Tag Archives: Writer

First Draft Completed: Blood Price Edition

Something really neat happened last week.

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After almost eight weeks of writing five times a week (some days, 200 words, other days, 4,000), 151 pages and 80,000 words later, the first full draft of Blood Price is complete. I write “full” with extra emphasis because, in case you haven’t stumbled upon this tidbit in previous posts, Blood Price was an idea I originally tried to write last year, getting 50 pages in before starting over from scratch, only to write another, new set of 50 pages before shelving it entirely. Yet it was a novel–an idea–that I couldn’t get out of my head. I really wanted to write this story.

Here’s what it’s about, if you’re curious:

For the Hanoak, the Creators have blessed them with the resources and land they need to survive, yet granted them the free will to live as they see fit, with little intervention from their gods–with one serious exception.

Only a woman may kill.

It is an responsibility, honor and burden that only women have been equipped to handle, for the price of killing creature or beast and absorbing the soul that once lived within them into their own, is high. The price a woman is able to pay is revealed during her first period as a young girl, the amount of blood lost reflecting the type of souls she can steal during a kill—light periods for animals, heavy periods for humans. For the rest of their lives, women are expected to pay the blood price once a month to cleanse their souls from the corrupting poisons within them.

For Natanni, she is the greatest warrior the Hanoak have ever known.
Her blood price is heavy.
Until the Creators take it away.

Suddenly, Natanni’s problems grow beyond understanding her promised betrothed, defending her border from neighboring tribes and worrying if they can survive the winter after a surprise attack leaves them weakened. Instead, she is thrust into a world of confusion and betrayal as she goes through the ultimate test of faith, forced to choose between her people and her soul, embarking on a journey to the heart of the Creators’ Realm: The Peak, seeking answers only they can give before she loses herself entirely.

So, I pulled up the old draft and opened up a blank document and was truly, pleasantly surprised when the first 10,000 words were salvageable. But not only that. I actually enjoyed reading them. The next 10,000, thanks to a change that I made, didn’t make the cut, but the fact that I got a 10K headstart is the reason I was able to finish this book three weeks before my self-imposed deadline.

Honestly, I don’t think Blood Price is my favorite novel I’ve written. Artemis truly does have that place in my heart and I’m not giving up on that story yet. In fact, I’m going to do one more read through of Artemis, starting in July, to try and catch any missed errors and little things, before I go and widely query it. Then, while that is on submission, I’m going to edit Blood Price once through, before I reach out to some awesome betas I’m hopeful will be willing to help me out. After that, I’ll edit the hell out of this manuscript and get it up to top shape by the year’s end, so that if Artemis doesn’t get any bites, I’ll be ready to go back to it with Blood Price.

Even though I just admitted it isn’t my favorite novel, I don’t want that to come across as a novel I don’t love. I do. It’s probably the scariest novel I’ve ever written–not in it’s content, but in it’s risks. It’s the first book I’ve written from a female protagonist’s perspective (I know, I can’t believe it took so many for me to finally do that) and her background is very different from my own, yet she has a strength I only wish I could emulate. Considering the plot centers so directly around periods, as well, I think, if it does get published, there is going to be a lot of discussion around that very fact.I am not shy in my descriptions, as readers will discover from the very first page. That makes me excited–and nervous.

But those are potential problems for a future me.

I know I have a lot to do, editing wise. I definitely want to make the Hanoak’s culture more prominent and amp up the descriptions throughout. I need to also amplify and solidify Natanni’s voice. Wouldn’t hurt to do some character arc checks. The ending scene could be better. The middle definitely needs some work (since it was the hardest bit to write, so I know there is something wrong there; just a matter of figuring out what). There’s a lot of work ahead for this novel, but right now, it isn’t about the work ahead.

It’s about the work that’s been done.

Coming back to a novel I trunked (something that resulted in almost a year long writing drought for me, thanks to a lot of internal demons) is something I’m ridiculously proud of. It’s a new accomplishment for me. Digging deeper into this story and finding the heart of it was a really awesome moment and I do honestly believe this book has a place out there in the world, as controversial as that place might be. I’m excited to work and hone this book so I can fight for that space.

Not only am I excited about this book, but I’m really excited about all the opportunities ahead. I’ve written two books this year: the first draft of Blood Price and the first draft of Artemis Smith and the Steam-Powered Fallacy, the second book in Artemis’s quintet. For the rest of the year, I am going to focus on editing, like I outlined above; editing and querying. And for the first time, if querying doesn’t work out, I’m going to start seriously considering self-publishing, at least for the Artemis series. Because it’s a series I really want to tell and I’d like it to make it out into the world, just to see if people will love it like I do. Then, there’s looking even further beyond, to series I haven’t even considered yet, because I know there are so many stories still inside me, waiting to be discovered. I just haven’t thought too much about them, yet. Yet there is this character, by the name of Echo-451, who has a story I think she wants me to tell…

Cheers.

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The Romanticification of Publishing

(Yes, I made up a word for my title. You’ll see another version of it, also made it, later in the post. Moving on…)

I stumbled across an article today, entitled “Who Will Buy Your Book?” by Tom McAllister. The title intrigued me, so I thought I’d check it out, give it a quick read right before my lunch break. I found it…surprisingly sad how much I nodded along with it, even though I’m not a published author, instead a writer who is working her way there.

For those who aren’t in the business or don’t know a lot about publishing, there are quite a few misconceptions commonly believed that, quite frankly, drive someone who wants to break into this business, up the wall. Like the idea that writing a book is easy (oh, how it grinds my gears when someone makes such a claim). Or how, if you get one book published, you’ll be rich. This also drives me nuts, because that is not at all how it works, especially with a debut novel. It’s so rare, yet there is this assumption that one book deal equates to sitting pretty and never worrying about anything financial ever again (I wish). Or how people will be like, “You’ll totally get published one day,” without ever having read my writing. That one is tricky, because I love the support and the belief in me (seriously, it does mean the world), but also, how can you make that claim when you’ve never read anything I’ve written?

McAllister touches on some of these topics, but he also speaks on some things that I haven’t been privy to, yet, but that I totally believe could be my reality, one day, if I’m ever lucky enough to join the ranks of the published.

He discusses how he’s had book events–signings, readings and the like–where hardly anyone showed up or how he had to deal with cancellations at the very last minute from friends who promised to come. He talks about how there is this belief that all of your friends and family will buy your book, once it comes out, yet that isn’t actually the case–even less so that those who do buy it will actually read it. The most poignant section, for me, was when he discussed how, in the months leading up to a book’s publication, you become “a swirling vortex of neediness,” trying to market your book, advertise it, asking for blurbs and reviews, doing promotions, trying to spread awareness, making demands, every day, “for people’s time and money.” He talks about how likes and retweets don’t always transition to sales and how sometimes, you’ll feel desperate enough to sell your book anywhere just to get one (like your mother’s wedding, as his example).

He makes the claim that publishing a book is actually the anticlimax in your career.

Perhaps ignorantly, I think I agree with him, as much as one can without experiencing said experience firsthand.

Because we all have this vision, right? Writers, I mean. Of what publication looks like. We see others do it on social media, talking about The Call, posting contract signing pictures, book tour schedules and Con appearances, gushing over reviews, hinting at movie deals and foreign rights and sequels. It’s appealing and it’s part of the dream I’ve worked so hard to achieve. Of course there is a flip side to it: the late nights dealing with impostor syndrome, having a book fall flat or not get picked up during submission, trunked projects, self-doubt, not making enough to quit your day job, tax season.

I’m not surprised by that at all. That’s how life is; that’s how it works.

I guess this article just reminded me that I do have a certain vision in my head and I do romanticize it a lot, about what my publication journey will look like. It probably won’t live up to that romanticization.

But it other ways, it will.

And that’s the important part.

Sure, I’ll probably have a book signing one day where no one but my Mom shows up. Or I’ll have everyone be really excited about my announcement of my first book deal, only for them to be super annoyed with me by the end, because they are tired of hearing about this book, after I’ve been marketing it for the past year. Sure, I’ll still have bad writing days and self-doubt and fears even after I’ve published a book (or even ten).

But I’ll also have those emails that pop in randomly from a fan who adored X character because of what they did; or they’re livid with me with that ending and JUST NEED BOOK TWO NOW. I’ll have that moment where I get to unbox my ARCs of my own book, see my name on the cover and get to hold it, physically, in my hands, while I’m crying, because I did it. My dream came true. I’ll have old friends I haven’t heard from in years text me a picture of my book in a bookstore and perhaps we’ll get coffee afterwards. I’ll go to my first book Con as an invited guest and my face will be crimson the entire time on the panel, but I might make some people laugh, too, so it’ll be worth the embarrassment and awkwardness that is naturally me.

This article reminded me that not every experience, expectation or hope will come to pass during my publication journey as I’ve always dreamed them to be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a dream worth chasing or that my stories aren’t worth telling, because friends, there is only one way to find out exactly how that journey is going to go down.

And that is to live it.

Cheers.


I Need To Up My Game

So, today is International Women’s Day.

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Shout out to all the badass women out there.

My feed on Twitter was filled with people shouting out to some of their favorite female authors and some of their favorite series written by women. I had some come to mind, too, specifically from science fiction and fantasy, genres that I love so much.

Sharon Shinn.

Tamora Pierce.

Melissa Caruso.

Erin Lindsey.

Evie Manieri.

Rob Thurman.

Megan O’Keefe.

And that was just some of my top favorites. There are other authors, like Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, Melissa Meyer, K.C. Alexander, who I’ve read and also enjoyed. Then, in the romance genre, I got some of my top authors, too, because I am a sucker for a good romance novel with plenty of heat.

Bec McMaster.

Tessa Dare.

Meljean Brooks.

Amanda Bouchet.

But, honestly?

I had to go to my Goodreads account to remember some of the female authors that I’ve read and loved. Looking through the books I’ve read, I changed the list setting by author and scrolled through.

And was blown away by how many series I love are written by men.

Not only that, but it wasn’t really surprising that I was having trouble remembering female authors whose stories I love and whose work I’ll always support. Because I haven’t, in the grand scheme of things, read that many. Especially not comparatively.

Obviously, I need to up my game.

I already have some female authors on my list that I want to read (and honestly should have before): Robin Hobb. Ursula K. Le Guin. Naomi Novak. Tomi Adeyemi. Elisa Kova. Sarah J. Maas. Sabaa Tahir.

But I feel like I’m missing a lot.

So, have any female writers you think I should be reading or should have read yesterday? Let me know in the comments below–though I definitely plan to be actively seeking for more female writers to read, support and be inspired by. Because next year, on this date, I want to have a lot more female role models to point you towards and beg you to read their books.

Cheers.


#PimpMyBio: Pitch Wars 2017

Welcome, friends.

I’m new to both the Pitch Wars community and to this awesome #PimpMyBio blog hop, but I’m really excited to be a part of both. If you want to learn more about Pitch Wars, read this. If you want to meet some other fantastic writers participating in the blog hop, click here.

If you want to continue learning about me and the book I’m entering into the contest, you came to the right post.

The Writer 

My name is Nicole and I’m an Elven scout who’s actually really horrible at her job because I have no sense of direction and no survival skills whatsoever I’m a 24 year old nerd who only gets more quirky with age.

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As far as writing goes, I wrote my first story in the sixth grade, where all the characters were my classmates and we had to fight skeletons with glowing red eyes with buckets of daggers. Flying pigs were also somehow involved. Thankfully, my imagination hasn’t stopped, but now my stories actually have real plots and characters and conflicts. I have five completed manuscripts: a YA fantasy trilogy about a destined chosen one who fails anyway and an Adult sci-fi standalone that pits the natural desire to fight for love against the innate instinct to destroy during the extinction of the human race. My fifth book, the first in a multi-book series, I’m entering into Pitch Wars (read about Artemis’s adventure down below).

I also manage three blogs: the one you’re reading now, which is my personal blog. I post about anything ranging from the latest writing woe (or wonder) to my quest for self-love to my video game obsession to my attempts (but usually failures) at adulting. I also write book reviews that discuss the experience of reading a book rather than the book itself over at Erlebnisse. Finally, me and three other writers post short stories at Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, which is a fairly new venture we started this year.

In the writing community, I try and stay active on Twitter (@thought_stained), with various degrees of success (I do have some Luddite tendencies that make me and social media not always on the closest terms). I participated in both #P2P15 and #P2P16, the second time making it on an editor’s shortlist (woo!). Currently, I’m the contest assistant for #ShoreIndie, which is a contest for emerging Indie writers to win free editing on a manuscript and guidance through the journey of self-publishing. I also intern remotely for Naomi Davis at Inklings Literary Agency, whom I absolutely adore and wish I could intern for permanently.

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The Story

When your stories are plagued with tropes, sometimes, the only way to beat them is to live them.

Artemis Smith is the walking representation of the starving artist trope. He’s old, works at a miserable job and has no family of his own, with only his service dog and rejection letters to keep him company. He’s never realized that his novels mirror the same problem his life exhibits: Predictable. Routine. Overdone.

When he meets a strange, blue-haired man outside the library, Artemis believes he’s only a new source for character inspiration. But when the man reveals that he knows not only everything about Artemis’s life, but also everything he does wrong in his writing—and holds the power to fix it—Artemis immediately jumps at the opportunity to escape his mundane routine and chase his publishing dream. He did not realize how literal that escape would be.

Transported into a fairy tale world as Terrowin, Artemis becomes torn as he not only faces deadly creatures, complicated codes of chivalry and an opinionated squire, but also the tropes attached to them. To escape the fairy tale, he must survive—and conquer—both.  

ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST is an Adult urban fantasy. The idea sparked at my own frustration writing plots too overdone and filled with tropes to make it in today’s market, and it became, through numerous drafts, rewrites and beta readers, my favorite story I’ve ever written. 

I can’t wait to share it with you.

The Goal

My goal entering into Pitch Wars 2017 is to catch the attention of a mentor with a similar vision as mine; a mentor who loves Artemis and Terrowin as much as I do, but also sees ways to challenge them and make them even more real. A mentor who believes in my story and believes in me, who isn’t afraid to push me, doesn’t hesitate to point out areas of improvement or praise, and who is willing to not only help elevate my story, but help prepare it (and me) for the eyes of the world.

As a mentee, I can promise an old-fashioned work ethic, positive and prompt communication, a willing, patient ear, relentless optimism and dragon GIFs. In a mentor-mentee relationship, I’m hoping to form a bond that goes well past November, where we can continue to encourage, support and inspire one another to not only achieve our dreams, but to enjoy every moment as we do so.**

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The Juicy Stuff

  • I have a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in film.
  • I work as a circulation supervisor at a library at my alma mater.
  • I believe dragons exist.
  • I’m straight-edge.
  • I’m obsessed with Tolkien and his works.
  • I have five tattoos and have no plans on stopping.
  • Video games are my social life.
  • I have a wanderlust that no bank account could ever sate (and certainly not mine).
  • Dogs are the best thing the world has to offer (especially Golden Retrievers).
  • My favorite cheese is extra sharp cheddar.

So…yeah, I think that covers the basics. Thanks for checking out my bio. If you’re entering PitchWars, tell me about your story in the comments (I’m working my way through everyone’s bios, but it’s gonna take me a while). And please say hello on Twitter, especially throughout the contest. I can promise you puke-level positive tweets (think unicorns and rainbows level support), random GIFs, your typical awkwardness and epic nerd out sessions.

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Cheers.

**Quick note to potential future mentors: I will be out of the country August 25th through September 11th (yay wanderlust sating!), which I realize is right at the beginning of the editing round (I made these plans a year ago, not thinking about any awesome contests I’d want to enter later). If I get on your radar, I hope this is something we can discuss, as though internet access isn’t planned at the moment, I could make things work if chosen (but also, that work ethic I mentioned? Yeah, I’d work my ass off to ensure those two weeks, if editing wasn’t an option, felt like I was still working the whole time).


Defeating the Brain

So, writing and your brain. Your brain is, arguably, the biggest asset to assist telling and crafting your stories. It also, not surprisingly, is your biggest enemy. One that I’ve been battling–and losing to–for the past six, seven months. There are three main areas, I think, where my brain has created mindsets and thoughts detrimental to my writing game, to the point where I easily went weeks without writing at all.

I’m writing this post to remind myself how to fight back.

Mindset One: Writing is Work

I mean, yes. I know there is a stigma that writing is easy or maybe even a waste of time, but both of those are absolute lies. Writing takes a lot of work. Sure, it could be defined as simple: put words together until they form coherent sentences that tell a story. But there is a lot of finessing involved. There are a lot of drafts, returning to and reworking what was previously written. And, personally, I think the fact that you have to constantly battle your own head–and that battle usually doesn’t stop even after you’re published and doing well–makes it one of the hardest jobs of all. So, yeah, writing is work. Writing takes work. But what I’ve been struggling with is treating writing like work.

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Hold a moment, lemme explain.

I recently started editing ARTEMIS again. Last week, I opened up my latest draft, scrolled down to the chapter I last left off on with every intention of working on it again. But then I realized that chapter needed a lot of work. It was filled with repetition of ideas and information that needed to be resorted, cut and most likely reworded. There wasn’t enough detail to truly put the reader in-scene and I needed to figure out what the point of that chapter was, really. Knowing all of that needed to happen after reading just the opening line of the scene, I actually closed the draft and decided to work on it the next day. I just wasn’t in the mood to try and figure that shit out. In that moment, I was viewing writing as work.

Let’s look at that scenario from a different angle, for a moment.

Those issues still exist in that chapter. But instead of looking at it as, “Shit, I need to ground readers in-scene and add in all of this description,” how about: “Alright, let’s see how interesting I can describe this room layout. What do I see? What do readers need to see? How is it important? What does it tell? Let’s put all that into words as beautifully as I know how.” Okay, let’s try again. “Wow, this chapter just told me X three different ways in three different paragraphs over five pages. This chapter is everywhere, without any focus. I’m going to have to rewrite the entire thing.” Instead: “How about I make an outline of what this chapter needs to convey and then figure out how Artemis would logically tell it. Let’s make some beats and rework the info that way. Oh, and don’t forget to incorporate his humor. It’s one of your favorite aspects of his character.”

The work hasn’t vanished. The work still definitely needs to be done. But when I think of it as work, I’m definitely not as eager to complete it, sometimes to the point that I choose not to do it at all (a luxury I have considering my writing doesn’t pay the bills yet). Yet when I think of it as an opportunity, as a challenge, to improve my writing to another degree, to push myself that much further, to give this story everything it deserves and more; I’m not only more eager to work on it (most of the time), but I also enjoy it.

Last night, I finally returned to that chapter. At first, I reread that opening line and I just wanted to pull up another tab and start browsing through social media. I didn’t want to put in that work. But I just forced myself to keep reading, thinking in the back of my head, How can you make this better? And how can you have fun while doing it? I ended up not only “finishing” editing that entire chapter, but I also wrote for almost two hours–a lot longer than the planned 30 minutes I wanted to edit.

It’s a simple change in mindset, a simple change in how I view the work I’m doing. But it’s a trick that actually helps overcome this pesky brain of mine.

Mindset Two: Editing Doesn’t Count

This is stupid.

So I’ve had a writing drought recently. And though the past two weeks, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things by editing ARTEMIS, my brain will sometimes whisper that I’m still fully stuck in my rut, because I’m not writing anything new. Editing something I’ve already written doesn’t count.

Again: stupid.

Of course editing counts. Hell, I often find myself working harder when I’m on draft two or three of something than when I was just spitting out nonsense the first time. I don’t have any tricks to crush this idea (it’s been rather persistent, of late), except to remind myself that it’s ridiculous. I’m putting words to paper. I’m strengthening the foundation I laid months ago. I’m rewriting, adding new scenes, cutting, re-envisioning…yeah, it bloody counts as writing.

Mindset Three: Fear and Doubt

This one is as infuriating as it is constant and confusing. I’ve always had fears when it comes to my writing: wondering if it’s good enough, if my stories are worthy to tell, if they are unique, if they’d ever sell. I fear getting publishing and reading reviews claiming my writing is shit, my characters are boring or my plot is trash. I fear offending/misrepresenting people/ideas unintentionally with what I write or what my characters do/believe. I fear never getting published.

And then there are the doubts.

I doubt the quality of my work. I doubt my ability to tell stories. I doubt that any of my ideas are original. I doubt my ability, my craft, my execution, my effort, my drive, my heart, my characters, my plots, my worlds, my voice…myself.

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Pair fear and doubt together and that equates to a lot of time doing anything but writing. Ironically, it’s easy for me to bury my biggest fear underneath all aforementioned: giving up and never writing again.

Honestly, I think I need to focus on that fear a bit more. Because it is real and it is fierce, even if I hide it underneath all of these other fears and doubts that plague me more often they should. Yet how can I ignore that fear and risk it coming true just because I doubt myself sometimes? Just because I am afraid I won’t live up to my own standards of storytelling, my own expectations of myself; afraid of a negative review (which will always happen, no matter how fantastic a story I write), afraid of rejection or hell, afraid I won’t ever be published at all?

Here’s the thing about writing and being a writer. I’ll always have stories to tell. If I run out, I’ll always find things to draw inspiration from. If I mess up one book, I will always have another chance to do better. If I perfect a book, I’ll still have a chance–and an expectation–to improve. Failure and hiccups are inevitable. Yet how many characters have I read, let alone written, who have been faced with impossible odds and make a dozen mistakes–sometimes even failed drastically–only to come out victorious in the end? No matter how many times their brains told them it was impossible, they pushed forward.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Push forward and write stories, no matter how many times or how many ways my brain tries to convince me to do to otherwise.

Cheers.


Originality

I struggle with this concept so much, but never more than when I’m prepping to query. Whether I’m stalking agents on Twitter, perusing agency websites, utilizing the fantastic and wonderful Manuscript Wish List or just trying to craft my query in general, it never fails that this topic is brought up and I’m stuck with these hidden emotions that I wish I could describe, but I’ve always been so scared to say, because I don’t want to be disrespectful or appear ignorant. I am genuinely curious. My question regarding originality keeps nagging at me and the itch to talk about this is still here, so the secrets out, friends:

It irks me a little bit when someone asks for something “new” or “original,” not because I think we shouldn’t want these things, but because I don’t have any idea how the hell to achieve said things.

Because what is more original than sending out something I’ve written; a person you’ve never read before, with characters you don’t know, even if aspects of the plot or tropes are familiar?

Granted, I’m sure if some professionals in the publishing business read this, they’d be rolling their eyes at me. I don’t mean to sound inconsiderate or disrespectful or rude or anything aside from actual curiosity. I totally understand why agents have to be picky (while starting off securing an agent may be a dream come true for writers, it is a job for agents and they obviously have to be cognizant of that when choosing authors to represent, amongst a variety of other factors) and that they each have their own personal tastes. One agent is completely tired of vampires while another isn’t interested in angels. Another wants both.

I totally understand that and respect it 110%. So please don’t get the wrong idea. I just don’t understand what they are asking for when they ask for something original. Because what it is original? Is that even possible?

I know my stories aren’t breaking any new ground. I do things that have been done before. I also am fond of twisting a lot of traditional tropes, building up expectations only to disappoint and surprise my readers later on when the story takes a different turn. And as I grow as a writer, my stories have also grown in complexity and in creativity. My first trilogy is so filled with tropes (though that did inspire my latest project, which I’m arguably most excited about) and is the only one that I’ve queried so far, so I totally understand why it has only been rejected (especially when you factor in that I queried it before it was truly ready and my query could have been improved tenfold). And though I have moved on and written other works, some which still have tropes, some that don’t, I still work on this story and I still hope it can get published one day and be enjoyed by readers, even if it isn’t original.

Yet isn’t it?

I guess it’s not agents requesting that they want to see something original that irks me slightly, it’s that my work, because it’s been “done before,” it isn’t considered original. Yet how original can you be? Can you do anything completely and totally new? There are always going to be elements that you draw from, inspiration, works that mirror yours, tropes that you incorporate and twist.

And I guess, writing this, I realize that my goal for my books isn’t for them to be the most original books you’ve ever read. If that ends up being a side-effect, fantastic! I just want to write the most enjoyable and fascinating stories that I love, in hopes that others might love them, too. If they are never labeled as original or unique, but you enjoyed them nonetheless, then I think I could be okay with that.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear other opinions about this, especially from any agents who impossibly stumble upon this post: what is your definition of originality? Can it still be achieved in writing? Has everything been done before? Does writing your own work hold any originality organically simply because you wrote it?

Cheers.

 


Liebster Award!

Y’all know R.K. Brainerd, right? The amazing writer and fantastic human being over at Awake Dragon? I’ve bragged about her before and will prolly brag about her numerous times as our careers explode in the best way possible and we take over the world using puppies, goats and straw houses  we work our asses off and get published.

Anyway, recently she got nominated for something called a Liebster Award. Her responses were glorious, hilarious and down right awesome. Naturally, as with any of her posts, I read through it with an unhealthy fervor, excited to learn so many new and interesting things about someone I look up to and a good friend who I’ve actually never met, but that doesn’t matter, because I love her anyway. Then, I was pleasantly surprised when she nominated me for the same award, which basically means you get a free pass to write about yourself and tell other people to write about themselves and so-on and so-forth.

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*cracks knuckles*

Here are the rules:

  1. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 bloggers and write 11 questions for them to answer.
  4. Bonus Rule, added by yours truly: wonder about the significance surrounding the number 11.

Facts: 

  1. I’ve had surgery three times. Once when I was two and they removed some weird people skin from my face (still dunno what that was), leaving a scar on my cheek. Second was when I was seven and broke my elbow in half, leaving a scar on my joint where the screw holds it in place and causing my body to adjust and now both elbows are double-jointed. And last on my tongue when they had to shorten the part that connects your tongue to the lower part of your mouth, leaving four X-shaped scars from the stitches that dissolved.
  2. My undergraduate thesis was a page-turner (*snorts*) about how you could read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as an environmental warning for what is to come, comparing New Zealand to the Shire, England to Isengard and industrialization to Mordor. It was 47 pages long and spoiler alert: we’re not listening and it’s a war we’re losing.
  3. Brevity is not my strong suit.
  4. I have veins on my right leg that form the number 12.
  5. I struggle with depression and anxiety, the former which is directly tied and associated with my weight or body size.
  6. The current series I’m working on, The Adventures of Artemis Smith, was directly inspired by my frustration at not getting published, so I wrote a character who couldn’t get published (yet has kept writing and persevered into almost his seventies) and was forced to live through troped stories as an actual character, only able to escape and move on to the next story if he was able to figure out a way to break, twist or revert the trope he was currently stuck in to make the story unique and publishable. Only one book down out of nine, but I’ve learned so much more than I ever imagined possible and I am so grateful to him, and can only pray I am just as positive and stubborn with my writing.
  7. I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy for a project in high school history because our teacher said no one else had ever read it for that project, always scared by the length. I read it in three days and wrote the paper the night before, receiving a 97% (I’m ridiculously proud of this, for some reason).
  8. In films, books, TV, whathaveyou, you could kill every character I have ever loved and I still won’t cry as much as if you kill or harm an animal (especially a dog).
  9. Though I claim that my biggest dream is to be published, I think my “real” dream (as if you can’t have multiple) is to find a man to love me unconditionally, without me needing to lose 40 pounds or becoming “cool” to do so. Yeah, I really, really want that.
  10. I’m really excited to get a home with a yard so I can get dogs. Yes, plural. I plan to name them after my favorite dragons.
  11. I have four tattoos and plan to get a sleeve on my left arm, comprised of three “sections,” if you will: Lord of the Rings, writing and my favorite video games. If anyone wants to fund this, I’m always taking donations. 😛

Questions for Me: 

  1. What’s your biggest regret? (We’re starting off deep here, apparently)
    1. Hating myself for so long, particularly physically (we’re going real deep here too, apparently). Especially considering I judged my worth as a human being based on the opinions of others or what size jeans I wore. Worse, I’m still working on switching this mindset. But my regret is taking so long to realize and admit that I was wrong.
  2. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
    1. Dragon. No pausing or consideration about it.
  3. What’s your dream writing space?
    1. I’ve always wanted to live in a small house with a turret that held my spiral library with a secret door into my writing space. Within the writing space would be my Tolkien collection. This place would be in the woods, far enough away that I can’t hear the cars but close enough that I can run and get ice cream when I need it (especially after I kill my darlings). Also, if we’re talking dreams, I’d be able to visit the ocean whenever I wished, because I also lived close enough to that. This location, if possible or real, is probably in New Zealand.

      So, really, my dream writing space requires me to become a Hobbit. I am totally okay with that.

  4. What author are you currently learning from/being inspired by?
    1. Christopher Husberg, author of Duskfall. On his blog, he catalogs his writing journey, amongst other events going on in his life. Not only was Duskfall the best new book I read this year, but reading Chris’s advice, his publishing journey and his musings about writing has resonated with me.
  5. What’s your biggest writer goal you’re working on right now?
    1. Editing is the hurdle I am battling. I have quite a few books under my belt, but none of them are ready to query just yet. I’m itching to query. So I’m trying to be patient and give my work the attention it deserves, while also trying to balance writing new material and ignoring the plagues of self-doubt that constantly berate and belittle me.

      So, just trying to be your average writer, at the moment. 😛

  6. What’s your biggest life goal you’re working on right now?
    1. Definitely loving myself wholly and fully. And figuring out how to pay freakin’ bills.
  7. If you could change your eye color, what would you want it to be? Strange colors totally allowed.
    1. Actually, I think I’d want it to change based on my mood (I know, that’s cheating). I love my blue-green eyes, but how cool would it be for them to turn pitch black when you piss me off or a crystal blue when you’ve wooed me or yellow when I feel threatened?
  8. Who’s your current/favorite book boyfriend/girlfriend?
    1. I love this question. But how does one choose?

      We got Mr. Darcy.

      Image result for Mr. Darcy

      Oh my Lord.

      Image result for mr. darcy pride and prejudice and zombies

      Definitely swooning.

      We got Murtagh.

      Image result for murtagh

      I don’t care that the film was shite. This man.

      We have Jon Snow.

      Image result for jon snow

      No caption necessary.

      We have Aragorn.

      Image result for aragorn

      I would follow you, my Captain.

      We…have a type, apparently.

  9. If you could get one material item right now without having to pay for it, what would it be?
    1. Do airplane tickets count?
  10. Outside of writing, what’s your dream job?
    1. My dream job isn’t actually possible within the realm of reality, so we’re going to roll with that, because I’d basically wanna be a rip-off of Tarzan. I’m a sucker for animals, particularly exotic ones. I’m the moron that recognizes that a tiger wants to eat me but still want to pet it because look at those paws. So my dream job would be opening up a wildlife sanctuary, like a zoo, but nothing is enclosed (so, basically, owning my own island specifically for all animals) and none of the animals want to eat me, so I can love on them all the time.

      Image result for baby tiger gif

  11. Finally, any exciting book release/promotion stuff going on? And if you’re still wandering in unpublished land like me: what’s a recent writing/life epiphany you’ve had?
    1. The biggest epiphany I’ve had in the past year is that I can actually put writing first in my life and life will still move on. I can write every day and make time for it. I can give it importance, because it’s real and it matters. There are prices to pay for that, of course, but with the output and the growth that I’ve had, it is totally, completely and utterly worth it.

Questions for Victims: 

  1. If you could choose one author to be your best friend (we’re talking giggling at sleepovers and having brunch on Sundays to talk about the latest tabloids kind of best friend), who would you choose and why?
  2. Favorite kind of cheese?
  3. This is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of question. Path A: What book series should be adapted into a video game and why (I’m thinking a la Witcher here)? Path B: If you don’t play video games and thus can’t travel down Path A, please tell me how you function without such soul-sucking enjoyment in your life?
  4. If it were my birthday and you were buying me a puppy, what kind of puppy would you get me (pictures preferred)?
  5. What are you most excited about writing wise right now?
  6. What is the plot of the ultimate dream story you want to write (or have written or are too afraid to write)?
  7. How do you plan to better the world?
  8. What “rule” do you break in writing (purposefully or otherwise)?
  9. Which fictional characters make you question whether you’re actually fictosexual, i.e., who can I swoon over? (Also, adapted this one from R.K. and I don’t apologize for it).
  10. What fictional language do you wish was actually commonplace?
  11. Lurtz (see below if you’re not on a first name basis) is about to kill you. What do you do?

    Image result for uruk hai lord of the rings

    ^^ Lurtz

Victims:

  • Marie over at Light A Fire Instead: A great friend in real life who recently brought back her blog and got into writing again, despite real life trying to get in the way. You’ll want to support her and know her before the rest of the world (inevitably) will.
  • Rob over at Robert F Nugent: Discovered this gent through his blog and then started creeping on him on Twitter. Makes awesome armor, writes really amazing medieval stories I can’t wait to get my hands on and an all around person-you-should-already-be-social-media-stalking.
  • Philip over at Phil Charles R: A gem amongst stones, this man is. Loved his first book and can’t wait to see how he raises the stakes. Also, great guy and so encouraging. So happy that we’re friends and going to take over the world writing books (if you’re jealous, go say hi).
  • Ana over at AZ Pascoe: There aren’t enough words to explain how fantastic of a person Ana is, how lovely her blog is and how awesome her writing is. The only question is: why aren’t you friends yet?
  • Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek: The Book Review King, in my opinion. I absolutely love reading his reviews and he is so sweet to take the time to read mine, even though my site is still young. Go find your next favorite book (and reviewer) over on his site.
  • Joyce over at The Writes of Passage: One of the most encouraging souls I’ve ever met on the interwebs. This woman is going places, but she’s making sure none of us are left behind in the process, either. I adore her.
  • Tanna over at TeaPunk Noveling: My kindred spirit. My dragon-soul-sister. My INFJ twin. A fantastic writer, human and friend. You need her in your life. (Also, advertising now: our book series, both featuring dragons, will have a dragon tour across the world, taking place in a cave near you, years from now.)
  • Jessica over at Elldimensional: I have never had such thoughtful, well-spoken and kind thoughts commented on my blog than the ones written by Jessica. Consistently. Honestly. I support her indefinitely and I hope you do, too!
  • A.Z. over at AZ Anthony: Just stumbled upon this blog and human during #WIPJoy. I love making new connections and this one is pretty rad. Stoked to see where his writing takes him.
  • M.A. over at M.A. Crosbie: Though we’ve never met in person, I advocate for this human so much. So caring, so sweet, so genuine, so driven. I cannot wait to see where life takes her and what she does.
  • Sione over at Sione Aeschliman: An inspiration if I’ve ever known one. A mentor who I’m not sure wants to be labeled a mentor. A knowledge mine that explodes every time I ask a question that leaves me scrambling to absorb all of the information and less of the debris from the ground (I’ve read that analogy three times and I’m still not sure if it works. I’m sticking with it). If you ever dream of succeeding as an author, this is a soul that you need in your life. I promise.

Thanks for the nominated, R.K., and thank you for reading way too much info about this stubborn artist. Stoked to read your responses (if I didn’t tag you and you still want to answer my questions, GO FOR IT).

Cheers.