06 December 2017

The Year of Not a Whole Lot

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I almost forgot to write this post! That's what I get for procrastinating. Luckily the IWSG provides an optional monthly question we can answer, which is always great when I'm in a rush and can't think of an idea. This month's question is:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

Speaking of procrastination...

I did not get a lot done this year. Definitely not as much as I'd hoped. I really wanted to finish the third draft of Uneven Lines, actually much earlier in the year. But it looks like it's not going to happen again. There's just still so much work to do and not enough time to do it. 

I made some good progress in the beginning of the year. Not fantastic, but at least I had a steady pace going. I haven't had a good momentum since the end of July. I've only finished two chapter edits since then. There's just always something getting in the way - work, vacations, errands, a sick cat. And usually after all that I'm too tired to do much writing. 

I also just tend to avoid editing if I know it's going to be hard. I put it off. I know I just need to tackle it but it's hard to motivate myself. 

On the other hand, this novel has always been a bit of a slow process, but with some good results. It's extremely complicated and I've needed the time to figure things out. I also don't think I'd have the same story if I had gotten it done years ago when I first thought of it. I do think all the changes will make it a better story.

But still, I just want the damn thing done! I feel depressed sometimes that I'm not working on it, but then it's hard to work on it because I'm depressed and...it's a vicious cycle. 

I think if I can finish the current chapter I'm on I can bust through at least 3 or 4 more before getting to some really difficult editing. But usually even when I think a chapter will be easy, it turns out to need more work than I imagined. 

I think for next year I'd just like to do more. I'd like to spend less time doing nothing. If I can say I worked on writing every day, even if it's just for a few minutes, I'd take that as an accomplishment.

13 November 2017

Remakes Blogfest

Today is the Remakes Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner!


Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.

On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

This was a tricky one! Because originals are *usually* better. But then I remembered a certain movie series that I've always enjoyed that are based on books...but when I tried to read said books, I was, well...disappointed...is one way of putting it...mortified is another...



JAMES BOND! Or Casino Royale, to be specific, because it's the only book I read. I will never try to read another. 

I've seen ALL the movies. My husband and I really enjoy them. We don't actually go out to the movies all that much but we always make sure to catch the new Bond films in IMAX. So, since I've always liked the movies, I thought I'd give the books a shot. 

MISTAKE! HORRIBLE MISTAKE. 

I'm sorry, but the book Casino Royale was probably the worst piece of sexist drivel I've ever laid my eyes upon. I know it was first published in 1953, but still....no, just no. Obviously, in the movies Bond is a womanizer, but in the book, he just seems like a sexist a-hole. He just wasn't likable at all, all of the charisma you usually see on screen replaced with bitter inner monologues and incredibly degrading views of women ("bitch" comes up a lot, and that's not even the worst of it). The story itself wasn't all that great, either. I really didn't expect it to be so boring. 

I think I'll stick to the movies. More action, less blatant sexism. 

Do you like the James Bond films? Ever tried reading the books? 

01 November 2017

Why Didn't I Realize This Sooner?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I'm somehow equally secure and insecure about the same thing lately. Well, I figured something out, which is great. Fantastic. Wonderful. It's just...it's something I could have, should have realized a long time ago. So while I'm glad I'm starting to figure things out about my book, I'm still left shaking my first and screaming "WHY DIDN'T I REALIZE THIS SOONER???"

Ahem. So last week I (vaguely) talked about having a bit of an epiphany about the last third of my book, which I've been trying forever to figure out and rewrite. Basically I realized Jordan (the MC of my WIP for those of you who are new here) wasn't acting like himself and that it was making the story weaker. If he stayed truer to his character, it would make more sense going forward and I could eventually bring the book to its conclusion without losing tension (I hope).

Well, I'm still figuring out more things that I should have already figured out. I've talked before about a "twist" that happens at the end of Chapter 17. Well, it'll probably be Chapter 18 now because my editing has added a chapter, but that's not the point. I've always been a bit psychotic about how much I love this twist. I wouldn't say it's a complete plot twist, it's more that one character does something you wouldn't expect, the other character is basically smacked in the face by it, and things get all messed up for a chapter or two before getting resolved.

I love, love, love this moment when it happens. It's intense. It's kind of heartbreaking. But what I did afterward always worried me. I kind of smoothed things over really quickly. In the next chapter, actually. Basically the character who did the bad thing explains why he did it and my characters more or less make up and everything's back to normal. I've always worried that I kind of made that awesome twist irrelevant by sweeping it under the rug.

OR DID I??? (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN.)

Well, this is what I'm realizing. In relation to my last post, this is basically the moment in the story where Jordan realizes he's letting his emotions get the better of him. He basically makes a big emotion-based decision, tries to act on it, and gets blindsided by the results. I wouldn't say he gets heartbroken, but close. SO. This is the point where he decides he's never going to let his emotions dictate his actions again, because the one time he does it backfires on him.

So this thought process will continue throughout the rest of the book! So while he does make up with the other character and things seemingly go back to normal, underneath, he has completely changed because of the twist moment.

You're probably thinking, that's great, Sarah, why would you be insecure when you're finally figuring the end of your book out? Because I could have figured it out sooner! All the puzzle pieces were there, staring me in the face, and I just couldn't put them together. Oh well. What can you do? Just keep writing, I suppose.

Have you ever realized something about a WIP that you should have realized sooner? 

23 October 2017

My MC is Terrible (or, My Book Epiphany)

So, I had a bit of a book epiphany. And it wasn't that my MC (you know who) is a terrible character. It's that he's a terrible person! Well, sort of. Bear with me.

It's always felt like there was something I was missing from the end of the book, something I couldn't figure out. It always seemed weaker, almost flimsy when compared to the beginning of the book. I couldn't figure out how to get my book to the same conclusion but to keep it strong along the way. It seemed the path it wanted to take just made it less interesting.

Well, I was kind of smacked in the head with an idea. At work, of all places. Now, I can usually zone out and think about these things without stopping what I'm doing, but this idea seemed so intense that I actually paused and stared off into space while I considered it (hopefully no one saw me, I'm pretty sure my mouth fell open a few times). I know when an idea is this strong, then it's probably the right way to go.

So, the thing about my characters' relationship in the book is that it's all about structure. Every moment is planned, calculated. Actually, pretty much everything my MC does is calculated -- except when he's driven by emotion. As teenagers are apt to be. So as more emotions get involved over the course of the novel, the structure kind of falls apart. But I realized, why does this particular character lose the structure? It's not really like him at all. Sure, he can slip for a moment or two, show some emotion, even if it's just for the reader. But he should be able to come back to his senses and always see everything from a few steps ahead.

I realized this was my problem. He stopped calculating things, figuring them out, being manipulative--things that have been central to his character from the beginning. Why? It seems that the end of the book came because of a buildup of emotion and not an intense thought process. He really should see it coming, actually, he should see every moment of the book coming. If he doesn't know when things will happen, he should at least be aware that they will happen. The end of the book always seemed to come out of nowhere, but I think there needs to be a more obvious build to it. When emotions come into play, he should be more analyzing of his own, to see how he reacts in certain situations and how that fuels what he wants to do next. He can't just be a slave to his emotions because he never has been before. He needs to stay true to his character.

I think the tricky part now is that I need my MC to keep some things from the reader. I kinda want him to have a bit of a reveal at the end that he saw everything coming, that everything was planned out and not as spontaneous as it seemed. Hopefully this will make the ending more devastating for the reader *insert evil laugh*. So while maybe he wasn't 100% heartless throughout the book, the end will kind of smack everybody in the face (characters and readers included). I think I just have to find a good balance between what he's willing to share with the reader and how he's able to hide the rest.

Ok, I know that was super vague and did not make much sense. But the important thing is that I THINK I FINALLY FIGURED MY DAMN BOOK OUT. Hopefully once I write it out it will all make sense.

Ever been smacked by a book epiphany? Have you ever realized your character wasn't acting like him/herself and that was dragging the book down?

04 October 2017

Showing off the Insecurity

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


It's a busy day so I'll spare you all my personal nonsense (mainly that my poor Gizmo is sick AGAIN and I really can't afford to go to the vet right now...wait, this isn't sparing you, is it?) and dive right in...

First up, this month's optional question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose? 

Kinda sorta. I think I sometimes create characters who are versions of myself, or who share some personality traits. Jordan's best friend, Eric, is a lot like me. He's shy and awkward, and what ends up happening to him in the book kind of reflects some things that I went through with friends in high school. But it's very, very different, too, so it's not too obvious. 

I did, however, recently come to realize something about a major character that I also recently discovered about myself (what that is may be a little TMI for this post...perhaps another day!). It kind of makes a complicated character even more complicated, but I think it actually makes sense for the way I've written him. It kind of explains any unanswered questions. But I just kinda like how it was something I discovered about myself and the character! Like I had created this trait in him that I didn't even know was in me. 

And now for something completely different...


Today is also the day for the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity contest! Don't ask me why I decided to take part, I'm the least photogenic person on the planet (why does my forehead always look 10 times bigger than it does in real life???), but here goes nothin'...


Here's what you need to know about this photo:

1. I'm rockin' the IWSG swag with my sweet new notebook and mug (I love mugs!)
2. I'm also rockin' my math leggings (aka editing pants)
3. The red binder holds the third draft of Uneven Lines (so far...still only up to Chapter 12)
4. Yup, that pen on the binder is the OG FFP (I'm not lame, I swear...)
5. Coffee is life (especially when trying to edit) 

Ok, I'm done. Big shout out to my hubby for taking this photo (and the dozens of shots taken before this one that I didn't like).

25 September 2017

Routine? What's That?

Yikes! I haven't blogged regularly in quite some time! So it's definitely time for me to get out of vacation mode and back into the swing of things. Whatever that means. I've always been really terrible at making a routine for myself and sticking to it. I procrastinate on things that have to get done, so you can imagine what happens to the things that don't have to immediately be done (*cough* writing *cough*). Sometimes I just feel like there's not enough time in the day to do everything I need and want to do.

There's work, obviously. I really like my hours compared to my old job (they're the same every day and I get every other weekend off). I'm home every day at 2:30 so you'd think that would leave lots of time for other stuff? Well..........not as much as you'd think. Probably because my job is physically demanding. I'm just always tired. The first thing I have to do when I get home is give my cat treats (you do not want to mess with the cat's routine...). Then I usually need something to eat myself and I'll catch up on a TV show. Then maybe if I feel like getting up I'll do some dishes or some other chore. My husband gets home at 4:30 and gets us iced coffees and then we pretty much just watch TV, have dinner, then go to bed around 9 or 10.

Ok, I know the glaring thing in that routine is that I watch way too much TV. I know. Guilty. I like TV, ok? Plus, with the whole being tired thing, my brain isn't always at full capacity. I'm not sure anything I would try writing at that time would be any good. But I don't actually try, so how would I know?

There's just so much I want to get done and never have the time or energy. I want to go to the gym at least 5 days a week, but there goes at least an hour and it will leave me even more tired. I want to read more. My 100 book goal this year is DEFINITELY not happening (I'm only at 11). And obviously, there's writing. I haven't worked on UL's third draft in almost two months (did I just admit that?). And I haven't been blogging that much either. Even when I write a post, I don't get around to visiting as many other blogs as I'd like.

I really want to switch things up but I don't know where to start. I'm way behind in my writing goals for this year, too. I thought I'd be done with the third draft months ago. I really wanted to write the second book in the series for NaNoWriMo, but I just don't think I'll be ready yet for it. I thought about doing Shiny New Story instead, but I don't think that idea's developed enough, either. I still have over a month to figure it out, but if I don't make a lot of progress on UL, I probably won't want to take myself away from it, either. I've just never fully committed to NaNo and I really wanted to do it this year.

So yeah. I don't do well with routines. I can't even make myself wash my face every night, for crying out loud. But I still keep trying. Maybe I can make a routine that works.

06 September 2017

A Surprise Genre

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I feel like I'm having deja vu from last month's post because once again, I am so busy I barely have time to write this post! Because I'm going on another vacation in a few days. Hubby and I are going back to Las Vegas for our first wedding anniversary (today is actually our dating anniversary--ten years!). I haven't started packing. I've been preoccupied because Gizmo was sick last week with another stress related UTI (I tried to change his food to a gentle formula...big mistake!!!). He's doing much better now, but I've had to clean EVERYTHING and do so much laundry.

*deep breath*

So, needless to say, I've been doing zero writing. And of course I'll bring some work on the plane but I'll probably just end up watching TV.

I think this month I'll defer to the optional question (I don't usually like to do them because EVERYONE does *shrug* but I also liked this month's question a lot): Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

OH GOOD LORD YES.

*cough*

Let me put it this way: did I anticipate finding a very strong POV voice in a slightly sociopathic gay teenage boy? GOOD LORD NO. Literally none of those things. The only part of that I was familiar with was the teenager aspect. All my other narrators had been teenage girls. Jordan was a HUGE leap from anything I'd ever written. And it was scary as hell. But sometimes you have to go with your gut.

My story and I have been through hell and back but I love it to death. And Jordan has sunk his claws so deep into my brain that all my new story ideas have gay main characters, too, and I'm just fine with that. It was weird and unexpected at first, but now it kinda makes sense to me. I found a genre that fits. Now if I could just finish writing those ideas................

I'm hoping to get back into some kind of writing/blogging routine when I'm back from my vacation. I need to finish this damn book, after all.

28 August 2017

Jealous Yet?

Summer's not really for blogging, is it? I had planned on posting something right when I got back from New York after my birthday, but now two weeks have passed and the dust is forming around here. Well, since I don't really have any writing progress to talk about, I thought I'd just share some details and pics from my trip! Prepare to be jealous....

The bus trip from Boston to New York was smoooooooooth sailing. We left 13 minutes late but somehow got there early. I always think I'm going to get writing done when traveling but it never happens so I don't know when I'll learn. I read a bit, listened to music, and then dozed off. Next thing I knew all the signs indicated we were in the Bronx and I said, "already??" so it wasn't much longer until we got to Port Authority and then checked into our hotel.

First stop (like, immediately, because we hadn't eaten anything all day) was Black Tap! You've probably seen their Crazy Shakes all over the internet, so I just had to check it out and indulge my sweet tooth. (I wish the lighting had been better for the pics but I'm just not the type of person to bust out the flash and blind the bartender while my food is melting...) The burger was pretty good, too!



My actual birthday was pretty low key. We went out for breakfast and then did a little walking in Central Park (trying to channel the muse by doing one of his favorite activities but he wasn't paying attention...). The real event that day was dinner at Sugar Factory. They have these HUGE goblet drinks that they pour at the table and there's dry ice in the bottom that makes smoke come out. It was nifty. 


It also had lollipops and a candy necklace. Me drinking it for scale: 


Yes, it had alcohol, and yes I somehow finished it and yes I was a bit drunk but it was my 30th birthday so there. There was also dessert: 


I only ate about half of this because I could not get my husband to take even one bite. Party pooper. 

The next day we decided to be crazy and WALK from West 44th Street down to the Lower East Side because it would have been like a $36 Uber and I hate the subway and it was a nice day. We went to Koneko, which is a cat cafe! They had an actual cafe in the front and in the back there is a three floor section where all the cats are and we just hung out with them for an hour. All of the cats are up for adoption but I didn't think Gizmo would appreciate a sibling...I took way too many pictures to share so here are just a few:




BTW, my husband is definitely a cat guy. 


Then we had lunch nearby and walked all the way back to our hotel to get ready for...wait for it...*snicker*


Oh yeah! Did you know I tried to get tickets to Hamilton when it was still off-Broadway?? It was even more expensive back then, actually, so it didn't happen. I waited forever to see this. I've seen plenty of musicals but none where I already knew all of the songs. Of course it was amazing but I did already know everything that was going to happen. Plus I was waiting for the audience to sing along at certain points (LAFAYETTE!) but they didn't. Tsk tsk. 

I've also never been to a musical that my favorite actor used to be in. Was I judging the current King George? Maybe...I could write an entire essay on the psychological crisis of seeing this musical but I'll spare you. Still very awesome.


Ok, so I hate hate hate pictures of myself, but this was my outfit for the night. I don't go out all that much so I do like to dress up for the theater. My shoes will henceforth be known as Aaron and Burr because they were KILLING my feet! I'll be here all week, folks. 


Also, shout out to the best hubby ever. Our seats were in the very last row of orchestra, and there was actually a small gap in between them. I was sitting on the right side while my husband used the bathroom and this guy sat in front of me who was super tall and had an ENORMOUS head. Well, when my hubby came back he swapped seats with me so I could see better. *kissy face emoji*


And one of my favorite post-Broadway show treats is the devil's food cheesecake from Junior's. I can never eat the whole thing, though. 


And that's about it. I won't tell you about the trip back because it was HELL. I slept for about 13 hours straight on that Friday night. And then we went to a wedding the next day. Phew! It was quite a trip, though! I got to stuff my face with delicious food, hang out with some cats, and see Hamilton for my 30th birthday. Are you jealous yet??? 

02 August 2017

So Busy I Can't Think of a Title

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I almost forgot to write this post! In my defense, I'm busy busy busy. On top of work, I'm getting ready for my birthday trip to NYC next week where I will be eating lots and lots of food and FINALLY seeing Hamilton. Whoop whoop. If you follow me on Instagram, I'll probably be posting a lot. Mostly food. Watch out. 

Anyhoo, I don't really know what to write about. Well, I haven't been writing much in the past week or so. Because, you know, busy. My Camp NaNoWriMo goal kind of went down in flames. I only edited for just over 10 hours, waaaaaaaaaay short of my 60 hour goal. I did get through the dreaded Chapter 11 AND Chapter 12, so that's good. There has been a lot more rewriting in this draft than I thought there would be. I've been adding a ton more words to this draft. I'm sure at some point I'll actually get to the last third of the novel where I have to completely rewrite it. Not looking forward to that as much.

A new development on the editing front is that my husband has been reading my chapters and we've been talking about each one afterwards. I don't want any beta readers until this draft is done, and, well, I don't want anyone reading the last draft because it sucks. But he read the first draft way back when so he's at least familiar with the story and honestly, just talking about it out loud even with someone who isn't a writer helps me to figure things out.

Of course, since he's my hubby he has to say how he thinks it's good, despite the fact that he would never ever read this book if I wasn't the person who wrote it. And I kept asking him if he thought the voice was annoying so many times that he told me to stop. It is kind of a confidence boost because as I go through things, I can see the parts I got right. The symbolism is crazy at some points and I think I had a big stupid grin on my face when I was explaining it. I also kinda just love when he's reading and then laughs at a line and I have to ask which one was it (I can usually guess).

Well, that's about it. I'm off work tomorrow but then have to work four days until I leave for my trip on Tuesday. I still haven't picked out my bus ride books!

24 July 2017

Planting Seeds

When you're writing a story, especially a novel, you probably don't want to give everything away right at the beginning. Some details are better when you save them for later. But how do you get there? Do you drop hints along the way? How do you build up to revealing something? 

I've noticed this concept coming up quite a bit while I'm editing my novel, particularly with my subplots. I've always called this method "planting seeds," as in, I'm planting just the start of an idea that will be in full bloom later on in the novel (that analogy works, right?). Sometimes I worry, though, if this actually works. By the time that idea is in full bloom, does the reader care anymore? 

Example time! One of my subplots in UL involves Jordan's friends, Brian and Eric. Every time we see them, it's brought up how Eric has a crush on a girl, but he never says who she is. At first, it may seem like this is useless information, especially when there are much bigger things going on in the main plot. But later on in the book, who this girl is and how she factors into the story are much more important. She's not so important early on in the book, but when she actually does show up, I'm hoping that it's not so random because I've been hinting at her all along. 

I've done something similar when it comes to certain character details. Maybe one character doesn't want to reveal something about himself, but since the idea has been brought up, eventually it has to be explored. Or, another example, there's a certain detail about Jordan's mother that he keeps secret from the reader, but later on in the book, he's forced to reveal it to another character. I've tried to drop hints up until this point but really spent a long time avoiding it (but on purpose!). When it's finally revealed, we can look back and think, oh that's what he was talking about! 

Basically what I'm trying to accomplish is to just have a moment where the reader should think, "oh, ok, this will definitely come up again later!" Even if it's not necessarily important to the plot right at that moment. But my hope is that planting these seeds will make the moments later on where the idea is actually relevant not so out of nowhere. Hopefully the reader will believe it because they at least knew something was going to happen. 

The thing I worry about is whether the reader will notice or even care when these hints are dropped. Or maybe when the real idea is revealed, they'll think back on all of those hints that went over their heads. 

Do you plant seeds early on in your stories?

12 July 2017

I Finished Chapter 11! (Sort Of...)

I was originally going to write a blog post for Monday, but on Sunday night I was actually getting some editing done. I figured I would have to pull myself away from editing in order to write a post, and my energy was probably better spent on the editing. Not only because I've been working on this novel for my entire freaking life more than six years, but I'm still pushing towards my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of getting 60 hours of editing done this month.

So how are things going? Still pretty slow, actually. But progress is progress, right? If I only get an hour of editing done every day, that's still a whole hour that I wasn't previously doing.

I've been stuck on Chapter 11 for pretty much forever. There were just a lot of things to work with. There was main plot and subplot. The chapter had three whole scenes, all with breaks in between, which I'm not a huge fan of. I like at most to have two separate scenes, or have a chapter that just flows through several days of action without actually making any breaks. Three scenes was a bit jarring to me, also considering the fact that not one, but TWO of them were make-out scenes. Seems a little excessive for one chapter. I kept wondering if both were really necessary.

The easiest decision for this chapter was that I did not actually need BOTH make-out scenes. Picking the one to keep was easy, too. The second one was longer and more in depth, actually progressing the physical relationship between my characters, which is what I'm aiming for whenever one of these scenes takes place. The first scene was really short and the purpose of it was more so that one character could manipulate another, which I realized I could just do with dialogue. The making out just wasn't necessary.

But anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be about make-out scenes (booooooooooooooo!). On Tuesday, I actually finished my edit of Chapter 11! And yet, the work isn't done.

See, when I started to work on that first scene, it was only two pages. And those two pages sucked. Seriously. I had a note on the first page that just said "make this not suck." So I basically approached it like I had to completely rewrite it. Maybe a few lines here and there could stay, but overall, completely new words. And that's pretty much what happened. And not just new words...a whole lot of new words.

Two pages eventually transformed into five. When I realized how long this scene was becoming, I figured it could probably stand as its own chapter. Now that it's finally done, my third draft has a complete Chapter 11. Woohoo!

However! I still have two scenes to edit from the original Chapter 11. Those two scenes will now be Chapter 12. This will probably throw me off when I talk about future chapter edits since I basically added an entirely new chapter to the third draft. But something is done, at least!

So, is my original Chapter 11 done? Not quite. But is my NEW Chapter 11 done? Yes! I'll take that as a win.

Old scene...

New chapter!

05 July 2017

Failing at Camp

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


How the heck did it get to be July so fast? As usual, I'm way behind on my goals. I wanted to be done with my third draft of UL by now and I'm still stuck on Chapter 11. I've been wanting to give myself a bit of a kick in the butt when it comes to editing, so I did something drastic. 

On Friday night, pretty much at the last minute, I decided to sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I chose a revision project and set my goal for 60 hours of editing. I figured that was roughly 2 hours a day, which was way more than I've been doing but not so ridiculous that I didn't think I could do it. Now with four whole days under my belt, how have I been doing?

Well, uh, not so good actually. As usual, whenever I set a goal, I never seem to come close. The very first day I did absolutely nothing. I don't even know why. I didn't have work that day. I don't really have a good excuse. The next day, I did make a solid effort, but didn't even get over two hours, let alone to four to catch up. I set the stop watch on my phone while I edited and ended up with an hour and thirteen minutes.

Then I had to change things up. When you have your goal set as hours, the Camp NaNo site only accepts whole hours as counting toward the goal. So when I tried to put in that hour and thirteen, I was only credited for the hour (even when I tried 1.25 it just put in one...yes I know that was giving myself two extra minutes...shhh....). I wanted those extra minutes to count, so I changed my goal from hours to minutes. 

So now it's 3600 minutes. How far have I gotten? As of writing this post (about 5PM on the 4th): 73. Yup, just that hour and thirteen from Sunday. I suck at this. 


The good news is that the day is not over, so maybe by the time you read this, I'll have added some minutes. The even better news is that it's still really early in the month, so maybe somehow and with some kind of miracle occurring, I'll actually get to my goal. 

I have no idea where 60 hours of editing will bring me in the story, but at least it will be further than when I started. 

Do you think I can still achieve my editing goal? Anyone else doing Camp NaNoWriMo? 

26 June 2017

The Ghost of the First Draft

Do you ever find yourself making notes on a draft for editing, and find something so stupid that you have to yell at yourself in the margin? Well, I have. Probably more than once. How else can you get through to yourself, really, to stop making dumb mistakes? Mistakes that you should have stopped making a million drafts ago? 

It was Chapter 9, the chapter after my characters have had their first kiss, and so there was a paragraph that talked about kissing, which was fine (except I had used the word kissing like ten times, but that's another issue). But then I came across a really stupid sentence:

I knew I had always been more attracted to guys, I just didn’t realize that meant every single thing was going to be better.

I had to double take. And then yell at myself (and Jordan, too). No, not more attracted. ONLY. Only only only. Wasn't that the entire freaking point??? Helllooooooo? So I took my scary red pen and wrote this in the margin, just to make sure I got my own point across:


HE'S NOT BI.

Ok, so short story Jordan was hooking up with a girl at the end (that was really stupid and well over 6 years ago, don't judge me). First draft Jordan? Eh, well, I dunno, it was foggier. First drafts suck. There were a lot of stupid lines like this floating around. But now? Now????? Noooooooooo. How am I still making these mistakes? How are these tiny details slipping by?

I'm haunted by my first draft.

You think your first draft is gone by the time you're writing the third one? Think again! It creeps around, hiding in lines where you wouldn't think to look. In the dusty corners of undeveloped subplots. You think everything is going so well and your story makes so much sense. Then the ghost reaches out its ghoulish hand and grabs your ankle, tripping you up. Making everything feel off and confusing.

How many lines make it through repeated drafts completely intact? For me, not a lot. If there are any, they're probably dialogue. Even if what happens in a scene stays exactly the same, the words are always changing. Improving, I hope. But just when I think a chapter is safe and perfect I feel like I have to hire some paranormal investigators to exorcise these haunted lines.

So sometimes editing requires hi-tech ghost hunting equipment, scanning over every paragraph for a trace of first draft activity. Sometimes you need to have your holy water ready to flick on a stupid, stupid line. And hopefully with enough work, the first draft can stay buried.

Have you ever been haunted by your first draft? 

12 June 2017

Miles of Smiles Challenge!

I'm a little late to the party. It's a long story. Ok, not really. I initially was going to not blog at all today, then I changed my mind at about 5 this morning but didn't have time to write a post before work. Anyway, I love bloghops so I decided to join in on this one, the Miles of Smiles Challenge, hosted by Clare Dugmore and Kyra Lennon!


The aim of the challenge is on June 12 (today) those taking part post their lists of things that make them smile/ make them happy/ cheer them up when things are crappy. The obvious things like family, friends etc. are excluded. What we're looking for is the little, almost trivial things, that brighten your day.

I thought I'd make this fun by adding some pictures (most of which I just took)! It's interesting that the things I picked can all be found in my apartment, but I'm a bit of a hermit, so it makes sense I suppose!

1. This little floofernugget.


2. My new math leggings (aka editing pants...we'll see if they work)


3. Things that keep me organized like my k-cup holder and makeup organizer (I love the top two drawers because they fit my contacts perfectly and I have different prescriptions for each eye so I know which is which! 


4. My ridiculous amount of dresses (remember the hermit thing? I don't go anywhere! But they're so purdy....)


5. The fact that it's King George month on my Hamilton calendar (aka Groffsauce aka my gay celebrity boyfriend...what, you don't have one of those?) 


6. Fun mugs! Especially when they're filled with coffee (I actually got the kissy face one for my husband because we're always texting each other that emoji) 


Ok, I'm done, I swear! Hope everyone is able to spread some happiness today!

07 June 2017

Seduced by Another Book

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!


I've been feeling kinda down lately. Things have been kind of at a standstill when it comes to the editing front. I was doing so well during my staycation but I just couldn't seem to keep that motivation going. I'm stuck on Chapter 11. It's a really tough one. I think I either need to break it into two chapters or combine two scenes. Mostly because I don't think one chapter needs TWO make out scenes (but what do I know?). But I'm also trying to sneak in some subplot stuff and I always have a hard time with that. I feel like I'm forcing it and no one's going to care. Basically I know this chapter is difficult and I've been avoiding it. 

I know motivation isn't my only problem. If I could just get my brain to focus on Chapter 11 during my free thinking moments, I could start to figure it out. Times like before I fall asleep, in the shower, at work. I do my best brainstorming there. But I just can't focus. I'm distracted. By another book.

Yeah, you guessed it. Book 3. It has seduced me into some sort of mind-numbing oblivion. Now, I'm pretty much the last person on earth who would have a real life affair, but I think this is what it feels like. It's new and exciting and kinda dangerous. I think about it all the time. I know I shouldn't be thinking about it, shouldn't be working on it, but I can't help it. It's just where my passion is dragging me. But then I feel guilty about it because I'm not working on the book I should be working on.

Plus--hello! I can't actually get through Book 3 without finishing Books 1 & 2! But I can't be reasoned with! I know the basic structure of 1 and 2 so I know what happens and what leads to 3, which has me telling myself it's ok to work on it. 

I just like Book 3. There's something about it. I don't even think it's anywhere near perfect but I guess that's part of its appeal. I want to figure it all out way before I actually write the whole thing out. There's just more emotion in that book, or as I like to say, it gives me all the feels. I already have an entire playlist for it. I listen to it more than the playlist for Book 1. Book 3 just kinda drives me crazy, but in a good way, whereas Book 1 just frustrates me. 

Maybe sometimes it's good to have a distraction, when you're not getting any writing done, when the passion just isn't there. But I can't seem to shift my focus back to where it should be. I can't get back with the book I'm supposed to be with. 

Have you ever been seduced by another book idea? What did you do? 

05 June 2017

Jordan Takes Over: I'm a Terrible Boyfriend

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Once again, I have discovered something in my own novels/life that I can turn into a great lesson for all you writer type folks out there. You're welcome!

So we haven't been doing much on the editing front for the past couple of weeks. That's maybe probably my fault or something. However! That doesn't mean things are at a complete stop. Well, ok, there hasn't been much actual writing, exactly, but a whole lot of brainstorming for Book 3 (come up with a title, you say? Please.). And, well, here's the thing.

I KEEP GETTING YELLED AT. Even though we haven't even written the damn thing yet so it can be changed. Even though this book wasn't even my idea. Nope. Not at all. Some people who shall remain nameless (ADAM. But he had an accomplice) gained up on me and Sarah and now we just have more work to do.

Anyway. The reason I keep getting yelled at--I'm a terrible person, apparently. More specifically, I'm a terrible boyfriend.

How exactly does this information help you with your writing? Let me share with you the ways in which I am being yelled at. It's basically a whole lot of Can you share a shred of human emotion for even one second? Why does Adam have to spend every waking second having to win you over?? Even when you actually agree to a relationship you're still an emotionless brick wall! You can't even tell the reader that you like him even a little bit! Don't even get me started on all the crap you pull later on in the book! (SPOILERS!) How the hell is anyone supposed to root for you? Any reader is going to spend every page begging Adam to dump your ass! And so on. Have you ever heard someone argue with their own characters so much? I mean, really.

Hey! I'm supposed to be aloof and emotionless. It's just who I am (and who made me that way, I ask you). Adam knew damn well what he was getting into (shhhhhhhhh). I mean, part of the point of the relationship is for him to crack open my cold, dead heart (what? It's true). I'm not supposed to make it easy! Plus if this is Book 3 the reader will be used to me anyway. How the hell is a character supposed to grow if they're already perfect??

But I had a point to make, didn't I? It's kinda hard to have a protagonist when they're just terrible. When they have no redeeming qualities and just keep doing terrible things. No one is going to want to listen to their BS for a whole book. It's ok to be terrible some of the time, but not all of the time. No one is going to care about a character if he's always being a jerk.

I'm not saying I'm that terrible, because we are still in the planning stages here! We can change stuff. We just have to sneak in some moments where I'm nicer. If we lose all of my less likable qualities, then it screws up the whole plot. I'm supposed to learn from my mistakes, right? But I guess it's better to figure out that I'm heading in such a god-awful direction before we even really start writing.

So I guess I could learn to be a better boyfriend. Any tips? I got nothin'. If you say flowers and chocolate, a) he's a guy, b) I'll eat the chocolate, & c) he may or may not be allergic to bees. Better to stay away from the flowers.

JP

24 May 2017

BEES! (Or, Stupid or Symbolic?)

I hate hate hate all my characters they're terrible they're always doing things that make no sense.

*heavy sigh*

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who's gotten a weird idea during the early stages of a novel. One of the things you should figure out before you start writing are character traits. You'll probably decide on what the character looks like, their hobbies, family members, job, etc. But what details actually should go in the story? And why?

This is what I'm dealing with. The good thing about working on Book 3 while still not even being done with Book 1 is that I have a lot of time to iron out all the kinks. I may get an idea for 3 and I can spend a lot of time figuring out if it'll work or not. But sometimes I get hit with an idea, and I don't know if it's any good. I don't know if it serves a purpose.

So a lot of my brainstorming comes from running endless conversations in my head. I just have my characters talk and talk and talk and if they actually say something good, I write it down. I was picturing two characters on a date and trying to get into some deep conversation (one was very reluctant--GUESS WHO). But then the other character had an interesting response to a question about fears:

          “What are you afraid of?”
          “You mean besides this conversation? Commitment, probably.”
          “That’s not exactly a secret.”
          “Why, what are you afraid of?”
          “Bees.”

Uhhhhh....

BEES?
Bzzzzzzzzzzzz

At first I was like, huh? Then I just thought it was kinda funny and cute. One character talks about being afraid of commitment, then the other says bees. It was good for a chuckle. But then I started thinking about it. Why bees???

I sort of went with the thought process, and thought, well, maybe he's afraid of bees because he's allergic to them. That's a good reason, right? Ok, but why exactly is this important to the story? Is it just something to make him seem vulnerable? Will bees ever show up in the story? Does it somehow parallel the fact that another character puts honey in his tea?

I have no freaking clue. I'm at that weird limbo phase where I'm trying to decide if I should run with it and figure it out, or just cut the idea completely. I can't remember ever reading about a character with an allergy, so I'm not sure what exactly it should be doing for the story. But I think that everything in a story should have a purpose, right? If I mention a bee allergy, don't I have to sting him by the end of the novel? (CHEKHOV'S BEES???) Or can it be something more symbolic?

I guess I'll just put the bees on my to-figure-out list.

Ever had an idea and weren't sure if it would work? Know any characters with an allergy?

22 May 2017

Semi-Productive

So it's Monday which means I'm back to work (say it isn't so!) and the staycation is over. I thought I'd check in with what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish...). My initial goal was to get 11 chapter edits done for Uneven Lines and get to the last 3rd of the book where I'll start completely rewriting.

Did that happen? Of course not. Who do you think you're dealing with here? I don't always make goals, but when I do, they're ridiculous and unobtainable. That doesn't mean I got nothing done, either. I got....some stuff done. Which I'll take as a win because I don't usually get any writing done on days I work.

Editing is not easy, either. You have to figure out what's wrong with the words in front of you and find ways to make it better. Sometimes a scene or a chapter took a lot longer than I thought it would to get through. But the awesome thing is that when I do figure something out, I instantly know when it's the right choice for the book. I think I've just been with this story for so long, I know exactly what it needs. Eventually, of course.

One great thing about working on editing so much is that I got so many blog post ideas! Which I will be utilizing in the coming weeks.

Another thing I had to this past week was finish up the blog tour for the Hero Lost anthology. Before we started, I volunteered to organize the whole thing and do all the communication and setting up the posts. I think this was equal parts wanting to help and really, just being a control freak. I think if you've got too many people working on the same thing, it can get confusing and go very slowly. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know! It was definitely a lot of hard work reaching out to everyone and getting everything we needed. Some people were instantly cooperative and others just completely ignored me for some reason. Oh well! I could write more on it but I think that would be in bad taste. I'm just going to let go and thank the universe that it's over, because I'm exhausted. I'm swimming in interview questions and links and HTML code. The last post is on Wednesday and it's already sent out so YAY!

So, without any further psychotic rambling, drum roll please...

STATS!

Chapters Edited: 3
So, not 11. But still probably way more than I would have gotten done if I was working. Got through Chapters 8, 9, and 10.
New Words Written for UL: 1,893
The three chapters I edited initially had 6,698 words altogether, and now have 8,478. So that means I'm adding a lot as I edit/rewrite, and considering all of my "more" notes, that's a good thing! I also just wrote a random 113 word snippet for waaaaaaaaay later in the book (hooray for ideas!).
Other New Words Written: 3,031
Literally all in Book 3. Most of it at the very very end of the book (I make so much sense!). Also some of an epilogue that I probably won't even use.
Days Spent Complaining About How Hot it Was: 2 
It was in the freaking 90s and we don't have an air conditioner (yet) so there.

Gizmo spent the hot days on the floor where it was cooler :(
New Blog Post Ideas: 6 
Emails Sent: 16 (Honestly, I thought it was more)
Blog Tours Finished: 1 (wooooooohoooooooooooo)

17 May 2017

I'm Writing the Wrong Book!

So I'm on day three of my staycation. Which means I still have four more after today. I feel like I'm not being as productive as I wanted to be, but I guess being lazy for a couple days is to be expected. Sometimes you just need to wind down when you get a break from work.

But that doesn't mean I'm not getting any writing done. Because I am. I finished the edit of Chapter 8 last night. I can't really call that too much of a victory because it's probably the easiest chapter in the whole book to edit. But progress is progress, right?

Well...some progress can be distracting. I have been getting some work done. A decent amount, actually. Not ridiculous, but not minuscule, either. The only problem is that it's not UL I'm working on. It's the still and probably forever unnamed Book 3.

I just can't help myself, really. I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday and I got this idea for a scene at a wedding and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I just had to get the idea down before it disappeared. On Monday night I wrote almost three pages of this scene. It's a bit heartbreaking and I absolutely love it.

So you'd think I'd stop after the scene was done, right? Haha, WRONG. I kept going. I've written a few tidbits for the last chapter of this book before, and I just kept going with it for a bit. But it's not my fault! Sometimes I get slammed with inspiration at the worst times--like when I'm trying to sleep. Like yesterday morning when this little gem popped into my brain:


Notice the 5:00 AM, please. Yes, on my vacation. When I should be sleeping. And do you think I come up with these psychotic lines on my own? Because I don't. They just pop randomly into my head out of nowhere. My muse is real, people. And he's a jerk.

I feel like I can't ignore the inspiration just because it's not the book I want or should be working on. So I should be working on the first book but I can't stop thoughts from the last chapter of the last book (when I haven't even written most of THAT book, either). It doesn't make any sense!

I should ignore it, right? Or maybe create some kind of reward system. Like, finish editing a chapter, let myself write nonsense for a half hour. Something like that. I really don't think the staycation goal of ELEVEN CHAPTER EDITS is going to happen at this point. And I know I should be glad to spend every day writing, which I am. But I really want to get this novel done--the first one. So badly. It's just going so slowly. Distractions don't help! I mean, at least I'm not getting distracted by a different series and different characters (I see you waiting patiently, Shiny New Story), but still.

I just can't help it. Sometimes I have to write what's in my head. Even if it's the wrong book.

15 May 2017

Why I Write from Male Perspectives

I'm continuing with the random ideas that pop in my head because of my short story, "The Last Dragon," in the brand spankin' new IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. But today's topic isn't just about that story. It's about a lot of my stories, at least the ones I've been writing for the past few years. Because they have something in common:

Male protagonists. It seems that every story I come up with is told from a male POV. The fact that these protagonists are also the narrators of their stories probably has more to do with me being more comfortable with first person. It just feels more personal to me; I can dive in more with the characters and really tell what they're experiencing and feeling.

But why the male POVs? Because I'm a girl, some people may think it's weird. They may even think the story is told by a female character until they get some kind of clue that it's not (which I try to do as soon as possible). But first, I think we have to go back in time.

I've come up with a lot of story ideas since I first started writing, but I haven't necessarily committed to writing all of them. One story idea in particular stands out from my earlier writing, though, and that was from a female POV. It was a YA fantasy, with a bit of a Twilight feel, but before Twilight was even a thing (so clearly I was ahead of my time...). I wrote it three times. I really was committed to it. I thought it was my book. But I was 14 when I started. Not everyone is a perfect writer when they're 14. Eventually I abandoned the book. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, maybe not.

But do I think I only wrote a book from a girl's POV because I was supposed to? Because that would be expected? I'm not so sure. I don't think it would have occurred to me at 14 to write as a different gender. I just wasn't experienced enough as a writer to tackle something like that. And I've always believed that my characters speak to me. The protagonist for this story was named Amber, and this was her story. It couldn't be told from someone else's POV. I did have prequel and sequel ideas, some dual-POV ideas with her and her love interest, Drew, but I never got them done.

So I think it's all up to my characters. The idea for Uneven Lines started as a concept, with no concrete characters in mind. I hadn't decided on their genders yet. It really could have gone in so many different directions. But then a few hours later, as I was sitting in my fiction writing class, basically Jordan appeared to me, said something along the lines of, "I'm here, bitch. Here's your story." And the rest was history.

Since then, all of my stories have been from male POVs. Again, I haven't written all of those ideas. But how does this relate to "The Last Dragon"? The protagonist and narrator, Raynor, is a 17-year-old boy. Why was this story from his POV? I could have told it from his sister's POV, or even the actual lost hero, although the story would have been significantly different. I think I chose Raynor because he has the most doubt. His sister Illy is too sure of herself, too confident. I thought the story would be more interesting from his POV. I think he had more to learn, more to discover about himself.

So I don't really know if I've actually answered the question of why I write from male perspectives. I guess it's just that those are the characters who speak to me. They're the ones who want their stories told. And I always listen to my characters.

I think with female characters, I just say, "go forth and kick ass." I'm more protective of my male characters (yes, even Jordan. You haven't seen my outline for Book 2...). They're more troubled. They have more complicated stories to tell. Looking back now, I think Amber was a flat character. Too much of a damsel in distress. I think Illy in "The Last Dragon" is the kind of female character I'd want to write. So maybe I'll change things up at some point. It all just depends on what characters pop up in my head.

12 May 2017

The Ridiculous Staycation Goal

I know, I know, I said I'd post on Wednesday and I'm posting on a Friday. Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I want! *cough*

I mostly wanted to post this today because I have a better post for Monday. And I just came up with this idea so I wanted to write it down before I came to my senses changed my mind.

So starting on Monday, I will be off work for a week. And I'm not going anywhere. Or doing anything. Except seeing my husband's best friend in a play on Thursday night. That is literally the only thing I have planned. So what does this mean?

IT'S WRITING TIME. Wait. I mean, IT'S EDITING TIME. Ok, so not as fun. But still happening!

I've been stuck in Chapter 7 land for weeks, I think. I'm not sure anymore. I should have been done with it a while ago. But guess what? I FINISHED IT YESTERDAY! It's basically a miracle. But now that I got it done, I want to keep going. And I'm not going to stop. Which is why I came up with the ridiculous goal.

I want to get through editing Chapter 18 before the end of my vacation. 

Why Chapter 18? Because it's the beginning of the end! Well, ok. It's the end of the just editing phase. Because I have to completely rewrite the last third of the book. And after Chapter 18, all bets are off. I have no idea what's going to happen. Ok, some idea. But it's going to be tough to get through and figure out.

Everything before the end of Chapter 18 will be a lot easier to edit than everything I have to rewrite after it. But at the pace I'm going, it'll take me another three years just to get there. So I want to take this week to get through the editing, then worry about the rewriting later. That's eleven chapters to get through. ELEVEN. If you didn't already know I was nuts, I think you know now.

Is this crazy? Yes? Will I accomplish it? Probably not. But I'm still going to try and see how far I can get. And if I get a few ideas for that last third, I'll still call it a win.

Do you make crazy goals for yourself? Have you ever accomplished them?

08 May 2017

Girls Who Kick Butt

I'm thinking about switching up my blog schedule this month, maybe even posting more often! We'll see. For Mondays, I want to dive a little deeper into my story "The Last Dragon," from the IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. Then if I have some other writing related nonsense (like if I ever finish Chapter 7 of UL...), I'll post something on Wednesdays. But you know what happens when I promise things...

Anyway! Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite characters. Well, ok, there are really only three characters in "The Last Dragon," so calling one of them "one of my favorites" would seem a bit strange. I love them all, and for different reasons. But the character who's definitely the coolest? In my opinion, at least, it's the MC's twin sister, Irillya. Why? Well, she kicks butt. Ok, maybe not literally. But she's definitely a strong female character.

Even though the story is told from Raynor's point of view, and revolves around the search for their uncle Mikah, there would be no story without Irillya, or Illy, as she's called throughout the story. I have a feeling she actually dislikes her nickname, or at least the fact that it gives her a softer, childlike side that she'd rather not acknowledge. She's tough as nails. She knows what she has to do and she gets it done. Or at least, tries to. Sometimes the way isn't always so clear. But since she has a goal, she knows she has to accomplish it, no matter what.

Illy is Gifted--meaning she has a special power. Her power is seeing visions of the future. In this world, being Gifted is more of a curse than a blessing. But that just gives her more motivation once she has a vision of her uncle fighting a great battle. She knows she has to find him and convince him to fight, even though she's never met him and has no idea how he'll respond. He did disappear, after all. She doesn't know if he still wants to be the hero he once was.

So Illy and her brother Raynor go on their journey, because she wasn't going to take no for an answer. Illy is always seen as the stronger twin. Raynor reflects on how he wishes he had his sister's confidence and strength. The only reason he feels protective of her is because being Gifted is so dangerous. Illy isn't exactly someone who wants to be protected, but the twins are close and they take care of each other.

For reasons that are spoilerific, Illy unfortunately becomes a bit of a damsel in distress, but literally only for half a second. And she's saved by her brother, not some knight in shining armor. She would probably laugh at one of those. She quickly brushes off any trauma she may have faced and is ready to kick butt again. When the final battle approaches, she may not be able to physically take part in it, but her confidence is what fuels her brother and uncle to know that they can face it. So maybe Illy is more of an unsung hero than a lost one.

Do you have a favorite butt-kicking female character? 



Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!