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Writing a Novel

The last year finally paid off. A novel that had been stewing in the back of my mind for the last several years. The novel, Mermaid’s Curse, started out as a simple thing. The name, actually. A cursed mermaid, never allowed to fall in love least she die, and Brother Hawk, a man cursed to be a hawk, and suffer the will of the priesthood who visited inhumane tortures on him for centuries.

I finished the first book of the trilogy today. The last stubborn chapter that kept whispering that it needed to be there, but wouldn’t tell me why it needed to be there until just last week. It is the third novel that I’ve completed. It actually has a few threads in common with the first book I wrote (the one that died in the computer crash.) I subconsciously picked out the best parts of that novel and used it in this one.

With each novel I’ve learned something about myself, and my writing habits. With this particular completion I learned quite a bit more then ever before.

Mermaid’s Curse: Book 1 is just over 50,000 words. It took almost a year to complete. Keep in mind that I started Mermaid’s Curse as a single book and it has since become a trilogy. Book 2 is now just over 50,000 words, as well, and should be about 52,000 words when finished. Book 3 is currently 5000 words of plot. It’s going to be at leas 50-60,000 words when finished. That’s a lot of writing. 50,000 of which was done just last November during NaNoWriMo.

What I learned: 

You can’t force the story sometimes. I had everything finished for Book 1 except for one small chapter. I agonized over that chapter for a while, added a few words, added some notes, deleted them, and wrote some more. But the chapter sucked no matter how I wrote it. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what.

So I skipped ahead, wrote some other chapters, finished whole scenes and gave up on that one chapter. I even tried cutting that chapter out because if it was that horrible and boring it probably didn’t need to be in the book, right? Wrong. Without that chapter linking the rest of the book together the story kind of had an abrupt shift that felt ungainly and… just wrong.

So that chapter sat in the back of my mind for months while I polished off other chapters, rewrote sections, and decided the novel was actually a trilogy. Then one day I was taking a shower and think about another problem chapter and it was like magic. All the pieces slid into themselves.

Oddly enough the pieces fell into place because I started plotting the third book. As I plotted the third book I saw more of the world, saw new characters, and realized what needed to happen at the end of Book 2 to make Book 3 carry on. It was always the end of the books that gave me the most trouble. Once I figured out the end of Book 3 the chapters for Book 2, and that one stubborn chapter from Book 1 just snapped into place. I wrote 2000 words that night just trying to get down all the plot points so I knew what to write the next day.

Really, the thing that did it in the end was just keeping the story in the back of my mind while I went about the rest of my day. Jotting down ideas helped a little, but when it finally snapped into place it had nothing to do with forcing it, and everything to do with just letting it happen naturally.

Scheduling

The next thing I learned was about time. You only have so much. Use it wisely.

I can’t tell you how many times I sat down to the PC and my daughter would suddenly need to use the computer, or my son would need help with homework, or my boyfriend would just need attention. Families take a lot of time and energy, and they are so worth it. But this means that taking those moments you get to write, pouncing on them and using them to your advantage means EVERYTHING. Even the few minutes you have on a car trip to think about the story and come up with a plan to jot down on a note is better then nothing at all.

Finishing

Finishing feels SOOOOOO GOOD. (Yes, read that however you want.)

When I finally completed that chapter that I had been stuck on for a year I was so excited. I almost wanted to dance for joy. I texted four people and told them I’M FINISHED! I was that happy.

Whatever you’re working on, finish it. Doesn’t matter if it’s terrible, if you have to throw it out and start over, or if you just want to burn it in a fire. Finish it. That sense of completion will give you more inspiration and perseverance then all the self help and uplifting posters with kitties hanging in there that you will ever see.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in On Writing

 

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Around the Web

pumpkinThis week has been a mad dash to finish book 1 of the Mermaid’s Curse trilogy, and come up with names for each of the three parts of the book. I’m tossing around the idea of “Curse Maker” and “Curse Breaker” for the first two. No idea about the third. “Curse Taker” maybe? I have to think about it. I’ve got one chapter that I am doing the final edit for on book 1, and five chapters left on book two.

I’ve also been working on my NaNoWriMo plots. Like usual, I will be working on two story linesskull. One main project, and one to switch to when I get stuck on the first. That seems to be the easiest way to write for me. This year it will be book 3 of the Mermaid’s curse trilogy (which I have totally plotted out, and it’s going to be AWESOME!) and book 1 of the Eternal Tapestry series. A sort of prequel to Forgotten Ones. I just haven’t decided which will be the main project, and I would love to get them both finished. But that will come about as I start writing come next month.

I’ve also been a bit busy on Instagram and Pinterest with sketches and what not to stay busy. It’s Halloween, and I enjoy drawing pumpkins and skulls, so there you go.

And now for some interesting videos/articles/etc that you might find amusing and/or informative.

The latest Authors Earnings report is live, and it’s all about KU!

Two important publishing facts EVERYONE gets wrong, by Hugh Howey

LeVar Burton reads “Go the F*ck to Sleep” at a charity live stream.

Neil Gaiman on scary stories and little children.

Japanese SF writing contest open to AI and aliens.

From Reddit: What is a science/history mystery that has been solved, but no one seems to know?

 

And just a reminder, Small Bites 1 and Prophecy by Barlight are still free. And I will be having a couple more promo’s going on next month. And you can always sign up for my newsletter here.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in News

 

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Electricity

After work today I came home, soaked in a hot tub with a book for a bit, then thought “I need to go write.”

Then the lights started flickering.

I did manage to get in a few words. I’ve been fleshing out the last few beats for the third book in “Mermaids Curse.” I figured out the ending yesterday and ended up writing 1800 words in that, and today I wrote another 250 and clicked save. Then the house went dark and the computer blinked off. Glad I saved!

I’ve been sitting here in the dark for the last two hours hoping it would come back up. No luck. (Well, I’ve been reading by candle light so it’s not all bad.)

It’s kind of crazy how dependant we are on electricity. I mean I know I can go in there and write in one of my notebooks by hand, but then I’d have to transcribe it all to computer and that just seems like a waste of time. I could just use my phone, but that’s also difficult. Bad enough that I sit here typing blog posts on my phone. I know the grammar and spelling hurt because of it.

Then there is food. I have an electric stove. I can’t cook. Most of the food in my house requires cooking.

Come to think of it, a lot of those earthquake survival kits have things like pancake mix and powdered eggs. Things that need to be cooked. Great if you have propain  or even a camp fire. Not so great here in the city during a black out. (story idea?)

I guess I’m going to bed early and I’ll write more tomorrow. G’night all.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in On Writing

 

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I tried

Today I ran home for lunch thinking I would do a short video review of the novel I just finished listening to. I was so excited. The house was empty and I could just turn on the camera and talk for a bit.

But the house wasn’t empty. My daughter was home, in between classes and work, and taking a nap in her room. Okay, I thought, she’s napping I can still record. Right?

Wrong.

Staring at the camera, ready to speak, I froze. This isn’t unusual for me. I almost always freeze in front of a camera unless I’m talking to friends. I’ve managed to do a couple of videos on my own, but they are rare, and they always make me feel self conscious. Sometimes, like today, worse then others.

As I left to drive back to my office I wondered why. Why is it so difficult to just talk to the camera. Is it the big eye starting at me? Is it the fact someone might see my face and hear my voice and judge me because of it?

I do hate my voice. I think it sounds high and squeaky, like a little girls voice, and I hate it. I hate seeing my face on the computer. I can’t even watch my podcast because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I don’t think it was any of those things.

Honestly, driving away from my home and thinking really hard about it, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that my daughter, in the next room, would hear me. Embarrassed that someone I knew face to face would see me stumbling over my words. Embarrassed that I would even think someone would want to hear what I had to say.

Writing and publishing is easy. I put my work up and if someone wants to read it they will. I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to feel embarrassed because they are choosing to seek it out and view it. Some part of me knows it’s the same with videos and at the same time… I don’t believe that.

Worse, I know where this comes from.

I never learned the art of making friends. It’s even harder to keep them. A huge part of this was my marriage. My boyfriend calls me Rapunzel as  I was kept in a tower, away from everyone for most of my life.

Before marriage we lived in a little plot of land far from anyone else. My parents were usually away and the only company had were my three sisters who I did not get along with. So I spent most of my time reading. Even at school.

After my marriage I started having children. I tried to make friends, but I didn’t know how. I was shy, and scared. Honestly I don’t even know how I got married except that after several women cheated on him he finally picked me because I couldn’t cheat on him. I didn’t have friends.

One day, many years into my marriage, I told my husband how frustrated I was with it. I was loanly, and he was gone a lot. Why couldn’t I come hang out with him and his friends?

“They think you’re a bitch,” he said.
“But why?”
“Because you left the room to go watch cartoons with the children and never said a word.”
“But they were smoking. You know I can’t breath smoke, I just start coughing and can’t breath. I thought it says more polite to quietly excuse myself than make a fuss. Why didn’t you explain?”

He never explained. He never encouraged me to make friends. In fact it was just the opposite. There were excuses of why I couldn’t go out. Accusations of the few friends I had saying and doing things behind my back. Lack of transportation. Lack of phone. Lack of money.

So I spent my time, locked in the tower with my books.

When you’ve been locked in the tower for so long the outside starts to look scary. You are told people are out to get you, steal your man, use you and throw you away. You’re afraid. But the tower is safe. The books are good. And everything is okay.

I look outside and I want so badly to be happy and healthy and have friends. I want to call someone up and say “let’s go to the movies” or get coffee or just go to the zoo. I want that so much, and every time I try I… I want to cry.

It’s easy to stay in the tower. And so hard at the same time.

The camera, staring at me with its unblinking eye, is a window to the outside. A path out of my tower.

But I will keep trying. Keep pushing that button. Keep crying. Eventually, someday, maybe I can break free of this tower.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Commentary

 

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What’s New?

If you’ve been following my blog for any ammount of time you know I’ve been working on a novel, “Mermaid’s Curse.” I’ve posted a few snippets of the content, and I’ve gotten some good feedback from people who have read it. THey like the pace and the tension between the characters. They find the plot, what I’ve mentioned of it, good.

First, what’s changed: It is no longer a single novel.

While writing this novel, which was suppose to be 80,000 words at least, I discovered that the story had a natural break in the middle of it. The first half is about Marizza and Artiro, how they meet, fall in love, and eventually have Okira. Okira is the cursed mermaid in the title. The second half is about Okira and Brother Hawk, and how they break the curse. Two distinct tales balance around the same curse, but focusing on separate people.

Then I got to the end of the second part and realized there was a third story. The curse was broken, but no one is safe until they can keep the curse from ever happening again.

So, I’ve decided that the tale of the “Mermaid’s Curse” is a trilogy, not a single novel.

At this moment, book 1 is finished. Book 2 is almost finished. And I have a complete plot of book 3. The first two books come in at roughly 50,000 words each. (Yes, that’s 100k words. It just kept growing.)

When will they be out? That’s a really good question. I’m not sure. I would like to put them out three months apart. The first book is done so I think it’s time to get it edited and start working on a cover. Give me a month to figure some things out and I’ll let you all know more.

Till then, here is a Pinterest board of things inspiring the writing, and here is a newsletter you might want to join to get more information.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in On Writing

 

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What I Learned from Neopets

ponyI use to play Neopets every day. I’d log in, do my dailies, play some games, then do something else only to come back later in the day to play my favorite games again. I figured if I was going to play those silly little flash games I may as well get something for my trouble. That “something” was a digital pet with color patterns, digital toys, digital books to read, and hours of time… wasted. Right?

I do check in with my Neopets now and then. Now it’s more to waste a little time in between writing, or when I have a spare moment available. Usually my pets are starving when I get there, and they stay starving more often then not. But as I was playing today I realized there were some things about Neopets that reflected lessons I’d learned in my every day life. Lessons that a child playing Neopets could easily understand and use later on.

Buy low, sell high!

This could be a stock exchange commercial. But seriously, it works. It works when you’re buying supplies to make jewelry or trinkets to sell  in your Etsy shop. It works when you’re sourcing the paint for your canvas, or the fabric for your dress. It works when you are scheduling your time for working on your novel. Put in less money then you sell it for. Money includes effort, time, etc.

But remember, the first few are usually the loss leaders. You don’t make money on them, you make money on volume. So don’t out price yourself. Realize that you probably will have to settle for breaking even for a little while until you manage to gain a following and some fans, and then you can go hog wild and make a living.

The more stock the more sales

This was the one that got me thinking about this article. Neopets gives you your own shop where you can sell the digital items you’ve gathered. I was filling up my shop, setting prices, when it dawned on me: the more items in my shop the more likely I was to have sales.

It wasn’t just that my shop would be more visible because I was more likely to have the specific item someone was looking for. It was the fact that the more I had in my shop the more people might just find my shop organically, and the more spur of the moment purchases they might make. Even if the prices were high. Even if they didn’t necessarily want that copy of “Babaa Care”.

It’s the same with my own Amazon store. The more books I have in there the more likely I am to get a random customer. The more likely he is to just pick up a couple of things instead of just one while he’s there. It works with other types of merchandise as well. Who goes into a shop that only sales milk? No, we want a store where we can get eggs, bacon, and cheese too. So give your customers what they want. Create more things for your shop.

Work a little every day for the best rewards.

A big part of Neopets is the dailies. Every day you can go to a website that has a link to all the dailies, or you can remember them. I preferred the websites to start with, though few of them listed all the daily activities you could do. Each activity gave you a new item, a few neopoints, or an avatar. Each one got you closer to the million neopoint mark in your bank.

But this applies to the real world as well. Every day, adding a little bit to your art, or writing, or music.. every day studying or going to your day job. It all adds up, little by little, till you have something to show for it. It’s just another reason for me to write every day, even when it sucks. Even when it’s hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Neopets often add items that are limited time, or seasonal. They change games, update areas, add and subtract things. Everything changes, both online and off. Nothing lasts forever. And one of the things you learn in Neopets is that it pays to collect those things that are limited. Just like comic books in the real world. If only a few people can get them, or if they disappear over time, then they slowly become more valuable.

Gambling doesn’t pay.

There is a bit of controversy around the gambling available on Neopets. They have their own version of the Lottery, and scratch cards. You rarely win. In fact you make more money from scratch cards by selling them in your shop then you do by actually scratching them off. Other things, like Poogle Racing and Keno allow you to pay in money, but rarely pay out. Thankfully it’s all neopoints, but you get the picture.

The virtual doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stay virtual.

Some time ago Neopets added real life items to their catalog. Plushies, console games, wearable, etc. Working in digital media as I do with books this is a great lesson for me as well. Digital items shouldn’t always stay digital. There should be some branching over to the 3D world. What if I made a plushy that I could sell? Or a poster? Or wearables? It’s a great marketing strategy and makes the real life and digital life closer to each other because you have something you can touch and feel on this side of the screen. What’s more, they always gave a digital item with the real world item. Tokens, free items, and digital merch to go with the plushy you bought. These items were FREE for Neopets to give away, so it made sense to add value to their real world objects by having digital items go with it. As a writer/artist/etc you can do something similar. Add QR codes for free books, or digital backgrounds. Give something digital away with every real world purchase. At the very least a free (or greatly reduced) ebook with every print book.

I’m sure there are more, but I am too tired to think of them.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Commentary

 

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What’s Passion?

I just put out a new Newsletter that you can see here. In there I share some my new videos from YouTube, and one of my favorite YouTube channels.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send you a free book.

Just a reminder, Footprints will be free this coming Saturday and Sunday. Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites 1 are now perma-free if you’d like to get them. (You might notice that I’ve updated the cover on Prophecy by Barlight. I’ve also updated Potion Shop, and done a little adjusting of Twilight Tales font. I think I’m finally happy with my current covers.)

footprintsminiprophec3y1SB1sm

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Updates

 

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