Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Book Writing

Thursday’s Off The Beaten Track

One of my favorites on Off The Beaten Track,

Eluvium ~ Envenom Mettle


On Writing

A series of random thoughts.

Writing is akin to hearing a thousand voices screaming at you all at once and you trying to decipher which ones you should listen to, and which ones you should ignore. Life’s a bit like that too.


Nobody tells this to beginners …

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

~ Ira Glass

English: Ira Glass of This American Life givin...

English: Ira Glass of This American Life giving a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Writing A Novel Is Like …

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

-E.L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


THE 8 Rules for Writing

I know most writers have seen, read or heard of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing. Obviously you guys have figured out that I am huge fan of his work—I am also a huge fan of his advice.

Here it is:

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (Photo credit: davextreme)

  1. Write

  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

  7. Laugh at your own jokes.

  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.



What’s In An Editor? (Why Do I Sound Like An Adult?)

I tend to scribble a lot

I tend to scribble a lot (Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent)

Young Adult fantasy novels are my first go-to on reading shelves. My first love of books in general. I write them too. Pretty well, I think. At least in content, anyway. 🙂 Sometimes, however, “Laney, YA writer” gets crossed with “Laney … well, Laney.”

Why do I sound like an adult sometimes when I write? Besides the fact that I am one, I get caught up in the flurry of the story–action scenes, love scenes– and I occasionally forget contractions and ‘teen speak’, as my editor calls it. When I’m on a writing roll, I write what I see in my head. The words kind of disappear. Strange? Maybe so.

Stories read like moving pictures for me. Like a blur of color. My editor slows the view down so I can see what’s staring back at me from the screen. It’s an invaluable tool.

Writers need editor’s eyes. They are programmed to see what we miss. Although, sometimes it may feel nit picky or overwhelming–we need to use it, learn from it.

My story reads tighter, cleaner … better. As far as I’m concerned, the frustration that can come from full-blown edits are worth every ounce of hair pulling and head banging. The goal is to produce the best story I can. Even if that means cringing every time I open a document to find blue ink covering my pages. 😉


On Submission

I am officially on submission with TIED.

Eeeek!

This wasn’t my plan. Well…that’s not really true. I never had a plan originally. I never thought I would be writing for the masses. And when the thought did cross my mind, it was traditional publishing. Not because I had some kind of issue with self-publishing, but because at that time (which was two years ago), self-publishing was still fairly new to the scene. I didn’t know much about it, and as an unseasoned writer, I wasn’t sure I wanted to guinea pig myself out, or my novel.

That changed though. When you’re always writing, you’re always reading too. Novels, blogs, articles, craft books. And the authors I follow (who are amazing), gave me a lot of food for thought. Indie publishing food for thought. With the upheaval in traditional publishing, the negative press, famous authors jumping ship, brick and mortar book stores going under, and so many new authors choosing to go it alone–I was forced to reevaluate my ideas about the publishing industry and my goals as a writer.

I chose to go Indie. And when I say Indie, I mean going it alone. Solo. And I’d planned, like my bio says, to publish this year.

Why am I going on submission then? Because as a newbie, I think I need more support, and an Indie publisher can provide it. I also think that if I don’t at least try to get representation, then somehow I’ve sold myself short. Not because I need a pat on the back or some kind of validation in that regard, but because it’s part of the process of becoming an author, for me. Good or bad, it’s a part I want to say I went for. Then I will be on solid ground and able to make a sound decision in regard to my novel and my future novels.

I have a great team behind me, who I owe more than I could possibly ever repay, and I doubt they’re going anywhere, so either way, I’m feeling pretty okay.

The problem with announcing that you are going on submission is that now everyone will know if you fail. Scary. Very scary. But there’s something empowering about it too. You can’t crawl away, like so many writers are prone to do if you’re on a public stage. And like the saying goes,

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” ~Jack Canfield


Writing Is Perhaps The Greatest Of Human Inventions.

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person -perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time.”

~Carl Sagan

English: New York City. Stone dedicated to Car...

English: New York City. Stone dedicated to Carl Sagan at Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Česky: Pamětní kámen věnovaný Carlu Saganovi na Celebrity Path (stezka celebrit) Brooklynské botanické zahrady. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Fantasy World Building — Through The Wormhole

Hubbleshots

Hubbleshots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find inspiration in the world around me. As a fantasy writer it doesn’t take much to peek my imagination. That being said, there are a few ideas that are so far-fetched even I am mesmerized. Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman is by far the best show on television for widening my imagination and helping to broaden my world building ideas. If you write fantasy or paranormal or sci-f, it’s worth your time to check it out.

I found this next video while browsing YouTube. It’s fantastic.


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.


Bright Lights…..Small….Town?

When does that magical day come? The one when you wake up and a voice inside your head says, “Ok, you’re ready now. Go ahead, publish.”

It’s the bright lights, big city illusion. The day of, “Ah…I’m here!” I’m not sure if that day really exists. For anyone.

I am pretty sure though, that no-one can tell you when you’re ready. No voice wakes you up rattling in your psyche to let loose the magical words. I’m afraid we all need to make the, “I’m ready for this,” decision on our own.

Even the big dogs in the industry had to suck it up and go on submission. Many of which were denied plenty before ever being accepted by publishers. Some of whom, even now and by their own admission, aren’t completely convinced of their talent as writers.

As the self published/ebook revolution comes more and more to the forefront, authors and writers have yet another big decision to make; whether or not to go it alone. No agent, no publishing house, no one there to pat you on the back and validate your work. No one to tell you it’s time to go public and it’ll all be ok. It’s just you and maybe a few paper bags for when the hyperventilation sets in as you hit ‘publish’ on Smashwords.

No longer is creating a query letter the main focus when your novel is finished. No longer are writers inundating agents slush piles left and right. Nope. Now, more and more of us are going it alone. No net. And for a plethora of reasons.

The big city, big lights dream seems to have shifted itself over the past few years. Writers are looking to simply be heard. And now they have the means of doing exactly that. We are in the age of bright lights, small town and about now, I’m thinking most of us are feeling pretty alright with that. We have the means of publishing our work and in the grand scheme of things, I believe that it is the ultimate goal. We all hope to be liked, have our words resonate, but at the end of the day, we also feel the need to just be read.

The rest is just glory.


And Away We Go..

First off…As if I do not have enough hair pulling going on with simply trying  write,  I have thrown myself into the twitter bowl. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch me crash and burn for a few weeks.

On a positive note, writing picked up steam last night and I was not only able to stomach the first 7 again, but actually made some good edits along the way. I’m on the upside of my carousel ride again…I pray it hangs in for a while.


What’s with the yo-yo?

It’s not just me, I know that. But I swear I’m on some whacked out carousel ride with high lifting horses and low riding carriages that keeps going in circles and will not let me off.

These last few weeks have been awful. Writing wise. I lost my thread, my focus, my concentration, my mind and it’s taking everything I have to get it all back–to make myself finish my final draft.

How many times do you have to hear your favorite song before you hate it? You know the one. That great song. The song that gets replayed so many times you could scream. I’m there. I will throw up if I read my first 7 chapters again.

How in the hell do people write the same novel for… years? I’m guessing at some point they say, well it’s a good as it gets, I can’t look at this anymore.

So…I started reading backwards. You know, from the last paragraph forward. Edit one and move up. So far, it’s working. I’m kind of afraid to say that out loud in fear of jinxing myself. But there seems to be some type of odd symmetry happening. My brain isn’t hearing the same story I’ve gone over more times than I can count. It is seeing and hearing mistakes more clearly though and at this point, I think, editing more productively. So if you are in this most trying place with your writing, give the backward edit a try. Hell, maybe writing from the end could work too.


This isn’t a rush job

(By Shannon9791 via Photobucket)

This is my new mantra. “This isn’t a rush job!” Only I try to say it calmly.

Do you have those days when you wonder if you should scrap it and walk away–or at least toward another project? But then you read a quote or an excerpt and you remember the reason you’re doing this in the first place?  Me too.

There is this blind sort of faith that goes along with writing and finishing a novel. A faith you’re putting into the void in hopes that it will return the favor. As much as my mind seems to have taken a hiatus from any useful thoughts in relation to my (should already be finished) novel, I know I’ll never walk away from it. So in that light, I am attempting to acquire a new look on my writing. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.

In the end, what matters is that I don’t walk away, that I do stay focused (even when it seems impossible–even when that means taking a break) and that I don’t rush it. The ups and downs and backs and forths are tiring. And although I have been going back and forth for a year now with this process, somehow it feels more overwhelming than it ever has. I’m trying to convince myself it’s because this is the Final Draft and therefore, MUST be right. Either way, it isn’t a rush job and like I’ve said before, I’d rather be slow and right, than fast and wrong. So…I’ll be taking a break.


When it’s not writers block or inspiration lack..

…When it’s not procrastination. What the hell is it?

 It’s something–something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s a break. Maybe I need one. Maybe that’s all it is. I literally can not focus. For days, I can’t. Maybe its burn out. Maybe working on something else for a while would help. Suggestions?  Been here before?


100

This is my 100th post. Funny thing about getting to 100 is you begin to run out of interesting or useful things to say. Or maybe it’s me and my crazed novel blocking my flow of thoughts. So here you go:

‘Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.’ 

-Janet Frame


The blogging biz

 

Blogging

(Image by: Sandman 6210 via Photobucket) 

What to write about today?? Hm….

With the publishing industry now practically insisting that writers have their own blogs and writing formats amassing readers and fans, what choice do we have but to attempt to oblige? And how much time should we commit to these social media outlets? And furthermore, what about the ones of us who aren’t all that–well,….social?

We find ourselves writing about relatively the same topics as others writers because we are all (most of us), trying to reach the same goal. And in that challenge, we need the same information, the same motivations and the understanding that we provide one another.

Some days an article will hit a chord, others maybe it’s an inspirational quote and others still, maybe just a simple shout out of how our novel is moving along–good or bad, when we need a pep talk or a push from our readers. Granted, I’m speaking of course about those of us who are still on this new and steep hill. Other more seasoned writers and published authors seem to have the art of blogging down to a science and help to inspire the rest of us.

So how much time is too much time dedicated to your blog? We are trying to complete our novels, short stories, etc.. How much time should be taken away from that ultimate goal? And what about the social aspect? What draws the interest to amass these ‘fans’ we are hoping for? The fans who, hopefully, are interested in reading our books. When did the “Hey, look at me, look at me!” mentality get all mixed up with the creation of actually writing?

With the enormity of technology, along with E-readers, both publishing companies and self-publishing need help with marketing. Marketing yourself is something you have to do on your own if you choose the self publishing route. Marketing yourself is also apparently (at least in beginning) something you need to do with a traditional publishing company as well. 

Personally, I enjoy my blog. I enjoy talking to and hearing from other writers. I appreciate the feedback and certainly the advice and kind words. Having my blog has helped me to keep moving and that in and of itself is a huge benefit to having it. So I guess we need to view our blogs as aides. Helpful tools to move us toward our goals. But not something to get so caught up in that we forget our aim.

The social stuff, if it bothers you, generally falls into place after a while and if the goal is accomplished and your writing does take off, you’ll need to get used to being at least some what social;) In the meantime, I think checking your blog everyday, posting when you have an idea, or an extra few minutes, and keeping up with your favorite bloggers here and there for motivation and occasional advice, is a good thing. In an industry that is largely solitary, blogging is probably, on the whole, a good way to break free from the isolating shell and breathe a little with the other world. Now…what will I write about…? Hmmm.


The countdown begins.

   calendar April 10

Today is the day. 9 days and counting. The 19th will mark one year since starting my novel. Although I would love to say that my one year mark will also mark my completion date, I can’t. I’m trying to find solace in the fact that numerous writers have taken years to finish their first novel. And of course the obvious fact of having it done right rather than just having it done. Happy 9 Days to go to me.


The Mid-Section

By: ButterCreamPls (Photobucket)

Here’s where things get tricky. I’m going to admit that I’ve slowed down. Way down. I simply can’t find the thread I need. I’ve been searching for it, but it’s missing. Now what? Now…I’m stuck. I thought the break would do me good, clear my head, bring a fresh view but it hasn’t. I’m still in the same spot. And since I can’t find my in, I’ve been staying out. Out of the story that is. You can’t beat a dead horse. I’m wondering if I should try a trick one of my fellow bloggers suggested months ago; start from the ending. It sounded nuts to me at the time, but hey, it can’t hurt. Stuck is stuck and I need a way back.


Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming…

It may be upstream but I won’t stop. I know it may sound crazy, but my characters are what ultimately keep me moving. No matter how frustrated I may get or how many times I close the laptop and rest my head on the edge of the desk, they won’t let me stop writing. They are begging for their story to be told. And what can I say….? I owe it to them to make the most of this story and give it all I have. It’s a strange thing really. This is YA fiction, not reality, not a memoir. But the characters  have become people. I’m guessing only my fellow writers can fathom where I’m coming from. As much as I may complain, it’s a good place to be.


Road Block Ahead

Actually it’s directly in front of me..the road block. I have so much to do and am feeling good and excited and on target and, and, and….why can’t I configure these next couple chapters?

Remember that whole lack of an outline coming back to bite me? It has reared its ugly head again. My newly created outline for reconfiguration worked great in my head and in my notes but looks and sounds like crap on paper. The transition isn’t working. I lost the flow. Don’t you just HATE that!? Loving my first 6, struggling now with 7-10. Grr.

Not the content mind you, the content is good. The restructuring is bad. I swear, #2 will be a cake walk compared to this nightmare of a headache. Good day to you all;)


Slowly figuring it out

I’ve realized what is creating the internal conflict I have from time to time with my WIP. I read too much. And I don’t mean I read too many novels, for me that would be an impossibility. I mean I read too many articles/blogs/sites on advice about writing. I don’t even do it intentionally. I’m not searching out “How to write a Novel” on google. But I do subscribe to a few writing sites/blogs, all of which are great but all of which have a topic on what to do and not to do when writing a novel. And I almost always read them. The advice was great in the beginning. It was useful and needed and helpful but now it’s distracting. And not because I don’t think it’s important information, believe me I do, and to those writing it, keep on. But at some point, and my point seems to have arrived, you need to take what you’ve learned and trust yourself.

Right now I need to believe in what I’m doing and stop continually second guessing it by reading conflicting opinions on how this whole process needs to be done. I should be reading about hooks and query letters not plots and character development. After what will be a year in three weeks, and a final draft in the works, I can only hope I got it right. Just goes to show how exhausted I am that I didn’t catch this elephant in the room earlier.


Character development

It seems the more I write, the more I read.  And the more I inadvertently watch character development. I’ve been reading a ridiculous amount recently, it helps immensely to widen the scope in my own writing and I’ve seen more and more how  imperative it is to show the reader what you see as the author.

I can sit here at my laptop and edit or add text or work on a different book. I can choose any of my WIP‘s and vividly see  my landscapes, my worlds, my characters and the intimate ways they all culminate. I can flip from novel to novel, brand new or a year old and see them all as though I were watching a movie. But my goal is to make the reader see what I see. That is also, I believe one of the biggest challenges for a lot of writers. All those minute details that are needed to bring words off the page and to life.

I was recently reading one of the books on my ‘Currently Reading’ list and felt that familair tug of wanting more. More detail, more…life.  It seemed at the end of the day (or book) I still wouldn’t feel connected to a certain character. I didn’t feel the pull that I am sure the author intended, that I am sure the author felt as it was being written.

My point being just because you, as the author, feel it and see it and know it doesn’t mean you are conveying it to the reader. I think we (me too!) have a tendency to get so caught up in our story, so excited or touched or moved by everything we are creating, that we sometimes forget the reader can’t see inside our heads. It’s our job to transport them into our imagination and hope they feel nice and comfortable and choose to stay a while.

So read your dialogue out loud and see how it sounds when it isn’t only in your own head. Hear how it sounds to someone who isn’t already in love with the main character because he only just got introduced.