Monday, January 5, 2015

Shelving a Novel

Saturday night, I made one of the hardest decisions a novelist can ever make. I shelved The Unanswerable.

There's always a mixture of emotions when this happens, largely sorrow, but right now, all I feel is relief. The novel wasn't growing the way I wanted it to. The characters weren't strong enough to carry the hectic pacing of the story, and the pacing at the beginning was too slow to grasp the reader. It was a mess that I wrote two years ago, and even during my rewriting, the pacing and plot stayed a mess.

While I do plan on revisiting the book, I've decided to approach the series of conquels from a different angle.

My husband and I hashed out the plot line, the sense of urgency, the characters, and what I could do to revamp the current book. But the problem is, The Unanswerable has too much information. It explains the why of the apocalypse.

The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later start with immediate consequences. We don't know what's going on, but our main characters have an instant need to survive, something that all people can relate to.

The Underground, which was originally going to be book two in the series, starts with immediacy. The main characters have to go or else... And that's a pretty great opener for a series. It sucks you in and says, "This story is important. And these people? They matter." As such, The Underground will now be book one, which I'm hoping to publish next year.

I plan on revamping The Unanswerable with the same major characters, same turning point, but I plan on removing most of the story and starting from scratch. However, since I am so utterly frustrated with this novel, I'm not in the right mindset to revamp it.

While I won't apologize for choosing not to publish / pursue a sub-par novel, I will apologize for those who were expecting a virus-based apocalypse novel this year from me.

There is, fortunately, some good news in all of this.

Editing In a Blue Moon has gone smoothly, and I'm expecting a March publication. It's a young adult fairy tale retelling/apocalypse, so while there are some humorous moments (evil Pinocchio anyone?), it's very fast-paced and will be sure to hit on all the dark notes that you find in apocalypse novels.

In addition, I've started writing my Consciousness Series, which will start with Conscious. It's a paranormal series that will have some suspenseful elements. I haven't fleshed out the plot yet, but the beginning of the first book packs a huge punch. I'm really excited for this series because it combines a lot of emotional, contemporary elements with the intensity of a paranormal plot.

So, while I'm upset about having to put The Unanswerable aside, I do have high hopes for this year's publication schedule. No Sugar Coating and Good Criminal Heart should still be released this year, both standalones for those who don't want to invest in a series.

I'm excited about the future, and while the UnSeries isn't getting published on time, it will see the light of day eventually.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Accomplishments and 2015 Goals

I set a lot of crazy goals for myself in 2014, which I realize was a little over zealous. But I still accomplished a lot, so here it goes:

  • Wrote, edited, and published YA Dystopian, The Collapse (The Uprising #2).
  • Wrote, edited, and published YA Contemporary, Girl Nevermore.
  • Wrote, edited, and published short horror story, ZERO (which you can get for free by signing up for my newsletter).
  • Started my author newsletter.
  • Ran several book giveaways.
  • Moved to a different state.
  • Got a new job (which starts soon!)
  • Read 50 books.
  • Founded the independent author collective, The Scriptors.
  • Finished NaNoWriMo for the fourth year in a row (by writing In a Blue Moon, to be published soon).

I think that's most of it, but overall a very productive year!

I'm excited for 2015, but I'm keeping my goal list a little shorter this year. I'm taking each day at a time, and I have a monthly calendar with each day's goals written out. It worked great for December, so I'm keeping it up for this year!

Here are my writing, reading, and personal goals for the next 365 days:

  • Publish three books.
  • Publish one novella.
  • Read 55 books.
  • Take five hikes to beautiful locations.
  • Go on five photo adventures.
  • Eat at five new restaurants.
  • Complete NaNoWriMo for the fifth year in a row.

That's it! Seven goals. Of course, I can always stretch these goals. I can always add another book, hike, or random adventure to the mix. I'm excited for 2015, because I feel focused again and ready to take the challenges as they come.

Cheers to the New Year!

What are some of your accomplishments from the past year and goals for the new one?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On getting sick of your writing

As authors, we go through a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to our own writing. We love the concept, but hate this scene we can't get quite right. We adore our main character, but hate that the villain seems to one-sided. We call in and out of love with many aspects of our stories.

I'm at this stage with The Unanswerable where I am sick of it. I wrote it two years ago, rewrote it earlier this year, edited it once a month ago, and now I'm editing it again.

There's a few scenes that I hate because they aren't right yet. There's a few scenes that I adore because they make me cry or bite my nails because they are spot on.

But I'm sick of my own story. Trying to make the blah scenes pop with the vitality they should have is frustrating. Combing over the good scenes to make them the best they can be is tedious. I've read the story too many times to have a fresh perspective. The concept, and the story itself, are starting to feel stale.

So what now? When your inspiration and motivation for a piece are gone, what do you do?

I force myself to edit it one more time, and then I pass it off to an alpha reader--in this case, my husband. He's my concept developer. When I want to make sure the story works, I ask him. He points out weak scenes, tells me what I've done well, and provides me with a fresh look on my writing.

Getting sick of my own work doesn't mean the story is bad. It means I need a new set of eyes; someone else to be nit-picky. I need someone to confirm, "Yes, this is a flaw" or tell me, "No, you're being overly critical."

Developmental feedback can be obtained through alpha readers, friends, or even a developmental editor. If you find your eyes glazing over at your own words, it's time for another person to step in.

Don't worry, The Unanswerable is still on its way to being published, even if I am sick of it. I still think it's a powerful story, I just can't figure out how to punch up the scenes that need work.

The second set of eyes always helps.

--

If you are looking for more advice on editing, consider reading Why We Edit, an article I wrote for the independent author collective, The Scriptors.

Friday, November 21, 2014

After the Move: Finding Myself Again

So... I'm sitting here in rainy Portland, contemplating life over a freshly brewed latte with delicious, nutty espresso. I stare out the window through dark rimmed glasses. My beanie is shoved over my short, pixie cut hair, and I come to this conclusion: I have become myself again.

Not that I was anyone other than myself, but for a while, I felt like I was.

Los Angeles is a strange place. You go there with these hopes and dreams of what your sunny LA life will be like. Some people, if they are tenacious enough or have an endless amount of positivity, will succeed. Others, like me, will realize they are not cut out for the very socially-dependent atmosphere.

If you are not an extrovert, Los Angeles can be very taxing.

I like people. Heck, I actually enjoyed being a barista and cashier. Some people think that's weird, but I like being able to interact with people--on a small scale. Los Angeles requires you to chase after contacts, constantly put yourself out there, and keep in touch with anyone who might be a lead on a new position.

The constant game of cat and mouse was too frustrating.

I'd rather have a quiet life than one where I am constantly busy. I'd rather have this moment with my coffee than running from one afternoon meeting to another. I'd rather have a part time job to pay the rent and still pursue my independent creative life.

So Portland. Portland to me is a bit like Boston. Some people may hate me for saying that, but honestly, the laid-back attitude applies to both cities. Sure, Massachusetts has more road rage issues (and arguably, we're quicker to anger than some), but there was always a sense of community.

People treated you like people, not another number waiting to be served.

That's how I feel here. I can start random conversations with strangers again. I feel safe enough to have a brief discussion with a person I might never see again. I'm enjoying life.

And maybe that's why I'm finding it so hard to write right now. I write to escape. Now, I have nothing to escape from.

I'm confident I'll find my voice again, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the rainy weather, try to look less like a hipster (though, I fear I have already become one), and smile for absolutely no reason other than simply being.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Winners and Upcoming Release Update

Congratulations to the six Dystopian book giveaway winners! E-mails have been sent out to those who have won, but stay tuned for more giveaway opportunities! And, you can still sign up for my newsletter. I will be giving away a free zombie short story ebook to all of those who are signed up!

Brief Update on Upcoming Releases
It's November, which means yes, I am doing NaNoWriMo this month. I'm trying to get In a Blue Moon finished by the end of the month (drafted and first pass edit), but I'm also trying to edit The Unanswerable. My goal is to have The Unanswerable out by mid-December (or sometime before the holidays are over) and In a Blue Moon finished for late February release. There's more titles after that, but I don't even want to think about them until I have these two finished.

I have massive amounts of rewriting and editing ahead of me, but I feel great about everything thus far.

I'm also going to have some holiday sales going up soon, including some .99 cent sales. So stay tuned for those! If you want to get notified of the sale - newsletter! Seriously--free short story and sales notifications? Yes? Yes!

Speaking of which, ZERO, the free short for anyone who is signed up for my newsletter, should be ready for distribution by the end of the month. I finished the latest bit of editing, so it is being passed around to a few alpha readers before my editor looks it over.

Now I just need to finish the cover art! Phew! So many things to do, but I am excited to bring you guys more stories!