Free Writing

NaNoWriMo 2014 – WINNER

I honestly didn’t think I would make it, but as you can see from the title, I managed to win NaNoWriMo 2014! I was behind for almost a week, got caught up, and then fell behind again during the holiday. On the last day, I bust out little over 3k words to hit 50,002 words (according to Scrivener – Validation gave me over 51k.) This time I didn’t count any notes, blog posts, or word sprints. Only words that went directly into the novel itself.

 

Sadly, I’m still not finished with Soul Weaver. My word count currently sits at 115,806. I’m estimating about another 15-20k words (give or take) before I can officially say that the first draft is complete.

NaNo14WinnerGraphTo be honest, I’m worried that I’m pushing the limits on my word count. If I were to self publish I wouldn’t be too concerned, but I have plans to try to submit to a few publishers first and I know that they may refuse my manuscript on excessive word count alone. That being said, I know that a lot of it will be cut during the first round of editing. I’m banking on that.

With that in mind I’m fighting the urge to start learning how to edit. While I’d like to think that most of my first draft doesn’t have too many grammar and spelling mistakes, what I’d like to learn is how to make sure I have proper flow and continuity. That my characters are fleshed out and consistent. That there’s a great hook at the end of each chapter to keep readers reading. Everything that a professional editor would look at. That’s what I want to learn. My goal is to have my novel impeccable before submitting it to any publishers. The less work their editor needs to do, the better.

NaNo14WinnerCertificate2I’m also starting to do some research about beta readers. I won’t start taking names until I’m through the first round of editing. I’ve already got my two teenage boys who are chomping at the bit for me to finish so they can read through it and help me out, but I’ll need more. Preferably readers who have beta’d before and can offer some awesome feedback.

 

But all that can be saved for the future. Right now, I still have a few more chapters to write. If all goes well I’d like to be done with the first draft by the end of December. I’ve already got a few ideas in mind for what I’m going to write in April.

Speaking of April. I’ve managed to motivate both of my boys to join me for Camp NaNoWriMo! I even got them a copy of Scrivener to use. My younger son has already started using it to transcribe the book he’s been writing for the past few months. All he had before was a notebook full of scribbling so he’s excited to see it all typed out and divided by chapter. I’ve directed him towards the Young Writers Program that NaNo offers as well. So lots of awesomeness to look forward to.

 

For those who won WriMo – CONGRATULATIONS! To those who didn’t – as long as you wrote, you’re still a winner. Even if you only wrote a couple words, it’s better than nothing. Just keep at it! And keep in mind, there’s always CampWriMo in April and July too.

 

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

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Free Writing

Down in the Writing Dumps…

Click for larger image.

I saw this image on Pinterest and I just had to save it. I think every writer goes through this.

Right now I’m most certainly feeling the images on the right. There are times when I don’t feel like writing. Just opening up Scrivener – no, just looking at the icon on my desktop – makes me cringe.

Since Camp NaNoWriMo ended I have written all of 16,000 words. 16,000 words in the past 37 days. How is it that I can pound out 50,000 words in less than 30 days, but the following 37 days I can’t even break 20k? Even though I took a week off after Camp, that’s still 30 days, and all I’ve been able to write is 1/4th of what I was able to write in April.

Why is that? Why is it lately that every time I sit down to write it feels like a chore and not something that I enjoy? Why is it that as I’m typing the words, my mind wants to drift off until I eventually find myself browsing Facebook or Twitter? Or finding something that needs done in the house?

I think I know why. This image describes it exactly. Sometimes I feel like my scenes are hideous. I feel like my story is awful. I feel like I’m a despicable writer. And lately, all I feel like doing is sobbing because I’ve been telling myself that my writing will never amount to anything more than “meh”.

It’s a combination of a lack of self confidence, too high of expectations, and a lack of stick-too-itiveness. In April I had a goal of just simply writing. In April I had a goal of not caring if I get published. In April I just wanted to say I wrote a book. In April I wasn’t comparing myself to other writers, I just wanted to tell my story. In April I just wanted something that I could leave to my children when I’ve left this world; something that I could be proud of.

For some reason, my goal has morphed into much more. I want to be published. By TOR no less. I want to be found in bookstores. I want to be told my story is excellent. My characters believable. My scenes intriguing. I want people to tell me that my writing is a million times better than anything I wrote ten years ago and ask me why didn’t I stick to it back then because I could have written this a long time ago.

I want to be told this, because it’s not what I think of myself. I think, “What else have you written, Amanda? A couple pieces of flash fiction almost ten years ago – romance fiction at that – and you think you can just step into the world of fantasy writing? You think you can call yourself even remotely ready for any sort of publishing just because you’ve managed to write 50,000 words? Crappy words I might add. Words that suck and are going to need editing a dozen times. Call it quits now. You don’t even have a chance at publishing traditionally anyway. Those publishers are going to chew you up and spit you out. You have no online presence. You have no style. You have no talent. You haven’t even developed your own writing voice yet. Do you really think anyone is going to be even remotely interested?”

To which I reply to myself, “But I’m interested. Every time I go back and read previous chapters I become engrossed in it. I want to keep reading as if I’m reading someone else’s work. Doesn’t that count for something?” That’s when I start getting impatient. I want to start editing what I have so far. I get excited and I think maybe, just maybe, I might be able to do this.

That’s when my self doubt comes back and gives me the same argument as before. Instead, what I need to do is get back into the mindset I had in April. Write for the joy of it. To say I’ve finished a novel and be proud. Then take a step back and breathe. After some time away, I can come back and go through the first edit. Only then should I start thinking about possible publishing. And as much as the thought feels like a needle stabbing me in the heart, I need to forget about TOR. Sure I can submit an inquiry, but I shouldn’t expect or even hope for any sort of positive response. This is my first novel after all.

I know that may sound pessimistic, but I’ve always been one to think “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.” If I get lucky, I get lucky. It’s not like I don’t know the amount of work involved before I will even be close to that point. I’ve done my research. The problem is, I’ve done so much research that I think I’ve overloaded my brain.

What I need to do now is re-wire it. Go back to the excitement of April. The can-do-it attitude and the thought of “I don’t care if this is published. I just want to finally say I’ve done it.”

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Free Writing

Help! Photoshop Has Sucked Me In!

Since winning Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve taken a week long break from writing. I must admit, on one hand it feels good not having the pressure of needing to write every day to make sure I keep up with my word count. On the other hand, I miss it. My story still hasn’t left my mind. So starting on Monday I’ll get back to writing every day.

You can tell that I’ve still been distracted with my book this week. I’ve spent countless hours in Photoshop putting together my book cover as well as a map of the land of Teralinda. I’ll be including the map in the first few pages of the book. I’ve also debated putting in a few drawings of the items mentioned in the book. Namely my main character’s necklace as well as her dagger. Both are pretty essential to the book, so it’s nice to have a visual reference for them.

Here is what I have for my book cover so far. I used the template provided by LuLu.com. They have a wonderful reward for those who win NaNoWriMo: A FREE first edition printed hard cover of the novel you wrote for WriMo. I hope to at least have the entire first draft finished before the deadline of August 31st so I can take advantage of this offer. Although it won’t be fully edited, just seeing it in print will be truly overwhelming. Heck, just printing everything I have so far from my own printer is overwhelming.

SoulWeaverBookCover

Soul Weaver book cover version 1.0

 

Major thanks to calthyechild from Deviant Art for creating a great way to make your own maps. Including permission to use commercially or non-commercially. I had been searching for weeks for software to create a map like this. I nearly shelled out $100 until I found this little gem. I cannot thank this person enough for offering such a simple way to create a customizable map like this. I may tweak it a bit more, but I really like what I have so far. I’ll be using it again for the sequel (title to be determined) as well.

Soul Weaver map of Teralinda version 1.0

Soul Weaver map of Teralinda version 1.0

 

So even though I haven’t been writing this week, I have been working on the novel itself. I’m actually looking forward to Monday when I start writing again. I think I easily have another 10-20k more words to write. Knowing me, it will be even longer than that. I’ll likely double what I have so far, which is quite a bit. That’s one huge stack of paper waiting to be edited!

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Soul Weaver after Camp NaNoWriMo

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Free Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 23 – 41k+

Last night I busted 40k for Camp WriMo. For some reason I don’t seem to be as proud of that as I was of 25k. I now know I won’t be satisfied until I hit 50k. I’m in the homestretch now, though. I’ve done my best to keep above the daily goal. My first weekend have been the only two days so far that I was unable to do so, but only by a few words, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

As I write this novel, I know I’m going to end up with much more than 58,233 words (which is my current goal for WriMo purposes.) While I’m not sure if I’ll get to the 100k mark, I do think I can easily get between 60-80k with what I have left to write.

I’ve also decided to re-work my chapters once again. I’m pushing 40 right now and I think I’ve just hit the halfway point (and slightly beyond.) I could probably get away with halving the current chapter count and still having close to 30+ chapters when it’s all said and done.

I must say, it’s been hard keeping my inner editor at bay while pushing this out for WriMo. While it gets easier with each passing day, any time I need to look back at previous chapters, my inner editor likes to pop out and say hi. Most of the time I beat him back with sweets or hot tea, but I have to make sure I’m not too abusive to him otherwise he may not be so happy to help when I need him. 🙂

 

I must add that this past weekend brought some pretty cool news. I managed to get in touch with an old writing friend of mine who I have not talked to in nearly 10 years. I admit that due to our playing catch up, my writing suffered for it. Not that I’m complaining at all. I was still able to keep above the daily goal, so I think it’s only fair that I allowed myself some “me” time right?

What’s really motivating to me, is seeing that my old writing buddy – Aaron Steinmetz – has managed to go much further with his writing, than I ever dreamed I could with my own. He has 4 novels published already. One of which is a collection of short stories that he wrote around the time I came into his life. It’s been fun reading through them again, and once WriMo is over, I’ll be taking a look at his other novels. I know if they’re anything like what he used to write, I will love them. So be on the lookout for a review on them. In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to his Amazon. I invite you to take a gander at his works and support a dear good friend and fellow indie publisher by purchasing one of his books. I’ve been told that one of them has been dedicated to yours truly. 😉

 

So with 9 days left before WriMo is over, I have less than 9k words left to go. I have no doubt that I will be able to knock those out within the next couple days and consider myself an early winner. My inner editor has been, for the most part, pretty tame. As an added bonus, now I have another person on my cheering squad to motivate me to finish this thing (even bigger bonus that he’s already been in my shoes so I’ll probably use that to my advantage – Sorry Aaron!) I’m looking forward to doing NaNoWriMo with him in November. He’s managed to win the past 4 years of November WriMos, so I have someone to look up to!

 

My next blog will likely be once WriMo is over. With any luck, the title will be “NaNoWriMo: Winner!” or the like.

Good luck to the rest of you out there also doing Camp WriMo. Push yourself and reach the goal you’ve set for yourself! Dedicate the time to do it, and just put one word after the other. Even if it’s crap. You can always edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page.

snoopy writing

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Guest Blog

NaNoWriMo Isn’t Proper Writing

And that is what all of the Nano writers are doing without any concern for the level of craft they have reached. They are all learning. And they are writing. And that’s a good thing. … They will get better. They will be good. And one day the Aspiring Author, will be an Author.

(Emphasis added)

I love this so much. Sooooo much. 🙂

I feel like she was talking directly to my heart and I love her for that.

stirlingwriter

I’ve heard this many times and often with some venom behind it. Of course it isn’t true. If you write then you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting studiously in a library or running naked in Bermuda, if you write, you are a writer. And please note here, those of you who’ve produced several thousand words so far, if you do it, you are it, no ifs, no buts, and no Aspiring.

But, the mind splurge of Nano produces some truly awful work, you say? Well, yes, yes it does. It produces first drafts, which as Hemingway always reminds us are…horse apples. But some of those pieces of work will be edited and revised and turned into really great work. Some won’t. Some people have the temerity to enjoy the whole experience and miss out on the angst altogether. Some people just aren’t ready to be…

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Free Writing

Making a mental list: Questions from a new writer

I am now 10 days into Camp NaNoWriMo and I’ve been quite proud of myself for sticking to my writing. I’ve written something every day. Even on the days I didn’t think I could. My current stats stand as thus:

  • Total word count for NaNoWriMo: 18498
  • Total word count for Soul Weaver 26,729 (I had 8,233 already started before WriMo started)
  • My average words per day is 1,849
  • With a target word count of 50,000 words, at my current rate I will finish on April 28th.

I love seeing the stats the website provides. Not to mention the little target image that moves your arrow closer to the center with each updated word count. I’m so close to the 50% mark I can taste it.

I am, however, beginning to pile up a mental stack of questions about my novel.

 

What category is my novel?

I know I’m writing fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. Not just for writing either. Reading (Sword of Truth series anyone?), games (hello fellow D&D, WoW, and Guild Wars players), and role playing (yes, I have dressed up for DragonCon before. Twice. I still have yet to LARP but not because I don’t want to…..). Fantasy is where my heart lies. Thus, that is the genre I am writing.

However, I have no idea if I’m writing a YA novel, or an adult fiction novel. How do I know?

I’ve read that your word count is what determines the category of your novel, but I must disagree. How could a 50,000 word count fantasy fiction novel that includes sex, rape, drugs, murder, etc be considered a YA novel?

My goal is to have at least 65k-85k words. I’ll likely end up having more, considering I’m almost at the halfway point of 50k already and I’m not quite halfway through with the novel itself. I don’t plan on having much of the afore mentioned scenes in my book, but there will be reference to it. If my novel winds up being 60,000 or so words, would it be considered YA? I wouldn’t consider it a bad thing if my novel was classified as YA, but how do I really know? It can’t possibly be all about the word count.

I have a feeling that based off of the MC in my novel, and the way she handles situations in the beginning, that Soul Weaver will be categorized as a YA novel. I think I’m okay with that, but that just means I’ll have to keep in mind that I can’t get too graphic when it comes to the mature content. (Maybe I’ll save that for a romance novel later on down the line.)

 

How long should my chapters be?

My other question is chapter division. When I first started writing, I had a word count goal of 5,000 words per chapter. I’m not sure where I pulled that number from, but that was my goal. For the first 3 chapters I stuck to it. Until I hit the 4th chapter and it wound up barely hitting 1,500 words. I didn’t feel as though I should add more to it just for the sake of word count, so I left it as is.

When I started looking into what the average chapter length is and I found this blog that said

New writers tend to assume that a chapter must be a certain set length in order to maintain the average novel length of around 80,000 – 95,000 words, but in truth, chapters can be as long or as short as you need them to be.  There is no formula.  You don’t have to pick a number like 80,000 and then divide it by 30 chapters to give you 2500 words a chapter (average).

The only thing you need to apply where chapter lengths and novel lengths are concerned, is common sense.

Taking that into account, I went through my novel and found places where I could break up the current chapters I had into nearly 3 separate chapters. Had I kept with my 5k word count goal per chapter I would only wind up with around 10-12 chapters for the entire book. It just didn’t sit right with me. So now, at over 25,000 words I have 20 complete chapters with an average word count of around 1,300. Which when finished, would produce around 50-60 chapters. That seemed a little better. Plus I thought that with shorter chapters, it would make it easier for someone to read a quick chapter before going to bed, on their lunch break, or whatnot. Much like the Sorcerer’s Ring series by Morgan Rice.

 

Self publishing vs traditional publishing?

The last question I’ve been asking myself is “What do I want to do with this novel when I’m done with it?”

Do I want to try to get it published? Or go the route of self publishing?

I don’t have any misconceptions about my writing. It’s not like I think it’s phenomenal, incredibly unique, or that it will wind up being the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. Anyone who has read my old writing can see that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to writing (although I’d like to think that what I’m writing now blows away anything I wrote almost 10 years ago). Plus, I’ve read somewhere on the interwebs that your first novel is almost always going to suck, but you wind up learning from it and have more success with your subsequent novels.

I know I’m nowhere near finishing this book. I have a lot more to write and even more to edit. I have the beta reader phase (which I hadn’t even heard of until recently. I still need to read more on how that works.) There’s more editing and then what? That’s when I either start submitting to publishers or start making my book available on Amazon.com or wherever I plan to market it myself.

 

I know I will continue to add to my list of questions the further along I go. These are just the questions that have been floating around in my mind for the past week. I have a lot more work to do, and a lot more to think about. The nice thing is knowing that I’m not alone. There are tons of other writers out there like me who have the same questions.

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