Saturday, November 30, 2013

Write and Learn: The Lessons I've Learned as an Aspiring Author

To quote my mentor, “Write and learn”, and boy have I ever learned...

As a currently unpublished author with two finished manuscripts under my belt (one is fully edited and refined, the other is still being proofed, edited and worked upon), I can say there are a lot of things I’ve learned over the years, about myself and my writing. For a long time, I thought that all one had to do was put pen to paper (or in modern times, fingers to keyboard on a typewriter or in a word processing application) and just go with it.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the way it works. You have to do a lot of things even before you put pen to paper or start typing away in your word processor, and after that. Yes, writing is a joy for a lot of us out there, and in some cases (like mine) as vital to life as breathing, but anyone who wants to write should keep in mind that although writing is the easiest part of the process, there are a few things they have to keep in mind as they try to break into the world of creating a story.

Here are some things I’ve learned over the last few years, after various attempts at writing several different ideas, and finally succeeding in getting two manuscripts finished. Please keep in mind that these are the lessons I learned, and everyone’s experience may be different...

1)      Keep something handy, like a pen/pencil and paper, or even a cell phone with a memos section in it, so you can jot down ideas when they hit you so you don’t forget them. I also have an “ideas” file for each story in my word processor and will copy the ideas into that, or jot them down in that file when I’m at the computer. I do this so things are all in one spot, and I mark them off with “highlighter” as they are written up or in another color if I scrap them.

2)      Write up a general outline, that way you have a direction to go with the story. It’s not set in “stone”, and can be changed if the story happens to evolve and morph into something else. It may only be three points: Why the characters and the story is happening, the climax and how it ends. Fiction is fluid after all, and things can change in your story in a heartbeat.

3)      WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. Say if you’re writing a mystery set in Ohio for example, make sure you know enough about the area it’s set in, the culture, the landscape, and everything else.

4)      If you do not know something, RESEARCH IT. I have spent countless hours online researching different things, talking to people about their area/town/village, driving around and getting photos, and other things to make sure I had all of the facts right so I wouldn’t land in trouble with my (hopefully) future audience and those who live in the areas mentioned in my books. I have read several books set in my province or country that had no facts right at all, and I found it very annoying, so I do my best to make sure I have my facts straight, that way no reader or fellow author can say I “had it wrong all along”.

5)      If you’re writing something like science fiction, you have to create everything, from the world its set on (or high tech stuff if its set on Earth in the distant future), to its technology, and everything else in between. Keep things set in different files or binders, etc, and keep checking those to make sure you’re on track, and have everything consistent.

6)      Keep things consistent. If you say someone has blue eyes, don’t say their eyes are brown later unless you state they’re wearing colored contacts for example. What I do is keep detailed character descriptions in a special file/document for them, from their looks to their personality, sometimes even to the way they talk and what kind of accent they have, and if they speak more than one language. This is so I don’t get yelled at for mixing things up.

7)      Keep a timeline, and write major events in order of the time they happen into it, sometimes minor ones if you wish. What is the time frame from the day your story starts until it ends? Do you need a backstory? Write it down in the timeline. What happens in between? Jot it all down in point form and it can be added to or have things removed as the story progresses and evolves. It’s not set in stone, it’s just a general guide like an outline, to keep you focused and remember key events.

8)      Sometimes you just have to write by the seat of your pants... In a manner of speaking. If an idea hits you for the part you’re working on that seems like it may work, go with it!

9)      Rewrites are a pain in the neck, but they are a necessary evil and have to be done sometimes. I can’t recall the amount of rewrites I have done on various parts of my first two manuscripts. Sometimes an idea will hit me that I’ll go with, but when I reread it later on, I realize it’s not right for the story, and I wind up scrapping it and putting in something else.

10)   Edit, edit, edit, and edit some more! Go over everything you have in the story, to make sure you have everything consistent and the grammar is dead on. Like rewrites, editing your work is a necessary evil, but if you want to be published at some point in the future, you have to edit your work a number of times even in first or rough draft. Most publishers prefer almost perfect final drafts of a story/manuscript in a submission, and the closer to perfection it is with its grammar, consistency, and everything else, the better.

11)   Have at least one beta reader. Choose a trusted friend or another writer who knows what to look for with inconsistencies, missing words, grammar and other things you may miss when you’re editing the work yourself. My dear friend and mentor may get my books to read at her leisure and enjoyment, but she has pointed out different things I missed, like inconsistencies, missing words, and other things I thought I had in the books already. It’s a way to make sure your work is even more perfect for a publisher’s eyes, or the public if you choose to self publish.

12)   Brainstorm! Even if you only do it with yourself, bounce around different ideas to see what would work and what won’t. If you want to brainstorm with a trusted friend, do so. You never know what they’ll come up with that will work for your stories, whether it’s a full length novel or even a short story. I have several trusted friends who shot ideas at me... Some were not right for my genre or my style, but others were, and once I could see the scenes in my head, I ran with them!

13)  Be prepared to take honest criticism, good and bad. Others who read your work may like it, and some may not, so don’t get upset if someone says they don’t like your work or if they give you pointers on how you can improve your writing and style. Just because you may like it and think it’s great doesn’t mean others will automatically think you have the best story ever on your hands. Consider everything that was said, take a good long look at your work and see if you can see what they see, and then try to fix it if it’s a grammatical error or you have inconsistencies, and so on. Keep in mind that everyone has different opinions and although some may think it’s great, others will not. Be gracious, do not get mad at them, and thank them for taking the time to read your work and share their opinion of it instead of blowing your stack and getting nasty at them for giving their opinion. They didn’t have to read it, so be nice and at least take what they say under consideration for the future.

14)   Try to be objective when you’re reading your work. Yes, you may love the story and its characters, but sometimes taking a step back to see what works and what doesn’t in the story is a big help. Look at it as if you were reading someone else’s work and editing it, that way you can pick up anything you’ve missed without getting upset or frustrated.

15)   Don’t automatically think you have a best seller on your hands. Not everyone is as lucky or has a big fan base as others out there. Just because someone like E.L. James hit the best seller list with her first book and subsequent series doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to also. Sometimes it takes years and several books to finally get the brass ring (on the best seller list), and some authors never hit the best seller list even with a huge fanbase and great reviews.

16)   Write a story you’d like to read. Say you would love to read a story on the history of your town, whether it’s factual or a fictional story with historical facts added in. Do your research and write it up!

17)   Never forget to take breaks from writing once in a while. This is to make sure you don’t burn yourself out and to remind you that real life does happen once in a while. I sometimes forget this piece of advice, but thankfully, my husband, son, mentor and others hit me with it once in a while so I don’t get sick. They remind me to eat, to sleep, and to pull my brain out of my “little world” and bring me back to the real world. Take a nap, watch some TV (if you have one), spend some time with a friend or a loved one and just take a breather from it every now and then.

18)   Never give up on yourself. Writing may not be for everyone, but if you really want to be published at some point, or just write for your own enjoyment, don’t give up on it and push it away because you’re frustrated due to a bit of writer’s block or feel like it’s starting to overwhelm you. Stay focused, keep that determination, and most of all, believe you can do it!

19)   If you hit a snag in one spot and feel like you can’t write anything for it, work on another part of it. I have done this countless times, and some days, I jump from one area to another of a story – or in some cases, two or three works in progress – until I find an area that “clicks” and I can work on it. Yes, it is frustrating to have this happen, but sometimes things don’t always fall into place in the way you want it. Relax, take a deep breath and remember that the pyramids were not built in a single day. Even if you are on a deadline, sometimes working on a different part of the story will get the juices flowing again, and it will help you think about how you want things to progress in all areas of your story.

20)   Set parameters for what you’re writing about, yet allow yourself a lot of freedom to write what you want to write and allow your style to shine through. If you don’t set certain limits, you’re going to get off track of the story, but you also have to have some freedom to write ideas that pop into your head without warning. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes, and may require a number of rewrites and changing things around, but it’s worth it in the end.

21)   Be prepared for rejections. It’s a fact of life for any author. Even greats like Stephen King got at least one rejection before they hit the big time, so keep that in mind if you send your work to a publisher. Getting rejected is not a pleasant experience, and it is heartbreaking, but don’t give up on getting your work out there somehow. If all else fails, there are plenty of places that allow authors to self publish, from traditional books to e-books. Some places don’t charge anything to publish through them, others require either a small fee or a large one, and some have tiers for their self published authors – from free for an e-book, to a few thousand dollars for the most complete package. Do your research, and pick the right one for you.

22)   Set aside time to write, even if it’s only twenty minutes a day, or an hour a week. It will keep the story in your mind and keep the juices flowing. So what if you write that day is garbage? You wrote something and even if you have to toss it or rewrite it, it’s still progress.

23)   One sentence is still progress. Sometimes we do get flustered when our creativity isn’t at its peak, but even adding a word or a sentence, or a paragraph here and there is progress of some type. So what if it’s going slowly? It’s still writing and moving along!

24)   Set a reasonable deadline for yourself to finish the story, even if it’s five or six years into the future. This is so you’re not feeling pressure to get it done NOW, and in case things like real life push the writing on the back burner. I generally allow at least three to five years for a story to be completed nowadays, because I have had real life and other things invade on my writing or blocked my creativity for a while. If you finish the story long before the deadline you have set, even better, but do not force yourself to finish it three years before it for example. Work along at your pace and hopefully you will make that deadline even if real life gets in the way.

25)   If a story isn’t working at all for you, or you lost the idea for it in your mind, KEEP what you have written so far. You never know when it’ll pop back into your mind or if ideas you had for it will work for something else. Even if you never finish it, keep it as a reminder of how far you’ve come and learned in the time since you started that idea.

26)   Backup, backup, backup! Don’t keep it all in your computer if you write via a word processor, have something like an external drive or a memory stick to keep the most recent version of it safe in a backup file, or store it on a memory stick or external drive of some kind if you don’t want to keep it on the hard drive. You never know when something like a system wide computer failure, a virus or something else will wreck your work if you use a computer like I do. Backup on something you can easily transfer the story onto the hard drive again, even if it is on a writeable CD. I learned this lesson the hard way with the first short story I wrote as an adult... It’s on my Pentium system, which has only a CD player and floppy drive and can’t get it off of there unless I print it out and retype it character by character onto my new system, which doesn’t have a floppy drive at all. I had to retire my Vista system a couple of months ago, and I’m so glad I was using memory sticks and an external drive to backup my work because I would have lost BOTH manuscripts if I hadn’t. Thankfully both are safe on various memory sticks and my external drive because I am very diligent about backing up everything, from my research to the character descriptions to the manuscripts – and parts to be spliced in later on – almost every single day. Do it each time you add something or edit, because it may save you a lot of heartbreak in the end.

27)   If you think something is “too graphic” for your intended audience, it probably is. Either tone it down or do a fade out so the reader’s imagination can take over.

28)   Be detailed, but not too detailed. Do not bore the reader with a ten page description of a boat or how pretty the snow is during the wintertime. Learn to balance things between describing something in detail to the nth degree, but in order for the reader to picture something in their mind, some detail is needed. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes, but it can be done!

I know it’s a long list, but I’ve learned so much, and am still learning as I go along. I hope this helps an author out there, whether they’re starting out or have been in the business for a very long time. It’s been a long road to get where I am today, after countless failures to complete one single story for so many years... When I finally finished my first double length novel, it was like nothing I had ever felt before, a triumph I still can’t believe has happened, and sometimes I have to remind myself that I not only did it once, I did it twice, and I hope to do it again.


Blessed are all the creative types, from artists like my Peapod, to authors like myself and my mentor... 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nasty Weather and a Very Naughty V.J. ....

We had one heck of a rain storm here yesterday. Winds hit over 100 kph (62 mph for those of you who don't speak Canadian) and lots of rain. I really thought the power was going out at some point, same with the satellite TV, but somehow we got lucky and the only thing that wasn't working right was our cordless phone. The battery in that died while I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone, and I called her back on the regular desktop phone so we could continue our conversation, which was very enjoyable for me. She lives a couple of thousands of miles away from me, in a time zone four hours behind mine, and it's so good to hear her voice and talk outside of Facebook and our other common sites once in a while, even if it's not cheap to do it that way. 

It's not raining now, but the wind is still pretty strong. I can see the trees in our neighbor's yard waving like crazy and can feel the house shake from the occasional huge gust. It feels almost like a hurricane, but this storm wasn't organized like a tropical cyclone would be, it was just a regular storm with a lot of wind and rain. I'm just glad it wasn't snow, because we'd be buried if it had been! 

Why was I naughty? 

Well....I did something the other day I said I wouldn't be doing for a bit yet... I kind of opened Book 2 and started revisions on it.

I know, I said I was going to leave it until the new year, but the latter parts of it and all of the editing, compressions, and everything else I knew needed to be done to that particular manuscript was nagging me constantly, at the back of my mind, and I just started to feel like I couldn't move on with a new story and a new idea until things in the most recent manuscript were cleaned up. 

The first few chapters were not so bad. I had edited the first four to death and except for missing commas and needing a few words changed around here and there, I managed to get through that part pretty quickly. Chapter Five needed some compressions, but after thinking it over for a few minutes, I knew what to do and those were dispatched within moments. After that it's pretty much general things again, like the missing commas, and changing a couple of things here and there, and stuff I can easily do when my son and husband are around.

What was really bothering me more than anything was the clean up of the last ten or so chapters and the epilogues. I didn't just write them, I zoomed through them faster than the speed of light it seems, and there is a lot there that needs to be cleaned up, rewritten/revised, 86'ed, added to, and compressed. I didn't edit that area as much as I had the first 2/3 of the story and the perfectionist for my own work in me was really rearing its head the last week, notably on Monday. I finally gave into the urge to open it and start the long process of getting it up to "my" draft two standards on Tuesday and although it's a slow process, it's going okay so far. I'm in Chapter 34 of this particular edit at the moment, and I'll be working on it today, into the weekend and next week. I'm really going over it with a fine toothed comb to be sure everything is kosher and closer to a "final draft", so I have less to do in later drafts.

It's hard to believe I finished its first draft barely four weeks ago, it feels like it's been a lot longer than that. I don't know why, but I'm guessing it's because I have had a new idea pop into my head (Thanks to two good friends who are also fellow authors!) and I've been able to "lay the characters" to rest a little easier this time around, probably because I don't have the idea of a sequel nagging at the back of my head! 

I hope Sandra will be ready to read this one in the new year, because when I deem it's ready for someone else's eyes, she'll be getting a copy for her enjoyment... She read "No Regrets" and liked it, so I hope this one is just as enjoyable for her, and she likes the wild ride the reader will go on with the characters. 

Anyway, I hope all of my fellow Nova Scotians are fine after that nasty weather last night and this morning, and that all of my American family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll be back with another update as things progress, notably when Untitled 9 becomes clearer to me and I'm able to work on it more... Which I hope will be very soon!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recharging and A Man in a Blue Box...

Things have been back and forth between the creative juices flowing and being "plugged" the last week or so.

Book 2 went into stasis three weeks ago today, and although it's fading from the mind a bit more, I'm still resisting the urge to open it. There hasn't been enough time for me to pick out any minor errors at this point, and I wouldn't mind finishing getting out of the mindset of the series before I look at it again. Hopefully my mind will be able to handle it by the new year. If not, I will put it back in stasis and leave it there until I'm ready to look at it without wanting to write another sequel or a side story based upon that particular group of characters.

I've been distracting myself with various things so I do not go near it. Thankfully, there has been plenty of things to keep my mind off of that manuscript and keep me out of it! The last few weeks, our sci-fi channel has had a lot of specials about Doctor Who on. I'm a huge fan of the revival part of that particular series, and have seen a few of the "classic" episodes, which were well done for their time. I've seen at least part of one episode from the first incarnation of the Doctor up, and both episodes that had Eight into them. All were well done and seeing classic DW stuff made me an even bigger fan of the show. I do admit my favorite out of the incarnations to date is Ten, played by David Tennant, but I love Eleven and so many other ones too. I'm really looking forward to Series/Season 8 of the revival and seeing the adventures Twelve goes on with current companion, Clara. I'm going to cry when Eleven goes through his regeneration, but the show must go on.

This past weekend, I didn't even think about writing at all. I was too absorbed in all of the Doctor Who specials that were on and finally, the much anticipated 50th Anniversary special hit the airwaves. I was offline while it was on, so I would not be distracted by random squirrels around the internet, and it blew my mind. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I clapped, then I did it all over again. I loved seeing David Tennant appear in his old role of Ten, and watching him and Matt Smith, who plays Eleven and the current incarnation, interacting, and seeing John Hurt as the War Doctor was amazing. They are brilliant actors, and all play their role in Doctor Who perfectly. It was probably the best episode ever in my opinion, and in the revival series of the show, there is no such thing as a "terrible episode" in my mind. The writers are very talented and know how to please us fans. It's always a fun ride with that show, if you ask me!

I adore science fiction, but can't write it at all... I do admire anyone who can, because their imagination is outstanding, and to come up with an entire world, species, and so on, is just amazing. 

Me, I think I'm kind of boring in the fact I prefer to write contemporary/modern day stuff. Oh well, if one person loves my work, that's the main thing, right?

Anyway, things have started a little bit with Untitled 9. I had set up the characters and some of the locations/sites for it a couple of weeks ago, and believe it or not, I have started Chapter One. It's only a page or so, but it's a start, and with some luck and some more time to get the writing batteries recharged, I'll be able to continue on in it. I also have a few more ideas down in the file for that, and know a little more about what's going to happen between the start of the story and its finale.

HOW one of the characters winds up in their situation at the start of it is still somewhat of a mystery. I do have an idea on how it happens, but the details still haven't been revealed to me as of this date. Yeah, one more "star" in that "constellation" has been revealed to me, but I'm still missing most of it, and most of the other "stars in the sky" right now. I just hope as time marches on, the "cloud cover and haze" will "lift" and more "stars" will be revealed to me so I can get absorbed by the new idea. I'm still not sure what's going to come out of it, but I do know if this one takes over the mind like the previous two manuscripts did, I'm in trouble.

Or, should I say "I'm in writing heaven"? *laughs* 

It still feels odd not to be eating, sleeping and breathing a story right now, but I'm optimistic another one will suck me in again soon, once the writing batteries are fully recharged, ideas start coming clearer, and now that I'm not counting down the days to the 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who.

Have a great week, everyone! I'll post an update if/when things progress, or if I wind up doing something else creative wise in the meantime.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Here We Go Again....

It's official:

I now have a folder set up and the idea I got thanks to my mentor and another writing friend/fellow author has been dubbed "Untitled 9". I set up the folder this evening and now have everything I have so far added to it.

I have a feeling of deja vu, probably because a similar thing happened to me last year about this time... Anyone who has been following my blog over the last eighteen months or so will note that although I finished "No Regrets" draft one on October 19, 2012, I had the idea for Book 2 less than a month later. Yeah, it feels exactly like things did last year when I first started jotting down ideas for what was dubbed "Untitled 8" back then and what turned into Book 2 over time.

However, unlike last year, I'm starting from scratch this time, so in that way, it feels like I did when I first started developing ideas for the characters in "No Regrets" and where things took place, etc. This one is still in its embryonic stages and although I have a few ideas for various things and part of a scene somewhat "gelled" in the brain, I have a lot of things to figure out, like how to start off Chapter One for starters. Things may be slower with getting this idea off the ground for that very reason, but I'm sure with a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears amongst a lot of researching, days of wanting to bash my head against the wall, turning the air blue in here thanks to a lot of "choice words" and so many other things that make up being an author, I will get things moving in this one at some point, especially once Book 2 fades from the mind a lot more and the writing batteries come back up from being so drained.

It feels odd working on something fresh, brand new and unknown, but I hope that feeling goes away very soon and I'm able to get into it like I did with my first two books. Switching gears to a new story with an entire new cast of characters may seem daunting at first, and it is hard to do it sometimes, but I am determined to get moving forward with my writing again, even if it takes me into the new year to get things going with this new idea or another one. It took me three entire months to get into the groove of Book 2, and I'm not expecting much to happen other than the occasional idea popping into my brain before that time period is up this time around. 

I've started the Ideas for Scenes file for this one and will be starting a rough timeline tomorrow. I already know what will happen overall in the story, but am not sure on a few things... Like how the main characters wind up in their situations at the start of the book for example, and who the antagonists are/will be, and so on. Things will come to me over time, as the story is slowly revealed to me in my mind. More questions are in my head right now... Like how much time passes between the first word of the first page to the final word on the last page of it? How long is it before the leading couple get involved?... And so many others are starting to bounce around in there.

The questions are good things. They keep me thinking and wondering how a new story will unfold, and also keep me focused on finally seeing its full picture in time. Right now, it's sort of like looking up at the night sky, and only seeing one or two stars peeking through a cloud cover.... Slowly over a few hours, the rest of the constellation and later on, the rest of the stars are revealed to you. That is the best way I can describe something like starting a brand new story from scratch for anyone who hasn't tried it, or wants to try writing something, even a short story. 

I just hope the questions do not stop for this one, and I get sucked into it like I did with the previous two. With a little luck, I will be back at it sometime soon, and back to driving my poor husband, son and mentor nuts with seeing me being spaced out all of the time because my mind is so focused on the new project.

Have a great night everyone. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Slowly Changing the Gears...

It's been a full week since Book 2 went into stasis, and so far, so good. I'm getting urges to work on it, but at the same time, I'm able to stay away from it for now. Yes, it's hard to do sometimes, but so far, I'm managing and although there are some days I have to hand the computer over to someone else, it's not as bad as what it was last year after I put "No Regrets" into stasis for the first time.

This last week has been interesting to say the least. My husband was working all evening shifts - minus this weekend, where he was working two day shifts - so I haven't had any days that I was home alone all day and wanted to write. Friday will be the big test for me, because I'll be home alone all day that day, but thanks to a few things popping up here and there, I may not be all that crazy that day.

You see, my beloved mentor shot an idea at me for a possible storyline, and I copied it and pasted it into an "Ideas" file, just in case. I'm not going to say what it is publicly, y'all know how I tend to be closed mouthed about my stories and their plots, but it's a good idea that has merit and it is within the "romance with a twist" genre I write in. I was mulling over the idea for a bit, thought about modifying it a little bit and set it aside while I relaxed and tried to keep sane from not having anything to do with the writing open on my taskbar.

Over the weekend, I said something about not feeling great, and of course, my writing buddies chimed in with their support and friendship, with a few reminders I'll be okay (that's normal, we support each other fully in all aspects of our lives, not just writing!), and one of them said to message them. I did, and thanks to this friend, I started having quite a few questions bouncing around, and he gave me a few extra to think about.

Thanks to him and my mentor, I *may* have a new idea for a future manuscript. What it consists of is their ideas combined together into one, with a few modifications. There is a huge twist to it, one that hit me while I was talking to both of them, and it's going to work, if I can do it just right. 

Again, I'm keeping the mouth shut on what it is publicly, just like I didn't share any of the storylines from "No Regrets" and "Book 2" while I was writing them. I don't even know if this new idea will turn into anything or not at this point, it's very early in its conception stages, and I'm not sure what the main characters look like, let alone their personalities, their careers, or anything else for that matter. All I have right now is the combined ideas from my two friends, with the big twist, where in Canada the story will be set, and the leading characters' first names. That's it. 

I know, it's not much, but at least I have more today than I did last week, so it is progress of a sort. Yes, I am looking at the bright side of this, I'm still the eternal optimist, and it's times like this that I am grateful that I'm so sunny-natured. I swear that's the only thing that keeps me going some days, that and my son and husband.

So today, and possibly the rest of the week, I plan on jotting down ideas and doing research on everything I have so far for the new idea. I'm not classifying it as anything like "untitled 9" or "book 3" yet, because I'm not sure how far it's going to go, or even if it's going to make liftoff right now. It's something I hope to turn into another book in time, and there may be a book or two in between today and this one getting off the ground for all I know at this point. We'll just have to see how things go with this one, and future ideas.

On another topic, I'd like to thank everyone who commented or sent me anniversary wishes yesterday and today. Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary, and the day was extra special thanks to our family and friends sending us congratulations and well wishes.

Before I close, I would also like to remind everyone that although today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, remember our veterans and our allied forces year round instead of only one day of the year. Our world would be a much different place if they hadn't protected our freedom, after all.

"Highway of Heroes" by the Trews...


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Feeling Like a Squirrel on Speed, 2013 Edition, Part 2: It's Sinking In!

It's official: Book 2 went into its first stasis/perk cycle as of 8:58 a.m. Atlantic Time on Monday, November 4th, 2013.

I wasn't doing great after I closed it. I started getting jumpy, feeling out of sorts and wanted to open it and work on it, but I couldn't, not if I wanted to let it sit for a while and let it fade from my memory so I could edit it properly when the time is right. It's a hard thing to do when you suddenly set aside a project that has consumed your life for a while, even only a few months like Book 2 did with me, but you have to do it, if you want to be able to catch any errors that you had missed during the time you were working on it. My mentor has told me several times that sometimes the mind will automatically fill in a missing word or comma, etc, and you don't catch it until later on, sometimes after it's published. People who haven't read the work will notice it but you won't, because your mind is correcting it unconsciously.

She is right. I was noticing my mind was doing that with Book 1/No Regrets, and now that it's gone through not one, but several perk cycles, I was seeing errors galore in it, even after letting it perk for only a week or two. 

I wasn't seeing many errors in Book 2 during the last few edits on it before I finished it, and that was telling me it really needed to be set aside for a while before I attacked Draft 2 and made all of the changes and other things I need to do on it to get it closer to perfect. I'm not doing them right now. The story itself is too fresh in the mind to start it and I want it to perk for a while before I start doing anything related to it. So, during the last read through of its entire document, I took notes in a separate file and highlighted areas in its Draft 2 file that need to be changed. They're color coded, so I can easily find what needs to be compressed, rewritten, 86'ed, and so on when the time is right. 

Since I wasn't feeling the best yesterday and it felt weird having nothing open writing wise on the taskbar, I decided that it was time to relax and do one last read through of Book 1/No Regrets, so I could see if there were any more errors in it, and to see if everything flowed smoothly. Of course, the one day where I needed to block everything out and not have any distractions is the time I get flooded with them. *SIGH* Out of the first six hours I had Book 1 open on the taskbar yesterday, I didn't make it past the middle of Chapter 2. It wasn't until I literally started losing it around Sanctuary and with some people in Facebook (as in babbling nonsense and laughing at stuff that wasn't really funny!) that things finally settled down, and I was able to carry on for a bit. I gave up at the start of Chapter Four, due to homework time for Son approaching and the fact that I was too jumpy and distracted to continue.

Today, I'm a little better. I'm deeper into the last edit/read through, and even with a few gallons of coffee in me, I'm not so jumpy right now. Maybe doing what I did by holding back on sending Book 1 out to publishers wasn't a bad idea after all, even though I had originally wanted to have it sent out by the time it was a year since I finished its first draft... That was on October 19th, but I kind of missed that self set deadline. Oh, well. At least I'm getting it ready now and hopefully won't be too out of it when I finally do get it sent out. (Reminder: Only a few people will know when and where it goes, and if I get rejected. I won't say it publicly because I do not want to disappoint a lot of people!) 

That said, I'm only on Chapter Seven of the final run through of No Regrets/Book 1 right now. I'm going over it with an ultra fine toothed comb, to be sure I didn't miss anything at all. I am still seeing a few missing commas and words here and there, and seeing a few spots where the wording can be changed around or compressed a little, and I'm doing all of it as I go.

I'm hoping to have this last run through of Book 1/No Regrets' final draft done by the 23rd, which is the American Thanksgiving. With a little luck, I'll be done long before that and my mentor, Sandra, will have the fully updated draft in her inbox, for her enjoyment, and to see if I missed anything on the last few readings of it. She really enjoyed an earlier draft of it, so I hope she likes the updated version of it, which includes a few extras to fully line things up with what goes on in Book 2's story. I'm not saying what those changes are, she knows what they are because she helped me with not only them, the entire story of Book 2 and parts of Book 1/No Regrets. She has been there with me since I first got the idea for Book 1/No Regrets, and I trust her fully with it. It's thanks to her ideas for it and shooting both the original idea *and* the big scary part of Book 2 at me that I was able to keep going and really get into both books. She's done the same with me and her work, including talking to me about her fourth book, which is currently "under production", and she knows if she needs to brainstorm, I'm there and will do my best to help her with it like she helped me with my two books. 

Others have helped me and encouraged me too... One of my best friends, my "Peapod" and twin sister-soul mate, who I met on a large spiritual forum, helped me get the first love scene in Book 1/No Regrets perfected. I was online, talking to her privately when I did the full rewrite on that section, and thanks to her help, that particular scene and the teaser that eventually leads into it were perfected. What is in the final draft of No Regrets/Book 1 is pretty much what I had written that night, with the verb tense corrected that is. (Don't get me started on how horrible my verb tense was in the first draft of the first 37 chapters of that book in draft one!)

I had several friends and others read snippets of Book 1/No Regrets over time, and thanks to everyone's help, I have managed to see what I was doing wrong, was I was getting right, and my strengths and weaknesses. Dialogue was never my strong point, it was one of the weakest (or as I called it, my "Achilles Hell") and after a while, I noticed it was easier to write, thanks to some brutally honest criticism and encouragement from my mentor, my Peapod and so many others out there. 

No one knows just how much I appreciate everything... From the big boosts and brainstorming, like the ones I got from Sandra, Peapod and a few others, to the smallest things like only a smile of encouragement. It all helped me get to this point, and I'm grateful for every single word, gesture and hug sent to me over the last two and a half years, ever since Book 1/No Regrets started to take over almost every aspect of my life.

So, although the crash back to reality did hit me somewhat hard this time, it's not as bad as it was last year when I finally set Book 1/No Regrets aside to perk for a while. It could be because I have something to do other than twiddle the thumbs and attack a thousand dreamcatcher kits while I drive my husband and my poor trusted best friends nuts, or try to get into another writing project before the writing batteries are fully recharged. I admit, both books took a lot out of me, because I was so absorbed in them and the fact that Book 2's story was a difficult story to write by times considering the nature of it, and it will be a while before I can even consider diving head first into another writing project, not even one I have from the time before No Regrets was conceived. Yes, the RH overhaul has been put aside yet again and I'm wondering if I'll ever get it published, or done for that matter. It's hard to say. The No Regrets/FP series is still pretty fresh in my mind at this time, and until the urge to write yet another sequel to it is gone and I feel I can move on from it, I don't see anything new happening writing wise for a while. Folks, I've lived with some of these characters in my head for over two years, and sometimes it's really hard to let go of them, even if you wrote only one book about them and their lives. (I'm sure others will get what I mean!) It's a rough thing to say goodbye to them, although I know it's time to move on with new characters, new stories and other mysteries and twists and turns that not even I expect to happen, whether my brain wants to or not. Believe me, sometimes it doesn't want to let go and I have to distract myself with something like a movie or an episode of one of my favorite shows until the brain relaxes again. It's hard to do, but I have to do it, if I want to write anything other than stories about this dynamic, fun and interesting group of characters.

I hope all of you have a great week, and hopefully I'll be able to alert my "writing buddies" via FB that I have sent No Regrets off to a publisher finally, sometime soon. It's time to start showing off that particular baby, and pray that someone out there gives me a chance.

Thanks again to all who have supported me. Love you all!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Feeling Like a Squirrel On Speed, 2013 Edition, Part One: Terminal Velocity!

This is copied from my writing thread in Sanctuary, posted this morning...

It's started. 

It's just me and Cat here right now and I'm looking at Book 2 and it's starting to sink in that I do NOT have anything to write at all now. It's not out of my head enough yet, the writing batteries are somewhat drained and I have NO new ideas to start a new story.

The crash back to reality is making me feel odd. I feel like I'm about to hit the Earth at terminal velocity and there's nothing I can do about it. I feel like I should be writing and there's nothing to write, so I'm at odds what to do with myself for the next five hours. It's the same feeling I had last year this time, after Book 1 was finished, although Book 2 isn't in another perk cycle yet. That will be happening after I finish the full reread of it, probably later today or sometime over the weekend... THAT is when it'll fully sink in.

Thanking the stars I did NOT send Book 1 off yet, because it's going to save my life and keep me from driving our [screen name of Sanctuary's owner/site goddess] and my wonderful husband insane, and keep me from wrecking the industrial strength padding our Site Goddess recently installed in the forums here. I'm starting to feel like a squirrel on speed right now and it feels weird to be online this time of morning on what would normally be a writing day for me, had I actually had something to write. 

I do have the name of a possible future leading lady in my head, and after I told Hubby what it was the other day, he had an image pop into HIS head and told me what it was. I have it jotted down in the Memos section of my cell phone (Son was using the computer when Hubby gave me the idea), but I don't know anything about her other than her name at this point in time. I don't know what she looks like, her personality, her likes and dislikes, if she's a virgin or not (probably NOT!) or anything else about her... And I have NO idea what her story will be, or who and what her leading man will be either.

I hate feeling like this when the after the book is done high starts wearing off... It's a repeat of last year, between the time Book 1 was finished and I got the idea for its sequel, Book 2, thanks to our Penth telling me a few things about Book 1 and shooting a few ideas at me. I think deep down, our beloved Site Goddess/my beloved mentor realized I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the interesting characters from Book 1 yet, and her suggestion made a spark come to life in my brain that less than a few weeks later, became Book 2. Now that I HAVE said goodbye to them and their stories, I'm even more at odds with myself on what direction to take my writing and characters.

The fun has begun and hopefully I don't drive everyone TOO crazy with things. If I get too bad, I'll just have to sneak offline and deal with it away from everyone else. I don't want to put anyone through me losing it any more than I have to, and even here at home, I may sneak upstairs if I drive the guys overly crazy.

Hopefully this weird feeling doesn't last as long this year... I don't have the strength in my hands to make another few zillion dreamcatchers. *SIGH*

I hope something writing wise hits me soon, cause if I am unable to write, I may as well be dead. It's as essential to me as breathing, as any other true author/writer or creative person out there would know! 
 So it's started, that stupid squirrel on speed feeling again. I'm not sure what's going to happen over the next few weeks or months until the writing batteries are recharged and I'm waiting for replies from publisher #1 on my list, but I do know I'm going to try to keep busy with my [god awful] photography and other things creative wise until something new hits me writing wise and I'm so deep into it that I'm walking around in a fog like I have ever since first Book 1/"No Regrets" then Book 2 consumed my mind. 

I hope and pray I won't be as bad this year as I was last year. *SIGH* 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween... Happy All Saint's Day and Hello, November!