Pressure Week

Written By: Jess - Dec• 29•15

There’s four more days until the new year, and I need to get my short story finished in that time. Work did not happen during Christmas (unfortunately).

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting any writing done in a different house during the holidays with a Little was nearly impossible. I just gave up. I got a little work done on it last night, but I still have a lot more to go. The stupid short needs to be done come January 1st so I can start my new shiny.

Anyway, the Holidays were great. This year (surprisingly) I didn’t really ask for any writing things, with the exception of a few writing books. We (me + Jack) both asked for a lot of kitchen stuff. I’ll have to post pics once the kitchen has been completely revamped.

Words are Weird

Written By: Jess - Dec• 23•15

I’m in the middle of some of the tedious edits. As in, I comb through my document looking for ‘there’s to delete, and after looking at about the 150th ‘there’ it starts to look and sound weird in my head. It also happened with ‘since’ and about another half-dozen words. I don’t mind these types of edits; I just wish the words wouldn’t start to get wonky on me halfway through.

Oh, I also bought pretty highlighters to mark-up different characters’ dialogue and make sure they sound the way that they should.

That’s it. That’s all I got for today.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Getting the Stupid Voice Right

Written By: Jess - Dec• 21•15

Writing third person is hard. I struggle with it every time. Normally, I find writing in first person a lot easier. But I need to get better at writing in other view points, so this story is kind of a warm up before I jump into my second novel (which is also 3rd person pov).

Finding Harley’s voice was easy. . . a whole year ago. Since then, he got mad at me and has refused to talk. No, I’m not crazy. He’s just one of the few characters who popped into my head and wouldn’t stop yammering until I wrote down his story. Seriously, he had a full blown personality and everything (and he Would. Not. Shut. Up.) The problem is, I started to write it and then stopped due to other projects, which really irritated Harley. I know because when I started to write him a week or two ago, I floundered. It took a long time for me to get even 300 words on the page in comparison to my usual 1,200. I also struggled because I changed the pov. He was going to be first person, too. *sigh* But I think I found his voice. Jack thinks I may have as well.

You know that scene in Jaws where they’re dishing out the chum to the shark? That’s what I imagine whenever I go to critique groups. I feel like I should ring a dinner bell or something. We’ll see what my writing friends think when I give it to them to shred to pieces (which only makes it better in the end. Feedback is an awesome, terrifying thing).

(I love this movie so much)

 

Progress Today: 424 words + lots of edits

Next Steps into the New Year

Written By: Jess - Dec• 19•15

Hello, internet. Long time, no see. I’m going to get back in the swing of things now that my Little is almost 3 months old. So, here are the plans for the new year:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.) New Book Baby: I’m starting my werewolf book in January. I’m actually very excited about it. I’ve been editing my other UF novel and writing short stories, but this is what I’ve been looking the most forward to. I’m hoping to write the first draft in 3-4 months. The goal is to have this book done and ready to submit within a year. I’m not a fan of taking nearly three years on one book, which leads me to . . .

2.) Submitting: I’m starting to hate my Pandora novel. I’m sick and tired of working on it. I just want it done. But I need to learn how to edit, and even if it never gets published, at least I’ll have taken away something from the experience. I’ve learned a lot from it already with it being my first book and all, but I still need to learn a little more, which is where the editing comes in. I’m still hoping to publish it though. The plan is to start sending it to agents/publishers sometime in January. I still need to brush up the query letter and write a synopsis, but I should be done (hopefully) with the edits by then.

3.) Harley’s Story: So, I have this short story I’m working on about a body snatcher. I started writing it this week, and so far I’m having a blast with the character. He’s a fun one. Questionable morals and ethics, but fun. If I can keep it below 10K words, I’ll be ecstatic. I write long and can be wordy. So short is the goal this time around. I might submit it to Writers of the Future again and to some magazines. Unlike my last short piece, this one ends on a high note.

4.) The Blog: Yeah, yeah. I’ve set goals for this thing before. This time I’m hell bent on keeping to it though. My husband will be my accountability partner. I haven’t told him this yet, but he will.  The goal? 3 times  a week. They might even be me posting YouTube videos when I feel particularly lazy, but I’m sure I can churn out a minimum of 100 words or more per post.

And that’s me and the New Year. Has anyone else been thinking about what they’re going to do?

 

The End is in Sight!

Written By: Jess - Aug• 26•15

The End! So Close!

So, great news. I’m almost done with my revisions.  I’m just this close. Each week I estimate what I can get done and aim for that. If my estimation is right, I should finish the first week of September. Worst case scenario is I finish the second week. Actually, the worst case scenario is the baby comes early and I get it done through a sleep deprived state of newborness. But here’s hoping the baby wants to stay in there until its due date or later.

I’m excited to get the revisions over and done with. I’ve been blowing through a lot of it lately because it’s been more tweaking than rewriting. Instead of rewriting half an entire scene (or just an entire one), I’ve been maybe rewriting 1/4 of them. Though, looking at the scene I need to rewrite next, I might need to do another complete rewrite.

What’s up Next

Editing: I get to go through and nitpick. I’ll sit down and create a better plan on how I’m tackling this, but it’s going to be me going through lots of passes on my MS before I think it’s ‘ready’. I’m going to need Beta Readers at some point. Definitely before December. My goal is to start submitting this puppy around by then. I’ll be unbelievably ticked if it’s not ready at that point.

New Stuff: I’ll be writing something new, hopefully, during my edits of Book Baby #1. I’ve got a couple options. I might switch gears and work on a short story I have outlined, or I might move on to Book Baby #2. I need to rewrite the first chapter and see if I like it, but other than figuring out the POV, I have it also outlined and completely ready to go. I seriously hope I can pull off tight third person POV and keep it interesting, especially when I could have up to four different people I switch around with. We’ll see. Either way, I’m going to have to learn to juggle writing new stuff with editing other projects. Fun, fun.

Agent Searching: This one is scary. If I want to submit in December, then I need to have a list of agents I want to send to. I have a couple that I know of, but I need more. So looking up agents is going to be something I need to start doing soon.

And Baby: Little Critter, please wait. I know it’s close, but I need to get some things done before you get here. Not that I can’t get them done with a newborn, but it would be a lot easier if you could just wait, like, three more weeks.

 

One Very Successful Week

Written By: Jess - Jul• 26•15

Two Weeks Ago

I took off a week of work to focus on getting edits done on the first draft of my MS. In the back of my mind leading up to it I was afraid I’d get little done, because, well, I’d been struggling with churning out faster edits. The long, boring explanation is I stopped trying to be productive in my office and set up shop down stairs on our little used comfy couch. And it worked! Granted, I was usually busy during the day, but at night I’d put in 7-8 hours or so of edits/rewrites. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to, but I still knocked out all but one scene in the second part of the second act. Yay! The last fourth of the book isn’t being gutted like middle was, so good news there.

In all, I’m hoping I can finish this monster by the end of next month. I HAVE to get it done by the end of next month. The idea of thing not being finished by the time a baby gets here is maddening. I’ve spent close to three years on this sucker and I’m not giving it more than that. Granted, it probably would be done by now if I hadn’t had another project interrupt it for three months.

My Progress

Where I’m at with my first book baby:

  1. Pre-writing – plotting, character bios (WAY over did this and ended up throwing out half of what I came up with), world building, ect.
  2. First Draft – the ugly, hideous monstrosity of what might be considered a book. It’s broken, but complete.
  3. Second Draft – the gutting stage. Taking out everything that I can see that doesn’t work. (In this case half the manuscript and rewriting it).  Major rewrites/revisions.
  4. Third Draft – Clean up stage. (I’ve sort of been doing this the same time as the second draft.) Have my wonderful critique partners go over it and point out what they see wrong or confusing. Basically other people spot what I’m blind to.
  5. Fourth Draft – Beta reads? I’m not sure. After the third draft I start to get muddled about where exactly I’m at in getting this thing submission worthy. Hopefully my wonderful writing friends (and anyone else) who looked at the first bit of the book won’t mind taking a look at the rest. If you’re interested, let me know. I’ll most likely need you after September.
  6. Fifth Draft – Cleaning up on a micro level. Going through and changing words, looking for repetitions, grammar (I might need help with this too), looking at dialogue, ect. This should be the fastest draft for me if my novelette is any indication.

First draft took about a year to do, while the second draft is taking almost as long. I say I’ve been working on this thing for nearly 3 because I’m including the ridiculous amount of planning I put in. Lesson learned. Don’t take forever on that part.

Things I’ve Learned (AKA – What I did Wrong)

1.) I’m okay if this one doesn’t get published. I know everyone says your first book is rarely picked up for publication (actually, I’ve heard your 5th is usually the one), but accepting this fact is a lot harder in practice. And a couple of months ago I truly became okay with that. I’m still going to try, but if it never sees the light of day it will hurt, but I’ll be okay. I have another book baby brewing that I think has a better shot. I might have to write another post on why I think this later (it all boils down to marketability and research).

2.) Don’t over pre-write! For me, I over did it. I did way too many major character bios, did a ton of backstory, and planned out every scene I thought my book should have. I probably would have been good doing half of all those. The backstory might be the only exception. I still feel okay overdoing that. It gave me a better foundation. But the plotting and character sketches were a more in depth for what I needed and half ended up being thrown out anyway.

Learning this has helped me more in planning other stories. So, good?

3.) Try writing in different places. This made a world of a difference for me. I learned last year that writing retreats are fantastic. So is any place outside the home with free Wi-Fi, late hours, and decent seating. Also learning to write in different places in your house can help too. If one place isn’t working for me, I learned I need to stop being lazy and try switching it up. My office computer has dual monitors, so I easily get distracted there. It’s perfect for editing, but when it comes to rewrites or writing something new I tend to turn on YouTube or read some article that has nothing to do with writing. My laptop is much more limiting, therefore I get more work done. Hard lesson learned.

4.) Don’t panic and hire an editor too soon. I did this a couple months ago for a partial because I thought I’d be submitting sooner. Now I look back and regret it because I know I’m most likely going to be changing things. Ugh. Don’t hurry unless your rich and don’t mind dropping $200+ on each edit.  We’ll see if I need to hire again, but hopefully that’s not the case (I’m hoping the changes I make won’t be that major).

I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting, but this post is long enough already. How’s everyone else? For writers out there, what works for you?

 

Science Fiction, I Forgot How Awesome You Are

Written By: Jess - Jul• 06•15

Sci-fi Rocks

For the past week I’ve been addicted to a new series called “The Dred Chronicles“. The next book is out in August (yay for good timing!). It’s a romantic sci-fi trilogy and a spin off from the Sirantha Jax series (unless she writes more. Please write more). What’s funny is I’ve had the first book of the Sirantha Jax series, Grimspace, up on my to-be-read shelf. Guess it just got bumped up the list.

Anyways, I’ve been book frenzying over them. Really good. Very gory. TONS of action.

Things That Make Me Want to Cry

Rejection.

Total amount of time to hear back on my latest submission? Three days. Including the weekend. Good news is I can submit it elsewhere so much faster. Bad news is it took three days to say ‘nope’.

Maybe . . . maybe . . . nope. I’m the bunny. The carrots are publication.

What I’ve been sending out is my short story I wrote for Writers of the Future, the same one I got an honorable mention for, and it’s wracking up the rejection forms. I knew it would happen. It still sucks. And in all honestly I don’t think it will sell as a short story or novelette.

Reasons Why:

  1. It’s sad. It is not an ‘up’ story. Downers, from what I understand, are more difficult to sell. People want happy endings.
  2. It would work better as a novel.
  3. Something is off about it. I just can’t place my finger on what.

Yeah. Me too, Han.

 

Luckily, I have chocolate and a rejection box for the rejection emails.

 

Mini Update: Obsessions & Some Progress

Written By: Jess - Jun• 15•15

I actually had a blog post all written up and ready to go . . . and failed to post it. *sigh* Now it’s out of date and deleted. Oh well. Lesson learned. Write the dang thing and hit publish.

This will be quick today, simply because I want to publish something. It’s been long overdue.

What I’ve been obsessed with: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews. It’s an online serial and right now it’s complete and up on their website probably for a couple more weeks.

What I’ve been struggling with: Getting words on the stupid page. Right when I think I’m doing pretty well, I get knocked off course again.

Plan to fix it: I’m going to try to go to the library a couple hours every day after work (and on Saturdays). Starting today. *grits teeth in determination* I figure it’ll get me back into the habit. Maybe I’ll try and move around the house with my laptop. I need to learn to write anywhere again and leave the stupid internet alone when I sit down to write. YouTube and Facebook are the enemy, people.

Writing and the internet go together about as well as this . . .

What I’ve been doing well at: Plotting. I feel like I’ve got my Pandora story under control now. There’s one or two things I’m playing with the idea of cutting, but I’m going to hold off a bit before making that change–if I do it at all. I’ve also accepted the fact that I don’t need to hurry this. It’s not a race. And even if I don’t get this book published, I know I need the practice of finishing something 100% (from 1st draft to polished MS).

Other realizations: My next WIP, a werewolf story, needs to be in third person. I did not like accepting this.  Since the beginning of planning it, I’ve thought it should be that way but stubbornly set my heels in about making it first person. Now I accept it. Better than that, I’m okay with it.

So that’s all for now. See? Nice and short blog post. I’ll try and update sooner.

Mini Update: Struggling

Written By: Jess - Apr• 25•15

So, I’m struggling getting writing done. Still. And reading. I haven’t read a full book in over a month. I think GoodReads tells me I’m over 7 books behind. Nope–I just checked. It’s 8 books. EIGHT.

Which means I’m going to have to cheat and read a ton of short stories and novellas in any hopes of catching up.

As for writing, my ADD is either seriously acting up, it’s the whole pregnancy thing, or I’m just in a funk. I’m writing sort of new stuff, or at least new scenes, so you’d think I’d be able to put out my daily 1,200 word count like I was when I wrote the first draft. Nope. Some days I do, if I can make myself focus long enough. I’m just getting really annoyed with it. The desire is there, and I know what I want to put on the page, it’s just actually doing it.

Any suggestions would be appreciated greatly.

In other news, I think I might rewatch ‘Penny Dreadful’ before the new season starts. Jack got me the DVDs for Christmas and I still need to have a marathon with them. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend if I make my writing goal.

Writing Prompt: Seven of Swords

Written By: Jess - Mar• 22•15

They’re back! I’M back! Yea!!!!!

So Jack and I are living in Tooele now (no it’s not actually ‘forever away’) and love it. There is a down side though. There’s not a whole lot of places for me to go and write. When we lived in Draper I had multiply options. There was the library, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and several other awesome spots. But my favorite was the Harmon’s cafe seating upstairs. It remained out of the way, open way late, clean, comfy, and most importantly, perfect for my writing.  Tooele does not have a Harmons, let alone any places open past 9 pm to write other than McDonald’s.

So McDonald’s it is.

I’ve been out of the writing habit for a while now due to editing, and blending previous written work, but I’ve reached a point in my revisions that I need to completely tear out and write new stuff for my novel. (Cue crying.) It’s a pain, but I hate it less than the editing I’ve been doing lately.

 

But in other news, I’m going to try and start doing prompts again. I haven’t decided if there’s going to be a word limit on them. On some there might, but for now I’m just aiming for short.

After Christmas I bought The Archeon Tarot deck for some writing prompt inspiration (does anyone else like to use Tarot decks for this?). It’s by far one of the most beautiful decks I’ve seen. I scanned the cards and found one that I thought would be fun to base a story off of, and then looked up what it meant.

Seven of Swords (According to Tarot for Writers)

Upright it represents: Betrayal, deception, getting away with something, stealth

Reversed: Mental challenges, breaking free

Writing Prompt: Seven of Swords

seven of swords

The crow rustled his ink black wings, spraying stale raindrops in arches that caught the familiar silver moonlight. He blinked and cocked his head as he stared hard through the indigo night at the glittering sphere. Thin, golden links attached themselves to the side of it as it lay at the bottom of the ravine.

Flap. Snatch. Pretty thing.

Not a shadow lingered in a single cranny as the sphere glowed and glistened in the nook of a fallen branch.

His wings twitched, and he snapped his beak in frustration as he contemplated his favorite hiding place. The moon whispered ‘don’t do it,’ but the crow had already expanded its wings, sailing down on a gentle night current, and toward the glowing orb.

With a simple pluck and pull the sphere went up into the night, hanging by its links in the crow’s beak. He kept flying, going higher still until the link snapped in half. Startled, he cawed and circled back, but found the sphere stuck. And with it stuck, the light from the sphere overpowered the moon and chased the night away.