I hate this part. Blehhhh.

Written By: Jess - Dec• 11•17

My Mini-rant.

I hate, loathe, detest, and despise the writing process of the first third of my novels. I do. Not. Like. It. It’s like pulling my own teeth.

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on this.

A lot of writers I know enjoy the world-building part of the novel (the first third, usually), where they set up the magic, the setting, the people, the ‘let me show you these awesome people and the cool things they do’ bit.

Not me.

I like the middle and I love writing the end. But the beginning is painstaking. I just want to get to the good stuff, but explaining the magic to the reader in a way that’s not info-dumpy and doesn’t completely suck, well, it sucks.

Which is why I’m driving myself mad with my current WIP. I’m about, oh, 5k into it. After a month of writing (rounding up here). That’s pitiful for me, even with my Littles’s weird sleeping habits as of late. Once I’m in my ‘groove’, I can usually do around 7-10k in a week. I’m hoping once I’m past the world building phase my word count will pick-up, cause if not, I’m gonna start worrying. I’m expecting this sucker to be around the 70-75K mark, and I need it done by April. That’s the goal. *stares at the word count in Scrivener again* I hope I make it.

I guess I’ll aim to get past the first third by mid-January. I was going to say the end of December, but then I saw today’s date and laughed. So mid-January. I think I can make it.

Wish me luck.

Next post will likely be about Movie/Books/ TV shows and other more fun bits. This post was more me trying to escape working, well, my WIP. This is why its only at 5k.

*Sigh*

And Then Life Happens

Written By: Jess - Nov• 04•17

I was going to start my new shiny this week.

I have yet to write a single word of it.

Because life happens. Sometimes personal stuff steps in and takes center stage and everything else gets ignored (how many cliches can I use in this post? Let’s count). That was this week. It’s likely going to continue for another few days as well. For several reasons, I’m going to be vague about it . . sorry if that annoys you.

What I have done, though, is pin colorful flash cards to a bulletin board and edited my outline a little. I’ve also read more books, as promised, since the last post and watched “Belle”. You should see it too. It’s a fantastic movie.

After the worst of this week is over, I have every intention of finally starting the new novel. I’m also scared to death of it. I hate the first page. It’s blank and looming and intimidating as hell. I also know that the chances of any of those first words remaining by the time I’m done with this project are slim to none. I dislike that. I have to pointedly ignore the fact that everything I’m tying is likely going to be tossed into the recycling bin. Oh well. You have to start somewhere, right?

So that’s what’s going on right now. A bunch of personal unpleasantness and Netflix (because doing anything else seems a little too hard at the moment).

Hopefully everyone else is doing well.

Reporting from the Trenches (#1) + Workshops!

Written By: Jess - Oct• 19•17

The Query Trench Report (#1):

It’s been weeks since I’ve heard from any agents. No rejections, no ‘please send more’, no nothin’. I need to check how long it’s been and either follow up (only on the agents that encourage you to drop a line if you haven’t heard back in x amount of weeks) or consider it a rejection. I also probably need to submit to some more off of my list. So there’s that. Not much to report except that I’m still at it.

Writerly Stuff

So, every year I like to list the conferences/workshops/retreats/etc. of what I’m signed up for, and although the list isn’t as long this year, here it is:

Writers’ Family Reunion

November 11th, 2017

My first Texas conference! I mentioned this in the last post I did. I’m pretty pumped. I also joined the Houston Writers House. The conference is only for a day, but it looks like a great way to meet people and looks like a lot of fun.

Lone Star Ink Writing Conference

February 8th-10th, 2017

I haven’t signed up for this one yet, but I likely will before the end of December. It will be in Dallas, and I’ll likely go for two reasons: more networking/friend making and the workshops/boot-camps. It’s also for a killer price (so was the Writers’ Family Reunion. No one tell the Texans running these that they could charge double what they are. Holy crap are the conferences here gloriously cheap).

I’m hoping I can use this conference as a way to workshop what I take to Futurescapes (see below). I don’t know what the deadline for submitting to Futurescapes is (this year, we’re  sending our chapters in advance of the conference so everyone has time to read and make notes), but if it’s before mid February I might beg Luke and the-powers-that-be that are in charge of Futurescapes to please let me submit a little later. Fingers crossed.

What’s also cool about this conference is that I know a lot of the instructors who are coming (even if they probably don’t remember me)! Yay!

Futurescapes! 

April 16th-18th, 2018

It’s official. I’m going back this year! I already paid tuition, and probably will pay for a plane ticket in the next few days. Last year it was fantastic, and after seeing the schedule and hearing more about the changes for 2018, it should be even better. Yay, Futurescapes!

 

So far, that’s it as far as conferences go. Going to Futurescapes takes the biggest chunk this year simple because of plane tickets and whatnot.

Movies

I rented “Belle”. I’ve wanted to see that movie for a while now and I can’t wait to carve some time out this weekend and enjoy it.

 Books

I’m a decent way through Grace Draven’s “Gaslight Hades” and I’m having to use the dictionary feature of my kindle more than I’d like to admit. I love her writing. Out of all the self-published authors I’ve read, she might very well be my favorite. This little novella is a fantasy/steampunk romance that is rather delightful so far. It’s also useful because it’s in a similar vein to what I’m writing next.

cover

Next up:

Agatha Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party“.

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Looks like spooky fun. 🙂
Also writing books. Reading a lot of those right now.

A Writers Family Reunion

Written By: Jess - Oct• 12•17

So I wrote a post a while back but didn’t post it. To be honest, it was too depressing. Maybe I’ll post it later, but for now I’ll just sit and be wishy-washy. While I decide, here’s another post that isn’t such a downer.

Updates:

We’re in our house! Mostly unpacked too! Yay!

I’ve also started a new novel. Well, I’ve plotted it at least and know what I’m doing next. I’m not giving myself 2-3 week so of letting it sit while I binge on Aaron Sorkin’s Master Class and read writing books. I like doing things like that and then looking at the plot again before actually starting the ms. This might be the shortest I’ve waited to jump into a draft after outlining though.

Side note: I’m really excited about the next novel. Writing something new is fun. I forgot how fun. I have no idea what to label it though. I’m leaning towards just ‘fantasy’, but that sounds to…plain? I’m sure it’ll change to something else.

Writing Groups & Writing Friends

So, I don’t believe that the fourth largest city in the US has fewer writers than Utah. I just don’t–even though it kinda feels that way. My guess is the networking/socializing isn’t as strong as in Utah. I don’t know. All I know is that finding local groups means I’m going to be driving 30 minutes at least to meet them, while in Utah it was more like 10 minutes. But there are groups. I just joined one tonight for the soul purpose of meeting other writers and hopefully making a friend or two. It’s lonely here.

I also signed up for a mini conference (they’re calling it a Writers Family Reunion). What’s cool about it is that several writing groups/leagues/organizations are getting together to host it. I can’t say I ever saw that in Utah. It would be akin to LDStorymakers, League of Utah Writers, LTUE, and Writing for Charity (plus some others) hosting something together. I’m impressed that what looks like competing organizations are joining forces for writers to mingle… and it looks awesome. So, kudos to them. I can’t wait.

 

Well. Here we go.

Written By: Jess - Sep• 02•17

I told myself I was going to wait to start working on a new WIP until I had a house. With that said, I guess I’m still not technically starting a new MS. I’m just brainstorming, and probably experimenting with a few scenes to see which project to try, but that’s still more than what I was even planning to do.

I also said I wasn’t going to write another urban fantasy and that I’d give sci-fi a try, but with the way things are looking, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen either.

The problem with trying to write a sci-fi story is that I don’t feel like I’ve read enough in the genre. Urban fantasy is what I know. With SF I know more ideas will come if I binge more on TV/movies, and books is what I’ll likely do. I might try writing two MS. I’m playing with the idea of writing the UF one, read and watch a ton of science fiction while I do it, and then as soon as I finish the first draft, immediately launch myself into a SF MS (I have ideas for one, they’re just a lot weaker than my UF ones). I feel confident enough that I can do that.

I know I can write 90k+ words in 3-4 months, so churning out two first drafts in under a year won’t be that much of an issue. The problem will be learning how to edit faster, which I think with the next project will be easier. I hope.

I’m starting to get pumped for a new project. However, I still can’t stop doubting that I’ll love the next project as much as the one I have out on submission. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that’s not the case.

#1: The first story/book. I really loved writing my first book, but I wouldn’t say I loved the finished project. I worked almost 4 years on that sucker. I learned a lot from it, but there’s a reason it’s shelved. Maybe one day I’ll pull it out and try to completely rewrite it, cause it was a cool idea. But not today or anytime in the near future. After 4 years of work, I’m rather sick of this novel. It can wait for a rewrite for just as long, if not longer.

#2: It was hard to write, but I’m proud of this story. I don’t see it published–it’s a serious downer and quite frankly, upsetting, but it couldn’t have ended any other way. I like the idea of using it as backstory and picking up where it leaves off and writing a novel from it. It’s a project that still appeals to me, but I’m not sure I want to return to it just yet. It’s not shelved, it’s just at the bottom of the pile of projects I want to work on. Other things sound more fun to write, and honestly, what that novel needs would emotionally drain me. I know what the plot would be and a lot of the major points, and just thinking about it is exhausting. Not ready to tackle that novel yet, nor do I feel like I’m at the writing level needed to pull it off (though I don’t think I’m as far off as I was when I wrote the first draft of this story).

#3: I still need to submit this one out. It was just pure fun. The characters were a blast, especially the mc. The world intrigues me. The magic is cool. I want to write more in the world, but I can’t nail down a plot idea yet. But this story… this story is one I’m really proud of. Now I just need to submit it in the short story market.

#4: The latest one. I freaking love this book. I felt varying degrees of emotions with all of my projects, but this one I never got sick of. Tired of certain stages? Sure. The book itself? No. I loved it from beginning to end and through the rewrites. I have tons of ideas for the second novel, if there ever is a second one. The idea of never getting to write that story breaks my heart a little bit. Feeling that excited over a project was a blast, and knowing where the story goes just makes it even better. I hope I can find a home for it. I really do, but want I hope for more is that I’ll feel just as strongly about some other story.

So those are my thoughts right now.  Hope everyone is doing well.

 

P.S. We survived Harvey better than most, for those wondering.

My “Rejection Box” is going to make me gain 10 lbs, I swear.

Written By: Jess - Aug• 23•17

This is a combo post. Yep. You’re getting both the “Rejection Box” post and “I’ve started querying!”.  Sadly, those two are already connected. Let’s get started, shall we?

Let the Querying Begin!

More accurately, I started this weekend. I got my first rejection in less than two days. I then ate chocolate, sat down, and looked up more agents. I have since queried four others, and I’ll keep sending them out until I’ve submitted 8 active queries that I’m waiting to hear back on.

Soon as I get a rejection, I’ll pinpoint another potential agent and query them next. Basically, lather, rinse, repeat until my soul can’t take it anymore and it shatters into a million pieces and I shelve the book. But I think it’s a little too early before doing that just yet.

Which brings me to “The Rejected Box”

I did not come up with this. Someone at a workshop or conference mentioned that they did this, and when I heard it, I thought, “I’m stealing that idea.”

Rejected boxFirst, take a box. Now fill it with your favorite candy/treats. Next, you wait for the inevitable to happen whenever you query agents (with the very rare, and very exciting exceptions). Print off the rejection, go to your box and put the letter in and take a piece of candy out.

My way of thinking is the candy helps fill the ragged hole that the rejection letter left. I don’t get mad, only sad. My rejection box has allllll sorts of chocolates. Cheap ones, more expensive, my top favorites, big, and little. Depending on the size of wound the rejection letter left in my soul determines the chocolate of choice.candy

I’ve had two rejections so far. The first one hurt the most, like expected (I just wasn’t expecting it so fast). That one required some higher quality junk food. The second one only hurt a little bit (and this one beat the first one in time between query sent and rejection. Less than 24 hours. At least they were prompt and ending my misery of waiting, I guess?).

Anyway, if all agents are this fast (which, hey, I’m not complaining. I just am a little surprised by it since I hear most people are waiting months sometimes), then I might need to ration out the chocolate to maybe every third rejection.

 The Barnes & Noble Adventure

Pretty much anything is an adventure now that I’ve got a near two-year-old. Thank goodness for strollers I can strap the kiddo into. Anyway, I needed a new journal. I’ve noticed with the last few projects that I’ve filled the Barnes & Noble spiral ones more than any other. In the past, my notes were all over the place in various notebooks, which still kinda happens, but when I use the B&N notebooks, it’s more organized and definitely used the most often. I just like them a lot.

So I figured I needed a new one for whatever I write next (Still need to look at my notes. Once I have enough queries sent out, I’ll switch gears and look through my ideas to see if any are worth exploring). The B&N had slim pickings. Luckily, I still found one:

20170822_020759

I love it. I think it’s pretty and fun, and although I think “Alice in Wonderland” is one freaking weird book, this is great. Hopefully good things will go into this one. Can’t wait to start filling it up with ideas, random dialogue that may or may not be used, and word counts.

While at B&N, I of course got lost in all the shelves. When I first walked in I saw this:

20170822_020839

Focused on agents and submitting your MS? Yes, please. Granted, none of the agents in this represent what I write (I was bummed, but I’ve subscribed to this mag before, so I suspected it wouldn’t). But it still has info that will be really useful. I’m excited about a couple of the articles. Which lead me to thinking about how to find more agents. Which in turn lead me to the reference section of the bookstore where I found something well worth the money.

20170822_020827

“Guide to Literary Agents 2017”

Yeah. That’s a no-brainer. I’ve also subscribed to the Publishers Marketplace (a great tool for finding out recent deals agents have made) and query tracker. Now I’m brushing up on my twitter hashtags. I guess tomorrow is #PitMad? I’m not 100% sure what #PitMad is, but you can bet I’ll have a pretty dang good idea before I go to bed tonight.

The Blog

The Blog itself needs some updating now that we’ve moved. I think it needed some TLC long before that, but the poor thing has been a bit neglected since I went into edit mode. It’s a little easier writing for the blog when I don’t have a story I’m trying to meet a word count goal on or editing it ’til I want to cry. It’s nice to work on posts again. I’ve missed it. Maybe I’ll resurrect my weekly 100 word story posts. Those were always surprisingly enjoyable. Hey, actually maybe I’ll look at some of my old ones for inspiration . . .

Don’t hit the “Panic Button”

Written By: Jess - Aug• 15•17

Mini-rant Ahead:

So this is fun. Look at my blog and all the ugly images Photobucket replaced my gifs with. *Sigh* I updated the last entry so there are none, and I’ll figure it out later for the rest of my posts. Photobucket won’t even let me know what gifs I was using so I can’t download them and re-upload them to here. Screw you, Photobucket. I’m not spending $400 A YEAR for gifs. Time to find a new photo-sharing site.

*Rant over*

We Moved Outside of Utah:

In other news, we moved to Missouri City, Texas. For those wondering where on God’s green earth that is, it’s part of the greater Houston area. What’s the greater Houston area? Wikipedia will tell you. But in summary, it’s the metropolitan area of Houston. It’s big. It’s really big and encompasses several cities. When people unfamiliar with Texas ask to where I’ve moved, I always just say ‘Houston’, but more specifically it’s Missouri City.

I have mixed feelings on moving back to Texas, but overall, it should be a good change. It also means I’m closer to getting a horse and a German Shepherd, so, I’ll settle on a tentative ‘yay’.

The sucky part about moving, however, is my entire routine was completely disrupted. Before we moved, I was about a week or two from submitting. With the move, it moved it back by a lot. It’s been difficult trying to write and read and just have my normal life back when we aren’t living in our own space. Jack’s grandparent’s were kind enough to allow us to live in their house until we finish closing on the one we made an offer on, so at least it won’t be a long disruption. Hopefully by the end of September I’ll be back to my normal day-to-day pattern, including my writing. *fingers crossed*

Submitting:

Come hell or high water, I will submit my novel to at least one agent before the end of the week. Ready or not, I’m hitting send. I already have the email drafted, the synopsis attached, and I’m doing a quick skim/final read through before attaching the MS and hitting ‘send’. If I edit any more, it’s just going to be diminishing returns at this point.  I’ll probably have a post of celebration about starting the querying process, likely followed by the woes of rejection.

Fun stuff, fun stuff.

What am I doing next?

I keep getting asked what the next story is.

The answer is this: I don’t know yet.

I want to write the sequel to the novel I just finished. It keeps calling me and I get super excited just thinking about it. But writers and agents at every workshop or conference I go to suggest against doing this until I’ve sold the first book. No point writing the second in the series if you have no guarantee about the first. It’s a fair point I agree with. So, until that hopefully happens, I need to write something else. I have a bunch of notes in a box. I’ll look at them next week and either write a short story, plot, or a little of both.

We’ll see what happens.

Maybe I’ll just binge read until I have a house and go from there (I’m partial to this. Plus I need to catch up on some Korean dramas. I’ve missed those). It’s as much up in the air as everything else at this moment, and no one is more frustrated about it than I am.

In summary:

Life is good, full of change, full of stress, full of panic inducing curve balls, but I just keep trying to write to the best of my ability. Sometimes life makes it difficult, but I’m not quitting.

 

What I’m reading:

I am very slowly making it through the latest “Mercy Thompson” installment. Love the series to pieces, and normally I’d have it finished by now, but nope. Same reasons as above. Overall, I love it. Mercy is as fun as ever, and the writing is solid. Maybe I’ll try to finish it by the weekend.

Marching On

Written By: Jess - Mar• 03•17

Hi people. Sorry it’s been a while, but update time. I really do mean to post more regularly enough, but, well, life. That, and my writing comes first and this blog second. Anyways, here’s what’s up. I’ll keep this short.

Conferences:

It’s Conference season! Am I going to any? For a variety of reasons, probably not.

With that said, writing retreats and workshops are a different story. I might try to host a retreat for some friends or at least try to orchestrate one of some sort. It’s still up in the air, but I’m hoping I can figure that out in the next week or two.

There is a workshop I applied to I’d like to attend. If I get in, I’ll post more about it then. But it’s a heck of a deal and well worth the money to be able to get feedback from some major writers, editors, and agents that will be attending. It’s a tough call because of the money, but since this would be the only writing thing I’d be paying for this conference/workshop season, it would be worth it.

So, hopefully more on that soon.

Hiring an Editor

So, another reason for not going to conferences is because I had to make a choice: go to conferences, or hire a freelance editor to help me with my writing. I had one go through the first 50 pages and I really loved her feedback. Since then, I’ve hired her to help me with my submission package as well. In April I’ll be sending her my query letter, synopsis, and sample chapters (I’m not sure how many this is. I hopefully will hear back from her on her thoughts on this. My first chapter is a beast, and longer than typical chapters, so I’m a bit confused on how to treat it when I send to agents).  So, that’s happening.

Edits

How the edits have gone:

3rd Draft

Starting Word Count: 91,466

Ending Cord Count: 89,094

Total Cut: 2,372 words

I’m extremely happy about this. It’s better than I was expecting, especially when I look back at how the 1st draft finished at 93, 094 words.

New Goal: Keep it under 90,400 words. That way I can round down when I submit to agents. From what I understand from research, you round to the closest thousand. I’m not going to be happy if I have to put 91K on my query letters, so that’s the new goal. As of right now, it’s at 89,609. I’ve had to clarify and change some as my critique group goes through it (they’ve gone through over half of it now), and when the editor I’ve hired returned her feedback. I want to be able to write 90K. I know it’s only a thousand words, but gosh dang it. I want to keep to the stupid 90K limit (I’ve read most agents are leery of taking more than this for my genre).

In the works:

My query letter and synopsis. I had one of my critique groups (I’m in two. One meets every week, the other group meets every other week) tear my query and synopsis apart. It was very frustrating, but good. I think I have a much stronger query letter now. I went through the process of rewriting it Thursday evening, and I’m hoping to rework the synopsis tonight. I’ll likely go through them another couple times before sending them to my other group and then finally to the editor in April.

What I’m reading:

I’m reading two books right now. One is “Heartless” by Marissa Meyer, and the other is “Wyvern” by Grace Draven.

heartlessI’m only two chapters into “Heartless”, so there isn’t much to say except that Meyer is proving once again why she’s one of my favorite YA authors. This woman can write anything and I’ll read it. She just writes charming and really fun tales all around. And although her next novel, “Renegades”, doesn’t exactly interest me from it’s description alone, I know I’ll be buying it anyway because it’s Meyer. I trust her.

 

 

 

 

Wyvern

“Wyvern” is awesome. I love Grace Draven’s novels and novellas. This one’s a novella. It’s fun and like always she has me hooked from the first page. I can’t put my finger on why, but I am absolutely in love with the way she writes. She’s fantastic at creating very different stories that I’ve never seen before. I really admire that about her. Anyway, “Wyvern” is about a fiery fiddler who’s off to charm a dragon in order to save her father. It’s a romance through and through, but it’s the kind of romance I eat up and don’t roll my eyes at (yay! No cheesey stuff). So kudos for Draven. I’m slowly working through the stories she has out.

 

Books I’m looking for: I want some sci-fi stuff, but not hard science fiction or military science fiction. I don’t have much interest in those. I’m open to suggestions of what to read next in this genre, so please point some out to me.

I’m ahead!

Written By: Jess - Dec• 15•16

It’s a miracle! Some how I have flown through 2nd draft edits, and I have ONE CHAPTER LEFT.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

I’d given myself three months to get these revisions done and somehow it looks like I’m going to do it all in two. I’m in shock. Happy shock, but shock none the less. I figure what I’ll do once I’m done is take the next month to really go over consistency issues, notes I didn’t get to, and another read through.

I still need to cut more words and I’m pretty much looking at my MS like:

Annnnnd… delete this sentence.

I’m playing with the idea of cutting a scene, but I’m going to wait and see what my critique partners say. There’s also feedback on past chapters I still need to go through, so I might be able to cut some words while I do that too. It’s interesting. There are some scenes I really love, but when I think in terms of  “I need to cut this or an agent is never ever gonna look at my ms ’cause it’s too long,” that scene is suddenly a loss less dear to me. Bye-bye.

In other news, I completed my GoodReads challenge for the year. Next post I’ll write about what I’m reading.

 

Dun, dun, dunnn…

Written By: Jess - Nov• 17•16

Let the edits begin! Actually, I’ve already started them. Four chapters in! Woot! I haven’t gotten to the changes that will make me cry yet (a.k.a rewrites).  Still need to finish the first read-through of it since I got sidetracked. The goal is to get the 2nd draft done by the end of January. We’ll see how well I do with that. Likely will miss it because the rewrites will probably take longer than what I’m assuming, but I’ll try.

The short story is pretty much done. Hopefully I’ll find a home for it soon.

 

Currently reading: “The Paper Magician” by Charlie N. Holmberg.

Print

It’s ridiculously charming. That’s the only way I can describe it. Beautifully written and charming.

And that’s it for today. I’m just happy I’m back to posting.