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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General · writing

Mini update

It’s been a rough week. Our son came down with Influenza A and ended up in the hospital with a 104.1F temperature. There are school things going on and he’s missed three and a half days at this point. My day job has been more demanding than normal. And I haven’t had a full, restful sleep in a week. I’m exhausted.

One thing I was able to celebrate, before all hell broke loose, was finishing the first revision of From Stars, Come Dragons since getting my editor’s feedback! Since then, I’ve started reading it again and making notes for then next revision. After that pass is done, I will send it back for round 2!

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As far as word count goes… Yeah… I failed. 😛 Unless you count the 1K-ish words I wrote while revising.

I Probably won’t get much written this week either, but I’m not changing my goal. I’m going to try. 🙂

And… That’s a wrap!

How was your week? Let me know in comment below!

General · writing

I’m setting a dangerous standard

This will be the second week in a row, and by happenstance coinciding with the weeks of the year, that I’ve done a weekly status update. Normally, I’d limit updates to monthly, but things are happening right along that make weekly updates possible.

What I’m trying to get at is, don’t get too used to this. LOL Not sure how long I can keep this up. ;P

Anywho… Last week was productive, but it didn’t feel that way. It was odd. I surpassed my word count goal for the week with well over 5K words written. YAY! My WIP (Book 2 in The Seven Stars series) is now over 12K words. Which for my first drafts is roughly a quarter finished! But, I don’t know, I felt like I did hardly anything writing-wise. And now I’m going to have to lower my word count goal for a few weeks, because…

I got my first round of feedback for From Stars, Come Dragons from my content editor!

ME:

excited-baby.gif

This, of course, makes revising my first priority. I guess I know what I’m doing tonight (and pretty much every night for the next couple of weeks!)

Remember, you can always check in with the What’s the buzz? widget, in the right sidebar, to see what I’m up to even when I’m not blogging 🙂  And if you have any questions about what I’m up to or what I have coming up in the future, please leave a question (reply) on the Ask Me Anything page and I’ll be happy to answer.

That’s it for now! TTYL

General · writing

Don’t discount cliche advice!

The last month, I’ve been having a blast chatting with a lovely lady on Twitter, Lindsay Newton, (visit her website too!) about our adventures in writing. We met through #Pitmad in December and have kept up sharing our ups and downs with submitting our work to agents and publishers. Today, I was in need of a blog post idea and Lindsay, I think unintentionally, gave me the inspiration for this beast of a post, through a Twitter DM, after asking me a simple question…

[Have you] been down this book road before?

This was my answer (revised and expanded after further reflection.) I hope you find it helpful. 🙂

From Stars, Come Dragons was my first submission of any kind.

I got to the point, after the beta reading phase and MANY more revisions, where I couldn’t work on it anymore without hiring an editor. Since I couldn’t afford to do that, I said, screw it, and started submitting.

The rejections trickled in over the first round of submissions. Then the second. Then the third. And when I couldn’t take anymore, I stopped submitting and tried reworking the plot, the POV, the tense, everything. However, I never finished a rewrite, because as I tried “fixing” it, I kept setting it aside for other WIPs (For a reference point to just how distracted I was, I wrote 3 first drafts and 2 partial first drafts, of different ideas, over the last year.)

Anyway, I was convinced FSCD was broken or bad, because of all the rejections. So, I shelved it for a few months while I finished, revised, and had another WIP beta read. And during that process, one of the beta readers broke me. They gave me the worst feedback ever. Rather than telling me what they thought of my MS, they told me how they would “fix” it. I haven’t touched that manuscript since. BUT… After working on other things and stewing over their feedback for awhile, the subjective nature of the industry hit me. Not long after that, #Pitmad came up and I said, screw it. I’m going for it!

I threw out the rewrite attempts and submitted the original final draft of FSCD and got a like (thanks Tiffany!)

The cliche advice is true. Keep writing, don’t give up, and have confidence in your work and others will, too.

And don’t overlook opportunity just because it doesn’t come with a sign on bonus or a contract with one of the big 5 publishers. I’m extremely grateful for the chance FaB took on me. I’m getting the full publishing experience, editing and all, without having to pay a dime (it still stands that you should do your research. Make sure you know the difference between a small publisher and a vanity press. The money should always flow to the author, not away. If a “publisher” demands payment, RUN AWAY.)

I set several goals for myself when I started taking writing seriously just over two years ago. Publish something, was on that list. I wanted that tangible object to show for all the hard work I was doing. Of course, I could have self-published, but it didn’t interest me, at all. And so I had settled in for the long haul, because Brandon Sanderson, a huge inspiration to me, said it would be about 10 years before I learned enough and honed my craft to the point it was industry ready. And that was on average!

I still have a lot to learn, and room for improvement, but I’m so grateful for Tiffany and Jen at FaB for saying yes to me. Having my novel published is a dream come true. And I can’t wait for the day I hold my book in my hands, crack the spine, and smell the fruits of our labor in the pages and ink.

AMS