Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Verdict is In!!! (Kinda)

          Woot! A little over a month ago I gave my edited novel to my beta readers. They are, for the most part, still working on it, but I have gotten the first one back. I will remind everyone that the changes were quite thorough. I rewrote nearly half of the novel and added another 15,000 words or so to it. So, yeah... lots of changes. But the verdict is in!

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This is a picture of a productivity app I use. It's called Forest and it rocks. It's on Android, Apple and Windows!

          For the most part, the verdict is good. This beta reader hadn't read my alpha version and was coming at it completely new. She seemed to really enjoy it and gave me a lot of compliments as well as shared a few of her favourite lines with me. She said that the first chapter works perfectly to get you into the world and tell you exactly what type of a story you're getting. She quite liked the story in general, loved how I tied up all of my threads while still having some frayed ends to pull you into a sequel. She enjoyed seeing the characters grow and enjoyed seeing the character arcs. She even picked up on some of the secrets that I've sprinkled in that will tie into the main threads of the overall series arc. Not enough to solve it, but enough to make her wonder.

          I think my favourite quote of hers was, "It was a cheering/sense of dread moment and if that’s what you wanted to come across, it worked 100%."

         Now, while I'm super excited about this review, it wasn't all good things. She pointed out a few points where I had slipped up, identified one place where I'd cut too much (meaning parts of it are going back to the original way I'd written it) and a few places where I can tie my story and characters to make it an even more cohesive story. 

          The word from my other three beta readers is "good so far, loving the characters, and not done yet." I'm bouncing from anticipation, and can't wait to see what they all have to say. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Books and Authors you need to check out

          I was at my first ARWA meeting for the year and we got onto the discussion of authors you need to check out. Here is a list of ten that I think you need to read. 

          Patricia Briggs is writes some of the best Urban Fantasy I've ever read. Her books are well-written, easy to read and she deals with real issues as well. I've read her Mercy Thompson series multiple times and would suggest it to anyone!


          Anne Bishop is a dark fantasy author who writes from a very feminist perspective and she isn't worried about hitting the hard questions, even if she doesn't always have an answer. Written in Red is my favourite series of hers, but her Dark Jewels series is also in my top five. If you like a touch of horror in your urban/paranormal romance, pick these up.

          Spice & Wolf is my favourite sweet romance that I have gone back to time and time again... a feat considering that this series currently holds 18 titles in it. What may surprise you, beyond the number of books is that it's written by Isuna Hasekura, a Japanese writer and only translated into English. Don't be afraid of the size of the series or the fact that it's translated. The translation is good and the books are light novels, a newly created genre usually saved for manga translations or sweet slice of life books that come in at 50k - 60k words.

          Laura VanArendonk Baugh won the Lummis award of 2012 for her novel, Kitsune-Tsuki and its easy to see. If you are looking for an author who steeps her fantasy in the mythologies of other cultures, check out her books.

          If you are looking for an incredible book about a Chinese-Canadian girl dealing with mental issues and the death of her elder brother, E.L. Chen's The Good Brother is the book you want. I ranked it easily in my top five reads of last year. Check this out.

          Molly Harper writes brilliant books... the only issue I have with them is that most of her main characters sound the same. I fully admit this is probably because she had the same reader doing all of them on audible and that is where I get them from. If nothing else, this series is comedy gold though, and I highly suggest you all pick up the Nice Girl's Don't series (or by its correct name, the Jane Jameson series) and I even more highly suggest you pick it up on Audible. 

          Dan Wells writes horror and dystopian fantasies. Both are worth picking up. He's one of the authors on the podcast Writing Excuses, and if you aren't listening to it yet, you should be.

          Mary Robinette Kowal's first book, Shades of Milk and Honey is a Jane Austin Tribute, Pride and Prejudice with magic. Its awesome.

          As a final suggestion, I'll gift you with Under the Hawthorn tree by Ai Mi. Written by a blogger author in China, this has been translated into many languages, was picked up by a publishing house and I've been told there's even a movie. While the translation reads like a translation (the phrasing is a bit wooden) this takes nothing away from the story and I cried at the end. If you haven't read it, do so.

          So, which ones have you read? Which ones are you excited to pick up? What would you suggest to somebody who says, "I'm looking for something to read"? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Response To Why I Write

          A friend of mine, Kate Larking, blogged earlier this week at Anxiety Ink, talking about why she writes. At the end of her blog (which I totally suggest you check out), she asked what our reason for writing was. It reminded me that it's very important to know why you write, even if your answer is only, "I like to."

          Personally, I write first and foremost, because I enjoy it. Writing is frustrating, but I apparently like frustrating things. Just look at who I married if you want a real world example. (Okay, so most of you don't know him... it's a context joke. Just laugh, trust me on this one.) I would like to say that I could stop writing if I wanted to, but I would be lying. I can give it up and distract myself with other things I enjoy, but I always go back to writing, so yeah, I don't think I could stop if I wanted to.  I write because when I write I am happier. If you want to see what I look like when I'm not writing, just look at how I am when I'm not able to work on my books.

Nanowrimo's Key to Creativity that I received for supporting their recent site upgrades by donation.

          Friends have pointed out to me that I choose everything, from my jobs to my technology choices, around what I require for my writing and that I essentially am always working on my stories in my head, even while working or doing other jobs. There is always some part of my mind working on it. I study writing, words and story and each year go to at least one convention to learn more. I also usually take part in a variety of online writing courses, purchasing the Great Courses audio books on the subject when I can't.

          The thing that surprised me to realize this year was that I have nothing in there about publishing. I have changed my life for my writing, but that does not mean that I have to publish. To be satisfied with my life, I don't need to ever publish. Sharing my writing with my friends is and will always be enough for me, even if I dream of more than that.

          I don't know about you, but there is something very freeing about that.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Back After the Unexplained Hiatus

          Well, I am back. And I even have good news to share! I finished editing my novel. I consider this one the second edit, though in reality, it's the fifth, I think, and it will go through another before I send it to my editor. 
         Speaking of which, I actually spoke with my editor a few weeks ago. We discussed my exceptionally flimsy business plan, which is what happens when your plan is, "make this writing thing a business". She brought up a whole bunch of interesting possibilities and suggestions for helping me to make this my career. One of which included the possibility of not releasing any books this year.
          The main part of this outrageous plan is actually based on how people are buying their books now. Apparently, if your book is a series, as mine is, prospective buyers are waiting until you have a few books out so that they have some proof that you can publish. While my second book is written, it is currently unedited. So I'm going to edit it in the coming months, and hopefully have it ready to be looked at next year, so both can go out just a few months apart. It will certainly make the wait easier for you guys.
          One thing she did suggest and I am seriously considering is putting out some of my short stories in the meantime. According to the conference, they are still doing quite well and it would get my name out there for when I do release my novels. That's still up in the air, but expect to hear more on it later.
          Lastly, since my book has been sent to my betas, I have started writing a new book. It's in a completely different genre; paranormal romance. It's about a mage who wants a perfectly normal life, being a sound engineer at the theatre.  Her goals are blocked by an old flame, a former gang member who wants to draw her back in and there is a sexy romance between her a woman she saves. I'll let you know what's happening with that later, but currently I'm 10k in and hoping to finish writing it later this year.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Scalpel vs Chainsaw

          It's a week into April and I'm not even at four hours of my goal yet. Not that I'm horribly surprised. I knew that my first week would pretty much suck. I had a vacation planned with my hubby for our anniversary and I did not have time during the vacation to work on it. Still, I have done some every day that I wasn't on vacation and I'm currently working on it on the other half of my screen. It's my hope to get a few hours of work on it tonight and tomorrow to catch up.

          So today, I am going to talk about something that I've been dealing with this week and that is making the decision to cut your work. Sometimes in editing, you have to cut, not only a few of your words but a rather large amount. I had to do this earlier in the week. During editing, I realized that one entire chapter couldn't be saved. Just to make sure we're on the same wave here, I am not talking about killing your darlings. What I'm talking about is making the decision to slice entire chapters out of work.

          It's still extremely an extremely difficult decision to make. For me, cutting out a line or even a paragraph is a meh, sort of experience. I know I'm making it better and thus, I don't bother sweating the small stuff. Cutting an entire chapter feels a lot different though. To me, it's more like making the decision that all of my writing sucks and has to be reworked. It's even harder if I know that it was a chapter I had trouble writing in the first place.

          I made that decision this week. One entire chapter wasn't doing its job and wasn't doing it well enough to even re-tool the chapter, where I go through and essentially destroy the original chapter, only keep 10% of the words, kill the other 90%, and add new ones back. It's a bitch of a thing to do, but sometimes you have to chainsaw your work, rather than using a scalpel.

          Ah well, time to get back to it.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Camp Nanowrimo

          If you've been following me for any amount of time, then you probably already know that I'm a big fan of Nanowrimo. Though I understand why some are opposed to it, I have always believed that if you're writing, then you're a writer. You may not be good enough to be published; in fact, you may write only for yourself or for your friends. There is a difference between author and writer. You have to be a writer to be an author, but you don't have to be an author just because you write.

          Arguments aside, I love it, but I don't usually take part in the camp's that happen twice a year. Generally, I'm busy, editing or not writing... Even when I do try it, I've failed. This year, though, I have a novel that I need to get done. I've been editing and dragging my ass on it for far too long. I've set myself up for a challenge of 50 hours. That should be more than enough time to finish this novel. Then I can see about getting it to my editor and back again, hopefully in time to publish before this year's WWC in August.

          So buckle up, its going to be a bit of a crazy April! Are any of you joining me? What are your goals for the month?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I Learned This Week

It's been a while since I did one of these; way too long in my opinion. It's due to me not working on my novel as much as I should be. I'm getting back into it. This month, I've already done almost as much as I have the two months prior combined. Sometimes, the hardest thing is understanding why you're trying to sabotage yourself. Which is what I've been doing. Still, I'm looking forward to getting it done. Hopefully next month. I have signed up for Camp Nanowrimo and put myself down for 50 hours or whatever it takes for me to finish this novel. Hopefully, I'll have damn good news for you each week on it!

That's not what I actually wanted to talk to you about today, though. Today, I want to tell you about what I learned this week. I've been working on my edits and one of my characters is getting a lot more screen time than she was before. Unfortunately, her chapters have never come easily for me to write and these were getting to feel like I was pulling teeth.

About this time, long time blog followers will note something missing... I haven't said which character yet. No, that isn't me being coy at all. It's for a reason.

You see a name is important; very important. Especially for me. Even in my Pathfinder games, I will search for the right name for days, trying to figure out exactly what I want. I will search for names that have the meaning I want, that sound the way I want that name to flow. I look for names that resonate, not only for me but for them and the way they want to be portrayed.

Skylla isn't human, but she was human when she was born. She's a hunter by trade, and lonely by choice. But her name was wrong. It was a Celtic name meaning archer or some type of warrior... and while that's what she is too, it wasn't right. Skylla doesn't sound like a warrior's name. Also, she isn't Celtic. All of the characters from my book have names that we have in our world.

This week, I discovered that Skylla's human parents were from different cultures. Yet she wasn't named from either of those cultures. Searching both cultures I found two names that I quite liked. So I combined both names, not only into the meaning that suits her but into a name that suits her. Her name is now properly Isashi.

The interesting part of this was that it also led me to rename one other character. The name I had given to him was a name I love and one that was the name of a character in a book series I quite enjoy. But the name wasn't his, and due to its French connotations, it sounded like a girl's name. It was confusing most of my alpha readers, especially since that character isn't from a French background. I looked back to what his name originally was. It suited him better and the meaning suited him better. Even better, I found out that it was from the culture I wanted in that area. So, Jocelin is now Deckard.

What about you? Are you a sucker for names? Do you have trouble writing characters that are mis-named or is that by far, the easiest part of your writing process? Let me know, in the comments below.