August 31, 2011

d&d night

Tonight, I’ll be running the third session of my newest Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I’m still learning as a Dungeon Master, so it’s nice that two of our players are new, one is my husband, and the other two have only played for a short time. I don’t feel so self-conscious about my DMing style. Even still, I feel disappointed at the end of a session, like I could have done much better. I always ask afterward if they liked the encounters, but sometimes I think they’re just being nice, silently ridiculing my encounters and judging me harshly. Sometimes, I think I’m too fragile to DM.

And that’s strange, because I take writing criticism really well. I’m like a writing rhinoceros.

I wasn’t always that way. When I first started writing, I was really eager to get others to read my half-finished work. After a general consensus of meh, I stopped letting other people read my stories. I lost confidence in myself, in my writing, and I suffered for it. For a long time, I constantly questioned myself, every single decision I made within a story. That led to timid, safe stories. I didn’t try to write anything I didn’t feel safe writing.

It seems that my DMing has taken this turn. I started out gung-ho about it, but when my players didn’t respond to my encounters and story the way I had envisioned, I lost my confidence. In an effort not to have anyone complain about my sessions, I’ve thrown in simple battles, a straightforward quest, and I’m even working with an official D&D low-level campaign. Personally, I find it all safe and boring.

August 29, 2011

writer growth

A lot has changed in my last year of writing. I look at the pre-writing process, the actual writing, and the revision differently than I did a year ago. Last August, I had just finished the first draft of my Indian-inspired fantasy, a standard quest adventure with magic and mayhem abound. I did not plot that story. I did little more than brainstorm before I dove headfirst into writing. When I first started, I wrote maybe 2000 words a week. With school, I didn’t really have time to do more. I wrote without regard to quality. When I graduated, I had a lot more time. I wrote 2000 words a day. 3000 words a day. Even 6000 words a day. Still not concerned with quality. So when I finished, revision was a daunting task. I went through several revision drafts. My beta readers responded with meh to good feedback. Undaunted, I started querying. No responses. Not a one. So I started revising again. And again. I reworked the plot. I changed the entire story. I rewrote the first half… and quit. I spent too long working on that novel. Fourteen months! When I started my steampunk project, I knew I wanted to do it differently.

August 26, 2011

review: delirium

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

August 24, 2011

new writing project

Well, for those of you that pay attention on other social media fronts, you already know this, but I think I’ve found my next story. It’s a weird mix of The Prince and the Pauper and Aladdin (romance aspect, not flying carpets, genies, and fictional Arabia aspect). That’s the best way to describe it off the top of my head. It’s going to be a sort of fairy tale fantasy set in a small kingdom of no consequence, told from the perspective of a princess and the daughter of an innkeeper as they vie for the prince’s love. I don’t remember exactly when or how the idea came to me, but it did, and I wrote it down. I didn’t have the passion to write it until yesterday, when I sat in front of our movie shelf, looking for something to watch. I wanted to watch a fantasy, something lighthearted and romantic and full of mischief, but none of the movies I owned fit the bill, neither did those on Netflix. So I decided I would tell that story.

August 22, 2011

non-writing update

New blog design!

I’ve been busy working on non-writing-but-still-book-related things, including my official website. It’s a very basic website that will likely be updated every few weeks, and it will, of course, link back to my blog. My husband, being the computer genius he is, graciously worked on the website Saturday. It should go live soonish, probably in the next month. It’s mostly finished, and it reflects the new blog design. Simple colors. A pretty tree in the header. I like it. It’s professional without trying too hard. What do you think?

There are a few more things that need to be done, mostly in preparation of my book release. I need to make a Facebook fan page (gag). I know, I know. It’s a must. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It will take a whole five minutes, but I’m putting it off just because I try to spend as little time on Facebook as possible. Twitter is where it’s at, yo.

August 19, 2011

WriteOnCon wrap-up

Well, WriteOnCon is now over. It was a whirlwind of awesome for the past few days, and I'm glad that I had the time to participate in the forums and "attend" the events. I got a lot of great feedback on my work (most of it was praise!), and there were a lot of other promising pitches in the forums. That aside, here are the events I liked best:

Moments that Matter by author Matt Myklusch
R-E-S-P-E-C-T by author Kiersten White
Successful Marketing and Promotion with School Visits by author J.S. Lewis
Online Etiquette by editor Liesa Abrams
I DON'T CARE THAT HE'S HOT: Building Believable Romance by editor Martha Mihalick
On Compactness by literary agent Weronika Janczuk
Character Development by author Lauren Oliver
How Do I Know That I Really Love It? by literary agent Sara Crowe
Marketing 101 for Children's Book Authors by author Emma Walton Hamilton
Setting by author Jessi Kirby
10 Questions to See If You've Got What It Takes by author Amy Fellner Dominy

Panels and Chats (all of them are worth reading, if only for the random shouting of animal names):
Chat with literary agents Marietta Zacker, Joan Paquette, and Michael Bourret
Traditional vs. Self-Publishing Chat with literary agent Sara Megibow
Q&A with author Sarah Rees Brennan
Q&A with literary agent Jenny Bent
YA Q&A with Holly Root and Barbara Poelle
Panel of Industry Professionals: Kate Testerman, Martha Mihalick, Joanna Volpe, Jen Rofe, Diana Fox
On Platform, a Chat with literary agent Sara Megibow
Q&A with literary agent Suzie Townsend
Panel with Michelle Andelman, Emily Meehan, Annete Pollert, Jim McCarthy 
Panel of Professionals: Natalie Fischer, Anica Rissi, Kathleen Ortiz
Andrea Brown literary agent chat with Jen Rofe, Kelly Sonnack, Jennifer Laughran, Caryn Wiseman

The Debut Year by author Lindsey Leavitt
Critique Groups 101 with the YA Muses
Pacing in Contemporary YA by author Sara Zarr
Myths and Misconceptions by literary agent Holly Root and editors Martha Mihalick and Molly O'Neill
Don't Give Up by author Beth Revis
Collective Blogging and Book Promotion by Stages on Pages

August 17, 2011

what is steampunk?

I’m going to go on a bit of a rant today. I’ve been participating in WriteOnCon this week, and I was happy to find that there were other steampunk titles that newbie authors were working on. However, when I clicked through to read the premises for these so-called steampunk tales, I was sorely disappointed, and somewhat enraged.

Gears and corsets do not a steampunk novel make.

Meghan B. over at Stellar Four adequately expressed my feelings on the matter. For those of you that have read the book or watched the film equivalent of The Princess Bride, you know that Vizzini (the little bald headed man with the annoying voice) always uses the term “inconceivable.”

August 15, 2011

what do i do now?

Sooooooo…. I have finished my steampunk novel. And I have absolutely no idea what to do now.

I do have a few projects on the table that need attending to between now and the end of September (when I hope to receive my beta copies back), but I don’t see them taking nearly that long to complete. I need to start building my author website, which is a collaborative effort between me and my husband. I should probably create a Facebook fan page for the novel (taking a whopping five minutes). And I need to start contacting blogs that review Young Adult, Steampunk, or indie novels and blogs that interview indie authors (if you fall in any of these categories, let me know, and I will definitely send you a copy of The Clockwork Giant as soon as I’ve finished editing).

However, I don’t think these things will occupy my time quite like writing does. I love writing. Most writers do, but I just feel weird knowing that I don’t have anything to work on for the next couple of months. Before I can start revising The Clockwork Giant, I have to wait to hear back from my wonderful beta-readers, and who knows how long that will take (though, I have already heard back from one reader).

August 12, 2011

erm... i'm finished?

This is a rare double posting day, and it will likely never happen again. I don't think I can wait until Monday to write this because the feeling won't be the same.

So... I think I just finished my novel. Like seriously.

Turns out, it wasn't another two chapters. It was only one. One chapter. I'm done. The novel is over.

I could easily keep going, but the sequel has to start at some point, right?

And I figure it was a good sign that I was at the end when I started tearing up. No seriously. I cry. A lot. Not sure if I was crying because it's over (for the time being), or if I was crying because the ending is sad... or what.

So, I have finished a novel before, and it was an exciting time, don't get me wrong. But finishing this novel, finishing a steampunk novel is just awesome. It's a different feeling than when I finished my fantasy novel over a year ago. That was like a mad dash to a finish line, and I was just happy to have gotten there. Unfortunately, I was participating in a triathalon, and I had two races to go (revision and querying). It's different this time. I don't feel like I've completed the race yet, but the finish line is just ahead. All I have to do now is revise, which shouldn't be much of a problem since I wrote this novel slowly and deliberately, editing as I went.

The most amazing thing about finishing this novel is the fact that I wrote a first draft in four months. That, to me, is just stellar in itself. There was two weeks of plotting before that, and there will probably be a month of revisions, but that brings me to less than six months. I could very easily put out two books a year at this pace.

Again, thanks to all of you that have cheered me on while writing this novel. You are awesome.

So, I now have two novels under my belt. I feel pretty amazing right now.

Now for celebrations abound. Have a great weekend, guys!

still writing...

I have gotten some stellar word counts this week... but I'm still not finished with The Clockwork Giant. I still have to finish the climax and write the resolution. Whether that takes 4000 words or 12000 words, that has yet to be decided. I have a feeling that it will take somewhere around 7000 words. I don't see me writing more than two chapters.

Judging by my word counts so far this week (averaging at 3000 per day), it looks like I won't finish today. However, I'm going to work through the weekend. I'll be damned if I don't finish this book in the next few days. And who knows? I might pound out all 7000 words today. Sometimes I have typing frenzies. It happened with my first novel. I went from writing 1500 a day to writing 6000 a day when I neared the end. Maybe that will happen again. If it does, I'm not stopping. Sorry, dear husband, but you may have to cook dinner tonight.

So I've made great progress this week. I wrote 12000 words from Monday to Thursday, and I still have today to add another chunk of words to that.

With that in mind, I now take my leave of you all. Thanks to everyone who has cheered me on through this amazing experience, especially you, Darby.

August 10, 2011

brb... writing

No seriously. I wrote like a fiend yesterday, not only meeting my word count goal, but exceeding it by nearly double. That's right. I wrote 3800 words yesterday. And you know what that means?

Only 10,000 words to go.

I am so close to finishing, it's unreal. I mean, I've finished a novel before, but not like this, not in all this steampunk glory of awesome. Can you feel it? Can you feel the pure awesome flowing from my fingers right now? I can. I'm giving this keyboard life, man. Up next is the climax. The finale. The ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny. The end.

Until further notice, the blog is closed. If I haven't finished my novel by Friday, I'll update you on how far I have to go. Be warned, however. I may emerge covered in grease, sweat, tears, and a little bit of blood--just a flesh wound--nothing to worry about.

See you when my novel's finished.

Peace out.

August 8, 2011

book marketing

Now that I’m nearing the end of my novel (only 15,000 words to go! you can read the first few pages here), I have to start thinking about publishing, marketing, and sales. Whether I end up traditionally publishing or self-publishing, these things are important. Gone are the days when authors only wrote books.

I’ve been reading several blog posts about how to market books, most of which, I’m already doing. Social media seems to be the priority—BUILD YOUR PLATFORM! Yes, I understand that finding people to sell to is your number one priority, but what do you do once you get their attention?

I know there are certain marketing aspects that snag my interest. I just wonder what other people, what you think is good marketing.

So here is a list of things that I’ve seen done to market books.

August 5, 2011

i ♥ gaming

Sorry for the late posting times lately. I’ve been a bit of an insomniac for whatever reason. Can’t go to sleep or stay asleep. It sucks. I’ll probably sound a bit insane, but it seriously feels like I have an anti-headache when I try to sleep. The exact opposite of a headache. Where a headache causes pain, the anti-headache is like a mass of nothingness (as oxymoronic as that is) in the middle of my head. I can’t shut down, no matter how tired I am, like my brain is wired on Mt. Dew and Fudge Rounds (the diet of gamer gods). So, any suggestions for helping me sleep would be much appreciated. ;)

Speaking of gamer gods, I’ve been itching to get back into some gaming. Since I graduated college, I haven’t done much video gaming. A little bit here. A little bit there. But no obsessive, stay-up-all-night, refuse meals and bathroom breaks gaming. I finally beat Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days after owning it for over two years. How awesome am I? Now I really want to replay Kingdom Hearts I and II for the umpteenth time.

August 3, 2011

sneak peek for chroniker city!

WriteOnCon is coming up quickly! I participated last year and learned a lot, so I hope this year proves to be just as enlightening. I know I’ve been a bit quiet about my novel in progress Chroniker City, so I thought I’d share a bit with you! It makes sense. I’m sharing my pitch and my first five pages in the WriteOnCon forums, so I figured I should share them here too. I would love to hear your thoughts—comments, criticism, and suggestions.

And I know that I’ve said that I want to self-publish… That’s still true, but in the right situation, I would still traditionally publish. It just depends. This conference (free, by the way) may just provide me with a traditional publishing opportunity. And it might not. We’ll see.

So here is my pitch/query for Chroniker City, as well as the first five pages. Enjoy!

August 1, 2011

failing to impress

Have you ever sat down to read a book, watch a movie or a television show, or play a video game only to find yourself stopping a quarter of the way through (if you made it even that far)? I have had the misfortune of having this happen several times recently.

I heard decent things about Legend of the Seeker, so I tried watching the first season a few months back. I couldn’t get past the second episode. Not sure what exactly turned me off to it—oh, wait: the goofy looking characters, clichéd plot, terrible special effects, and so on so forth. Didn’t care to go on.

My mother bought me Epic Mickey for Christmas last year. It was a game that I desperately wanted. All the news leading up to the release, including pre-release play reviews, said that Epic Mickey would be a revolutionary game, unsurpassed in graphics, story, and gameplay. Sorry Epic Mickey, but I couldn’t get past the first few levels. It was so boring and tedious, with no real end objective, and sorry to say, but the graphics were nothing special. Didn’t care to keep playing.