Down the Rabbit Hole

Welcome to my attempt this month to start posting regularly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! We’ll see how it goes.

I have a blog writing itch that is hard to scratch since I left Cupid’s Pulse last month. And as much as I didn’t want to leave, it has been a blessing, because my boyfriend is encouraging me to write like CRAZY. If you want to see any of the articles I wrote, some might still publish for a while. You can find them on Cupid Pulse’s website. Just type in “Mara Miller” since my name is a tag for the website as one of their editorial interns. If you are a student and need a good internship for college credit, I highly recommend Cupid’s Pulse, and I’ll gladly pass on the information to apply. I think they’re covered for this semester with interns but they’re always looking.

I’ve recently turned into more of a plotter than a plantser (a pantser who plots a little). I need to write an 80,000 word novel for my thesis as an MFA student at Southern New Hampshire University.

But with signing on with Kingston Publishing and working on books outside of a book I can’t even think about publishing until I graduate around December of 2020, I still need to produce other novels for my series since I am dying to finish the Cheap Series. I also have a few secret projects I have been plotting but I’m not quite ready to announce yet even though I plan on diving into them after Cheaper Sunglasses and Cheap Promises are finished.

The crazy thing to me is how plotting the thesis has made it come out much easier than with any of the books I ever wrote in the Cheap series. Nevermind how seven chapters in, I decided the entire book needed to be written in the third person. One of the requirements for my thesis program is that we must have 15,000 words before we take the first thesis course and have already fulfilled that requirement. I’m looking at my writing planner right now. I’m wondering if my goal if hitting 20k before the glass begins is feasible because I want to get my novella and other novels out of the way before my course begins in a few months.

So, for one, if you’re a pantser like I was and you’re on a pretty serious deadline like I am, I suggest Take off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker. She broke down how to plot a book. You’ll get down the main key events in the novel, and this has actually helped me narrow down what a few of my plot holes were with Cheap Promises. I’m still working on it to a degree and Mae and Dan decided they needed another story before that novel so more things would make sense (and I could finally close up their story) so now I’m plotting that one completely half-assed, but I’m still outlining because if I don’t, I know I’ll write myself into a corner. Have you ever done that if you’re a pantser? You’ll start off super strong. You’ll know where the story is going…until you don’t and you hit a major writer’s block until the next New Shiny Idea draws your attention away from your current WIP.

I don’t have time for this anymore!

So, I’m mentioning everything I use to plot. I’m writing this in hopes that it will help someone else… and maybe to confirm to myself that I’m mostly just organized and I’m not a complete nut.

Neon colored index cards: I have neon green and neon pink for points of views I’m writing in a scene. Pink is obviously for my main female protagonist and green for my male. I use white to indicate which act my scenes need to go under or some other essential notes. With the school season currently, I got over 200 index cards from Walmart for decent prices. I’m set for a while.

Jami Gold’s Beat Sheets: Seriously. They’re amazing. You can find them here. I also like her scene list because I can check off everything I need in a scene.

Scrapple: Made by the people who created Scrivener, Scrapple is a brainstorming tool. It’s a great place for me to dump all of my ideas so I can get a big-picture vision of whatever I’m planning on writing, whether it be a stand-alone or a series. And the best part? I can import whatever I create into Scrivener so I have it right there to look at when I’m working.

Happy Planner: I LOVE Happy Planner’s Products. I have the Rong Rong productivity pages planner where I keep track of things like writing goals for the month, what I want to post in my blog, top priorities, and words counts. I also keep track of Instagram or Twitter challenges for the #amwriting community I want to participate in for the month. I have my Erin Condren that I use for everyday life stuff, but Happy Planner is great because I added pink expander discs to the planner and now I can keep any plotting notes I need in the back of it, as well as know exactly what projects I need to work on. It’s fabulous. I’m also planning on getting the social media expansion eventually so I can keep better track of Twitter and Instagram and figure out what I want to post during the month. Being organized like this helps me see how much time I actually have to write outside of life stuff (and it’s quite a bit now, which I love). I’m actually about to handwrite all of my thesis plot points and put them into this planner.

Speaking of planners: Why Planners Should be Crucial to Your Writing Process

An A, B, C format: It looks like this (I’m using a watered-down version of my thesis):

A. Joey moves home. His uncle guilts him into picking up a surprise for his aunt even though he doesn’t want to see Patience.

B. Patience goes to work. Her sister is causing trouble.

C. Something happens to Martha, Patience’s grandma, after Brenna gets into a fight with Joey.

I don’t want to go into what happens to Grandma Martha, but you get the general gist of how that kind of thing works. I didn’t like this aspect of plotting for the class. I would have much-rathered index cards or my beat sheets from Jami Gold, but it forced me to look at everything from flashbacks to when my romantic couple kisses for the first time. I struggled with this format during my Romance Writing II course, but my professor wouldn’t let me give up and made me stick to this story, and I will be forever grateful to her for it.

Do you have any plotting must haves? Let me know! I’m always trying to figure out ways to plot better. 

Plotting Relapse

Recently, I’ve become a planner girl. I’m not joking about this either—not only have I turned two friends onto the Erin Condren website (you can go here if you want to check it out! She just came out with an eighteen month planner, and get a $10 dollars off if you use my link.) because the planners are fantastic, but I spent an exorbitant amount of money on three planners from the website. They hold up well, the paper does well with my fountain pen ink, and they’re customizable.

And yes, I use every single one.

As horrible as it may sound, I have used most of my loans from excess funds with SNHU to purchase/fees my new EC obsession. My Lifeplanners have two separate purposes—one of them is for every day life stuff so I can keep track of important dates, like when Hank needs his Heartguard or to keep track of my boyfriend’s work schedule, or my book-related goals. The second is my academic planner, where I have the classes my advisor has lined up, so I can keep track of my assignments, my grades, and my progress on my thesis. The “academic” Lifeplanner is useful especially to keep track of assignments for my final project, which is usually a combination of all “milestones” in my classes. Yes, I realize EC has actual academic planners, but I usually only take one class and figured it would be a waste.

And my Monthly Deluxe Planner… this thing is amazing. I bought the oversized one with 80 pages so I would have a more detailed place to make notes. I find I’m more likely to make a blog post, too (I wrote the first draft of this in the planner).

And it’s that very reason that I’m annoyed with myself. I can’t seem to make myself plot out my WIP for anything. I created a beat sheet but I’ve already gone off task with it before I can even finish the first chapter. I’m not too worried about it yet—I’m trying to be easy on myself. This story will be my first stand-alone. This WIP will not turn into a series and I’m sticking to it since I can be stubborn. I’m giving the Cheap series a break because I don’t want it to spawn seven more stories when I’m trying to end it. The series WILL end with Kat and Charlie. I’m not working on it since my ideas tend to get too big before I have to rein it all in, and end up getting frustrated. Really, it’s that I’m struggling ever-so-slightly with controlling my creativity, and that’s causing a writer’s block.

Bah.

But I’m reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, so maybe that will help me finally beat my plot into submission (no pun intended!). I’m also going to do something o rarely do—and that is to create character sheets for everyone in my WIP. I had a lot of work done on it, but that was when I thought I was going to make it the first in a rocker romance series. The characters don’t fit that mold, and never have. I also think I have a copy of Plot Your Work somewhere, but that means digging around in my unpacked things, and it could be either at my Mom’s house or my boyfriend’s mother’s house. Things tend to travel with me and get left occasionally…oops.

And oh—yeah.

I moved in with my boyfriend. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that yet!

I partly attribute my block to moving and the general craziness of not having an office space to write in, but I can’t blame all of that on it.

This block is only temporary. I keep telling myself that because I know it is. A stand-alone is a different beast than a series, so I just need to be a bit more strategic in how I’m writing it.

I do have a question for those of you reading—do you have anything you do when you outline? Certain character sheets that work best? Scene/chapter outlining methods? I think I’m going to try Kim Chance’s character sheet she just released the other day. But anyway, share with me! And if I don’t use it, maybe it will help someone else who is struggling like I am.

The hilarious part about this is that I’ve been plotting my MFA thesis, and that is going wonderfully. Those methods just aren’t working for my other WIP.

For Uncle Mark

I have decided I’m a strange writer. Either that or I’m on the verge of breaking a terrible writers block—well, technically, I have, but more on that in a little bit. Either way, April is upon us once more, and it isn’t the prospect of warmer weather that excites me. Or that I can now walk Hank in flip flops without layers and layers of clothing (although the Kentucky weather has been acting strange again)…or even that I now have an apartment with my boyfriend that is ours.

No, I’m freaking excited about Camp NaNoWriMo. I went through a bad writing stump in January, wrote bits and pieces in February, and nothing again in March (for the most part—nothing substantial, anyway). Granted, I did have a lot going on. I moved twice (yes, twice), have had limited internet access, and my MFA class has kept me busy but petrified because we have to use videos to submit our work. I also was focused on editing a novel for a new author. So, I feel like those were legitimate reasons for not beating myself up for being lazy whenever I started getting angry over not writing. I forgave myself; not an easy task.

With that said, I’m officially working on a stand-alone novel, Ivy Wild. I love my series writing, but I’m starting to wonder I can’t write a stand-alone, so I need this challenge to prove to myself that I can tie everything up nicely.

I’m also pantsing.

I know! I was doing so well with the plotting. Cheap Tricks turned out to be fantastic because I plotted it and used a beat sheet. But, I need a change of pace. I want to write more and publish faster. I write faster when I pants. Granted, I may need to edit more later, but I’ll still write quickly.

Usually, I don’t do this…but pray for me, y’all. I’ve not pantsed in a while. I wrote 2,633 words yesterday, and we’ll see how it goes today. I’m also writing longhand. I’m dying to get this story written since it’s been in my head for so long. It’s special, since I’m basing it in Philadelphia and plan on dedicating it to my Uncle Mark, who passed away in 2016. I’ve been all kinds of emotional—but it’s good to let yourself get emotional when you write.

All right! I’m pumped to go write now. Good luck to anyone else who is participating this month!

Damn Procrastination Monkey

I just realized I haven’t posted much on this blog recently unless it was a book tag or something else random. I didn’t even have a reason for it either because I haven’t been writing much since I finished rewriting Cheap Guitars.

I blame it on the Procrastination Monkey. Damn thing. It’s ruined all my plans!

On a more serious note, I honestly haven’t been able to decide which one of my novels I want to sit down and write yet. It’s like my brain is so overloaded with ideas that it can’t process which one needs to be written. But, I do need to narrow it down and start writing my damn books. I’ve got five covers ready for them, after all. But for the life of me, I couldn’t sit down and focus on one thing.

I hope that is a problem other writers face. You just get so many ideas that you can’t help but jot them down, but then that idea turns into an entire first chapter of a book. Then you get flustered with yourself because you can’t start writing the new book because you have to finish writing the other damn book. It turns into a round of stuffing your face with Doritos and hair pulling and–oh, just me? Okay, then.

But, to be honest?

I’ve had that problem since I finished Cheap Tricks. I’m not saying it’s a BAD problem… it’s like the Universe wanted me to take a break.

Well, Universe, I ain’t got the time for that.

I’m thrilled to announce that I think I have finally narrowed down my writing schedule for 2018. No more break needed, Universe.

Recently, I’ve become obsessed with Erin Condren planners. I sat down to REALLY think about how I want my writing year to look and jotted a few notes in the back with my pretty double sided purple pen. I’ve been working on the Cheap series for so long that I started worrying that might be the ONLY thing I ever write, so I will ending the series with a novella and one more novel, Cheaper Sunglasses and Cheap Promises. I’m not ready to say much about those stories yet except that they are happening. I’m also planning a contemporary standalone with a more adult theme and an NA trilogy. After that, a brand new series, and I haven’t decided how many books will be in that yet. I’m finally excited about my writing plans for the year because I managed to get myself organized.

And no, Erin Condren isn’t sponsoring this little post. I don’t have enough followers yet for that. Haha! I just really love her stuff. I’m especially obsessed with the way you can customize everything. I’ve got two notebooks that I had customized for the novels I will be writing this year.

So, with a self-inflicted publishing deadline fast approaching for Cheap Guitars, story plotting to do, and an editing job to complete (note to future Mara: good blog post idea), a new relationship, and the MFA program starting shortly, I’ll have busy schedule. I’m freaking excited about it, too. I’ve been dying to see more books up on my list of published novels in the back of my bullet journal and I say it’s about time I start buckling down to make 2018 my year.

7 Ways to Survive NaNoWriMo

I realized I did the math wrong in figuring out how many years I have participated in National Novel Writing Month. It isn’t my tenth year…it’s my eleventh!!!

So, with that said, I am writing this to try to help those who are participating this year. Out of the ten years of NaNoWriMo that have passed, I lost three of them…but I also won seven times. It’s been a wild ride. I will never publish some of the stories I’ve written because they weren’t that good. I cringe now whenever I look at them. It’s one of those things where you have to sit back and laugh at yourself.

1.) Back Up Your Novel

This should be a given, shouldn’t it? I don’t rely on Microsoft word or it’s “auto-save” anymore. It’s a pain in the ass to click “save” every five minutes (and it lost 5,000 fucking words in the Author’s Extended Edition of Cheap Guitars–sorry, not sorry, for my language there) I don’t live in an area with the most reliable electricity when Kentucky decides it will give us all four seasons in the span of a week (yesterday it was chilly but nice, and today it’s pouring and I saw my breath when I let my dog go potty).

Yes, I do use a Word document, however. I have decided Goddess of Blood and Winter will have a hardback edition so I’m planning to use Ingram Spark for the first time. Formatting it in a document I’ll upload later makes it easier on me. I have a lot to do so that I can make sure it’s published by my personal deadline. It might sound like more work, but this year I’m writing in Scrivener and backing up/formatting in Microsoft Word. Yes, I’m also aware that you can format books through Scrivener but in my experience, it always does something weird, and I’m still learning how to use Scrivener even though I’ve used it on and off for about six years. I trust Microsoft Word when it comes to formatting my work–and hello, drop caps!–but not for saving my work regularly because my dog is a butthead (he has slapped my keyboard and closed documents on me) and I don’t trust Kentucky weather.

2.) Don’t Box Yourself

It’s easy to say that we want to write our novels in order. That seems logical, right? I know I used to think I had to write everything in order when I created my document for Haunted Desperation. And I did write in chronological order in 2007 and a few after that, but it was when I started really working on my New Adult romances that I started breaking my usual writing mode and wrote out of order.

I can’t stand reading HD anymore. But my romances?

Cheap Tricks and Cheap Sunglasses are some of my best work to-date. The rewrite of Cheap Guitars is still going strong, and I’m not exactly writing that in order, either. It’s also my side-project while I work on The Goddess of Blood and Winter this month.

This is what I suggest to NaNoers: write the scene that speaks to you the most that day. Get it out–write those 1667 words. This is where writing with Scrivener comes in handy because you can write the scene and toss it in a “To Be Added Later” (or whatever you want to title it) folder while you work on the scenes that need to be finished in whatever chapter you paused in writing to get that scene out of your head… if that made sense. I’m in a rambling mood right now, I think. Happens every November 1st!

Also, I think one of the perks this month to participating in NaNo is that we can get trials/discounts on Scrivner. I already own the program but I highly recommend it if you have never used it.

Screenshot 2017-11-01 13.26.21.png

3.) When in Doubt, Longhand

Huh? What do I mean by this?

We’re writing every day–sometimes more than those 1,667 words. My word count–right now–is 5119 words–although I’m not finished with chapter one yet. I’m going to try to keep it to 5,000 a day because that’s usually how long my chapters are. They might get longer since I’m working on fantasy/horror/romance. I’m not sure yet because I haven’t done in in almost ten-fifteen years? I’m not sure anymore.

I have a problem where the computer cursor taunts me, like, Ha! you imposter! You’ll never finish this novel! Give up now!

Writing longhand on paper does something to my brain. It’s like I can think clearer and characters and descriptions pop off the page. I love writing with my fountain pens. My favorite ink is Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Rose. It’s a purple-pinkish black that is bulletproof, meaning that the paper will disintegrate before the ink will fade completely. Useful when you have an English Mastiff, trust me.

Don’t panic if you get stuck. Pull out a pen or pencil and some paper and see where your thoughts take you. Write the scene that can’t be put in chapter two yet but would work great in another chapter. Type up everything you’ve written at the end of the day since you can’t count it on the website unless they have the document at the end of the month.

Also: free first draft. Take that, evil blinky cursor.

Check out this article I found on writing on paper. It validates everything I just said, but more eloquently.

4.) Don’t Edit

This might seem contradictory when I said, “don’t edit if you’ve written a chapter on paper,” but I don’t count handwritten pages in the no-editing rule. I have dyslexia so I do weird things on paper. For some reason, I also stumble over words like necessary (I had to ask Siri how to spell it) and it doesn’t make sense. I have to watch letters that dyslexics have trouble with when they are trying to read or write but I don’t need a special font either (I’m fond of Palatino or Fanwood when I’m working). I chalk it up to not being so severe because Mom wouldn’t let me give up when I was a kid (she was told I’d never read or write and she told the therapist to fuck off–I think I wrote a post about being dyslexic once). The quicker I catch weird mistakes, the easier it is for my editors later.

I mean this–don’t edit the main manuscript. Whether you’re doing it like I am or simply writing in Word, don’t let yourself edit. Editing is the next stage in the writing process, as well as rewriting, and rewriting some more. I covet those Indies who can bang a book out in a month and hit a best seller’s list on Amazon (I see it all the time) but I’m not, and probably will never, be one of them. I need at least four months (I type close to 120 wpm and have amazing editors and a solid beta team, so when I’m getting a book ready, it goes fast–also, Grammarly, I love you).

I might sound like I’m repeating what it says on the official National Novel Writing Month website, but December is for editing. You might get stuck if you try to write your first draft perfectly and it can make the entire book fall flat from stifled creativity.

5.) Keep Everything You Write

I’m suggesting this mainly to the newbies.

Maybe you start your novel, and then you realize your POV isn’t working. Or maybe you get ten pages into the book and realize maybe that side character you really love would work better as the main character.

I take November as a time to explore who you are as a writer. 50,000 words in a month is a large task for someone who has never written a book before. Back in 2015, I think Cheap Sunglasses was close to 70,000 words when I finished writing it and my editor widdled it down to 60,000 on me before I realized I had a lot of writing fluff in it from writing during the November NaNo and Camp NaNoWriMo (but I also had a lower word count set since they allow us a little wiggle room in April and July). I might feel like a pro at winning this challenge now, but I’m still coming out of my comfort zone and setting my next New Adult rockstar romance to the side so I can reconnect with characters that have been in my head since I was a teenager.

If you don’t think that first person present POV is working, try writing it in the third person. See what it looks like after 2,000 words and then set it aside. In this case, I recommend reading both what you wrote in the first person and the third person the next day (okay–maybe I’m breaking my editing rule again–but I have a valid reason for this).

It’s not easy converting an entire 63,000-word novel from the third person to first (trust me, doing this with the Author’s Extended Edition of Cheap Guitars). Keeping everything will give you wiggle room for Thanksgiving (if you’re in the US) or for a day where you really need a break.

Also, it could give you the start of the next book where the main character that isn’t working will work. That happened to me–Cheap Sunglasses was going to be the fourth book, but I hadn’t figured out how I wanted to write Cheap Tricks yet, so I switched them around, started writing in the first person, and now I’m editing/rewriting Cheap Guitars. 

*headdesk*

Let me amend this, however, by saying that I was still figuring out who I was as a writer when I wrote the first two novels and the novella in the series.

6.) Have Some Sort of Plot

This doesn’t have to mean you have to give every character special colored eyes or a peg leg or a deep dark past.

I’m a plantser, by nature. I like my beat sheets and my bullet journals…but I also tend to go off-course, so to speak. Even if it’s just making notes at the end of the day, I suggest keeping track of what you’re working on. If you don’t, you can get lost really quick, and you’ll end up doing something like this:

Screenshot 2017-11-01 13.08.44

Yes, this is an actual screenshot from Haunted Desperation. I cringe every time I look at it.

7.) But Don’t Forget to Have Fun

I’m reserving a scene for Goddess of Blood and Winter when I’m stuck and need a laugh: my main character, Adara, is going to force Evander into a dress so they can cross the sea to safety.

A scene inspired straight up out of Final Fantasy VII (with obvious differences because I’m not writing fanfiction, here).

I get to pay homage to my favorite game and laugh hysterically at how uncomfortable my character will be when he has to cross-dress, but also have a poignant moment to address how much danger my main character and her lover are in.

Cloudette.png

I googled this image and died laughing. I think it’s a perfect depiction of Cloud and Don Corneo.

I wanted to try to make it to ten things to remember during NaNo, but I’m going to end it at seven since this is long. If you enjoyed this post and want another list this month of things to remember, I’ll gladly post another. Or, better, tweet me, and we can talk through your crisis! I’m not opposed to sound-boarding with a writer who needs help!

If you would like to add me on Nano’s website, my name is Angelic_Demon. We can talk there, as well!

Happy writing!!!

 

 

Writing Rituals Tag!!!

I saw this tag floating around a few days ago. I love watching YouTube videos from Kim Chance and Kristin Martin (you can see those links here and here), and since I’m not brave enough (I’m a big chicken) to do an actual video and post it online, I’ll do it here.

Questions for the Writing Rituals Tag:

1.) When do you write? (time of day, day of week) I try to write a little bit every day. I feel like I’ll lose my momentum if I don’t try to. Lately, though, I’ve found that I like to sit down either early in the morning or late at night to get a couple thousand words in. It all depends on the project I’m working on, too.

2.) How do you seclude yourself from the outside world? Well, the first step is usually trying to sign out of Facebook (which I’m fantastic at failing spectacularly with). I put my phone on Do Not Disturb and either throw it in a drawer in my nightstand or let it die completely. Writing at night has helped me seclude myself lately, too, because there are fewer chances that I’ll get distracted. I shut off messenger on my computer, make sure my dog has had water and gone potty, then get to writing.

It’s actually really easy to seclude myself, though–I live in the National Daniel Boone Forest in Kentucky. There’s not a whole lot of distractions up here other than the internet.

3.) How do you review what you wrote the previous day? I’ll usually try to decide if I need to read it first. I don’t like to edit as I write the first draft because I find that I get too caught up in editing and rewriting if I’m not careful. So, if I decide I absolutely have to read it, I’ll save it as a PDF and toss it into my Kindle program to read it that way (prevents editing as I go, but I make notes). Or, if I feel like it sucks, I’ll message one of my writer friends and see what they think. If they have suggestions for on the spot improvement, then I’ll fix it, but not before.

4.) What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired? I’ll throw on Lindsey Stirling’s Final Fantasy Medley (I am a huge gaming nerd and this series will always have my heart–when I heard her playing some of the best songs from the series on the violin, I became hooked). A long time ago I might have said anything Gaga, but now I just end up dancing and get nothing done.

5.) What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch youtube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block? I am constantly on Youtube, it seems like! I think it has been sucking up most of my time non-writing time lately. I have an obsession with Booktuber and iPhone unboxing videos. I’m also a knitter, so when my writer’s block gets really bad, I’ll put on some silly show like Say Yes to the Dress and get out my blanket project I’ve been working on a few months now. Whenever I do this, it makes me feel like my brain is about to melt, so I have no other choice than to start working on one of my books. That method, in particular, was a suggestion from one of my closet friends. I laughed at her at the time, but it stuck with me.

I also have taken a huge liking to YA fantasy. I’m leaning toward reading romance when I need to write fantasy (especially for my creative writing class right now) and reading fantasy when I need to write contemporary romance. It’s strange but it works!

6.) What tools do you use when you’re writing? I have three notebooks: the one that I’m planning in, my bullet journal, and something to scribble scenes onto (for my NaNo project this year, it’s the same notebook). Sometimes if I can’t get it started right in my head, I’ll use one of my fountain pens to write the first few pages of the chapter or scene. Sometimes I’ll only write a page or two before I feel solid in where the scene is going, then type it up, or I’ll write the entire chapter down (free first draft!!!). My favorite pens to write with are my Pilot Metropolitan and Nemosine pens. My inks are Noodler’s inks, a pink one named Hellfire (I couldn’t help but giggle and buy it because it made me think of the Ifrit summon in Final Fantasy), and another called Black Swan in Austrailian Rose. Usually, my program of choice is Microsoft Word, but I’ll flip back between it and Scrivner. It’s almost like I go through stages on which program I use the most.

7.) What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session? Quiet. I have gotten to a point where it is very hard to write if there are distractions during certain times. It could be the tv all the way on the other side of the house, or Hank woofing at me for attention, and I can’t write for a few minutes after. Mostly this is during the day when I’m a bit more high strung. At night, I can calm down with a few crackers and my pens and just write away. I think a part of the reason it has to be quiet in the morning is that that’s when I’m enjoying my coffee and I’m trying to avoid getting on Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook. Mom usually wants to spend time with me in the mornings before she goes to sleep, too.

8.) How do you fuel yourself during your writing session? Well…it used to be Mingua beef jerky (it’s a local Kentucky beef jerky brand) and sodas like Pepsi or Ale-8, but since I completely dropped all meat to go back to being a lacto-ovo vegetarian, it has been stuff like cheese and crackers or carrots with ranch dressing. And olives–I will eat an entire jar of kalamata olives right from the jar if I’m not paying attention when I’m in a long writing session (which I try not to do because those things can be salty). I prefer Greek black olives (and there is a difference, believe me) but they’re hard to find out here. I’ve been trying to cut back on the coffee and sugar, but I’ll usually have a cup in the morning to get me going then move to tea, apple juice, or water for the rest of the day. When I’m drinking coffee, it’s usually a hazelnut or pumpkin spice blend with organic, non-GMO soy creamer (yeah…I know how pretentious I sound) that I found at Good Foods when my brother and his girlfriend took me and Mom to the store in Lexington.

9.) How do you know when you’re done writing? Hank would like to take the credit for finding my stressors, but he’s a big cuddly baby with a giant head who likes to steal my coffee and frustrate me by putting his big mastiff head on my keyboard.

The real indicator, though, is when I start to feel like I am about to rip out my hair and snap my keyboard in half. And if I’m writing on paper, paper wads will start to pile up in the corner of my room, and I’ll start to feel guilty about wasting paper. My fountain pen nibs sometimes write funny if I’m frustrated and need a break. If it gets to that point, then I pull my phone out of wherever I threw it, and turn on my Angry Birds Evolution app and mess with that for a few minutes. If I feel calm enough to continue, I will. If I don’t, I take a step away from the computer completely and let it lock itself.

Okay, that was a lot of fun! I’ve tagged a few of my fellow writers on Twitter, but I also want to tag the following people if they happen to read this (there is no escape because I’m tagging you on my personal Facebook Profile :P): Barb, Jenn Eades, Leonard D. Hilley II, Nora, Jordan O’Donoghue, and anyone else in my writer circle who wants to participate! (yes, that includes fellow SNHU classmates who are following me!)

Whoa…10 years?!

I just realized something today…

This November, I will be participating in my 10th National Novel Writing Month.

Ten Years… A little longer than that for my first vampire novel that I have decided no one will ever read again because it sucked so bad (no puns intended). Only twice did I start novels that I don’t remember, and a few times I haven’t finished, but I always have tried to participate.

What happened to some of the novels I’ve written? I’ve scrapped, deleted, and printed some of them just to rip them up. I’ve always been a prolific writer, but I think NaNo taught me it’s okay not to like what I am writing. It has helped me find my voice as a writer and helped me realize I needed creative writing classes to further hone my craft. I have also written very little crap since I started self-publishing, which is something I’m (mostly) proud of (false story starts aside–you know the kind. It’s when you think you really have something and haven’t plotted out a damn thing, and get about 5,000 words in, then realize it’s a complete dud, then print it just to rip it to give your bunny something to chew…wait, that’s just me? Okay, then!).

For those of you who are not aware of what National Novel Writing Month is, it is the month before the huge writing challenge to produce a 50,000-word novel by November 30th. This writing challenge always leaves me scrambling to meet a deadline–and like it or not, I thrive when I have twenty or more things to do in a week (be it planning a new book, doing homework for my graduate class, or trying to explain to my dog that it is not nice to put his head on the counter to steal a tomato). While it isn’t the only time I write, it is always something that I have used in the past to start a new novel (my name on the site is Angelic_Demon… go search for my profile, and you’ll see what I mean) I’ve written in every genre imaginable for the past ten years–Sci-fi, Horror, Romance, Mystery. Last year, Cheap Tricks got it’s first real start during the event.

In 2007, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to write. It was Halloween, and my friend Vy told me about the challenge when I was well on my way to getting drunk on a bottle of Jager (I was an undergraduate at Eastern and had just turned twenty-one…). Honestly, I think she bullied me into participating as I hadn’t written anything in a while (we frequently egged each other on to write back then). I had had ideas, but I was an anthropology major and didn’t have time to write. The entire thing is a little foggy (because hello alcohol and nine years ago!) and I no longer have access to that conversation because we still used Yahoo! Messenger back in the day.

I had an image. A vampire stealing a baby. I had no idea where that image was going to take me as far as the entire story or the plot line or anything else, but I still managed to write 70,000 words that month. Oh, I (miserably) failed my archeology class and drank too much cherry rum and diet Pepsi, but I had a nearly complete novel (I promise, my writing habits are much healthier now–coffee or tea and crackers since I have been vegetarian again few weeks–but that’s another blog post for another day, maybe). When it came to registering for my classes the next month, I signed up for my first ever creative writing class at EKU and haven’t looked back since (except that I still got my anthropology degree and avoided archeology classes as much as possible).

That novel, Haunted Desperation, is still on my iMac today. I (thankfully) didn’t lose that one. I might not be planning on publishing that one anytime soon–because dear god did my writing come off as a sloppy mess–but it was the first time I ever sat down to try to write a longer piece in one sitting. My 90,000-word novel that I started when I was nineteen didn’t count because I started it when I was fourteen.

With that… (Isn’t the announcement banner pretty this year?)

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

I already own the cover (Kellie Dennis is an AMAZING, affordable cover artist–check her website out here) but I’m not planning on revealing it until it’s close to time to release the book (or I keep telling myself that). Ivy Wild is the next novel that I will be working on. I bought a really awesome notebook from Goulet Pens that I am using to plan in (can I just say that website is awesome? It’s where I’ve found most of my inks and fountain pens, too. The notebook is HUGE and perfect for novel plotting–what do you guys use?). It doesn’t matter that I have to write a 20-page short story for my creative writing class or that I am trying to finish my Author’s Extended Edition of Cheap Guitars because I want to publish it by December (no promises–Elise and Brandon are wordier than I remember), I am going to kick butt this November. I know I’ve already announced that is the title of my next book, and I’ve already written a few scenes, but I’m not completely sold on keeping them yet. I didn’t use to plan my novels at all, but there is nothing like needing to meet a deadline to motivate a plantser (i.e. Me, usually) to get their butt into gear and go into full-on plotting mode.

I don’t have plotting a novel down to a T yet. Half the time I start trying to plot (especially with Cheap Guitars since it has already been written once), I abandon ship and start to free-write anyway. I never would have made a character profile before, either. I think SNHU has been good for me in that sense–I’m going to try to write character profiles and stick with them this time. This novel will be different for me because I have decided to challenge myself write a full-length novel in one sitting. I’m not going to let it spiral into a companion series about every single character falling in love (*cough*CheapSeries*cough*)…

Edit: I’m trying not to let it turn into a series. It’s difficult. Really freakin’ difficult.

I realize in the Indie world that having a series is more productive in as far as marketing and strategy go, but I feel like I don’t know how to write a stand-alone at this point in my writing career. That’s a problem. I can’t write short stories without them turning into at least a novella. Hell, the short story I’m writing for my genre class right now is the prelude of a longer series I will be starting once I finish all of the…five… other novels I…er…jumped the gun…and bought covers for from Kellie (Hello, I’m Mara, and I have a pretty cover buying addiction). Also, I figure after writing seven novels, I get to have my one stand-alone that will not spiral have loose ends or cliffhangers because I’m a borderline control freak when it comes to all of that (Second Edit: I have a feeling it’s going to turn into a series on me anyway).

I will, however, say that I am excited about this book. I was born in Philadelphia, and the city will always own a piece of my heart. Almost all of my father’s family lives in Pennsylvania. While I don’t think I’ll ever live in the city again, I have always wanted to write a story with the main setting there. Haunted Desperation started in Philly and then I have no idea what happened because I jumped around so much. A few of my cousins have already chimed in, offering help if I feel I need it. I have only been back to Philly once as an adult, and it was for my Uncle Mark’s funeral, so I really will need their help (along with trusty old Google). My Cheap series is based in Kentucky, so I only find it fitting that my stand-alone (maybe) be in the city where my parents met and fell in love.

Links and Stuff:

If you want some of the sources where I have found my plotting materials:

Jami Gold’s blog is a fantastic place where you can find beat sheets and scene checklists.

I generally just google character sheets, but I found this one to be the most extensive. The guide is great because it has things on it that you might not think about when developing your characters. You can pick and choose what you want to use–I advise not printing off fifty copies (like I did), only to have your dog slobber on it.

Announcements:

Cheap Lies is free on Amazon until tomorrow, so grab a copy!

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The first chapter of Cheap Guitars: Author’s Extended Edition is in the back! It will go back to .99 cents on the 6th. But don’t fret if you don’t see this blog in time–I have enrolled the novella into KDP Select, where it will stay for a year. There will be ongoing free promotions as my freakin’ huge apology for keeping both the novella and Cheap Guitars down while I fixed them.

Upcoming Projects

I wanted to post a quick little update.

I’m in the middle of working on the Author’s Extended Edition of Cheap Guitars, and editing Cheap Lies. They’re coming along fabulously.

But why am I posting this?

I have committed myself to writing the first book two new projects this year, on top of everything else. Am I a little crazy? Absolutely. But I think (I say think because I don’t want to jinx myself) I’ve finally hit a stride in my writing where I’m not wasting time anymore. I’m procrastinating less. I’m writing every single day. Recently, I started a bullet journal, and have up to four months of my writing schedule worked out. My graduate work will be worked in as I go, too. I’ve found bullet journaling efficient when keeping track of what I have planned for the day. It’s also helped me become incredibly organized when it comes to tracking timelines, character names, and word count goals.

How efficient?

I just hit the 50,000 word mark for Camp NaNoWriMo.

So, if you see two new novels in my Goodreads account, they’re untitled, but they have their spots saved. It’s my way of committing myself to working on them (which I find to be smarter than setting a 3-month preorder deadline and running into print and editing issues). I’m not rushing myself this time (okay I am a little because I want CG and CL to be back on Amazon, but they are already written and the updating/adding to the storyline has been coming to me incredibly fast). I’m not even setting a specific word count for my new projects since I don’t want to stifle my stories (something I’ve worried about doing in the past).

I’m not bragging about my word count.

I’m not.

Back to writing for me! This update ended up a little longer than I wanted it to be, haha.