The New Year, goals for 2015 and reflections on 2014

Since we’re close to the end of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for this year and my goals for next year. I always have the goal to simply read more books than I read the previous year (for pleasure only) and I certainly accomplished that.

This year I started a blog review site with another reading and writing cohort. It’s provided a lot of work and a lot of greatness. The goal is to read three books a month, so I know for a fact I succeeded in reading more than last year. It wouldn’t be hard since last year I think I read four books total for pleasure. The wonders of being in graduate school.

My second goal is writing/editing related. My goal is to publish 2-3 books a year, which means I have to look forward a lot. This year, 2014, I’ve managed to do that. I published For by Grace (Spirit of Grace #1), Across Worlds: Collision (S. A. Snow pen name), and Ashes Fall (James Matthews #3). I was really worried about not having anything to publish in 2015 because I didn’t really start writing until July. Life was a bit crazy there for a while.

But I did. In 2015, I will be publishing Memoir in the Making on May 1 and Fallen from Grace (Spirit of Grace #2) on June 1. I’m hoping to have another two in there, actually. Yeah—go figure. Quarter Life: Unbound, which I’m almost done with my edits before I send to the publisher, and a co-written novel with Rachael Orman that we haven’t quite finished writing but are close and that we have yet to name.

So here we go…goals for the year 2015

Reading – more books than last year, so more than 25

Writing –

Grace through Redemption (Spirit of Grace #3)
Bronzed Mask
De-Termination (The Second Quarter Life)

Maybe I’ll add in a fourth book in there. I feel like three is too few even though that’s my goal. It really depends on how quickly I get to writing this year unlike last year. Also why my focus this December is editing, so I can knock most of it out of the way before the new year starts. I’d love to get going with writing right off the bat.

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A love affair with words…

Good morning, blog readers! The exciting part about this week is you get to hear from me. The sad part is you don’t get to hear from who I had planned.

I’m going to give you a random yet important topic today. Most people think that all authors love to read. That we have loved to read from birth and we have always loved to create stories from the time we were little.

I was not one of those people.

I passionately hated reading. It wasn’t until about seventh or eighth grade that I really picked up my first book without being forced and sat down and read it. I remember in third grade my mom knew I wasn’t doing well in reading. She talked to the school and they pulled me out of class for some testing.

Now, I was great at phonics. So that meant when they had me read out loud to them, they thought nothing was wrong. What they didn’t know was I had no freakin’ clue what I had just read. None of it made sense to me.

When we had reading time in class, I wouldn’t read. I had time the other students and averaged out how long it took them to flip a page in a chapter book. Then, instead of reading, I would watch the clock and wait for those thirty-three seconds to pass before I would change the page. Just because I didn’t read, doesn’t mean I wasn’t smart.

This pretty much continued until fifth grade when I moved to California with my mom. I went to a school for three weeks, and we had reading homework. Now that I think back on it, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who had reading home. Damn mom and her cleverness of getting the teacher to assign it. I had to read for thirty minutes each night. Bleh!

As soon as the timer went off on thirty minutes, I would shut the book and go do something else. It didn’t matter if I was in the middle of a chapter, a paragraph or even a sentence. Time rang, I sprang!

Later that year, in a new school, I was given the standardized tests. Oh boy… I was in the 36th percentile. 98th in math, but 36th in reading and language arts. I absolutely detested reading. None of it made sense in my head. The words didn’t go together to make sentences or anything that would create something beautiful. There wasn’t a story in those letters—there was a massive explosion getting ready to happen of confusion, frustration and stress. By sixth grade, with some poking and prodding from Mrs. Rogers my fifth grade teacher, I had managed to increase my test score to 41%. That’s still not great.

Throughout all of this, it didn’t mean I wasn’t reading. I would read. I’d read the same stories over and over again. I think because by the time I got through it six times, I might actually understand at least half the story. But it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t exciting. It wasn’t interesting. And it wasn’t anything I wanted to be doing.

It’s hard for me to look back and see this fifteen years to the future. I wish I could have just said, “Hang in there, kid. You’ll never guess what’s going to happen!”

I have a master’s degree. I graduated with just under a 3.5 GPA, and I rarely struggle with reading now, especially if it’s reading for pleasure. I started writing. I create my own stories, my own characters, my own worlds. I started a love affair with the words I had spurned for so long.

I’m an author. Go figure! I’m a freakin’ author. Do you know how exciting that is? Do you know how rare it is? How amazing it is that I, a child who detested reading, who hated writing, who hated doing anything with a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil, is an author!?

It’s something I had never imagined. Something I had dreamed of in high school once or twice, and something I never ever thought would happen. My high school senior project was on the publishing industry. It was just at the cusp of a great change. Self-publishing was becoming a viable solution to rejection letters from the big publishing houses.

For six years I didn’t look at the industry. There was a massive change! Small press publishers were around in floods. Self-pubbers knew exactly what they were doing (for the most part since it’s still all a guessing game). I wrote so much, but I had never published anything. It wasn’t until a publishing contract dropped in my lap that my past struggle with reading and words vanished.

I write about three books a year. For being a full-time student with a part-time job, I think that was pretty darn good. Now that I’m in transition once again, I wonder how much I’ll be able to write. I wonder if my love affair with words will fizzle out and the passion be lost.

Grammar Wednesday: POV–3rd Person Omniscient

So, you thought you were done with the last post? You’re not. There is one more. This person is slowly becoming more popular, but there are still a lot of readers and editors and publishers and betas and such and such that don’t like it. Do you know what omniscient means? Well, since I’m into religion, I’ll tell you–it means all-knowing. Like God is supposed to be. All-knowing. Also like the gift in my novel Forever Burn; the gift of omni, which means all.

Anyway, this person is different from 3rd person in that the POV switches. It can happen in the same paragraph (though it is rare and confusing), different paragraphs, different sections of a chapter, or different chapters. Everything is written in third person, but the reader follows character A and then character B.

for example

Rusty ran up to Seeley and batted him on the head with her paw. She wanted to play. Bustling down on her haunches as low to the ground as she could go, she waited for Seeley to start at her, to make the second move, and to roll her over so they could play. It ran through her head like a mantra, “Play! Play! Play!” She wiggled her butt in anticipation, wanting each second to come faster and faster until they would be rolling on the ground.

Seeley, however, was not amused. He sat atop his cat tree, staring down at her with disdain in his green eyes. They would not be playing; first, he wasn’t in the mood, and secondly, she had stolen his spot on the bed the previous night. He was old crotchety and tired, and there was no way that he would be amusing the likes of the wonder kitten.

I’m sure this goes through my cats heads as they stare at each other. Positive of it. This is third person omniscient. You get the first POV (Rusty) and the second POV (Seeley) in the same story. This is a completely acceptable form to write in, just please oh please do it smartly.

#WIPpet Wednesday June 19, 2013 #wippeeters

Good morning to all you lovelies!! This weeks WIPpet comes from my newest novel that I’m writing, ASHES FALL. It’s the third and final to the trilogy about James Matthews and is the sequel to FOREVER BURN.

Enjoy!!

This is the last 19 paragraphs (though most are really short because they’re dialogue) to the prologue. 19 because today is June 19. Feel free to join in for WIPpet Wednesday’s peoples! It’s a total blast. Just check out all the others here, or if you participate, add your post! Also, this is the first draft…so I’m 1) sure it will change 2) sure there’s grammar that will undoubtedly be incorrect.

***

Sliding her hands over her jeans, Lily looked around the room. Her mom was right; it did need to be cleaned. She moved to her desk and picked up a plastic bag. Shoving some pieces of trash and extra papers into it, she cleared off her stereo. Music would make this go faster. Gnawing on her lip, Lily put her iPod on shuffle and waited for the first song to ring through the speakers. Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation burst through the room. Lily smirked and pressed the volume button repeatedly until she could hear nothing other than the lyrics and notes.

“Much better,” she said to herself.

Picking the clothes up off the floor, she deposited them into the laundry basket without checking to see if they were clean or dirty. Her floor was picked up in no time. Starting on her desk, dresser, and nightstand tops, she threw most everything away. She paused when she found a notebook set on the corner of the desk. Opening the cover carefully, she smiled. The book was her diary from years before. She read through the first few pages, but set it aside. She would finish cleaning first.

Twenty minutes later, she sat on her bed and opened the notebook. The cover had pink and purple sweet peas painted on the front. They had been her favorite flower for a few years. The first page contained a “This Book Belongs to Alyssa Stanton-Matthews” written carefully with a swirl just under the last line. The words were written in bubbly letters, and she’d used her full name—Lily remembered when she had wanted to go by it and shook her head. No way was she an Alyssa. She had scrawled about the boy she liked in middle school and the teachers she hated. A few years later and the boy and she were best of friends, no dating happening in between.

Lily smiled at the memory and reached into her nightstand for a pen. Opening the book to the first blank page, she started to write.

My mom is dating someone new. I don’t like her, and I think my mom suspected that I wouldn’t. They met on a dating website of all things. I never thought my mom would go on one of those, but I also never thought she would date again either. Not after Addy. The new chick is a bitch. All she does is glare at me. She hardly ever speaks to anyone other than my mom, and she never has any fun. Not that a pharmacist would have fun. She also never leaves. She’s always here. I’m pretty sure she’s even coming to our dinner tonight. I don’t like her at all. I miss Addy. She was great, and now, I’m stuck with queen-B and her attitude. My mom deserves so much better than her.

Lily paused and read over what she had written. The words were like a real diary entry, and they satisfied her. Tapping the pen against the paper, she heard her door open again, and looking up, she watched as her mom walked into the room and turned the stereo down.

“Looks good.”

“I try.”

James rolled her eyes. “Are you done then?”

“Yeah, just have to take out the trash, and I’ll vacuum tomorrow.”

“Sounds like a plan.” James stood awkwardly halfway between the stereo and the bed where Lily sat. “Want to come down and help make dinner?”

“Sure, what are we having?”

“Butternut squash and parmesan breaded chicken.”

Lily grinned. “My favorite.”

“I thought you’d like it.”

“I’ll be down in a second. I’m just going to take the trash out.”

She watched as James nodded and left the room. Lily opened her book up to where she had written her previous entry and scribbled down a quick sentence before grabbing the small grocery bag filled with trash and heading down the stairs. Leaving the book open on her bed, Lily gave it one glance before exiting the room. No one would see what she had written. She fully believed what she scrawled was truth, even if someone did see it, they probably wouldn’t think she was serious.

Darcy Greystone must die.

***

Well, there you have it! Now back to writing. This is my camp Nano project for July!

Grammar Wednesday: POV–3rd person

Third person is my favorite person to write in. I have to say, I absolutely love and adore it. Recently people have said they don’t like third person because they are distanced from the character and can’t get into their mind. Also, people say that it creates confusion as to what is really going on and that they can figure out the entire novel too quickly with third person. My answer to that, is whatever they were reading, it wasn’t done right.

This is my preferred person to write in.

Rusty walked along the soft carpet, quickly going from the living room into the bedroom. She jumped up onto the desktop, where it rattled until her meager body weight settled down. Licking her paws and cleaning her face, Rusty watched her mother carefully. Her mother slept soundly in the bed just as the early morning rays of the sun started to shine through the window, and Rusty knew it was time. She stepped over to the edge of the plastic desk and leaned back on her haunches before pushing up into the calendar tacked to the wall. Biting the spiral metal that held it together, she waited until she heard the rustle from the sheets behind her. Her mother was waking up. She went back to all for paws and started to chew on the paper, stopping and giving a meow when her mother shouted across the room, “Rusty! Stop it!”

This is third person…well, third animal, in this case. (Also, this happens to me EVERY morning.) Next week, third person omniscient. Yes, I will explain the difference then.

Grammar Wednesday: POV–2nd Person

This is the type of person or POV that you will find the least of. It’s also, in my opinion, the hardest to write and the hardest to pull off when writing. People slip into second person when talking all the time and even when writing. It’s like, you know, you do it all the time. See what I did there? I had a professor in college who utterly hated and despised when second person was used unintentionally, and particularly, when it was used in speech. Apparently she corrected her sister on it all time–so glad I’m not her sister.

The most common way you will see second person used is in letters to other people. However, there are stories and novels written in this person.

You walk into the room, floorboards creaking with each step you take, the noise reverberates off the empty walls. You take a deep breath, waiting for the floor to collapse in on itself, or for the ghost to jump out of the closet, or for the world to simply end. It doesn’t happen. You let out the breath you’ve held until it started to burn in your lungs. The rush of hot air out and cold air in sends shivers down your spine, and you shake it off by walking to the window. The night is pitch black, the air is stiff with energy, and you can’t help but spin on your heel when the door slams shut and the lock clicks into place.

This is second person. I don’t know if I pulled it of, or if you can, but give it a shot and check it out. It’s a very interesting way to write a story.

The wondrous world of editing

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on facebook, twitter, goodreads and more about editing and the editing process. I’m not one to miss the bandwagon. Editing is extremely important when it comes to finalizing ANYTHING, even emails to the boss. There can be some pretty blaring typos (I’ve made them and will continue to make them).

Just for show…I want everyone who reads this post to comment with their editing process and what they do for it. I will say, always have someone else go through your work.

Here’s my process.

1. I edit the piece
2. I edit the piece
3. I sent my piece to not one but two beta’s.
4. I edit from my beta’s comments
5. I do a final edit after beta’s comments
6. I print out and run through each sentence backward, looking ONLY for typos.
7. I send to my editor
8. I go through editors comments
9. Sometimes #7 and #8 are repeated.

Those are a lot of freakin’ steps, and even after ALL of that, I still find typos and mistakes that should have been caught.

So WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS?

Creative Buzz Hop: A road less traveled… (6/7)

I have generally always taken the road less traveled, from the first moment I was born to the moment that I’m living right now. This weeks Creative Buzz Hop is all about the road less traveled and the inspiration that keeps coming from being off the beaten path. Maybe that’s more astute to my road–the beaten path that one can barely see through the overgrown weeds and brush.

Anyway, this week there is a video from the Kid President, which is a vid that I’ve seen before. You can find it here. This gets posted every Wednesday and then no Thursdays all the links go in (I’m late as I took a hiatus from life for my birthday yesterday!). The goal of this Creative Buzz Hop is to write something creative from the inspiration of the week (at least, that’s what I understand it to be). Then link up your post here and read all the other posts AND comment on those posts. It’s to create community and inspiration among us. So join in!

Here’s my response to the inspiration this week.

Sometimes it’s not all about the journey and sometimes it’s not all about the end. Sometimes it is all about the beginning, the moment when the dream is decided and excitement enters the system. The road less traveled or the beaten path becomes a viable choice in the way of life and the first step is taken toward that path–sometimes there is a wait to get there.

When I was twelve years old, I started writing on occasion with my friends. We wrote a massively long Lord of the Rings fanfiction, which involved so many characters, so many details, and a great amount of humor. We never finished it, but I didn’t stop writing. My senior project for high school involved looking at the publishing industry, finding the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing, interviews, research, paper writing and the likes. I was looking for my anthology of poetry and short stories that compiled the first of my writings. Now, eight years later, it scares the living daylights out of me to open that document and even LOOK at those writings.

Needless to say, I was not very good back then. I’m also still improving even though I have entered the publishing world. Eight years I waited to publish, and twelve years I’ve been writing. Not bad for a little girl from the hobunk state of Montana. Inspiration came with the idea of the dream. The idea to publish and to write and to get my work out there. It was all about the dream, that moment of realization of what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it, and knowing that there were going to be hardships and great joys all along the way–there still are, even after getting to this point.

This is true for all my dreams. Nothing is smooth sailing, it is always off the beaten path or the road less traveled or the stick in the mud! The point is to see the dream and reach for it. To keep going, to trek on, to work hard and never give up until that goal and dream is reached.

But then what happens?

I am twenty-four years old. By this time next year, I will have completed all the dreams that I came out of high school with (at least the ones that I remember). I will have my Master’s in Divinity, I will be well on my way through the ordination process, I will (in theory) by published with my first trilogy and another series on the way. I will be doing everything that I thought I would be doing. So, where does that leave me?

This is the scariest prospect of the beaten path for me right now. I don’t know where to go once the road diverges again. It’s not simply just one path that Robert Frost was writing about, it’s not even two paths. There are so many of them that they make up a maze of wanderings throughout the life of each individual, each family, each pairing and grouping of friends. Sometimes the cross each other, sometimes they get so close the walkers can touch, and sometimes they are so far apart that other paths cannot be seen or even thought of. Where does that leave the world? On any one and only chosen path? Or a path that diverges once, twice, so many times that we lose count of the ways and directions that we have gone?

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WIPpet Wednesday: June 5th, 2013

Good morning! Guess what! Tomorrow is my birthday, so you’re getting something extra special today. I’m currently editing the prequel to my novel that’s out…this one is called DYING EMBERS. It’s so exciting. I should have it done by the end of this week (in theory). Today you will get two scenes, the first is amusing, the second is one of my favorite lines EVER!!!

11 paragraphs for the six plus the five of the month plus the date!! Favorite scene (well, one of). Rob is Addy’s little brother *snorts* they’re in their early twenties and he has just helped her move into her new apartment and new town.

***

Addison’s eyes remained glued to the retreating figure.  Rob pushed her until she started to move toward the truck.  She hit the electronic lock and opened the door.  She shook her head; dating the apartment manager was not an option.  She felt good, knowing that she was back on track after her most recent break-up.  She felt emotionally stable enough to think about a relationship, which added to her ease.

Sticking the key in the engine and turning her wrist, Addison started the engine.  The machine roared to life as her eyes tracked the progress of her brother as he walked around the front of the vehicle and tried to open the door.

The grin on her lips presented a priceless moment.

He pulled the handle and stepped back.  Taking a deep breath, he shook his head.

Calling through the closed window to her, he said, “Come on, Addy, this stopped being funny when you were sixteen and green.”

“Oh, it so did not.”

She reached over and flicked the lock.  The sound resounded throughout the vehicle.  Out of the corner of her eye, she caught him reach forward to open the door.  She hit the button again.

Pulling the handle, Rob found the door locked once more.  Jerking his hand a few times, he glared.  “Seriously.  Do you want food or not?”

Giving in, Addison unlocked the door and waited for him to climb in.

“Where to, Buzz?” She smirked.

“Infinity and beyond!” he smartly replied before waving her to take a right out of the parking lot.

***

AND to my favorite freakin’ line EVER!!!! Context? James is trying to hit on Addy and is ridiculously awkward about it. *giggles* Addy gave James this beautiful description of her eyes (which are yellow, btw, but according to Addy, yellow with green and brown hues in the center). James had to one up her–and yes, James is a woman!

***

“I like your eyes—they’re like Christmas trees, all green and shit.”

***

Obviously my favorite line is the Christmas line! bahahahaha! Still in love with it. Anyway, you got a special something today!!

If you want to participate, My Random Muse is hosting, and check out the link to add yours. If you just want to participate by reading, then READ AWAY!!!

Grammar Wednesday: POV–1st person

I’ve decide the next group of grammar goodness will be about persons in writing. There are typically 3 persons, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd! Go figure, the numbers go up.

First person, at least from what I have seen, is becoming far more common–that might just be because I’m seeing it more, not that it actually is becoming more common. I might have ignored it, since I don’t like it. Apparently a lot of people like it. What I’ve heard is that it gives more insight to the character, but it is harder to write because the MC has to be in every single scene (this is assuming there is only one POV in the novel). There are ways to have multiple first person POV’s in one novel. Check out Jodi Picoult. She has a lot in her books.

Example of first person:

I shuffled my foot against the sidewalk as my cheeks burned with fire. Mom scolded me like I was a two-year-old who had just thrown a temper tantrum at the grocery store–I can assure you I did no such thing. I refused to look up at her as the hot sun beat down on my shoulders and the top of my head. Waves of embarrassment floated through my body, grasping on to ever available surfaced and licking my wounds with vinegar, causing them to burn even more. I meant to steal the candy bar. She thought it was an accident, that I had simply walked out without paying for it because I forgot. But that’s not how it was. I had carefully chosen which chocolate bar I wanted to eat and I slipped it into my hand, keeping it in my fist. I didn’t put it in my pocket or one of the grocery bags–I was going to walk out of that store with it in my hand where everyone could see it if they wanted to. I had dared them to approach me. They didn’t. Mom had caught me though–right when we got home.

So that’s first person! I really like it in memoir or autobiography, but that’s about it. I highly doubt you will ever see a novel or short story from me that is fiction and in first person. It’s not my thing! Have fun and have a great day!

Goals for June

Each month I have a writers group meeting in Arlington, TX where we discuss what our monthly goals are. I think I might be a little overambitious this month, but I need to get it done. This group hasn’t met since March, so it was great to finally get together again, with someone new AND with great food.

My goals:

1. Edit DYING EMBERS
2. Write ASHES FALL
3. Write ACROSS WORLDS: COLLISION
4. Finish FLASH OF DEATH

I mean wow! I’m insane right? DYING EMBERS is already edited by me and the editor. I just have to go through her comments and make one plot point. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? ASHES FALL is another story. I started this in January and got three chapters and the prologue done before switching my attention to another novel. ASHES FALL is the third and final in the James Matthews Series and I really need to get it written. I want it to come out before I go to Rainbow Con next April. I want both of them out, actually.

ACROSS WORLDS: COLLISION is the novel that I’m co-writing with Sirena. Yes, we finally decided on a name for it! We’re about 15k-20k words away from it being finished and ready for editing–which is another chore that I’m not looking forward to. We’re so close, and we plan on writing on it today. Maybe we’ll finish. We have had 10k word days before.

FLASH OF DEATH is the ghost story that I have been working on and was featured in my last WIPpet Wednesday. I can’t tell you how much I love CL and her spunikness. It’s about halfway done; I just have to add in the twist, and the fight, and maybe the sex!

Feel free to keep me on task and ask about it all. I’m sure I’ll need help in the motivation department to keep going!

Dying Embers: Take Two

I can’t tell you how nervous I still get when emailing my publisher (or the fact that half the time I’m still in wonder about having a publisher!). I’m not kidding. My first book, FOREVER BURN, has been out since March 1, coming up on three months now, and it seems to be doing fairly well (at least, the publisher says so). Before that book was released, in January (really, really early January), I emailed my publisher DYING EMBERS, which is the prequel to FOREVER BURN and Addison’s story.

She loved it, but said she wanted to wait until I had FOREVER BURN in my hands. However, she sent it back with the edits.

So now…five months after I got it back from her and three months after FOREVER BURN’s release, it was high time that I emailed her about it. I really needed to figure out if she was still planning on going through with publishing it, or if I needed to find someplace else. STILL THERE ARE NERVES! I had to call my bff, Katherine (who makes a wonderful side one-off character in DYING EMBERS, it’s hilarious really), and tell her to yell at me to send the email. Talk about ridiculousness.

Here’s how my email went.

Hey,I just wanted to double-check and make sure that you were still interested in this book. I was going to start editing it soon (crazy semester). I wanted to add in one more plot line in the beginning of it, to give some more edge and action through the first part of the story. I can easily do that as it’s not a main plot point, but it will add to the world Addy is coming from and to the issue of her transition to no longer being part of her old life.

I was also going to start writing the third and final one in June (Ashes Fall).

Thanks,

So…I waited at my computer, impatiently wanting that little number to appear at the tab so I knew I had a new email. The thing about my publisher, is she gets back to me like none other. She’s always getting back to me within a couple hours (unless I send it in the vast wonders of the night, then of course I have to wait a few more than usual).

One hour.

I’m not kidding: just under ONE HOUR!

That’s all I had to wait for the reply. The reply that basically gave me exactly what I’m going to be doing for the next two months and most of the summer. The reply that I really needed to get to boost my energy level.

Yes!

I was just thinking about Dying Embers this morning, while putting some paperwork together. I’m ready for the new project. When you’re done editing. :) Sounds like you’re taking on a lot!

Best regards,

That’s it. “Yes!”

Best feeling in the world–at least until I went and participated and helped a good friend propose to his girlfriend with a whole song and dance. Elation surpassed by elation.

However, I am going to make a ploy. Check out FOREVER BURN and buy it if you want. If you do, and you read it, a review would be AWESOME. Right now, the launch date for DYING EMBERS is March 1, 2014. My guess is that will be bumped to September or October. So stay tuned for updates.

WIPpet Wednesday May 29th!

Hey, y’all! (I can say that because I live in Texas!). It’s Wednesday and that means two great things happen today. This is one! It’s so exciting.

It’s WIPpet Wednesday, meaning this is a post about my WIP (Work In Progress) and connects in some way to the date. Lots of peoples are doing it, so why aren’t you on the bandwagon yet? Here’s the link! WIPpet. Also…this is a really good practice for all you inspiring writers out there to get into. Writing something once a week can help you get into the habit of writing every day.

I’m taking a break from novel writing, waiting until June first rolls around. So, that means I’ve been working on a short story (amidst some copy-editing for two new up and coming authors). I plan of submitting this short for an anthology, meaning that I need to get cracking on it today. Going to Starbucks soon to get my write-on!

Here are the first 29 sentences of my short story (paranormal romance).

***

The flash lit up the sky, blinding CL’s eyes. The stream barreled toward the ground, fingering off in different directions until it dissipated into the darkening night. Rain clouds loomed overhead, dark and dirty, threatening to come even closer to the little haven below on the ground. Trees stood up tall, protecting the tiny house as it stood in silent reverence. CL swallowed and licked her lips, waiting for the taste of rain on her tongue.

It wouldn’t be much longer.

Taking in a deep breath and filling her lungs with the rich scent of damp greenery, she stood still. This time her eyes were closed when the lightning struck down from the world above, lashing out its anger against the defense of stoicism. CL didn’t move. The hairs in her nose burned as ozone washed where she stood; her eyes watered from the sting in the musky air.

God tried to tear open the sky, using both hands to rip it in half, scrambling to get a tight grip to shred the world. The sound was intoxicating. Cracks and pops resounded through the small forest just on the edge of the clearing, echoing as even more bounced through the clouds. Quickly it turned into deep rolling waves as energy disappeared just as fast as it came. She only had a few seconds left.

The wind shifted and the air chilled as she waited with her chin upturned to the roiling heaven above. She lived for days like these. With arms wrapped around her chest, she shivered, still keeping her stance in the center of her yard as the floodgates eased open. Her white, gauzy summer dress wrapped tightly around her ankle, tangling as sheets of water started to fall, one after the other until they reached her toes. That was when she turned. Sliding her bare heel into the dirt, CL booked it for her deck, the rain already caught up with her.

“You shouldn’t stay out there.”

She gasped and stood stock still on the last step of her stairs, the rain still beating down on her head. Pressing a hand over her racing heart, she looked up into the greenest eyes she had ever seen. Her chest rose and fell unevenly as the man stood between her and her door. She blinked back the water from her eyes as it trailed down her face and through her hair. CL grasped for words as she memorized what he looked like. “It’s raining” was all she managed to make out, her voice weak and covered by the rolling thunder.

“It is,” he said, smiling sweetly. He reached out, his hand ghosting along the skin of her cheek.

***

There is definitely more to come! I’m absolutely in love with CL and her inability to decide whether to break and run for it or if she should stick around and figure out who this stranger really is. Too bad I only have 10,000 words to play with her. Maybe I’ll steal here for a longer piece somewhere in the near future.

So…come one, come all. Join in this fun. Thank you to all who are participating and enjoy the work that they have spent so much time and energy creating!

TTFN!

On day two of your work being out on submission.

On day two of your work being out on submission..

This is me, quite simply put. Although, I’m not on day two…I’m on week four, with about five more WEEKS to go. *sigh*.

I sent “For by Grace” into a new publisher for submission, and I am desperately waiting to hear back. The longer that goes by the more and more I think they don’t like it. Then I flip, and go “Well they haven’t sent a rejection yet, so maybe it’s just in the ‘maybe’ pile.” Then I’m quickly back to thinking it’s already in the slushpile and all rejections are going to be sent at once.

It’s this dual bipolar thing going on, and all I can do is sit on my nice red couch and wait. and wait. and wait. and wait. and OMG really?! more waiting!

Honestly, I’m not sure if I really have a backup plan with this novel if it is rejected. I’ve sent it to no one else (the publisher doesn’t want the novel to be queried at more than one place at a time, which makes things take LONGER by the way). I have a current publisher, but I’m not so sure I want her to do the publishing on this one. I’m fairly certain she would, but there is no marketing that happens with that company–which is really what I need because I suck at marketing.

So yes, the book could be published with Supposed Crimes, but do I want it to be? Do I want to once again start the process of getting my name out there with a new book when I’ve barely gotten the first one out? Maybe I’m just too prolific for my own good.

If I do get rejected, I have a lot of thinking to do about my future in the writing industry.

(Oh! Did you hear they’re publishing fanfiction? perhaps…maybe… ROFL). I just really hope they don’t try to shut down all the free fanfiction out there because it’s now being published. Because I say good luck to that! Fighting off angry fans is not an easy thing and you will lose.

Beta-reading

Today I am working on editing. And not my own stuff.

I finished up a Twilight fanfic (yes, I beta it…no I do not write it, nor have I read the books or the movies, so sometimes beta’ing can be quite interesting). I beta for a website called Project Team Beta, which takes on a few fandoms and original fiction. It is also where I have found my wonderful beta’s for my novels throughout the past.

I’m about to embark on a new adventure. I was approached and as to copy-edit (professionally, I might add) an erotica novel. To be sure that the individual and I work well together, I requested a chapter be sent to me (free of charge, of course) so that I may copy-edit it and send it back before any commitments have been made. It’s quite a process. If this edit goes well, I’ll have my second official copy-editing job ever.

And on that note–later on today, after these first two edits and before writing group, I will be copy-editing a novel titled “Stuck on Pause.” I’m about a fourth of the way through the novel and will absolutely have it completed by June 1st. This copy-editing stuff takes a very long time, but it’s so much fun. I quite enjoy it.

I remember when I was little and reading novels that I would point out mistakes in them to my mother but still enjoy the novel itself. She told me a few times that I should become a professional editor. Well, God had different plans for me, but doing it on the side is still great fun and joy (and a way to earn some extra cash). I never honestly thought in the past year that I’ve been beta’ing or copy-editing for people that ANYONE would actually pay me for it!

Beta-reading can be a tricky matter. There comes into play grammar, process, plot-lines, subplots, authorship, cranky authors (which I might be one of them), stubbornness and the intense need to be able to multitask. I have to be able to look for many things in a novel at the same time…that or suffer a third or fourth run-through, looking for different things each time. Grammar is all-out one of the most important things, but so is story flow. If the story is not there, I can edit the grammar endlessly and the story will still not be good. I’ve had a couple of those. But I’ve also had fantastic stories that are so poorly written in the grammatical sense that no one would ever read them. My job, as I see it, is to make the story read better, to give a hand up to the author toward a path of completing their story/novel etc. It’s not my story; it’s there. So, what they do with it after I send it back is their own prerogative.

The Failure of Time

I wanted to share this blog and the struggles that I have been dealing with for the past “little” while. It seems over this past week to me that each person’s story and struggle is important to understanding who they are and where they come from. It is also rather therapeutic for those who are doing the telling. I hope this story doesn’t seem too personal, or that you think I’m revealing far too much about myself in it. However, I do believe in honesty and truth, and in not hiding in the shade.

***

It’s so hard for me to put this into words that make sense. The closest I can come to is that I feel like a failure. While there are a few things in my life that are not going right at the moment (work, school, the pursuit of happiness), the one that would be relevant to this blog is my novel and my writing. FOREVER BURN came out March 1st of this year, and while I have sold copies of it, I feel inadequate in the amount that have been sold and the entire process.

I’m sitting here thinking that it needed another round or two of editing. That it needed a better, more formed, stronger publisher, who works harder (or at all) on marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my publisher, she’s great and sweet, but I’m starting to see some downfalls and thinking that I may have made a bad choice.

When it comes to marketing, I feel as though there is only so much that I can do by myself for free. I certainly can’t afford to hire a publicist or even pay $50 to end up on a blog tour or to have my book reviewed. I’ve been unemployed since December of 2011 and the toll on me has been taken. I live off of about $900-$1000 a month (3/4 of that if not more goes to rent). That is considered poverty, yet here I stand (or sit, actually), living off my mother who can barely afford to live as is. It’s a constant struggle. When is writing and taking this time not worth it anymore?

When will I reap the benefits? I did get my first royalty check at the first of this month. I was ecstatic even though the dollar amount was measly (under $20). What do I get for it? I spent hours upon hours, money on ink to print and edit, money to mail stuff out to the publisher, cover artists, editor, and formatter, I put so much time and energy into it and all for what? I know that I’ll get more later on, but what I’m debating right now is whether or not it’s even worth it to try again.

Such is the life of a writer, I suppose. But so is the life of a student, a daughter, a volunteer, a copy-editor, a woman, a young adult, and a human.

I am someone who likes to see quick results, who can look and know that there is an end, a resolution, a pinnacle point somewhere in the near future. Maybe that’s not what happens with writing; maybe I need to be patient for yet another three years and still struggle to make any ends even come close to meeting; or maybe I should just give up. Not writing. I’m not sure that I could ever give up writing as a whole, but maybe I should give up the idea of publishing in this world, of sharing my stories in anything other than an online format for free for anyone who happens to stumble upon them. Maybe this just isn’t the time.

Time is an interesting subject to study. After spending a week in Guatemala and small towns where time just seems to slow down, where there are seconds and minutes in each hour that can be counted because they are each working toward the survival of time’s occupant; perhaps this is what I need a reminder of. I need to let everything slow down and come to ripen with the seasons.

Fanfic mistakes and pleasures

My time for writing originals is certainly not over, but I have been working on fanfiction, toying with the plots (which involve mostly sex) and characters. I know that there are quite a few people who do not agree with fanfic, who think it’s a complete violation of the rights of the owners/creators of the originals. I agree that it might be a violation, but I am in no way seeking monetary compensation for writing fanfic.

I write in four or five fandoms. I have to say that after working on an original story and spending all that time editing, writing fanfic is a massive relief to me. I don’t have to worry about character development or location description or creating something other than the plot. The plot is all that matters when writing fanfic (AU excluded, but I tend NOT to write those, or read for that matter). The plot is where all my creativity is focused, and it’s so relaxing.

While most of my fanfic plot does involve “smut” or “lemons,” as they are called in the fandom world, it is infinitely more relaxing to write this than original fiction. Original has more reward at the end, but it’s not as instantaneous. So, perhaps when I’m feeling shitty about my writing abilities, I happen to on occasion write a fanfic one-shot, solely for the fact that I know I will get instant and supportive feedback. I think it’s my own prerogative.

I am currently writing a series for the shows The Closer and Major Crimes, which will span the entirety of both series, beginning before the series begins and perhaps even after Major Crimes ends. I am also working on, and will finish today, a one-shot for Battlestar Galactica (2003). I’ve been avoiding writing for a new fandom, but the characters called and I felt a scene was missing from the show, so I’m writing it in.

One of the biggest debates with fanfic, are those people who turn fanfic into original stories and then sell those stories for profit. *cough* 50 Shades of Grey *cough* I don’t necessarily disagree with selling it. It is an original story, the plot is all there and not in Twilight by any means. However, there are many issues with 50 Shades of Grey that happen, which occur ALL over the place in fanfic.

1) Lack of research
2) Lack of writing skill
3) Lack of editing skill
4) Not knowing that in American English “gray” is spelled with an “a” not an “e”

I beta fanfic all the time. I work with authors who write Twilight fanfic (among other fandoms: BSG, Stargate (all), Sanctuary, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Closer, Major Crimes, Law and Order (all), Star Treks (all)). I have plenty experience in knowing who of those writers is an actual writer and who just wants to play around (and nothing is wrong with just wanting to play around). First off, getting a beta usually means they’re pretty serious.

While I assume that E. L. James had an editor of some sort, there seemed to be a lack of learning or desire for improvement. An editor or a beta is not just supposed to read and placate the author. We are supposed to provoke and get the author to think. To look at grammar, sentence structure, spelling, over usages, story flow and structure, continuity, research, fact-checking–it’s a huge order for just one person to do.

That’s why I have at least two people go through all my novels before I even think about sending them into an editor or publisher. I want these to be the product of the best of my ability at the time that they are sent out. In about an hour, I guarantee that I could go back and rework it and make it even better. That’s the gift of being a writer–there is always, always, ALWAYS something to learn and room to improve.

Grammar Wednesday: Quoting a quote

I was writing, and I had a question. This is how I typically come up with finding grammatical rules to remember for the rest of my writing career. In my newest novel FOR BY GRACE, there is a character, Peter, who has a bad habit of quoting scripture when he’s drunk.

So, as a college student, I certainly know how to quote within a quote. It got confusing when it became a quote within a quote within a quote. Let’s start with the first though, shall we?

To quote dialogue there is always double quote marks to open and close the speech.

He said, “Why the hell did you do that?”

Simple enough, right? I actually ran into a beta recently that had single quotes, or single for one and double for another, and my most recent beta who didn’t put quote marks in at all. It gets a bit more confusing when you add in a quote within the quote. For that you have the double quotes for the person who is actually speaking and single quotes for what that person is saying. For example:

She replied, “Well, I was told to. She told me, ‘You go out there and be strong. You are smart, you are pretty and you are strong.'”

Single quotes within the double quotes, making sure to close everything out at the end of the dialogue so that it’s all complete. Simple enough. Now, here’s the complication I ran into. Peter is quoting Scripture in his own speech, which has dialogue in it. To resolve this, it’s double quotes for what Peter says, single quotes for the Scripture, then back to double for the dialogue in the Scripture (are you starting to see the pattern?). Here’s a sneak peek of the novel, too.

“Peter is the disciple. Peter makes the revelation. Peter is the child of God who follows Jesus.  ‘Jesus went out, with his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”’” Peter paused.

Wow! Look at all those quote marks to close out all the quotes. It’s insane! I wouldn’t suggest going beyond what I did here, but as you might have guess it goes double, single, double, single, double, single until you’re done or don’t need anymore. If you have more than this, I suggest reworking the piece so you don’t need it. I even reworked a lot in this piece to get rid of a lot of the double and triple quote marks.

Keep it up, and remember to always edit!

“The Coin”

Check this little novella out! Sarah has written a truly uplifting story. I had the pleasure of reading it before it was published, and I have to say it is well-written and an amazing read.

Here’s her blog post on releasing “The Coin” booksbysmiles

and HERE is the link you can use to purchase it!! Amazon

Sarah also did an interview about her release. You can check that out here.

Just giving a shout out to another indie author who needs a hand up. So do her a favor and check her and “The Coin” out.

Paving the way…

I am paving the way toward professionalism in this little world called writing. Yesterday, I was awarded (it’s a bidding thing) the job of copy-editing someone’s novel. And they’re actually going to pay me for it! I’ve been copy-editing and beta reading for people for the last few years, all for free. This is a grand new revelation to think someone would actually pay me to do the same work that I was doing for free. Hmmm…it sounds a lot like ministry.

So, now that I have this free-lance copy-editing thingamajig on my record, it has been said to me that more copy-editing jobs will come. Maybe that’s true, maybe that’s not. I don’t really know, but it would be awesome if it did. I mean two to five of these jobs a month and I’d be making the income that I want to make–not so sure how that would work with school, though.

Secondly, I’m paving the way back into author-hood. Last night, I emailed in FOR BY GRACE to a new publishing company with query letter all neatly typed and gone over a half-million times. Hitting that send button was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I didn’t really sleep last night because of it (note to self: send in these query emails early enough to have a few shots of hard liquor before attempting sleep).

This new publisher is fantastic, and I can’t tell you how excited I would be if they chose to publish FOR BY GRACE. However, I still must wait. Their site states they will get back to me by July 1. Well, that’s a damn long time to wait for an answer, and we all know that I am NOT the most patient person in this world–or even this tiny apartment complex. So, I’m set to wait until at least July 1, where I can finally give up the hope of them liking FOR BY GRACE.

There was a huge debate last night before I sent in my query letter as to what name the letter should bear: legal name, nick name, or author name. After much discussion, I chose: legal first name “nick name” legal last name.

If you have any other suggestions on how to do this, please tell me. I’d love to be informed for the next time (and yes, we all know that I am a glutton for punishment).

ttfn!!

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