Beautiful People Link-up: Resolutions & Goals

During Oct-Nov-Dec last year, I participated in the link-up Beautiful Books, created by by Sky of Further Up, Further In and Cait of Paper Fury. The rest of the year, they host the meme Beautiful People, which consists of ten questions about writing and works-in-progress.

This month, the meme is focusing on resolutions and goals.

1. What were your writing achievements last year?
I had the first book, GUARDED, in my series beta-read, then rewrote the manuscript based on the feedback. I also won NaNoWriMo2015 with 65k toward book 3.

2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
My top priority this year is querying GUARDED. Right now that means adding new chapters from a second POV, revising said chapters, revising the whole MS for continuity, then doing a couple rounds of polishing. I’m not intimidated at all…

3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
No. 1 – Improve my copyediting skills. I’m currently taking a course through Writers Digest, so I’m on my way with that one.

No. 2 – Expand on skills developed in 2015. I spent a lot of last year learning how to write a fuller narrative. It still feels a little foreign at times, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to set those skills more firmly this year.

No. 3 – Improve world-building capabilities. I feel like I’m always battling the info dump or not providing enough details in my settings. Here’s to hoping I find the right balance.

No. 4 – Keep my mind open to new, creative possibilities. This might seem weird, but sometimes I get so focused on where I think the story should go that my mind closes off to all the awesome things my characters/world are capable of. [And now it’s time to sound like a nutter.] They’ve spoken to me a lot this past year, revealing things I didn’t even know existed inside my own fictional universe. I know there are plenty more secrets to discover, so I hope I’m open enough to listen.

No. 5 – Stop letting my PTSD get in the way. Though I’ve made some progress, I still have a ways to go. I have this stupid thing that happens whenever a trigger gets hit: I give up. Well, to me it feels like I give up. In reality, it’s more that I’ve fallen into a deep, dark well, and I have to claw my way up the slimy, slippery stone walls to get back to working order. Depending on which trigger is hit or the condition of my support system, it can take hours or days or even weeks.

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?
I try to participate in the monthly twitter writing challenge where you’re to write at least 500 words a day. To learn more about the challenge or to participate yourself, visit writingchallenge.org.

And of course I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo2016! I’m a big advocate for the vomit draft, so NaNo is right up my alley. I’ll be drafting book 4 of my YA Fantasy series this year.

5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
Right now, I have a couple brilliant writers who read my stuff when it becomes available. I’m not sure what the future brings in terms of my living/work situation. If I had my way, I would spend my days working on my books, reading/critiquing other manuscripts, or studying the industry. Hopefully one day I’ll get to that point. Then again… adulting…

6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research.
I have a few books that I return to on a regular basis: The Kickass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience by Chuck Wendig, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist, and Save The Cat!: The Last Book On Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder.

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
Piper Saunders. She’s the protagonist for book 2 in my YA Fantasy series. Her story is the first I ever wrote from beginning to end, but due to the nature of it being written when I was fifteen and still learning how to write a novel, it lacks in a lot of areas. I’ve completed the outline for the new version, which is completely different than the original, so I’m excited to see how the story and Piper evolve.

As for how I’m going to achieve this: I’m just going to take off the reigns and see what happens.

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
Yes. All the above. The query for GUARDED is already set and vetted, so now I just need to finish the revisions on the MS and kick it out into the world. I suspect there will be a lot of crossed fingers and refreshing of the emails.

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
Umm, this is a difficult question because there’s a lot of cross-pollination of genres out there through small press publishers or self-publishing. If you want an awesome steampunk historical thriller, pick up Odd Men Out by Matt Betts. Paranormal alternate history? Steel Victory by JL Gribble. I’m sure there are small slivers open in the literary world, but what it really come down to for me as a writer is simply writing the book I want to read. The characters and worlds I create I need to love enough to spend years with. It has more to do with me as the creator than what I feel is “missing” in the industry.

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
I’m really hoping to have signed with a literary agent by year’s end… *prays it doesn’t take years to find one who loves my work like I do*

 

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Overcoming Fear & Moving Forward

So I have one scene left to flesh out before printing out the new version of Guarded and buffing out the hard edges, but I am dragging my feet. Seriously I can’t tell if it’s the fact that NaNo starts in a few days or the undercurrent of fear for what comes next. Mind you, I WANT to query, I WANT to publish, I WANT to share this thing I love so much with the entire world.

But the impending, soul-crushing rejections.

I know that fear is the reason why I’m struggling with crossing the finish line of this draft. Because if I don’t finish, then it can’t be rejected.

This post may be more pity-party than I intended it because I recognize that I’ve already come quite far in terms of creating something that people may [hopefully] want to read. But that god-awful fear. I don’t consciously fear much, so when those pesky subconscious ones rise up, they can be quite the little devils.

I imagine fear as a Gremlin, and my MS is poor Gismo.

I imagine fear as a Gremlin, and my MS is poor Gismo.

Like Gismo, I know my MS will kick fear is its arse, but right now, in this moment, I’m looking at my notes, then at my computer screen, then at my notes, then I walk away.

So in an attempt to get my mojo back, I went to the YouTube’s. Ya’know, like ya do. I spend more time on YouTube than I should for entertainment anyway, but I do a lot of research on there as well (especially in terms of what dislocating an elbow looks like – spoiler alert: it’s vomit-worthy).

Anyhoo, last year, Under Armour launched its “Will What I Want” campaign, which IMO was one of the most positive and inspiring campaigns created by an athletic clothing’s company. But they did this brilliant thing by launching the campaign with Misty Copeland as its first spokeswoman. A ballerina. An artist. A black woman who defied the standards of her industry to become the first black female Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

Here’s the ad.

She’s an inspiration to people across the world, and even though I have no way of properly empathizing with her struggles, her work ethic and determination motivate me to keep chasing my own dreams.

So here’s me mowing over my fears and willing what I want.


Featured image via Hard Body News via Under Armour.

5 Reasons To Participate in NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month is this glorious writing challenge during the month of November where millions of writers strive to write 50k words toward their next novel project. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and one of my favorite months of the year… if only because it gives me an excuse to be a crazy, writing Gollum.

Not everyone is suited for NaNoWriMo, and that’s okay. Everyone’s creative process is different. But let me give you my top five reasons for trying the challenge this year…

1. It’s a fantastic starting point.
Here’s the thing, 50k is not a novel, at least not for YA and adult lit (I haven’t done enough research to be able to say what word counts apply to middle grade and chapter books). So even if you complete the challenge, you won’t have a completed manuscript. This challenge is meant to get you writing. Use it as such.

2. It’s an excuse to really, truly vomit out a draft.
Sometimes when I’m writing (and I know this to be true for other writers as well), I get so caught up in the quality of the words that I hardly get down a sentence. Because you’re so focused on meeting a word goal, you focus more on just spewing the plot out onto the page. But don’t forget to revise in the following months. I’d never recommend handing a NaNo draft to anyone for review.

3. The community is fantastic.
Okay, I know I’m a total fangirl for the writing community, but it’s such a wonderful, supportive thing! Whether you’re connecting with write-ins in person or online, there’s something about the NaNo Hive-mind that makes your fingers move twice as fast. Between word sprints, twitter challenges and the forums, you have a built-in support system of writers who commiserate with you on this epic word campaign.

4. Consistent encouragement to keep you motivated throughout the month.
Piggy-backing on No. 3, NaNoWriMo.org provides motivation through smaller word count challenges, medals for meeting different participation goals, AND motivational letters from published authors.

5. ALL THE GOODIES!
Of course there are other reasons to participate in NaNoWriMo more important than the pot of gold at the end of the grueling rainbow, BUT the winner’s circle doesn’t hurt. 😉 They always offer awesome discounts on writerly software, including but not limited to Scrivener (I would be so lost without this program…). I’m excited to see what sponsors they’ve accumulated this year.

Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning to participate this year! I’d love to know what ya’ll are working on. 🙂

Happy Writing!


If you are participating, find me on NaNoWriMo.org and add me as a writing buddy! My username is Juliet.Pierce. My 2014 Novel is titled Guarded. 2015 is Enveloped.

Personal Milestones & October Goals

It’s September 30th… Tomorrow is October… Where has this year gone?

So yesterday was a complicated day for me. It was the anniversary of losing my grandfather, and even though it hurts knowing that I won’t be seeing his smile or hearing his laugh this holiday season, I spent the day doing what I do best: working.

Anytime there’s a significant date (for most, this is birthdays or other holidays), I take a few moments to reflect on what’s happened this past year, eg. how I’ve grown, what I’ve accomplished, etc.

In the past year, I wrote my third complete MS, had it beta read, and have deconstructed it to paste it back together. That deconstruction started mid-May and here I am, entering October, with only a few new chapters left to write/revise before I begin to polish for querying. It’s surreal, seeing how close I am to turning the page on this chapter of my journey (pun SO intended).

But (and I’m going to get super sappy here) I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of my friends, family, and the writing community.

My poor friends and family. I apparently have two modes of conversation: writing and discussing world issues. I do try to act like a human being, but that never lasts long. People bring up a movie or tv show, I mention the writing or cinematography, then the conversation begins to lull. Woops.

But I have some of the most loving and compassionate people in my life. A couple weeks ago, I was experiencing this insane bit of writers doubt, so I called my dad, who I haven’t discussed my writing with very much in the past. And he was fantastic, truly, wonderfully fantastic. He didn’t give me a “it’s all going to be all right” pat on the head, but a “you’ve been working so hard toward this; you’ll continue to do so until you make it happen” pep talk. It was exactly what I needed in that moment… I may have teared up in the middle of Starbucks… I love my dad.

And since I’ve already climbed onto this sappy soapbox, let me tell you about my very lovely CP’s. There’s a lot that makes up the perfect CP. You want someone who will keep you excited about your project while still pushing you to write better stories. And I’ve found a brilliant group of writers who put up with my neurosis. All I can say is thank God for Twitter and Facebook DM’s. Otherwise, my brain would be rolling around on the floor because my skull couldn’t contain it. My dear friend, Lynanne (check out her blog, Daybreak In Autumn), is a fellow YA fantasy writer who will go back and forth with me about characters, plots, and world building; not to mention discussing YA books, trends, as well as some choice manga’s and anime’s.

Then there’s all of you beautiful people who visit this blog and leave wonderfully supportive comments. I wasn’t sure where this blog would go when I started, but I don’t think I was prepared for all the positive feedback! I remember reading a comment a few months ago and I was crying (again at Starbucks) because I felt so humbled and thankful for a stranger’s support. (Looking at you, Nicolette Elzie & Aura Eadon! Check out their blogs, A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly and Into The Imagination Vortex.)

Ok, ok. I’ll stop with the sap.

So I’ve added a few new things to this blog (Personal Musings being one of them), but I’ve also started posting book reviews. On top of finishing up the current draft of Guarded (the current WIP & Book 1 of my YA F series) and preparing for drafting Enveloped (NaNo 2015 Novel & Book 3 of the series), I’ll be posting my reviews of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I’ve already posted my review of book 1, Throne of Glass. You can check that out here. A new review will be posted every Friday before noon CST.

What about ya’ll? What are your October goals? Who keeps you motivated? Share in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Working Mindset & Imposed Deadlines

Writing is work. Plain and simple. In order to have something worth reading, you have to put the time in. There’s no other way. You have to do the work.

I know I’ve spoken many times about how it’s okay for the first draft to be rough. You’re getting a sense of your characters, their motivations, your world and all of its rules. Unfortunately once you finish that first draft, the lengthy revision stage begins to weigh down on you. It’s crushing and intimidating and awful. But it doesn’t have to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of self-deprecating rants about how my writing is god-awful and metaphors are the devil. Seriously, I’ve spent HOURS getting just one metaphor right. All because I desperately want others to love my characters and their stories as much as I do.

But I recently had a revelation about my writing process and what helps me stay productive. I know this won’t work for everyone, but here it is…

1. Take your story one draft at a time.

The hard truth of it is that you’re not going to become John Green overnight. It’s not going to happen. Even John Green didn’t become John Green overnight. It took multiple drafts and revisions to create books like The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns. So while I would love for the next draft of my WIP to be the last, I’m not going to stress myself out about it because in all honesty, I know it won’t be. But I’m also not going to think about how many revisions stand between me and querying because that’s a daunting idea that will only bring on another wave of crippling self-doubt.

2. Admit you are a baby writer. There are things you simply haven’t learned yet.

This isn’t an insult, I promise. Think of it more as your tether to reality. Like I said in No. 1, it takes time to cultivate your skill. So give yourself opportunities to grow and learn. Join a critique group or find critique partners. Go to writing conferences and workshops. Take a class. Your writing will thank you for it.

3. Don’t stop writing.

I know this one is hard, but seriously, your writing won’t improve if you sit back and wait for it to do so. You have to put in the words in order to grasp what it means to create a novel. Sarah J. Maas has said in multiple interviews how her first draft of Throne of Glass was its own learning experience. And if you’ve written more than one MS, you also know this to be true. So keep writing, keep learning.

4. Give yourself a deadline.

I don’t mean, “THIS BOOK SHOULD BE DONE BY NOV 1st!” No, because you’ll drive yourself crazy that way… trust me, I know. Give yourself word count goals or chapter goals. Start each week by saying, “I’m going to accomplish [X] this week.” And do it! Make and keep promises to your work and yourself. Confidence in one’s writing ability is a cumulative thing. Each promise you keep builds on the last until writing/editing is a part of your regular routine.

A really great place to start is with the Twitter Monthly Writing Challenge. It’s a commitment to writing 500 words a day. The community is incredibly supportive and encouraging. You can learn more here.


What about ya’ll? What revelations have you had about your writing that keeps you productive? Share in the comments below.

Happy Writing!