Tag Archives: Writer

#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.

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      Oh my Lord.

      Image result for mr. darcy pride and prejudice and zombies

      Definitely swooning.

      We got Murtagh.

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

      We have Jon Snow.

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      No caption necessary.

      We have Aragorn.

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      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.

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  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?

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    ^^ 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.


Querying Versus Job Hunting

You know, these things are actually quite similar. I’d never realized it until after talking with one of my coworkers, but the similarities are pretty obvious.

He’s a college student preparing for a career fair next week. Of course, that means amping up a resume and preparing his pitch. I was a liberal arts major and didn’t really plan for the future after college aside from living in a mansion purchased from the tears of my readers (yeah, that hasn’t happened yet), so I never went to a career fair. I didn’t realize how intense they were. He was describing everything he needed to perfect and convey, aside from his resume. He had to know which companies he walked to talk to beforehand. He needed to be aware of their mission and interests and be able to convey how they aligned with his own. He needed to be aware of their projects and how those projects would benefit from him working on them.

He also had to convey all of this–and more that I can’t remember, just being overwhelmed listening to him–in a 30 second pitch.

Naturally, I felt for him and do not envy being in his shoes.

Instantly, it made me think of the querying process and reflect back on the single time that I pitched in person to an agent (and completely botched it). I explained to him how I’d suddenly made the connection. When you’re pitching your book, you need to get to the heart of the matter quickly and succinctly: who are the main players, what are the stakes, who is the audience, what is the age range, what is the genre, how long is it, what makes it unique? In a live pitch, do this in under a minute and as few sentences as possible. In a emailed query, a few paragraphs, tops–and don’t forget a hook to make the agent keep reading in the first place.

Naturally, he felt for me and does not envy being in my shoes.

I was never very good at cover letters or resumes. It’s not surprising that my track record with query letters isn’t exactly fantastic, either. Or that my fluttering nerves and innate awkwardness makes pitching in person a nightmare for all involved. Yet as we compared the seemingly impossible tasks that we both were faced with, both of us not at all jealous of what the other was trying to accomplish, deeming their plight the harder of the two, I have to admit that I’m grateful to be querying again hopefully later this fall. Despite how difficult it is. Despite sucking at it. Despite it feeling impossible sometimes.

Because one day, that work is going to pay off. One day, I’m going to connect with that agent and they are going to understand exactly what I am doing with my book and they aren’t going to reject it. They are going to love it, sign for it and help me make it the best version it could be. And all of those blotched pitches, all of those less-than-fantastic query letters? They got me there, to that moment, when I write a bomb-ass query letter. I had immediate faith that my coworker is going to kill it on Wednesday and land some interviews and hopefully, a job that will jump start his career post college. I need to work on having a little bit more faith in myself to do the same.

And in the meantime, waiting for that faith to set in? You guessed it: back to query writing.

Cheers.

 


The Itch

I’ve been going a little stir-crazy the past few days, ever since this happened. I’ve learned that it’s important to let your work breathe, after completing a draft. Jumping right back in, regardless of how desperately you need to or how much you really want to fix that one scene that’s been nagging at you since chapter three. By letting your work breathe, you’re able to return later with a more critical eye, refreshed, and your work will only improve because of it.

I know this and I’ve managed to stay away from Artemis’s story, even though I really want to keep the ball rolling, editing through another draft before I send out the call for beta readers and critique partners. But coming off of the most impressive writing output I have ever managed to writing absolutely nothing is driving me a little bonkers.

It’s only been four days, people.

The itch to write and create that has been driving me insane–even with the distractions of family and friends this weekend–is something I wouldn’t trade for anything, however. It’s a sign of how much I’ve grown as a writer, proof of how important these stories are for me and my emotional well-being. It shows the weight I have placed on them and the adjustment I’ve made in my life in order to give writing the utmost importance, starting last year during NaNoWriMo. (Speaking of NaNoWriMo, have you seen their new T-shirts for this year? Holy shit, I’m totally going to splurge and buy one. I love them!)

I’m super proud to have grown so much, to the point where not writing for multiple days in a row causes me to feel a sort of emptiness and incompleteness that was otherwise being filled (yet, at the same time, I no longer feel guilt when life gets in the way or I choose to take a break). And while I don’t think I’m going to start writing another project until this November, working on a manuscript tentatively titled BLOOD’S PRICE, I do have another way to scratch this itch.

Editing.

And, Lord help me, I’m actually ridiculously excited to edit (if that doesn’t prove my insanity, then I can’t help you).

In the Spring, I wrote a novel–light on the science fiction, heavy on the need for gravestones–titled THE RESISTANCE, which focuses on one of the survivors of a war that no one realized was being waged until it was already over and 95% of the human population had been killed. The remaining 5%? Yeah, they are being harvested to power the droids, who are the special project of the singular man that wiped out the rest of humanity. Grayson Price wakes up to this world of extinction and has one purpose (aside from figuring out what the F is going on): reuniting with his soulmate, Rowan. As he learns about the new horrors of the world–which include total colorblindness amongst the survivors, droids, alien technology and a cracked Futurist who believes by exterminating the human race, he’s actually saving them–he knows he cannot survive it. So might as well put his efforts into something more productive.

Like not dying alone.

This story is so different from my usual niche of writing multi-POV fantasy. It was a lot of fun to write, though it had its difficult moments where my fingers dragged across the keyboard. When I finally finished it, I felt two things: stoked for how the ending turned out and the immediate desire to turn around and start editing it, as I already knew how I wanted to heighten the beginning. But I ignored that desire, knowing that this story would be better off if I let it alone for a while. Instead, I took a few weeks off, made an outline and started working on Artemis’s story.

I think it is only proper–and comes full circle–if I stave off my desire to immediately edit Artemis’s story by returning to the destitute and dark reality that Grayson is suffering through.

*pulls out red pen*

Cheers.


Weighing Importance

I’ve been doing a lot of adulting lately. Which, strangely enough, actually looks very similar to panicking: the increased heartbeat, the sweaty palms, the tears threatening to fall past your eyelids.

The shrinking bank account.

disney scared aladdin nervous worried

Moving out and living on my own in a kickass apartment is fantastic, but the bills that have followed are not so much. Pair that with working a three-quarters time job that doesn’t allow for a minute of overtime. Add in the fact that the bills I have acquired are barely covered by what I make in a month. All this results in a stressed out pseudo-adult who struggles constantly with the reality of my situation and the choices that result from that.

The reality is that my bank account is pretty much stagnant, as all my income directly vanishes to pay bills. So the money that I had left over from the move and saved up during my time living with the ‘rents sits in my bank account without the possibility to increase. In fact, with bills such as utilities and groceries varying month to month, the chances are that my very small nest egg is going to decrease over time. It definitely isn’t going to increase.

This reality leaves me with two main choices that I switch between on a daily basis.

Option A: Getting a Second Job
The obvious remedy to my financial stagnation is to get a second job. That second job could help increase the nest egg that I currently have and also help take the pressure off to not spend any extra money, if possible. I still have plenty of things that I would like to get for my apartment. I really want to save up my vacation time to travel abroad once each year–can’t really do that when you aren’t able to save up money to fund said travels. I’d like to be able to go out to eat or catch a film in the theatres every once in a while without feeling guilt and freaking out about how much I spent. I want to start working on my sleeve that I have planned out in my head but never felt comfortable spending the funds on (plus, finding a good tattoo artist is hard). I have yearly doctors’ appointments that still need scheduling, an oil change that is looming and who knows what other one-time expenses that are going to pile up, thus depleting said nest egg. Getting a second job makes the most sense.

Yet at what cost?

The biggest one is time. Mainly, writing time. Since I moved out onto my own, I’ve been averaging roughly 5,000 words a day, writing roughly four hours a day. I have read four books. I’ve caught up on my editorial work. I’ve been writing more blog posts and book reviews. That output in extraordinary for me and something I am totally not used to. And it is something that I cherish highly, already, even though I’ve only done it for two weeks. I don’t want to give up that time for a second job.

But what does that cost?

Option B: Living off a Tight Budget
The cost of not getting a second job is obviously very literal. I’ll be living on a much tighter budget. I’ll have to really limit what I buy and when I buy it. I’ll have to minimize my utilities expenses any chance that I get. I’ll have to be more aware of where my money is going and be more on top of balancing my checkbook. Some of the things I’d like to have in my apartment might not get purchased. And unless my bills somehow lessen so I can make more than I owe, eventually, the money is going to run out and I’m going to be forced to resort to Option A. It’s inevitable.

But if I choose Option B, I can give my writing the attention it deserves. I can take it seriously and truly treat it like a second job (as I should). Though I’ll always be hyper aware of my financial situation and stressed out, I’ll escape from it all within the worlds I’m currently writing about or revising, at least for a little while. I can work towards my ultimate career goal of publishing books and making a living as an author. Even if choosing Option B is just for a few months, before I’m forced to get that second job (unless a miracle happens and my current job promotes me to full time. *snorts*)

Of course, I could try a hybrid of the two. Get a second job that I only work a few days in the mornings or work Fridays and Saturdays, so I don’t have a day off. Not write every day but still write a few days out of the week. Sleep a little less, be forced to prioritize my hobbies a little bit more. Yet I hesitate. I selfishly want a weekend. I enjoy the Friday Girls’ Nights that have happened the past two weekends. I’m able to go to my friend’s wedding this weekend without taking off of work. I can go home and see my family without trying to balance multiple jobs. And sometimes, I just want to be a bum on a Friday and play videogames all day, never changing out of my PJs and eating leftover mac and cheese.

*lesigh*

At the moment, I’m not actively searching for a second job. I’m going to begin the first round of edits on my fourth novel this week to prep for the #P2P16 contest happening in October. Yet I’m aware that while I really enjoy my schedule (working evenings and having the mornings and afternoons free to dedicate to my creativity), that schedule isn’t enough to live a life absent of financial stress. And I’m really tired of bawling my eyes out trying to balance my checkbook or watch as my bank account shrinks ever slowly. Yet is financial stability and comfort worth the price of creative output? Is creative output worth the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck?

I don’t bloody know.

Cheers.