General · writing

A new brand of writer’s block

Recently, I discovered that I have absolutely no idea how to share my writing journey.

My husband says my posts are great. No one else has complained about them, but I’m not happy with them. For example, my monthly updates are copy, paste, replace old info with new info, repeat. I think the structure of the post is good, but I’m not happy with the content. With how limited my expression of my journey is.

The problem is, I can’t say too much about what I’m working on, because, in the past, telling too much about something I haven’t finished writing has killed those projects. I’m scared to death to lose the passion for what I’m writing, that when I sit down to share my progress, I freeze up.

Now, I know I don’t need to share my writing progress on my blog. I could just write in a journal or something that no one sees, but making it public keeps me honest. For example, if I’m in a writing slump or have been too busy or just haven’t written in awhile, because I’d rather be doing other things, I can easily ignore a my private journal. It can sit on my desk, gathering dust and be forgotten without consequence. That isn’t true when I start making public statements of my goals and progress. Doing this motivates me.

Also, I crave conversation. I can’t wait until this process becomes a dialogue. I want to have a back and forth in the comments so badly. xD I don’t only want to share what I’m doing, I want to hear how your writing is going. How what you read inspired your writing. What you’re struggling with and how you’re getting through it. Celebrate your accomplishments. I think that will be so much fun!

So, how do I do this? How do I talk about my writing progress without killing it?

I don’t know, honestly.

You know, I told myself I wasn’t going to make this post and just write a writing update post in an effort to fix this issue. Yet, here I am. Avoiding the issue by talking about it. *le sigh*

Oh, well. I’m going to post this. Get it out of my head. Then, maybe I can move on.

This is a strange kind of writer’s block.

How about you? Do you have trouble sharing about your writing? Are there certain things you leave out when you do share? Why do you leave out some things and not others? Let me know in the comments!

And take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

General · Reading

My hate to love relationship with books

I’m a slow reader. If I could devote all my free time to reading I could probably get through 4 books a month, but 2 is more realistic. Thing is, that’s speed reading compared to what I used to read. When I couldn’t read even 1 book in a year… Or a decade.

It bothered me a lot. I felt there wasn’t a point to me reading, because it took me so long to get through a book. Which slowed me down even more, because I’d set a book down, frustrated by how slowly I was reading and that I kept falling asleep (not because I was bored, but because the physical act of reading put me to sleep) that by the time I got to the end I’d forgotten the beginning.

This, on top of many school/teacher related discouragements about WHAT I liked to read (“Fantasy isn’t real literature”) drove me to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to be a reader, because I didn’t read the “right” books, reading put me to sleep, and I was way too slow.

My husband tried for a long time to help me get past these terrible thoughts, but I’d already decided I was a lost cause.

Until about 2 1/2 years ago, when I decided I wanted to write a novel (which is a whole story in and of itself I will tell sometime,) and I knew, if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to read. (It can’t be a coincidence that I gave up reading and writing at about the same time…)

It was not easy. All the problems I had were still problems. The worst of them being falling asleep, no matter where I was, after no more than a page or two.

So, how did I fix this? I trained. Yes… Just like an athlete training their muscles to run further or jump higher, I trained my brain to read longer.

Everyday, or every chance I got, I sat down with my book (not in bed, since we all know that triggers the brain into sleep mode) and read just to the point I felt I might fall asleep. But never to the point I DID fall asleep. Then I put the book down and did other things.

It was difficult to do this and be OK with it. I worried I’d fall back into the old habit of getting frustrated I wasn’t reading fast enough, put the book down and never pick it up again. I think what made a difference though, was immersing myself not only in reading, but in writing. I was brainstorming, outlining, and started my first rough draft. I also discovered BookTube and Brandon Sanderson’s BYU lectures. I wasn’t just reading, I was neck deep in the bookish world and it kept me going.

After a few days, I was reading a few more sentences. A couple weeks went by and I was reading several pages. After a couple of months, I was reading multiple chapters in one sitting.

It worked!

And now, I fall asleep reading, but only because I stay up way too late to read just one more chapter.

The thing is, I’m still a slow reader, compared to many long lived readers, and I don’t think that will ever change. But now, I don’t want it to. All I ever wanted was to enjoy reading. I do now! Reading a book I love, slowly means I have more time with it and I love that!

I don’t know. This was on my mind, so I thought I’d share.

How about you? Have you always been a reader or did it take time to fall in love with books?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

short stories · writing

Short Story – Under the Amethyst Sky

I stood in my watch tower, under the amethyst sky, waiting for them to appear.

A chill spread under my skin. The closer they came, the quicker the ice ran through my veins. Soon, the clouds would bend to my heart. Take the shape only I was meant to give them. But only for a moment, before turning to powder and dusting the earth in a delicate, cold flurry.

I looked over the railing at the crowd that had gathered on the beach below. They were a sea of skin and little else. They didn’t feel the cold as I did. Where I was covered from head to toe, the others were scantly clothed, leaving as much of their skin as the Heavens allowed exposed to receive the most from the blessing.

Being a Sculptor, I no longer needed the monthly blessing. Good thing. I would have frozen to death if I had. But I’d have gladly given up my eternal blessing to be on the ground. To be with my friends. To dance and laugh and play with them. All of them, but especially, Theo.

The clouds rippled like a rock had been thrown into the sky on a distant horizon. This marked the end of the previous continent’s Sculpting.

A shiver raised goosebumps all over my body.

They’d be here soon.

“Kaia.”

I practically threw myself over the railing. “Theo.”

Though I knew him by the thick wave of garnet hair he kept short and neatly combed out of his eyes, he looked different. His boyish figure cut away to reveal the man he had become.

He called up to me. I couldn’t hear but every other word over the chattering crowd, but I could see the worry furrowing his brow.

Nearly a year had passed since we last spoke, before I had to leave family and friends behind to live at the abbey with the other Sculptors.

Too long.

Whether he could hear me or not, I called back, “I’ve missed you.”

Before the tears dropped from my cheeks, Theo was halfway up the twenty foot tower.

“Theo, no,” I cried as he hurdled the railing.

He stood before me. Taller than I remembered. And I’d never seen his charcoal eyes so full of sadness. I knew I shouldn’t, but I ached to reach out for him. To comfort him.

The Sculptors were only to think of the Heavens, but when he moved toward me, I damned the Heavens and threw my arms around him.

He lifted me. My hood fell back and sandalwood and sage embraced me when the wind caught at his back as our lips met.

He was summer to my winter. His lips hot and supple, mine like ice. But only for a moment before his mouth, moving in a familiar rhythm I thought I’d never feel again, thawed them.

He lowered me onto the deck. I wanted to beg him not to, but I knew he had to.

I stood on my toes as he held my gaze, his fingers still playing in my amethyst hair as our lips parted.

“You can’t be here,” I breathed. “The Heavens—”

“Have already punished me,” he said.

My body stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“I had to warn you.” The worry was in his voice now. His lips quivered as he spoke. “And tell you, how sorry I am.”

He dropped to his knees and held me around the waist, pressing his cheek against my stomach.

Steam rose as I placed my ice cold hand against the hard line of his jaw. “What would you ever have to be sorry for?” I couldn’t imagine. His love for me had always been gentle. Kind beyond measure.

He looked up at me. Shame written in the wrinkle in his brow. “I was curious,” he said. “I’d only ever watched from above and I wanted to see the blessing as you saw it.” He stood and gestured to the crowd. “Feel it as you felt it.”

“From above?” There wasn’t time to process what he’d revealed to me. No time for him to answer my questions.

He could only explain, “The Heavens granted my request, but only to observe.” His tentative smile threatened to undo me. “Then I met you.”

My breath caught with the knowing that overcame me.

I was too young to be a Sculptor. We had a whole life ahead of us, Theo and I. Then my predecessor died too soon. More than fifty years. The other Sculptors claimed he had forsaken the Heavens and they had punished him for it. Why else would the Heavens have taken him before I’d had the life every Last Born was promised?

Because my predecessor wasn’t the one being punished.

We were.

I tried to form words. To make sense of the being before me.

The steam rose again as I lay my hand on the firm muscle over his heart. He was Heaven-sent, but a man’s heart still beat in his chest.

Tears pricked the backs of my eyes. Anger. Sadness. Betrayal. Not by Theo, but by the Heavens I’d been forced to devote my life. The life I should have had with Theo.

Fire burned in my belly, threatening to melt the ice in my veins. The ice I needed to perform the Sculpting.

Panic widened Theo’s eyes as my touch warmed against his skin. “You can’t let them see your heart like this,” he said. “They must see your absolute devotion to them, or they will kill you.”

He knew, as well as I did, I could never forget him.

There would always be a place in my heart for Theo.

Ice fought with the fire and I knew… They were here.

I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t stop loving him.

No.

I wouldn’t stop loving him.

He was here to warn me. But why bother, if there wasn’t a way to save me?

I locked my eyes on his.

Standing tall, ready for anything, I said, “Quickly, then.”

He lifted his hand between us. Gently, his fingertips touched my chest and a light bloomed over my heart.

He leaned in, brushed his lips against mine and whispered, “I’ll always love you, Kaia. Good bye.”

#

My eyes fixed on the sky as the clouds rolled, forming colossal, icy sea creatures. Dolphins, sea lions, otters, and orcas. A scene from a picture book my mother read to me when I was a child. They swam toward me. Then, when their shapes were complete, they stopped.

My heart beat once, and they shattered.

Flakes of ice floated down. Speckled, then melted into the skin of the people below. The blessing complete.

The people embraced one another. Cheered the Heavens together, while I stood alone. Another year on my watch tower, wondering why my eyes were drawn again to the garnet haired man, under the amethyst sky.

Book tags

Book Tag Tuesday – Inside Out Tag

BookTag

This tag is short and sweet! Everyone should do it! 🙂

The original tag is from Kristina Horner’s YouTube channel, but I found it on Sarah’s @ BookHookedNook Check them out!

Joy: Which book brings you the most joy?

I hugged this book before I set it down every time I finished reading for the day. It was such a beautiful story and it doesn’t hurt that this was a gift from my husband. ♥

Disgust: Which book grossed you out the most?

Need I say more…

Fear: The book that scared you more than anything?

I’m not easily scared by book anymore, but when I read this when I was about 12 years old and babysat a lot… It was scary as hell xD

Sadness: Which book made you cry the hardest?

CrookedKingdom

I won’t say why, because spoilers… But my heart broke so hard!

Anger: Which book pissed you off? 

This book… I hated this book so much by the time I finished it. Everything about Celeana pissed me off. And there were just so many things that happened that felt cheap or like a deus ex machina or done just to keep things interesting. Having said this, I’ve read a lot more of SJM’s books and love them. Especially, her ACOTAR series. IDK. Maybe I should give this another chance. LOL

I tag

Krystin @ Here’s the Fucking Twist

Vanessa @ Through Prose Tinted Pages

Amanda @ Peaks and Pages

And anyone else reading this post!

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

 

 

General

Monday Motivation

My motivation today: when the work day ends, I’m on vacation until next Monday!

Not that I’m going to be relaxing much, but a lot of fun will be had when it’s over. And, hopefully, a lot of writing!

Tonight, we’re taking our son to his first 4-H meeting. Just a meet and greet, but he’s pumped!

Tuesday’s just going to be busy while I ride along with my husband on his regular Tuesday duties.

Wednesday is going to be the best day! We’re going to St. Paul, MN for the Fierce Reads event. Mary E. Pearson and a few other authors will be there for a panel and signing! I’m so excited to get my copies of The Remnant Chronicles and an insert for Dance of Thieves (August release) signed!

We’ll come home on Thursday. After that, I hope to spend a lot of time writing!

What this week promises, certainly has me motivated!

What about you? What’s your Monday Motivation?

Ann Marie Swaim icon

 

Monthly Updates · writing

Writing: Monthly update for April

It’s the first of the month, or close enough lol Time for another writing update!

Querying:

Things happened. Not going to go into detail today, but I am no longer going to be publishing with Fyre and Brimstone. So, I’m taking From Stars, Come Dragons back on the road! I submitted it to 2 agents and 2 publishers. Have already been rejected by one agent. Onward!

Current WIPs:

From Stars, Come Dragons – Submitting again.

 

TDB – I really need to get a proper working title for this thing. If you don’t remember, this is my epic fantasy novel. I made some great progress on this in April. I wrote several thousand words and am currently over 21K. I’m not worrying about getting this done too quickly. I’m a pretty impatient person and the fact I’m not anxious about getting this done is a weird and good thing. So, I’m embracing it.

Short Stories:

April was the beginning of my short story journey! Why? Because I want to put something out there. I feel awful that I’d hyped the publication of my novel and have had to go back on that. This is my way of making up for it, and to hopefully get some feedback to improve my writing. Seriously, when I post my first short, Under the Amethyst Sky on May 15th, please please please give me your honest opinions. It’s the only way for me to improve and I so badly want to.

These shorts are not going to be professionally edited. I can’t afford that, but they will have gone through several revisions and at least two critiques. One with my husband and another with my critique partner, Lindsay. This should give you a polished product that will be fun to read!

So, for the shorts I’m actually working on…

Under the Amethyst Sky – Will probably do another revision before releasing on May 15th. If you didn’t see already, here’s the cover!Under the Amethyst Sky

I doctored, slightly, a free image I found on Canva.com and used the Canva tools to add the text. Great site! Highly recommend!

Short Story 2 (for release on June 15th) – No title for this one yet, but I have started writing it! Another fantasy. TBH, most, if not all, of my stories will be fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. lol This one has witches!

Reading:

Read two books in April, which means I’m still on track with my 2018 reading goal! Though, technically, I finished the second book on May 1. I’m cheating a little including it here. xD

This month I only included my Goodreads review for one of the books I read. I didn’t include the other, because it contains a lot of spoilers. I did link to my Goodreads page and you can find my review there if you wish to read a spoiler review.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads rating: 4 starsACourtofMistandFury

Goodreads profile (If anyone knows how to link directly to a review, could you please tell me? I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks!)

 

 

Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim) by Juliet Marillier

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

DreamersPoolI can’t express how much I loved this book. Sure I figured out the mystery early on, but this book is absolutely about the journey. The characters pulled me in. Grim is one of my favorite characters ever! And I love the bad guy in this. Not the typical baddie. I love this and loved Cybele’s Secret. I’m getting more of her books!!

 

 

 

BLOGS:

I’m still behind on this. May should be better since I’m starting to find a groove with my writing schedule, the changes and added responsibility at my day job, and everyday family activities. Our lives are nuts! Maybe, one day, I’ll let you in on how crazy and abnormal our schedule is, but don’t have the time today. lol

 

Well… I think that does it. Some ups and downs. One down I would have liked to avoid, but all in all an OK month. At least writing got done, and a lot more than I had expected!

How was your April?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

Book tags

Book Tag Tuesday – The Book Feels Tag

BookTag

So, this is a thing I’m going to try to do regularly. We’ll see lol

Taylor from Tay’s Infinite Thoughts is the creator of this tag. The only rule is to link to the person who tagged you and to the creator. I wasn’t tagged, that I know of. I saw this tag on Michelle‘s (FirstBookLove) blog and thought I’d give it a go! Make sure to click the links!

A Book/series that made you smile or laughSwolyBible.jpg

I laughed out loud several times while reading this. The really funny thing is, there’s a lot of good information in here too. It’s tongue in cheek telling you to get your life together. I loved it.

A Book/series that made you sad or want to cryCrookedKingdom.jpg

I can’t say much more, because spoilers. Oh man did I cry.

A Book/series that you lovetiramisu

I will never stop loving this series. It’s such a beautiful story with an unexpected, but completely perfect ending.

A Book/series that you didn’t particularly likeThroneofglass.jpg

I read this series until about the middle of Queen of Shadows, then couldn’t go on. The thing is, though I hated the first book, I loved book 2 and 3. I just got bored with Queen of Shadows. I really wish I liked it more.

A book/series that was made into a movie that you likedHungerGames.jpg

Ok, so, I haven’t actually read the third book yet, but so far, I think the films are a great adaptation of the books.

A book/series that was made into a movie that you didn’t likeDarkly_Dreaming_Dexter.jpg

Cheating a little here, too. For one, it’s not a movie, but I couldn’t think of a movie that fit the bill. Two, I haven’t read the books, but I have read the synopsis for all of them. Yes… Spoilers and all. xD And while I love the first 4 or 5 seasons of Dexter, I hated the last couple so much it ruined the show for me. Then, after reading what the books were about, I can tell you, they went REALLY off script, so to speak, with the show. lol

A book/series you have mixed feelings about51kirZzj7BL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

Gosh, I want to love this book so much more, but the ending left me feeling a bit off. It wasn’t bad, but IDK, it felt rushed.

A book/series you haven’t read but are totally excited aboutDanceofThieves.jpg

I’m going to the Fierce Reads book tour signing in St. Paul on May 8th for the upcoming release! Mary will be talking and signing and I can’t wait. OMG!!!

A book/series that made you angryGraceling.jpg

The end of this made me so mad. Sure, Twilight is probably not the best example of how to be in a relationship, but IMO, this one’s worse. Also, how the baddie was defeated… Really? That? So disappointing. And it sucks I can only explain any of this with massive spoilers.

A book/series you feel like you can relate toDreamerspool.jpg

I’m only about 70% of the way though this book, but it is amazing. I find every character in this book relatable. I feel often like Blackthorn, wanting to get away from responsibility to do what I want to do. Grim being misjudged for how he looks. Oran unsure of his place in the world and worried he might be wasting his life living in a dream.

Have you read any of these books? How did they make you feel?

Also, I tag everyone who reads this! Please be sure to post a link to your answers in the comments 🙂

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly update

I got quite a bit done last week!

  1. I wrote and revised my short story to be released May 15th and am waiting on feedback from my critique partner, Lindsay.
  2. That’s right! I have a critique partner! Lindsay and I met via Twitter the beginning of this year. She’s been super supportive and she writes fantasy, too and I’m really excited to work with her. 😀
    1. Find Lindsay on Twitter and her website!
  3. I have a name for my first short story. I’ll announce it with the cover reveal on Wednesday this week! I can’t wait to show you guys!!
  4. Finally, I wrote ~3K words on TDB, my current novel WIP. I’m now over 21K for total word count!

On a scale of Not to Awesome, last week was

Hmm… That scale is a bit ambiguous. lol Oh, well.

Oh! And we went to the zoo! The baby giraffes played so hard. They were running all over. And, wow, are they light on their feet for such large, gangly animals.

Hope you all had a great week! And if not, I wish a better week to come ♥

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

If you didn’t see my last post [here,] I’ll give you a quick recap.

Starting in May, I plan to post a short story on the fifteenth of every month! I’m excited and a little nervous about this, but I think it will be good for me. A great way to keep me moving and hopefully improve my writing skills.

As soon as I can, I’ll reveal the title of the upcoming story. I also want to give each story a cover. So, not long after I reveal the title, I’ll reveal the cover.

Set your calendars! May 15, 2018 I’ll release the first short story on my blog!

Since I’ve been focusing on my short all week, I haven’t gotten any more writing done on my other WIPs. But that’s OK. I wrote a little over 1K words on my short story and started editing it!

This week, my goal is to finish editing my short, title it, and create the cover art. Once that’s done, I’ll jump back into writing on my epic fantasy, TDB, and brainstorm another short story idea.

WOO! So much to do!

How was your week? What are your goals?

Thanks for reading!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

Announcements · writing

Announcement: This is scary

So, I try to steer away from putting unneeded stress, by way of promises and deadlines, on myself. But… what the heck.

Here’s what I’m planning…

Short stories! And I’m going to publish them right here. Well, not right here. In this post. But here on my blog. Oh, you get the point. LOL

Now, I need to get my butt in gear, because I’d like to release one short story on the fifteenth of every month. Starting in May.

Though it’s not something I usually do, I’m giving myself a deadline to keep me moving. Of course, I will allow for extenuating circumstances. Health and family come first. Always.

So, mark your calendars! May 15, 2018

As soon as I have a title, I’ll let you know.

I’m pretty excited. I hope you are, too!excited.gif

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon