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!

 

 

November Wrap-up & Plans for December

 

Did anyone else’s November just pass by without so much as a “hello”?

… apart from Adele’s album release that is…

Mine sure has. Then again, I spent most of the month inside a fictional world where the characters were throwing all the things at me all the time.

So I guess that’s a good enough place to start as any with this wrap-up… THE MANUSCRIPT!

For NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to vomit out a draft of book 3 of the YA Fantasy series I’m working on. There are still scenes that need written and stuff that needs to be fleshed out, but I now have a skeleton draft of a story that has been clawing for my attention since the conceptualization of the series.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing this story. There were things that popped up that not only challenged the MC but also challenged me. The biggest hurdle I had to get over during this draft was allowing Meredith (the MC) to take each hit. She is not the warrior Kjersten of Book 1 is; she does not have the training nor the strength to defend herself physically. But dear lord can she take a hit.

Meredith managed to find herself in the most mentally and physically painful situations possible in this book and all I could do was sit there and watch it happen. BUT despite everything she goes through, everything she loses, she still fights to survive. She digs up whatever token of strength she can and holds onto it, determined to move forward. Always forward.

SIDE NOTE: After I wrote that last bit, I realized that it was my company’s motto during military training. SMH. Crazy what seeps into your subconscious.

This book also provided some of the world building answers I’d been looking for for a while. It just took seeing the alternate dimension through Mer’s eyes to find them. (She can manipulate time and space.)

GAH! I could gush about this story and the characters ALL DAY! The more time I spend working on this series, the more excited I am to [hopefully] share it with the world some day.

Looks dreamily off into the distance.

Anyhoo, that was pretty much the gist of my November. I did get to meet my long-time CP Lynanne for the first time, which was AWESOME! I took a weekend, drove up to see her, and spent the weekend writing, laughing, and procrastinating by way of THE MUMMY. But seeming as how Ardeth Bay is the inspiration for the father of one of my characters, I’m choosing to think of said procrastination as inspirational material. Totally legit. *cough cough*

Again, I apologize for my radio silence on the blog and on social media. I guess I can’t multitask when I’m in the rough-draft stage. SORRY!

Now onto plans for this month…

I should be back on my normal posting schedule (MWF). Might be discussing some writerly things like handling character deaths and other emotionally complex issues (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit miffed by that PW article. I mean seriously?! YA isn’t emotionally complex. Here, let me throw a bookshelf at you.). If you have a writing topic you want to discuss, PLEASE leave it in the comments below!

But the big To-Do in December: Get Book 1’s MS ready for querying. I’m so close, SO CLOSE! And I’m so excited to see what it looks like in a couple drafts. Hopefully, it’ll look somewhat like a representable manuscript. *fingers crossed*

What about y’all? What did you do this past month? What are your plans going forward?

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!

Don’t be afraid to let your characters be dark.

So there are a few times during the writing process when my characters do something unexpected. Or they do something expected, but in a completely different way, usually making them WAAAAY darker than I thought they were.

And this isn’t a bad thing.

We all know that a great story begins and ends with a well-developed, fully rounded character. Sometimes, we feel the urge to downplay their flaws and their demons. DON’T!

I recently read the first four books of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and her MC, Celaena Sardothien, is far from being a perfect human being. In fact, Celaena has some of the darkest-rooted demons of any MC I’ve read to date and that’s what makes her so terrifyingly awesome.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Throne of Glass is about a teenage assassin who is brought out of slavery to work for a corrupt king, thrusting her into the middle of a conspiracy that could tear the kingdom and her world apart.

There are distinct moments where Maas lets Celaena loose on the people who have harmed her or her loved ones, and each one is darker and more terrifying than the last. Which makes sense, because Celaena is a freaking ASSASSIN (also so many other things, but I refuse to spoil it for you).

Maas offsets Celaena’s demons with how fiercely she loves and how deeply she feels the repercussions of her own actions.

It’s okay that your characters are dark. It’s okay that your characters do things that terrify you. Just be sure that everything each character does derives from his/her core. Terrifying moments of character darkness shouldn’t be there for shock value, but should be a pivotal and necessary moment in that character’s development.

Happy Writing!

If you haven’t started the Throne of Glass series, DO IT! Then email me and we’ll discuss. 🙂 It’s my new favorite series and there’s still two books left! I’m dying in anticipation, but we’re still at least two years from a resolution. Sigh.

It’s okay to rewrite your novel.

When we sit down to write our first manuscript, we’re caught up in the excitement of a new story and the rush of seeing it exist outside ourselves. But we all know that first draft is not the best version of your story, which is why we revise.

Sometimes, that first draft is just a rough outline.

I figured this out the hard way… by means of beta readers. (For which, I’m eternally grateful!) I started my current WIP during NaNoWriMo 2014, had a completed draft by the end of January, then went through seven rounds of revisions before sending it to my beta readers April 1st.

I thought I had a decent manuscript. I’d cut a lot of words, added a lot of words, fleshed out scenes and rewrote the second half of Act 2.

Safe to say, I was still a LONG way from having a query-able manuscript. You can read the post on my experience with my beta readers, here.

In order to make the changes to the novel, I had to deconstruct it. I took my outline of the beta draft and began reconfiguring the chapters/scenes to fit the new structure. There were some scenes that remained, some that were altered, and some that were deleted all together. But there were a lot of new scenes to add as well.

At first, I was pulling my hair out with the revision, focusing solely on the quality of the words instead of getting the new story down. Mind you, I don’t [totally] regret that bit because the writing did improve, so I’m ready to tackle the MAJOR REVISION waiting for me at the end of this draft.

I think a lot of us get lost in everything wrong with our writing that we lose sight of our excitement for the story we’re telling. It’s okay that this happens, but you can’t let it determine your writing journey. So if the first version of your MS isn’t what you want it to be, deconstruct it and dive back in to Rough Draft Mode. Then you can revise the new version until it glistens and shines.

Happy Writing!