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 · writing

Writing, Goals, & Question: Weekly Update – Is my WIP Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, or both?

OMG! Such a great writing week! I wrote around 7K words and expect to write at least that much this week 🙂

I wrote on my new WIP. Which, so far, only has an abbreviation, TDB. In my last monthly update, I let you know it was an epic high fantasy. I’ve always been a little confused about how epic and high fantasy are different, so I poked around the internet for a bit and found these two definitions pretty well sum up the vast majority of the opinions I found.

Epic Fantasy:

*Generally tales of a young nobody, thrown unexpectedly into a massive “Good vs. Evil” struggle, where he must learn to uncover his own latent heroism to save the day. Often also includes a “grail-finding” quest – regardless of whether the ‘grail’ is an icon, a person, a magical talisman or any other form of symbolic token.

High Fantasy:

*The type of fantasy that most people expect when they regard ‘fantasy’ as a genre. Includes lords and ladies, medieval styles and settings, kingdoms and castles, and dragons and knights. High fantasy, while generally rooted in classical mythology and medieval European legends, focuses its themes on Good versus Evil. Sometimes called “Epic fantasy”. Often plotted to encompass three or more books.

*I found similar definitions in many places, but decided to use this specific definition from this source

TDB fits pretty darn well into the Epic catagory. Actually, I think I check every box in that definition at one point or another.

But now I’m going back and forth on whether or not it’s High fantasy. TDB has a medieval style, though it’s not a classical medieval setting. I have a kingdom, but my royals live in a palace not a castle. Yet, there are fortified cities throughout the land. There are plenty of creatures lurking in the dark and some in the light, but none of them are dragons. And there are armies with ranked soldiers and such, but not specifically knights.

Right after I started seriously writing again, I watched Brandon Sanderson’s BYU writing lectures on YouTube. I think one of his students asked his take on the differences between these sub-genres or maybe he just mentioned in passing, that he considered anything not of Earth, and specifically with “alien” races to be high fantasy. If I take that alone as the definition, then TDB is high fantasy.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the subject. What do you think the difference between these sub-genres are? Do you even care? Does this definition affect whether you pick a book up or not? Tell me all the things 😛

Take care!

🙂

General · Music

Music playlist for From Stars, Come Dragons

Well, my day, week, month… You name it, was made today. A super awesome Twitter friend, Avery Ames, (<– Click it!) offered, in a Tweet to make a playlist for the first two people to reply to her offer. I missed the window for the first and second slot, but Avery was kind enough to extend the offer and make a list for From Stars, Come Dragons.

After giving a little information about the book and the characters, and just a few days, Avery sent me this YouTube playlist:

Here’s the Spotify playlist if you prefer:

Now, Avery made this list for my character Libby, who I described like this: She’s summer when it’s always winter. Has a smile you can’t refuse.

From that, Avery made the list of upbeat songs focusing on joy and encouragement. What Avery didn’t know, was how well many of these songs captured the whole book.

Now, From Stars, Come Dragons is not an upbeat book. It’s not depressing or anything either, it’s just very much… life. Ups and downs and how the character’s deal with them.

I’m Good by The Mowgli’s was the one that punched me in the gut. I had never heard this song before. And HOLY CRAP! The lyrics capture FSCD so well. Henry, Gary, Libby, Karen, and Elsie are all doing their best to be good, to live life like they should, but more often than not, this is just the lie they tell themselves to keep moving.

Thank you, Avery Ames. You made me smile and cry all at once and I ❤ you so much for it!

Literally, me with this playlist

 

Monthly Updates · writing

Writing: Monthly Update for January

It’s the first of the month! Time for another writing update!

Querying:

While I’m deep in the revising trenches preparing to publish, querying will be on hold.

Current WIPs:

From Stars, Come Dragons (The Seven Stars #1) – Had a great month with this. I received feedback from my content editor. Not as bad as I expected. I spent two weeks revising and handed my revisions in. This guy is is now back with my content editor and I’m waiting on my next round of feedback!

What revisions did I make?

There were some clarity issues. People in one place suddenly appearing across the room with no indication they had moved. It was a bit disorienting.

No structural changes. But I did add and change some minor world building things to allow for the development of other characters and the direction the series is going.

General clean up! It had been many months since I touched this manuscript. My writing has improved a lot in those months. There were several passages that were clunky. Descriptions that were too shallow or on the nose. Not that I went purple with my prose or anything. That’s not how I write. It just needed beefed up a bit to bring you into the scene better.

Title coming soon (The Seven Stars #2) – The beginning of January, when FSCD landed on my editor’s desk, I dove into book two of this series! I’m having a great time with it. I love where it’s going! As of this morning I’ve already written 16,752 words. It’s coming right along. My goal is to finish the rough draft by the end of February. Though, revising FSCD could push that back. Publishing comes first!

 

Reading:

Read two books in January, which means I’m on track with my 2018 reading goal!

Below, I included my reviews of the two books I read in January. TBH, I wouldn’t say I review books as much as I give my initial thoughts after closing it. Anywho, here they are!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson51kirZzj7BL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

I’m not really sure what to say. A beautiful story told even more beautifully. Yet… I was left feeling off balance. Not bad, necessarily, just… Off. A lot happened in this book for it being a little less than 300 pages and yet, I didn’t feel like anything important was missing. Then came the end and the epilogue, and I just felt like there was so much more could have been told between them.

I suppose my only complaint is the one I should have… I wanted more.

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Goodreads rating: 4 stars (I really wish they’d implement at least half stars)

4.9 really, but can’t quite bring myself to round up. This was such a fantastic journey. It was so deliciously dark. I even teared up at one point. The poor children! Truly, I loved this book. Until the last chapter. Not that I didn’t like it at that point. I was just so far on the edge of my seat throughout, I thought for sure the end would push me off. But I just felt like… is that it?

I still highly recommend it! It’s a journey worth going on. The fairytale telling. The characters. OMG the Defaiders! The use of religion… Deep breaths… I don’t know if the author was inspired by it or not, and this story is not this, but the tone, many times, reminded me of the movie The Village. I’d say if you like that movie, you’ll like this book. Just don’t expect the M. Night twist 😉

Ok that’s it. Really liked this book. Probably read it again sometime.

Beta Reading:

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for beta reading in January. I have volunteered to read for one of my beta readers. Should see that soon and read it in February.

BLOGS:

This week I set a new goal to read more blogs! To keep myself honest, I’m also tweeting about the blogs I read. I’m doing pretty well with it so far. Here are the links to the tweets about the blogs I read this week.

S.E. Isaac

Lindsay Newton

 

Well… I think that does it. Some ups and downs, (let’s be honest, mostly ups) but all in all a great month!
How was your January?

General · writing

Writing and Goals: An even minier update?

Well, I thought things would get back to normal after my son got over Influenza A, but nothing is ever that easy, is it?

Poor kid had one good day last week, then came down with the stomach flu. 😦

Fortunately, he’s come out on the other side a little tired, but functional. Ready for life to be normal again. And so am I!

It was not at all a normal week for anyone in our house, and sickness wasn’t the only reason, but I digress. And because of the abnormalities, I didn’t get any new writing done for the second week in a row.

BUT…

I did get my revision of FROM STARS, COME DRAGONS done and turned into my content editor last night. ON SCHEDULE!

Now that I’m waiting for new feedback, I can start writing again. Our lives are still a bit uprooted and we’re trying to find new footing, but I’m shooting for the moon with my goal this week to try to get myself back on track!

My word count goal this week (always available in the What’s the buzz? widget in the sidebar) is 8K words.

Image result for wish me luck gif

And writing isn’t the only goal I have this week. I would also like to read more. And not just books. I’d really like to read more blogs. I follow so many now and I haven’t had the time to read any. And, to be honest, reading them kind of intimidates me. I can’t tell you why. I know it’s weird, but it’s true.

So, this week, I’m going to set another goal. I’m going to try to read one blog post everyday. And when I finish reading one, I’ll tweet about it! Keep me honest 😉

What are your goals this week?

General · writing

Raising the Stakes has me like hmm…

Just had sort of an ah-ha moment listening to the the Writing Excuses podcast. For those of you not familiar with this cast, it’s a group of published writer, from different genres, discussing different aspects of the writing process. The episode I was listening to, that made me go hmm… was 12.41: Raising the Stakes.

So, this cast was all about what a writer should and shouldn’t do to raise the stakes in their novel to keep the reader engaged without wearing them out. It was all well and good. I was hearing a lot of things I had heard before, then Mary Anne, I believe (it’s very hard for me to put a name to a voice. Not to mention another author on this cast is named Mary) said this about a book called Hild by Nicola Griffiths…

“Mostly it’s very domestic. It’s about a little girl learning how to navigate her world,[…] but you can feel the looming disaster.”

This immediately made me examine my own work (specifically From Stars, Come Dragons,) because I have often worried it focuses too much on the domestic and not enough on the fantastic, at least at first. I raise the stakes for my main character, Henry, very slowly and I worry I will lose people looking for blood.

Then Mary chimes in after her and starts speaking to the plight of new authors and how they feel the need to throw everything at the reader right away to keep them engaged. And how that isn’t the best way to get the reader engaged either because, where do you go from there? How do you raise the stakes, when they’re already so high? But then, this is what most people who read fantasy expect. Or so it seems.

Not me. Not always, anyway.

I love fantasy. But my favorite fantasy books are the ones that burn the slowest. The most recent example I have of this is Cybele’s Secret by Juliette Marillier. Everything in this novel burns slowly. The romance, the plot, the magic, the character development, all of it. It’s now one of my favorite books. This is probably why I tend to write this way. Where the fantasy, and sometimes the plot, takes somewhat of a backseat to the characters and what they’re going through and how what they’re going through affects them achieving or not achieving their goals. But if this isn’t what fantasy readers expect, what do you do?

My answer is, do it anyway. Write what you love. Write the story that begs to be written, in the way it demands to be written. But be mindful of the consequences. Know you’re story will not appeal to everyone’s taste and hope it reaches the audience who will love it for what it is.

I’m happy with my writing. I love my book. I just worry, like I’m sure most writers do, how readers will react to the story that wouldn’t leave me alone.

Anyway, this probably wasn’t super coherent or sensible, but that podcast hit really close to home and I felt the need to spew my thoughts.

I Would love to know what you all think of this and how you handle keeping the reader engaged to the end. Or more to the point, how you deal with the worry of not being able to keep them engaged. And what keeps you engaged as a reader? Is all about the action?

So, yeah… Hit me up with a reply. I’d love to discuss!

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