Writing

Posts about writing.

New Year, New Cerulean Bound Update!

Happy 2017, everyone! As one of my New Year resolutions is to blog more often, here comes the first post (of many). And since most of you are here because you’re fans of writing and/or Imminent Danger, let’s kick this post off with an Cerulean Bound update:

I have officially written the epilogue!

Now, granted, I haven’t actually finished writing the book yet. But I’m getting there! After a very productive holiday spent back in Ontario with my brother and father, and several long walks in the woods working out plot details, I now know how the book will end. It’s going to be epic! All that remains is to get the words down on paper.

My current goal is to get the first draft written by the end of January. Yes, that gives me roughly two weeks to finish the book–which is approximately 75% written, with 50% of that needing a re-write to conform with the directional switch I made to the ending. But the re-writing shouldn’t be too extreme, and I do finally know how the last 25% will go, so I’m feeling hopeful I’ll make the deadline.

In other news, I’ve been toying around with the idea of finding an agent and trying to get Imminent Danger published by one of the big publishing houses. I gave it a shot back in … gosh, 2010, I think? … without success. But now I’ve got two books under my belt, and I think they’re pretty darn good, so hopefully it will work out.

On a related note, I had an “angel card reading” done yesterday (one of our B&B guests does it for a living and offered to do a reading for me) and apparently I just need to visualize the perfect agent, and write down what I’m looking for, and put my positive emotions out there, and success will come. I have a feeling sending out some query letters might help as well, but a little positive energy never hurt anyone, right?

So, that’s the update! Potential first draft done by the end of January, and the beginning of an agent hunt. If things go unbelievably well with Cerulean Bound I may be able to get it out by the summer, but considering the editing for book 2 took a full year, I’m thinking that might be an unrealistic goal. Nevertheless, fingers crossed, everyone!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

yhapmll

 

 

Categories: My Works, Writing | 9 Comments

Cerulean Bound (Imminent Danger #3) Update!

Okay, before everyone gets crazy excited, no, I have not finished the first draft. That remains a work in progress. But I figured you guys deserved an update after many months of silence, so here it is:

Cerulean Bound has officially crested the 70k words mark!

Now, what does this mean for the book itself?

I am about halfway through the story at this point, which means the book is on track to be about 140k words long. That, of course, would be the word count for the first draft. After extensive editing and chopping and revising, that number will hopefully be down in the 90-100k words range. So there’s still a while to go before the book is ready for eyes other than mine to see it.

On the upside, 70k words in and going strong! B&B season is gradually coming to a close, and NaNoWriMo starts in a few days, so I’m hoping to bang out the rest of the first draft by early December. Then the editing begins.

My very tentative hope is to get the book out next year. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect it in the spring — probably more like the fall — but miracles can always happen, right?

So there’s the update! Happy Halloween to everyone, and if you’re going to attempt NaNo this year, happy writing!

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day in the Life of an Author / Innkeeper

6:30 AM — Wake up to the gentle chirping of cellphone alarm.

6:31 AM — Nope. Still too tired. Re-set the alarm for 7:00 AM, fall back asleep.

7:00 AM — Wake up to the gentle chirping of cellphone alarm.

7:01 AM — Fall back asleep.

7:10 AM — Wake up in a panic, remembering that I do, in fact, have to get up.

7:15 AM — Realize I’ve been lying in a daze in bed instead of getting up.

7:16 AM — Proceed to washroom and get into the shower.

7:26 AM — Realize I’ve spent the last 10 minutes contemplating my novel instead of shampooing my hair.

7:45 AM — Escape shower, look at cellphone clock, realize I should already be downstairs, panic.

8:01 AM — Stagger downstairs, fully dressed and more-or-less awake.

8:05 AM — Start making breakfast for our guests.

8:37 AM — Stomach starts to gurgle, scavenge random odds and ends from fruit salad bowl, toast crumbs, ham slices, etc.

9:02 AM — Halfway through cooking four different dishes, run a platter of jam and maple syrup out to the dining room because Mother forgot to bring them.

9:03 AM — Stay on my “I’m so competent I never forget things” high horse for an entire minute before I realize I forgot to make bacon.

9:07 AM — Hover over the stove, with the bacon pan on high heat, begging the goddamn bacon slice to cook faster.

9:33 AM — Get the last meal plated and sent out to dining room, immediately start cleaning kitchen.

10:00 AM — Check out time! No one is ready to leave yet.

10:07 AM — Hover around kitchen, putting random stuff away, stomach rumbling, waiting for guests to leave so I can eat.

10:33 AM — Eat breakfast!!!

10:55 AM — Start cleaning.

11:55 AM — Still cleaning.

12:55 PM — Still cleaning.

1:55 PM — Still cleaning.

2:55 PM — Still cleaning, Mother is starting to panic we won’t finish in time for check-in, take off earphones so I am able to hear her freaking out and respond accordingly.

3:47 PM — Finished cleaning!!! Told you we’d be done in time, Mother. Pffft. Why do you continuously doubt me?

3:51 PM — Crap, didn’t make cookies.

3:52 PM — Make cookies.

4:00 PM — Check-in time! No one is here.

4:37 PM — First guests arrive! Give them tour of the house, get breakfast order, show them to their room.

4:41 PM — Sneak back downstairs, flip open laptop, open up my novel file, and try to get a few words in before the next guests show up.

4:44 PM — Next guests arrive.

5:26 PM — Tour done, guests safely in rooms, return to laptop and try to write some … nope. New reservation came in. Deal with reservation.

5:32 PM — Writing time!

5:33 PM — More guests arrive.

6:01 PM — Okay, now it’s writing time!

6:04 PM — Last guests arrive.

6:27 PM — Seriously, do I finally get to wr–nope, it’s time to water the garden. Come on …

7:33 PM — Gardening done! Stomach’s starting to rumble, so that means it’s time for din–

7:34 PM — Realize the grocery store closes at 8 PM, and we need about a gazillion things to make breakfast tomorrow.

8:00 PM — Stagger back into house loaded with grocery bags, unpack groceries.

8:06 PM — Dinner time! And then maybe after that I can retire up to my room, sit down, and finally get some writing done …

8:37 PM — Iron napkins for breakfast.

8:43 PM — Set table for breakfast.

8:52 PM — Help Mother fold fitted sheets.

9:01 PM — Get ice and glasses for guests who want to drink rum and coke before bed.

9:07 PM — Go to turn lights out in parlour, get drawn into discussion with guests about their vacation plans for tomorrow.

9:28 PM — Grab laptop and phone and run upstairs before anyone can ask me to do anything else.

9:31 PM — Finally, writing time! Open up laptop, put fingers to keys … and am so tired I can barely string two words together.

9:35 PM — Watch an episode of whichever show I’m currently binge-watching.

10:30 PM — Resolve to actually get some writing done tomorrow, crawl into bed, pass out.

 

Doom and gloom aside, I actually am really enjoying running a bed and breakfast! It’s just a lot of work. So. Much. Work. And I never get any writing done. It’s driving me crazy. Hopefully once Mother and I get more comfortable with being innkeepers, we’ll have more free time and then I can actually get some work done on Cerulean Bound. Until then … onwards and upwards!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Truly excellent stock photos …

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Writing When You Have a Terrible Memory

I have a terrible memory. Readers of my blog will not find this surprising, as it’s something I’ve mentioned many times before. Or have I? I can’t remember.

Badum-tish!

Right. So, I have a terrible memory. Which can make writing very difficult, as where other writers would be working on a scene and think, “Hmm, did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Okay, moving on,” I go through the following thought process:

Did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Or did I? I should probably check …

*Scrolls back through manuscript to appropriate section. Finds nothing.*

Okay, I’m good. So I can mention it here, and then … hang on. I definitely talked about this. I’m like 73% sure I did. Maybe it was in a different section?

*Starts at beginning of manuscript and starts scrolling. Halfway through Chapter 3, notices a typo.*

Dammit. How did I manage to misspell “the”? It’s three freaking letters! Hang on, I remember this scene being funny. Let me just read a bit … no, she wouldn’t say that, let’s change it … ha! Good one, Michelle. This bit should be longer though, to drive home the joke …

*Three hours later.*

What was I doing again?

As a result, writing tends to take a while.

This blog post was brought on by my valiant attempts to write the first draft of Cerulean Bound, in which I introduce the space rock band Hail Oblivion. The drummer is currently named both Flurgeluff and Snorgeluff, as I apparently changed his name halfway through and didn’t notice until I went back to double-check the spelling. In my defense, I got the second half of the name correct, and that’s really all that matters, right?

RIGHT?

Wrong. I seem to be incapable of remembering characters’ names. I’m lucky I remember my own name half the time. Then again, I grew up with my father frequently referring to me as “Cocoa,” which was our dog’s name, so I suspect it’s genetic.

In conclusion, remembering things is hard.

 

Unrelated media of the day:

 

 

 

Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Chasing Nonconformity Fanfiction!

Two years ago, an anonymous individual wrote a hilarious fanfiction for Imminent Danger. Now, they have returned with the sequel: Chasing Nonconformity And How to Apply Social Media to It. The premise, of course, being that the story is retold via social media. It’s excellent. Read it!

Or, if you don’t have time, here are a few of my favorite gems: ((POSSIBLE SPOILERS))

 

Grashk has changed his name to Big Blue!

Big Blue: Help! I think someone hacked my account! I don’t know how to change my name back!

Varrin Gara’dar: I’m sorry stranger, I don’t know who you are.

Big Blue has changed his name to Grouchy Smurf!

Grouchy Smurf: Goddamnit!

 

Fino’jin has rated Sebara on Rate Your Rala’kamil! Fino’jin has given Sebara one star!

Sebara: Seriously!? What did I ever do to you?

Fino’jin: Nothing personal; you’re just different, so I hate you. I hate things that are different. That’s why I declared war on snowflakes that one time. Each one is unique, so they’re all godless abominations.

 

Varrin Gara’dar: Come on guys, we have to get the Nonconformity back!

Eris Miller: Why don’t you give your promise pendant to the damn Nonconformity!?

Varrin Gara’dar: I TRIED AND IT FELL OFF, OKAY!?

 

Vardriga the Fortune Teller: The destination lies within your journey! What you seek is where you left it! Don’t stop believing!

Sebara: What a bunch of garbage. That’s what I get for listening to a fortune teller.

Vardriga the Fortune Teller: Oh also, you should probably watch out for giant metal spiders.

Sebara: Complete waste of time…

 

Sebara: Wait Fino’jin, don’t you see? You’re a metaphor for the conflict that everybody’s faced in their personal journeys! We all hated our lives on our home planets, because we didn’t like the paths that society set out for us. We’ve been spending the novel chasing nonconformity… and you, Fino’jin, represent that conformity. And now that we’ve all embraced who we are, we can defeat you!

Fino’jin: OH MY GOD I’M A LITERARY METAPHOR!!!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Take Bad Reviews with a Dash of Salt

A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?

I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.

Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.

So here’s where we get to the “take bad reviews with a dash of salt” part. Obviously, I was bummed out. In an ideal world, everyone would love my book. Not going to happen, of course, but it’s a nice dream. So I was feeling pretty down on myself as I started to read his review.

Then I finished reading the review, and I wasn’t down on myself anymore. In his review, he pinpoints three details in the first chapter that made him stop reading the book. Damn, right? Those must have been some pretty massive, glaring flaws. Except they’re not. Here are the earth-shattering problems he found:

  • fellow high school classmates” is redundant (as in, classmates implies “fellow”, so both words weren’t necessary)
  • high schools start at 9am, not 8am
  • Eris is facing the trees, and then gets dragged in backward (did she turn around at some point? it’s not stated)

Points #1 and #3 are actually really helpful, because he’s absolutely right, and those two things (redundant language and keeping track of where my characters are) are things I will look out for in future books/editing. Point #2, however, is just plain wrong. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school start time is 8am. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. But I digress.

Basically, he stopped reading the book because of A) a wording choice, and B) a mix-up in which direction Eris was facing. Which is fine. I, personally, tend to stop reading books due to larger issues, like the plot not making sense, or glaring spelling issues, or an unlikable main character … but hey, different people are different!

So, all in all, I’m content with my decision to submit Imminent Danger to the Immerse or Die Report. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Did his review frustrate me? Absolutely. Will I be reading his books, or visiting his site again? Definitely not. We obviously have completely opposite views on what makes a story good.

At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do when you get a bad review is read it thoroughly and:

  1. Pick out the legitimate criticisms and learn from them, and
  2. Ignore the rest

Now I just have to keep telling myself that!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

More excellent book dedications …

I Am, by Matthew Hubbard

The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

In honor of leap day, today’s theme is leaping. As in, leaping over awkward plot points to get to the heart of the story. During the editing process, writers cut all number of things: useless characters, random sub plots, flowery but unnecessary description, adverbs, etc. So, I put this question to you:

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

For Imminent Danger, the biggest thing I can remember is the “descent to Alpha Centauri Prime” scene. Originally, the galactic hub planet was surrounded by a minefield–the remnants of an old space battle. So ships had to line up to be guided through the mines. Varrin, being Varrin, decided to skip that whole tedious process and tackle the minefield himself, resulting in a 1000 word action sequence where Varrin pilots the Nonconformity down through the mines, and Eris and Miguri panic a lot.

When I sat down to chop 20k words off the story, that was one of the first scenes to go. It was fun, but ultimately didn’t need to be in there. Plus, as my brother pointed out, it kind of didn’t make sense that one of the biggest trade hubs in the galaxy was surrounded by mines that no one had bothered to clear out yet. So the action sequence was scrapped, and the descent to Alpha Centauri Prime was cut down to a paragraph.

For Chasing Nonconformity … hoo boy. With Imminent Danger, I did a lot of revising, but the basic structure of the book remained the same. But with the sequel, I pretty much re-wrote it from the ground up. So almost everything got cut and then rewritten–with the exception of Trystan, Sebara, and Fino’jin, who were in the story from day one.

So I can’t really pin down the biggest cut, but certainly one of the large ones was Bax. Bax was a shapeshifting bounty hunter who Fino’jin hired to help track down and capture Varrin. During the original climax of the book, Bax shapeshifted into a jsgarn (big angry monster) and nearly killed Sebara. She did eventually defeat him, although she then had to jump out of the low-flying spaceship they were in at the time (I don’t remember why) and then broke like half the bones in her body upon hitting the ground.

In the re-write, Eris and Varrin’s plotline completely changed, and Bax didn’t work with the new story so he was axed. I don’t regret that one at all–he was mildly interesting, but definitely not a stand-out character. I wrote him as sort of a “blank slate”, in that he didn’t exhibit much personality at all because he shifted forms so frequently that even he didn’t really know who he was. But there wasn’t enough room in the story to explore his character properly, so instead of trying to shoehorn him in, I just cut him.

So, all you writers out there, what’s the biggest cut you’ve ever made? Or the most memorable? Or the cut that absolutely destroyed you, because you loved that particular scene/character and hated yourself for having to leave them out?

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

My Easily Distracted Muse

As a writer, you’d think constant visits from my muse with inspiration for stories would be a good thing, right?

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

Right now, my one and only goal is to write the first draft of Cerulean Bound (Imminent Danger #3). It’s slow going, for several reasons. Firstly, I have a vague concept of what’s going to happen, but not too many details hammered out, so I’m constantly going back and changing what I’ve already written to accommodate the latest plot point I’ve decided to go with.

Secondly, I’m getting bogged down a little by the whole “this is the third book, people are expecting certain things, if you don’t live up to their expectations you’re going to disappoint them and lose all your fans” thing. I mean, by the time my mother gets done ripping the story apart and sewing it back together I’m sure it will be amazing, but self-doubt is still a wicked powerful demotivator.

And thirdly … my damn muse keeps getting distracted!

Whilst attempting to write a science fiction novel, I’ve decided to fill my non-writing time by watching The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and by reading the new Cassandra Clare novel The Iron Trial, which is influenced by Harry Potter. Seeing any connections between these films and novels? They’re all fantasy! And I’m trying to write a science fiction novel. Brilliant, Michelle. Just brilliant.

The end result, of course, is that my muse is cartwheeling around and coming up with all sorts of awesome fantasy stories, and I’m sitting here at my computer trying to shove all the wizards and dragons and elementals out of my head so I can focus on starships and aliens and space jelly. To quote Darth Vader, Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!

So, yeah. That’s what I’m dealing with right now. Anyone have any muse stories they want to share?

 

Unrelated media of the day:

I was so sad to hear of David Bowie’s passing. What an amazing man, and such a talented musician. Today’s unrelated media is one of my absolute favorite David Bowie performances of all time.

Categories: Writing | 23 Comments

Help! NaNoWriMo Woes

We’re now on day 23 of NaNoWriMo, and I am very woeful. Apart from being 5 days behind on my word count (noooooo), I’ve also encountered a very frustrating problem that I’m hoping y’all might have some advice for me on.

Essentially, my story is going to be too long. Like, massively too long. I’ve spent the past two years turning this story over in my mind, working out all the details and character arcs and whatnot. But now that I’m putting it on paper, it’s way too long. I just hit 63k words, and I’m not even at the halfway point yet. Not even close. Right now, the story’s looking to be 150k+ words. Which, for a YA novel, is … not good.

So I’m basically looking for suggestions on how to proceed. Obviously the book can’t stay that long. But what’s my best option for dealing with this?

A) Keep writing, and finish the first draft. Once it’s all done, go back, re-read, and re-evaluate the story. Cut out unnecessary scenes, tighten phrasing, etc., and get it down to a reasonable word count.

B) Stop writing. Re-read what I’ve got and tighten it up now, so I can keep writing off a solid base.

C) Keep writing, and finish the first draft. Don’t go crazy cutting scenes — just let the story be how long it needs to be. If that’s too long for traditional YA books, either embrace it and publish anyway, or pursue other publishing formats — i.e., release the story in multiple parts (ala Lord of the Rings) at a reduced price

D) Whatever y’all can come up with!

Right now I’m leaning toward option A, because I figure getting it all down on paper first is my best bet before I start chopping stuff. But I welcome any and all suggestions!

While you come up with awesome advice for me, please also enjoy the very chill unrelated media of the day.

 

(Very Chill) Unrelated Media of the Day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Zodiac Fun

So I was at the library today working on my “teenagers killing each other in space” story, and I ran across a book about astrology and writing. As in, how to use astrology to improve your writing. I think. I haven’t read it yet. The important thing is it’s filled with hundreds of absolutely phenomenal writing prompts, and I’ve decided to share one of them with you today.

So, without further ado, here is today’s writing prompt (inspired by my star sign, Sagittarius):

How is your character like a horse?

Yes, you read that right. That is an actual writing prompt. And now, because I’m in a silly mood, I shall attempt to answer it using my dear protagonist Eris Miller, space-adventuring heroine of the Imminent Danger series. Hold on to your horses …

Much like a horse, Eris is a four-limbed mammal born of a male and female of the same species–unlike a mule, which is of course the result of a horse and a donkey (in Spanish, “el burro” [often mistaken with “el burrito”, a traditional Mexican tortilla dish]) falling in love and emulating their avian and anthophila brethren in their time-honored mating tradition. Also similar to a horse, Eris has proportionally more hair on her head than the rest of her body, can move at different speeds (although speed names differ [walk, jog, run vs. walk, trot, gallop]), and communicates via emitting sound waves from her vocal cords. She has little interest in eating oats and hay, although she has been known to enjoy a sugar cube or two on occasion.

So there we have it! Writing prompt success. If you would care to compare your character to a horse (or any animal, for that matter) please feel free to do so in your own post, or in the comments below.

And now I shall be off, so I can go stirrup more trouble …

 

Totally related media of the day:

Categories: Random, Writing | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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