Goals Update

It’s been awhile since I made a post on my author blog, so it’s long overdue.

Today, I’m taking down the 2018 goals list I made in January from my wall.

I’m not admitting defeat, I’m simply recognizing that I am not able to do the things I wanted to be able to do when I made that list, because whether I like it or not, I don’t feel good enough to write or work on my stories as much as I want to.

I think it’s important to have goals, and I don’t intend on giving up, so I’m going to change my goals based on what I feel I am capable of doing.

With that said, here are my new goals:

-Complete Masks parts 2 & 3 drafts by the end of May

-In May, resume working on my draft of Into the Deep and plotting my post-apoc short story.

-Have post-apoc short ready by end of July

Some other, tentative/hopeful goals:

-Submit Into the Deep somewhere by July

-Self-pub my fairy tale retelling, Leo, possibly in June.

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My NaNoWriMo 2017

Okay, I know this is late, and I feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth just a little since the end of November, at least as far as my writing goes.

I thought it’d be interesting to talk about NaNoWrimo at length, as a person who hasn’t ever done NaNo seriously and also won on my first serious attempt.

Today I’m going to talk about a couple of things. First, my past history and thoughts on NaNoWriMo, and then a some things that I did to keep up the pace throughout the month and not fall behind.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo in about 2009. One of the first pieces of original fiction I read on Fiction Press was a friend’s NaNo novel. When I say I’ve never made any serious attempts, let me clarify. I thought about doing it, and tried to write for one day, or two days and didn’t even come close, and then gave up. I did that a few times before I realized that this wasn’t for me. I thought that it was silly because I always write on and off anyways and NaNoWriMo is for people who wouldn’t normally find the time to sit down and write the novel idea they had in their head.

So, for a long time I wrote off NaNoWriMo as something that I didn’t need.

Now let’s fast forward to 2017. Around October, when I had a major writing project that I really wanted to make myself write. I thought, well NaNo is coming up, maybe I’ll use that as motivation. I’d recently discovered about myself and my writing that if I set myself a strict goal and adhere to it, I surprise myself and usually achieve it.

What better motivation that NaNoWriMo?

Before I get into the tips, let’s talk about the reasons why I failed in the past:

First, I didn’t have a plan. Yes, I had a story I wanted to write, but I didn’t have anything plotted out and was flying completely blind. I know some people call this “pantsing” but I think, even a panster knows a lot about what they are writing before they start writing it. I never had a clear vision, and thus, I believe that is why I failed.

Second, I had almost zero support network. I had a couple of chatrooms I frequented at the time, but I didn’t have any people friended on NaNo and I wasn’t active on Twitter or anything at the time. I didn’t have people reporting word counts back and forth or anyone pushing me to write.

What was different this year? To start with, I had a pretty clear idea of my plot. I had documents with notes and I’d been stewing this idea for quite some time. It was a story that has been ready to come out of me for most of the year. I was raring to go.

So my tip number one…

Tip 1: No matter your writing preference, panster or plotter or planster, have a plan. Don’t fly completely blind. I consider myself a planster, because I have notes for all my stories (I wouldn’t consider these full outlines), usually in chronological order, then a section of miscellaneous character notes. I even include bits of dialogue I think I might want to have in the story. Then, when it comes to writing, I touch on each of the points in my notes, but in between those, I might go with the flow.

Tip 2: If it weren’t obvious from the reasons why I failed… Have a support network. At least one other person, preferably as many as possible, to cheer you on and write together and keep those words flowing. It really does help to have someone saying “you’re doing awesome!” every once in a while.

Tip 3: Word sprints, or word wars. Find a sprinting group, and sprint with them every day when you’re trying to crank out your words. Setting a 10 or 20 or 30 minute limit and challenging yourself to write as much as you can–no distractions, no Twitter breaks as you race against the clock–really is the best way to get those words down.

I also did this Twitter game called #MusicSprint. Each day there were three songs, and sometimes a fourth bonus song. The songs would get shorter after each one, and the challenge was to write as many words each song as you could. To put things into perspective, in a 20 minute writing sprint I usually write around 300 words at most. Usually less. Using #MusicSprint, in a 10 minutes or less time frame, I usually wrote 200-300 words! So it really did help!

Tip 4: Write at the same time every day. Be consistent! Choose the most productive time based on what works for you, and stick to it. Get into a schedule. Every day, I would do what I needed to do after work, and then sit down at my desk, check my Twitter for just a few minutes, then NaNo time.

Towards the end, I found myself trying to hurry out my words within the last couple hours of the evening. That might work for some too, if you work well under pressure. No matter the case, pick what you know works for you and go with that. Try out a few things and choose the one that seems to yield the best results for you. Everyone is different.

Tip 5: Have a buffer! If you feel like you can write extra on any given day, do it. Don’t just stop at your daily minimum word count. But only if you don’t feel overworked or exhausted! It’s about pacing yourself. Do more than you can, because then when you can’t, you aren’t as far behind! If you have a day off, use some of that time to build up a buffer if you are able to. I had two or three days during NaNo that things came up in my personal life, or that I just didn’t feel good at all, and wasn’t up to writing. But because I had a buffer, I didn’t feel so behind when I came back to work on my project the next day. Which leads into the next tip.

Tip 6: Take care of yourself! Take breaks. If you really feel like you can’t write one day, then do what you need to do! Take care of yourself! If you have a buffer, it won’t put you that far behind, and you’ll come back to your project feeling more invigorated (hopefully!).

Tip 7: Celebrate your successes! Publicly in some way if you can. On Twitter, or in your word sprint group. Seeing other people say “great job!” goes a long way towards keeping your morale up. And, if you post your progress on Twitter too, you can thread it and see how far you’ve come!

Tip 8: Don’t forget to utilize the NaNo website! Put in your word counts every day. That’s another way you can see how far you’ve come. It really does help keep you going. Especially once you get past halfway. 50k starts not feeling like that much by then!

Tip 9: Print out a NaNo calendar! I found an awesome one with a Raven on it, which was very appropriate for my project, and put it up on my wall where I could see it every day. It has the word count goal for each day and a little prompt or piece of motivation. It really helped me to stay on track, and saved me the time of having to do math because I could just look up and see what my total word count had to get to that day to stay on track!

I think that’s all I have for now. Whether you won NaNo this year or not, or if you didn’t attempt at all, just keep writing, and try out some of these tips next year, or whenever you start your next project, to keep yourself on track, whatever your goals are.

Happy writing!

 

“I always wanted to be a writer.”

“When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”

“I always knew I wanted to be a writer.”

This is a question and answer that I see a lot. It seems like a vast majority of writers “always knew” they wanted to write.

I didn’t always know. So, as someone who didn’t “just know” I thought I’d write a little about what made me start writing and about the little clues from my childhood that I never picked up on at the time.

When I was a kid, I played pretend. Most kids probably did. But I was always doing it. Even by myself. I had intricate stories in my head going for all my toys, I made up personas when I played, and so on.

What really got me story telling to myself was probably when I was about 13, and I discovered anime. I watched DBZ, Sailor Moon, and Tenchi Muyo all religiously. I also got really into RPGs, Star Ocean 2 was my first, followed by Final Fantasy VII.

It was right around this time that I started making up a story. I had all these scenes in my head for it, and I made up a cast of characters because I wanted it to be cool like one of the shows I watched or games I played, and I even borrowed little traits from them, like having a character with three eyes and whatnot. I would draw all of my characters in a notebook and write their names above them and act out scenes in my room and think of it this were a video game what the boss fights would be.

I thought it would be awesome if it could be a video game someday. Sadly, I’ve still never actually made a serious attempt at writing that story since realizing I like writing, only a couple of starts in the past. I’d still like to make a proper go of it someday.

So, I was really into the art side of all this stuff, and I pursued art through most of high school. By about 11th or 12th grade I realized being a plain artist probably wouldn’t get my anywhere, and moved toward graphic design/visual communications in an attempt to still do something art related but have a chance at a proper career.

One of the other things that happened in 10th grade was, I really enjoyed my English class. I got good grades on book reports and thought, yeah this is pretty nice, I like this. So in 11th grade I decided, why not take AP English.

That was a mistake for me. Picking apart books was so not my thing. I transferred out of AP English after the first semester.

For a long time, my failure with that discouraged me from any sort of path involving English Literature.

I went to college and got my visual communication degree. During college, I picked up a random book at the bookstore because the cover had a person holding out an apple on the cover, and I was big into Death Note at the time so I thought that was awesome. It was about vampires and I thought that was cool. I always liked vampires and loved the movie Interview with the Vampire.

Any guesses on the book yet? That’s right, it was Twilight.

So let’s talk just a little bit about Twilight. I don’t remember much about the writing itself, but I did read all of the books, and at the time I enjoyed them. But as I was reading them, I thought, “This doesn’t seem all that special. I could do this.”

And that’s when I decided. I should write my own stories.

I finished my associate’s in visual communications, which, sadly by the time I was finishing it I realized it too would have little use to me, and in most of my spare time I piddled around in pocket sized notebooks writing stories that I thought might never see the light of day.

For a long time, that’s how I felt. I got a full time job in an office, and worked and wrote here and there and started posting a couple things up online.

One of them got the attention of a girl who is now my best friend and writing buddy.

I’m not gonna lie, I spent a couple of years after meeting her writing with her all kinds of fun stuff that also might not see the light of day, and in that time I almost never worked on my own stuff. But I wouldn’t take back any of that.

Because of that experience, I created so many characters and worlds with my friend, and that’s how my story Masks was actually born.

So that’s the story of how I started writing.

As for why I write and will continue to? Well, I’ve got all these stories in my head, and I want to do something with them!

 

My 2017 So Far

I guess I should use my blog to, you know, update people on things I’m doing at length. I talk a bit about things on Twitter here and there but it’d be nice to put it all in one place.

So, if you follow my Twitter you may know I haven’t been able to write that much. I’ll keep that vague for reasons I’m not comfortable with fulling discussing but basically I don’t usually feel very good at all, I’ve been trying a couple things and had a major procedure I’m hoping will help, but I’m still having some issues. They may or may not go away with time, so I’m basically going to be trying to make healthier choices in the meantime in hopes that it’ll help me somewhat too.

Long story short: I don’t feel good many days and haven’t been able to write like, at all.

Over the past year, I’ve feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, but with little fruits of labor to show for it. The major thing of course was I released my first novella with LT3. This story was submitted in 2016. BUT, in April 2017 after receiving my edits back from them, I had to rewrite it. So yes, I wrote it twice, once in 2016 and once in 2017. I wrote a 20k novella in four weeks and met my deadline, which I think is my biggest accomplishment and the most I’ve ever written in that period of time. What I wrote in 2017 is what became the Masks that was released for your reading pleasure in August.

When I set out to do that it seemed impossible, and I did it. By accomplishing that, I felt like I could really do this whole writer thing. If you want to know more about what happened with Masks, refer to my blog post with the outrageously long title, here.

In April I also wrote a short, steamy pirate smut piece for a collection call and submitted it.

Right around the time I received my first edits for Masks, I was working on what I wanted to be my next project, a story I’ve been writing on and off since 2009 about a pirate and a merman. It’s one of the first stories I started, and I completed a very rough draft of it in 2016 as well. Once all the final edits with Masks were out of the way, I resumed rewriting that story. Mostly.

One of the other things I worked on during the summer was an unplanned project for a collection call of LBGTQIA+ fairy tale retellings. For that, I wrote a piece called Leo, a retelling of Pinocchio. That story ended up being about 16k and was submitted in September.

In September I also finished the second draft of my pirate and merman story, with a push from a friend who challenged me to get the last five chapters rewritten (bragging rights 5eva!). Of course, even the second draft is still rough. I learned a lot from my edits on Masks and have some major work to do on the beginning half again.

Around September I also started daydreaming about a continuation of Masks, which I’d had potential ideas for long before it was even accepted by LT3. I’m still getting ideas for it regularly and I’ve decided I’d like it to be a three part novella series.

It was also right around this time that I started kind of giving out, or rather, giving in to, how crappy I always feel. So, I’ve been slacking off. I haven’t done much more along of the lines of a third draft for my pirate merman story, and I haven’t done anything but daydream about Masks material.

So, what happened to pirate smut and Leo? Well, both of them were not accepted by the respective places that I submitted them to. I was really hopeful that Leo would be, and that I’d be able to say I had two things published in 2017, but it didn’t happen. Pirate smut I’m not super surprised about, but I’m glad it’s done.

Looking to the future, for now Leo will sit until I find another queer fair tale call. It’s a completed draft ready to go. No plans for the pirate smut at the moment (it’s really corny, trust me).

My original goals were to get both my pirate and merman story and the rest of my Masks novellas ready to submit by the end of the year. So, since I’ll be writing in November anyways, I’m going to be working on Masks for NaNoWriMo! If I don’t meet word count with that I’ll also me drafting some new material for my pirate and merman story, and I’ve got a few ideas for a spin-off sequel story for character from Leo.

I might be failing miserably at this but I figure I might as well take advantage and use NaNo for some added motivation to actually accomplish my goals, because while I might not have been able to get anything else out there in 2017, I really don’t want the same to be said for 2018.

Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNo website and I’ll add you back, and hit me up on Twitter during NaNo month too if you like!

So, what is everyone else working on this November? Let me know in the comments!

About Masks, my first publishing experience start to finish, and how I had no idea what I was doing

With the release of my first published work, Masks, this week, I’d like to talk a length about my experience during the whole process, because it was unique in that I A) had no idea what I was doing and B) I’ve never done this before. So if anyone is curious how Masks came to be and about the long process that it went through from start to finish, here it is.

I first started writing Masks for fun as a backstory for characters I made because of a writing buddy. I kept an eye on the collection calls at LT3 hoping to one day find something submit to. When I saw the Villains, Inc, I thought about submitting it to that, but didn’t get to finish it in time and gave up on it for a while.

Then I saw the call for Enemies to Lovers and ended up completing it in time to submit it to that call. It didn’t get accepted initially into that call because the editor didn’t think it’d fit well with the other stories, but offered to pass it along to be considered as a general submission, and it ended up being accepted there.

After I signed the contract, my story was sitting in the editing queue for about five months with me having no idea what to expect or what was going on. Finally, in about March I got back my first revisions for it. It was a mess. It was nowhere near up to snuff and the editor recommended I rewrite it.

At this point, I fully realized everything that was wrong with the story in the first place because it had all been laid out for me. I realized that as much as I liked just writing for fun, I really had no idea what I was doing when writing something with the intent of publishing it. But I’d already signed a contract and I had to make this work.

So I asked for a month to rewrite it, and I rewrote the whole thing, taking every change and suggestion the editor had into consideration. One of the suggestions was that I write it in first person and I even did that. I don’t usually write in first person, used to even hate reading it, but I’ve read some good first person books and had actually recently warmed up to the idea of eventually writing something in first person, so I went with it at the suggestion.

I actually really enjoyed rewriting the story, despite all of my anxiety around doing so. Because of some of the feedback I received, I was able to see what I needed to do to improve the characters, and I was really able to tap into Avari’s “voice”. I was able to write him better and in a way that made more sense and was more consistent. I was also able to draw on a few new experiences I’d had between my original manuscript and the rewritten one that I thought added more life to the setting, so that was also a plus.

One month, 21k words and a ton of new and revamped scenes later, I turned in my “revised manuscript”. Then I waited again to hear back.

In the meantime, I was given opportunity to revise my blurb, and my book got a cover (which I’m still head over heels for!). During that whole time I was thinking, “Oh God I’m going to get this thing back and it’s going to be awful again and I won’t have time to fix it. What will I do?” After all that, I got more revisions back. Turns out it had been sent on to copy-editing, so I did a whole lot of worrying for nothing. It didn’t go back to the first editor at all.

There were only a few minor revisions that were suggested by the copy-editor, and some here and there grammar fixes. And here I thought I’d be stuck with no way to meet another deadline in a couple weeks when it was only about six weeks until release. But it only took me a few hours to finish.

After that the rest really went pretty quick. I got a galley copy back and sent off the last few changes, and viola! I had the finished copy back in no time.

This whole process has been nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing, though it wasn’t without it’s exciting moments, like getting a book cover and seeing my book on Goodreads and on LT3’s website. From start to finish, I feel like it took a kind of long time, part of which I think was that LT3 may have been a bit backed up at the time, and still is. In fact they are currently closed to general submissions due to this. But I got through it and Masks is now out there!

I may not have been ready to throw something out into the world honestly, but I did. I never actually expected that Masks would be the first thing I got published at all. Yet here we are.

I hope some people out there enjoy the story. It’s a story that was very close to me that my heart wanted to tell. It’s a part of the story that needed to be told before anything else could happen. In my head, it’s only the beginning. I have so much more planned for these characters that I’d like to share with the world, to expand that tip of the iceberg that was revealed in Masks.

With any luck, my next time around will be faster and smoother!

So that being said, I hope you enjoy. Happy reading!

~Amara

 

Masks Release Day!

I’m so excited for it to finally be release day for Masks! It’s been a long long journey from start to finish, which I plan on talking about in a blog post very soon!

For now, I hope people enjoy Masks! It’s got villains/heroes, a grumpy MC and niceguy love interest, and lots of eating of burritos and waffles!

And you can get it at LT3 or wherever you like to buy books!

LT3 Store: 

Retailers: 

Up and Down, Good and Bad

It’s been and up and down past couple weeks for me. I’m sure people don’t want to come here to hear all about that. I try not to make a point of blabbering about my problems. It’s mostly personal stuff.

Here’s the good stuff that happened:

First off, Masks is officially ready for it’s release on 8/23! So yay for that!! Closer to release, I’ll be making a blog post at length about Masks.

The submission call I plan on submitting Leo to has been extended. So now I plan on sitting on Leo for a while (about a month) then returning to do another round of revisions on it before I send it off!

In the meantime, I took a little break this week from writing things, and now I’m planning on going back to writing my pirate/merman story. My goal is to have a final draft of that complete before the end of the year.

Writing Goals For This Week

My goal was to post new blogs posts like every weekend, Sunday or something. But again on Sunday I couldn’t think of anything to say. I still can’t really. (I’m really going to have to work on that)

BUT, I figured here would be a good place to talk about my goals for this week at length.

While I haven’t really been having a great week, due to feeling yuck, I’m sure people don’t want to come here to listen to me whine about that. So I’m not going to.

My goal for this week is to finish getting Leo ready to submit to the fairy tale collection call at Nine Star Press. I was hoping I’d be further along, but again, been feeling icky. I have to add some words to the last scene, then another run through of the whole thing, and then formatting it (which means taking out all my double spaces and adding indents blehh. I at least know a shortcut for the indents.)

I hope everyone is doing better than I am this week and good luck on your goals if you have any!

EDIT: I JUST GOT BACK THE GALLEY FOR MASKS SO I HAVE TO DO THAT BY TOMORROW AHHHHH! and write a dedication!

 

~Amara

The Week So Far

I totally thought of something nifty for myself to talk about on Sunday, then forgot it and couldn’t (and still don’t) remember it.

So instead, I’m going to talk a little about my week so far. I’m not doing great, actually. Still dealing with minor health issues and having some mood swings which has been ruining my evening. I feel okay right now.

Upside, I have officially finished the draft of my short story, Leo! I’ve gotten some feedback and will be working on revisions over the next week. Hopefully the week gets better so I can get a lot done!

Also over the weekend, I got copy edits back for Masks (eep!) and it wasn’t a trainwreck like the first time.

Here’s hoping the rest of the week is better. I’m going to try to force the negative energy out!