Voila—a blog.

To those of you who are new here, this is a personal blog about my life as a writer and my books, feel free to close the window if you don’t like what you read. Also, I talk about what I’m writing and reading a lot.

To start: obviously you can’t really know a person through a blog where he or she could easily censor what they write or only present one side of them. I hope that my blog posts don’t offend anyone but I am going to be myself here. My introverted, contemplative, fangirl, curious and weird self. I’m a very private person, but I have flaws and hopes and dreams like any of you. Surprise: authors are real people. Most are not celebrities!

These posts will not be regular because I cannot stick to a schedule. Besides that, I don’t always have something to share or update on a regular basis.

With that out of the way, welcome to my corner of the interwebs!

On Personal Taste

There’s a lot that’s subjective in the business of being a writer.

That’s why it takes so long (usually) to find an agent in traditional publishing. You need the right timing and the right person to find your book, which can be difficult to line up. Nobody really knows a fast secret to getting an agent’s attention besides doing your research and presenting the best book possible.

Likewise, to reach the right readers, you need the right audience and the right timing. You should know who you are writing for and what they most like to read. I never worry about this until I’m editing (draft 3 or 4 or later) because the first couple of drafts are just for me, and what I want to read.

No matter how you release your book babies into the world, you should know that not everyone is going to love it. Also, not everyone will enjoy it in the same way. For example, I’ve read the first 13 chapters of Twilight more times than the whole book (or the other books in the series). That’s because, personally, the romantic tension and lead-up to their first kiss is the best part and I have no desire to read further since I already know what happens after that. Whenever I get an urge for some romance, sometimes I pick up my paperback of Twilight and read until I stop at the end of chapter 13. That’s just me.

Your readers will have their quirks, likes and dislikes as well. It’s not up to you to know all of them (how could you?) but keep in mind general reader desires in your genre. Always remember that personal taste changes a lot. One fan of YA dystopian novels may not necessarily like your YA dystopian for reasons that are out of your control. Just write the best book you can, and when the right readers come along, they’ll truly enjoy your story for what it is :)

How to Transition from Reading (About Writing) to Working

I’m writing this as much for myself as for those of you reading this. I know it isn’t just me who finds it all too easy, when I sit down to write, to do other writing-related things instead. Things like:

  • reading writer’s blogs
  • updating/reading twitter
  • adding pics to my book’s pinterest board
  • doing publishing industry research
  • playing with Photoshop (cover design)
  • reading the newest book on writing craft
  • research for a future book project

And more! Do you ever find yourself on the internet or doing other things when you’re supposed to be writing? Yes, it may be important and educational, but does it contribute to your book’s actual word count? No.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times to do those things listed above, especially at the beginning (research) and end (publishing stuff) of writing a book. But during the hours that you should be safeguarding for creating that next scene, you should focus on the writing.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Nix all distractions. This means different things for different people. If you need silence to write, then music or background noise counts as a distraction. If you like writing on paper, then grab a notebook and get away from all devices that use the internet.
  2. Allow yourself some time for those other writing-related things. If you like to write in the morning then use your afternoons for the other stuff. Or pick one day a week devoted to the business side of being a writer.
  3. Know yourself – if you work better with a set schedule (writing every day from 7-8pm) or with flexibility (writing one hour a day at any time of day) then do that.

Let me know in the comments how you move from learning to creating, and how you focus on your writing.

NaNo WriMo Update

I know it’s been a while since I posted on here, but that’s going to change. I’m planning on doing a post twice a week (maybe Tuesdays and Saturdays or something) starting today.

As far as my NaNo-ing is going, I’m a bit behind, as you can see on my profile. But I’m not giving up!! I still plan to hit 50,000 before the end of the month, and I have 12 days left to do it. All of you who are taking on this challenge, whether you’re ahead, behind, or already passed 50,000 words, GO YOU!!! It’s awesome even if it just encourages you to write 100 words a day – you’re writing and that’s the entire point.

Last Day Before NaNo WriMo!

Are you prepared?

I’m sure not!

But that’s okay. Tonight, at midnight, I’ll probably be asleep. I fully expect most of you to be staying up and waiting until 12:01 AM to start writing.

I am armed with a solid outline and the benefit of knowing my characters from a previous novel (I’m writing book 2).

Tell me about your NaNo projects in the comments!

Writing Processes

A writing process is kind of like pregnancy, each person’s experience is different, and even with the same woman, each pregnancy (or book) takes different techniques, coping methods and ways of working.

Now, I’ve never been pregnant, but I have written several books.

Whether you’re writing your first book or your tenth, you’re still figuring out a process. You never have to *stop* trying new writing things or settle on one process for the rest of your career. The beauty of writing is that it is different for different people, situations and books. Your needs will change, and your process can change to reflect that.

Here’s a bit about my basic process:

  1. I like to spend a few weeks brainstorming, gathering a playlist, writing snippets of scene ideas or character bios, and just playing with the story
  2. I write a few sentences of summary for major scenes and then a brief outline or list of ideas for in-between scenes
  3. Depending on my schedule, I like to leave that outline/brainstorming document for a while and work on something else
  4. For the first draft, I write almost every day, with word count goals and a self imposed deadline (that I don’t usually make, to be honest)
  5. Then I like to leave the book for at least a month while I either outline or edit another project
  6. One round of editing myself
  7. I send the book to my beta readers while going back to another project (usually the same one as in step 5)
  8. I make the changes from beta readers and do other edits if I’ve found more places in my novel that need the help
  9. After that, my novel goes to a professional editor for a line edit
  10. I make her suggested changes
  11. Then my editor and I proofread it together, and viola! Finished book.

I’ll put more detail about each step if a future post if you guys want to know more. I highly suggest checking out this book. It really helped me with my first novel, and while I don’t need to be as immaculate with my outlining anymore, I still reference it from time to time.

I’d love to hear about your writing processes in the comments!

Maybe You Shouldn’t Be a Freelance Writer

Let me tell you a story.

I started freelance writing (meaning copywriting, press release writing, article and web page writing) to make extra money in 2011. Back then I only did a job now and then, because I halfway through college (Multimedia/Web Design) and living with my parents, so I didn’t really need the money, but it was fun. I slowly built a portfolio. I thought, what if I can make a living writing (even if it isn’t the novel writing that’s my real passion) and not have a real “job” after school?

It worked for a while. In 2012 I graduated, got married and lived out of my parent’s house for the first time. In the fall I worked at a local Subway until medical issues forced me to quit. I continued freelance writing all throughout 2013 and it really helped that both my husband and I were working.

Aug 2013 was the month I picked up the 3rd novel I’d written in high school (the 1st good one) and started to edit. After not doing any creative writing during college, I was so happy to come back to what I loved. I had been so busy in school I hadn’t really realized what I’d given up.

Now in 2014 I was really starting to feel the effects of my choices. Falling in love with my characters again made me realize I couldn’t do both types of writing. More and more I found myself burned out from the freelance writing and dreading my own creative time. Even if I had time leftover after my job (which wasn’t often) I couldn’t even force myself to do what I’d willingly spent 3+ hours doing after high school everyday. I still loved novel writing; the problem was my eyes were opened to how ill suited I was to being a freelance writer.

PLEASE do not try this. If your love is creative writing, whether that’s short stories, novels, poetry, etc. don’t torture yourself by trying to do other writing. Not all writing is the same! Non-writers don’t understand this at all, but even some writers (like me in past years) don’t understand it either. That doesn’t make it any less true. Unless your passion is honestly helping companies with their advertisement writing or blogging for someone else or writing copy, then don’t do it!

Long story short, although this post is already getting a bit long, I’ve been unhappy with this job for several years. I’m not out yet; currently I’m trying to transition to some kind of day job not involved with writing at all, so that I can write my novels after work and not hate it.

I borrowed the title of this post from here: http://www.writersbucketlist.com/freelance-writing/

GO READ IT. Right now. I’ll wait.

Done? Now read all the comments. This is a quote from one of the comments on that page:

“Well, it did keep roof over our heads for a few years, at the cost of extreme stress, some damage to my love of writing (and my own projects), and my general sanity.”

That completely describes my last 3 years to a T.

Seriously, honestly, evaluate yourself, your goals and your personality before trying to be a kind of writer that you’re just not. I wish I had.

Free Writing

We’re all busy. That’s just how life works, right? Would you like to even get a few hundred more words written per day? It would add up to a chapter in a week or so, and a book in a few months. Without changing much of your schedule, you could have another (or your first) first draft finished!

I got this idea of “freewriting” from Susan Kaye Quinn and her amazing book, Indie Author’s Survival Guide. If you haven’t read it, get off my blog right now and go buy it! Seriously. Check out my goodreads review of it.

In her book, Susan talks about setting a timer for just 15 minutes first thing in the morning and writing about anything. Freewrite for those 15 minutes about whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t have to be related to any current WIPs and it doesn’t even have to be fiction. Just write.

The past few days I’ve tried this, it has done wonders. I love being in the moment of writing, of experiencing new things with my characters, and I’ve missed that. It really improves my day if I get to be creative (even just for 15 minutes) before I have to go to work or deal with life stuff.

Try it and tell me in the comments how it works for you!

 

Why I Love Writing

This past week I got very stuck on a WIP I thought I loved, titled Ghost Hours. I really didn’t want to write it and found any excuse not to work on it. Even though the characters intrigued me and I had it all outlined and ready to write, it was hard to do. Partly this is because after writing three chapters I realized the story better fit first person present tense, so I slowly went back and changed everything. That really made me doubly not want to write any more chapters. I’m sad that I’m so stuck and I have no desire to continue this story, because I think it’s awesome and needs to be told.

Here’s what I did. I pulled Clockwork Angel off my shelf (my #1 favorite series by any author EVER) and flipped through it, wondering what made me love it so much. It, and all my other favorite books, inspired me to write a list about why I love writing. What is it that makes me fall in love with characters and want to tell their stories? After writing this list, I realized there were a lot of things Ghost Hours didn’t have enough of and that’s why I was having such a hard time with it. I wasn’t writing the kind of book that I’d want to read! DUH.

I encourage all of you to write your own list and whenever you have a new WIP, run it through the list. Make sure this is a book you’d die to get your hands on if you hadn’t wrote it yourself, and then you’ll never lose your passion for writing it. This is everything I look for in a good book to read, so I want to write with it in mind from now on. Here’s my list:

  1. Very strong emotions – sad and happy
  2. Swoon-worthy romance, kisses
  3. Magic, fantasy and otherworldly elements
  4. The moments that make life worth living
  5. Redemption, forgiveness, faith, trust
  6. Real characters that make my heart ACHE
  7. Killer romantic tension
  8. Making hard choices

Post your lists in the comments, I’d love to see them!

Self Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

Most authors/writers use these terms interchangeably but they actually mean completely different things. If you don’t know, here are the differences and why some people confuse them:

Self Publishing

This means that you are doing it yourself. You’re the only person involved with your book, except for hiring editors or cover designers. Whether you do your own cover and formatting or hire someone, you are still self publishing.

For some people, there is still a stigma against this method of publication because since a writer can do it themselves, they might not have the skills to do it well.

Indie/Independent Publishing

When you’re an indie or independent author, that means you are publishing with a small press. You are still traditionally published! This is the biggest difference, because an indie author works with editors and cover designers of the publishing company instead of doing it on their own or hiring someone with their own money.

With most small presses, you don’t need an agent and it might be easier to get accepted because there isn’t as much competition as there is at the Big 5.

Why People Confuse These Types of Publishing

I think it has to do with the sense of what traditional publishing is in most writers’ minds. You expect a big company to pick up your book, have lots of editorial and design support, stellar marketing, and bookstore distribution. While that’s great, and some authors do get to live that experience, that is only a small part of traditional publishing.

For obvious reasons, there are only a handful of major companies (the Big 5) while there are hundreds, even thousands of smaller ones. It’s still traditional publishing if you have to be approved by a company or some kind of gatekeeper.

The confusion comes from other industries, I think, such as indie music. In the music world, that means bands without a record label behind them producing their music on their own. This is exactly what self publishers are doing, but not the same as indie/independent authors.

In a sense, the self publisher is becoming a publishing company of one, for their own books. The indie author is joining with an already established publishing house who has multiple clients besides you.

I hope this helps you guys – leave any questions in the comments and I’ll reply as soon as I can.