07 December 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Too Much to Deal With

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

So it's kind of been a ghost town over here lately. I've seen tumbleweeds, I swear. We're basically pulling off the bare minimum here--IWSG last week and my post today (because those are requirements!), but I can't really promise anything else. It's really a day by day thing at this point. Look, it's hard enough to come up with blog posts when you don't have any ideas, but then when you add on having no time to come up with said ideas, it gets even harder. I know what you're going to say, "But Jordan, helping with ideas is your department, why aren't you helping???" To which I would say, be quiet.

I didn't even really want to post this month but my birthday is next week and how else was I going to get all of you to wish me a happy birthday?? (I'll wait). We were actually thinking a while back of having a Christmas themed Muse Party Blogfest next week but with the whole new job thing, there just wasn't any time to plan it. So we'll probably have another one for the blog anniversary at the end of May. See? That's plenty of time. So we should start planning now...

People always complain about having no time. It probably gets more blame than your muses when you aren't able to write (which is hard to believe because you blame us for everything). There are always things in life that you have to do, and they usually push aside the things that you want to do. Time management can be a bitch. And if you've got way too much going on, you may miss what's going on around you.

I've got a perfect example! This year is the big 2-0 for me (thank God, felt like I was going to have to be a teenager forever!), and Book 2 takes place a few months after I turn 20. And there is a lot going on in that book. Seriously, if you think I have it easy, you are so wrong. I'm very busy. So let's break this down:

First of all, there's the basics: I'm in college full time and have a part time job on top of that. I have my band, so there's gigs, rehearsing, trying to write new songs. My mom is getting married (lame) and I'm supposed to give her away (so lame), so there's that. She's also getting rid of our apartment (pretending that she actually lived there in the first place) so I need to find a new place to live. THEN. I get contacted by a family member who I've never met (SPOILERS!) so that complicates things a lot. And on top of all of this, because I'm an idiot, apparently (don't quote me on that), I decide to throw a new boyfriend on top of all this mess.

So what happens when you have too much on your plate? Well, for me, it's that I'm too busy to notice that my boyfriend gets progressively more abusive until it is waaaaaaaaaaaay too late, but we won't get into that. For most normal people, it will probably lead to some kind of nervous breakdown. You may just hide in your bed for a week (which isn't always a bad thing). But chances are, you're definitely not going to have time to do the things you want to do.

So it may be quiet around here for a little while until things get sorted out. But don't worry, I'll still pop in every now and then to make it a little loud.


02 December 2015

When Does the Writing Start?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click the link to learn more and sign up!

I haven't been doing much blogging lately since I started my new job. Adjusting has been a lot harder than I anticipated. Mostly because I'm exhausted all of the time. I pretty much work all day, come home, eat something, then maybe watch a little TV before passing out. I hardly even turn on my computer unless I have a day off. I haven't quite figured out how to utilize my mornings better, since I don't start work until 11. Even when I get up early it doesn't feel like enough time to be really productive. 

But I didn't want to talk about work for this whole post. I wanted to talk about writing. Or lack thereof. I know I wasn't exactly writing much before I started the job, but I feel like I'm waiting around for the inspiration to strike. I know I have to actually try write before anything happens, and that I probably need the time and mental capacity to do so, which I just don't have at this point. 

But the fact that I'm not writing, and haven't in a long time, really makes me sad. I really want to write, but it's like the longer I don't do it, the harder it is to start up again. I feel like I just need some time, even just an hour or two, to sit down with no distractions and just force the words out. Even if they come out horribly, even if they have nothing to do with the piece I should be working on, at least it would be something. And then hopefully I can keep moving forward from there. 

I actually have this whole weekend off so I'm thinking it may be a good time to start. Just to write something. Anything at all. 

How do you start writing again after taking a (ridiculously long) break? How do you find time to write when there is no time?

25 November 2015


I'm behind on a lot of things. The dishes are piling up to an obscene amount. I'm ridiculously behind on all of my TV shows (I also watch way too many TV shows). I was supposed to blog on Monday but that didn't happen. Don't even ask about writing. I know, I wasn't really writing before, but now I don't have the time or the brain capacity to do so. But at least I have a good reason.

I started my new job last week and it is exhausting. I wouldn't necessarily say it's more physically demanding than my previous job, it's just that my body isn't used to working this hard anymore. After work every day my feet and my back hurt so much that once I lay down it's hard to get back up again. The very first night I actually went to bed at 8:30. Luckily since then it hasn't been as bad but it's still a lot to get used to.

So there's a lot of adjusting to do. I'm still getting used to the whole working thing. I think once I adjust to the schedule and (hopefully) overcome the exhaustion, maybe I can get back into a routine with all of my other stuff. I just don't want to push myself too hard just yet. I don't want to force out a blog post if I don't have any ideas and don't really have the time to do it. So I'm thinking my posting will be a little sporadic for a while. If I come up with some good ideas I'll definitely try to post. Or even better, if I have some writing progress to report. But for now I'm just going to take it easy.

Luckily I have today off so I'm mostly going to try to catch up on the dishes and TV, and maybe try to squeeze in a little writing. I do have to work tomorrow though (boooooooo!) so I hope everyone else has a good Thanksgiving!

11 November 2015

When Vagueness Goes Wrong

When we choose to be vague about something that we write, it always leaves things open to interpretation. Maybe that's what you want, and maybe it isn't. People may be able to figure out what you actually meant, they may just stare at it scratching their heads, or they may take it in the entirely wrong direction.

Ok, that paragraph may seem a little vague in itself. Usually you have to have a really good reason for being vague. It most likely shouldn't turn up in your fiction, unless, for instance, if your character is doing it on purpose. It's perfectly fine to confuse other characters but confusing the reader may be a bad choice. If the reader isn't in on it, or if you don't give an explanation for being vague, it may just make things confusing.

But there are times where you may need to be vague, but that can also go wrong. Take my blog post on Monday, for instance. When I was talking about my idea for a weird scene, I decided to be vague about what it was actually about. This was pretty much for one reason: censorship. Well, ok, spoilers, too, but that was more about who was involved in the scene rather than what. I didn't want to say what was happening because I figured it would make some people uncomfortable. While I'm totally fine with adult content in my books, my blog probably isn't the place for it. So I figured vagueness was the way to go. And that's where I went horribly wrong.

This is where vagueness can get you into trouble. I mentioned that my weird scene involved a character texting a family member while "something else" was going in. Now, I was totally fine with people having absolutely no idea what I was talking about. The point of the post was to talk about the idea of writing weird scenes, not about explaining what this weird scene was about. But at some point during the day I had a slap-myself-in-the-face kind of revelation.

I felt like people assumed I meant my scene was taking place in a bathroom, to which I would say, EW! Really, I'm open to writing about most things, and I've certainly written scenes that take place in a bathroom, but never involving the most common things one would do in there. Because, like I said before, EW! I can't imagine a scenario in one of my stories where that would be necessary. Some things are better left unsaid, really. As far as I'm concerned, my characters don't go to the bathroom. What I meant was that something sexual was happening, but I just didn't want to say it (because fiction-writing me is a lot braver than blog-writing me).

But maybe I'm wrong and people actually understood what I meant. Some of the comments were vague as well so I have no idea what my readers were actually thinking. Maybe I just overthink things waaaaaaaaaaay too much (what else is new?). But I'm also thinking bigger picture here. When you purposely try to be vague, you leave whatever you are saying up to interpretation. So readers can take it whatever way seems reasonable to them. If you're fine with people being clueless, that's one thing, but they could also take whatever you're saying in the entirely wrong direction. So we have think if being vague is really worth all the trouble.

Have you ever written anything vague? Did people take it the wrong way?

09 November 2015

Embrace the Weird

Before I get to the actual post, I'd just like to thank everyone for their well wishes last week on my job hunt. I have good news! I got the full time job that I applied for!!! I have orientation next Monday and then start the next day. It's the 11-7:30 shift that I talked about, and I get every other weekend off, so I don't think this will cut into my blogging time. I think I will be taking next week off blogging, though, just to get situated (and work through all of the anxiety...). I'll probably still post this Wednesday (or Friday...or both...) but if not I will be back on the 23rd!

But anyway, onto writing stuff!

I recently had an idea for a scene, and I thought it was a little weird. Ok, technically, it was just part of a scene--the very end, actually, and it was in Book 3. I know, I'm getting way ahead of myself but I just can't help it. But I figure by the time I get around to actually writing the book, I'll probably have it completely figured out and that will make it easier to write.

About this weird moment--well, I don't think I should share the details because it's a bit inappropriate. Let's just say it involves a character texting a family member while...something else is going on. Hopefully you get it. If not, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that my first response to this idea was, "It's too weird! No one would actually do that!" But at the same time, it kind of felt right for the character. It was weirdly bizarre, but in a fascinating and entertaining sort of way.

So what do I do with this scene? Forget it or just go with it?

My initial response was just to forget about it. A million different thoughts cross my mind all the time when it comes to these stories, but I don't always use all of them. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked this moment, not in spite of its weirdness but because of it. Sometimes people do weird things, and those things are usually more entertaining than the normal, boring, or everyday moments that are more likely to occur. So if it's weird, but still believable, why not use it?

What really made sense was that the moment felt right for the character. It actually seems like something he would do. There's actually a scene in the first book that has the same kind of weirdness (it involves lemon bars...I won't get into it...), and I really love that scene. It works in the moment. And if something works, then there really isn't any reason to get rid of it.

The thing about weird scenes is that they definitely won't always work. They have to fit the story, the characters, even the particular scene that they're in. Yes, these moments can seem strange, but they also have to be believable. But if your only reason for not using a particularly weird idea is just because it's weird, then maybe you should rethink it. Sometimes your instincts are right, and those weird scenes can turn out to be something great.

Do you ever come up with weird scenes? Do you try to make them work or get rid of them?

04 November 2015

Rambling Insecurity

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to learn more and sign up!

Like with most of my blog posts lately, I have no idea what to write about. Sometimes it just feels like my brain has stopped working. Or sometimes I feel like every idea I come up with is something I've written about before (I couldn't even tell you how many times I've written a post about not having ideas).

Which isn't to say I'm not incredibly insecure. I've just probably already mentioned all of my insecurities several times before. I still haven't actually written anything for quite some time. I keep trying to motivate myself to just write something, even if it's something silly or pointless or short or poorly written. Just something.

I'm hoping things may actually get easier once I have a real job again, which will hopefully be soon. I had not one, but two job interviews on Monday (the insecurity over that could take an entire post). I applied for a full time position, but by the time they called me they only had part time, but I interviewed anyway. Only yesterday I got another call that the full time is available again, so I'm hoping I get that. It would be an 11-7:30 shift, which I would love since my last job sometimes had me working until 1 or 2 in the morning. Plus that still gives me plenty of time in the morning to blog, which I was afraid I'd have to cut back on if I worked full time again.

But anyway, my real point is that if I have an actual full time job, then all of my free time can be exactly that: free. I can do whatever I want. I don't have to worry about having to spend every second trying to make money just to pay my bills. So I will actually have more time to write.

I don't know yet if I should say my time trying to break into freelance work was a failure or not. Maybe it's just not what I really want to do. So maybe it's a better idea just to have a regular job and work on what I really want to write in my spare time. Then maybe some day I can make enough money to only do that (if I'm really really lucky).

But I think for now I just have to take it one step at a time. I'm pretty sure I've said that before.

02 November 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Be a Rock Star

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Hey, guess what! Sarah has a job interview this morning so I get to take over! Oh wait, I was going to do that anyway...yeah, yeah, first Monday, blah blah blah. Hey, SHUT UP. Trust me, you don't want to make fun of me, because then you'll end up on my bad side and that is not a place you want to be.

Anyway. Most people have a thing. You know, that thing that you're really good and that you actually love to do. I'm sure for most people reading this, writing is your thing. For me, it's music. You may know what your thing is the second you're born or it may take several years to figure out. And if you're really really lucky, you can find a job that involves your thing. But even if you can't, you should never let that passion take a backseat, or even worse, slip away.

Luckily for me, I will only have two jobs in my lifetime. I started working at a music shop when I was in high school (selling instruments, maybe giving voice lessons...we're still working out the details...writers...ugh). Second job: rock star. You think I'm kidding, don't you? Just wait until you see all my future Grammys. So both of my jobs involve the thing I'm passionate about (one slightly more successfully than the other, but you get the idea).

But it wasn't always going to be this way. I'm not usually one to give up control in any situation, but when it comes to this Book 3 nonsense, I had zero say in the initial plot line. But that's not the issue here. Before the idea for this book came about, we didn't have any idea how or even if my books would end. But all of the ideas never involved me actually becoming a rock star, which is just plain stupid. I mean, come on, you've got a fictional character who should be a rock star, then you make them one. Right?

Which leads me to the bigger picture here. If you've got this thing, this passion, then you should be utilizing it to the best of your ability. Now, maybe everyone out there isn't lucky enough to become a rock star or a bestselling author. Maybe that's not even what you want. But whatever it is that you want to do, you should be doing. Don't let it take a backseat to stupid life--you know, stupid jobs, stupid relationships, stupid everything. Even if you just have a few minutes every day to work on that thing that you're passionate about, you should be doing it.

So do your thing. Be a rock star. Don't let your whole life be one boring mess.


26 October 2015

The Listing Hop

To celebrate eight years of blogging, Bish Denham is hosting a blog hop! All we have to do is make a list. Well, I love making lists, so I hopped right on board with this one. Happy blogiversary, Bish!!

Ok, while I really do love making lists (writing this blog post is on the top of today's to-do list!), it took me forever to come up with something for the hop. I just wanted it to actually be interesting and possibly writing related. Last week I talked about how I was thinking about some scenes from Book 3 and how if those particular scenes were inspiring me the most, it was ok to work on them, even if Book 3 isn't my main focus. Since it's almost November, for a split second I thought, "hey, why don't I try to write Book 3 for NaNoWriMo?" and then immediately realized what a horrible idea that was. So, here they are:

Reasons Why I Should Not Try to Write Book 3 for NaNoWriMo

  • I haven't outlined Book 3 yet (I know, I don't outline, but for the sequels I'm trying to get ahead and be organized about it)
  • I haven't written Book 2 yet 
  • What I really should be working on is the third draft of Book 1 (yeah, yeah...)
  • There are probably a few things I need to figure out for Book 1 that will be important in Book 3
  • Ok, probably Book 2, too
  • I have zero understanding of how the music industry works and since that's the subplot of Book 3, I should probably do a lot of research first
  • I still haven't come up with a name for Jordan's band (!)
  • Most of my characters don't have last names yet: Eric (ERIC! He's been around forever and I haven't given him a last name! Shame!), Adam, Ben, ok, pretty much everyone...
  • I still need to change Joe's first name. Can't commit to a new one. (It may be Max. Maybe. Possibly.) 
  • Ben's wife needs a name, too. (Karen? I don't know...)
  • I still have not come up with an accurate way to describe Adam's hair 
  • I've got way too many characters who feel like popping in for just one scene and I need to figure out what else to do with them (I'm looking at you, Ethan, Paul, Emma, Anthony, Allison, Abby, Ben)
  • Utilizing said characters will make this the longest novel ever
  • Actually, I probably need to write Emma's side book first, too
  • At this point the plot is comprised of just a whole lot of sex scenes and I need to tone it down (they can't ALL be so important that I can't skip over them but try telling that to my brain right now)
  • There's just no way I'll have time to write a whole novel in a month
  • I've never ever won NaNo and I don't think it will happen this time, either
  • I'm crazy, but not that crazy

All right, I'm done. I didn't think I actually had that many reasons. So yeah, not happening. Hope everyone tackling NaNo does not have a list like this!!

21 October 2015

A Commitment on Top of a Commitment (on Top of Another Commitment...)

This post has ZERO to do with writing. Except for the fact that I'm writing it. That still counts, right?

I've been engaged for almost two years. Whenever you tell someone you're engaged, the immediate response is, "SO WHEN'S THE WEDDING?" which I actually find super annoying. I have no idea when I'm getting married. So why do I have to feel so awkward telling people that? Why does it even matter? I can't exactly tell people "well, I don't have any money for a wedding but I don't really just want to run to the courthouse for a marriage license either." On the other hand, I'm kind of getting sick of not being married, too. So where's the compromise?

I think I've always known that I wouldn't want a big wedding, and not just because I can't afford it. I'm a very introverted person and I hate being the center of attention. And being a bride is pretty much the epitome of being the center of attention. I really don't have that many friends and there's a lot of drama with my family, so I feel like having a big wedding would be more hassle than it's worth.

So I've been trying to figure out forever what kind of wedding I want. It hit me when my fiance and I were talking about going back to Las Vegas. We went last year and he had been once before and we both love it there. We've been wanting to go back for a while and we've often joked about getting married there (because that's what you do, right?). But then I started to take the idea seriously. It felt like a good compromise--having an actual wedding ceremony but not having it be a huge deal. I'd say we're 90% on board with the idea but we haven't actually said "this is what we're going to do."

Well, it may be time for a commitment. I figured if we did get married in Vegas I would want a short dress and I found one online that I really liked. It was relatively cheap but I figured I would hold off until we made a decision. Well, I just looked at the dress again and right now it's on sale for $99.99. Holy crap. If I want this dress, I should definitely buy it now. But it's not just the dress. I have to commit to the whole thing.

If I buy this particular dress, it means the Vegas wedding is definitely happening. I do love the dress but I can't picture actually wearing it anywhere else. If I wait, the price could go back up or even worse, they may run out and I'll have to find something new. On top of that, I really really really want to lose a lot of weight before I get married. So I have to figure out what size to order. If I get a size that's too small for me right now then I absolutely HAVE to lose weight in order to fit into it. But if I get a size that does fit me now that means I can't lose any weight at all (which I would hate).

So committing to a dress is way more than committing to a dress. I have to commit to actually cracking down and losing weight. And I have to put my foot down and say this is the kind of wedding I want and I don't care what anyone else thinks. Oddly enough, I think the actual commitment of marriage is probably the easiest part for me to commit to. It's everything else that's complicated.

19 October 2015

Write Anything

I'm sure a lot of writers have a specific process for working on a story. Maybe they outline before they start writing, or start at the beginning and go straight through to the end. Outlines have never really been my thing, so I've always been more of a pantser than a planner. But I think I take the pantser thing to a whole other level. Because not only do I pretty much never outline, but I don't write things in order, either.

I can honestly say the only thing I've ever worked on 100% in order from the first chapter to the last was the second draft of Uneven Lines, and that was a half edit/half rewrite. So really I've never written anything from start to finish. Why? I usually work on whichever part is inspiring me the most. Especially with a first draft, there will usually be one or two scenes that I'll keep thinking about over and over again until I actually write them down. Once they're finished, they're usually replaced by something new. It can be any part of the story, so most of the time I write out of order, but with a general idea of how things will eventually tie together.

Sometimes this strategy works, and other times it doesn't. Maybe that's why when I'm not feeling particularly inspired by anything, I don't work on anything. And not writing just seems to lead to even less inspiration, so it becomes a vicious cycle. So what do you do when you rely on that inspiration and it just isn't happening?

There are a few options. You could force yourself to work on a specific part. Maybe something you think will be easy, or just the next part of the story. Or you can just wait it out and hope for any spark of inspiration. I try to pay extra close attention to that voice of inspiration. There usually isn't a day that goes by where I'm not thinking about some aspect of my story, whether it's my main project, one of its sequels, or even just some random bit of background info on a character. I'm trying to get into the mindset of just going with the flow. No matter what part I'm thinking of, start writing.

Lately, for instance, a few scenes from Book 3 have been on my mind. When I was trying to fall asleep last night, some actual words started to pop into my head (and they weren't terrible!). So why fight it? Just because I really should be working on the first book instead? At this point I'd be thrilled to write anything, especially if it's within the universe of the story I should be working on. It would still be better than nothing.

So instead of just thinking about these other ideas, or just jotting down a note here or there, why not write a whole scene? Maybe even a whole chapter? Sure, it may be a distraction from focusing on the first book, but if I'm not actually working on it, why not take advantage of the inspiration? I've let it slip away way too many times to just not write anything. I think it would be better to write something unnecessary than to not write anything at all.

Do you write things in order? What do you do when a different project is distracting you from your main one?

12 October 2015

Where We Want to Be

Everybody has goals, whether they're writing related or not. Some may be easier to achieve than others. When it comes to writing goals, you probably have big ones--like become a bestselling author, or writing x many books--and some smaller, more short term ones--like get to a certain word count or finish the next chapter. Even the smallest goal can be daunting if it isn't coming easily to you. So how do we know we're on the right path? How do we get where we want to be?

If you're constantly changing your goals or adding new ones, you may never be 100% done, which is a good thing. If we were completely done with our writing, well, we wouldn't be writers anymore. As long as you have new goals or ideas, you'll never really stop. But at the same time, you do actually want to achieve your goals. We all want to finish the book we're working on and get it published, then maybe we'll write a sequel or start a whole new idea. The possibilities for new goals are endless, but the first step is to finish the goals you've already made.

Figuring out how to achieve these goals can be tricky. I know for me, just trying to edit my novel is difficult right now. For some it may be getting the first draft done, others figuring out how to get published. We each have our own separate goals to work on, and they can be as diverse as the story ideas themselves. It helps to focus on one goal at a time. Yes, you may have those big, long term goals, but those are hard and take time to achieve. If you focus on one small goal at a time, you may find it a bit easier.

Or you can have different stages of goals. For instance, my main goal is to get the third draft of my novel done. It's not a huge goal, but it isn't small, either. My first smaller goal is to finish editing the first chapter. Once that's done, the next goal will be the second chapter, then the third, and so on. Some of these goals will take more time than others, depending on how much editing actually needs to be done. But for me, I think going chapter by chapter will most likely be the best way to go.

Getting to where we want to be can be a long, difficult process. It helps to have that big picture goal in mind, but to not focus too much on it. Focus on the smaller goals that are right in front of you. If you take things one step at a time, the journey may not seem so long.

07 October 2015

Where are the Ideas?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to learn more and sign up!

I'm not entirely sure I have any new insecurities to share. A whole lot of the same old ones I've been talking about for months and months, but nothing new. So I guess that's good? I pretty much took September off blogging (only wrote 4 posts) so I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Blogging was always the thing that came the easiest even when every other aspect of writing seemed impossible, so when I was struggling to even come up with one blog post, I wasn't sure what to do. 

I guess the blogging thing is part of a bigger insecurity, which I know I've already talked about a million times, but it constantly bothers me. I never seem to get ideas anymore. I used to get them all the time. Now, I'm not asking for a new novel idea every day, but maybe a poem here and there. Maybe less writer's block with the blog posts. I feel like my editing ideas for my novel have even slowed down. That may have something to do with the fact that I'm not actually editing, but still, where are the ideas?

I miss the excitement of getting a new idea and planning it out. The last time I felt that was when I came up with the third book idea for my series, and that was in March. And I still haven't really written any of it (let's not even talk about books 1 and 2). I just feel creatively drained. I know there are things I could do to fix it. I should be reading more. I should be trying to actually edit Book 1 or at least looking at it every day to figure things out. But I'm still avoiding it. 

So maybe I should make small goals for myself. Read for a half hour every day. Just look at part of my novel, whatever part is at the front of my mind, and maybe I'll be able to rewrite. Stop watching so much TV and just listen to some music for inspiration. Maybe if I try to feed that creativity, the ideas will start flowing again. 

How do you get ideas? What do you do to jump start your creativity? 

05 October 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Own It

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Can you believe it's been two months since I last posted? I know, you missed me terribly. We'll have grief counseling later on today. Ok, not really. But anyway, September apparently was the anti-blogging month around here so I just went with it and took a nap.

Today, however, I have a great topic to talk about. Brace yourselves. It's all about accepting your story for what it is and not trying to change it for the wrong reasons. Which I guess could be said about a lot of things in life, but I don't have all day and what do I look like to you, some kind of life coach? Please. 

Where was I? Oh, right. STORIES. So for whatever reason, you wrote a story. It can be any kind of story. And you can have whatever kind of reasons for writing it. Maybe it's something you worked really hard to come up with, or maybe it's just some random idea that popped into your head and you have no idea why. Whatever the story and whatever the reason, once you have that story, it's important to stay true to it.

I'm not saying that you won't change things once it's written, because you will. LOTS. Some things have to change. Scenes can be cut, rearranged, or just rewritten. You can add new things in, change characters around. There are a million things. But at its core, the story you're trying to write shouldn't really change.

What I'm trying to say is that whatever kind of story you're writing, own it. If it's a trashy romance, make it trashy. If it's an elaborate fantasy, make it elaborate. And if it's controversial, own that, too. Don't try watering it down just because you feel you have to (I'm not talking about anyone in particular here or anything. Nope nope nope.). Yes, it may be hard and most of the world will be against you, but there are people out there who will jump all over that sort of thing. If your story speaks to you, then there will be other people out there who will get it, too. So let your story be what it needs to be.

If you're trying to change your story not because you really feel it needs to be changed, but because you're trying to please everyone, then you're just a big sellout. Whether you chose this story or it chose you, there's a reason you're writing it, so stick with it. It's your story, so own it.


28 September 2015

Until Next Week...

I'll keep this super short because I'm still not feeling well and still have zero blog post ideas. Most of my cold from last week is gone but I still keep having a really bad cough at night. And it makes sleeping difficult so it's still making me pretty miserable throughout the day even when I don't feel sick. But anyway, I'm planning on taking the rest of the week off blogging, and hopefully can come back next week with some new ideas. In the meantime, I'll probably be job hunting. My money is running out and my freelance work is not cutting it. So hopefully within a month or so I'll have a full time job again. I have no idea what that will mean for my blogging but we'll see what happens when I get to that point. I'm hoping if I can get a job with a more structured schedule than my last one (which was crazy hours and different every week) I can create more of a routine for myself with writing and everything else I'd like to do. 

Ok, I've rambled enough. I'll be back next week!

21 September 2015

The Productivity Curse

I'll keep this short because I'm kinda feeling like crap. My fiance has had a cold for about a week and I think I finally got it. It's mostly just a cough but since it's the first day of the cold AND just so happens to also be the first day of a certain time of the month (TMI, sorry!), I just kinda want to crawl under the covers.

This sort of thing seems to happen to me all the time. I was all set to be super productive today. I was going to exercise and clean my apartment and get lots of writing done. Now I'm thinking I'll probably just watch TV all day and eat whatever the hell I want instead of trying to diet. I even made a huge to-do list for today but I doubt much of it is going to get done (luckily the first thing on the list is to write a blog post, so maybe I can feel at least a little productive).

Seriously though, every time I make a plan to be super productive, something happens to throw me off. I'll get sick or the cat will get sick or there will just be too much noise. There's always something. Which I guess is just a lesson in life. There is usually something trying to throw you off your game. Sometimes it's easy to fight through it and ignore it. But when it's something like a cold and one of my goals is to exercise every day, it's not so easy. I could probably find a way to sit here and get some writing done even if I don't feel well. But I can't push myself to do something if it isn't physically possible.

I guess I'll just have to take this week one day at a time. Hopefully I'll be feeling better tomorrow and be able to get into the routine I wanted. If not, I'll just be in bed chugging cough syrup and aspirin.

14 September 2015

Blog Breaks are OK

I didn't blog at all last week. I didn't plan it, but it just happened. Didn't write any posts, didn't read any posts, didn't even tweet all that much. Sometimes a break is just necessary, even if you don't plan it or even see it coming. I'm just trying to get it into my head that taking a blogging break is not the end of the world.

I think a lot of bloggers worry that if they take a break, everyone will forget about them, which is pretty silly. You'd have to take a pretty long break for people to actually unfollow your blog. You may have to actually give up blogging altogether. Chances are you'll still have some followers who will hold out until you actually say you're not blogging anymore. So that fear is pretty much just paranoia. If you take a week or even a month off, no one is really going to care. Once you get back into it, they'll still show up and read.

Part of my problem is that pretty much the only time I'm actually writing something is when I'm blogging. So if I stop blogging, then I'm not writing at all. I would feel better if I took a blogging break in order to get some work done on my novel. But that's not likely to happen. Also, earlier in the year I tried very hard to blog three times a week, and I kept up with it pretty well. But at a certain point I started to feel burnt out. I had no ideas left and didn't really want to blog anymore.

So last week when I just didn't feel like it, I said, screw it, I won't. I usually like to say when I'm taking a break but I didn't even want to do that. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get back into blogging and actually enjoy it. Well, I do find that blogging is a lot easier when I'm being productive with other writing and have something to talk about. So maybe if I was working on other things the blog ideas would come more naturally.

I'm also not holding myself to the three posts a week requirement. I'd like to still do it, but if I can't, then that's ok. I'm still going to blog every Monday but then Wednesdays and Fridays will happen if I actually have something to write about. I do have a few ideas for some fun, non-writing related posts which would be great for Fridays, too. And I may or may not be planning another blogfest for later in the year (shhhhhh!!!).

But in the meantime, if I take a day off here or there, I'm not going to feel bad about it.

When do you usually take blog breaks? How long are they?

02 September 2015

Writing Stuff

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click the link to learn more and sign up!

Something I tend to be insecure about is my identity as a writer. A lot of writers stick to one genre, others can write pretty much anything. I feel like I'm somewhere in between. I have written different genres, but it seems like I stick to the same one for years at a time and then move on to something else. If someone asked me what I write, I wouldn't really know what to say.

I have, however, always liked my Twitter bio (which I've never changed): "I write stuff. There's an imaginary teenage boy in my brain who helps me. Otherwise, I'm pretty normal." Short, sweet, and to the point. Well, it's Twitter, so it has to be short. But sometimes I read it and feel like a complete fraud. There's the "I'm pretty normal" part, which is a stretch, but we won't get into that. And I think I hear someone saying "who the f*** are you calling imaginary???" to which I would say, "BE QUIET YOUR POST IS NEXT WEEK."

But really it's the "I write stuff" part. How true is that? Am I actually writing stuff? Well, yes and no. I haven't written a poem in probably three years. I haven't really worked on my novel (except for a few tidbits here and there) for one year. All I ever really write are blog posts. So can I still call myself a writer? Well, I still want to write, and I still get ideas, so the passion is somewhere in there even if it's so far buried I don't know where to find it.

On the other hand, it's pretty vague, which works for me. Not "I'm an aspiring novelist and poet." Not "I'm working on my WIP and hope to be published soon." Just, "I write stuff." It's entirely true. Sometimes it's just a blog post or a tweet or an email. Sometimes it's a random line of dialogue from Book 3. Sometimes it's an editing note for Book 1. It's not always a lot, but it's usually something.

So maybe I can't say a lot about being a writer. But I can say that I write stuff.

31 August 2015

Out of Coffee, Out of Ideas

Our supply of K-cups is getting dangerously low and since it's the dreaded "every bill is due" week, I have zero money to spare. Yeah, I have a credit card, but I'd like to stop using it for a while until I can pay a good chunk of the balance off. So there's a good chance I will actually run out of coffee within the next few days.

Sometimes you run out of things. Toothpaste, cat food, time, money, patience. You probably run out of at least one thing every day. What I always seem to be running out of is ideas. Novel ideas, poem ideas, blog post ideas. That happens just about every single time I have to write a blog post. I have no clue. I can only write about the fact that I'm not writing so many times without annoying people or repeating myself. I've even talked about running out of ideas before, and here I am again. But what do you write about when there's nothing to write about?

The first thing I figured I had to do was to go a little easier on myself. If I don't feel like blogging three times a week, no one is going to care. It's ok to take off a Friday now and then. Not every blog post has to be this great revelation or writing tip that's going to make a huge impact on everyone, either. It's ok to ramble, too. You can tell people about your vacation or your pets or just anything that's going on in your life.

I actually started to have a good idea today, but I figured it would be better suited for Wednesday's IWSG post, so I'm saving it. I like to hoard my good ideas for the right days. Like if I actually do happen to come up with a great writing tip post idea, that's a good post for a Monday. Something silly or more personal may be better for a Friday. There's a lot of timing and planning involved, even if it's on a day by day basis.

But more often than not, I'm coming up with my post ideas the day I'm supposed to post them. It's hard to keep up. This happens with a lot of things, actually. I'm usually too busy doing one thing to even think about another. So maybe I run out of time more often than I run out of ideas. Or I just don't have the time to come up with ideas. Who knows?

I guess I'll just tackle one goal at a time, one day at a time. And enjoy the coffee while I have it.

26 August 2015

Cutting and Consolidating

A lot of the editing process involves figuring out what parts of your story are actually necessary. When you're writing the first draft, it's great to just let the ideas flow and not hold yourself back from getting them out. Once you're at the editing stage, however, that's when you really need to start analyzing the story and realizing which parts need to go. This could be as small as cutting individual words or as big as whole scenes and chapters.

Every cut won't seem obvious right away. The line by line edits may be easier to deal with first. You'll know if a particular word or phrase feels awkward or just doesn't work. You may need to rewrite a sentence, or you may realize you don't need that sentence at all. Figuring out the best way to get the story across without using a lot of unnecessary or unfitting words will help to polish the overall story and make it better.

Cutting scenes and chapters won't be as easy. You may spend a lot of time trying to rewrite a scene that isn't working to finally realize you don't actually need it. The scene doesn't even need to be bad for it to be cut sometimes, either. You may have written a great scene, but as you develop your story more and more, you may realize it just doesn't fit anymore. Deciding to cut a large chunk of story can be an emotional process. You may try to rationalize keeping it, but if it isn't going to work, eventually you'll come to realize it.

Of course, cutting isn't always the only answer. Maybe you have a scene that has some necessary moments or information, but the important parts aren't quite long enough to pull off a whole scene. You may be able to move whatever information is necessary to a different scene or chapter. If you're trying to fill in a whole scene or chapter and most of it is unnecessary, it will probably slow down the story or even make it seem boring. You always want something important to be happening in order to keep the reader interested.

The realization to cut a whole chapter actually took me by surprise. Now that I'm working on the third draft of my novel, I've come to realize that my sixth chapter actually isn't necessary and slows the story down. There is definitely some important information in there, but I know I can move it to the previous chapter and still have everything go smoothly. So making this cut will help speed things up within the story, as well as getting rid of a lot of unnecessary words. Now that I know I have to squeeze in the important stuff into a shorter scene, rather than an entire chapter, I'll really have to think about what words are necessary to get the point across.

Have you ever cut a whole chapter? Or consolidated two parts into one? 

24 August 2015

I Can't Write Anymore

Sometimes I think that to myself. Ok, all the time. I can't write anymore. It's not that I don't want to--I really, really do. It's that I can't. I can't come up with ideas. I can't put words onto the page. Can't can't can't. 

Ok, if I really dissect that, I'll find it isn't true at all. I still come up with ideas. 90% of them may involve the same characters, but they are new ideas, at least. I've come up with a bunch of ideas for editing my book. I still somehow manage to write a blog post three times a week (mostly), although that can often be a struggle. I even wrote three paragraphs on Friday night. They were from a scene in Book 3 and I may not even use them, but at least it's something. 

But there's still that mental block that tells me I can't do it anymore. I remember in high school sitting at my desk with a notebook using every second of down time to get words onto the page. Why is that so hard now? I used to write poetry all the time, but I haven't in years. The ideas just don't come to me anymore. 

I know I have several different reasons for not being able to write. I know what they are, but I still can't bring myself to just push through them and do it. Maybe the answer is to just stop giving a crap about what other people think, or how horrible the words come out. I can always rewrite. And I can certainly just write something for me. Just keep working on it until I like it and then maybe try to send it out into the world and see if someone else does. 

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that maybe that is my big hangup. I never write for me anymore. I try way too hard to get things perfect. I want the words to already be perfect in my mind before I even try to write them, so most of the time I just end up staring at the blank screen. I think I just need to not give a crap anymore. Write what I want and then see how it goes.

21 August 2015

Excuses, Excuses

So I didn't write a blog post on Wednesday, or even look at a single post from anyone else. And I didn't feel bad about it one little bit. On Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat that was turning into a full blown cold by the next day. I mean, who gets sick in August?? Me, apparently. So I just didn't feel like blogging. It happens from time to time.

It's a hard thing to keep up with, especially when I try to blog three times a week. It's hard to come up with ideas sometimes, so when you pile on not feeling well onto the mental block, you just don't even feel like turning on your computer. But it's ok, right? People take week or even month long blog breaks and nobody really cares. I just always feel like I should tell people when I'm not blogging, but I've already written so many "I don't feel like blogging" posts that another one just seems silly.

But getting sick has really thrown me off with everything. I tried restarting my diet on Monday but now that's out the window. Mostly because my cold has limited me to four food groups: oatmeal, scrambled eggs, Powerade, and coffee Coolatas. I just want to lay in bed and watch TV and not do anything else--like say, exercising.

This has gotten me thinking about excuses. We make them all of the time. We put things off. It usually takes me awhile to make the bed every day just because I don't want to disturb my cat. There are a million things I seem to be putting off at any given time--going to the doctor or dentist, getting my hair cut, *cough cough* finishing the third draft of my novel *cough.* I can't even begin to tell you all of the excuses I've had for putting off my diet or not going to the gym.

I've got a million excuses for not writing, all of them piled on top of each other. I think it really boils down to just not feeling like it. Of course, that feeling is caused by a million other excuses. So at what point do I stop making excuses and just start writing already? I don't know! I feel like I always have all the answers, but actually working through things and getting something done is easier said than done. But maybe if I stopped making excuses, it will be a little bit easier. Who knows?

What do you make excuses for? Writing????

17 August 2015

You Can't Please Everyone

One of the things you have to keep in mind not only with writing, but with any kind of entertainment, is that there is no possible way to please everyone. Every person can't possibly like everything--every book, song, movie, TV show, and so on. We all have different opinions. Everyone has a favorite color or a favorite food, right? You may not be able to understand how someone could love something that you hate (like how I will never understand why some people like Fifty Shades of Grey...), or vice versa. The bottom line is that while there will usually be an audience for everything, that audience isn't made up of everyone.

Say you went to a movie with your friend and you loved it, but she hated it. You both saw the same movie, right? But the way it impacted each of you was completely different. Or if you go to a comedy show, and everyone in the room laughs at a particular joke except for you. Does that mean the joke isn't funny? Well, that depends on how you look at it. To you, it isn't, but to several other people, it is. It's not something that can be clearly defined.

We always say that people are entitled to their opinions. Everyone has specific things that they like. You may like a certain genre of books or movies, and that's what you stick to. Or you may like a little bit of everything. What we like can be something broad like genre, or it can be on a smaller scale, like a particular writing style or point of view.

I think the thing that stings with getting a bad review is that you wish this person never read your piece in the first place. We always wish that our books would only find that target audience, but it doesn't always happen. Ideally, you would want every person who reads your work to love it, but even if they like your genre or other aspects that make up your book, sometimes it still just doesn't work out. It doesn't mean that your book is bad--it just wasn't right for that person.

I don't think I would look at bad reviews if/when I got them. For one, I just know I don't have the thick skin for it. But also, there really isn't a point. You can't exactly change a book once it's published just to please more people. You wrote what you wrote. Hopefully your book will find those people who will enjoy it.

How do you feel about reviews? Do you read the bad ones?

12 August 2015

When to Reveal Character Traits

If you want your characters to feel like real people, then they should have different traits to make them seem realistic. What sort of traits you give each character will depend on the story you're writing and the characters themselves. What exactly is important for the reader to know about this character? It could have to do with physical appearance, hobbies, beliefs, or pretty much anything you could think of being important to convey a character's personality. But when exactly should you let the reader know about these traits?

The answer won't always seem obvious. It can depend on when or if a certain trait is important within the story. If you want your readers to know what your characters look like, it's probably a good idea to convey that as early as possible. Of course, you don't really have to convey this information at all if you don't want to, but if you wait until halfway through a novel to show what your characters look like, it may seem strange. It's probably best to get it out early or not at all.

It's important not to force these sort of traits on the reader all at once. It should just come up naturally within the story. You wouldn't want to dump every single detail about your character like the reader was looking at their dating profile: "he was tall with brown hair, brown eyes, liked going for walks and listening to music and..." Sounds silly, right? Whatever trait you're revealing should feel natural within the scene itself, but it should also be important to the story. If you mention a character's hobby and it never comes up again, maybe you didn't need to mention it at all. If it's something that they do several times during the story, then it's something your reader needs to know.

What I'm actually struggling with right now is revealing my narrator's sexuality. It is definitely relevant to the story by the end of chapter one, but it's not something that's actually discussed between the characters for several chapters. So he has to tell the reader that he's gay before he tells anyone in the story. I originally had it come up in the first scene (in the giant info dump I talked about in Monday's post) but I realized there was already a lot going on in that scene and his sexuality really wasn't important to know at that point. So I'm planning on moving it to the second scene. I think I have it figured out but I won't know for sure until I actually write it (like most of the editing I still haven't done...)

While there are plenty of character traits that your readers will need to know, figuring out where to reveal them can be tricky. You'll need to decide what is actually important and how early on in the story it should be revealed, but also making sure these facts aren't just dumped on the reader out of nowhere.

How do you reveal character traits? Which traits do you think are most important (or least important)?

10 August 2015

First Scene Nonsense

Figuring out the first scene in your book can be tricky. It's the first thing your reader is going to read, so you want to hook them and get them wanting to read the whole story. But the scene should also make sense within the overall story. You have to make sure this particular scene is the right one to open the book. Once you figure all of this out, then you have to make sure you actually write it so that it meets these requirements. But like most things, it isn't always easy.

I've been thinking a lot about the first scene in my book lately. Actually, I've been avoiding it. I know I need to rewrite it so that it makes more sense and hooks the reader more. I've always known when and where it takes place, and pretty much everything that happens in it, but despite that, I still can't get it quite right. So lately I've just had no idea what to even do with it.

I think one of the problems is that there's a lot going on, but not in the scene itself. There's a lot of exposition--the narrator is conveying a ton of information to the reader and I'd say only half of it is actually relevant to the scene. It's important to his character, but it really doesn't need to be said within the scene itself. So I guess I've already figured it out. I should move this information to another scene. I really have no idea how to bring it up now, but that's probably a blog post for another day.

The second problem is that while the first scene is necessary to the story, it does kind of require some catching up on what has happened before the story begins. I've basically always had this idea that these books would start with the main character already in the middle of some scheme, because that's basically what he's always doing (especially in the first book when he's only 15, causing trouble is pretty much his only hobby). So this first scene is actually the end to something he already started, but it sets in motion what is actually the main plot of the book. So while it is necessary, there is some needed explanation. I just worry that it may seem odd to the reader.

The good thing is that I think I'm on the right track to figuring out my first line. I was never really crazy about the way I had it in the second draft, but I had no idea how to change it. A few nights ago I came up with something, and while I don't think it's perfect, I think what the line is saying is where I want it to be. I think it's getting the point across, but I'll probably need to rewrite it a few times to get it exactly the way I want.

So these are the editing issues I've been tackling lately. And that's just one scene!

07 August 2015

Save the Good Idea for Monday...

I had an idea for a blog post today, because I did a whole lot of thinking and a little bit of writing last night. I thought it would be great to talk about that--the things I figured out, things I still need to figure out. But the more I thought about it, I realized...it's really more of a Monday kind of post.

Fridays aren't really heavy traffic days for blogging. A lot of bloggers don't post on Fridays; others will do short posts to sum up their weeks or just tell you what they're doing over the weekend. For me, at least, I get a lot less comments on Fridays than on a Monday or Wednesday. So I thought, do I want to use my good idea on a day where I won't get a lot of feedback? Heck no! So yeah, this post is going to be a bit of a throwaway. But I'm ok with that.

With the writing I did last night I managed to come up with a new first line for UL. I'm not crazy about the line itself, but the concept is where I want it to be. I think I'll need to rewrite it a few times to where it's exactly the line I want. I'm not entirely sure if I want to share the line in Monday's blog post. I would love to get people's reactions to it, to see if maybe it's already good enough and I'm just overthinking it. But I certainly don't want people to feel obligated to rewrite it for me. Actually, I would hate that. I want to write my own first line. So maybe I won't share it, but talk about what's going on with it.

Other than the first line/first scene/first chapter nonsense, the only other thing going on is that it's my birthday on Sunday! Remind me to change the age in my bio on Monday to 28. Honestly, I kinda hate birthday time. I'm not really a center of attention kind of person. I don't need gifts but asking for money feels weird. And I really really really hate all the Facebook messages from people I haven't talked to in years. But anyway, my fiance and I are going out for dinner tonight and my dad's making his world famous cheeseburgers for me on Sunday. There goes my diet!

Well, that's about it. What is everyone else doing this weekend?

05 August 2015

When Does Bitterness Leave?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to learn more and sign up!

I noticed something trending on Twitter the other day that made my stomach turn: Pitch Wars. "UGH" was my immediate response. 

Honestly, writing-wise, doing Pitch Wars was the biggest mistake I ever made. There's a part of me that wants to rant and scream and tell everyone I possibly can not to do it. But I think the odds of someone else having my exact experience are actually very slim: first, having a controversial story, then having an a-hole mentor send unnecessarily cruel feedback on just your first chapter, and also being the kind of person who is prone to depression and anxiety and will let this sort of thing eat away at you. On the other hand, seeing as how there's roughly a 10% chance of getting picked if you enter, I also feel like it's just a giant waste of time. So in the best case scenario, you're still going to be disappointed. 

I wish I didn't let things get to me so much. It's not the first time I've been bullied. It definitely won't be the last time my writing will be critiqued (although I feel if my book was already published I would handle it in a completely different way). But at what point do you stop grinding your teeth when you hear something mentioned? When does that bitterness go away? When I think of something that happened in the past that still leaves me feeling bitter, the thought usually passes fairly quickly. You get over it eventually. Maybe just because Pitch Wars wasn't so long ago, it's still bugging me.

Or maybe it's just because it's kept me from writing. I hate the fact that it's almost been a year since I've really written anything. I've come up with a ton of ideas on how to edit my book, but I haven't actually done any of them. I hate when people tell me it's ok to take a break, because it's just been way too long. But every time I think about working on my book, I just wonder--what's the point? If everyone's going to hate this story and hate me for writing it, why should I bother? But I can't let it go because I've put so much effort into it and I think there's something there that people just aren't able to see yet.

So I guess I just need to try to make people see it. Nothing is ever going to happen if I don't start writing again. That's probably what I need to do to get over the experience. Nothing would be a bigger "f you" than being successful. If I don't write, then they win.

03 August 2015

Jordan Takes Over: The Voices in Your Head

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

First of all, let me just set a few things straight here. If Sarah is telling you I have a boyfriend, IT'S A LIE. Because A) that's not my thing (I mean commitment, not guys...keep up with me, people!), and B) technically I'm only 19 and I don't get together with this guy until we're 22. So there. Plus, hello spoilers! Oh, who am I kidding? By the time Book 3 gets published (assuming it does) you'll forget all about this. In that case, let me tell you...

OH I'M KIDDING. Relax. But anyway, this leads me to today's topic: having multiple characters telling you what to do. It can be extremely difficult when you're being pulled in too many directions by several different ideas or characters. Who do you listen to (uh, me, hello?)? Which idea is more important? Is it just the voice that seems the loudest?

I guess it depends on how many voices and where they're coming from. If you've got several different book ideas going on in your head at once and a strong urge to work on all of them, it can lead to trouble. You'll probably get things mixed up--characters showing up in the wrong book, things like magic or aliens popping into your contemporary romance. Just imagine the chaos if you took all of your book ideas and combined them into one. Scary, right?

So the easiest thing to do is work on one book at a time. I know, I know, easier said than done. I'm not saying you can't jump back and forth. But give one book a good amount of time and attention before you switch gears. Maybe wait for the inspiration to run out and then switch to get it going again.

But you've also got the issue of different characters within the same book or series pulling you in different directions. Maybe you've got minor characters wanting to be more important. Or maybe ideas from every book in your series are hitting you at once. If the characters are the same, it probably won't be as confusing to work on more than one. But if you're throwing your attention everywhere at once, is every piece you're writing going to come out perfect?

Ok, so maybe the easiest thing to say is that listening to the loudest voice is probably the right way to go. Whatever idea, character, scene, book, whatever, is occupying your thoughts the most is the one that you should be working on. Then if you finish that idea, that voice in your head may actually shut up and you can move on to the next one. If you're lucky.

So maybe I'm not always the loudest voice. It probably just means I'm sleeping.


31 July 2015

Not Feeling It Today

I think I've used that blog title before...

Yeah, so that flash fiction I talked about posting didn't happen. See what happens when I promise things? I'm just not gonna say anything about it until it's actually done. But I will post it on a Friday. Because that's what people do, right?

The thing is, I don't really feel like blogging about anything else. I kinda don't feel like doing anything at all. I'm having a bit of a life crisis, worrying about money, having trouble sleeping. I'm gonna have to get a real job soon because my savings is running out and I can't make enough with my freelance stuff to pay all the bills. I really wanted to wait until we moved to get a job but I just don't think there's enough time. We still haven't figured out when we're moving, either. So I'm screwed, basically. I was supposed to get so much more done in the time since I quit my job and I just haven't.

Maybe I should have saved this rant for IWSG! Oh well. I'm off to try to earn some money...

29 July 2015

Gabriel Release & Review!

Earlier this week, the final book in Patricia Josephine's Path of Angels series, Gabriel, was released! I really enjoyed this series, so you should definitely check it out. Take it away, Patricia!

What’s in a name?

Angelic Messenger
Gabriel, an archangel and one of the two highest ranking angels in Judeo-Christian and Islamic lore. Her name means "strength of God". She is a unique archangel in the sense that it is almost certain she is the only female angel in the higher echelons, although some believe there are no female angels. Gabriel fosters joy, truth, justice and love. She grants wisdom in interpreting our dreams and visions.

Well, in Path of Angels Gabe is a guy and would probably be grumpy to read this. He is all about justice though. Love, he wants it for sure, but isn't very open about it. He's really a big grouch.

*   *   *

The end is in sight.

To stop Uriel from freeing Lucifer, Gabriel and his brothers must fall and go to Hell. It is a sacrifice Gabriel is not entirely ready to make. Will he fight alongside his brothers or forge his own path? There is only one choice.

Alexander doesn’t want to help Uriel nor does he trust him, but the angel has promised him a better life. He swore to protect Charlie, and he’ll do whatever it takes. When he meets the archangels and learns the depth of Uriel’s lies, he understands the true meaning of sacrifice. If there’s any hope of stopping Lucifer from being freed, Alexander, Charlie, Zephyr and Lake will have to get to Hell and help Gabriel and his brothers in the fight against Uriel.

The path is finally ending, but the price may be too high.

Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads!

About the Author:

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during
high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

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Path of Angels

Sarah's Review:

The final book in the Path of Angels series focuses on the last archangel, Gabriel, while also wrapping up the overall plot line that has run through all of the books. Gabriel and his brothers must fall and go to hell in order to stop Uriel from freeing Lucifer. Gabriel’s struggle was really interesting to see: his anger seems to be the thing that sets him apart from his brothers. He doesn’t want to fall and really doesn’t even want to follow the path at all. He just wants his normal life back, but eventually comes to realize that this is impossible. That’s when Alexander and Charlie come in. They have a very sweet relationship—Alexander doesn’t really want to follow Uriel but it’s the only way he can protect Charlie. When they meet Gabriel, they are both drawn to him and the three of them see that they were meant to find one another. The polyamorous relationship was an interesting twist that I enjoyed. I wish they were able to have more time together, but with Gabriel fallen, he and his brothers must continue on their path. The angels’ loved ones play a much larger role than anyone expected, and they must also travel to hell to help stop Uriel. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say it did make me a little sad—but I also understand why it had to be that way. Overall, a great ending to the series!

(I'm not sure if I can call my reviews "mini" anymore...they always come out longer than I intend. Maybe next time I'll learn to use paragraph breaks...)

27 July 2015

All Screwed Up

I'm totally off my game today. I know, I know, when exactly am I on my game? But it's past noon and I still don't have this blog post done. I was up late last night so slept in too much this morning. My fiance is off work today so that's throwing me off. It feels like a weekend. We just got back from the gym, so my usual 8:45 shower was an 11:45 shower. I haven't had any coffee or food so I'm starting to lose my sanity, I think.

I also wanted to do a lot of writing this weekend but that definitely did not happen. What I did was watch a whole lot of Harry Potter. I really wanted to get some work done on the first chapter for UL, because now I'm thinking it might be easier to edit in order? Or at least try. Really, I should just work on whatever part is inspiring me the most and to stop avoiding it altogether. Getting anything done at this point would be great. Rewriting a random sentence in any chapter would at least be progress. But no. Still avoiding looking at it.

I kinda sorta have a plan for the rest of the week. I've got a book review to post on Wednesday (that's assuming I get it done...but I did finish the book, at least!). And then maybe on Friday I'll post a piece of flash fiction. Well, it may be too long to be called flash fiction (I'm new at this...) but short enough for a blog post, at least. Adam has been chewing on my brains lately so I've been working on a little something from his point of view (CURSE HIM). He's probably got Jordan tied up somewhere...who is probably enjoying it. Of course, telling you that I'll post something has probably squashed all possibility that I will actually get it done in time. We'll see.

All right, I'm gonna go take a deep breath and have some coffee. In the meantime, here's a picture of my cat being ridiculous:

24 July 2015

Cherished Blogfest

Today I'm taking part in the Cherished Blogfest, hosted by Dan Antion, Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, Tom Benson, and Damyanti Ghosh. The idea is to talk about one of our cherished objects. Tell us what it is, post a picture of it if you like, and tell us why you cherish it.

The object I want to talk about popped into my head right away, well probably because it's always on my finger--my engagement ring. While you may think the reason for cherishing this object would be pretty obvious, it's actually a bit more complex.

This ring actually belonged to my grandmother, but I never met her. She passed away when my mom was 10 years old. My grandfather eventually remarried and we always considered my step-grandmother to be our grandmother because she was the only one we knew. I remember when I was little my grandparents gave the ring to my mother, and she wore it every day because it belonged to her mother and was special to her.

When my mom passed away two years ago, my sister held onto the ring along with her other belongings. My boyfriend and I had been together for almost six years and we had talked about getting engaged, but he didn't have the money for a ring. It was actually my brother-in-law's idea to give him my grandmother's ring. My boyfriend proposed to me on Christmas Eve of that year.

So there are a lot of reasons why my engagement ring is special to me. It's a piece of family history--something that existed before I was born and that I can pass down to my children if I have them (or my niece if I don't). It was something that belonged to my mother and I can remember her by. And of course, it's a constant reminder that I have the love and support of a wonderful man who will someday be my husband.

(This was the most recent picture of us that I could stand. You know how I hate pictures of myself...)

22 July 2015

Editing Lists

I make lists all of the time. Pretty much every day I have a to-do list for the things that I want or need to get done over the course of the day. I don't know if you're like me, but if you just say to yourself, "oh, I'll get to that later," then that task probably doesn't get done. Writing down what needs to be done is a great way to not only remember these tasks, but to add a bit of motivation.

I try to use a similar method when it comes to writing, especially when it comes to editing. When you need to make changes to a story, it can be helpful to know exactly what needs to be done. You may not know how to fix everything right away, but just knowing what needs to be fixed is usually the first step.

It can be extremely helpful to write down any idea that comes across your mind. If you want to rewrite a scene, add something in, cut a particular section. It's a lot of information to try to keep inside your head. Chances are you'll forget some of it, and if you have a lot of good ideas, losing them could be devastating. Writing every idea down will help you make sure all of those ideas actually happen.

There really is no right or wrong way to make an editing list, as long as you're able to understand it. I couldn't even tell you how many lists I have. I have a separate draft with comments just for making line edits. I have a list of new ideas for the section I have to rewrite. I have separate lists for each chapter with things I want to fix. You can make as many or as few editing lists as you want. You could go by chapter like I have or just have one giant list with every necessary change on it.

I've recently been working on a new list that groups things based on what order I want to work on them. Group A is for the things I've already figured out and think I can get done quickly, Group B is for things that will be slightly harder, and Group C is for all the things I'm absolutely dreading working on. I haven't figured out all of my edits yet so the list isn't quite finished yet. I think that's why Group C is pretty much blank--technically all the things I haven't figured out yet are there. But once the list is done I think it will be a good way to stay motivated. I'll start with the things I'm actually excited about working on and hopefully as time goes on those things I'm dreading will seem easier to tackle.

Having an editing list can also help you keep track of your progress. One of the reasons I like having to-do lists is that sense of accomplishment you get when you finish a task and can cross it off your list. Imagine how great it will feel once every single task is crossed off the editing list. Maybe then I can actually say my book is done? We'll see...

Do you make editing lists? What's your strategy?

20 July 2015

Searching for Ideas

I'm constantly struggling to find new ideas. New stories, new poems, new blog posts. Actually this post only exists because all I could think about this morning was how I didn't have an idea for a blog post. It happens a lot. It's a blogging day and I've got no clue what to write about. Sometimes there will be some new development in my writing that I can talk about, or sometimes I'll just ramble about nothing in particular. But it's always a constant struggle to come up with ideas.

I'm always in awe of those authors who seem to bust out a new book every month or so. I have no idea how they do it. It's not just because I have a tendency to take forever to write something. It's about ideas. I could never come up with that many ideas that fast. I'm sure when a writer needs a break from their WIP, they'll often work on another project. The problem for me is that I don't have one. I have a few ideas, sure, but none that seem good enough or that I care enough about to work on. So when I need a break from my main project, there isn't anything to turn to.

I don't know what it is, really. Am I just terrible at coming up with ideas? Or am I so hung up on my main WIP that I subconsciously block out any possibility for new ideas? It certainly doesn't help that I don't want to work on my WIP most of the time. Besides blogging, I couldn't tell you the last time I actually wrote something. How can you call yourself a writer if you're not writing?

Ok, this is turning into a sob story. This was supposed to be about ideas! I know it's possible to find ideas anywhere. For some reason they just don't seem to come to me. The only ideas I seem to get are usually a part of the universe for my main WIP--sequels, side stories for minor characters, or just random cute short stories that I probably won't let anyone read. So they don't really feel like new ideas to me because they involve the same characters.

So where do you find new ideas? Well, since the answer to that could be "anywhere" or "everywhere," I guess my question really should be, what do you do when those ideas aren't coming to you anymore? The more I write this the more I feel like it's just my brain telling me to finish what I'm already working on. Working on that is another issue entirely. But hey, there's an idea for another blog post!

Where do you get your ideas from? Are they constantly coming to you or do you struggle to find them?

17 July 2015

Don't Look at My Book!

Usually the ultimate goal with any piece of writing is to get other people to read it. You've got a story in your head and you want to get it onto paper and share it with everyone else. But it takes a while to get to that point where you think your piece is good enough for someone else to read. You may have to go through several rounds of editing and rewrites before you let anyone else look at it, and even after that there may be more editing to do. But how do you know when it's ready? What if you need fresh eyes but you still have a lot that needs to be fixed?

It can take a while before you feel like your writing is ready for other people to read it. Until then, you probably won't let it see the light of day. You'll hold onto it for dear life, pull the shades down, turn off the lights, and hiss like a cat at anyone who tries to touch it. Ok, figuratively speaking, of course. But when someone offers to read it, you may feel like running in the other direction.

On the other hand, what do you do when you really could use a fresh set of eyes? What if you can't figure things out and just being able to talk to someone else about it could help? But what if you're too scared to let anyone read it?

I feel like I'm in some sort of paradox when it comes to having beta readers. I know I probably should have more, but at the same time, I already know a lot of things I want to fix in my book. I think letting someone else read it as is before I make those changes would be pointless. But it would also be nice to have more people to bounce ideas off of. But I also just really don't want anyone else to read it the way it is right now. See? It's a vicious cycle.

This is how it's gone so far: my fiance read the first draft (AGH NO NOT THE FIRST DRAFT! BURN IT!), which is great from a supportive standpoint but he couldn't really offer any critiques. For the second draft, I had one actual beta reader, and then a bunch of people who showed interest in reading it but then never actually did. Horrible mistake on my part. I thought they were serious about wanting to read it, and I was totally fine with getting no real critiques from these people. I thought I would at least get some sort of reader-based reaction, like "Oh, I loved this part!" or "Why did that have to happen???" But no. I got nothing. No responses at all. I'm not even sure if anyone actually read it. So I'm a little jaded when it comes to letting people read it.

So I have literally had only one person who read the whole thing and gave me feedback (and who I keep bothering with my editing ideas...). That's probably not enough, right? But I have so much I want to change for this third draft that I don't want to bother letting anyone else read the second one. And by the time I do finish the third, I want to be querying it. So I don't know if I should bother trying to find more beta readers. But querying will take a while so would it make sense to also have people beta reading in case there are other things I should change? I DON'T KNOW.

So I really have no idea what I should do. For now I'll probably just keep hoarding my book so no one else can read it...

15 July 2015

Rewriting Chapter One

Out of the ten gazillion editing realizations I've made, deciding to rewrite the first chapter was probably one of the hardest to accept. You'd like to think after a long time with a story that you've been able to get the beginning right, but that isn't always the case. And if the first chapter isn't right, then it can be pretty hard to get people to keep reading.

It's a difficult decision because honestly, I really like the beginning of my book. I can breeze through the first five chapters like it's someone else's book and I'm just dying to know what happens next. Chapter 2 is my absolute favorite and I only have a few minor tweaks in my editing to-do list for that chapter. But I can't start the book with the second chapter. No one would know what the hell was going on. I need the first chapter to get the characters and situation established so the story can actually begin.

It's not all horrible, though. If I broke down the chapter, it really has four parts. The first two parts are the ones that need a massive overhaul, the third one just needs a little tweaking, and the fourth one doesn't really need any changes. So I really only have to rewrite half of the chapter.

On the other hand, there is a lot to change. I've never really been ok with my first line, and I'm sure you all know how important that is. So that has to go. I feel like the first scene may not make sense to some people, so I want to make sure that's clearer. There's also a lot of exposition that I think I could cut down. With the second scene, I'm actually excited about the change because I'm removing an unnecessary character and replacing her with someone whose name actually comes up again in the story. So I think it will make a lot more sense.

I also think I need to make my narrator a bit more sympathetic. Ugh. I kinda don't want to. Yeah, he's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'm ok with that. But I do actually want the people who decide to read this book to keep reading. If they're turned off by the main character right away then that's probably not going to happen. Luckily I do see some space in the third scene to sneak in some sympathy, and some of the cuts I'll be making from the first two scenes should help out with that as well.

So on my giant editing to-do list, rewriting Chapter 1 is right there at the top. I know I probably won't get it all done at once. That first scene rewrite is going to be tough. The rest will be easier since I already know how to fix it. I guess the next step is to stop thinking about it and just actually do it. That's just another thing I'm trying to work on.

13 July 2015

Keeping an Open Editing Mind

Having an epiphany about a piece of writing can be a great thing. You could be struggling to figure something out and then out of nowhere the solution hits you. It could be something you never expected, and it could require a lot of work. But if you keep your mind open and let the ideas come to you, and you put in that hard work, you may just be able to figure it all out.

One of the hardest parts about editing is cutting parts from your previous drafts. When you first write something, it can seem so perfect that you think there's no way you'd ever get rid of it. But as time goes on and you get away from that first draft high, you're able to see things more clearly. If you spend enough time with your story, you'll know what's working and what isn't, what needs to be rewritten and what needs to be cut completely.

I've been with my story for over 4 years now so I pretty much know everything that needs to be fixed. Figuring out how to fix it is another thing entirely. Every solution isn't going to come to you right away. You may need to think about it for hours and hours, going over every possibility until you figure it out. If that doesn't work, you let the idea rest for a while, and if you're lucky the solution will just come to you out of nowhere (for me that means someplace inconvenient like in the shower, or when you're trying to sleep...).

Keeping an open mind is very important when letting the ideas happen. I'm on my third draft now, but I don't think my mind was very open when writing the second draft. I basically just wanted to make the first draft better, but keep everything exactly the same. Sure, I rearranged a few scenes, added some needed background info on a character, but there weren't a lot of major changes, just a lot of rewriting. For some parts, this can work. Maybe just rewriting will fix the problem. But this isn't going to work for an entire draft. Big changes usually need to happen, and if you're not open to them, you'll never be able to come up with those solutions.

I realized yesterday that cutting an entire chapter from the beginning of my book would help out a lot. It was something I'd never considered before. But it was a chapter that I didn't know how to rewrite, and I felt like it slowed the story down a bit. Then I realized any important information from this chapter could be moved to the last scene from the chapter before. It's going to be tricky finding the balance of what information to put where, but once I get it all done and that chapter is gone, I think the story will flow a lot better.

If my mind was still closed off when it comes to editing, I never would have made this realization. If you edit thinking that everything is perfect, or that all of the parts of your story need to be there, you may never be able to actually step back and see what's wrong with it, and what parts aren't even needed.

Do you have trouble keeping an open mind while editing? Ever made any unexpected edits?