In Training Mode

This latest rewrite, which is, by far, the best stuff I’ve ever written, has pushed me into a whole new level of motivation and creativity for my writing.

To the point where I am training my body to wake earlier and earlier each week so I can get to a coffee shop or cafe in the wee hours to write until I have to see my first patient.

And you know what? It’s awesome!!!

Don’t get me wrong… I’ve been super tired the last couple weeks in the morning, but the payoff has been huge in the way of productivity and word count and immense fortification of the creative juices

I should have known. I’ve always been more of a morning person, anyway, but I just didn’t want to get up at the armpit of dawn to write.

Currently, my alarm is set for just before 6, but I’m hoping to back that up to 5 a.m. over the next few weeks.

I won’t overtax myself if I need a morning off, because we all do, but the best writing I’ve ever done is bubbling forth from this fountain of morning inspiration and motivation.

So… I shall continue!

What have you changed or had to adjust to for the sake of your writing? Have you given anything else up in order to make time/room for your writing?

Happy writing!

 

“Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.”
― Glen CookSweet Silver Blues

“Write in the morning, revise in the afternoon, read at night, and spend the rest of your time exercising your diplomacy, stealth, and charm.”

― Roberto BolañoThe Savage Detectives

NaNo Convert

There is a very solid reason for my absence over the last few weeks/month.

I was entrenched in the yearly event of National Novel Writing Month.

Now, up until I actually participated in it this year, I was firmly anti-NaNo. I thought, what the heck do people need this for? Don’t they have enough motivation to write every other month? What’s the big deal?

Welp, here’s my story.

Usually the fall is the most productive writing time for me, but I hit a block. Not writer’s block. I knew exactly what I wanted and needed to write. But I was in the middle of my second book in the MG fantasy series I’m writing and the immensity and scope of it was getting to me. Plus the fact that my hopeless perfectionism kept slapping me in the head. I have a hard time with writing anything less than amazing.

Which is ridiculous.

Which explains my block.

So, at the very last minute possible (the afternoon of October 31), I signed up for NaNo. And decided to completely chuck my second book to the side for the time being.

Instead, I focused on a dream I’d had a week or two previous. I’d written down a lot about it, because I knew it’d be a good story, and thought it would help if I got a lot more down while it was still semi-fresh in my head.

And you know what? It worked!

Ignoring my problem child helped me channel my writing into a cohesive draft. While it isn’t completed, my NaNo book is coming along swimmingly. And is some of the darkest stuff I have ever, or maybe will ever write. I mean, seriously, where did all this stuff come from?

And thanks to the website, I could see where all my friends were in their progress. I have a SLIGHT competitive streak, and seeing their little bars go higher and higher made me push myself to write more than them.

Shameless, probably, but whatever.

Now, I know some people are still very much anti-NaNo, but I’ve been converted. People think it’s the wimpy way out. That we should be motivated and strong enough on our own.

But I’m okay with being thought of as wimpy and weak. Honestly. It got me writing again. Against many barriers.

I finished five days early. And during November I moved back to Michigan from Washington state, started a new job, got sick, began a new exercise regime, lived in a hotel for three weeks, moved to a new apartment, furnished said apartment, prepped for Thanksgiving, and visited many of the people I hadn’t seen in months.

So I don’t believe NaNo ran my life at all. If I can do it with all that crap going on, I know I can do it any other time. And even better? While I was NaNoing, the creative juices began to churn again for my second book I’d set aside, and I even got some writing done there! Yay!

Is my NaNo book perfect? Far from it. Will it ever get published? Who knows? Do I care? Only a little bit. My goal was to just write, even if it sucked, to get over my perfectionist tendencies.

I don’t think I’m cured yet, but well on my way.

How did everybody else’s November go?

Happy Writing!

 

“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
― Chris Baty

“Don’t be offended if you encounter some good-natured ribbing; the idea of
writing a novel in a month deserves to be laughed at.”
― Chris BatyNo Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

 

The 777 Challenge

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Ha! Do you like my joke?

My most humble thanks to Caroline Peckham for nominating me to participate in this challenge. Her blog is awesome-sauce and I comment on there all the time because of her inventive posts and faboo ideas! Go check her out!

The concept behind this challenge is to share a tidbit from a WIP. I think any WIP will do, but since I have so many of them, I thought I’d share from my most worked-on piece that is about ready to be sent to agents.

The Rules:

– Go to page 7 of any WIP

– Scroll down to line 7

– Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.

– After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

(Wouldn’t that make it the 7777 challenge? Meh. What do I know?)

Here’s the excerpt from my MG fantasy novel (first in a series):

Iphigenia opened her mouth, but Wilfrid clamped a hand over it. “Shut up, you two!”

The Colonel’s long-dead heart beat faster and faster. He wanted to rage at them to stop bickering when Ava was in danger!

“Ladies, please,” Gaspar said.

Iphigenia pushed Wilfrid’s hand off her mouth and scowled at Tess. She opened her mouth to speak, but the Colonel flew back down and interrupted.

I’m literally LOLing right now because this excerpt tells you absolutely nothing about the plot of the story. BAHAHA!!! You’re introduced to six characters in seven sentences. Confused yet? Hehe!! It’s much clearer in the book.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate seven others, but I’ve read many people’s WIPs and I know many of my bloggy friends have done this challenge already and I can’t keep straight whose done what, so…

I nominate everybody!!! (I’m such a rule-breaker).

I just love reading tidbits from people’s lovely and amazing creative minds, so if you have WIP with seven pages completed, let’s see a few sentences!

Happy writing, everyone!

“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.”
― A.P. Fuchs

“When you write a manuscript, it feels like being in a relationship with someone. You’ll hate it, get bored with it, be pissed of, like you just want to break up. But, just like any relationship, you will fall in love again and again, like you don’t want to lose it.”
― Alvi Syahrin

“manuscript
meanuscript
moanuscript
manurescript
and so on”
― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

James Patterson’s Master Class

Has anybody else seen this? I rarely pay attention to Facebook ads, but this one caught my gaze and I had to see what it was about.

In 22 video lessons, James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world, teaches writers how to write a best-selling book.

Now I’m not naive and think I’ll write a bestseller after taking this class, because a class can only do so much. But I think it would be fascinating to take a course from one of the most prolific and widely read authors of the past fifty years. Not to mention the fact that I can’t afford to go to writing conferences at this point, so online learning and reading books/magazines/articles/blogs on writing are the current tools in my toolbox for improving my writing.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a single James Patterson book. Not one. It’s not that I don’t like him. I either haven’t gotten around to it or the books I’ve seen with his name on it just aren’t in a genre I normally read. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t learn a TON from him. He’s obviously a talented writer and fantastic at marketing and selling his books. Who wouldn’t want to learn more about the business and get some tips on writing?

And how much is this class, you ask? Only $90!!! I was stunned! It may seem like a lot of money, but I was expecting a class like this to be at least $250.

I’m going to see if I can work it into my budget. I’ve been a little stale in my writing recently and I think this would give me a great boost, or a swift kick in the pants. Either one works as long as it gets me writing more frequently again.

Please go check out the site and see for yourself! Apparently all kinds of talented, well known artists teach “master classes” on this website. I’m so glad I found it.

What do you think? Would you ever take a class like this?

Happy writing!

P.S. No, nobody is asking me to advertise this class on my blog. I’m not receiving any compensation for talking about it. I just think it’s interesting.

“When I write I pretend I’m telling a story to someone in the room and I don’t want them to get up until I’ve finished.”

~ James Patterson

“I was always a good student, but I didn’t read that much until I was 18 and I was working my way through college.”

~ James Patterson

“I’m a very good storyteller; I have a lot of compassion for people. That’s very useful for a novelist. A lot of novelists are snots. They’re just mean people. I’m not a terribly skilled stylist, nor do I want to be. I was a lot of people to read one of my stories and go, ‘That was pretty cool.'”

~ James Patterson

Another Draft Down!

Ahhh…

I just finished rewriting and editing yet another draft of my first book. I cannot tell you how amazing that feels. Primarily because it’s the best thing I’ve written up until this point.

Have I neglected my blog and bloggy friends to get it done?

Yes.

Have I done little else but write and edit?

Yes.

Do I regret those actions?

Not a bit.

I have a love-hate relationship with my writing at times, but I’m proud of this draft, and this time I’ll have two different writers/editors give feedback before I resubmit it to agencies and publishers. I’m so excited (and terrified!) to receive their feedback so I can make my book even better!

My latest draft ended up being 126,000 words, which is FAR too long for a middle grade book. I whittled it down to 108,000, which is three thousand words MORE than my last draft! HA! I’d hoped to shorten it with the rewrite, but so much changed I just couldn’t. Once I get feedback, I’m hoping to cut that to less than 100,000, but I have no idea where else to cut.

I’m sure some of the cuts will break my heart, but them’s the breaks when you’re a writer striving for publication.

So, tell me… what have you been working on since I’ve been shamefully absent? I can’t wait to hear about your projects! Hopefully now I can get back to blogging regularly since this monkey is finally off my back.

Now… on to outlining the rest of the series! Woot! And continuing my work on the second book.

Happy writing!

“I do three drafts handwritten and then it’s typed up… They are different from each other, they are hopefully improvements in the sense you’re going back over something. The first time you write it, it’s the first thing that you can think. The second time you’re trying to shape the dialogue, helping the characters. The third time you’re doing it because you want the words to sound nice, hopefully making the prose better, making it more fun to read, making the jokes funnier and the scary bits scarier.”
― Clive Barker

“Your first draft is a petulant teenager, sure it knows best, adamant that its Mother is wrong. Your third draft has emerged from puberty, realising that its Mother was right about everything.”
― Angeline Trevena

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss

Illness Breeds… Progress?

Hey, friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying the wonderful Christmas season this year!

There has been so much going on the past few weeks for me, I feel like I’m caught up in a tornado of insanity. There’s so much to update you on, but some I can’t reveal yet.

No, I’m not getting published yet. I’m still in the midst of a massive re-write, beginning at page one, which will probably take me months to finish and edit.

I know many of you have been under the weather lately. A good portion of my patients have also been calling in sick, or I’ve been sending them home when they come to clinic with flu symptoms. My other patients certainly don’t need that.

It was only a matter of time before I fell ill, as well. Though I don’t think it’s the flu, it’s a close facsimile that kept me home today and feeling gross.

However, I have been more productive in the last two hours being sick at home with my writing than in the last few weeks combined!

Does this happen to anyone else?

Sometimes I think illness forces us to reexamine our priorities, and it also removes the barriers to creative thinking. When we’re feeling under the weather, our thoughts are inherently tuned to improving our health, or we’re wallowing in our illness, which can sometimes be the perfect environment for writing sad, emotional scenes.

This is certainly true of me today. I’m in the depths of chapter two where my MC is kidnapped by henchman of the “bad guy” and it’s flowing much easier than it has the past week.

You can read a little more about my book right here, from an entry posted this summer.

I’m thrilled that this fantastical journey my character is on continues to astonish and amaze me. The things that fly out of my fingers into the Word document make me smile, cringe, laugh, cry, and shout for joy.

I still have much to learn on my journey to publication, but, for now, I’m just happy to get a few pages written.

Happy writing!

Home Is My Enemy

Does anybody else have a hard time concentrating on their writing while at home?

I find there are just too many things to distract me at home.

Whenever I sit down at my laptop to write, I’m distracted by the internet (and no, just turning off my wi-fi signal on my computer doesn’t work), my roommate, cleaning (yes, I’ve put off writing to clean. What’s wrong with me?), staring off into space, movies, food, and being lazy. How did it come to this. There have been times in the past when I’d sit at my computer and pound out 20,000 words in a day or weekend. Granted, those are few and far between, but why is it I’ve felt busier than ever the last few months?

I’m tired all the time, and a tired mind is good for plotting amazing things, but not so good at getting them down on “paper.”

Does anybody have any tidbits of advice? I’d love to just unplug my internet from the wall for a few hours, but my roommate needs it, too, so I can’t deprive her of that.

I need discipline!

The only upside to all of my busyness is that my mind has still been working away in the background and I’ve had so many amazing ideas for my stories. Both the mega-series I’m working on, and the smaller side projects that I’ll finish eventually.

I hope you’re all much more productive than I am currently.

I love December – it’s one of my very favorite months of the year. Not just because of Christmas, though that definitely is a part of it. And I feel like it’s passing me by this year. Gah!

In other news, my good friend, Emily, has her first book coming out next week. Yay! If you don’t know who she is, go check her out. She’s awesome!

Mark your calendar for this Tuesday, December 9. Her first book, Demon’s Heart, will be released. Super exciting!

Happy writing, all!

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.”
― Julio CortázarAround the Day in Eighty Worlds

“Computers are quiet and clean and totally distracting because the Internet is there, lying in wait for a moment of weakness to pounce on your creativity and progress.”
― Arlaina TibenskyAnd Then Things Fall Apart

Meet My Character Blog Tour

This will be interesting!

I was nominated by the lovely Sara DeLaVergne for a blog tour with questions about the main character in my WIP. It’s a chance to get to know my MC with a few basic questions that will reveal a little about who she is.

And away we go!

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Ava Mae Monaghan. She is completely fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

The story begins in March of 2005, when Ava is 12 years old, in a tiny made-up town in northern Michigan called Bluffton. But she’s not there for very long once the action begins. Pretty soon she’s taken to a centuries-old castle, then an island in the North Sea that is hidden by a pearlescent mist to everyone except those who are meant to be there.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Ava is a stubborn little cuss who can talk to animals and whose midnight blue eyes turn blood red when she is enraged by something. Not just a little angry, but a serious fit of rage. And she has the capacity to hurt people with what happens when her eyes turn red, although she is, by nature, a non-violent person. There is something she doesn’t know about in her history that makes her act this way, and it’s very hard to control.

Also, she has severe retrograde amnesia from an accident that caused a brain injury. She’s had it since she was five and doesn’t remember the first years of her life. She doesn’t know she has it, though, since her dad made up false memories for her to protect her from the life that nearly killed her when she was young.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Ava is kidnapped by people associated with her young life and she’s finally told who and what she is. She’s part of a magical race of beings (phantoms) that act as protectors of humans and, you can probably guess, there’s something special about Ava that sets her apart from the rest of her race, which is why she was targeted as a young child and nearly killed. Her family is the closest thing the phantoms have to royalty because of certain gifts and sacrifices they make for the good of the phantom race.

The rest of the story is her setting out to prove she can live up to her mother’s talents, who was the greatest living phantom at the time of her death, which was right after Ava’s brain injury. Ava needs to prove to herself, and the rest of the phantom community (who all hate her because of what she is due to something an ancestor did 300 years ago), that she can be what they need her to be. This takes place at boot camp by the means of Ava protecting a book that keeps all of the phantoms’ secrets (written in code, of course) from the hands of the bad guys. She sacrifices herself to keep the secrets of the phantoms safe from evil clutches. 

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Whoops! Looks like I answered this in the question above. My bad. 🙂

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is: The Phantom Apprentice: Book of the Scribes. Since I’m actively seeking representation for traditional publishing, there isn’t any more information than what you’ve read here.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

Ooooo!!! If I had my way, it’d be published tomorrow! I’ve been querying since February and had one agent request the full manuscript, but so far, I’ve received polite rejections. I’m not giving up, though, so I’m hoping to be in print no later than 2017. Yikes! I wish it could be sooner, but I’m being realistic. Especially since this is the first in a series of middle grade novels.

 

That’s about it, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about Ava. She’s been with me for over ten years, so her and I are quite close. The rest of the series is already mapped out, and I wish I could divulge, but I wouldn’t want to give too much away.

As for nominations, I’d like to hear from Caroline SibleyHerminia ChowE.H. Bates, and YOU! I’d like everyone to participate that would like the chance to chat about their characters. I always love to learn more about my bloggy friends’ stories.

So, happy writing, all!

 

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” 
― Ernest HemingwayDeath in the Afternoon

“You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are.” 
― Joss Whedon

“I don’t know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of creating great stories that make you’re brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr.” 
― John Green

Revised… Again!

Child Fatigue

Hello, all!

Whew! Sorry, again, for being gone so long from the blogosphere. This week is the last for a while that includes 60-70+ working hours, so I’m hoping to resume regular posts next week.

Miraculously, amidst all the insanity of work, I was able to get a substantial rewrite done Friday through Sunday. I do not have any time any other days of the week, so I crammed about two weeks worth of rewrites into three days.

I thought I had finished my first book, but every few weeks I get a good idea for a revision or a rewrite.

The latest one came about a week ago, and it nagged me all week until I sat down to write.

Within the span of three days, I completely rewrote, from scratch, the first 40 pages (about 12,000 words) of my first book. It was exhilarating, but exhausting, and I was even more tired when I woke up and had to go to work today.

Since I don’t yet have an agent or publishing deal, I can revise all I want, but I was hoping not to do any more major rewrites/revisions until I got an editor.

However, every time I take a step back from it for a few weeks/month, I come back at it with fresh eyes for all the mistakes, inconsistencies, or lack of word-magic.

Does that happen with the rest of you? I spent almost ten years finishing the first book while planning the seven book series it’s a part of, but I still find things I want to change. No matter how much I love my book, I know I’ll never be 100% happy with it. But every rewrite gets me closer to what I’ve imagined for the series.

I’m so glad I took time away from the book. (This is probably the fourth or fifth revision/rewrite). I can’t afford to hire an editor, so all of my revisions are based on feedback from my beta readers. (Who are not always the most helpful).

I’m happy to say that book two in the series is coming along nicely, with much more word-magic than book one (another reason I’m rewriting portions of it).

While I continue to revise my manuscript, I’m curious what the rest of you are working on since I’ve been hit-or-miss for the last few weeks with my blogging and such.

I can’t wait to hear what you’re up to! So spill!

Happy writing!

 

“The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.”
― Henry Green

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
― Don Roff

J.K. Rowling Breaks the Rules

Ahoy mateys! It has been far too long since a post!

Before I get into the topic of my post, I must say how much I’ve missed you all over the past week and a half. It’s been insanity at work and I’ve barely had a minute to breathe. In fact, I was so tired, I couldn’t even read! That’s NEVER happened to me before!

Unfortunately, the insanity won’t end until the end of July, so I’m enjoying a rare day off to update my blog and chat with all you lovelies!

A small update on my querying quest: If you remember from a couple months ago, an agency requested my full manuscript with the caveat that they’d reply in two months as to whether they’d like to represent me. I received my rejection two days ago, but it was very cordial and she said she loved the premise and that my story has a lot of merit. I take this as a very good sign. Publishing is such a subjective world that if the agent isn’t completely in love with the idea, they won’t sign you. And I’m fine with that! I wouldn’t want an agent who didn’t love my work almost as much as I do. So I thanked her and am now on my merry way with further queries and submissions. I’ve only sent 11 queries since the middle of February, and two of those were two sent two days ago. I count it a good sign (from all I’ve read) that I had a manuscript request after only 8 queries. Am I right? Wrong?

Oh well. On to the topic at hand!

Great Rules of Writing

Recently, I started rereading the Harry Potter series. I haven’t picked up a Harry Potter book in years because, silly me, I was so intimidated by her writing.

J.K. Rowling is now the gold standard to which all books in my genre are compared. Or at least, she’s one of the top standards. Most people I talked to told me that I should be inspired and encouraged by her writing, but it made me feel like a failure.

It took FAR too long, but I’m finally over that. And what made me feel even better was, upon beginning the first book, I noticed a few mistakes and inconsistencies (which happens in all writing, by the way). But what REALLY made me feel awesome was that J.K. Rowling breaks almost ALL of the “writing rules.”

I hate rules. Well, okay, that’s not true. I’m a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. But when it comes to writing, I really do hate rules. And I hate it even more when people point out the “rules of writing” and how I’ve broken them.

But Ms. Rowling breaks almost all of them.

She uses adverbs quite frequently.

She uses exclamation points all the time.

She writes sentences all in caps.

She has a few pages with little to no dialogue and a fair amount of exposition.

She uses “very” very often.

She uses “said” as a dialogue marker ALL. THE. TIME. (Usually followed by an adverb).

 

Thank you, J.K. Rowling! All those silly rules are broken over and over and over, and I couldn’t be happier about it. And the best part about it is, it all works!

Another thing I noticed about her writing, besides how creative her mind is, is that it’s fairly straight forward. Maybe in the later books it got a touch flowery, but she pretty much spells it out like it is. That’s important when writing for kids, but I’ve read articles where she’s been criticized for the simplicity of her writing. But why do they think so many people love it? It’s relatable and available for everyone to read, even if their reading abilities are not so advanced.

Now, this may be different in the adult books she’s written (which I have not yet read), so this is just a digression on Harry Potter.

But I love that her writing isn’t something unattainable or confusing. It wouldn’t have worked for her audience, anyways.

The real genius of her, besides breaking all the rules, is the sheer immensity of the world she created and the fecundity of her imagination. I had to stop a few times and just sit in awe at some of the things she thought up.

For instance: When Harry gets his wand, they talk about how each wand has a unicorn hair, dragon heartstring, phoenix feather, etc inside it. Well, of course! That makes complete sense to us Muggles. In the past, magic wands were just bits of wood with magic inside. Now, how did they attain their magical properties, is what I want to know. But she gives a reasonable explanation: something inside them came from a magical being. It makes so much sense!

Simple stuff like that.

She amazes me, and now, instead of being completely intimidated, I’m only in awe of her talent and inspired to continue working towards making my books the best they can be.

Thank you, Ms. Rowling!

 

 

“The wizards represent all that the true ‘muggle’ most fears: They are plainly outcasts and comfortable with being so. Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!”
― J.K. Rowling

“My readers have to work with me to create the experience. They have to bring their imaginations to the story. No one sees a book in the same way, no one sees the characters the same way. As a reader you imagine them in your own mind. So, together, as author and reader, we have both created the story.”
― J.K. Rowling

“It is impossible to live without failing at something. Unless you’ve lived so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”
― J.K. Rowling