Friday, January 31, 2014

Update Day

Hey all! Today's Update Day for my Big Dreams (or any one of a million things you want to call it) bloghop. Basically, if you have big dreams or hugely important goals for your writing, this is the place for you. Go here, if you still want to sign up. Or even if you want to see how the rest of us lunatics are doing.

Okay. So... January wasn't my most productive month. I only wrote about 6000 words.

I did, however finish a short story I'm going to send to the Untethered Realms anthology. And I'm pretty dang close to finishing edits to Birds vs Bastards. So close, that I'm probably going to start querying before the end of February.

Of course, as the year develops, so do my writing goals.

My timeline now looks like this:

With my editor gone, The Heir's Choice (War of Six Crowns Book 2) is in limbo while I wait for the publishing house to find a replacement. Which means that Book 3 also has to wait. Honestly, this is breaking my heart. I'm dying to get back into that story.

In the meantime, I need to get some of my other projects done. That way I can focus on the Wo6C series once I have an editor again. I also need to keep busy while I query BvB.

That's why I moved up one of the rewrites and why I'll be drafting as well in February.

Also, researching the Afrikaans story is turning into a pain in my ass. (As any research would if all you get is "They were glorious." and crap like that. Oh and if my local library employees give me empty stares when I say I need something for research. Want me to find it myself? THEN MAKE SENSE IN YOUR SHELVING!!! Stick up markers so we know what goes where. ANYTHING!!! Sigh. I hate useless people.) Ahem. Point is I basically lost a whole month out of my already short schedule trying to get the books I need for research. Which means that I don't know if I'll manage to write the story by September (never mind edits). Not giving up on it, but it's now lowest priority and stuck on "research/conception" until such a time that it's actually realistic for me to even consider writing the damn thing. I'm going to stop here, but expect a post on this in the near future. But let me just say I now know why NO ONE seems to write about this time period anymore. (One book in the past ten years.)


This month I want to:

1) Add words to at least one of my running rough drafts.
2) Rewrite my western romance.
3) Research my Afrikaans story.
4) Put together an agent list for Birds vs Bastards.
5) Finish edits to Birds vs Bastards.
6) Query some agents.

Tell me you're getting along better with your goals than I am. Please.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I present to you... Birds vs Bastards

Hey all! So... As I mentioned, I'm going to start querying again and soon.

In the interests of that, I thought I'd share my query letter. Please feel free to crit me. Yes, I know it's a SHORT book. I also know that lengthening it just for the sake of adding 20k words screws up the pacing. And my pacing is AWESOMESAUCE.

And no, the irony of me querying a very short book after querying a very long one isn't lost on me. Ahem. The query.

First, do no harm. It’s an oath Blake Ryan took to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals. 

Aleria had changed that. She’d given him mercy when he deserved death, set him straight and let him loose. Even though everyone she cares about wants him to die. He hasn’t let her down yet. Thanks to regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, he’s led a quiet life since WWII. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them. 

Then Aleria’s wheeled into his hospital ward, and his carefully controlled life teeters on the edge of disaster. Her life is vibrant. Basically, crack to immortals like him. And she can’t even remember her name, let alone defend herself. Deserting her when she needs help isn’t an option. 

The small problem is, Ryan will have to unleash his inner monster to protect her from those who want her dead. 

The nightmare is that his inner monster wants to kill Aleria himself, when the sane part of him is falling for her.

FOREVER is an Adult Urban Fantasy, complete at 41,000 words. 

I’m a published author of a YA Epic Fantasy novel under the pseudonym M. Gerrick. (The Vanished Knight, published by Etopia Press.)

There you have (a bit of) what this story's about. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And... she's back.

So... Yesterday had me in a bit of a slump. But fortunately for me, I have more than one horse in the race at the moment.

Which is good, because this lady's getting herself an agent.

Oh stop groaning. I know you've heard all this before. But really. The one upside to having worked with the editor who'd quit is that I've learned a lot more about writing and the craft than I thought possible.

In fact. *whispers* I even know why agents didn't look at Doorways back then.

This time. This time I'm not making the same mistakes. I'm making new ones, but hopefully smaller ones, that'll have an agent interested in the new work.

But for now, I'm copy-editing like a fiend. My draft query is written and I'm working on that.

Soon, lovelies, soon, I shall cry like a girl take over the world!

No. I'm totally not on uppers or anything.


And now... home made pizza! O_O

Who's joining the query trenches with me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Now I know.

Remember when I said something bad was happening and I couldn't put my finger on it?

Turned out I was right. My editor quit over Christmas, due to ill-health. I only found out today.

I'm shocked and sad. And a little upset. I'd chosen loyalty to her over the other publishing house... But... thinking back, she did warn me to base my decision on something else. Maybe she suspected she wouldn't be able to see the project through.

I'm a bit scared too, since I now have to work with a new editor. I don't even know who it'll be. I also don't know when the new editor will be assigned to my project.

So all in all, it's bad news for me (even if I understand my current editor's motivations), but it's not as bad as I thought it could be.

I just wish I knew sooner.

At least I know now.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some more tough love.

Sigh... seems like I can't stay away from this post. And it might get me into some trouble. So yeah. Please be warned that if it isn't quite a full-on rant, it's pretty rant-like.

Especially since it's a bit hard to put my thoughts into words without sounding smug or anything else horrible.

But, I took on this writing gig with honesty and helping writers in mind, so... here we go.

*takes a deep breath*

We, as writers have to take responsibility for the quality of our writing.

I'm not talking about the rough draft. Hell. Go nuts with your drafting. Chase plot bunnies with wild abandon. Be dedicated by your muse's whims. Let your characters direct your way. And experiment, experiment, experiment. This is what rough drafts are for.

But at some stage a writer who wants a successful career needs to put his/her pro writer pants on. This means facing that what you'd written isn't perfect. And that some of what you've written needs work.

Or that something you loved has to go, because it's weakening the story.

It also means not being a pretentious prick who puts "intentions" before quality. Honestly, I as a reader can't give a damn what you intended. I only know what I see, and if it's not working, it's not working. I won't be the only one. So the way I see it, a writer has the option to either make his intentions come across the right way by adapting his writing, or to leave it. But don't blame readers for not understanding your intentions if your writing isn't up to standards.

Always know that if you're keeping some aspect to a story despite what crit partners and editors say, that you made that call. Someone will notice, and you might get nailed in some review.

The other day, I talked about a book that was hampered by too much dialogue with too little description. Someone commented that I can't say those things because the writer probably intended something with writing so little description.

I'm sorry, but having literary intentions does not exempt us writers from critique. In fact, it sets us up for it more. Readers can't read the writer's mind. They can only read what's there in the book. If you got so fixated on speeding up the pace that you didn't realize that all dialogue pulls readers out of stories, I'm sorry, that's your responsibility as the writer.

It's the same with intending to write a message into your story. I've addressed the issue multiple times, to huge consternation in some factions of the YA community in particular. I'm not rehashing that, but what I am saying now is that if you put the clarity and strength of your message before the strength of your story, you will be nailed again and again. Don't blame the readers.

YOU made that decision. 

Editing is all about decisions. Cut this. Keep that despite what everyone says. Accept or disregard advice. I'm not saying that reviewers bullying writers are right. That's also a post for another day.

What I'm saying is that we're writers. We're story tellers. At the heart of it, those stories always remain ours first, but we're responsible for what we put out there. Own that responsibility.

Stop hiding behind your intentions. Stop blaming readers. Sit your ass down and take a hard look at what you wrote. If you find your opinion still differs from the criticism, graciously disregard it. But don't do it because "they just don't get it."

Do it "because I made that call and I knew not everyone would like it".

Taking responsibility for quality is a sign of excellence.

Blaming others is a symptom of weakness.

Which do you prefer to be?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Think This is My Most Ambitious Challenge Yet

Before I tell you all about it, I just want to let you know that I'm visiting Crystal today. If you can spot the lie over there, you stand a chance to win a copy of The Vanished Knight. 

So. I might have mentioned this before, but I'm a firm believer in challenging myself in order to become a better writer.

That's why I set such a huge amount of writing goals, and why such a huge goal is at to top of the blog.

Today... I felt inspired to take on a whole bevy of challenges by deciding to take on a book I've been toying with since last year.

I put it off because:

1) It's not a genre I usually write. This one's a mystery.
2) It probably won't sell anywhere but in my native country, in my native language (Afrikaans).
3) #2 means that my scope of royalty making would be pretty small, right? Right.

But. Today, my Afrikaans writer gran mentioned that she's thinking about entering this writing competition. The winners stand a chance to win anything from $4000 to $20,000 AND a contract with the biggest publishing company in South Africa. AND! The books have to be Afrikaans.

That equals some serious brownie points in any industry.

Needless to say, I'm going for it. This isn't about the money, but hey, it does make up for any lack of royalties I might get. And the book stands a chance of getting published.

See, even if I don't win, the publishing house takes first option on all entrants. In my mind, that equates to a full manuscript submission (right off the bat) to the Afrikaans equivalent of a Big 6 publisher.

I can't miss it. Just can't.

The hitch?

Oh there are multiple ones:

1) It's in a genre I haven't ever tried to write.
2) It's set in a time that, if I get anything wrong, it'll piss a lot of people off.
3) I have a bit more than seven months to research, write and edit the whole thing.
4) Which means that if I'm to stand a chance, I need to significantly deviate from my usual method. I.E. One draft. No hand writing. Editing without CPs (except my gran, who's awesome (seriously, I have no idea where to find other Afrikaans speaking CPs)). Planning said rough draft. *shudders*
5) I'm also preparing two other books for submission, while editing a third for publication.
6) And. The guest house refurbishment needs to continue.

Still, I'm going for it.

Because I'm brave.

Because I'm unhinged (or will be by September).

Because if I don't take this chance, I'll never be able to take myself seriously as a professional writer.

Watch this space.


Monday, January 20, 2014

A bit nuts, but still alive.

Just when I thought I'd make some time for some serious blog visits, my internet connection goes down. What did I spend my weekend on, you might ask?

Compulsively staring at my computer screen while waiting for my e-mails to load, and picking figs. 

Lots and lots of figs. 

As in I'm so sick at looking at figs that I feel sort of nauseous when I do. 

As in, I spent most of yesterday picking figs. In 100 degree (Fahrenheit, in case you think metric like me) temperatures, picking figs. Over. And over. And over again. 

I wish I could say I used this manual labor productively to get some story thoughts done. 

Instead (I think it was the prolonged exposure to the heat. That, or my eternal search for optimism.) I had Vivaldi's Gloria stuck on repeat in my head. Mind you, it could have been Justin Bieber. *Shudders like a true rocker /classical/baroque/opera/old school jazz girl*

Anyway... I'm still unlooping Vivaldi from my thoughts, so there's not much going to happen today post wise. 

Luckily I'm doing a guest post at Carol's blog today. So head on over if you want to meet the other two main characters in my War of Six Crowns series. 

If not, feel free to share in the music stuck in my head.  

 See? Definitely not the worst thing ever to listen to all day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Secret to Sparkling Dialogue

Recently, I've started to read a book. By all estimations, I should have loved it. The synopsis was awesome. The cover was beautiful. And I believe the person who wrote the book is talented. 

Problem is, I don't like it. In fact, I'm struggling to get through the book because of one big issue. 


Don't get me wrong. Dialogue is awesome. It serves a great purpose by the plot along speedily. It's a great way to have characters bounce off each other. It's a great indication of conflict between characters. 

But ONLY is used simultaneously with narrative. In other words. Unless you've written a play, don't only use dialogue. Incidentally, even plays give us clues like: angrily. caustic. sing-song. etc. which give us readers a clue as to visualizing what's going on. Even then, most plays are a lot harder to read than to watch. For a good reason.

Dialogue, no matter how good, is dead if it doesn't have description and/or narrative. See the thing with reading is that we aren't "seeing" things the same way one would watching t.v. We need clues from the writing. So if there aren't any, it "looks" like the characters are standing stiffly and talking. It "sounds" like the characters are speaking in monotone. 

For example. 

"My baby died," I said. "From SIDS. Long ago, but it still hurts." 
"I'm sorry," Mike replied. "I can't imagine what it must be like to go through something like that." 
"The worst is that people thought I killed him." 

Yeah. Serious stuff, right? Emotional dynamite. Except... it's not. Because the reader has NO idea how the character's feeling as they talk about it. And them saying that it hurts just doesn't have as much impact as it could. Without these clues, the reader is lost. 

So let's see how much the dialogue changes by adding some narrative. 

"My baby died," I said. Years had passed and saying those three words made my throat burn. My eyes stung from many tears I still hadn't managed to finish crying. "From SIDS. Long ago, but it still hurts." 
"I'm sorry." Mike's expression softened and he reached for me. I kept my distance, hugging myself instead. After all this time, I still couldn't let someone share in my pain. If I went to him now, I'd break down.
He averted his gaze, slowly lowering his arm. "I can't imagine what it must be like to go through something like that."
No. No one got it. Only people who lost people knew what true pain was. At least Mike acknowledged that he didn't know. Unlike quite a few people who callously insisted that I get over the death of my first and only child.  
"The worst is that some people thought I killed him." 

Immediately, the narrative parts give the dialogue depth. Now, we know the POV Character deals with some crushing pain at losing her child. We also see some sort of tension between her and Mike. He obviously wants her to be there for her, but she won't let him. All this information in a neat dozen sentences. 

"But MISHAAAA," some of you might say, "That slowed the pacing down!"

Firstly, it's important to slow the pace down for important bits. Readers need to linger there, to absorb what's going on. 

Secondly, if you really want to cut on the narrative, feel free, but never cut it out completely. Even if you only have brief flashes of thought, or mentions of facial expressions, actions etc. 

Those little bits you add could make the difference between a dead book and a sparkling one. 

Do you tend to write more narrative? Or are you a dialogue-heavy writer? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A few last thoughts on the stalking issue #TMW

Thanks all for your wonderful comments and support these past two days. I really did appreciate it more than you can imagine.

See, I hardly ever talk about my experiences as a stalked person, because of the way that people react to it. I think it's the first time in about five years that I ever wrote about it, and the previous time was a mention in some or the other blog comment.

I've been shocked multiple times since Monday. I thought I had contact with one blogging lady who was stalked. Turns out that it's closer to twenty. And those are only the people who a) read my blog post and b) who were brave enough to admit they went through stalking too.

So this is definitely something that Stina's blog hop brought home to me. Not only is stalking worse than most people think. It's much more common than people think.

Unless stalkers are particularly attracted to creative, writerly-types, odds are that you know someone, or more than one person who is being stalked right now.

It's a terrifying thought.

So I have one favor to ask. I know how alienated and alone a stalking victim feels. Keep an eye out for people suffering in that way. Try to reach out to them and support them. Everything feels better when you don't have to face something alone.

Please. Be that friend who convinces someone that yes, being stalked is bad enough to go to the police for. That it isn't a the victim's imagination. Be the person who keeps a lookout for a person's stalker. Be the witness that gets the guy arrested before it's too late.

I especially want to ask that you keep an eye out for male friends, colleagues and acquaintances who are being stalked. People tend to think that a man can handle a woman, but the fact is that no one can handle a crazy woman wielding a gun, or who sets fire to his house with him in it. 15% of all stalking victims are male. And a higher percentage of them die at the hands of their stalkers than female victims.

Being stalked is not a form of flattery. It's not an extreme crush. It's not an example of devotion.

Stalking is emotional and/physical abuse. It is fatal. 

As long as people pretend stalking isn't that bad, it seems okay to stalk. And it will most likely continue, escalating someone dies or gets hurt.

I'd much rather see a stalker go through counselling or institutionalization than to see another person get killed because everyone told him/her it wasn't so bad.

Stalking can and does destroy at least two lives at a time. Both the victim's and the stalker's. Especially when it ends in murder. Please let's try to stamp cases out before they start.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tell Me When Blog Hop: I was stalked. (And ten things to do if you are)

Stina Lindenblatt's hosting this blog hop in honor of people who have been stalked. She'll be donating $1 to a woman's emergency shelter for every entry into her blog hop, so if you haven't joined in yet, do. You have until Friday to post.

I'd entered the blog hop because I thought it was a great cause. Stina, I know you asked for a 500 word limit, but I just can't cut this down. I think it's important that people see how stalking escalates, and I thought I'd do it with my own experience.


In my senior year at high school, I'd befriended a guy over the internet who'd go to the same university as me. I'd thought it was a good idea, because I would move cross country with only one friend as support. So it made sense to make another ahead of time.

But as our meeting day came closer, I realized  things weren't right. He'd lied to me about stuff. The typical stuff a guy with low self-esteem would lie about. Then, if I moved away from my computer or phone for five minutes, I'd return to find he'd sent me twenty messages. All demanding to know why I ignored him. Where I went. What I was doing. Demanding to know what he'd done to deserve such bad treatment.

If it happened once, I might have ignored it. But it happened every time I spent time away from the messaging service. Even if I only left to go to the bathroom.

Needless to say, this freaked me out. I called the meeting off. This upset him. Badly. I wasn't worried, though. I thought I could vanish in over 20 000 students.

But on the first day I went to accounting, he was in my class. To this day I don't know if it was coincidence or not.

I ignored him.

He sent me a message during the lecture, asking me what I'd do if he just came up and sat down next to me. This question might seem silly, but it gave me chills.

Why? Because I'd made a choice not to meet him, and he was toying with the idea to ignore this choice and force his will onto me.

I replied that I'd report him to my lecturer.

Once again, he peppered me with messages. Demanding to know if I was seeing someone else, and if that was what was holding me back. He insisted that I should meet him. Insisted that I was being an idiot to act this way. About the fiftieth message gave me a real taste of what it was like to be stalked.

It said something like: "If I sat down next to you right now, you wouldn't be able to do a thing about it."

And that's the essence of it. Being stalked forces the victim into a place where it feels as if they have no control. They can't control the stalker. They can't stop him, can't make him leave them alone.

This was the first time in my life I was afraid of a specific person. I told him to back off and deleted him from my contact list. That didn't mean that I stopped seeing him at accounting every day.

Nothing happened for a few months, but then he asked me to accept him as a contact. I was sitting with one of my friends at a restaurant. We talked about it, and I decided that maybe I'd over reacted. So I did accept.

I was rewarded by this message: "It's terrible that I can see you, but not touch you."

I freaked, immediately searching my surroundings. I couldn't find him, but to this day I'm sure he was there. My every instinct told me he was. This time, I threatened him with everything I had (which really wasn't much). I said I'd get him on a police record. That I'd get him expelled and screw up his future. Anything I could think of. But even as I typed the words, I knew that wouldn't make him stop if he didn't want to.

Once again, I was met with his furious tirade. It terrified me. So much so that I actually considered asking my mom for her pistol. Even when it was illegal to carry on campus. There was no way to stop this guy, and I didn't feel safe in public.

When he didn't stop messaging me (telling me what a horrible person I was), I deleted him again. This was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done. It's incredibly hard to cut off your only measure of a threat.

Fortunately for me, he didn't try to contact me again. He also stopped coming to my class. But I spent the better part of three years looking over my shoulder after that. Even today, seven years later, I don't feel comfortable with meandering around out in the open. When I go out, I go from one place to the next. I managed to start jogging, but I could never shake the feeling that I was watched. Even if I knew there was no one to watch me. I dreaded the day he'd confront me in person.

He never did. I never tried to find out what happened to him, instead opting to go on with my life. But I'll never stop being vigilant. That's why I'm never specific as to where I live. I'm not ever giving that guy a chance to track me down again.

In my fourth year, I moved in with a girl whose best friend, Erin, was killed by someone who'd fixated on her.

Every time I think of that, I know I was damned lucky. I'd managed to escape my stalker. You'd be shocked if you knew how many people don't.

Thanks for reading this far.

Before you go, I \want to share some advice I've come upon in the years since.

Ten things to do when you suspect or know that you're being stalked.

1) If someone's acting in a way that makes you uncomfortable, take action immediately. Don't let anyone tell you it's your imagination. It's not.

Don't let someone tell you you're over reacting.

I know shows like Two and a Half Men makes stalkers look cute, quirky and funny. Maybe a bit eccentric. It's a myth.

People who stalk have serious, destructive mental issues. Sociopathy, narcisism, borderline syndrome, obsession, schizophrenia, psychosis.  These are a few I can think of, off the top of my head. Most of these issues means that it won't mean anything to them to kill you.

Don't ever underestimate the severity of the danger stalking poses.

2) Believing that you're somehow in the wrong to insist on privacy makes you more of a stalker's victim than you already are. Privacy is a basic right. Never forget that.

3) If you're feeling threatened, report it to the police. Even if there's no proof. GET IT ON RECORD. That way, if there is proof, someone will see that it's worst than it looks.

4) NEVER face this alone. Tell as many people as possible. Some people might tell you you're over reacting. Others won't, and they'd be aware of the danger if the guy does show up. This help might be just what you need in the end. They can also act as witnesses that you're being harassed, which is proof for the police.

5) Pepper spray. Tazer. Never leave your house without either or both.

6) Even if you know some self defense, the best defense is to run first. Don't reason with the person. Odds are they have none. If they confront you, get yourself locked away as soon as you can safely do it. And then you call the police.

7) NEVER go somewhere alone where there won't be help at hand.

8) Try not to live in fear, but don't be irresponsible. Be constantly vigilant.

9) Always vary your routine. If you're being stalked, constancy is your enemy.

10) If ANYTHING gives you a feeling that your stalker is near, call the police. Explain that you're being stalked and that you're feeling unsafe.

A good indication of danger is a dog barking. Get one.

Also, invest in an armed security company. If you're paying them, they HAVE to check your premises as soon as you call. Also, they'll give you a panic button, which might just save your life.

Never assume you're doing enough to deter the stalker. There's always more you can do.

Last thought: guys aren't safe from stalkers. Female stalkers make up about 15% of all cases recorded in the US. The difference is that the mortality rate of men being stalked is higher than for women. People tend not to believe men are threatened, so if you're a guy that's being stalked, you have to do more to make sure people see the threat.

Okay. That's me for today. I truly hope that none of you reading this ever needs this advice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pushing Boundaries

There are a few good things to the big writing goals I set this year. The first I can think of is the amount of work I'm set to finish this year. I mean, if I do half of what I set down, I'll still finish more than four times the amount of projects I did in 2014. 

But since I'm a bit of a type A personality, I'm aiming to finish more than half this year. The good thing to this is that I have to go further out of my comfort zone than I've ventured in years. I think that limits aren't always set in stone, and the only way to grow is to step past those limits. It's only once those limits are behind us that we really realize what we're capable of. 

So I'm thinking that 2014 will be a year of great growth for me as writer. I'm going to learn so much, and do so much more than I thought I could. Why? Because I have tons of untapped potential, because I've stuck to certain parameters ever since I started writing. 

Now, I can't hide behind any excuses. And if I can't do that, I can't really waste valuable writing time either. 

I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track. For the past four days, I've been drafting two WiPs while editing a third. And I'm really not feeling any slow-down in my output. On the contrary, I suspect I'll be more productive than before. 

This coming from a person who used to be adamant that she couldn't draft and edit in the same time period. 

I can't wait to see which other self-imposed limits are false. 

How's your writing/editing going so far? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Hey all! Welcome to the first Insecure Writer's Support Group session for 2014. For those of you who are new to this community, I thought I'd copy what the host, Alex J. Cavanaugh wrote about it:

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

My insecurity... 

It's... another messy one, ladies and gents. Once again, I can't go into too much description, but... 

I have a bad feeling. Nothing concrete, but I can't shake it. Nothing's proving me right (yet). But nothing's proving me wrong either. The big thing is: I'm not the only one with the bad feeling. 

The sucky thing is that right now, I can't do anything about it. Not until I've received some sort of confirmation. So I'm pretty much spending my time focusing on not thinking about it. When I do, I pray about it. 

See, I believe that bad feelings don't come for no reason. I also believe that my writing career thus far has been in God's hands, so if there's something wrong, He'll help me find a way to fix it. 

It's a helpful belief to have. For the time being, I'm still able to focus my thoughts on creative activities. In particular, writing. But that said, I do feel my concerns gnawing at me. 

Do you believe your bad feelings?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Arranging Furniture in My Head: How I Plan to Get My Writing Done

So... some of you have read my goals for the year. If you had, you might have realized that my writing goals alone are pretty nuts.

I did too. So to prove to myself that it's theoretically possible, I made a visual timeline of my projects. This is what I came up with:

Yeah. It's even more daunting in visual. Each of the colored blocks stand for when I should ideally be done with something. Except for the red. Submissions can take a year in themselves.

Still, in theory, it's possible. In fact, it might even be likely. And this is how I plan to do it:


First priority is The Heir's Choice, which is the first title on the list. It's sequel is third, because I need to sort out editing on THC before I start rewriting. That way, I'll cut down on some work. I also gave myself ample time in which I can do the rewriting.

Anyway. Birds vs Bastards is second at the moment. Second means that whenever I'm waiting for my editor, I'm editing BvB. And when I go down the list, my current rough drafts are the next things I want to work on this month. Last is a bit for an anthology, because I want to submit, but it's not part of my goals this year. Also, I SUCK at short stories most of the time.

Really. I do. I've thought up three awesome ideas since reading the brief, and all of them are too big to fit into 5k words. :-/

But I digress.

The timeline I set isn't set in stone. So if I want, I can put in another block for my rough drafts.  If I finish anything early or late, I can adjust the plan accordingly. At the moment, I'm feeling like BvB will be done ahead of schedules. I have some kick-ass crit partners who are reading through the chapters like fiends. (I'm saying this in the best possible way.)

Yesterday, I edited BvB and drafted 1000 words. So obviously, switching gears isn't as tricky as it used to be. That will make things a ton easier. If I manage that every second day of a month, I'll average 15k, which (to my timeline) adds up to 45k and more than enough words for me to finish all of my current rough drafts.

My only niggle is in the drafts I still have to start. (Light green blocks.) According to the current plan, I'll be running multiple edits, at least one submission and a rewrite at any given time when I'm supposed to do a drafts.

Which brings me to my next point. This year won't be one where I can spend too much time resting on my achievements. If I finish something, I need to get the next project going. It's the only way I can make the timeline look more favorable.

Do you agree that this can be done?

I'll update you regularly on how it's going.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Five ways to get back into the writing groove.

A lot of people take time off from writing during the Christmas season. If they're anything like me, it means that getting back into writing mode can be a bit tricky. So I thought I'd share some of the more efficient ways I use to get my writing groove back. 


I play music reminding me of the stories I'm writing, even when I'm doing something else. These are also the soundtracks I use while writing, so hearing the songs again stirs some creative thoughts up. 

Writing prompts. 

It's great to be able to just write for the heck of it, without worrying about what you'll be able to use later. So if you haven't written in a while, starting off with some low-pressure writing might be exactly what you need to get going. 

Character interviews. 

Starting off just chatting with characters can give amazing inspiration in surprising directions. This also works extremely well when your story's starting to feel dull. 

Reread what you've written. 

Not recommended if you're an over-editor, but sometimes, all you need to get back into writing gear is to relive the awesomeness you've penned down before. Remember to look on the bright side and to ignore the nitpicky issues. 

Start off by writing something totally random. 

The hardest part about writing after a long time away is starting. Writing something random tends to open up the writing channels, letting you think what you actually write down. I once broke a six month writer's block by opening a chapter with: "The gunk stuck to his mouth like peanut butter. He hated peanut butter." Funnily enough, those sentences ended up in the final cut of The Vanished Knight. 

As you might see, all of those suggestions have to do with chilling out before you start. Forcing yourself works too, but it's much easier to want to write. It's always trickier to start when you're panicking about how to do it. And the how's and why's almost always come when you're not looking for them. 

I hope this helps! 

Anyone else have pointers for getting back into writing routine?

Friday, January 3, 2014


Oh yeah. Usually, I don't really feel the difference between weekend and work. I used to think I did, but it's been years since I did mainly physical work.

This week, was short, but I've sanded, chipped at plaster, painted and glued from Monday, only taking New Year's day off.

My body's aching. I'm getting hay fever from all the dust. My brain is feeling like mush. I'm taking a break this weekend, mainly to read and relax.

It's important to me. Because as aware as I am of how much I want to do this year, I know I'll actually get less done if I burn out than if I take regular breaks to recharge. I'll also get some blog visits in. Cause really, reading what you all are up to is both inspiring and relaxing.

Have a great weekend, all! Hopefully on Monday, I'll be able to think straight enough to get some proper blog writing done. ;-)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My plan for 2014.

So. We're back into the New Year, and I'm hitting the ground running at some speed. At the moment I'm editing Birds vs Bastards while waiting for my editor to come back to me with my first editor's letter for War of Six Crowns: The Heir's Choice.

While I'm doing this, I'm also busy painting our guest house. Which means that I'm not getting a lot of free hours except when I'm sleeping. Still, I find edits mainly relaxing (she says, dodging rotten tomatoes from jealous people who hate editing), so I'm not complaining.

I'm hoping that once things start calming down, I can start drafting in down times while I wait for editor and crit partner feedback. Because yes. That will be the only way I'll achieve enough this year. I'll have to run concurrent projects, resting from one by working on another.

And once they start calming down, I want to kick this blog back into gear by visiting more frequently and getting as involved in this awesome community as I can.

I'm thinking about changing the Paying Forward Awards this year. I'll definitely keep on doing it, but I think it needs a bit of a change.

There will also be a competition sometime between January and March. Which will actually be about paying forward too. But more on that later.

Also, the Five Year Project (AKA Big Dreams) Bloghop is continuing this year. So if you have a crazy or madly important writing goal/dream and want to join in for some support and accountability, go here.

Lastly, I'm thinking about bringing news features back. But I'll DEFINITELY have to rethink how I'll do it.

Yeah... That's pretty much what's on my mind for my blog this year. Please feel free to make suggestions! After all, I'm trying to make my blog as awesome as possible for you to visit. :-)

Any plans for your blog?