Publishing Plans, Writing Goals, and Other Assorted 2016 Shenanigans

Remember that one time back in February when I said Where The Woods Grow Wild would be available by late April? Yeah…that didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, July is almost over and I’ve yet to finish the second draft. To say that my writing plans for 2016 have been delayed is an understatement.

I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say there’s been a lot going on since January, and I’ve been juggling a part-time job (two as of a few weeks ago) with some remaining freelance editing work.

Technically 2016’s halfway point was a month ago, but I’m going to pull a ‘who cares?’ and do some recalibrating. Here’s what I’ve got up my sleeve for the rest of 2016:

Finish and publish Where The Woods Grow Wild

Aside from my day jobs, this will be my top priority. I’m making great progress on rewrites, and I’ll be beta-reader shopping soon (wink-nudge). No promises (I’ve made that mistake too many times already), but I really want to see WTWGW hit Amazon in October-November (that’s giving myself plenty for a few extra editing rounds, just in case).

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00071]
Current cover art for WTWGW, designed by Silvia Philbrick at Orca Creative Studio.

I’ve been sharing snippets on social media (mostly Twitter and Instagram) via #2bitTues, #1LineWed, and other trends, and the support you guys have shown is humbling and motivating, more than you realize. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Keep writing my backburner novel

No, not a novel about an actual backburner (although I’ll accept offers for the rights to that idea). I’m talking about the fantasy novel that’s been sitting on the proverbial shelf gathering proverbial dust for about a year now. I’ve mentioned it now and then on Twitter, but Where The Woods Grow Wild has been my sole writing focus for the past 8-9 months.

This novel is looking to be a long one (guesstimating 150k-ish words), so I won’t be finishing it anytime soon. But still. It exists, and I’ll be making slow progress behind the scenes.

Start Where The Woods Grow Wild 2‘s first draft

Yep. WTWGW is getting a sequel. I wasn’t planning on this originally, but I love the characters too much to not write another book with them. Where The Woods Grow Wild will still have a definite ending, a conclusion of its own, but since it’s obviously going to sell a million copies*, why not explore the story world a bit more afterwards?

*please. I’m really poor. 

Develop social media

This is a permanent work-in-progress. 2016 has been great so far in terms of social media growth.

My Twitter following has almost tripled since last August, and I’ve been able to connect with some fantastic new people. Twitter is still my most consistent communication tool, so if you don’t follow already, you’re missing out on my superior humor and intellect some mildly amusing tweets.

I-Have-Cookies-Follow-Me-Cookie-Meme

I experimented with Instagram for a few months, but daily posts are quite taxing on my supply of photo ideas, and I’ve slowed down a bit. I don’t know how you all get hundreds/thousands of followers based exclusively on pictures of your desk, but more power to you, I guess.

To the grand total of 114 people who like and follow my author page on Facebook…yeah, sorry. I hardly ever post there. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Facebook anymore. In terms of platform building it stinks unless you pay them (more) money, and then it stinks a little bit less.

I am, however, working towards starting a Youtube channel. I’ve been experimenting with different video styles, and I think I’ve found one that works for me. I don’t know when I’ll launch it (maybe next month?), but I’m having fun getting ready, if nothing else. Stay tuned.


Anyways, those are my writerly plans for the rest of 2016. Right now I’m going to pencil in a daily schedule to manage it all (no, I’m not sweating), and hopefully I’ll be able to follow through with these plans and not get fired from my two part-time jobs. Pray for me and my caffeine addiction.

In the meantime, have yourself an awesome day, friend!

 

 

6 Things Other Writers Do That I Can’t

Writers are creatures of habit, but each writer has their own particular set of habits. As I watch my fellow writers spin their tales, I’ve noticed them do some things that, for better or for worse, are simply out of my reach.

Here are six things other writers do that I can’t.

Improvise (a.k.a. ‘Pantsing’)

I live and die by the outline. While I firmly believe in allowing the story to grow organically and giving myself room to discover and be surprised by the process, if I try to write a complete story with no framework, no visual indication of where I’m going, I guarantee I won’t finish that project.

Write scenes/chapters out of order

Even though I always know what’s coming next thanks to my rigorous, often obsessive, outlining, I refuse to (and cannot) write the events of my story out of order. It just feels wrong. I know a lot of people have no problem doing so, and for some it even works better. But not me.

Write in cars/trains/planes

I’ve traveled a lot, and I’ve written in a lot of different countries. But try as I might, I can’t seem to write as I’m traveling. Writing in the car makes me carsick. Plane seats are too uncomfortable, and there are bound to be at least a dozen different movies playing on people’s screens to distract me. I’ve had minor success writing on trains, but more often than not I end up staring out the window.

Work on phones/tablets

A lot of people do this, and I wish I could because it looks so handy. But I can’t. I can’t keep notes, or write sections, or really do anything writing-related on my phone or tablet. Maybe my thumbs are too clumsy. Maybe the screen is too small. I don’t know. It just won’t happen.

Get up extra early to write

I’m not a morning person. I have, however, disciplined myself to be up at a decent hour and get to work (as long as there’s coffee). What I can’t do is force myself to get up earlier than my schedule dictates and expect myself to focus on the creative process. My brain functions far better late at night than early in the morning.

Write in my bedroom

This is mostly choice, but I can’t write or work in my own bedroom. Perhaps such proximity to my bed is too tempting, or perhaps the bookshelf behind me would be my undoing. Either way, I try to keep my work-space separate from my leisure/relax/sleeping space.


What are some of the things other writers do that don’t work for you? Drop a comment below! As always, I’m super glad you stopped by. Enjoy your day!

The Writer’s Life According To Harry Potter

It’s back, and this time we’re looking at the wonderful wizarding world of writing! Sort of. I’ve lost track of the number of instalments in this blog series, but oh well. The writer’s life according to Harry Potter:

1
When you finish writing that epic climax.
2
Discovering the joys of a thesaurus.
3
When you check your book sales.
4
Gotta weed out those cliches…
5
The dangers of not bringing a notebook.
6
Yet another typo.
7
There are some reasons to go out…
8
When you need reviews for a book release.
9
Giving your characters a heads-up.
10
No, you will not “ship” my characters!

As usual, none of these gifs belong to me. All gifs can be found at giphy.com.

Header image from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harry-film-logo.png

The rest of the series, The Writer’s Life According To…

Jack Sparrow

Sheldon Cooper

Minions

Gollum

Winnie the Pooh

Toy Story

I’m super glad you stopped by. Subscribe if you want to stay in touch, and have a splendid day!

Top 10 Soundtracks for Writing Fantasy

A few years ago I compiled a list of my top ten favorite soundtracks to write to, but it was on my old site (which apparently has been taken down?), and my thoughts on the matter have changed since then.

This list is not in any specific order, and I really wanted to include clips/previews for each mention, but it turns out WordPress doesn’t let you link or upload videos unless you pay them a monthly fee and your firstborn child (WordPress, you’re great, but come on. Be real.).

Note: I’ve excluded soundtracks that I consider hard to separate from their films due to their iconic status in popular culture (soundtracks such as The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, etc.). 

So here we go!

How To Train Your Dragon 2

The first installment could have easily taken this spot, but HTTYD 2 has some of my favorite songs, so I’m giving it priority. Go check this soundtrack out. It’s beautiful.

httyd2.jpg

Eragon

Disclaimer: the movie sucks. It’s atrocious. If you respect the books at all, do not watch this movie. However, the soundtrack is pretty good, and there are a few tracks in particular that I think stand out.

Eragon_soundtrack.jpg

Pan’s Labyrinth

This movie is beautiful. The soundtrack is sublime. Both are substantially depressing. Listen at your own risk.

panslabyrinthtree

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

I never said this list was limited to movie scores. Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time could have also taken the spot, but no Nintendo soundtrack compares to Skyward Sword in terms of emotion and storytelling. Koji Kondo, you genius. If I did this list in ranked order, Skyward Sword would probably take the #1 spot.

skywardswordst.jpg

Dinosaur

Didn’t we all love this movie as kids? Well, the soundtrack is as good as you remember it. There’s a wide range of ‘feels’ to cover in this one, so go check it out for yourself.

dinosaur.jpg

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Hans Zimmer will always be one of the greatest composers, and Spirit is, in my opinion, one of his best film scores.

spirit.jpg

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

A decent film with a fantastic soundtrack. No, not the BBC show (although, if you have time, you should look that up for a good laugh).

Narniacd.jpg

Ori and the Blind Forest

The second video game score to make the list, it was recommended to me by a friend on Twitter, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. This score in particular has a very magical/mysterious feel to it, and though it’s not the happiest music in the world, it’s still awesome.

ori.jpg

Tarzan

Tarzan is probably my favorite soundtrack of all the Disney ‘classics’, and it has a wide variety of great tracks to fit different moods and situations.

TarzanOST.jpg

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Okay, I really didn’t want to include a Transformers film in this list, simply because they’re terrible and degrading on so many levels. However, a handful of score pieces stand out enough to warrant a mention. Dig around, and you’ll find some gems.

Trans2Front.jpeg


Of course, this list is based on my opinion at the time of writing this post (with a pinch of universal and undeniable truth). What are some of your favorite OSTs to write (or daydream) to? Comment below!

 

The Fantastic Five Dialog Tag

Guys. Guys. Guess what? I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m starting a blog tag. At least I think I am. Odds are this has been done before, but frankly, I don’t care. I’ll call it…the Fabulous Five Dialog tag. Super catchy, am I right?

But Mr. Nate, sir, what is this superb new concept you’ve brought to life? 

*Friendly pat on the head* Excellent question, little writerling. The Fantastic Five Dialog tag simply means I’m going to share five of my favorite out-of-context dialog lines from my work-in-progress novel and then tag some friends to share some of their own! Simple stuff, but I think it’s gonna be fun.

So here are five of my favorite out-of-context lines from Where The Woods Grow Wild (coming soon to Amazon near you!)…

“Why, you clod-brained, gimpy hog-moggins, I’m not evil!”

“A girl has to be resourceful. Besides, it’s a very noble kitchen knife.”

“Willows don’t like me, so naturally they start yelling at me the moment I fly by, and they forget they’re yelling when they go back to talking about things they intended to keep secret.”

“Fine, then, be that way. Yes, I found it when I was cleaning out one of his old desk drawers, and I took it because he has enough brass rings to fill a bean jar.”

“Take him away! Chop off his feet and light them on fire! Or throw quails at him!”

As it turns out, choosing just five bits of dialog was hard, but those are some of my favorites. I’ll go ahead and tag some people now (participation is voluntary, so if you’re not tagged and want to, go for it!):

Hannah Heath 

C.E.L. Stefani

Raychel Rose from That Bright Young Thing

Hope Ann from Writing in the Light

Kel Giese from A Teen’s Life 


Now it’s your turn! Have a favorite dialog line in mind? Share it in the comments below!

 

24 Little Things To Make A Writer Smile

In terms of the writing side of my life, the past month has been disappointing. Since finishing my first draft in March, I haven’t had time to roll up my sleeves and get a big chunk of editing done. I’ve been tied up with other editing projects that don’t seem to end, work, and other assorted distractions. You know how it is.

But it’s not always the glamorous achievements that make being a writer feel worthwhile. I can’t finish a draft, or complete a manuscript edit, or reveal a new cover every day. Sometimes it’s the little things that make writers smile.

Little things like…

Coffee early in the morning

Rainy days

Exciting ideas

The smell of paper

Days of good handwriting

New pens and pencils

Finding a new tea flavor

Comfortable chairs

Working under an open window

An organized desk

Fun bits of research

Words like disgruntled or plump

Five minutes of daydreaming

The tap-tap of the keyboard

Sticky notes and bookmarks and index cards

Quiet rooms

Ink-stained fingers

Motivational snacks

Quotations you don’t understand but share anyways

Coffee shops

Successful outlines

Funny snippets of dialogue

Pajama workdays

Knowing you can do it all again tomorrow


What are the little things about being a writer that you enjoy the most?

 

9 Reasons To Index-Card Your Manuscript

Last week I finished the first draft of The Children Of Falore (title subject to change). Which means that, in the next few days, I’ll be starting the editing phase.

But there’s one thing I always do before editing a manuscript, and that is indexing. What’s that, you ask? Basically, I go through my outline*and fill an index card for each scene in my manuscript. On each index card I include the following information:

  • Scene title/brief summary (so I know what’s going on)
  • Scene number (the order in which they tentatively take place)
  • POV character (not necessary if all your scenes are the same POV)
  • Location
  • Time of events in story context
  • Word count
  • Important info disclosed (if applicable)
  • Marks for pivotal scenes (inciting event, climax, turning points, etc.)

*I use Scrivener, so it’s all there on the screen, but you may not have a physical outline. In that case, flipping/scrolling through the finished manuscript itself works just as well, if a bit tedious. 

I end up with pretty much my whole manuscript condensed into a stack of index cards. For Little One, which had about 93k words, I needed about 70 cards because most of my scenes were on the short side. Your results will vary. Spread out on the table, it looked like this:

10305507_10152391016803043_3574243161544080537_n

The reasons I do this are several. Here, I’ll list some of the major benefits of indexing your manuscript’s first draft.

#1 Get the big picture (literally)

Having all your scenes compiled in a physical, manageable stack of cards makes getting the big picture so much easier in the most tangible way. Take the photo above, for instance. I can immediately spot my story’s layout and the location of major events. Are they too close together? Does my pacing need work? Do I need more exciting chapters? Should I slow down? This is a great way to spot those potential issues.

10492491_10152394843178043_1040108234883884662_n

Here’s a photo of my index cards beside my outline diagram. Twice the big-picture-viewing, twice the efficiency. 

#2 Manage characters and POV

You wrote down each scene’s POV character. Now you can tell what the balance is between your main characters and your secondary characters, as well as if it needs adjusting. Hint: color coding each card according to its POV character makes this a visual piece of cake. You won’t even have to read the card.

#3 Spot plot holes

Having your whole plot laid out where you can see it all at once has a knack for revealing plot holes you may have missed just scrolling down a screen.

#4 Organize or re-organize

You can mix and match your index cards to your hearts content to rearrange chapters, scenes, or whole sections without messing up your document or having to copy-paste a million times. Again, the advantage of visualizing where each scene sits can be super valuable to see if maybe chapter 4 might work better as a part of chapter 7.

#5 Reference quickly

For all other purposes or editing needs, you’ll have your stack of scenes ready to consult at a moment’s notice. You’d be surprised how much time you’ll save when fact-checking, double-checking, quoting, comparing, etc. The more intricate your story, the more likely you’ll thank yourself for making this resource.

#6 Balance content

If you color-code your index cards according to content type (dialogue, action, backstory, flashback, description, etc.), you’ll be able to spot unbalanced sections right away.

#7 Jot down notes

Keep a stack of pens or markers nearby, and you can quickly make marks or notes on your cards according to each scene’s needs. A handful of my index cards ended up with big ‘ol red x’s on them. They simply didn’t add anything, so out they went. Yes, you can do this on a printed doc or a laptop as well, but if you have your cards anyway, it saves time, and can be accessed quickly later on.

#8 Reinforce story structure

If you’re not an outline and prefer to make things up as you go, indexing your manuscript is a fantastic way to make sure your first (or second, third, etc.) draft is properly structured so that readers don’t get lost or confused when reading. Not all ‘pantsed’ manuscripts necessarily need this, but there’s a greater peril of structure weakness in early drafts without prior outlining.

#9 Keep track of time

If you’re like me, you very easily lose track of how much time has passed in your story. If you marked your cards accordingly, you’ll be able to keep track of how many days, weeks, or months go by during and between scenes.


There are other advantages to indexing your manuscript via scene-list. These are some of the ones that have helped me the most. I hope some of them help you as well, should you decide to give it a try!