Posted in Writing

NaNoWriMo Check-In #3

Wow, I was a lot more optimistic and confident last week. This week, not so much. (My 4th and final check-in will happen on Saturday next week, btw, the last day of the month.)

Initial Wordcount + ChapterCount: 26,137 and 7 1/2 chapters

Current WC + CC: 36,601 words and 11 chapters (+ some work on a scene ahead I skipped to)

WIP Issues this week: Oh boy. You can call it burnout or the fact that I started panicking a bit when there were some days I couldn’t meet my minimum goals (see, feeling I “have to” meet certain word goals by certain deadlines might not be a good idea), but I’m not happy with my manuscript anymore. It could also be working outside of genres I’m used to (my first NA and my first straight-up contemporary with nothing that couldn’t happen IRL going on), too. But I feel like the passion isn’t there anymore, and I’m just finishing it because I’m tired of not finishing projects. (I have three manuscripts I stopped writing but don’t want to trunk forever, either…)

To be more accurate, I never felt “passion” for this one like I have with works in the past, but I didn’t dislike it either until this week. I don’t feel like “Oh, I’ll fix it in rewrites” is a thing here. The execution is just not matching anywhere close to the idea I had in my head, and I don’t think there’s a better way of doing it. It just is what it is… And it’s bland.

What I learned this week in writing: I can certainly not love my works even after finishing two manuscripts I do love. (And I could pump those out really quickly because I felt passionate about them.) This is not a good sign, especially going into the last week. I’m determined to make it to 50,000 words just to say I properly did NaNoWriMo once and “won,” but it might be a struggle. I’m also worried because I’m quite certain it won’t be finished at 50k or even shortly after that. If the month ends and I take the break from writing I desperately want to take, how am I going to convince myself to go back and finish the first draft?

What distracted me this week while writing: Lots of work and appointments.

Last 200 words: Can’t share due to spoilers.

How’s it going for all of you so far? (Whether you’re participating officially or doing your own thing!)

Posted in Writing

NaNoWriMo Check-in #1

I’m participating in my first NaNoWriMo officially! (You can find me here.) I really liked the format of the WIP Marathon I participated in during August, so I decided to check in every Friday with my thoughts on the week’s work by answering the same questions I did then.

Initial Wordcount + ChapterCount: 150 words (I just jotted down the opening couple of lines that popped into my head when I first came up with the idea a few months ago).

Current WC + CC: 15,075 and 4 1/2 chapters

WIP Issues this week: I haven’t quite fallen in love with the work yet, but I don’t dislike it much, either. (I haven’t stared at a blank page for overly long, which is nice!) This is my first stab at contemporary with nothing supernatural (I tried a YA contemporary suspense last year but that included mutations; I think that’s where it went wrong, actually, and if I ever figure out how to fix it, I’ll probably take out the fantasy part.) It’s my first NA, too. Mostly I’m attracted to the genre because I want to write about a new adult facing issues that aren’t that prevalent when still in high school, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull off anything but “sightly older YA.”

Also, this is my first time writing in present tense, and more than once I’ve accidentally switched to past. (But I fixed it really quick.)

What I learned this week in writing: Even when I do have the “pressure” of a deadline (well, what’s going to happen if I don’t get to 50,000 words this month? Nothing, really!) I can forge ahead and write. In fact, I think I do better with a little structure and a clear goal. I haven’t had many low count word days like I had with a few past manuscripts, so something’s working!

What distracted me this week while writing: Work, finishing Ace Attorney Dual Destinies (I’ve been waiting for a new AA game for YEARS), and reading.

Last 200 words: spoilers/removed

How’s it going for all of you so far? (Whether you’re participating officially or doing your own thing!)

Posted in News, Writing

My First NaNoWriMo

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover

Okay, so I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for years. In fact, I’ve used it and my friends’ participation as the motivator for a couple of unofficial spurts of writing over the years. Instead of signing up with a profile and seriously aiming for 50,000 words in a month, I set my own goal: write for at least 30 minutes a day in November. It worked for me. Of course, that was the manuscript that’s permanently retired and is a total mess (120,000 words and not even halfway done, ha), but it was also the manuscript I mined small passages and inspirations from to form my first completed manuscript, so it wasn’t for naught. Plus, just practicing writing was helpful.

I have written 50,000 words in under a month twice for both of my completed manuscripts. Once I finally got on the inspiration-train, they took off and poured out of me. But both those times weren’t in November or part of NaNoWriMo. Just feeling like I “have to” write 50,000 words in a month has kept me from participating before. (Not like the WIPMarathon, where you could set your own goal, no matter how big or small, whether writing or editing.) Because then I get depressed on those days where I don’t write enough words or I can’t write at all.

But I have a new WIP I’ve been thinking about since late August I’d like to get drafted somewhat soon. The past couple of months have been crazy, so all I have to show for it is one paragraph (I had the opening lines in my head right away) and about 2/3 of an outline. I meant to get to work sooner (although I’m taking a detour to write a fun short story), but I just haven’t been able to. So why not? I’ll do my best to finish the outline before November and make it my NaNoWriMo entry. (Sorry if I “break the rules” by having 150-ish words written before November begins, ha. I promise not to count myself as a “winner” unless I get 50,150+ words done.) I will NOT feel sad if I don’t get 50,000 words done. I will NOT force myself to work on Thanksgiving and every single day in the month. I’m just… writing.

So add me if you’re partcipating!

I actually wrote a pitch for the WIP while I was at it. That’s a first for me. (I don’t often share pitches online before I’ve even written anything!)

~removed~

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Check-In #4

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount: 72,956 words and 28 chapters (first draft completed)

Current WC + CC: 73,226 words and 28 chapters (still editing)

I surpassed my overall goal (“get as much of the first draft done as possible by the end of the month”), so yay. 😀 The marathon has been motivating and a lot of fun to participate in. When I started writing this one in early July, I really didn’t feel like I could finish before the end of the year. Earlier this month I became more determined to finish, but I still thought it would take me another few months. So this was beyond awesome.

WIP Issues this week: Despite totally kicking my goal’s butt this month, I actually barely scratched the surface of the goals I set for myself for this week once I’d finished the draft: Edit it all–just a typo-check and minor continuity changes at this stage–AND write the outline for my next project, the shiny new idea that came to me last week. I didn’t get as far with editing as I’d like, mostly because I was busy, and I didn’t even start the outline.

A good thing, though, because the outline for the shiny new idea continues to evolve in my head. It’s important it evolves and becomes something a little different because it’s dangerously close to some been-there, read-that vibes from other books, I think. It’s how I execute it that I hope sets it apart and makes it worthwhile. (It’ll be my first attempt at a straight-up contemporary, no supernatural involved, so that’s why I was unsure I could make it unique enough. Also… I’m actually going for NA instead of YA this time, which I never thought I’d do.)

What I learned this week in writing: I can actually miss writing/editing on days I’m stuck doing work writing instead. ;-; (I’m usually so tired of staring at a computer screen on those days I don’t miss it.)

What distracted me this week while writing: Work. I also beta read 20 chapters of someone else’s work, which was a pleasant distraction. 😀

Plan after the marathon: Finish the first edits, do the beta process, hopefully get it off to my agent, and meanwhile also outline the next project and dive into it soon!

Last 200 words: I can’t share the last 200 written or edited due to spoilers, but I guess I’ve steeled myself and am ready to share the very first 200 words of the book if you guys want to see it.

I’d lived only five winters the first time I saw an infant drowned.

I felt Father’s hand on my shoulder as the horse jostled us slightly, shaking her head and whipping the tips of her silky black mane across my eyes. Father noticed the instinct that took over, the mere moment my eyelids closed despite the how hard I’d fought to keep them open. “Watch, Rohesia. Burn the moment into your mind.”

The shrieking woman held aloft by two soldiers kicked her legs, sending her skirt upward. I noticed the mud that collected among the hem, the strands of straw-colored hair that escaped her kerchief and swung wildly across her mouth. The hair blew with each shriek like curtains in the breeze, the skirt a gale that tore through a field of wheat, the woman the only source of movement beyond the scuffing hooves of the horses beside me.

“The child, Rohesia. Not the mother.”

The soldier by the river tossed the tattered cloth that had wrapped the baby on the ground and held the crying infant as far out in front of him as his stocky arms would allow. One gauntlet supported the baby’s head and neck, the other gripped the child’s body loosely, and I saw one impossibly small leg kick upward vainly.

–Oops, beta reader, I read this over again and changed a few words yet again if you noticed a difference, but yeah…

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Check-In #3

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount: 45,053 words and 15 1/2 chapters.

Current WC + CC: 72,956 words and 28 chapters and… COMPLETE! I finished the first draft!

Yeah, that goal to write “as much of the first draft as possible this month”? How about “finish the first draft a week before the month is up” instead? Yay. 😀 This was mostly due to a light work week and getting in the writing groove. And also, my story veered off in its own direction (disregarding the outline) twice, and the second time I had to throw out the rest of the outline (like 10 more chapters), it was so different. But I rewrote the end of the outline (shaving off five projected chapters and thus 10,000+ words) and it’s much better this way, I think.

My goal for this last week of the marathon is to make preliminary edits (usually just typo check and a few minors changes at this stage for me, before I get feedback) and start sending it to my beta, while also editing a manuscript I’m beta-ing for her, AND outline my next project, that shiny new idea that popped into my head this week.

WIP Issues this week: Getting off the outline not once, but twice, but both times it was for the better and I didn’t even get hit with writer’s block adjusting it.

What I learned this week in writing: I can finish another manuscript! (The three unfinished WIPs made me think it might never happen again.)

What distracted me this week while writing: Not much. I (obviously) had a good writing week! A shiny new idea did threaten to distract me, though, as I wrote the first paragraph for that and kept brainstorming ideas. But I pushed it aside and committed to finishing what I’d started.

Last 200 words: Can’t share due to spoilers! I thought about sharing the opening 200 words, but I’m not sure I want to just now. They’re pretty dark. ;-;

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Check-In #2

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount: 23,839 words and 7 chapters

Current WC + CC: 45,053 words and 15 1/2 chapters.

Yeah, I wrote more in one week than I did in the ENTIRE FIRST MONTH I worked on this WIP. It was a combination of this awesome WIP marathon, having the outline completed and having less work (boo) than usual.

WIP Issues this week: Continuing to balance the multiple POVs. It feels harder to keep them separate when I work on more than one chapter a day, but I’m not going to stop when I have the desire to keep writing! I just remind myself about how each character would view the situation.

Also, setting high expectations has a drawback. I’m starting to be disappointed with perfectly FINE accomplishments each day. Like this week, 1000-2000+ words per day was the norm, and that’s GREAT, but one day I did just under 800 and I felt sad. Um, but 800 was MORE than I was doing MOST days in all of July!

What I learned this week in writing: Getting over the initial “omg, I have tens of thousands of words ahead of me, I can’t do this~” hump has helped. I’m probably only halfway to the end even still, so I’ve got a lot to go. But it feels more like I can do it. I HAVE to do it. My characters want the story told. (I’m getting nervous as I approach the word count where I got irrevocably stuck in one of my previous WIPs.) Also, I’m still loving outlines now. I’ve even managed to keep thinking of new ideas as I write, but having that framework in place is immensely helpful.

What distracted me this week while writing: Car troubles and a busy schedule, but I still managed to find plenty of time to write.

Last 200 words: A little more, I cheated. Also, this is smack in the middle of a chapter, but I was done for the day:

Tierny grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me onward. “Avoid the ladies of the night.” We stopped moving, and I noticed a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. “At least when there are rumors the soldiers are combing their chambers.” I wondered if he would tell me to avoid them under any other circumstances.

He dropped my arm and guided me onward, through one alley and the next, through more puddles and muck than I ever imagined could exist.

At last he turned a corner and stopped again. No one was in this alley, and there was no torch to light our path. Something pulsated in the dark beneath me, like the heartbeat of the city, buried in mud and feces. I lifted a foot and shook it, suddenly feeling like I was covered in rats and insects.

Knock. Knock knock knock. Knock knock. Tierny’s fist pounded on a door I hadn’t even realized stood partway down the stone wall. He pounded the pattern again. And then once more.

“All right, enough.” A woman’s throaty voice called back from the other side of the doorway. I waited patiently, bouncing my knees and reminding myself that even a city as filthy as this one couldn’t possibly have as many spiders and vermin as I pictured now crawling up my leg, and the door opened, a squat and stocky woman holding up a candle in my face.

I looked down and saw my foot squished into the pile of what I hoped was horse excrement and all the maggots and worms squirming in it

And my little announcement–I came up with a working title last night! 

Fall Far From the Tree

I’m pretty bad at coming up with titles. (My other completed manuscript didn’t get one until after I’d finished the first draft.) It actually only works on one level, but I like how it sounds. However, it might give off too much of a contemporary vibe (the WIP is fantasy), and there isn’t enough direct connection to the narrative, and yeah… But the idea is a play on “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Well, it’s a working title anyway. And it’s better than “TITLE,” which it was named until today…

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Check -In #1

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount: As of last Saturday, I’d just finished the fourth chapter and that took it to 17,480 words. (Long chapters, I know, but they were intro chapters and from now on, the chapters HAVE TO be shorter.)

Current WC + CC:
I outlined on Sunday and then got back to work. Now it’s at seven chapters, 23,839 words.

WIP Issues this week: Figuring out the rest of the plot (which I did with an outline, yay, I feel more confident now) and feeling bad about not writing much toward the end of the week because I was busy with work and then a bit ill.

What I learnt this week in writing: Writing outlines are not the enemy of creativity that pantser-me used to think. Yes, I love discovering the story as I write, but having that outline in place is so reassuring. I’ve tweaked a few things as I write, so it’s not like the outline is something rigid.

What distracted me this week while writing: Work and feeling sick. At least feeling sick let me read a lot, yay.

Last 200 words: Hmm…. Not my favorite passage or scene by any means (and a tiny bit more than 200), but:

“My advice, should you ever find yourself surrounded by an angry mob again.” The voice was alto, deep but melodious. I felt the soft brush of dark hair press against my cheek as he spoke, as the man—the man—ignored my blows and turned the horse backward, back toward the duchy. “Don’t rely on someone in the sky to get down in time to save you.” He flicked the reigns. “Hee-yah!” The horse went speeding forward, the few women and children remaining in that direction scrambling desperately to flee the pounding of hooves taking me away from Mother Flore and Mother Ermessenda, away from Mother Jehanne and the safety of the towers… And off into the burning ember sun, toward the duchy, a sun-kissed, unknown savior seated behind me.

“Why are there no men in the Stargazers, Mother Jehanne? Why must all the boys leave when they come of age?”

Mother Jehanne stroked my hair, lulling me to sleep with the rhythms of her rocking chair. “Ytoile would not permit their savagery. We take their gifts to the tower, it’s true. We might bless them even, if they are devout. But they will never be as dear to Ytoile as are women and children.” Mother Jehanne leaned in, whispering directly into my ear. “Men want women, Cateline. They want them in unspeakable ways. If one ever catches you, let Ytoile guide your hand. Don’t let him defile you.”

I shielded my eyes with my arm at my forehead, feeling the hot burn of the sun demon even through my closed eyelids, taunting me to do what needed doing.

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

WIPMarathon Intro

So I don’t usually talk about my WIPs in depth at my blog. Mostly because I have too many of them going at once—or started, anyway—and I feel ashamed that I have nothing to show for it other than sweat and tears and some rough, uncompleted drafts that no one on earth but me has ever seen. Life gets in the way, writer’s block hits, and even well-intentioned “I’m going to write every day and finish this!” goals end in getting stuck at what seemed like the climax of the manuscript. (I’m looking at you, contemporary suspense YA manuscript. I’ve shelved you for a while now, but I swear someday I’ll dust you off and figure out what went wrong.)

Well, I’m tired of having nothing to show for it. It’s been my dream practically all my life to be a published author, and—dare I hope—an author with more than one book to her name. But I’m never going to get there until I have more than one manuscript to shop around!

So luckily, shiny new idea hit in early July. Like I needed another new idea I wouldn’t finish… But how about one I WOULD finish? What if I told myself I’d write almost every single day (I’m sorry, me, but some days I’m just too busy or tired to write even a line, and that’s okay, as long as it’s not often.) and this time, I had an outline ready so I couldn’t possibly wind up stuck at the end?

So that became my goal: write this manuscript and finish it. Stop fretting about all the things people will find wrong with it, that everyone I know will hate it and I’ll have to start another project, and just write it, just have another project in the wings ready to go.

So last week I found out about a group of bloggers devoting the month of August to accomplishing their individual goals in their WIPs, and although I’m late to the game, I’ve also been writing a lot this month (more than last month even), so I decided to join in! Learn more here if you feel like doing the same (yes, you can join late, I asked!).

So here’s my intro, soon followed by my check-in:

Marathon Goal: As close to finishing the first draft of this project as possible. I originally gave myself until the end of the year, but I feel more pumped. I’m hoping I can finish long before that. I did also have a goal of writing my outline this month after finishing the first four (long) chapters in July (I wanted to get a feel for the characters before I decided the rest of the plot), and I did that last weekend, yay.

Stage of writing: Writing the first draft of my sixth novel project. (Of the previous five, one is completely retired, one is finished and got me an agent :D, and the other three are in various stages of being on hiatus.)

What inspired my current project: It’s YA fantasy. I want to say Game of Thrones meets Marvel Comics’ Runaways, but every YA fantasy these days has the “YA version of Game of Thrones” tag already, so… yeah. Also, it’s my first project with multiple POVs. Four to be precise. Because I’m crazy like that.

What might slow down my marathon goal: Getting distracted, getting busy, and having too much work to do. I write for a living, too, and if I spend all day staring at my computer, pulling the creative juices out of my brain writing for work, sometimes I’m simply too exhausted to keep doing that for my own stuff. (Seriously, I wish I had like a Kindle screen just for typing. I get so tired of staring at a glowing screen.)

Posted in Writing

Your Writing Accessories

You’ve set aside a block of time in order to write. You’ve got your fingers poised over the keyboard (or piece of paper with pen in hand) and you’re ready for the words to start flowing. So what are the must-have accessories with which you surround yourself? For me, these include:

  • A mug of hot tea (or if it’s really warm out, a glass of iced tea will do)
  • A bottle of water (you can never be too hydrated)
  • A cozy blanket (but if it’s really hot, probably a blowing fan instead)
  • A pile of pillows
  • A tube of lip balm so I don’t have to get up every twenty minutes to apply it
  • Hand cream. I wash my hands a lot.
  • Tissues and a trash can (TMI? I blow my nose a lot even without colds or allergies!)
  • A wrist support strap, for those times every few months when too much typing makes me my wrist start hurting
  • My phone, in case the outside world needs to get in touch (landline phone, so there are no fancy cell phone gimmicks to distract me—the Internet’s enough for that already)
  • A flash drive to back up the session’s work
  • A cat. But only if she feels like visiting.

At one time I might have said a thesaurus or dictionary, but since I type all of my writing from the get-go, Word’s built-in function or the Internet can do the job for any word look-ups and research.

What are your must-have writing accessories?

Posted in Writing

Writing vs. Editing: Which Do You Prefer?

I’ve been neglecting this blog the past couple of months, so I apologize for the delay in updates! Post holidays, I had a lot of work projects, but I managed to fit in writing and editing for my own creative projects, too, which inspired the topic for this post:

Do you prefer writing the first draft or editing it later?

I’ve heard people on both sides of the fence. I love my wonderfully inspired moments when I’m first drafting a project, but those aren’t as frequent as I’d like, and most days I only write a very little. When I’m drafting, sometimes the task ahead of me can seem gargantuan, which can be a bit overwhelming. So unless I’m struck by that “magic” where I pump out thousands of words in a writing session instead of hundreds, I prefer editing.

Strangely, editing can be just as gargantuan a task as drafting—perhaps more so—but it doesn’t feel that way to me when I’m working. I have hundreds of pages of text to work with, to cut and slash and move around. And yes, to add to, but for some reason, even adding an entire chapter or two (or ten!) doesn’t seem so bad when I think, “Well, I’ve still got hundreds of pages here already!”

Editing never seems to end, really! (At least perhaps until it’s finally locked in and printed.) But it doesn’t seem too difficult a task because you’ve spent so much time in your world by the time you’re on draft two or five that you feel like it’s just a matter of fixing this or that, rather than scrapping everything and starting over completely.

…Which I hope I don’t have to do with one of my WIPs that seems profoundly broken, even though I’m in the last chapter or two. Sadly, editing isn’t always magic enough to fix things.

But in my work, I tend to prefer editing to writing, too, and I enjoyed my time as a writing tutor helping people improve their essays. That’s another reason I love beta reading, too!