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.

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5 Takeaways From My First Week On Wattpad

Eight days ago I created my first Wattpad account. Seven days ago I posted the first chapter of The Broken City of Crows. Now, a week later, I’ve taken a look back at the first taste of what will hopefully become a long and enjoyable experience (I suspect it will!).

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Obviously, these won’t be experience-based tips, advice, or anything like that. I’m still a newbie. These are mere observations or highlights of my first few steps. Maybe they’ll be enough to convince you to join and share a story!

I’ve felt a lot less pressure

As an indie author looking to build a career on self-publishing novels, I often feel pressured to ‘perform’ well in fear of not succeeding economically. I’ve found that, on Wattpad, that pressure is non-existent. Yes, I want my story to be as good as it can be, but not having to worry about sales makes the experience of sharing a novel one chapter at a time way more relaxing and fun.

The feedback is great

A few blog followers and Twitter friends warned me that they received, occasionally, feedback that was either spam or harshly critical. While I’m sure someone like that is bound to show up, my experience so far with other Wattpad users has been nothing but positive. I’ve received general enthusiasm comments as well as constructive criticism. Both keep me going, and the fact that I can go back and make changes based on that feedback (if necessary) is such a big help.

I’ve gotten more reads than I expected

When I posted the first chapter of The Broken City of Crows, I didn’t set any goals or expectations. I was curious to see if anyone would read it, just for fun. Now, seven days and three more chapters later, The Broken City of Crows has received well over 300 reads. I know that’s not a huge number, and I’m sure a lot of writers would have easily topped that in their first week, but for little old me, that’s not half bad. In fact, I’m pretty excited!

Compared to the slow trickle of sales my other books get on Amazon, seeing so many people read (and enjoy) my work makes me a very happy writer. Again, there’s no pressure to reach certain numbers or amounts, a fact I’m quickly learning to value.

An established schedule keeps me productive

I upload new chapters each Tuesday and Friday, and knowing that readers will be waiting for that chapter to go up is a healthy motivation to stay on top of things. The chapters in The Broken City of Crows are on the long side (3000-4000 words), so editing them before posting takes some time, but I love the feeling of consistent productivity.

Working without a detailed outline broadens my horizons

You all know how much I love outlines. But for this project, I’ve decided to not rely on them so much. When I posted the first chapter, I had about 30K words written and a fairly solid plotline in mind. I’m not worried about hitting a dead end anytime soon. However, knowing that sooner or later I’ll have to start writing new chapters with fewer guidelines than I’m used to is a welcome challenge. Writers gotta grow and try new things, right?


If you’re looking for a way to share your work, interact with readers, and motivate yourself to keep writing, I think Wattpad is a fantastic place to do that. Once again, this has only been my first week. I have no doubt I’ll hit roadblocks, encounter nasty people, and get discouraged.

But for now, things are looking pretty great.  You should give it a try! 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.

#NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Already Behind Schedule

The first full week of #NaNoWriMo 2016 is drawing to a close. This has been my first experience with NaNoWriMo (referred to hereafter as NaNo because I’m lazy), and I’ve seen a bit of everything.

I’ve seen people faithfully update their word count and stay par. I’ve seen people plow ahead and leave their daily word quota in the dust. I’ve even seen a few cheeky writers claiming to have finished the 50k words already (I mean, I guess it’s possible, but I worry for their health).

And then there’s me. The guy who managed to fall almost 2k words behind schedule in fewer than seven days. Am I super worried? No, because I know I can make up for lost ground in a few days. But it’s been interesting to observe things play out in different ways for different writers.

Here’s a quick breakdown of my first week of NaNo:

The writing

As of this morning (Monday the 7th), I’m sitting at 8705 words, which, as I’ve already stated, is under par. By the end of today, I’ll have crossed the 10k checkpoint, and with a bit of extra work I’ll get back to par at 11,700 words.

Despite being a bit behind, I’m having loads of fun with the story. As many of you know, I’m writing the sequel to Where the Woods Grow Wild, and I’m super excited to get deeper into this project.

The challenges

The challenges I’ve faced during the first week of NaNo have been, primarily, two: finding time to write every day, and finding energy to write every day. There are days when I don’t get home from work until 9:00 or 9:30 p.m., and by that time, I’m pretty worn out. I know everyone’s in the same boat, because life keeps us on our toes, right?

The rewards

I love the NaNo community. You guys on Twitter are fantastic at encouraging and motivating each other, and it’s so awesome to see all these random writers working together towards a common goal. NaNo isn’t a contest. It’s not a race. It’s a collective endeavor, and the writing community truly reflects that. Keep it up!

Reminders and tips (for myself) for week 2

  • Discipline trumps inspiration (duh)
  • Don’t put off writing for the end of the day, if possible
  • Use the NaNo progress chart to stay motivated
  • Don’t worry about other writers’ progress
  • Value the ‘forced’ productivity
  • Drink more coffee

How is NaNoWriMo treating you so far? How much progress have you made? What sort of changes or objectives will you set for week 2? Let me know! In the meantime, have a great day.

5 Signs a Character Might Die

Killing off characters is a facet of storytelling that writers look forward to with glee treat carefully. A character death can pack such an emotional punch, and a lot of the time we plan ahead exactly how, when, and where a given character will kick the proverbial bucket. We try our best to keep those character deaths a surprise until the time is right.

There are, however, certain trends I’ve noticed that potentially give away which character will die next. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but next time you see a character exhibit some of these signs…well, don’t get too attached to them, just in case.

They talk wistfully about home

Ironically, the characters that talk or reminisce the most about the home and family they left behind to go on their quest are the ones who seldom make it back. Here are some key phrases to look out for:

  • “When all this is done, I’ll go home to…”
  • “Right before I set off, my wife told me…”
  • “I long to return home and meet my newborn son…”
  • “I miss […] but I’ll be there again soon.”

They get married

Characters who get married  just before or during the main conflict will probably leave their spouse in a lonely conundrum. Writers are just cruel like that. Happiness is for the single.

They have humble dreams and goals

If a character starts to talk a lot about their dream of owning a farm, or of visiting a certain place, or of witnessing a certain event…yeah, not gonna happen. Their lowly-yet-relatable ambitions make them the perfect candidates for a sacrificial and emotional end.

They dislike the protagonist at first

Ah, this guy/gal. The ally that spends the first two-thirds of the book hating our hero for questionable (if any) reasons, then makes a sudden change right around the start of Act III. You know what’s coming: they take the ultimate redemptive step by sacrificing themselves for the hero or the hero’s cause.

They embrace the concept of death

I mean, it’s kind of fitting, I guess. The character that views death as ‘the start of another journey’ or ‘not the end, just the beginning’ is, in fact, the first to get their ticket punched. Hey, at least they got a head start on that journey, right?


What are some of the clues you’ve noticed that might (or might not) give away which characters have their days numbered? Let me know! In the meantime, have a great day!

7 Types of Writing Days

Disciplined productivity days

Inspiration is for the weak. You get up early, set a goal, and achieve it. Interruptions, discomfort, or fatigue aren’t roadblocks – they’re hurdles, and you’re trained enough to clear them with ease and keep on writing.

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Panicked productivity days

Keyword: deadlines. You thought you’d have plenty of time. You were wrong…again. Dang it, Youtube! Time to sit down in a frenzy and churn out words like there’s no tomorrow. Which, for you, is pretty much the case.

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Chaotic cosmic intervention days

The universe has a grudge against you today. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong. The powers that be hurl everything your way: interruptions and distractions knock on your door (sometimes literally) on a rush-hour schedule. You really wanted to get work done, but life has other plans, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Benefic cosmic intervention days

The universe has blessed you today. You had your doubts when you got up in the morning, but all the pieces fall into place quite nicely. Your tea doesn’t spill, no one interrupts you all morning, and your characters pull through once again. You cross your fingers and hope for the same tomorrow.

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“This muse is on fire!” days

You didn’t think it was possible for words to come out of your fingertips so fast. Distractions don’t even tempt you today, and if someone’s banging on your door, you won’t hear them over the sound of your muse, who sings inspiration at the top of her lungs. If all days were like today, you wouldn’t even need discipline! If only…

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Canned vegetable days

In which your brain takes on the form of the titular preserved greens, and becomes cold, lumpy, and impossible to crack open. Your word count and your energy levels are about the same: zero. And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

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“It’s going to be a long night” days

The causes of this day type are varied: inspiration, fatigue, procrastination, or deadlines can all be blamed at one time or another. Regardless, one truth remains anchored in your mind: it is indeed going to be a very late night. You go make tea. Lots of tea.

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I hope today is a good day for you. Even if it’s not, remember that tomorrow will be better (probably…maybe).

 

10 More Incorrect Assumptions About Writers

This post is a somewhat snarky continuation of last month’s 10 Incorrect Assumptions About Writers article.

#11 Writers don’t actually work that much

Grab a notebook and a pencil and people admire your dedication. Crack open a laptop and everyone assumes you’re playing games. Granted, all the Netflix jokes we make don’t help our case, but still. We writers take our work pretty seriously.

I’ve had people watch me type away for a bit and then say something like, “So…is that work stuff, or are you just goofing off?” I know they’re probably joking, but how would it look if I walked up to a busy firefighter and said, “So…are you putting that out, or just toasting marshmallows?”

#12 Writers are always available for language-related favors

I think every writer in existence has experienced this at least once. Your classmates need a paper proofread, and it’s due in an hour, and you’re not busy so you can do it for free, right? Well…no. Not right. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind lending a hand (and I did all throughout college). I’ll be glad to look over your paper. If I can do it when it fits my schedule, and if it’s only a few pages, and if I don’t have paying work to finish first. Because, believe it or not, I do occasionally get paid to do just that. Wait in line.

#13 Writers need English and/or Creative Writing degrees

Did I take creative writing classes in college? Yes. Did I graduate with a degree in English? Yes. Did it revolutionize the way I write fiction? No. Most of what I’ve learned about writing has been through my own writing and reading. I know of writers who got all the degrees and drastically improved because of them, but degrees don’t grant you innate skill, nor do they guarantee success.

[Note: my classes, teachers, and studies were fantastic. I’m not degrading any of them. I did learn stuff about literature, grammar, history, etc (go to college, kids!). But I didn’t learn anything about creating a story from nothing and putting it into writing that I didn’t already know (or would come to know in the future) from experience and self-teaching.]

#14 Writers always stay indoors

We stay inside a lot because that’s where our work is, and we love our work. But that doesn’t mean we’ll burst into flames if we walk out the front door (well, most of us won’t). Writers love walks, nature, cities, fresh air, sunshine/rain as much as anyone else (Pokemon Go, anyone?). If anything we wish we could be out more, but, you know, laptops have a limited battery life.

#15 Writers lack social skills

Again, we joke about this a lot. But most of the time it’s just not true. A lot of writers are introverts, and a lot of introverts are shy (there is a difference, people), but we can still go out, smile, shake hands, meet people, converse, and interact with society when we want to. Maybe we just tend to want to a little less than others.

#16 Writers hate editing

Editing, the great evil torture process that stifles creativity and drags writers down into the mire of technicalities. Actually, there’s just as much creativity in rewrites and edits as there is in first draft writing. I know a lot of writers (myself included) who enjoy the second and third draft process just as much as the first draft. Now, proofreading? That’s a different story…

#17 Writers want to be just like famous authors

“Oh, you write fantasy? So you wanna be the next Tolkien/Rowling/Martin, I guess.”

No, actually, I don’t. Tolkien, Rowling, and Martin were/are talented, successful authors that a lot of people look up to. But Tolkien gets boring, Rowling spams plot holes, and Martin needs to get his moral compass checked for signs of life (my opinions, calm down).

My point is, I don’t want to be them, or even like them. I want to achieve what they achieved, yes, but in my own way, with my own voice, and my own stories.

#18 Writers disregard basic and routine activities

“You’re a writer, huh? Must be nice to work from home. You don’t have to get up early, shower, or follow meal schedules like the rest of us. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want.”

Bottom line: that’s a bunch of garbage. We work hard. Most of us have other jobs. We follow routines. We have self-respect and a sense of hygiene.

Writer does not mean slob.

#19 Writers need to work with major publishers

Would I love to have one of my books eventually published by one of the big names? Of course. Are my career as a writer and my love for storytelling defined by that factor? Absolutely not. Mainstream publishing houses have competition in the form of indie-publishers, self-publishing, etc. I don’t need a six-figure deal to be a good writer.

If anyone’s reading this that wants to offer me a six-figure deal, I graciously accept. 

#20 Writers thrive in coffee shops

This is true for some writers, but not for all. I’m jealous of the people who a.) have access to coffee shops nearby, and b.) look super sophisticated with their million dollar Apple devices while still getting chapters done by the refill.

I’m not that guy. For instance, I’ve been into Starbucks three times in my life. Once as part of a group. I didn’t order anything. The second time was in February in Chicago. I panicked and ordered a slushy. The third time, I tried to order coffee. Emphasis on tried. Turns out you need a degree in Latin just to get a napkin in that hipster nest.

Starbucks is the worst. That’s really all I’m getting at in this whole post.


Take this post with a grain of salt and a pinch of humor. If you’re guilty of making any of these assumptions, ultimate shame on you. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s almost 2:00 in the afternoon. Time for me to get dressed.