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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2016: A Year For Moving Forward

I guess it’s that time again, for that obligatory post on New Years Resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not above creating my own resolutions. After all, I am, at my core, a goal-oriented person. But I think there’s something very flawed about the idea of only self-reflecting on what we want out of life once a year.

But for shits and giggles, here’s my post from last year on the resolutions I had for myself. 2015 RESOLUTIONS!

Overall, I did a decent job at my resolutions for 2015. The only place I got tripped up was beginning to query. I’m not upset about this one because I had a lot of learning to do as a wordsmith in order to get GUARDED polished and ready to go.

The good news: I now have the skills to write a seemingly enjoyable book. The bad news: I had an epiphany about a week ago that ended in me adding a second POV to my book. So before I can polish and send this manuscript off, I need to rewrite four chapters in the new POV, as well as draft 13 additional new chapters.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but if the changes I’ve seen so far are any indication, GUARDED’s going to be far better for it. If it’s not, well, I’ll pry be back here for 2017 Resolutions, spouting about some new problem I’m having with the same book.

::head:desk::

Moving on…

I did read more! Granted that wasn’t hard to do given my measly tally of six books for 2014. In 2015, I read a grand total of 26 books. For books new to me, I read one fantasy, 16 YA fantasy, four YA contemporary, and two nonfiction. I also reread the Song of the Lioness Quartet because tis my favorite.

So while I do have plenty of goals lined up for 2016, the two I’m actually going to list and focus on are:

  1. Finish GUARDED and begin the querying process. The query’s done and set and vetted. Now I just need to get those additional chapters written and the rewrites done then I can send the MS off to slaughter. WOOT!
  2. I have vowed on Goodreads to read 50 books this year, so that’s the goal. Side note: should probably learn to use Goodreads properly…

A lot happened for me in 2015, some good that I was sure to share here on the blog, some not so good that I kept to myself. I’m looking forward to 2016 hopefully being better than last year. I’ve got a lot planned for the blog, and I can’t wait to share all of it with you!

Happy New Years, Everyone! And happy writing!

The 7/7/7 Challenge: A Writer Tag

Nicolette Elzie from A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly tagged me in the 7/7/7 Challenge. The incredible featured graphic was also created by her talented self.

She saw this writer’s tag on John’s blog @ Am I Doing This Right, and because she has an addiction to tags, she passed it along. Check out the synopsis and excerpt of her current WIP, Dreamweaver, here. I’ve been lucky enough to read the first few chapters, and I can already tell I’m in for a FANTASTIC adventure. Where I’m at in the MS, the world feels like a cross between Shadow and Bone and Cinder. So if that doesn’t wet your appetite, I don’t know what will!

Please don’t kill me for gushing about your story, Nicolette! ❤

The 7/7/7 Challenge Rules:

  • Go to page 7 of your work-in-progress
  • Scroll down to line #7
  • Share the next 7 lines of your manuscript in a blog post
  • Tag 7 other writers (with blogs) to continue the challenge.

My current WIP, Guarded, is a young adult fantasy that I hope will appeal to fans of City of Bones and Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

Because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’m going to give you the pitch instead of the full synopsis.

Three years have passed since Kjersten Taylor killed her parents’ murderers by pulling all the water from their bodies. She hasn’t spoken a word of the incident to her twin sister, Chloe, and has even convinced herself that it was a hallucination, a product of Post-Traumatic Stress.

But when she begins levitating coffee at work, Kjersten can no longer escape the truth: she is one of six Aeons, manipulators of the natural world.

Her ability to control water makes Kjersten a target as the Council tries to round up the Aeons to drop the veil between the magical realm, Tearmann, and the rest of humanity. Before Kjersten can warn her sister, Chloe is taken hostage by the Council’s enemies, and Kjersten must wade into the brewing war and put her own life on the line to get her sister back.


And now the challenge:

I opened my mouth to speak but quickly shut it. I wanted to lash out, to scream about how my parents weren’t here, so their opinions didn’t matter anymore. I wanted to rant about the different things my father could have done to keep us together, to keep us safe. We could have moved around. We could have changed our identities. He could have hired bodyguards. There were so many could-haves, yet my father chose to stay and die.

His choices orphaned Chloe and me. His choices left me alone with this burden.

His choices left me mourning fourteen years of campfires and Tae Kwon Do lessons and water gun fights and Thanksgiving dinners. And mourning him.


I am currently on the last leg of this manuscript, polishing it up for querying early 2016, and I am beyond excited for how it’s turning out (and how it’s been perceived thus far – Nicolette, you are a saint!). I left poor Nicolette on a cliffhanger in the last section I gave her (SORRY!), but I’m just a few short days from having another completed draft. EEK! I can’t wait for the next read-through.

*clappy hands* Okay, I’ll stop rambling… Here are my victims. Sorry if you’ve already been tagged!

Hanna @ J.L. Gribble | Thoughts and Conversations On Writing, Editing, Life, and Cats

Aura @ Into The Imagination Vortex

Cara @ Geek Girl Senshi

Cait @ Paper Fury

Aine @ Writing on a Vintage Typewriter

Jesse @ Books At Dawn

Sarina @ Cookie Break

Of course, you don’t have to participate in the tag. Lord knows I have a long list of tags I have yet to get to. These are only meant to keep conversations going between bloggers, and who wouldn’t want that? Y’all are awesome!

Happy Writing!

Timey-Whimey Snarkitude No. 3 – My 2015 NaNoWriMo Project

And here it is, the last of three posts devoted to my 2015 NaNoWriMo Project.

For those of you new to the blog, this is part of a series link-up, Beautiful Books, created by Sky of Further Up, Further In and Cait of Paper Fury. For more information on the link-up, check out the original post, here.

If you haven’t read the other two posts in the series, you can find the first one here and the second here.

But to catch you up, here’s a quick run down of the WIP:

Enveloped (working title) is the third book in a YA Fantasy series that follows the next generation of Aeons, manipulators of the natural world, as they come into their own and battle the Council to maintain the balance between the magical world and the rest of humanity.

Meredith Wilson is the Aeon of Time and Space, and to protect her, her mother has shuffled her from boarding school to boarding school. The only constant being her Guardian, Wyatt.

In her last semester before she’s finally free to her own devices, Meredith is tired of running, tired of going through life without any real ties to keep her grounded. But when she puts her trust in the wrong person, what little she did have is put in jeopardy.


And now for the questions:

No 1. – On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
So I’m going to cheat with this scale a bit. With 1 being garbage and 10 being publishable, I would put this NaNo draft at about a 4. I definitely have a lot of material to work with going into revision, but I wouldn’t show this draft to ANYONE, especially with there being chunks of the story missing.

No. 2 – Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
Veronica Mars meets Doctor Who, where Veronica IS the TARDIS. (I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.)

veronica dances.gif

No. 3 – Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
Yes and yes. I’m definitely goal oriented, but as much as I would love to write only when I’m feeling inspired, I would rarely get any work done.

No. 4 – How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
After the rough draft, I begin on macro-edits. Basically, I map out what’s missing from the story and what’s not working. Once those are completed, I start fleshing out the places that feel lackluster.

When I’m happy with the overall arc and flow of the story, I start ripping apart the mechanics and refining the actual writing. This is usually the part where I start pulling out my hair and cursing at metaphors.

No. 5 – What aspect of your story needs the most work?
The settings. And the connective tissue between the scenes. During my initial draft, I work more in individual scenes than in overall story. The skeleton draft needs some tendons to make it usable.

Please excuse the maniacal laugh in the background. The gruesome analogy required it.

Skeleton gif.gif

No. 6 – What aspect of your story did you love the most?
I know I said this during the last BB post, but I really did love Mer’s resiliency.

Coming in a very close second is her friendship with Wyatt. He’s calculated, sweet, and can take all of Mer’s snark in stride. Getting to see their friendship grow and evolve was so much fun.

No. 7 – Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
Mer is resilient, but starts the story off thinking that her ability to manipulate time and space makes her more untouchable than she is, so she wanders through life less than present. She learns throughout the story how fragile and tenuous life is and begins to fight for what she wants.

Wyatt is sweeter than I thought he was going to be, but no worries, he’s still an epic badass. After all, he does share a bloodline with Thor. But he has some adorable backstories that kept me swooning over and over and over again.

Then there’s Marcellus. Charming, vile, manipulative Marcellus. He may have been modeled after Mads Mikkelson’s Hannibal. Need I say more? Granted Marcellus isn’t a cannibal, but still super awful.

Hannibal gif.gif

Everyone gets alterations in edits. Tis the nature of edits.

No. 8 – What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Well I have a couple other manuscripts to revise and polish before I jump into editing this one, but once it’s done, I’ll send it to beta readers.

No. 9 – Share a favourite snippet!
So this comes in two parts because it’s a reoccurring gag. Full circles make me smile. XD

Here’s the origin of the gag:

Wyatt surprised me during those two weeks I was stranded on his futon. He cooked all our meals. Nothing fancy, but they were better than anything I’d had at the school cafeteria. He even joined me for a few movies, including a superhero flick about Thor. I teased him about how his arms weren’t as big as the actor’s, and he was quick to remind me that he trained for efficiency not bulk, and that if it came down to it, that actor would be useless without a stunt coordinator’s choreography.

“Way to destroy a girl’s dream,” I said, still oogling faux-Thor’s muscles on my laptop screen.

“What are you even complaining for? It’s not like your boyfriend is built like that.”

Ah, yes. Peter. Wyatt had taken plenty of jabs at Peter during my recovery, primarily whenever Peter texted. Wyatt claimed his new disdain for him was because Peter hadn’t been there when I needed him during the attack, but his quips weren’t lined with anger. They were lined with frustration.

“Peter isn’t from Thor’s bloodline,” I said. “You are, so step up your game, sir.”

“You have one of two choices: either keep me the way I am with my practical muscle mass and ability to protect you or have me bulk up to look like pretend-Thor and be less useful.”

“But you’d be nicer to look at.”

He rolled his eyes.

 

And the second mention:

Chuck and Lena went inside, leaving Wyatt and me alone in the parking lot.

“They’re a curious pair,” Wyatt said.

“They’re probably saying the same of us right now. You didn’t tell me you’ve seen Thor’s hammer.”

He gave me a sly smile. “I’ve thrown Thor’s hammer.”

My jaw dropped.

“When I was sixteen, my father gave my brother and I lessons with it. My brother was two years older than me, so the right to Mjolnir was his, but dad believed that the hammer chooses its master.”

“And?”

“And it chose my brother.”

“Well that’s lame.” I kicked a pebble that was on the ground. “Does your brother have Thor muscles? I bet your brother has Thor muscles.”

He gave me playful nudge, knocking me off kilter. I laughed.

“You’re a dick,” he said through his own throaty chuckle.

I gave a coy shrug. “I do my best.”

No. 10 – What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
Hopefully get an agent. That would be nice. Also, I’d like to get solid, polished drafts of books 2 & 3 done as well. Maybe a rough draft of 4. Who knows? I’m not putting limits on it. Lol


Well, I hoped you enjoyed learning more about my 2015 NaNo Project over the course of this link-up. I know I’ve enjoyed sharing… did I mention that I love this book?!

Thanks for reading!

– Bree

Multiple Books at Once: I’ve gone off the deep end.

Before I jump into this post, I think I need to provide a little background information on the series I’m writing, specifically about the structure.

I am working on a 5-book YA Fantasy series that is structured similarly to the Avengers movie franchise. (Book 1 is Ironman, Book 2 is Captain America, 3 is Thor, ect.) Even though each book has its own separate MC and plot arc, they all converge into the main plot of the series. I made the crazy decision to write them all from First-Person Limited, but right now, they’re all yelling at me for attention. Screaming is a more appropriate term, but they’re at least supportive of one another, so yay.

Did I mention I’d gone off the deep end?

road-to-el-dorado-horse-jump-2-o.gif

Anyhoo, I’m in the process of polishing Book 1 for querying, beginning of next year, and just finished the rough draft of Book 3 for NaNoWriMo. BUT I’m also re-outlining Book 2 because that’s going to need a total rewrite. AND Book 4’s MC suddenly wants to talk to me and reveal all her secrets.

Basically, my head feels full. But I’m choosing to see this as a blessing because any time I get warn out from revisions, I crank “Frag Out” by DJ Assassin, and start working on the outline.

I have a SUPER eclectic taste in music and sometimes that includes electro dubstep. If you’re into that, I HIGHLY recommend listening to this track. It’s a little different, but super powerful (and a bit addicting). Here’s the link.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to the fun awesomeness of brainstorming for the newer, shinier project, but a girl’s got to prioritize.

Here’s what’s working for me while I juggle these different projects. If it also works for you, awesome! If not, share what does in the comments below. I’d love to see how y’all handle this nonsense.

PRIORITY NO. 1: Polishing Book 1 (working title, Guarded)
No matter what else is going on, I make sure to polish at least two chapters a day. None of the other books will get published if this doesn’t, so this is my No. 1 until I begin the query process.

PRIORITY NO. 2: Outlining Book 2 (working title, Overwhelmed)
Because I already have a draft of this book, a lot of the messy work is done, so now it’s a matter of refining old ideas and weaving in newer, stronger ones. When I start querying Guarded, I’ll jump into revision on Overwhelmed, so it would be nice to have the outline finished before then.

PRIORITY NO. 3: Brainstorming Book 4
So here’s the dealio, I thought I knew what Book 4 was, then the Book 3 NaNo draft happened. One of the main characters switched camps on me, but I’m really excited about the change and all the plot/tension possibilities that come along with it.

The more time I spend with these characters and their stories, the more excited I am. Of course that translates to my creativity getting pulled EVERY WHICH WAY. But I’m okay with that as long as the world keeps growing the way it has. Hopefully, y’all will get to love with me one day! *fingers crossed*

What about y’all? Are you juggling multiple projects? How do you manage them?

Side note: Just realized I need to add synopsis to my To-Do list. One for each book… ::face:palm::

Happy writing, everyone!