Kindle Worlds, Pesky Muses, & Other Thoughts

Soon, I will go from having seven published books to only six. I’ll explain, but first I need to give you a little backstory. We all love the backstory, right? I promise—I won’t tell too much.

Back in 2013, my Vampire Diaries fanfiction, All This Time, was plagiarized from FanFiction.net onto Wattpad.

What? But, how can fan fiction be plagiarized? I didn’t know you even wrote that stuff! Isn’t that for amateurs????

I started writing fanfiction when I was fourteen years old for Final Fantasy VII. In fact, one of the longest unpublished stories I ever wrote was a mash-up of FFVII, FFVIII, FFXI, and FFX with a dash of The Bouncer. Didn’t know I was a video game nerd, did you? I’m laughing at my teenage self for this—and my high school friend, Kelli, that wrote it with me. We had over 1000 pages of fanfiction that we wrote in high school from the time we were freshmen to the time we were…I want to say juniors. Fanfiction was the platform I learned to write in, and it is where I got over my own stigma against myself since I have dyslexia. I read a lot before I started reading, but it was in high school that I REALLY knew I wanted to be a writer.

Fast forward to now, fifteen years later and when I have no idea where that Main Story is, and I am now an author of six new adult romance novels. Cheap Guitars was a Vampire Diaries All Human/Alternate reality fanfiction until I realized I had written an actual romance. E.L. James—and while I have the utmost professional respect for her, I probably won’t read any more of her erotica—started off writing Fifty Shades as Twilight fanfiction. So, I figured why not? But this was after something happened with All This Time.

With all of that being said, yes. Fanfiction can be stolen, especially when Taaroko and I spend so much time doing research in 1986 and the Civil War era. We have enough research done that I could probably pull off a historical romance, and do it well. My original co-writer of All This Time is also someone I like to call Super Queen Internet Googler, and that is how she found out the story was stolen. Sorry. I kind of went on a tangent. I think I am slightly upset, but I’ll explain why in a moment.

But long story short—I was pissed. Livid, even. A teenager saw fit to steal our perfectly(ish) researched TVD fanfic and called it her own. After getting Wattpad to remove the story, Michelle Hazen informed me of the Kindle Worlds program on Amazon. I could legally publish my Vampire Diaries fanfiction, where it would be safe, and I would earn a little money while I was at it.

I jumped on that opportunity after my co-writer agreed.

And now the Kindle Worlds program is ending, and my rights to the story will revert back to me.

Is it shocking? Yes. Upsetting? A little. Disappointing? I feel for the other writers who loved being able to publish their fanfiction on Amazon. But… this is also good. I’m putting the story back under its original state on the website when it comes off Amazon. It doesn’t really bother me that I won’t be earning royalties anymore. I learned a lot from the process and gained the courage I needed to start writing romance fiction. Cheap Guitars is a vastly different story now that I have released the Author’s Extended Edition. All This Time taught me quite a bit about book formatting. I cried when my first royalties came in, but I cried harder after Cheap Guitars made its first sale.

So, thanks, Michelle and Katie. It sucks our stories are coming down, but it was a good learning experience, and now we can move forward in our careers. (AKA I can further ground myself as a new adult romance writer, although a time travel romance and vampire fiction aren’t out of the picture.)

Also—I feel I need to address something.

To the girl who plagiarized the story before I decided to put it on Kindle Worlds:

I am not petty.

In fact, I like to think of myself as a (mostly) classy lady (except when my Daddy’s trucker mouth comes out of mine).

I belong to an incredible network of writers who support each other. I am not angry at you anymore, because you are one of the reasons I participated in the Kindle Worlds program. I’m also kind of flattered now because you thought the story was that good, that you had to have it. Taaroko tried to point it out to me when it happened, but I was twenty-five, and too much of a stubborn ass to listen. The #cockygate and #byefaleena trademark fiasco that had so many great romance writers—and writers in other genres—band together to fight the trademark happened to inspire me.

Sweetie, if you have questions about starting an ORIGINAL story, you can come to me. That’s in the off chance that you ever happen across this blog. I want to put some positive energy out to the universe, so I will gladly give you writing advice if you need it. You may email me at mara_a_miller@hotmail.com. I might not share my ideas with you, but I will try to help you if you want to write.

The same goes for anyone who is struggling with writing right now.

With that being said, I feel confident in my ability to give the Cheap series the final book it deserves. I don’t want to say much, but…Man, it’s going to be awesome. That’s all I can say. I’m fucking excited.

About that, my romance thesis, and two other projects.

Can I give someone else my muse?

She just might kill me.

(I’m going to write).

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.

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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:

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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.

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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!!!

 

 

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.