.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I work best on a deadline. Plus, 1K seems a lot more manageable because it seems so small to me. But after avoiding writing because of my 2K goal... I've realized I could have finished by now if I'd simply written 1K a day.

As for the actual story, I'm really loving part 2. Part 2 is kind of how the entire idea originally came to me though so it seems natural that I'm loving it so much and that it's being nice to me. I wouldn't say the words are flowing easily; it's difficult sometimes to find the right ones, but I typically know where Rachel needs to go when I'm writing so that helps a lot.

I feel like the world is coming together pretty well and I'm having a lot of fun of creating the details as I write. I know the basic structure and how things work there but the actual design? I kind of have an image and atmosphere I'm going for but I don't know details until I'm writing. I literally thought, "oh that's cool." at least once today while I was writing these details.

Yeah... that's how I roll.

I think it also helps that I just finished Divided by Elsie Chapman Saturday night and read like half of In the End by Demitria Lunetta yesterday. Divided was excellent and In the End is amazing. I love how great books recharge your writing batteries.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy June and Celebration #4

It's been too long but I've finally hit and passed 40K the other day! It's like the end is now in sight and writing doesn't seem so arduous now that I've passed 20 and 30K. Thank goodness for small mercies! My goal is 60K for the first draft. I'm kind of pantsing part 2 though so we'll see where it takes me and how far. I have an idea of what I want to accomplish but as for what actually happens... Well, I've already been surprised so who knows? I do anticipate adding a lot more once I begin piecing Hector's and Rachel's POVs together.

In other news, I've switched by major from Early Childhood Education to Marketing, which is also insanely exciting. There are a bunch of great books to read too which is amazing. I am hoping to get approved for Heir of Fire on Netgalley though. My month would be made if that happens. Just sayin'... BUT I am finally digging into my ARC of Divided (which released May 27th) and loving it even though I'm only 33 pages into it.

Back to writing... I'm hoping to reach 60K by the end of the month so wish me luck!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Proposal News

You may remember me telling ya'll how I had to write a book proposal for my Writing Children's Books program. Well I sent it in about three weeks ago now and I just saw that they not only received it but looked at it.

As previously stated, I've been having some mixed feelings about this. Untitled Fantasy has been giving me a hard time (it actually still is) and I've wanted to give up and work on something else more than once now. I finally made it through part one last week though and am on to part two, which happens to be in an entirely different POV. This storyline presents some challenges that I had forgotten about (and just so happen to be why I shied away from it in the first place), but I'm excited to get past those things. The entire thing just doesn't feel right without this POV.

In short, even though Untitled Fantasy is still being a pain in the butt, we've reconciled and are on good terms again, which is an extremely good thing since my instructor-editor accepted my proposal! I'm so excited to have someone else to help me reach Untitled Fantasy's potential in these early stages.

So what's next? Now I have to finish the monster first draft.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First Draft Celebration #3

Remember how I said I was going to celebrate a bit for every 10K I write? Well, I made it to 30K a few days ago so this is a bit late, but...

I have some more exciting news too! I've finally finished Part 1! It needs some help but I'm so happy to finally have its first draft done! Thanks to my crit partner, Hannah, I've been chomping at the bit to start writing Part 2.

It's now time to write a totally different POV. I'm not entirely sure what it sounds like yet, but I'll figure it out. The best part? It's a first draft, so it doesn't have to be perfect.

I'm hoping to have passed 40K by the end of the week, which is an exciting prospect. Everything from 25-35K was a bit rough. I almost wasn't sure if I was going to make it there. (My thanks to Miss Maas for helping me get through it.) You know what they say when you hit that point in a novel... Of course, I'll admit, when I stopped treating it like the mid point and began thinking of it as the end of one character's POV, things started to get better. There's just something about that half way point. It also helps that I actually figured out what I was really doing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Inspiration Via Sarah J. Maas

I've been a bit down in the dumps lately with my writing. You know, when you hit about 30K in your novel and you realize all the things you've probably done wrong so far, not to mention all the things you want to add but have no idea how to properly incorporate? Yes. I'm there. I suppose I could do some sort of victory dance because this means I've hit another important part of the writing process. But suffice it to say that I don't feel like dancing in the least.

You know that book proposal I've been working on? Well I finally finished it and mailed it last week. I'm supposed to wait three weeks for it, guys. How will I wait that long? Hopefully my instructor-editor likes it because I'd really love to continue my work with Untitled Fantasy for this class. I'll write it no matter what but I think it could be something. It needs work though. If my instructor-editor turns it down, that means I have to submit another book proposal for a different project.

Lets put things in perspective here. The writing dump is so deep right now that I almost half hope the instructor-editor will turn it down, therefore giving me an excuse to drop the project until I forget about all of those problems... at the same time though, going it alone with this project makes me want to shrivel up and die. I started trying to fix things the other day and ended up rereading Throne of Glass instead.


Sarah J. Maas, as before-mentioned, inspires me. It's insanely important for a writer to have books like this in their life because it does a few things. One, it reminds you that you need to keep honing your skill. Two, because you're a reader, it whisks you away from your writerly problems. Three, it inspires you to keep trying and keep writing.

I kid you not. I picked that book up, remembering how much I loved it (and the world). I won't lie, I'd just finally finished The Assassin's Blade and was dying to reread Throne of Glass after acquiring so much background info. I was frustrated with my novel so I gave in to temptation and basically read half the book that day instead of doing what I should have.

So here follows the true story of what it did for me.

Reading the beginning: I'll never be this good but dang do I love this novel.

Me after a hundred pages or so: *forgets about my writing* I love this book. Sarah J. Maas is freaking amazing. Brilliant.

Me by the end: I should keep writing. I want to be that good some day. Why is it taking my friend so long to read Crown of Midnight? I need it now.

In case you were wondering, I still don't have my copy of Crown of Midnight. My friend's husband is going to read it too. While I'm insanely happy that they love this series, I still wish they'd just hurry up! But you know, he works and then there's the fact that they have four kids. Plus, I won't see them for a week any way. Here's to hoping he'll finish it in that time.

Now tell me, what books inspire you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The One Book Trailer

I had just finished the rough draft of my writing proposal and was just taking a breath when I found this beauty here. This is the best book trailer I've ever seen. I'm so excited for The One!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo - When Your Novel Has Multiple Personality Disorder

At least, that's what my novel is asking right now. When I first began brainstorming for Untitled Fantasy, I had two different roads to choose from that would each lead to a completely different story. Of course, I didn't realize there was a second until I'd already started developing the first. When I saw this second road, I chose that one because I believed (and still do) that it was the better road.

I'm 22K into it now and I've been presented with a third path. Boy does it look cool. Like, really cool. Here's the thing though, it would completely change everything, which would be okay with what I've already written. But if I go with it, that means I basically have to rethink the entire thing and I'm not sure what the story would look like. I'm not sure how two characters fit into that one. As it is, one of them just might have to be removed completely.

I'm not opposed to this change.

Okay, so maybe I am a little because I thought I knew where I was going and now I don't. It's slightly frustrating. I hate it and I love it at the same time. I've never had this problem before. This is literally my first WIP that has had so many different possibilities. I'm going to choose to believe that's a good thing.

I would love to fit this new development into what I have but I don't know if I can, which leaves me with two options. Rework everything and go with that. Or discard this road. I'm loathe to do either. At this point, I have to sit down and judge which path is the best option.

Don't get me wrong, I want to do that. At the same time though, I know that when I'm done, I'll be letting go of something I love.

Yes, even though this new idea/path is sort of a pain, I've already grown attached to its possibilities, which could be really cool.

Who do I have to thank for this? A fat, pudgy king that goes by the name of Barnabas. *shakes fist*

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Draft Celebration #2

It's time to celebrate another small victory, I've officially reached (and passed) the 20K mark in Untitled Fantasy. Something wonderful things have happened, some that I even love. I've finally been able to introduce a minor character that I love. Seriously, I really like him.

If I can just convey his personality right... that's the key. In other news, there's one scene in particular that I absolutely love. I'm sure it needs some more work but the bones are there and it was awesome to write it. I'd say fun but that feels like the wrong word because it was actually a rather serious scene.
Anyhow, I'm off to go do some stuff that's been waiting for me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Vision for Spring 2014

So I was scrolling through my "Bloglovin' Weekly" email and decided to look at a couple of the posts. One in particular really spoke to me: 5 Intentions to Set this Spring. The third and fourth ones in particular got to my writerly heart.

Yesterday, I wrote 5,000 words in Untitled Fantasy, and could have kept going but decided to stop because, you know, I had to be able to function the next day. I haven't had such a wonderful writing day in a while and almost have a total of 17K. I'm sure you can imagine the serum of motivation burning through my veins.

Moving on...

The third thing listed in the above-mentioned article is to "see a new project through to the end." I am so ready for spring (which seems to come and go at will lately) and this statement makes me happy for some reason. I was already planning on having Untitled Fantasy's first draft finished by the end of April but just thinking about starting and ending this spring having accomplished the first stage in the writing process and being deep in the second is invigorating.

The fourth item is, "embrace your passion." Yes, yes, yes! This is something I've set myself to do this year.

"Whether it’s a hobby you’ve loved for all of your life, or something new that makes your heart thump a little harder, embrace something that ignites a flame within you."

Source: 5 Intentions To Set This Spring | Free People Blog

Those words, "something that ignites a flame within you" perfectly expresses writing to me. Often I see statements that writers have to write but writing has never been like that for me. I could live without writing. But writing does ignite a flame inside me different from everything else I've ever experienced. For me, writing is hopeful and exciting.

Therefore, this spring, those are the two things I absolutely will accomplish. I will see a new project through to the end and I will embrace my passion. Yes, I won't finish all of the edits and revisions for Untitled Fantasy during this time, but writing has several different stages, and I will see the first one to the end this spring.

Friday, March 7, 2014

First Draft Celebration #1

I finally crossed the 10K mark in Untitled Fantasy this week. I know that's not really all that much but this makes me happy. Writing a novel can be long and hard and things should be celebrated. So, every 10,000 words I write, I'm doing a celebration post. These are happy things.

Things are starting to flow now. Also, I'll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April so the goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of it. I'll be working on it in the mean time so, hopefully with my work in March and April, that shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Permission to Suck

In my last post I expressed how difficult it is to allow the first draft of Untitled Fantasy to suck. I've been browsing Sarah J. Maas's and Erica Cameron's blogs lately. By browsing I mean, looking at their journey from aspiring writer to published author just because I was curious. If any two ladies can give you hope, it's them.

Miss Cameron rewrote and rewrote Sing Sweet Nightingale about a million times before and after she got her publishing deal. Miss Maas originally wrote Throne of Glass as an adult novel and literally cut thousands of words from the novel's original 250K. I haven't dived into Miss Maas's revision journey as much but from what I gather, her revisions were no less intense.

These two ladies would never be where they are today if they hadn't given themselves permission to suck. If they hadn't finished those first drafts, we'd never have the above mentioned novels. I don't know about the rest of you, but both novels are so good. I'm still reading Sing Sweet Nightingale but I'm not worried about loving it. Of course, I absolutely adore the Throne of Glass series, which happens to be one of my all time favorite high fantasy series ranked right up there with Tolkien. Oh yes, I love it that much. I'm not comparing the two but I love them both and will end up rereading them more than once in my life. They're both among my go-to high fantasy series.

Now to my point. I sat down and wrote for about an hour yesterday before allowing my sick self to nap and I fell into it. I was absolutely elated. I told myself it would be what it would be. I couldn't stop it from being a first draft. So I wrote. The important thing here is that I fell right into it (and it's been too long since that's happened). I was drawn into the story. I was there in that scene. Visualizing it wasn't difficult at all because I was there with my MC. I was in both character's minds. Any questions that popped up were answered seconds later. And that was wonderful.

The change? I gave myself permission to suck. Not in those words but basically, yes. That was it. Now why did I bother talking about the above authors? Because they give me hope that out of my suckiness, I can produce something amazing. Someday.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writing for Me

I've been sick for the past three days (working on day four here) which has given me some time to think, not as much as I would have thought though since it turns out when you're super miserable, all you can do is lay somewhere, maybe watch t.v., and slowly die.

Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

While pondering why it's been so long since I've become immersed in a novel while writing it, the thought occurred to me that it's been a while since I've written only for the enjoyment of it. I love the concepts I'm working on. I'm eager to explore. But I want everything to be perfect and I know that no matter what, it won't be. I want to share this story with people someday so I keep thinking about the future when I really just need to write it for me right now.

So there we have it. Perfectionism and future dreams are making this even more difficult  than it already is, which basically means it's all my fault. Go me.

I was hoping to write the past couple of days but I've barely been well enough to read. I still feel awful today but it's better than it's been in two days, so there's that. I've been using this time to mentally coach myself into forgetting about the future of this story (which is hard) and just writing it because it's a story I want to see unfold - to let go of all my expectations.

C.S. Lewis said, "I never exactly made a book. It's rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say."

For some reason, this really speaks to me right now. Right now it feels as if I'm trying to force the words and story to say what I want it to say instead of just letting it be what it is. Every draft has a beginning and sometimes it's really crappy and that's hard to accept sometimes.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Writing Habits

It's pretty well known in the writing world that authors basically have habits or "musts" when they sit down to write. Some people need just the right music. Others have to have a special item. Some people need to be wrapped in a cocoon of silence.

Recently, I've been trying to identify what habits help my creativity. I've tried playlists but music is usually only helpful if I need to block out a bunch of background noise. Then the music is there but I've basically zoned out. If it's already silent though I don't need music unless there's something else bothering/distracting me.

To be honest, it's been so long since I've lost myself in my writing that it's pretty discouraging. The words just aren't flowing at all. I know there's a bunch of things I WANT to do but I don't know if any of them are really conducive to my creative process.

I WANT to outline but I find myself only able to outline to a certain degree.

I WANT to just write the novel but I'm afraid that it'll turn out horrible if I don't outline it.

I WANT to have a playlist for my novel but I can't find anything that really helps or matches my novel's mood.

I WANT to write but nothing is flowing right now so I find myself trying to get out of it but working on other projects. Or reading... because, you know, I'm behind again...

I've been trying to strip all of these wants away and letting myself just write and see what happens. I keep telling myself this all takes however long it's going to take. Nothing is going to speed this process along. And it's this moment in time that I find this article on the great J.R.R. Tolkien both inspirational and scary.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Confession: I'm Lost

Lately I've been working on character interviews, what POV Untitled Fantasy should be written in, and part one's main plot points. In addition to this, I've been browsing writing articles a bit more regularly. These articles help but sometimes, I get a little intimidated. Okay, so it was only one article and it happened to be about word counts.

I know Untitled Fantasy will be whatever length it needs to be but that doesn't mean I don't wonder if I have enough plot points for half a book, let alone an entire one. This article is really just a list of novel lengths to give you an idea. When I read it, my first reaction was relief. Then I was working on Untitled Fantasy, just putting down some basic events in writing, and I had this, "oh crap" moment. Then I started wondering if I had enough material to do what I want. Can my brain support the story I want to tell? How am I going to meet my word count goal?

But I obediently stopped thinking about that and continued working. I don't have worry about that at this second. I'm still brainstorming and figuring stuff out. I'm not drafting yet. Then something else hit me. I have no idea how to really outline this novel. I know what it needs but I have no idea how to give it that. I am treading new ground. I've never invested so much work in a story before drafting it. This is all alien to me.

Sometimes I'm excited and sometimes I psyche myself out and panic with all of my self-doubts surrounding me. I love this story and that's why I worry. What if the actual thing doesn't measure up to my hopes and dreams?

Now I find myself sitting here, honestly admitting that I have no idea what I'm doing. But you know what? That's okay. I have time. There aren't any deadlines ahead of me. Plus, it's never too late to start learning or to keep learning.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Heart of Hearts

I've been thinking about high fantasy a lot lately. When I was younger, I had it pegged as my favorite genre of all time. Then I kept reading and I wasn't so sure, especially this last year since I've started blogging. I thought maybe that I didn't really have a favorite genre. Sure, I preferred some more than others but I didn't think I had a favorite anymore.

But then I read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight last year and I picked up The Winner's Curse  and Defy a few weeks ago. Plus, I have everlasting ties to The Ranger's Apprentice series and The Lord of the Rings as well as The Sword of Shannara trilogy. These stories have something special that make them different from dystopian, contemporary, and most urban fantasy and science fiction. I'd forgotten this until recently, but there was a very big reason why high fantasy grabbed my heart as a child.

When I read the books listed above, I marvel at the worlds there. I feel transported into the story in an entirely different way. I adore those novels in a different way than I do books in the other genres. They capture my imagination on an entirely different level. The adventures are more epically cool than those I've found in other genres. The character's thoughts and personalities are wonderfully real yet so different from the real world. These novels are the type of master pieces I hope to write someday. They are the type of work I aspire to accomplish.

Don't get me wrong, I love The Lunar Chronicles (science fiction), A.G. Howard's Splintered series (urban fantasy), and The Dispossessed series (historical fiction - GARGOYLES PEOPLE). Trust me when I say, that I love them hard. And it doesn't mean that I don't think they aren't better than some high fantasy I've read.

High fantasy just happens to speak to me much more personally for some reason. I've always loved it. Always. Is there any one genre that you find steals your heart of hearts?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Writing Books

I'm no expert on writing and that's why I've taken it upon myself to acquire a few novels to help me. I've only read two out of the three I own and really enjoyed both of them.
It's been a few years since I've read No Plot? No Problem! but from what I remember, this is a great introductory novel. It's not something I'd reference for in-depth planning, but it has some handy advice and it's pretty fun to read too. If you're afraid of how-to novels like this, No Plot? No Problem! will help take some of that fear away.
I just finished Outlining Your Novel yesterday, and wow! I have yet to put any of this advice into action but I'm definitely going to try it out. This quite possibly may be the thing that changes my writing more than anything else.
Since Untitled Fantasy has turned into something wild with a whole lot of potential, I've been trying to figure out the best way to tackle it. My good friend, Hannah, at Book Haven Extraordinaire (book blog) and Ink Incorporated (writing blog) recently received this novel herself and brought it to my attention. I will thank her forever. Amazing, wonderful book.
I can't wait to try out all of the advice. I have so many notes in it and I'm sure I'll end up rereading most of again while I'm outlining.

I'm sure I'll be reading some more great stuff on writing, so I'll be sure to share whatever that stuff is periodically. For now though, if you decide to try either of these out (the second one is highly recommended), I hope they help!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It's Education Time

Instead of continuing to puke my excited guts all over twitter, I decided I would put all of my excitement and thoughts here. But first, here's a little back story. I'll keep it short.

In high school, I was one of those people who knew what they wanted to go to college for pretty much the entire time. I chose English. Then senior year came and I had the hardest time picking a school that fit my budget. When I finally found one, I was accepted and was even awarded the non-resident scholarship! Happy day!

To my supreme disappointment, I later learned that the school had admitted me as a day student instead of an online student (which was what I had applied for). Needless to say, the college was only affordable if I went online. On top of this, when I called to straighten things out, I was told that I needed an associates degree or a certain amount of credits before I could do a bachelor degree online with this school.

I cancelled my enrollment and fell off the horse. I looked at other schools but it was already February. There were a few deadlines still open but I never applied. I loved this college because it had one of the best English programs I'd seen in all of my research. In short, I was crushed.

So I kept working and haven't done much. I signed up for a Writing Children's Book program but that isn't going to help me get a job anywhere. I've agonized over what to do education-wise for the past year, and I've often felt like I was going nowhere. I kept busy blogging and reading and working part time, but I knew this wasn't what I wanted out of life. I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something.

I always thought I would be the person who got out of high school and went straight into college for that bachelor's degrees. If you had asked me whether or not I thought I'd be signing up for an associate degree in early childhood education, I'd say no. I don't want to teach. I don't really want to work professionally with kids. But as time has gone on, things at work have changed. (For those of you who don't know, I work at a daycare.) My room is left without a lead teacher and I'm going to see if my boss will give me the job. I have a vision for the class that I'd love to put into action. If you'd asked me a few months ago whether or not I wanted this, I would have said no.

But things change and I've realized that often times, the road isn't straight. You have to take detours sometimes to get to what you want.

It took my dad eight years to get to where he is today. After realizing he wanted to work with computers, he still ended up getting that business degree (which he loathed) first. But that business degree got him a job that led to another, which led to another, which eventually led to the one he has today. It took him years to get the degree he wanted and longer still to get to the job he wanted.

All this time, I told myself I would go to college when I found one that I liked and that was affordable. But after listening to my dad talk the other day, I realized that his fear as a 21 year-old-guy was also mine. At that time, he didn't know what he wanted to do career wise, but he signed up for college anyway because he was afraid he wouldn't go if he didn't. I know I'd regret not going to school, so I've chosen something that's going to help me get to where I want to be. My dad's business degree is like my associates in early childhood education. I don't want it all that much. But it's going to help me, so I'll do it. It's something I can live with for the time being.

I was admitted into a good and very reasonably priced college today and will be starting as soon as my books arrive. And I'm oddly excited. I feel like I've begun to pull myself out limbo. And I'll be accomplishing something really meaningful. I'm so glad I didn't give up.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hello, Beautiful Scene

All righty, since deciding to multi-task and work on both Untitled Contemporary and Untitled Fantasy at the same time, I've kind of been using the latter as an excuse so I didn't have to get back to writing the former. I was still working on my writing, even if I was only trying to figure out my plot (an update on Untitled Fantasy will come in a bit).

I sat down tonight to work on plotting and outlining Untitled Fantasy. So I went to see if I could quickly find some advice on outlining (since I'm pretty awful at it). One thing led to another and I ended up clicking on this article by Susan Dennard with notes from Sarah J. Maas on how to maintain passion for a story. I sorely needed something to help me with Untitled Contemporary, so I decided to take a look.

And there in the article was the perfect suggestion. Long-hand. I prefer to just type things up in the main document since I hate transferring scenes from paper to screen but I also know that (for some reason) writing by hand destroys the pressure of perfectionism. It's much freer and it seems to expect less from you than that blinking cursor on the screen.

In that moment, I realized I was so caught up in getting from Point A to Point B that I didn't know what to do in between without skipping it all (can't do that) or it being the same old thing I'd written the chapter before.

So I read the last few lines I'd written, set pen to paper, and off it flew. A much more dynamic and meaningful scene unfolded before me. I only knew about one event from that scene. I knew Daisy (our protagonist) would be shoved in the cafeteria but I had no idea what her inner thoughts would be or what Adam (our friend and hero) would say.

I never would have thought that this scene I'd been struggling to write would explode across five pages of lined paper. I didn't know that Daisy would make a promise and I didn't know Adam would say as much as he did. But most importantly, I didn't know how grateful I'd be or how much I would end up loving this scene.

Every time I've thought about Untitled Contemporary, I've known what I wanted the story to be, but I didn't know until now that this also had another story within it. My deepest wish for Untitled Contemporary is for it to become not only a story of forgiveness but also a story of kindness and the power we each hold as individuals.

In honor of my breakthrough, I present my favorite line of the night.

"You have a beautiful life to live."

Monday, January 13, 2014


So if you're following me a on twitter you may have seen an important writing announcement this past Sunday. If not, allow me to say it now. I've decided to multi-task and am now writing Untitled Contemporary and Untitled Fantasy.

Untitled Fantasy is inspired by the Grimm fairy tale, Rapunzel. Before you get confused, no, this is not a retelling, this is merely inspired by the short tale. I'm particularly interested in the whole garden tended by the enchantress part of it all.

I didn't decide to start writing this on a whim though. Honestly, I had just read Rapunzel for the first time not last Sunday but the one before and there's just something about the tale that really appeals to me. The tale just wouldn't leave my mind though. I'm pretty sure it came to mind every day last week.

When I sat down to do a word sprint with Teri Brown Sunday morning, I decided to just see where my imagination took me. And nothing has really changed. I came home from church and started writing after I was settled. I got a little over 3,000 words in on Sunday and I'm now convinced that this novel is going to stick.

But I'm not putting Untitled Contemporary down. I'm still working on it. My plan is to reward myself with Untitled Fantasy after I write a certain amount in Untitled Contemporary. I have no idea how much that amount is going to be but the decision is there.

Now, Since you've all been so great, I decided to share a line from Untitled Fantasy on twitter Sunday and now here today. Enjoy!

"Things always felt more magical at night after Mother left, perhaps because the garden felt free to do as it pleased."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resolve and the People Responsible

I've already basically resolved that I'm really going to focus on my writing this year. I'm currently just trying to find the right balance between all of my projects (book blogging, novels, work, and school).

Firstly, I'd just like to say that I love my mom. She is awesome. We talked for about an hour this morning. She wanted to know what my plans for school were and stuff like that. As we spoke though, it turned to my writing (since I'm taking a Writing Children's Books course) and I can't say how much I love her enough. I'll be honest, I'm overwhelmed with the mere thought of school. The one college I really want to go has a tuition cost that exceeds my financial aid and it doesn't look like I'll be getting any of the scholarships I applied for. And, really, I'm not going to take out a $10,000 loan.

I was basically kind of giving up on my plans to go there this April. Of course, my amazing mother told me not to give up on my dream of going there. We talked about what I was already doing for school and she said something that really just reassured me that I am actually doing something with my life. She told me that she believed that the things this course will teach me will help me in whatever life has planned.

I shared some things with her about my novel and how it plays a part in the whole writing course shindig. Her response: Don't give up. Keep going. You can do it.

More than ever, this year I've really been battling my worries and insecurities as a writer. My mom may not know a lot about writing novels or publishing but her faith in me gives me a new resolve I didn't have before to keep going.

So, I go about my day. Do the blog commenting and all that jazz and I come across this interview with Sara B. Larson and it struck something inside of me. Sara's debut novel, Defy, just released on the 7th. I actually was able to read it over a month ago and loved it so you can imagine the fangirling she's had to endure just from me. But I found her interview so inspiring.

In the midst of marketing for Defy, she's working on the sequel (yay!), she's drafting another book, and revising an entirely different project all at the same time. Wow. Plus she's a mom too so there's all that mommy stuff she has to do in addition to the book stuff. And I can't help but be inspired by that.

I know they probably won't be reading this but thank you, Mom and thank you Sara.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January Draft? Possible Critique Partner?

I have a goal to write 1000 words a day but with rewriting my novel in an entirely different tense, this is proving difficult. I originally wrote it in first person past tense but now I believe it would be better served if I wrote it first person present.

There are a lot things to insert and the novel is changing and taking on a different tone. I feel like these changes are truer to the story I'm trying to write though so that's helpful. I'm buckling down this month though. My major goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the month.

My other goal is to read all of my ARCs but lets not think about that for a moment because as important as book blogging is to me (and trust me I LOVE it), writing is my dream. I'm excited about this novel and I want to work on it while that excitement and drive are there. Every new year we all get really ambitious. That eventually peters out as we realize that a lot of our "realistic" goals are all that realistic. Or we realize we're lazier than we thought.

So here's to hoping January is kind to me. I'm figuring a lot of things out for my novel and at this point my biggest worry is finding a critique partner. I keep telling myself that I'm a long ways from there but I also know I have a habit of putting things off for far too long.

I have one person stuck in my head. I think she might enjoy this type of story and I'm pretty sure she'd be willing to critique for me. But I also know she's been super busy lately with school. And here's the thing, I don't want to be stuck in the critique partner phase for a year because the people I choose just don't have the time. That really isn't fair to them because they'll have it hanging over them (I know how that feels). I'm not saying this person would do that. I know she'd try to help as soon as possible but I don't want to add to her load.

Other than this one person though, I'm not sure who else there is. I mean, you know when your friend asks you to do something for them and you don't really want to do it, but you don't want to hurt their feelings? Yeah, I don't want to be one of those people that makes my friends feel awkward. But I don't want to just ship this novel off to a complete stranger. I want someone I kind of know and trust for the job.

Then there's the fear that I don't write as well as I thought and the possible embarrassment that would bring.... Yeah.