The end of the month is almost here.

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Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful weekend. My weekend was quiet but not as productive as Easter Sunday. My hopes for publication on this story, however, are rising. It’s just a matter of rectifying what I’ve had to add for the ending – story was complete; just not the best I had to offer – and what I’m rewriting then refining even more. It’s turning out beautifully. I’m very excited about this. I’m also ready for the revising and editing to be over so I can continue working on Frost Giants and prepare that for publication as well.

I know this isn’t ready by the middle of the month, like I’d wanted, but that’s okay. It’s just one set back. It isn’t like I have an agent or a major publishing house to back me at this time with any of my projects. Not saying I don’t want either one of them – today is today, and we have no idea what tomorrow will bring – but I’d rather test the waters first with the kinds of stories I want to read before worrying about writing something I think an editor at a publishing house would like to read. Original material is untested for me. I’d rather be sure through self-publishing before committing myself to a two or three year contract. It’s going to be more work in the long run, but it will also be worth it. This project (along with Dragon’s Rain and Frost Giants) is very important to me.

Speaking of projects, I’ve undertaken a reading one. Since delving into the Nordic mythology/religion for Frost Giants, I’ve had more ideas come to me. More ideas than what I’ll probably have time to write, but ideas are always good. At this point, I will never run out. One such story idea is a YA series surrounding the Norse Gods. In order to get a better grasp on how it’s handled, I’ve started to re-read the Harry Potter series (I’ve made it to Book 2) and Rick Riordin’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. I recently finished Book 2 for that and am waiting for my local library to let me know when Book 3 has been returned so I can continue. I’ve also found a trilogy series called The Magic Thief, which has also been interesting but not nearly as engaging for me.

My thinking on this is that I want to do something similar yet unique with my Young Adult series. Harry Potter attends a wizarding school in a typical school year setting whereas Percy Jackson does deal some with the school year but is set more in a summer camp setting. This is going to prove tricky and challenging. I’m very glad I have the Prose Edda for this. The stories are not all that dissimilar from the Greek, but they’re also unique. I’d have to check the Greek pantheon to be sure on whether or not they had a trickster God like Loki.

As of right now, I have no idea where I’m going to slide that particular project in with the rest. I will figure something out, though, rest assured. My research into the Norse histories and Gods isn’t over. It will probably never be over, but it’s been worth the effort.

Happy Monday!

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Shutting off your internal editor

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I forgot to add that Chuck Wendig’s blog isn’t necessariy work-safe. His advice from the other day’s entry is still wonderful, no matter what age you begin writing. If you still wish to read what he has to say, you can find it here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/04/16/ten-things-id-like-to-say-to-young-writers/ and I repost this link because it does help with the message I’m sending.

Today’s entry is actually inspired by what a friend said to me in an email last night. As I mentioned before, I’m aiming for publication sometime this month. Aiming, but still uncertain if it’s going to happen later this month or early next. Parts of the story in question are posted for critique at my writer’s forum while parts are still under construction. The following week or so is going to prove very busy.

Anyway, with this push to revise and edit and polish, I wanted to be sure the final product is really the final product before I start the whole process of self-publishing. To ensure this, I asked the above mentioned friend for honest feedback on the finished and polished product. She’s politely declined, and I respect that. But it’s what she said to me on why she was refusing that really got me to thinking. So I write this entry specifically for her in hopes that helps her regain her creative freedom. I also write this entry for the poor and unfortunate souls who may stumble upon this and suffer from the same problem. Of shutting up that internal editor.

I tell myself that it’s the first draft. That it’s okay for that first draft to suck, that it doesn’t need to be a polished diamond from the get go. I like Chuck Wendig’s advice to new writers – just write.

Now, sometimes my internal editor still gets the better of me. I can’t always help it or avoid it. It’s part of making sure that, when I write chapter five, everything I’m describing meshes coherently with chapter one and then later on in later chapters. When that happens, I find missing words, areas I want to expand upon, and go from there. That can eat up a lot of time, but I still keep telling myself to just write. The first draft does not need to be perfect. Most known authors don’t write the finished draft in one go. Why would I expect it of myself? And I ask that of anyone who reads this blog, of anyone who wants to write in general, be it for fun or for paid publication. 

I still have a long way to go in silencing that internal editor on first drafts – I’ve become very accustomed to writing one draft and posting it for the fanfiction world – but I’m doing a lot better than I have in the past. 

It’s a holiday weekend. Be safe, be merry!

Hooking readers

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From Teri Cross Chetwood ( https://www.facebook.com/teri.crosschetwood )

“I just said this on a writer website forum, and wanted to share it because I think it’s pithy. It’s LOADED with pith.

I’ve always found the argument about hooking the reader with the first sentence to be a bit specious. Granted, you want it to be a great start and interest them, but saying it’s all-important (as I’ve heard it called) is to ignore the importance of the book as a whole.

Any reader who’s going to give up because you don’t have a killer first paragraph isn’t going to stick around for the ending, anyway. The second the story hits a slow spot (as all stories do), he’s gone.

If I was that kind of reader, I would have never read A Tale of Two Cities, which has a horrible beginning, stretched out interminably because Dickens was paid by the word.”

————–

I find Teri’s words very interesting and to be true, and she does know I’ve snagged this. I find her insights on writing to be stimulating and refreshing. She doesn’t bandy words in my conversations and interactions with her on Scribo and facebook.

Now, she uses a classic by Dickens as her example, and yet I can think of my own examples as well that fit what she’s saying. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien come to mind. I remember in either the seventh or eighth grade – I’m leaning towards the latter due to different teachers – reading an excerpt from The Hobbit in my literature book. This excerpt was the most boring one I’d ever read – it described Bilbo’s hobbit hole. It didn’t start out with Gandalf appearing suddenly at his door with thirteen Dwarves in tow or the mess said Dwarves made of Bilbo’s tidy and comfortable home.

All of this, of course, was before my mom’s (now ex) boyfriend introduced my younger brother (and inadvertently, me) to the Ralph Bakshi film titled The Lord of the Rings and thus beginning my painful and torrid love affair with the fantasy genre, both reading and writing it. Yes, Tolkien wove some intrigue about the eccentricities of Bilbo Baggins when he started out with announcing the celebration of his 111th birthday. But it took a while to find out that the ring Master Baggins passed on to his heir was a ring great importance and great danger. The same could be said about his description of Bilbo’s abode in The Hobbit

Some could argue, “Well, that’s fantasy”, but even that genre is facing intense scrutiny for being too slow paced. There’s something about writers critiquing other writers and asking them to hurry up the pace, get to the action quicker because that’s what the reader wants . . .

And the reality is the reader wants a well-crafted story, one with high notes and low notes because that’s how life is. Life isn’t about hurrying up to get to the end. It’s about enjoying the journey along the way, and if we can’t stop for one moment to breathe, one moment to smell the roses or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, then there’s something seriously wrong with our lives and with our story-telling. I agree with the sentiment there should be something in the first chapter to snag the reader, some hint of intrigue to tease and tantalize the mind of the person picking up the work, something to beg the question, “Okay, this is nice. Now what the fuck is going to happen next”. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the first sentence, the first paragraph, or even the first page. It just needs to be there.

Some words of wisdom from Chuck Wendig:
http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/04/16/ten-things-id-like-to-say-to-young-writers/

I’ve read the entire article. I recommend that everyone who wants to write, who is writing, to read it because it isn’t a “this how you will succeed” type blog entry of his. It’s truth. Plain and simple. Just be warned – his language is a little salty and not necessarily work-safe. Read at your own discretion.

Now to listen to that bit of wisdom. Write!!

 

If Not Now, Then When?

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As many of my friends already know, I’ve been working on several novel projects at one point or another for the last several years. Each is in various stages. My goal is to publish, but that’s also been my goal well over a decade now, and I’ve yet to do anything beyond start project after project. (I’ve writing original fiction longer than I’ve had this journal.)

So I ask myself, if not now, then when? When I will finish something, get it polished up, and ready publication? I’m in my mid-thirties now and still just dreaming of becoming a published author. Publishing something has been a dream of mine since I started to fall in love with some of my original creations. Several people I know, either through livejournal, fictionpress, or Scribophile, have already published something or taken those steps, always going one step further than just opening that Word document or touching pen to paper. It’s become more of a dream for them, yet I’m still dragging my feet like I have all of this time. I can blame the internet all I want for being so shiny and distracting, but I allow myself to do this. I allow myself to be distracted because “tomorrow’s another day”. 

This may seem like the wrong attitude to have. It might also sound like alarmist, but at some point, I have to stop and shake myself. There’s a lot I want to do in my life, and I’ve realized a lot of where my hesitation has come from.

It’s called fear. I’m afraid of taking a chance upon myself, though I have no problems investing into writing. Yet, I still haven’t taken any chances. I still have my doubts. I haven’t queried any agents, any publishing houses, nor have I published anything on my own. (Fanfiction doesn’t count in this case.) It is a nerve-wracking thought that paralyzes the soul, that makes one content with just day-dreaming instead of living with the reality.

I remember reading about a friend’s endeavors for publishing. She did almost everything right, too. Established a writing journal, a website, and a facebook page. She queried agents and received rejection letters. She experienced frustration in trying to tell the stories she wanted to tell, only to have others tear her down because it wasn’t “marketable” in their opinions or that it wasn’t getting to the point fast enough. Or so I have inferred from past conversations.

And that’s where I feel she went wrong, where I feel any new author will go wrong. Too many people were trying to tell her how to be marketable when that’s not why we write.

Yes. Becoming a New York Times best-seller is a dream. Becoming the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer is a dream. It’s appealing in every single way yet . . . yet these are authors who timed things just right, who worked for their success. There is no formula to guarantee sales, to become the next Amanda Hocking when it comes to self-publishing, and there are certainly no guarantees that every reader will love what we’ve written.

This has stuck with me, even though I consider myself a good writer. I consider her writing better than mine, and yet she struggled to make it. And I know she’ll see this at some point or another so I don’t want her to feel like I’m singling her out. Her story really has stuck with me, and I would love for her to start writing again and to know there are some people out there who would buy her books even if they didn’t have “mainstream” appeal.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to disparage critique groups and the authors out there who make their living on writing books on how to write books. This isn’t a snub against the publishing industry for wanting to capitalize on what works for sales. When it comes right down to it, the how-to-write books are nothing solid and definitive. They are tomes of advice, very useful advice, and they should be treated as such. This is one thing I have learned in my current critique group. It all comes down to decisions. 

So, I’m pushing myself to the limits. My work is not cut out for me, and I will have to work for each and every sale I make once I publish something. I know I’m pushing myself, possibly to ridiculous extremes, but, if I don’t, who will? If I don’t put myself on the path to realize my dreams right now, to realize them sooner rather than later, then who else will? How does that old saying go?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I can offer up as much encouragement to my fellow writers as I possibly can. The decision to write, to make that time, and just do it is up to them.

Happy writing, everyone!

Never let it be said the weather isn’t inspirational

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I know that my last entry was very depressing, but I don’t apologize for it. At the same time it was depressing, I also hope it was uplifting and inspirational. I know so many people who are struggling right now with one issue or another. Sometimes it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, but there is. It amazes me when someone perseveres through some of the harshest of situations.

On a lighter note (because I have misplaced my list of subject matters right this moment – I will find it), last night, my area was drenched in rain. Everything started out with some pitter-pattering against the window. I live in the country right now so I can enjoy listening to the rain and thunder. I just don’t have the right kind of porch to enjoy the lightning.

So, while it was starting to rain, I was sitting at the computer, browsers and tabs open, documents awaiting progress, and notebooks and pens surrounding me. This is nothing unusual. There’s always some project at various stages, notes I’m making for potential revisions, and I’m now delving back into writing shorter pieces. Flash fiction, to be precise, and I’ve chosen five of the Norse Goddesses as my subject matter. Call them character studies, if you will. I’ve written one already tentatively called The Weaver, which focuses on Frigga, wife of Odin, and the fact she is said to see the future. And that she can weave. This is awaiting revisions.

I have three more flash pieces I want to write.

Okay, I can just hear someone saying now, “What does this have to do with the weather?” Relax, my friends, I am getting there.

As I was saying, I have three more flash pieces I want to write about Frigga before moving on to the other four Goddesses. For one of my daily writing goals (which is helping!), I’ve chosen the next piece to deal with Frigga and motherhood. 

I set this particular goal on the 11th. Last night saw a break through when it started to rain.

I can imagine a woman like Frigga sitting next to a hearth and listening to the rain while soothing a frightened babe or child. It was a small start, but the pitter-pattering of the rain against the window last night inspired. So when you’re stuck on a point, when you’re not sure of what should happen next, ask yourself, “What’s the weather like outside for the character?” It may just spur you to write something magnificent!

Never let it be said the weather can’t inspire. And, yes, one day, I would love to start a story with the cliched, “It was a dark and stormy night”. 

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday!

Expect to fall

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I was considering writing a very belated book review on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, but a friend’s announcement on her Scribophile profile page has given me some different food for thought. 

Expect to fall. Expect something to come along to mess up your plans, mess up your routine. Expect to experience some kind of heartache, either for you or due to a loved one. Expect chaos. Expect moments of soul-crushing despair. Expect to feel like the world is against you. Expect to have those moments where you question everything, including your will to live. Expect detours and rain delays. Expect freezing temperatures.

Sometimes these things are fleeting, momentary. Other times, they last for years and pile right on top of event after event. My own life has been a good example of this. I’ve had my own moments where I’ve questioned whether or not I should continue writing, but I have never experienced what my one writing friend has experienced in her life alone. I’m amazed by her, awed by her, and my heart breaks for her. Some of my fellow Scribblers will know who she is.

At the same time you expect to fall, expect all of these hardships to come your way, remember this: Keep fighting. Keep writing. Even you need to stop for a while to recollect, regroup, and just flat out curl up into a ball and wail out your misery, keep going. Yes, there will always be someone out there who has it worse than you – my friend updating her profile page today is proof, for me, just how “good” I have right now. But don’t allow those thoughts to drown you. 

We are human. We have emotional needs that we need to tend to, or we’re going to end up as empty husks. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Life has cloudy skies, storms, ice, and slippery roads. But, in order to truly appreciate the sun, the rainbows, and accomplishment, we must go through the bad weather, endure.

We authors are not immune to this. A year ago, a man I respect as an author and teacher of writing nearly lost his son to a long-boarding accident. Life looked bleak. But he carried on, he did what he needed to do in order to ensure his son received the medical attention he needed.

So expect to fall, but also expect a landing. Then decide. Do you stay down? Or do you get back up again and keep going?

Setting Daily Goals

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This is something I really need to do for myself. Set some daily goals on what I want, and need, to get done for writing and blogging – I run more than one, and I enjoy them very much. There’s also the editing, the revising, critiquing so I can post more for critiquing, and the networking as well as finding work for in the meantime. I wish I had a comfy spot, as David Farland suggests in one of his Daily Kicks, just so I can get as much done in the day as I can. Right now, though, I’ll work on daily goals.

You see, I can see the benefit to setting daily goals, Rather than just my usual routine of make coffee, boot up my sister’s computer and call up the documents I want to work on, and toast a bagel, I could move forward with each manuscript.

So how would a writer go about setting daily goals? This will vary from writer to writer. My writing needs will differ greatly from someone like Stephen King or even my friends and readers at Scribophile. For me, I would base what I want to accomplish on what the story needs. Do I want to write a chapter a day? Or do I want to focus on the middle and ending sections first so I can reconcile the beginning with each? I’m very reluctant to say set a word count goal. Such goals are okay, but, when the distractions are shut down, turned off, cranking out 500 words a day, 1667 words a day, 3000 words a day can become quite easy. That doesn’t necessarily mean your story is moving forward. It doesn’t even mean you’re working on a novel. However, while I’m reluctant to say use that as a goal, I also won’t discount it. Goals need to be what works for you, my fellow writers, not just me. I will say this. 

Don’t just think about what you want for your daily goals. Write them down. Tack them up where you can see them. Remind yourself that this is what you need to do for this day. I won’t say you’ll get everything done, but it will be a start.

Now to set my daily goals for today and to get them done.

Author’s Note: As part of one of my daily goals, I plan on revising and polishing up a novella originally set to be an entry to Writers of the Future. With the talk of moving going on in my house, I’ve decided to revamp it, make it a bit longer than the 17k word count cut-off for the competition, and will postpone entering until the fourth quarter. I want to publish this piece sometime this month. I’ll post more about it once I’ve changed the title to something more appropriate along with a summary and publication date.