Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Writing and Editing

… If You’re Brave Enough …

“Some of this book — perhaps too much — has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it — and perhaps the best of it — is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

~Stephen King (On Writing~A Memoir of the Craft)

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


TIED Update ~ The Fire Born (Book 1) #yalit

So it’s been a while—too long actually, since I last posted about my progress with TIED. BUT … with incredibly good reason—writing takes time. Tons of it. And editing—takes even more.
TIED has officially been sent off to copy editing land and is out of my hands. So, my publisher will be allowing me to share more tidbits of what’s to come very soon.
For example, I will be having a TIED Bookmark Giveaway in the coming days, and excerpts as well as other exciting stuff will follow.
September 9 is coming, and I can’t wait to share Layla and Max’s world with everyone. 😉
Coming Sept 9, 2013

Coming Sept 9, 2013


If You Don’t Have The Drive …

A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don’t have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren’t going to finish a book.

~ Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s Always Too Early …

“It’s always too early to quit.”

Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and a...

Norman Vincent Peale, Christian preacher and author of The Power of Positive Thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What’s In An Editor? Part 2. (How Do You Feel?)

Pre-Final edits are in full swing, so forgive my sporadic blog posts of late. The writing pendulum is searching for the mid-point.

Turns out real editing with changes and revisions takes a while. Add in a deadline and … yeah, it’s a time stretch. With that in mind, I’m continuing my What’s In An Editor post series (a spin-off of What’s In A Beta Reader). And since I’m new to the editing game, it will be a work in progress. Here we go:

I keep asking myself, “How would you feel?” Or, “What does that look like?”

Feelings are hard to write. For me. Well, I should reword. Feelings are hard to show in my writing. It’s a point of head banging lately. Rewriting sections to show instead of tell. Showing say … scrutiny, for example, causes my head to ache. How would I show scrutiny? It’s a good question. One that I’m working on.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is an invaluable tool. One that I use from time to time (more often lately). It doesn’t, however, give a writer all the answers. It simply leads them a bit farther down the ‘expressive’ path. After that, showing is still in the mind of the writer. Showing without repetition … harder still.

I’ll move back to my example. The sentence I needed to alter per my editor was this one: I scrutinized both of them. 

So, how do I show scrutiny?

Here’s the definition: A critical observation or examination.

I could have my character shake his/her head, but I do a lot of head shaking (it’s an easy and probably overdone fix).  I could have a disbelieving eye roll (also a bit overdone even though I like eye rolling). How about narrowing eyes? That works. When we are skeptical of someone’s behavior we narrow our eyes in disbelief.

Still, it’s a crap shoot. Seeing eye to eye on every little detail is unlikely when it comes to editing, but your words should feel right. Put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

Nobody said editing would be easy.

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


What’s In An Editor?

Grammar police

Grammar police (Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch)

An interesting thing happens when you work with an editor. You are quickly reminded (or I am) that although you may be a good storyteller and okay grammatically, becoming a terrific storyteller and a grammatical whiz, is quite another animal. Patience reigns. Glad my editor has a lot of it. 😉

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

** The homonym police got me…. reins vs. reigns. See what I mean about editing? Thanks, Carol. 😉


The Only Reason For Being A Professional Writer…

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.

~Leo Rosten


Make Your World Breathe

 

Just breathe

Just breathe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There is no such thing as too much description.  Okay, maybe later on when you’re a few drafts in some details will need to be scaled down. But in the beginning when you are just writing, just write. Tell your story and every little detail that you see in your mind. First drafts need to be loaded with details. There will be too many but come draft two and three you can pick  and choose what’s important enough to stay and what needs to go. And through those changes your story will start to become alive.

 

Every character in your story needs a voice and I don’t only mean the ones who can talk. I mean EVERY character. The buildings, the car, the woods, the town. The world you’ve created needs to breathe. It needs life. Life in writing is created through details. The edge in someones voice, the creak of a clock tower, the feel of a touch, the sweetness of a flower. The ripped, faded jeans. The wickedly flirtatious smile. The racing blood. The charred forest. The reader needs to see it, taste it, feel it, hear it and know it. They want to walk in the world you create, to feel what the characters feel.

 

I think we all can get caught up in writing dialogue. It is no doubt, extremely important but at the end of the day, if all you have is dialogue, where’s the setting? Why does the reader care if he can’t see your characters sitting on the hillside, or fighting in the alley? The only way to create your world is to give it a personality of its own. Give it an identity and make it come alive in the minds of all who read it.

 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

 


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.


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.


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?


The Pendulum Swing

I’ve been revising my novel for a few weeks now, gearing up for its release. I’m nowhere near completion, but working on it every day gives me a sense of forward motion and accomplishment. Which is why after finishing Chapters 1-7 in their entirety, I found myself surprised to feel that old familiar pang. The stab in the side.

Burn Out. It happens. Sometimes when you least expect it.

Figure two (a) Equatorial pendulum with longit...

Image via Wikipedia

A year and a half is a long time to dedicate to writing a novel in these technologically fast-moving times. Too long. Nonetheless, a year and a half it has been since I began. And throughout that time I have swung through emotions with the swift fluidity of a pendulum. One day in love with my words, the next, ready to chunk my laptop out the window.

I have tried editing or writing from the end of the story or somewhere in the middle for a fresh perspective. I’ve tried working on other stories in the toolbox of ideas I have amassed. But, always I come back to my current novel.  It never shuts up. I both love and hate it. I picks me up and drops me again.

Today I received an email on my chap nine revisions. The chapter that I knew was still rough after all the edits and continued to need work. I was ready for the slashes of red across the text, the comments in the margins, ready for the question marks. I didn’t get them. At least not that many. Instead, I got the opposite. My editor said she liked the chapter, she said it had life in it.

Life.

Not sure I could receive a greater compliment than that. So today, novel, I love you again. You still need work, but you have life;)

Good Writing!


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.


This is when writing gets tricky

This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.

This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything.  And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.

This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.

My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.

I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.

Walking away isn’t my plan.

But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.

So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.


The Grind

Back to the grindstone. That’s code for editing. When in doubt about what you’re trying to write and banging your head against the wall doesn’t help anymore, edit a different work in progress!

Step 1. Reread, again.

Step 2. Cut and rewrite, again.

Step 3. Repeat, again.

Step 4. Question everything.

Step 5. Ditch it and create random blog entries.

Ding, Ding, Ding….I choose number 5.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! 


Why it takes so long.

I am not a multitasker. At All. Thus, my scattered mind and anti-focusing ability. No I do not have ADHD. People with ADHD probably focus better than I do as of late. I think back on the first six months or so of writing my novel, when all my thoughts were a flowing faucet. When my energy was high and my enthusiasm was higher. When I was positive my story was right on course. I wrote my first draft in three months. The full story. A year later, I’ve rewritten that story probably five times.

I wonder about authors like JK Rowling. She took five years to complete The Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder how she didn’t lose interest after all that time–how she kept her focus. It’s applaudable really.

Here in the 13th month with my WIP, I am the closest I have been to actually finishing–I’m just not sure how close that is. If I could sit and write for hours like I did in the beginning maybe I would already be done. But the constant questions hanging over my shoulder as I write, quash that possibility. They urge me to look deeper, question more–take longer.

I am trying to embrace my style of writing, find it useful in my progression and learn from it. After all, it is the way I write, frustrating one day, over-exuberant the next. At some point I’ll nail down the ins and outs and reel in the over-bearing devil on my shoulder. In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace what he says instead of fighting him all the time. Or…..I’ll just knock him off;)


When you don’t know..

My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.

I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.

That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.


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


What I Know

I know that writing a good novel, one that is worth reading, can’t be rushed. That sometimes it can take years…and that’s ok. (*sigh*)

I know that the social media surrounding this industry is not what it used to be. And that for a lot of writers, who would rather just write and let the rest fall where it may, it can be difficult to see through the haze.

I know that in spite of that haze, we (I) need to find a comfortable space somewhere within the madness of the social aspect to succeed.

 I know that some days I can’t get my head out of the clouds to save my life and that focus can be a four letter word if you spin it just right.

I know that I LOVE my novel and that I love to write. And those two things should be enough drive to keep me moving forward. (But some days they’re not.)

I know that running will clear my head and help me organize the cluster of randomness that my thoughts often become.

I know that I am following, listening to, and taking advice from, some of the best writers in this industry (published or not). And this only makes me a better writer.

And I know at the end of the day, I need to relax about all of it because I will succeed.

If in doubt from time to time, I highly recommend these writers and their blogs:

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Lisa Kilian’s Blog

Nathan Bransford’s Blog

Bob Mayer’s Blog

Good day:)


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?


It’s here. I can’t believe it.

It’s here. One year. The date is here. April 19th of 2010, I started my novel. After several rewrites, here I am one year later in the middle of my final draft. When I took on this challenge it was literally without thought or pre-meditation. I sat down and started writing. There was no outline, only a sliver of an idea that I ran with. It’s been an interesting ride to the say the least and beyond rewarding…..and exhausting.

As incredibly gratifying as it would be to eventually become published, that was not the reason I began my novel nor will it be the reason I continue beyond it.

My goal of completion comes closer to reality every day. Until then, I am thankful to have the unwavering dedication to see my novel to fruition. Thanks for everyone’s support and kind words of wisdom and inspiration, they help tremendously and keep my eyes on the prize.


Quote of the Day

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

-Will Rogers


The Scope

There are various ways a story can move or unfold. Depending on the genre, a story may need more speed or less. Some stories need to feel much more singular in nature. While others need to include a multi-faceted cast of characters for the story to be properly told. I think this can be tricky to gauge. How wide should your scope be? What should your story encompass? What is too much information or what isn’t quite enough? Some authors or writers will say that the story is finished when it’s finished. And you’ll know when you know. But what about the books that leave you feeling…well, eh. The ones that you kept saying, “Hang on a sec…” or “But what about..?” or “Really…?” Gauge is such a tricky thing. When I read books in my genre, sometimes I think, Is my book at this place? I honestly can’t answer that question. It depends on the day. But I can say that the scope, the feel, the whole encompassing world of a novel needs to be just right. And just right is a tough one. My just right could be completely different from some one elses. Just a thought. I know I don’t want to leave anyone saying, “Really…?” after they read my book.


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.