Bouncing Back from Disaster

This summer, I’m running a challenge on WriYe that I’ve mentioned a few times here called Write Like a Pro, where we adopt a different professional author’s ideal writing routine for a week at a time. While discussing the way the challenge is progressing, K. A. Wyles spurred us to wonder what some of these authors did if they missed a day. Everyone has days where they wake up sick or sleep through their alarms or the world crashes down around them. Part of becoming a professional author (unfortunately) doesn’t make one immune to disaster and everyone has a bad day from time to time. So… what do the pros do to recover from that? Well, we don’t know (and probably never will) because people don’t talk about that — maybe because that would also mean talking about the negative / bad things — which led us to deciding that we needed to talk about how we recover from bad days.

This is a very appropriately timed post for me because not only did I realize my Day Job picked back up this week instead of next week like I thought, but I also got some bad / stressful news over the weekend, and then… I woke up sick on Sunday morning. Triple whammy all in one weekend! I decided not to let that hold me back or put a damper on my progress, however. These are the some of the ways I typically push myself through to get back on my feet again.

1. Take time off to just be upset: This isn’t to say you should throw yourself a pity party or write a vague post on Twitter / Facebook trying to get people to feel sorry for you or celebrate how badly you suck or anything like that. Simply take a step back and admit that things aren’t going your way. Just let yourself feel whatever the bad feeling is and experience it in whatever way it’s manifesting. If you’re sad, cry it out. If you’re sick, take a nap on the couch for a little while. If you’re angry, rant / yell about things to someone who won’t judge you (like your dog or your pillow). And then — if it’s a problem that can be fixed… Fix it. And you’ll be able to do so without your mind being clouded with the initial emotion.

2. Pamper Yourself: This one is pretty simple: just spend some time treating yourself well. Take a long walk or toss a bath bomb in the bath and take a steamy bubble bath. Put on a silly face mask and order some junk food. I know part of my personal routine for this is to completely disconnect also. I close my email and social media, turn off the chat services and put my cell phone on “Do Not Disturb” so I can really focus on me, rather than the buzz happening around me all the time. I also will take days like this to spend hours playing video games (or if you’re a movie / TV show watcher — binging a show on Netflix would also fit in well here).

3. Be Rational / Make Plans: I’m the kind of person that has had a bucket list since I was about 10-years-old; I’ve had a running 1,001 Things to do in 101 Days list since 2005 or so. Ask me at any point in time where I want to be in 3, 5, or 10 years and I’ll give you a full outline, down to a disgusting amount of detail (if you’ll let me). I constantly am revisiting these plans and revising them to best fit whatever changes happen in my life, of course, and I find a set back happening is usually the best time to do so. Obviously, if you’ve just caught a cold or whatever, don’t rethink your whole life, but if whatever’s setting you back is large / catastrophic, it’s a great time to sit down and figure out how to get back on track. For me, sitting down and just thinking about things in a logical manner helps me feel more in control and like things aren’t as bad as my brain was probably originally thinking it was. Sometimes this just means sitting down and going, “okay, I was supposed to do two hours of editing today and did none. There’s 4 days left in the week, so +30 minutes to each of those days.” Sometimes it means looking at the to-do lists for the weekend and going, “well, I guess I can binge watch that TV show next week instead.” Sometimes it means skipping gaming for the week or catching up on sports game highlight reels to better utilize your leisure time for work… Whatever it is that helps your brain click those pieces back in place logically is what helps maintain routines (which is, ideally, what this post is about).

4. Pick up and Keep Going: Be it in life or in writing, you have to keep moving forward. So yes, definitely take the time needed to rest and repair… But then just start working on your goals again. With writing especially, if you take too much time off, it’s so easy to just sit back and never touch it again. And then you have half-finished novels that no one will ever get to experience. So, take your day off and then the next morning, sit down and put pen to paper once again.

What did this look like for me personally? Taking a few days off of social media / the internet and enjoying a few hours of being lazy… And then setting some pretty intense goals for this week — 8 hours of Day Job, 5k fiction, 2 hours editing, and 2-3 hours in my publishing course daily. It’s going to be a busy week, but that’s what I’ve signed up for, since I enjoy my quality of life, my job, and being an independent adult! Plus, there’s something to be said for getting back to a routine after having one of these fail days. It feels fresh and new, but also strangely comfortable and like going home.

State of the Author: Week Ending 07/14/19

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this productive two weeks back-to-back! I’ve been excited to work on my revision and publication course especially, but even the writing part of the month is going well! It’s honestly confusing me — but I’m definitely not complaining!

Writing: This week’s #50in5 was much more successful than last week — I was done with it in just under 4 hours. The flow was better, my life cooperated more, and I was into a better plotted out segment of the novel that wasn’t as research-heavy as the week before. So, here’s another (very rough) excerpt from this week’s work:

SOTA2.PNG

Editing: I am almost 75% finished with the paper edits and then I’ll move into the computer edits. This will be equally as time consuming as the paper edits have been. Reason being? The paper edits do have the majority of the nitty-gritty work, but the computer edits will also contain the reorganizing and rewriting of all the scenes that I marked as needed rewritten (mostly for POV shifts). Realistically, I’m hoping to be fully finished with this draft by the end of August and then hopefully out with some betas after that!

The AW Beta Project is still going swimmingly. I actually got two beta requests! And the person running it told me that my entry was actually the first one requested! It absolutely blows my mind that was how that played out — I honestly expected to get zero requests out of the whole thing! — and I think that’s been a large part of what’s been keeping me motivated this month. There’s something incredibly inspiring knowing that there are people who might actually want to read the craziness in my brain.

#50in5 Words Written: 22,030
Chapters Edited: 26
Hours Spent Editing: 23.25
Scenes Rewritten Completely: 0 (yet — 8 are slated / marked for a rewrite)
Scenes Cut Out: 16
Beta Requests Sent: 1
Beta Requests Received: 2

Publishing: As expected, the Sarra Cannon Publish and Thrive course is absolutely amazing. I worried when I initially signed up / paid for it that I would end up having some buyer’s remorse once the payment process. Not because I didn’t think the course would be good / worth it, but because I’m not earning money right now and for someone without an income, it was a lot of money. And I’ve definitely had to get a little creative with bill paying now because I decided to take the course. However, I think it was the best thing I’ve done for myself all year. Even in the “introductory” module, I learned a lot, which is great. But even beyond that, I’ve really been building relationships with other people in the course.

Which probably sounds silly and like some sort of hoity-toity markety nonsense. But as a romance / realistic fiction writer with a majority of speculative writer friends, I’ve found a small collection of writers who write in my exact subgenre of romance. And that has been super awesome in and of itself. Plus, the Facebook group is incredibly supportive and social and it’s been a very much needed social engagement in the middle of my otherwise relatively lonely summer.

I am unfortunately on campus for work all week next week, so my summer is essentially over at this point, despite students still having just under a month before they’re back, so my goals this week should be lighter than normal, right? Well, yes, if I were a sane person. But I’m not. So, next week’s goals:

  • Write 5k daily (except Friday and Sunday)
  • Write 10k Friday and Sunday (for #50in5 and Mandi Lynn’s 10k Challenge)
  • Edit 2 hours daily
  • Complete Module 2 of Publish and Thrive

Hope everyone else is succeeding in meeting their goals as well!

Back from the Dead?

This month’s topic:  ZOMBIES are a July tradition  for WriYe. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?
Well, this is awkward. As one of the founding members of this annual tradition… I’m actually not participating in Zombie July this year. I always love plotting and planning to write a zombie novel, but then when it comes down to actually writing them? I get maybe 10k in and then things die out and I get super frustrated that I spent all the time to plot / plan the book and wasted July… So, that’s a thing.
But, the real reason I’m not working on Zombies this month is because they don’t really fit into my genre. That is the downside of writing primarily realistic fiction — to do so many of the challenges that I’ve seen around, you either have to be writing speculative fiction or completely abandon what you’ve been working on the rest of the year. Which, normally isn’t an issue for me and I welcome July as a break from the “normal grind.” But, since I’m writing on borrowed time and July is one of two months I have to really dedicate myself to my craft? It’s very difficult to want to give up even a second of my time to something that isn’t one of my more “serious” projects.
I do, however, have some of my own writing traditions, however. For one, I do love hosting a kick-off party for large WriMo months (January, July, November) by grabbing myself some Wavy Lays plain potato chips, cheese dip, Cheez-Its, and Cherry Coke, then at midnight, do a 15 or 20 minute word sprint and just basically try and get as high a word count as possible before falling asleep while writing (usually around 3 or 4am). This started back when I was writing a lot more and would never miss a monthly WriMo kickoff. I would do that for every single month… And now it’s just stuck as something I “have” to do in order to really get into the writing groove, especially that late at night.
Other than that, I don’t really have any writing traditions. I mean, I try to outline before I write a novel. I usually watch Twitch or YouTube while I’m writing. I always edit in pink, purple, or green ink… But, those are more habits than traditions, I think.
What about you? Any writing traditions?

State of the Author: Week Ending 07/07/19

It has been quite a productive week for me in terms of writing-related things. Which is great! If every week would mimic this one, I would be beyond happy with my progress. Of course, that’s not possible, and if it were, it would only be a matter of time before I’d accept it as normal and start pushing myself to do more… So, for now, I’ll just focus on the successes.

Writing: As mentioned, I’m working on drafting the initial draft of Rainstorms in Bluebell Fields, which is a sequel and my #50in5 project. So far, I’ve only worked on it one day, and am sitting at 10.3k words on it after that day. It wasn’t a good day for my Real Life, so I wasn’t sure I was going to make my 10k that day, but I pushed through and eventually succeeded. Sure, I’m disappointed that it took me nearly the entire day to accomplish my daily count, but considering there was a large portion of time that I honestly thought I was just going to quit / give up and pick another day to hit my 10k? Yeah, I’m pretty pleased. The words themselves are pretty rough because, well, it was not the best / easiest writing day, but also because I hadn’t done nearly enough prep / research for the first half of the novel. That said, they’re still words, and I’m still proud of them, so here’s an excerpt (please be kind and remember this is a very rough first draft):

RBF Chapter 1 Excerpt.PNG

Editing: Still trucking along here as well. I got hung up a smidge the one day because I realized a major scene was missing from the printed draft I am working through and had to go track it down. Once I accomplished that, I realized that I seemed to have combined two different drafts when printing and had old versions of chapters, some with beta comments from ages ago, and multiple repeated scenes, so I had to spend almost an hour sorting through things and notating where things belonged and all of that. It was by far the most stressful thing I’ve had to do so far while editing.

I’m still participating in AW’s Beta Project and have already submitted my 3 required crits. There are at least 6 more that I’m interested in completing and deciding if I want to ask for a full beta of. One of the 3 assigned to me was one I was initially interested in, based on reading hooks alone, so I went ahead and requested a full beta of that one. They’re only looking for someone to read and comment on their structure, so it will be a quick beta job. I feel like I could take on two more of a similar commitment or one more that’s more intensive, so we’ll see how I feel over the course of the next week while I’m working my way through the other 6 crits I’d like to submit.

#50in5 Words Written: 10,314
Chapters Edited: 13
Hours Spent Editing: 7.5
Scenes Rewritten Completely: 0 (yet — 3 are slated / marked for a rewrite)
Scenes Cut Out: 7
Beta Requests Sent: 1
Beta Requests Received: 2 (omggggggg <3)

Publishing: I’m not quite on this step myself yet, but I am working through Sarra Cannon’s Publish and Thrive course to help build my arsenal of personal knowledge and resources. I’m still putting the final touches on my pre-course workbook, but for the most part found the reflection on what I want to get from my career and the places I consider things to be most important very helpful… As well as significantly harder than I expected any of the questions to be! Definitely looking forward to continuing through the rest of the modules over the next several weeks. (Registration closes very soon on this course, so if you’re interested / considering signing up, make sure to do it ASAP!)

Well, that’s my current state of progress and accomplishment for this week. Next week, I have a few more specific goals:

  • Fully flesh out my military / intelligence research notes for Rainstorms in Bluebell Fields.
  • Add another 10k to Rainstorms in Bluebell Fields on 07/12.
  • Edit 8 more chapters of Sky of Light.
  • Complete 6 additional Beta Project Crits.
  • Complete Module 1 of Publish and Thrive.
  • Add 5 (completed) pages to my LTA Series Bible

What about you guys? What have you done this week? What are your goals for this week? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

#editnfriends: Better Late than Never

We’re going to ignore the dates on that image and pretend that I am completely on time with this challenge that Elizabeth Szubert issued. Right? Right.

It’s been a while, but I did talk about my editing space back in March, and it’s very much the same most days as it was in that post. I’m still working by hand in my printed out manuscript with my pink pen and a furry little companion by my side. It’s going as well as one might imagine ripping apart your words might go. Things that I have learned now that I am officially 11 chapters in:

  • Pay attention to chapter numbers. If you have eight chapters labeled “9,” you’re going to get into a lot of very confusing ordering / sequence situations.
  • NUMBER YOUR PAGES BEFORE YOU PRINT OUT THE MANUSCRIPT. This alone would have saved me a million headaches.
  • If you end up having to add a scene or break up a chapter into two (or eight…), renumber things. Do not have 9a -9h. Just renumber the chapters after it.
  • Cutting scenes is actually kind of… Fun?
  • Do not print multiple drafts of the same chapter.

As you see, I’ve been having quite a specific struggle with my editing. And ended up spending an extra hour “working” yesterday than I planned because I found some chapters were in my print-version twice, one entire scene was missing completely, and things just weren’t in any sort of logical order. But, once I managed to figure out what went where and why… I feel like I was able to establish a much stronger sense of plot and really strengthen the dichotomy between the two potential love interests in doing so. I have notes and arrows and scribbles all over the pages for little links and transitions that I’ll need to write / add once I finish the paper-edits and move into putting them on the computer to finalize everything, but it actually feels like things are coming together nicely.

Which, is interesting to me because it makes the story feel like it is very full and robust, but, I ended up completely trashing (as in papers crumbled and thrown across the room towards a trashcan as if I were pretending to be some sort of athlete) 11 pages yesterday. Now, admittedly, 3 of them were because I for some reason printed two drafts of the same chapter. But the other 8? We just scenes that didn’t need to be there. I might bring one of the scenes back at some point — where Jimi shows off his “hobby room” and makes everyone hate him even more for bragging yet again about how nauseatingly rich he is — but where it was placed? It made the hate come on too hard, too fast. So, that’s been cut. Another scene got chopped because it seemed to be a bunch of fluff / filler that didn’t really add anything to the novel other than pages. And then a really random scene with a character that never reappears was removed. Because, really… If that’s their only purpose? They aren’t important.

Maybe I should be sad, grieving the lost of my words and hard work… But honestly? I’m glad to see them go. They served their purpose at one point of helping me to explore characters (and meet my NaNo word count for the day) and feel out the plot, but now? Now they were just bloating my novel for no reason. They’ll be much better off now that they’re gone.

#50in5 Words Written: 0
Chapters Edited: 11
Hours Spent Editing: 4.5
Scenes Rewritten Completely: 0 (yet — 2 are slated / marked for a rewrite)
Scenes Cut Out: 3
Beta Requests Sent: 0
Beta Requests Received: 0

Camp NaNoWriMo: July 2019 Project Intro

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I am being a crazy ambitious person this month. It’s the last month I have to throw myself into writing full time before going back to the day job in August, so I want to make sure to get as much done as possible. So, because of that, I kind of have three projects happening simultaneously.

The first is that Sunshowers in Bluebell Fields has officially been submitted to the Absolute Write Beta Project 2019, so soon it’s going to be getting three basic crits of the first 750 words and (hopefully) at least 2-3 beta requests to launch it into the editing process officially. I’m both nervous and excited about this whole process because that will be one more novel that’s officially almost “done” within my series.

Which, actually, is why the second (and, in turn, the third) project exist as well. My second project for July is what I’m completing for CampNaNo — which is 45 hours of line and content edits on Sky of Light, which will officially be the LAST full edit I do on this novel (it will get one more read through from some friends / betas for proofreading) and then, it will be done-done. This is mostly a line edit, but there are a few chapters in the middle that I need to do one more pass for content on, so I’m just going to do these two steps simultaneously. I decided to work on this novel’s edits because well, it’s the most done of all my LTA books and it would be great to finally have a novel that I would consider 100% complete. So, that’s my real Camp NaNo goal that I’ll be checking in about every Monday throughout July: 45 Hours of Editing on Sky of Light.

And then, of course, there is my #50in5 project. Originally, I thought I was going to use those words to knock out the last two thirds / half of Static Lightning Skies (which I’ve been working on the rest of my summer) in order to finally get the first draft of that one finished. But, once I realized what other two books I would have in my brainspace this month, I thought it might be more beneficial to work on the sequel to my Beta Project and the true companion / same timeline novel as Sky of Light: Rainstorms in Bluebell Fields. So, that’s what I’m working on for my #50in5 words, as outlined in Friday’s post.

And now… It is officially Camp NaNo, which means it is time to start in on my editing hours! I plan on checking in here with a “State of the Author” type post every Monday throughout July, so you have that to look forward to! In the comments, let me know if you’re doing Camp NaNo this month and what your project is for the month, regardless of if you’re participating or not.

#50in5 Words Written: 0
Chapters Edited: 0
Hours Spent Editing: 0
Scenes Rewritten Completely: 0
Scene Cut Out: 0
Beta Requests Sent: 0
Beta Requests Received: 0

#50in5: An Introduction

If there is anything you should know about me as a writer, it’s that I don’t like how solitary an activity it is. Sure, I do my actual writing on my own, but I like to write much like I prefer to live: alongside other people inhabiting the same space / doing the exact same thing on their own, but close enough to suffer simultaneously with me and be close by when I need someone to bounce ideas off of or commiserate with. That’s why I love challenges so much and it is also the thing that brings me back to events like Camp NaNoWrImo / NaNoWriMo / WriYe, but even beyond that — it keeps me participating in crazy events with my Writing Chat Friends (TM).

July will be no different. Camp NaNoWriMo’s second session begins Monday, and several of us are doing two starkly different Camp projects — complete with two unique accounts to contain them. One project is more traditional to the idea of Camp (I’ll be talking about mine here on Monday), but the second is one that we’re writing slightly uniquely, as well as where the hashtag in my title comes from.

#50in5 asks you to take the classic NaNo challenge of writing 50,000 words and makes it even more difficult — by doing it in 5 days, and 5 days only. We’ve all realized that as we get older, time becomes more and more valuable, and often we only have one day a week that we can squeeze in for writing. So one day each week, we will write (at least) 10k and by the end of July, we’ll have (at least) 50k written in our novels. Great plan, right? We think so.

Personally, I prefer this kind of binge writing, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge a lot. I’m planning on joining my friends K. A. Wyles and Elizabeth Szubert to write 10k all four of the Fridays in July (while our friend Tatra holds down the weekend to complete her 10k days) and then my fifth 10k day will take place on 21 July during the 10k Writing Challenge hosted by Mandi Lynn. Because, as stated at the beginning: I don’t like doing these crazy things alone.

So, as fun as #50in5 will be with the handful of us who are already planning on completing it, it will be even more fun, if other people join in with us! There are goodies if you do! Of course, there will be a virtual goodie for you to post / use online, as there always is when we do a challenge like this. However, with this particular challenge, there will also be two different physical goodies for participating as well. The first will be a custom postcard designed and mailed by K. A. Wyles! The postcard is beautiful AND functional… But that’s all you’ll hear about it from me. Trust me when I say you will want one of these in your possession, however. The second goodie will be a set of custom #50in5 stickers designed by yours truly. These can be used to mark your progress in your planners / calendars and remind you of the days that you should be writing 10k. They will also have a little somethin’-somethin’ to coincide with your postcard, as if you weren’t already enticed enough to want to grab these things for your very own. If you are absolutely jumping out of your skin excited about these little gifts from us, all you have to do is comment on this post to tell us exactly how stoked you are, and then make sure you fill out this form to share your mailing address to get your fun goodies (your information will not be shared / sold and will only be used to send stickers / a postcard for #50in5).

So far, I’ve been having a pretty fruitful summer of writing and I think this is going to be a good finale to the season before heading back to having a day job for the 2019-2020 school year. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone successfully write #50in5 with us this July!