video: writing update, readthrough and NaNoPrep

It’s been a rough year, which really shows in my writing. I had a hard time focusing—-life, work, health, it all came together to result in a convoluted mess of a draft full of gaping holes. I was brutal in my cuts during the last revision, and what I thought was the right choice, led to a weak plot that really lacks punch. But I couldn’t see it until now. The readthrough was painful, but I received some solid feedback from two of my betas (thank you for being my victims) and had a major breakthrough. I’m in for a hell of a lot of rewriting (and new writing) but I know where things went wrong and I know how to fix it (fingers crossed), which is a very good thing.

Here’s to another round as a NaNo rebel. No real word goals, just a purpose: rewrite, revise, redraft.

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video: writing and financial safety nets

Today’s video was inspired by Theodora Goss’s recent post on “Writing without a net,” wherein she discusses the reality of writing without a financial safety net. I’m definitely a writer without a net.

Next week, I’ll share some thoughts on NaNo-prep, readthroughs, and revision plans.

the end is the beginning – on winning NaNoWriMo 2015

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I did it! I actually managed to squeeze in enough writing sessions in the mornings, while taking breaks, before bed, after running, while showering (do not dismiss the power of a good shower for brainstorming), and all the in-betweens to reach 50k. Of Blood and Pearls is now begun.

About a week ago, I really thought it was over. I felt drained and tired and was having a hard time catching up after returning from the conference. Despite the best of intentions, I wasn’t feeling very positive, and was ready to settle for whatever word count I managed to swing. Somehow, I kept at it and found myself getting back into a flow, putting out between 1800 and 2200 words a day (the extra word goal really helped in the long run). I reached 50, 232 words when I finished Chapter 14. That was yesterday. I still have about another 3 chapters to go, if I manage to stick to my outline, so that should be about another 10 – 15,000 words for this draft. I’m going to scale back to about 1000 words a day (I need to get out of my chair again) and aim to finish the about mid-way through December. Then it’s onto more drafting for Anúna (which now has a tentative title of sorts).

Now, to catch up on every I put off during November. Ta.

NaNo 2015 update, nearly midway

NaNo is well under way and the “sea story” is officially a WIP. It’s also starting to veer in new directions, steering me away from my outline as I delve further into the story (always a welcome occurrence). I’m totally riding the new-novel-high (the happier, less angst-ridden cousin of the third-draft-low). My NaNo goal is on target, but spending the last three days away from home at a conference really disrupted my progress. Looking forward to get back on track tomorrow.

wrapping up October

on writing

It’s been a little over a year since I last participated in a proper NaNoWriMo challenge and the thought of trying to write 50k words is definitely intimidating at the moment. My calendar for the next month is already filled with things to do: the boy’s birthday, a library conference, holiday parties at work and at home, and other little time commitments scattered throughout November. Plus, I’ve been in rewriting/revising mode for so long (between Cassiel and Anuna, it feels like all I’ve done in the last three years is rewrite and revise), I’m anxious about delving into a whole new story, setting, cast of characters, etc. I’m excited, but scared… and not sure I’ll get to 50, even if I squeeze in every free minute I can. My schedule has changed so much since the last time I participated in NaNo, I’ll be happy if I get close.

on life

It’s been nearly three months since I took in Caramelito, my half-blind rescue kitty, and we’re finally making progress. He’s no longer running scared when a new person comes for a visit, and (after much trial and error) I think he’s finally adjusting to my sleeping schedule and knows that I’ll be back to play in the morning. There have been LOTS of sleepless nights in the last two months, but the last two nights have been blissful. In my desperation, I purchased a cheap, disposable cat cube that is providing hours of entertainment, and a short scratching post thing with bouncy balls hanging off the ends, so he can bat at them to his heart’s content. It feels like he’s been here longer than three months; I’ve been so wrapped up in figuring out how to make the house friendly to a young cat. He requires lots of energy, but getting to know all his little quirks and habits has made for a nice change, and a good distraction after losing Didymus.

on books

After finishing the latest draft of Anuna, I decided to focus on reading, especially genre reads. Some of the latest include:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – an original, post-apocalyptic/sci-fi style take on vampire YA.

Evernight by Kristen Callihan – the 5th book in the Darkest London series, Victorian paranormal romance (these are naughty fun).

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision not to have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum – a series of essays on choosing to remain childless. Definitely resonated.

and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – still reading it, not sure how I feel about it, but interesting.

not an excuse, just an understanding

I’ll fess up… I don’t think I’m going to be meeting my NaNoWriMo Rebel goal. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just find that in rewriting, I’m also re-imagining a lot of significant plot points and events that need more work than I foresaw when I started this journey. There are so many factors that are different this time around–last year, I was living at home and could get away with letting someone else do the cooking and chores, now it’s all on me. I also don’t have the extra time at work to focus on editing during my lunch; whereas, last year, I was getting an extra hour of writing a day by writing during my lunch hour. I also just don’t rewrite as fast as I write. My rewriting process is much slower than my writing… there’s more note taking and planning involved; it’s necessary, but it slows me down. Again, I’m finding that I’m okay with this. I’m not in this to “win;” more and more, I’m in this to produce something worth one day sharing with an agent. It’s early still, but I doubt I’ll get more than two more rewritten chapters before the end of the month. I’ll happen… it just might have to continue into December.

I am enjoying the process though 🙂 I’m seeing the story from a whole new angle and making it so much better (I think). Motivations and details are finally starting to come together. I’m kind of excited and eager to be able to read the whole thing through and fine-tune it.

has it really been a year?

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OMG! It’s almost November! Which means… NaNo time! Again! Yes! I’m exclaiming too much!

Okay. That’s enough of that.

So here’s the plan…

I’m doing NaNo… sort of. I’m really just using it as a way to stay focused on my rewriting. The idea of having a deadline, even a self-imposed one, works for me. I will only validate if I finish the entire round of rewrites that I assigned myself in September (when I really got back to working on Anúna). My rewriting process is slow and messy, so a complete draft seems a worthy goal to me. My main focus is working on plot, pacing, and characterization. Right now, I’m somewhere between chapters 9 and 10, and have cut about 5000 words from the original draft–which leaves a good 40000 words that remain untouched and untamed.

My next goal will be to work on individual scenes and get down to the sentence-level unruliness before finding a beta or CP willing to exchange ideas.

If I feel brave enough, I might attend some of my local write-ins (I’m more of an antisocial, solitary type, but I’m trying to be more open).

Want to be my writing buddy? Find me here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/emperatrix

Adventures in re-writing, part 1

Cassiel... in progress
Cassiel… in progress

That, my friends, is my pile of notes, outlines, summaries, and the first 5 chapters of Cassiel, draft 1 (aka. the wild beast). Now, here I am, nearing the first week of CampNaNoWriMo and I am actually feeling really good about choosing to rewrite Cassiel rather than rework the existing text. I feel like I’ve been living with these characters for the last 7 years (I hadn’t even realized it was that long until I looked at the original file save dates), so I know their voices and stories inside and out. Now, I just need to make them come to life in a fresher way. Just looking at those first 5 chapters, I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer. There is a serious Victorian influence running through my early writing, something that was definitely a result of too much Classic lit in school… and while I love the Victorians, I don’t want Cassiel to read like a Victorian knock-off. I want this book to have a style and tone all its own, and I am getting there! Not to too my own horn, but I’m surprised at how it’s coming along. It’s not perfect, but that’s not my goal right now. My goal is to write a solid first half of a novel, so that I can then find a balance between editing Anúna and finishing Cassiel. There was way too much time and distance between chapters when I wrote the first version of this book and I don’t want to fall into that trap again. That way lies the bad place! No no, I much prefer to stay closer to this draft. I do feel stronger about the last quarter of the original and some of the dialogue, so I do plan on printing the rest of it out and going through to find those nuggets of inspiration, but I think this will be a mostly new draft all around.

I’m ahead of my word count goal for the week, which is surprising given that I’ve been writing in the space between my eating breakfast and leaving for work (with kitty cat cuddle time squeezed in to keep kitty from attacking me for attention). The plan for the weekend is to put in another 3000 words. And do some yoga. I seriously need to stretch after all this desk time.

Cassiel, rewrite draft 1 (Camp NaNo word goal)

Anúna: 1st Draft post-NaNo update #2

The flu did me in so that I was barely able to move, let alone get any writing done during the last four days. I had one really great burst of writing the morning before my symptoms started up, and then I had some pretty interesting hallucinations involving writing while I was under the influence of just about every cold remedy in my medicine cabinet, but no actual progress was made after that. A complete first draft by Dec 25 is looking less likely. My energy is still nonexistent and I’m taking a trip to Disney this weekend with the boy (unless something terrible happens… please, don’t), so I’m thinking my progress is going to remain pretty stagnant. But the will remains!

Nevertheless, during my semi-OCDish review of my twitter feed while languishing in bed, I saw a challenge posted by the NaNo moderators, urging Wrimos to write a dust cover blurb for their novel. Somehow, I grabbed pen and paper and wrote this down.

Two Queens, One Throne. A Tale of Magic and Treachery.

Twins born to the King and Queen of Clan Siggel, Anúna and Siobhan were destined to rule the Clan as one. When Siobhan’s desire for power leads her to view Anúna as an enemy and a usurper, it is up to Anúna to fly or fight. Magic, romance, danger, and murder abound as Anúna struggles to restore balance to the Other realm and regain what was hers.

Whoever said sisters are supposed to be the best of friends?

It doesn’t say much… but I’m still working on how to tell people about it. And that’s one of the major challenges of being a writer, right? Just learning how to talk about what you’re writing. It’s an urban fantasy. It’s mostly set between New York and what I alternately call the Other realm, Faerie, or the Ethereal Lands (the final term will probably be the Other realm. It’s one of the things that I knew I would be changing while I was writing). And it’s about power (and those who seek it *insert mad cackle*), and Anúna finding her way and challenging her sister. It’s also very much what I hope is a modern fantasy with strong female characters. I want no wilting flowers here. And it’s still a ways away from being finished, though I do know where it’s going… I kind of can’t wait to get there. I’ve found that I’m a bit of a sadist when it comes to doing bad things to my characters. What fun!

And, yes, they’re Queens, not princesses.

TTFN!

Where it stands: 1st Draft