5 Writing/Reading Goals for June 2017

#1 Write 1000 words a day

I haven’t been very disciplined these last few months when it comes to daily writing. I’ve been doing a good amount of editing and writing new content whenever the need arose, but in June I want to set a daily goal of 1000 words. Not an astronomical amount, but something easily achievable.

My works-in-progress will benefit, as will my creativity flow.

#2 Make a plan for Where the Woods Grow in Flames

…Which will boil down to two factors: a.) recalibrate my outline and incorporate some structure changes, and b.) decide if to self-publish the sequel later this year OR take the project to Wattpad.

#3 Finish reading all the books I’ve started

May was a month of starting books and not finishing them. Not because I wasn’t enjoying them, but because I had a lot on my plate (and plenty of distracting hobbies as well). This month I’m (finally) going to finish The Beast of Talesend (Kyle R. Shultz), Aftermath: Life Debt (Chuck Wendig), and Lords of the Sith (Paul Kemp).

I’m also super excited to get my hands on the new Darth Vader comic coming out this month.

#4 Post four more solid chapters of The Broken City of Crows

As many of you know, I upload a new chapter of The Broken City of Crows to Wattpad every Friday. June will be my first full month of uploads, so I’m looking forward to getting four exciting chapters going. I’m hesitant to set any numerical goals in terms of reads or votes, so I’m just going to enjoy the process and make June’s chapters as good as I can.

#5 Create digital paintings for Gwinn and Ember

Speaking of tBCoC, after sharing my digital painting of Avora last week, a lot of readers asked whether I’d be doing more characters and if so, if Gwinn and/or Ember were on the to-do list. The answer to both those questions is yes. I’ve already started thumbnailing a sketch of Gwinn, and I hope to have completed paintings of him and Ember by the end of the month. Perhaps by the end of the summer, I’ll have painted the whole Red Vanguard. You never know!


What are some of your goals and plans for June? Let me know, and go get ’em! In the meantime, have a great day.

Advertisements

May 2017 In Review

Ever since I graduated from college in 2015 (you know, way back when), it seems that time has accelerated. Months fly by. I’m pretty sure it’s still February.

But it’s not, so let’s take a look at some highlights and decisions from the past thirty days.


Wattpad beginnings

My foray into Wattpad territory was probably May’s most significant turn of events. On the 11th, I launched the first chapters of a new fantasy novel, The Broken City of Crows. I didn’t have many high expectations. I just wanted to post for fun and see what happened.

wattpad cover II

Two and a half weeks later, I’m loving the experience. tBCoC is getting close to 800 reads and has climbed as high as #444 in the fantasy genre. Not bad for a two-week-old novel, eh?

Avora.png
Avora, captain of the Red Vanguard (The Broken City of Crows)

My favorite aspect about Wattpad so far, besides the interaction with readers, is the tangible lack of pressure to make sales or pull off marketing stunts.


Monthly reading

I don’t devote as much time to reading as I should. I am ashamed. I have, however, made progress on some books.

In progress: The Beast of Talesend (Shultz) and Aftermath: Life Debt (Wendig)

Finished: Kanan: The Last Padawan and Kanan: First Blood (Marvel Comics)

AftermathLifeDebt-Hardcover The Beast of Talesend kananlp kananfb


A sequel dilemma

I honestly don’t know what to do about Where the Woods Grow in Flames, my NaNoWriMo 2016 project and the sequel to Where the Woods Grow Wild. The first draft is about 70% complete, but I don’t know if it’s worth finishing.

There are people who I know would want to read it, but not that many. Is it worth spending an entire summer finishing a book that even fewer people will read than the original? I don’t know, especially since I’ve got a lot of other activities on my plate.

I’m considering different options: finish and self-publish, turn it into another Wattpad project, or leave it for the time being. Feel free to offer any advice or suggestions!


What sort of adventures did you have this month? What are you planning for June? Let me know! In the meantime, have a great day.

How To Be A Fantasy Character 101

Today we’ll be studying the basics of what it takes to be a full-fledged fantasy fiction character. Note-taking is encouraged.

Step 1: Wear the appropriate attire

In this class, we provide you with a starter kit which includes pre-muddied boots and a cloak carefully hand-torn by our specialists. We also recommend you complete your outfit with your own choice of shirts, pants, and hoods. Our wardrobe selections include Colors Of the Forest, A Hunter’s Garb, and Dusty Road Wanderer.

Step 2: Grow out your hair

Most of our past graduates adapt to the standard shoulder-length hair, which we recommend for its versatility. It’s long enough to catch the breeze while you sit majestically on your wilderness rock of choice, and it’s short enough to whip around just right in situations where dancing, spinning around in surprise, or hand-to-hand combat are required.

Step 3: Make sure you have adequate eye color

You’ll have to purchase your own contact lenses, but our prices are economical so you won’t have to use the last non-specified-currency coins from the pouch on your belt. As with our clothes department, our contact lens counter features an array of color choices. These include, but aren’t limited to, Emerald Green, Pools-of-Water Blue, Rich Mahogany Brown, and As-Black-as-Ebony Black. Each base color also comes with palette variations ranging from Deep to Sparkling.

Step 4: Invest in some recommended accessories

Now that you’ve completed your basic outfit and your rugged-yet-charming and/or graceful-yet-fierce appearances, we can move on to completing your look with some accessories. Should you plan on spending time adventuring outdoors, please consider our selection of flasks, weightless cooking supplies, hand-carved staffs, and lethal daggers. If you prefer to stay in town, however, you may be interested in our stealth-friendly tool belts, lock picks, just-quiet-enough grappling hooks, and lethal daggers. Not into adventuring? No problem! In the next aisle, you’ll find our embroidered handkerchiefs, leather-bound books, this-belonged-to-my-mother necklaces, and lethal daggers.

Step 5: Formulate a dietary plan

Now you look the part! Let’s get to work on your lifestyle changes. I see you’ve brought water and vegetables, but don’t worry, we won’t be needing those. There’s a Local Healer booth set up in the back; talk to any of our soothing female staff members and she’ll set you up with a new nutrition plan based on bread, cheese, mysterious chunky tavern-stew, and plenty of ale and mead. With our dietary plan, dehydration is a thing of the past!

Step 6: Learn the necessary survival skills

We know you want to start questing as soon as possible, so we’ve condensed our survival skill syllabus into a two-day crash course where you’ll learn to wield a sword, shoot a bow, ride a horse, and set rabbit traps from our team of bearded experts. However, if you present us with your certified Chosen One and/or Hero of Destiny I.D., you can take a brief placement test and skip the course altogether.

Step 7: Purchase an animal companion

Of course, all our students want horses, and we’re glad to provide you with a fine spirited stallion, or, alternatively, a stubborn-yet-loveable mare that’s too old to travel fast but fits your budget just right. However, please remember that most horse names have already been registered, and our last graduating student had to settle for Thunder_Stripes20387. We advise you consider our other available companion animals before making a hasty horse decision. We offer battle tigers and tamed wolves for our real gutsy adventurers, or, should you prefer the more cute-and-comical variant, we have injured birds of prey and a randomized forest rodent. Now, what color would you like your horse?

Step 8: Select a surviving family member

Unfortunately, our program doesn’t allow students to graduate so long as all their relatives are alive and well, so we’ll have to ask you to choose up to a maximum of three extended family members to move ahead with. For the sake of convenience, we recommend limiting yourself to siblings, wise and loving grandmothers, and/or shady aunts and uncles. When you’ve made your selection, please sign the Emotional Consequences Waiver form, which you collected at the start of the class.

Step 9: Reserve a room at the tavern/inn of your convenience

When you pass this class you’ll be enrolled in our extended learning abroad program, so make sure you choose a tavern that matches your preferences. This is the second form we gave you, the one on the faded parchment nailed to the door. Slots fill up quickly, so make sure you get your name on there right away so you don’t miss out on the isolated table in the corner, the one with the dim candle. You can still brood and ignore the noisy patrons from other tables, but it’s just not as fulfilling! We want you to have the most mysterious experience possible.

Step 10: Wait for your first quest

To complete the learning abroad program and receive your traditional written-in-the-ancient-language diploma, you’ll need to complete a quest. You’ll find a list of available quests towards the end of your syllabus, but you’ll need to wait for us to send our certified suspicious stranger to your designated location before embarking on the quest. If you head out on your own beforehand, the chances of encountering your assigned quest companions will be slim, and you will likely fail the final exam: our carefully curated sequence of incrementally-dangerous challenges which you cannot complete without courage, friendship, and at least one potential love interest.


We hope you’ve found our class instructional and inspiring. We look forward to seeing each of our students fulfill their destiny.

7 Truths Writers (Probably) Won’t Admit Out Loud

Highlight the ones that apply to you and go confess your sins afterward.

#1 We stalk our readers on Goodreads to see what their progress updates say

But only because we value and crave feedback. Not because we’re paranoid. Why would we be paranoid?

#2 We don’t write as much as we pretend to

Raise your hand if you’ve tweeted #amwriting when you’ve done nothing of the sort. Good, now put it down and get to work.

#3 We do care about the money

Despite a hundred wise (and obnoxious) sayings to the contrary, most of us want to earn money through our writing, and it’s frustrating when sales are constantly flatlined. Not that I’m trying to be a Scrooge, but “I write because that’s who I am” doesn’t pay many expenses.

#4 We have at least one genre we hold a grudge against, though we’d never say so out loud

For me, it’s paranormal romance (sorry?). For you, it might be fantasy, and I forgive you.

#5 Knowing someone’s reading our book scares the sock monkeys out of us

Because a fraction of our soul is about to be either approved or rejected and if that doesn’t make you break a sweat, I don’t know what will.

#6 We easily get jealous of right-place-right-time authors who pop out of nowhere and make big bucks without visible effort

Is jealousy a fault? Yes. Is it natural? Also yes. But while we applaud the writers who find success through hard work, every now and then it genuinely feels like some people get it all handed to them and then some. (Oh, and is it a coincidence that those out-of-nowhere bestsellers tend to be the mediocre ones? Maybe. I’m trying not to be too salty here.)

#7 We joke about procrastination when it’s actually a legitimate problem

Every time I scroll down my Twitter feed I spot a few tweets making some snarky remark about procrastination. And yes, I do it too. But still…if we did something to solve the issue instead of seeking mutual giggles on social media, perhaps we’d have less to tweet about and more to publish? Oops.


Disclaimer: I wrote the list based on personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt. Got anything to confess or add? Drop a comment below. Subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary bunny in a teacup.

And as always, have a great day!

The 5 Big Mistakes I Made When Self-Publishing My First Book

A lot of people think Where the Woods Grow Wild was my debut novel. It’s actually not, but I’m totally okay treating it as such because my very first self-published novel was a bit (fine, a lot) of a fiasco in its inception. Some of you have read it: Little One, published just about two years ago and republished (with a lot of improvements) a few months later.

I’ve written about this in past posts and random tweets, but I decided to share the five biggest mistakes I made when first self-publishing Little One. Most of them were due to an utter lack of experience, so if you’re building towards your first release, maybe I can save you some trouble.

#1 Not asking for beta readers

News flash: beta readers are amazing. They should be an integral part of your self-pub journey. They’re the first eyes to see your work, and the feedback they provide is ESSENTIAL. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get by without that feedback. I probably don’t have to explain why. Suffice to say that your view of what works and what doesn’t will ALWAYS be limited by your investment in your own manuscript. Solution: ask for beta readers. I didn’t when I self-published Little One, and my story suffered because of it.

(Note: my beta readers for Where the Woods Grow Wild were the best, and I’m still super grateful! I feel like that story is wildly [pun intended] more successful because of them.) 

#2 Relying on self-proofreading

Freelance editors across the globe are already pulling their hair out. So did I when I realized just how many typos I had missed. To be fair, I was a broke senior in college. I couldn’t afford a vanilla coke, much less a professional proofreader. Still, my mistake was thinking that one or two quick proofreads would be enough. No…no. Can you successfully proofread your own work? Possibly, if you give yourself enough time. Do I recommend it? Definitely not. It’s not worth the anxiety of finding another spelling error or wrong word choice post-publication when people have already purchased the book.

#3 Settling for an okay cover

Some of you may remember the original cover for Little One. It was okay, as far as very basic designs go. But it really fell flat when inserted into the hyper-competitive world of Amazon thumbnails. I feel bad saying this because I’d hired an artist friend for that design. She did everything I asked her to (and did it well!), so the mistake was mine for not realizing how much the cover art mattered. Later on, I acquired a new design from a professional (and experienced, importantly) cover artist, but I’ll never be able to make up for that sub-par first impression. Mea culpa. 

#4 Not investing in a physical proof copy

If you’re publishing a print edition through a program like CreateSpace, do yourself a favor and BUY THE PROOF COPY. The shipping expenses are worth it in the long run. When I first self-published, I thought the digital review option was enough. Plot twist: it wasn’t. Not even close. When my first print copies arrived, there were chapter titles on the wrong page, awkward paragraph splits, and other glaring print errors. Some of those copies were for friends, and I had some pretty embarrassing explaining to do. Printer’s fault? Nope. Mine, for not wanting to sacrifice $25 and a few days to revise the physical proof copy.

#5 Rushing everything

I tweeted about this yesterday. Don’t rush. Don’t ever rush. Please, for your own sake, DO THINGS SLOWLY.

I think this point includes (and is the cause of) all the other mistakes I made as well. When I first self-published Little One, I was in a huge hurry. For several reasons. One legit reason was that I needed the project completed for college credit (English major perks). I needed those credits to graduate, so I had a tight deadline. The other reason, however, was a truckload of impatience on my part. I wanted the world to get my first novel, and I wanted them to get it assoonashumanlypossiblerightnowplease. I cut corners. I skipped essential steps. And the result was a mediocre product. Please, don’t make that mistake. Take the time to do things right, even if it means pushing back your intended deadlines. I want your first self-publishing experience to be one you can remember with pride.


I hope this post is of some help for those of you intending on self-publishing (or even if you’ve already got some books under your belt). Now I can look back on the experience and view it as a growth opportunity. My new books are worlds better because of what I learned from those mistakes.

At the same time, I still cringe now and then.


Thanks for stopping by today. I always like interaction, so add to the conversation in the comments or just say hi! Make sure to follow me here and on Twitter to receive your complimentary baby penguin.

In the meantime, have a great day!

30 Questions & Answers About My W.I.P.

Recently I was tagged to do a #WIPjoy blog post. For those who don’t know #WIPjoy (as far as I know, since I’m new myself) is a Twitter tag wherein writers share insights and behind-the-scenes info about their works-in-progress via daily questions and answers. I’d rather not spend a whole month answering those questions on Twitter, but I thought doing a blog post would be fun, so here we are!

Thanks for the tag, @ateawithtumnus and @socalscribbler! Go check out their blogs for more fun writing content.

#1 Introduce your WIP…

My w.i.p. these months is a fantasy/adventure novel titled Where the Woods Grow in Flames, a sequel to my December 2016 release Where the Woods Grow Wild.

#2 Why does your protagonist pull at your heartstrings?

Martin’s a simple guy trying to do simple things, but they don’t stay simple for long, and it’s his struggle to lead his friends through difficulties and manage more…personal aspects of his life that establishes that connection for me.

#3 How do you get to know your characters?

By writing. That’s how they tell me who they really are in their own time and in their own way. You can’t force it.

#4 Share a line about your premise!

I think this exchange between Martin and Mayor Clarenbald sums up the premise quite nicely:

“More will come, you know, and we have to be ready.”

“Ready? Ready. Yes, ready. We should be. I can only do so much, though. People say I’m a reasonable mayor, and I tend to agree, but I don’t know what to do when monsters like these roam my streets. It’s not natural, and I only deal with things that are perfectly natural, like festivals and luncheons and petty squabbles among neighbors.”

#5 How easy is this WIP to write?

It’s a sequel, so most of the characters are already established. That makes the creation process simpler. However, it’s been a bumpy ride as far as the plot. A lot of hard things happen, and I want to maintain a balance of positive/negative. It’s a challenge.

#6 Which character is hardest to write?

Illo. Fans of Where the Woods Grow Wild really liked her, but in the sequel…let’s just say she goes through a lot. She’s definitely getting a lot of character development.

#7 Tell us about you and your work!

I write (generally) light-hearted fantasy stories, focused more on simple adventures than on epic wars or stuff like that. I’m snarky and sarcastic, both in writing and in person. In December 2016 I released Where the Woods Grow Wild, which has been my favorite novel project so far!

#8 Who is your protag’s best friend?

Martin’s best friend is Elodie Tuck, the mayor’s mischievous courier and co-protagonist in the book.

#9 How did the main characters meet?

Martin and Elodie have known each other since they were born, having lived all their lives in the small town of Bardun Village. Their friendship started when a shy nine-year-old Martin semi-successfully delivered a fistful of flowers to Elodie’s house.

#10 Anyone suffering from a broken heart?

Not yet.

#11 Share a line about love or hatred…

“[He} may have put on some weight, and he may have lost his memory, but if I’ve learned anything about him today it’s that he still loves you, and he can still be brave if it’s for you.”

#12 What was your protagonist’s past like?

Rather dull, to be honest. Martin spent his whole life in Bardun Village, and that’s not exactly the most exciting place to live. His mother left him to find work in the neighboring town and has yet to return. It’s a good thing he has Elodie to keep him on his toes.

#13 What’s a message about relationships in your book?

Relationships can be (and are meant to be) pure and based on mutual edification. Physical attraction is not the basis for a relationship. It should never be a driving factor.

#14 Which characters get along worst?

Probably Illo and Podgin. They’re friends, but they have a terribly cranky and sarcastic way of going about it.

#15 At its best, my WIP’s dialogue is…

Witty and snarky while still driving the characters towards deeper connections.

#16 I love how I describe things when…

The description flows along with the action. I prefer not to stop and describe objects/people. I want my description to be subtle, almost invisible, while still painting a vivid and palpable picture.

#17 I love how I depict characters because…

They’re different from each other, and that makes for a lot of entertaining interaction. They all developed naturally, some more willingly than others, but I really feel like I’m working with real people.

#18 Share an example of your best prose!

I mean, it’s a first draft still, so I’d hardly call this ‘best prose’, but it’s a short passage I had some fun with…

Later that night, as the moon framed the clock tower bells, the Cabbage Cart Inn received an unexpected visitor. He crept along the path from the main road and reached for the brass knob on the front door, only to find the place locked. Not to be deterred, he snuck around to the back and fiddled with the rickety door there. Bolted as well.

He explored the whole perimeter of the building, making sure to stay well away from the pig pen, before finding a window he could pry open. Sneakily, cleverly, he stole up onto the sill and slipped through the crack without making a sound.

Then he tripped on his own feet, fell, and landed in a shallow pan with a metallic thump.

“Oh dear.”

The pan, having been placed at the top of a precarious stack of its kin, slid from its position with its newly acquired passenger. The ensuing avalanche of pans, pots, and cooking utensils created such a clanging commotion that Bramble huddled on the floor in a trembling mass until the last bouncing spoon came to rest.

“Oh dear.” He grabbed his floppy ears and yanked hard. “Mustn’t make a peep.”

He waited, small and invisible in the kitchen’s shadows, his blinking eyes the only evidence he was even there. No footsteps ran his way, and no one pointed and yelled at him, so he scooted to his feet and made for the door. His button nose prodded the air, and his face puckered.

“Mustn’t breathe the stinky-stench. Mustn’t turn into an onion!”

#19 I love my world/setting because…

The contrast between a very simple village and a very wild forest makes for some fun plot-play. The village forces me to focus on a smidge of reality, while the forest allows my imagination to go ham.

#20 The relationship I root most for is…

Martin and Elodie, because I love them both to death and because the alternative is Podgin and his truffles.

#21 I’m most impatient to hear reader reactions to…

Some of the plot twists/reveals I’ve got in store. It’s a sequel, so a lot of the groundwork is already laid for some pretty special moments. (What, you thought I’d tell you something specific?)


From the protagonist’s (Martin’s) point of view…

#22 Describe yourself in five words:

Clumsily determined. Traditional. Uhm…attached?

#23 One thing you’d change in your past?

Having my hand back wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But I’ve learned to live without it.

#24 Favorite ways to relax?

Anything away from the Cabbage Cart. Probably with Elodie. Walks through the clover fields or trading secrets in the apple orchard.

#25 A line you were proud to say:

I know the one, but I haven’t said it yet. I still have to rehearse a few hundred more times in my head before it’ll come out half-adequately.

#26 Tell us about where you live:

I live in a small, bare room over the Cabbage Cart kitchens. It’s not so bad once the evening cools off and the onion fumes roll out the window.

#27 Do you sympathize with (or relate to) the antagonist?

On a good day, I pity him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he’d never interfered with our lives, but I think, way down, that I understand him. Just a little bit.

#28 What are you self-conscious about?

Ehem. My missing hand. My clumsy way of doing tasks that others don’t think twice about.


Back to the author (a.k.a. me)…

#29 How long do you expect to be working on this WIP?

A few more months, at least.

#30 What do you hope touches readers the most in the story?

The end. I’ll be wrapping up all loose ends, and I think a lot of the story lines will have a surprisingly touching conclusion. We’ll see.

The Writer’s Life According to Star Wars

I’m back from Christmas vacation and a blogging hiatus. It seems to have been a Star Wars themed break as well, given Rogue One and a number of re-watches at my place. Therefore, I decided to kick off the 2017 blogging year with a Star Wars themed post. Here we see the writer’s life as told by Star Wars gifs…


1
When a new story idea wakes you up.
2
When you solve a plot hole in the middle of, well, some random activity…
3
When MS Word starts underlining all your made-up words.
4
When you find a typo in your proof copy.
5
When you try writing without caffeine…
6
The aftermath of a character death.
7
When someone tells you how hard it is to make a living as a writer.
8
When you realize how hard it is to make a living as a writer.
9
When you find out your friend is reading Twilight.
10
When your villain starts to grow on you.

Have a great day everyone, and may the Force be with you!