Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Writer

To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Don’t Listen To The HYPE. (It’s All In Your Head)

After I posted my novel cover, and publication target date, to all of my social media sites, I felt a combination of relief, trepidation, and…naseau.

Truth — Besides the writing community and my very close friends and family–No One knew what I’ve been doing for the last two years. Why?

Fear.

Fear of what people will think, what they’ll say.

All that crap that means absolutely nothing. 

I mustered the courage to send my cover photo to a few friends and family, and went ahead and bit the bullet and posted it on my personal facebook page. Sad thing—that scared me more than anything else. Great thing—the response was overwhelmingly positive. And still somehow, I’m uncomfortable when my friends say, “I can’t wait to read your book!” or “That is so awesome, Laney!!”

I love them. Every one of them, for supporting me. But… I also understand what it feels like to put your soul into something and have that little devil sitting on your shoulder. The one who says, What are you thinking? You really think you can pull this off? Seriously?

As a former classical dancer, I know what it means to walk on stage and swallow fear. I’ve done it more times than I can count. After a while, it becomes old hat.

As a Chef, I know the feeling you get when someone sends something back to the kitchen because they hated it, or it was under cooked, or over cooked, or who the hell knows why. It stabs you a little.

And as the daughter of a Fine Artist—I know what it feels like from the other side of the street too. My mom has always said, “Not everyone will like, or even understand what I do. I don’t care. I’m not painting for them.”  And she’s right.

Grab support where you stumble upon it, but don’t expect to find it if you go looking. That’s not what this is about. If you’re writing for the hopes of fame and fortune, pats on the back and great reviews, you’re writing for the wrong reasons. Write for you. Dance for you. Paint for you.

The ONLY person you need to convince of your talent, your drive, your passion—is you.

Just don’t buy into the hype.


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. The talk is swinging back around to the topic of Publishing. Here are this weeks links:

Author Nathan Bransford talks about The Biggest Challenges in the New Era of Publishing

Author Anne R. Allen once again has a fantastic post Indie or Traditional Publishing? Don’t Take Sides Take Your Time

Author Kristen Lamb Big Six Publishing is Dead — Welcome the Massive Three

Author Bob Mayer Aggressive vs. Obnoxious in the Land of Publishing

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post on her blog this week, The Creative PennTraditional Publishing And Self-Publishing Are Not Mutually Exclusive

David Gaughran from Let’s Get Digital talks about Publishing this week in his post, Was Self-Publishing The Right Decision?

And lastly, Indie Author Lindsay Buroker has an interesting interview with Author Liana Brooks up on her blog. Check it out here: Why One Author Chose A Small Press over Self-Publishing

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Say It Like You Mean It.

“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

~Tennessee Williams

T. Williams (1965)

T. Williams (1965) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without truth, our words die on the page.

WRITE ON.


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3

Expressions.

“So jump,” he sneered up at me.

Apparently one of my characters sneers a lot. Who knew? My beta pointed out that unless I meant for him to be laughing at the MC with contempt, maybe I should reword it.

SNEER: To smile or laugh with facial contortions that express scorn or contempt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ouch… Um, no, that was not my intent. At all.

Sometimes, it’s better to stick with said.

*related posts: ** What’s In A Beta Reader?

**What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Revisions. Listen to the Voice.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve logged in hours revising your novel, and then it dawns on you that you have to scrap chunks of it?

Yeah, I’m there.

I wanted to label it as a block. Pin it down to being “brain tired.” Chalk it up to, “I’ve been working on this piece too long, so now I’m just sick of it.”

Revision notes

Revision notes (Photo credit: jez`)

Reality?

That little voice in my head, the one that helps guide me down these cray writing roads I find myself on, that voice told me something was wrong. And it wasn’t because I was too tired, or blocked. It wasn’t because my story was too ingrained, or that I was sick of it. The voice stopped me in my revision tracks because something was wrong.

Scrap is a harsh word. Rewrite is a more appropriate one, and something I had not anticipated needing to do. But as I’ve said before, sometimes the story simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the ideas in your head don’t play out on paper in the grand scheme. Sometimes you need to rewrite a few chunks, so the rest of the chunks, work.

Listen to your voice. It doesn’t lie, and it won’t lead you astray. If something in your story doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.


Don’t Stop

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

No matter how hard it gets, how overwhelmed you feel, keep going. You will get there. 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


What’s in a Beta Reader? Part 2

My eye

My eye (Photo credit: neuroticcamel)

“I rolled my eyes around the room, searching for her.”

My beta red-flagged this sentence, and made her remarks in the margins.

“Unless your MC is physically removing her eyes from their sockets, she can’t roll them around the room. Or is that what you mean? Can she?”

Um, no.

No, she cannot physically remove her eyeballs, and roll them around the room. I had to laugh, and then rewrite the sentence. These are the tiny errors that we as writers, all caught up in our story, usually miss.

I write fantasy, so the MC removing her eyeballs from their sockets wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But, no, she can’t. Nor is that what I meant to say.

I meant to say that she gazed around the room. Looked around the room. Eyed the room.

Our betas are useful for finding a wide array of issues. This was one of my funnier ones. They aren’t always funny. But that is something to keep in mind when reading comments from a beta (or proofreader, or editor). Humor. Don’t hold so tightly to your story that you become blinded by what others tell you is wrong. They are supposed to find problems. And we are supposed to fix them.

Have you tried to roll your eyes across the room lately?

WRITE ON!

*Related Posts: What’s In A Beta Reader?


Today’s Quote

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Week in Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Author Anne R. Allen has a great post up on her blog this week, When Should An Author Hire An Editor?

Author Kristen Lamb is continuing her blog series, Don’t Eat The Butt. Her 4th post in the series, Real Writers Never Struggle

Author Janni Lee Simmer has a post up on her blog, Desert Dispatches. On Publishing and being a writer in the Right Now

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Don’t Think, Just Do.

My son, the skateboarder, is also a football player. Little league. He plays defense. Really well. On occasion, he plays on offense. Wide receiver. He’s a great receiver—in the front yard. On the field however, during a game, it’s hit or miss. 50/50. I told him it was in his head, and I believe that. He thinks too much. It’s all psychological. “Don’t think,” I told him, “Just do.”

I ran a post the other day, The Transitions, and talked about the need of an outline. Any kind of outline really. Something to lead you along incase you run astray, and lose your way. I am a pantster at heart. I believe in outlining loosely. Although I like having a guide, I feel it’s important to not rely too heavily on what you think your story should be.  So..in that light, this post may sound a bit contradictory. It’s not.

My issue with traditional outlines is the feeling of being ‘locked in’ to an idea. For me, writing becomes the most difficult when I feel like I am trying to force the pieces of this massive novel-puzzle into holes that don’t fit. Sometimes even your best ideas, dialogue streams, and world building skills, simply don’t work. Sometimes you need to loosen the grip and let the story carry you. Let your imagination run wild. You would be amazed at what your mind can create when you let go of the boundaries.

Three Worlds

Image via Wikipedia

When you get to know your characters—really know them, they will lead you, not the other way around. Everytime I feel myself getting stuck, hitting a wall, I ask myself, “What would Layla do? What would she say?” Layla is the main character in my novel—something I haven’t mentioned until now. I know her very well after almost two years of writing. Well enough that after my 6th draft, banging my head against the wall, and wanting to pull my hair out—I stopped thinking so much, and let her do the talking. Some writers think that sounds insane. While others, know exactly what I’m saying.

When stopped thinking so much, and let Layla start talking, the whole scope of my story changed, and became alive. It wasn’t me telling the story anymore, it was her showing her world—leading the way. And….it became easier to write. Yup. Sure did.

That’s not to say that I went completely astray of the ideas I had loosely outlined for my story in the very beginning, only that I allowed those ideas to stay fluid.

There is a negative with being locked in to a specific idea when you write. Well….I should rephrase that. There is a negative when you write fantasy and paranormal. These stories aren’t built on traditional ideas. They are built on wild imaginations. In order to create alter universes, planes, and worlds—we need to let go of what we think the story should be, and allow it to be what it can be. Big difference. Let your thoughts take you, let your characters take you. Writing is about allowing yourself to be transported.

“Don’t think, just do.” Then edit. 😉

WRITE ON, WRITERS.

(**after drafting this post on Saturday morning, my son caught a 30 yard touchdown pass. His team won the league championship.)


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. This week, the focus of conversation has moved back to where it should be: Craft. The actual craft of writing. At the end of the day, we need well written, engaging stories. All the social media in the world won’t save us from ill crafted books.


First up, J.A. Konrath. His post, Writing Matters, is up on his blog, A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing Check it out.

Also on the must read list this week, Bob MayerHis post, THE Secret Handshake of Successful Digital Publishing, is on his blog, WRITE IT FORWARD

And last up today, Chuck Wendig25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice, on his blog, Terrible Minds

WRITE ON, WRITERS. WRITE ON.


Quote of the Day

“Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant—you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.”
― Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny

Image via Wikipedia


A Feast for Crows.

A Feast for Crows

Image via Wikipedia

(SMALL SPOILER ALERT)

I began this series behind most of the die-hard Martin fans. Although I am a huge Fantasy fan, I read a lot of YA as well, as it is my genre. Due to do this, Martin stayed on my back burner. Until recently. I sped through the first three books. Within days. Literally. I couldn’t get enough. A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings & A Storm of Swords were consuming stories.

A Feast for Crows, however, threw up a road block, and had me crawling to the finish line. It was a slow read. Very slow at times. The storyline of AFC needed to be split in half due to what would have been a brain-numbing amount of content. The book in its entirety would have simply been too long. Well over 1,000 pages. And I mean well over. In splitting this book however, AFC felt heavily one-sided. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did, but due to half of the cast of characters being cut, the book left me wanting more, and less. AFC was still, at half its content, around 775 pages long.  Although not my favorite book in this series so far, AFC is still a must read for any Martin fan. Especially if you are knee-deep in this series.

George R. R. Martin is an incredible storyteller and an inspiration for every author/writer. His cast of characters is immense, not to mention the number of details he somehow manages to not only hold inside his head, but also manages to keep straight.  Martin is currently working on The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his Fantasy series, A Song of Fire and Ice. I know we all hope this book will be a quick release.

**For a further review of this book, see my Goodreads shelves to the right.

Over there >>>>>>     As well as reviews and opinions of previous books in this incredible series.


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Publishing is the topic of conversation this week. Here are the must reads:

J.A. Konrath has an insightful MUST READ post up on his blog, A Newbies Guide To Self-Publishing. His post:  Amazon Will Destroy You

Kristen Lamb’s post over on her blog, Warrior Writers, talks about The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm–Bracing For Impact

And how could I leave out Chuck Wendig? Check out his take on whether or not FREE is truly FREE in the world of E-books. Is Free A Price We Can Pay? On his blog, Terrible Minds. And be sure to read the plethora of comments that follow.

Good Day Writers 😉


Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell.

I’m gonna get some back lash for this one. That’s ok, I’d like to know how you all do it, if you do.

Word count goals. They are everywhere. Literally. Daily I watch as TweetDeck flashes updates of a new word count goal that has been met or missed by another writer.

Who can write this way? Apparently–LOTS of people. I am not one of them. I’d sooner stab myself in the hand than lay down a number count I had to adhere to.

The writing routine is varied, I know, and what works for one writer will surely not work for all. Some can force the words out and tada! 1,000 words today. Yay me! I can’t force myself to do anything. I would feel like The Little Engine That Could. He’s out there dying of heat exhaustion, thirsting to death, but COME ON LITTLE ENGINE! KEEP GOING! Umm….? Give the train some damn water already.

If I forced myself to write 1,000 words a day (or any), it would probably read like I was trying to decipher the lost language of Danu Talis with a rock by moonlight.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you write this way, I am in awe of you. YOU have an advantage. It’s called speed. And speed in this fast-changing industry is a huge ally. So what are your secrets? How do you write this way if you do? If you don’t, what your reasons?

Personally, I’d rather take longer with my ms than willingly walk through the gateways of rewriting hell (been there, isn’t fun) covered in burns and soot trying to unearth a story through all the madness I created with my rock.


Aspiring writer…. Aspriring? That doesn’t sound right.

“So you’re an aspiring writer? How nice.”

“No, I’m not.”

I’m having some difficulty with this topic. Argue if you will, agree if you will but I don’t like the term: aspiring writer. Mainly because I don’t like the way the term is used. It sounds almost belittling. I’m not aspiring to be a writer. I am a writer, published or not doesn’t remove that fact. If you’re writing, you are meeting your goal, you’re not aspiring to write. You are writing.

I am aspiring to get published. I’m aspiring to be a better writer. I’m aspiring to be successful. But no I am not an aspiring writer. I’d say an accurate assessment would be that I am aspiring to be a published author.

That sounds right.