Beautiful Books — 2017

Beautiful Books, here we are again. It’s been a solid year since I participated in this link-up, but I figured… why not? Beautiful Books is hosted by Cait of Paper Fury and Sky of Further Up, Further In, and you can check out other posters there as well~ The idea behind the link-up is to share a little bit about our WIPs based on the questions that Cait and Sky pose to us. It’s also a great way to find other writers in the blogging community. Usually, the link-up is “Beautiful People,” so we can explore our characters, so this might look a bit different in future posts.

 

01. What were your writing achievements last year?

 

Good question. You know, I’m not sure. I did manage to write 10 chapters of a WIP (about 26k words). Although it isn’t the most I’ve ever written on a WIP, it’s the most coherent bit that I’ve written, as far as I can tell. I also had a brain blast as to how to rekindle my spark for said WIP and get going on a second one. So I’m pretty excited to get back into writing (although plotting holds me at bay).

02. What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

The biggest goal is to finally finish a WIP. This will be on my goal list until I complete it. I need to get better at that. Hence I am also limiting myself to two WIPs I’ve already started, but allowing myself to switch between them. I need to get better at the worldbuilding for that world, and I need to re-plot both WIPs at least a little bit (one requires far more re-plotting than the other). And then I will get back into writing 😀 I also want to continue to perfect my skill of typing while I make awkward eye contact with my eyebrow-raising dog.

03. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

WIP #1 is about corporate superheroes discovering the masquerade—and realizing that they are not the only supernatural types out there. This story has had the most plotting of any I’ve attempted to write…. And it needs to be reworked so much. It also happens to be the one that I mentioned in my 2016 Beautiful Books. Oops?

WIP #2 is a dual-POV about a supernatural halfway house. One POV concerns the story of the vampire who wants to run said halfway house, and her attempts to gain her license by dealing with a troublesome witch. The other POV is a sound elemental who very unfortunately gets stuck in said house when said troublesome witch messes up a protective ward she tried to create for him.

04. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

My main hope of improvement is completion. I have a terrible record of getting side-tracked by non-writerly life and then… not coming back to whatever I was working on. The other thing I’m attempting to do is to improve my consistency with writing. I had a 13-day streak until Thursday, when I got home from work so exhausted I went to bed at 7pm and slept through until about 10:30 the following morning. Oops. I’m starting my streak over today, and hopefully I’ll be able to hit the 21 days it takes to reach a habit!

05. Describe your general editing process.

Read thing. Be disgusted with thing. Rewrite thing. Take a long break. Repeat.

Ehem.

More seriously, it does involve a lot of rewriting and replanning. I’m still improving at my ability to see flaws in my own work, but I can pick out language issues for the most part. I’ve gotten better at other things, but my general plan of attack for edits tends to be large-scale problems first, and slowly work to smaller problems as the bigger ones are fixed. There’s no point in making a scene beautiful if the scene will be deleted.

06. On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

So far, I think both of these WIPs are okay. I wouldn’t say they’re entirely shit like some of the other stuff I’ve written, but they still need so much work. Hence completely re-plotting one of them. I guess I’ve give them somewhere in the 4-6 range, depending on how I’m feeling that day (right now, I’m feeling a 6, because I’m deliriously sleepy :D).

07. What aspect of your draft needs the most work?

The missing 60 percent part. Yeah. That. Also worldbuilding. And plot. Sensing a theme, are we?

08. What do you like the most about your draft?

The characters, I think. They’re by no means perfectly developed, but I’m getting to know them and search their depths and I love it. They feel kind of real to me. I could imagine them walking down the street. And that’s really, really cool.

09. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Write first, then edit. Then let it cool off for a while and work on another project in the meantime. Go back for another edit. CP, if I have one by then. Edit. Hide in a hole while it goes out to beta readers. Read comments. Cry. Edit. See how I’m feeling about the project and consider querying (but I imagine that’s a long way off).

10. What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Give it time.

Don’t jump straight into edits. Don’t jump straight into passing it to everyone. Let the iron cool and work on something else. You’ll be better able to read critically, with a clear head, when you go back to the draft—if you go back to it—if you’ve taken a break first.

It even helps with blog posts 😉

Safe Travels,

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Love, Part I

 

 

Love is a connection we form with people, creatures, and objects. It’s an attachment. Often, it goes with history and a willingness to sacrifice for the object of that love. In all that connection, in all that focus on an other, we can forget to love ourselves. Self-love is just as important—and it is not inherently selfish.

I’ve seen this a lot. People who give and do and help until there isn’t anything left. We worry that if we take care of ourselves, we’re being selfish. We’re taking away from what we could offer to others. I don’t buy into that (intellectually, at least).

The system I buy into is one of needs and wants. In this system, needs are almost always above wants. Selfish, in my opinion, is when you put your wants before the needs of others. Putting your needs first is not selfish. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Satisfying your needs improves your ability to be your best self, and your best self can better help others than the self that is malnourished, sleep-deprived, emotionally exhausted, overworked, etc. So, please take care of yourself. Here are a few examples of how to do that.

  • Set a timer.

Generally speaking, prolonged sitting is not good for you, so try setting a timer for 20, 30, or 45 minutes. When that timer goes off, stand up, stretch. Go get something to drink (because hydration is also very important!). Get a snack. Go to the bathroom. And then go back to work—breaks are good for your body and for your mind.

  • Be aware of how you talk about/to yourself.

I’m terrible.

This is awful – why would anyone care?

I’m just taking up space.

I’m a bother and they’re too nice to tell me to beat it.

Do you ever think like that? I do. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I’m not going to tell you to stop—to change your attitude—to just be more positive! because I find that harmful and discouraging (sometimes, you just can’t, or you feel awful anyway).

I do advise that you be aware of this self-degrading language when you use it—be it on social media, in conversation, in thought. If you catch yourself, reconsider saying/thinking it. The more you say it on good days, the more ammunition you have on bad days. How can you adjust your phrasing to give yourself more credit?

One of my favorite examples is saying “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry.” Instead of apologizing for tardiness, thank people for their patience. Instead of apologizing for ranting, rambling, or poor quality, thank people for listening or reading. It’s difficult, especially at first, but it helps—and it can make people feel good in the process.

  • Know yourself.

… and avoid triggers/toxic people.

A friend of mine does not get along with her mom. She still loves her mom, but she does her best to minimize contact with her. She knows that her mom doesn’t make her feel good.

Know who and what are not a positive force in your life. You don’t have to surround yourself with people and things that don’t make you happy. Trees drop their leaves in autumn because they don’t offer enough nutrition for what they take up. Pruning your branches is a form of self-love—you’re giving yourself the chance to heal, to grow, to live.

Know what makes you happy, and do that. Know what makes your life unnecessarily stressful and difficult (without being sufficiently rewarding)—and thinking about cutting it.

Please, travelers, take care of yourselves. Give yourself permission to be your best self this year. If you need to talk, let me know. I’m here for you. And remember: it isn’t selfish to take care of your needs.

 

Safe travels,

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On the Road Again

 

Welcome back, travelers. It’s been a long time. Thank you for your patience.

2016 was an interesting year for me–and doubtless for you, too. As a resident of the US, I’ve been seeing a lot of emotional turmoil. A lot of people are upset. A lot of tension built over the past year and a half, and something was bound to give eventually. Maybe it finally did. Talk of -isms and diversity has exploded on my Twitter feed in a way I’ve never seen before. There seems to be outrage on all sides. It isn’t really something I want to get into right here and right now, but these events have had a major influence on me and what I would like to share with you. In a way, I suppose it’s a mission statement.

be-ccc

That is my motto. It is the mantra I’m trying to live, and it is the one I plan to blog by.

Be creative.  To me, this means trying. Writing is my primary outlet, and I choose to continue my journey in pursuing it, despite past disappointments and failures. It is my creative passion. I also strive to be creative in the way I think, in the way I approach and attempt to solve problems, and in the way I live my life. This means avoiding ruts. This means change–and being okay with that change, something with which I struggle. It also means seeking out other avenues of expression–like dancing and coloring. It means living life and trying new things–new to me, at least.

Be critical. This does not mean to be negative. This means to acknowledge and seek to understand problematic representation, to address -isms, to reflect, to analyze. This is to think critically about the world I live in, the way in which I and others communicate, and the impact I have on this life. I want to become more aware and informed, to better support where I can, to ask questions, and to really listen to the answers.

Be compassionate. My greatest wish is to have a positive impact on the lives of those around me. I seek to be a force of good in this world. Right now, there is a lot of pain in it, but much of it is also outside of my circle of influence. My influence may thus be small, but that’s okay, because I can–and will–do good with it. I am here. I am here to listen, to learn, to encourage. I am here for you.

I feel this song so much–and I will be there for you.

Be creative. Be critical. Be compassionate.

These are my values and goals. They are what I hope to apply to this blog — to my social media — to my writing — to my interactions with others — and to my life in general. It is my mantra. It is how I plan to make this coming year a good one, because I know I at least have that. I have the power to try, and I have to believe that I have the power to make that difference for myself.

I believe you have that power, too, so how will you make 2017 a good year for yourself?

Safe travels,

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On Book Buying (Binges)

So there’s been a little bit of drama with booktube lately, but, honestly, enough people have addressed it that I don’t really want to. Instead, I’d like to discuss a different thing.

If you follow me on twitter (link at the bottom of this post), you might have noticed that I was really excited about going on a book-buying binge. See, every year, I save up all the Barnes and Noble gift cards I get (which I get primarily on Christmas and my birthday) until employee appreciation week when the employee discount on books increases.

Yesterday was the first day of that week, and I bought a nice little mountain of books for relatively cheap. This all had me thinking about how I decided to go buy a book, which books I buy, and my general buying habits. For a vaguely related discussion, you can check out my post on libraries from aabout a year ago. I also posted my thoughts on book hauls a few months ago.

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Let’s Chop Up the Writer’s Block

I’m ready. I’m so ready.

I open my word processor of choice—Scrivener for fiction, open office or word for blogging. I take a deep breath, hands hovering over the keyboard, barely brushing the keys if at all and—

I stare.

The cursor blinks, hypnotizing and terrifying.

Maybe a couple of words come out, maybe the screen is just blank.

It’s a nightmare for a fair few writers I know—so I asked three writers to answer a couple of questions I had about their personal experiences with writer’s block!

Featured below you will find:Jewel E. Leonard
Website | Her Interview with me 😀 | Buy her book, Tales by Rails | Twitter
Jewel is the author of the Rays of Sunshine series of novellas and is in pursuit of an agent for her Witches’ Rede historical romance series.

Briana Morgan
Blog | Buy her book, Blood and Water | Twitter | YouTube
Briana is an author, editor, and all-around wonderful person. She’s dedicated to writing good fiction, helping others, and being a devoted mother to her furbaby.

Zac Tyson
Blog | Twitter
Zac Tyson is a YA and MG speculative fiction writer. He often travels to other worlds by transport of books, and also loves peanut butter and occasionally forgets he’s not a kid anymore.

Thank you all so much for participating in this blog post! I really appreciate your time and effort in answering these questions!
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3 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Your heart’s racing and you’re blinking at the clock every couple of minutes. You have that list of things you need to do—whether it be in your head or on paper or in a calendar or in a planner—and you’re incredibly conscious of just how many things are on that list.

How on Earth are you going to get all of it done? Will you get it all done? Heart’s racing, head’s pounding, maybe you’re trembling a little.

I like to call this feeling overwhelmed.

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Bookish Things on My Doorstep

So Lori from Ink, Keys, and Other Things (who’s awesome, by the way, so I’d recommend bookish and writerly people check her out) suggested that I do a post on book subscription boxes due to a comment I made on twitter this week. And as I didn’t have another topic in mind for today, I thought I should~

Note 1: I am not getting paid for this or anything like that.

Note 2: Although one of these boxes did not work for me, I encourage you to check it out if it sounds like something you’d like to try.

Note 3: All opinions are my own, and I would love to hear yours, too, so comment with anything you have to say!

That being made known, this is a review of/comparison of 3 different subscription boxes, and a discussion thereof. You can click the names of the boxes to go to the website.

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