Trust fall… (and an answer to your question)

Well, I think I’ve thoroughly burned myself out on house projects, and my kitchen isn’t even all the way painted yet. Between a teething baby and a toddler who has been getting up at 5am again for the past week or so, there’s just not much energy left for tasks. My kitchen might be 75 percent yellow and 25 percent light blue for awhile…

But my second book feels like it’s ripening: The characters are coming alive, their world is growing richer, and the narrative is beginning to breathe. Though there are still many unknowns, the most important questions (mostly) have answers, and I think it’s almost time to just begin to write. I think I’ve got cold feet, though. I wrote Cerberus with too many unanswered questions and too many story arcs undecided, and it led to so much editing and several drafts. This time, I want things to be different. I’ve been trying to plan more–which I think is necessary for me–but at some point it’s time to just write and accept that revisions are going to happen because there won’t be such a thing as a perfect first draft.

Time to trust fall. Even though so much changed with Cerberus from the first to final drafts, I was amazed at how many elements were planted in the very beginning that actually paved the way for the final draft. The pieces fell into place because somehow the framework was already there, as though the final story was in my subconscious all along. That’s what I love about the creative process–it does breathe. Trying to control every character movement won’t work for me; I have to give the story and the characters room. Planning and plotting are important for me but now I think it’s time to take the leap, put socks on my cold feet and just write, trusting that the pieces I still need will come to me as I go.

Several of you have asked if While Cerberus Sleeps will have a sequel, or if it is part of a series. Actually, my original intent was for it to be a standalone novel, but as I finished the story I realized that there might be yet another journey to tell. I’m not sure yet, but there’s a decent chance that I will revisit Hesperia–or maybe the Gair Empire–but right now I’m visiting a different world.

Happy new year!

Well the holiday season–and 2016–really blew by. I hope you all were able to savor the magic of the season. We loved our first Christmas with two little tots (well, a baby and a tot) and we’re swinging into a new normal now that the baby girl is joining her brother at the parent’s morning out program two mornings a week. This means I can write with more regularity!

My index cards are back on the wall–this time for what I call a “folk fantasy” story. But I’m not quite ready to tap out words on a screen. Not yet. One of the biggest lessons I learned in getting Cerberus done is that I need to do more plotting up front; I was almost entirely a “discovery writer” for that story, meaning that I didn’t know how it was going to end. It took several drafts and some substantial changes in order to make the story stronger and more consistent, etc. Though I probably will never be a huge plotter like some other writers are, I definitely am swinging more toward the halfway mark between “plotter” and “seat-of-the-pants-er” (as Brandon Sanderson called it).

Interestingly enough, my best creative breakthroughs come when I’m not staring at the screen but instead doing some activity that lets my mind drift a little bit… like driving my kids all around town while they sleep. (Yes, that’s me, neighbors! Not a criminal in a green Kia Soul!) I’ve gotten lots of plotting done while I daydream and drive, drive, drive, just so they will nap. My husband and I are the Rand McNallys of our town now. Does that reference date me? I just turned thirty. Okay–Google Maps. We’re the Google Maps of our town now. That’s better.

I’ve got to stay active and get other things done even as I itch to make good headway on my next novel, so I’ve got a few items on my to-do list that should help improve things at home while still letting my imagination take flight. By the time I lay some mulch around the house and paint the kitchen, I’m hoping to have enough of the plot figured out that I can hunker down in my favorite coffee shop twice a week (and maybe after bedtime, too) and start stringing words together.

So that’s my little update on my second novel. Many of you have asked me questions pertaining to While Cerberus Sleeps(“Will there be a sequel?”), and I plan to answer those in another post soon. In the meantime, I would love it if you would click that little “Sign Me Up” button to your left so you can receive emails whenever I post (which won’t be too often–don’t get scared), because that’s how I’ll let you know about deals and sneak peeks, etc. And if you read the book and enjoyed it, please leave a brief review!

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week! It’s almost time for me to pick up the kids and start driving around.

Published!

Thank you, truly, to all of you for your support while my book was on Kindle Scout! So many of you not only read the excerpt and nominated, but shared (multiple times, even). It meant so much to me!

My Kindle Scout campaign ended on October 24, and by October 26, I was informed that my book wasn’t selected for publication. That’s okay, though: The important thing was that it was a great learning experience and helped me gear up to self-publish… which I have.

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Yesterday, I published While Cerberus Sleeps and it is currently available as an ebook for just 99 cents! A paperback edition is also available. I hope that you will check it out and let me know what you think by leaving a review. You can buy it here.

It’s funny how, these days, you can run down to your favorite coffee shop, click a few buttons, and–bam–publish a novel. That’s what I did yesterday morning, after dropping my son off at mother’s morning out and leaving the baby girl to have some quality Dada time.

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Four years of work, and now it’s out there. I don’t know if it feel real, because in some ways it felt like publishing a blog post. Click–there it is. Maybe it will crystalize when people actually begin to read it and tell me what they think… I hope they do! I can’t wait to learn from what my readers have to say.

WHILE CERBERUS SLEEPS is on Kindle Scout!

Well, here we go! While Cerberus Sleeps (yes, that’s the title) is on Kindle Scout until October 24th, and I’d love your support!

Kindle Scout has been described as “an American Idol for books.” Readers nominate their favorite books (limited to three per selection cycle, I think) for a publishing contract through Kindle Press. Nominations aren’t the deciding factor, but they’re a big part of it. Each book has a 30-day campaign, and then Amazon makes the final decision. Win or lose, I think it’s a great experience.

I realize I’ve really shared no concrete info about my book online yet — mainly because I really didn’t think I’d be publishing so soon. But what do you know? Both kids started waking up at random hours all throughout the night, and I got too paranoid to sleep for fear that I’d be awakened by screaming (not from the baby, but from the toddler), so I worked on my book instead. And now it’s done!

So, to my sweet babies who wouldn’t sleep… thank you!

And to you out there who stumble upon my little website, please visit Kindle Scout and consider nominating my book — and others! Once you start browsing, it’s hard to stop!

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I’m about to make some mistakes

I’ve made so much progress in the editing department. Mainly because — between a baby who eats multiple times through the night and a toddler who recently decided to get up anywhere between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. for a couple of weeks — I’ve been too paranoid to sleep. Therefore, there have been many days where I’m up at 3:30 a.m., brewing coffee and editing.

Whoa. Editing at 3 a.m.? What was I thinking? It didn’t sound so dangerous until I wrote it down.

Anyway.

As I move forward, little fears crop up in my mind causing me to think, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t… Maybe now isn’t the right time… I don’t know enough.”

I don’t know enough:
About formatting, design, cover art, or the self-publishing process.
About marketing, branding, or platform building.
About being a writer.

I don’t know enough. So maybe… just put it off. Learn more. Perfect it. Or chalk this book up to a great learning experience and shove it under the bed forever (I’ve seriously considered abandoning it).

But then I think that publishing is exactly how I’ll learn. No, the process I go through won’t be perfect. But by going through it, I’ll learn more for next time. No, my platform won’t be amazing — but how can I build relationships with readers if I give them nothing to read? How can I find my voice as a writer if I hoard all my work and keep it in a vacuum until it’s “perfect”?

No, I don’t know enough as a writer. But guess what? I am a very new writer.

Get this: Besides one short story hastily written for a contest, my 400-page novel is literally the first fiction story that I’ve written since I was probably 12 years old. 

Of course it won’t be perfect! But I’ll learn by letting people read it. I’ll learn by putting it out there, writing more, publishing more, and learning more.

It’s really tempting to hold onto all of this stuff until some ambiguous later date, when I’ll have done more research. When I’ll feel like I know enough–about a process that I’ve never actually gone through.

Or, I can start now.

Risky–yes.
Riddled with mistakes–yes.
Hole-punched by “Next time, I’ll…”

Yes, yes, yes.

But I’m going to learn and grow as a writer and self-publisher. And I’ll be eternally, deeply grateful to those of you who join me on my unpaved little journey.

A little at a time

I’m editing again–and surprised at how soon I’ve been able to get back into it, actually. It took me six months after my son was born before I tried to integrate writing into my new life, but I’ve been steadily editing for a few weeks now. A paragraph here, big chunks there; fifteen minutes here, a couple of hours there. Slowly but surely, it’s getting done (even though at times it feels like it’s not).

Storyboarding has been a huge help, especially for a chunk that needed [what feels like a] big overhaul. I jotted down each scene on an index card and taped them to the living room wall. Most of my time is spent in that room, so I was able to stare at the scenes for a little bit over a period of a week or two, and experiment with moving scenes around or removing them altogether. What a great tool! I don’t know why I hadn’t tried it or thought of it before, but I definitely plan to use this method in the future. It lets me “write” even when I can’t write, and I think it’ll be especially good during the outlining and plotting phase. In lieu of photos and artwork, my walls will be adorned with Sharpie-scrawled index cards.

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This is what productivity looks like for me sometimes: Breakthroughs during burping sessions.

Somehow, I’m also managing to read. I don’t know how, but it seems like I finish more books in the few months after I have a baby. Maybe it’s because my expectations for myself are lower, so I don’t pressure myself to be as productive as a writer and I can therefore enjoy reading more (usually, if I have time to read, I feel like it’d be better for me to use the time to write instead). So, I’ve finally read Brave New World (excellent!) and am in the middle of In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Valente’s prose is breathtaking. I love it when a writer uses beautiful phraseology and smart, unique metaphors and similes that make me just stop and relish the sentences. Her stories (the book is like One Thousand and One Nights reimagined) have absolutely transported me, and since they are small tales that weave into a larger one, I feel satisfied even when I only get to read a couple of pages at a time.

A little at a time. That’s just my pace these days. But it’ll be so worth it once it’s done.

Ten tiny reasons for not writing

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Photo credit: Jane Basil Photography

See those tiny toes over there? Those are the happy reason for my silence over the past couple of months. She’s here, and she’s precious, and I’ve been drinking in this new beginning as our family navigates the imbalance that naturally comes with big changes. Slowly but surely we’re finding out stride.

Zero writing has taken place, of course. But in the meantime, I’m devouring books of short stories–and by “devouring” I mean “reading a couple of paragraphs every other day, because that’s the amount of spare time I have.” That’s the definition of the word, right? Sometimes I forget that reading contributes to my growth as a writer and I feel like I’m only progressing if I’m actually working on my stuff. But that’s not true. And while I am brainstorming ways to include regular writing and editing into my new rhythm (even if that rhythm is more like an improvisational jazz piece rather than a steady Sousa-like beat), I have mainly been reading short stories. Gaiman, of course (because he’s my favorite right now), and Lovecraft. Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel, too. I find picking out fiction to be a very daunting task, though, and it takes me forever to find a book, overthink it, and get it. With non-fiction, at least I know that if I like the subject, it’s pretty certain that I’ll like the book. Anyone have any short story recommendations?

I’ve also been listening to Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing when I’m nursing my little one, and those have been fantastic. I can’t wait to get back into writing and editing so I can apply what I’ve learned. It’ll come. There’s a time and season. Right now, those tiny feet command most of my attention, and I’m happy to give it.