Aspiring Writer

Did I Dream This Day?

It’s been a strange day. Amazing, but weird. It started with my alarm scaring me so badly I almost yelped. I might have actually done it but I was out of it so I can’t be sure. I was super groggy when I got out of bed so it took me a while to notice I wasn’t in any pain.

You might assume I would jump for joy at this realization but not only do I never jump, as to avoid pain, but I was so confused by it I couldn’t have thought to be happy enough to leap. I simply let the dogs out and fed them, got ready and took my kid to school. I’m lucky I remembered to brush my teeth and throw a clippie in my hair.

After dropping her off I went to the gym, for the first time in four days I believe. I was a little nervous but even working out was odd today. First, I didn’t sweat while on the elliptical. I know, TMI but this was so out of the ordinary it’s worth adding to the list of strangeness that was this day.

Since it has been half a week since I worked out I expected it to be really hard but it wasn’t. I felt like I breezed through everything. Part of me wanted to stay longer and work harder but I was afraid my back would rebel. During all of this there was this tiny lady staring me down. I do mean the entire time. No matter where I went or what I did she was right there.

She had no expression on her face so I couldn’t figure out why she only had eyes for me. It was so uncomfortable! Eventually I got tired of it so after she once again got settled on the machine closest to mine I got up and went into the 30-minute workout room to finish up. I kept expecting her to come in there but she didn’t. I forgot about her and did what I needed to. When I left the room I saw her right outside the doorway but she was turned away.

I felt like a guilty child rushing past, hoping I wouldn’t get caught, but I did. A woman I previously worked with stopped me before reaching the other corner and we stood and talked for a few minutes. I was happy to see her but I wished we were standing anywhere but where we were. I could feel those eyes on me again!

When my conversation was ending, tiny lady walked past us and went into the locker room. So I went to sit in a massage chair for a while. While sitting there I realize I was being stupid. The poor woman had probably accidentally focused on me while she was working out and she might not have any idea she’d made me so uncomfortable. As there was nothing I could do about it I stopped thinking about it and tried to enjoy the massage.

Then I went to the locker room. Standing in front of my locker, naked, was tiny lady. She jerked a towel up in front of her, lengthwise, and scowled when she saw movement but as soon as she saw my face she relaxed and dropped the towel. She turned her back to me and went about her business. I don’t know precisely what that business was because I was too busy trying to find my locker without actually looking anywhere in its direction.

I’m pretty sure I bent sideways to retrieve my bag. This is impressive because as far as I know I shouldn’t be able to do that without a lot of pain. I promptly went into one of the changing rooms and closed the curtain. I heard a loud sigh from her, which prompted me to change slower than I ever have, ever, in the history of ever.

I heard another woman walk in and she made this odd little squeaky, gaspy sound. This was followed by a snort and a laugh, origin unknown. I’m sitting there on the little bench trying my hardest not to giggle at how ridiculous the whole situation was when I hear some huffing sounds. I believe they were offended noises but I can’t be sure, then someone walked out. I guess another lady had come in because one said “Can you believe that?” and another answered “Nope.” Then all was quiet and I finished changing.

When I peeked out there was only one other person in the room and she jerked around and stared at me in horror, then relief, I’m guessing because she feared I was also naked. She smiled at me sheepishly and we both left.

In the parking lot I was almost approached by a drunk woman asking for money (this was 9am!) but she was fixated on a man who’d come out before me. She kept yelling “Sir!” over and over but he was ignoring her. She turned in my direction and said “Ma’am,” but then turned back to the fleeing man and forgot about me.

I headed to what is quickly losing its title of ‘favorite writing place” to write. There was some guy in my spot, for the second time in a week. I guess it’s become his favorite spot too. So I sat in at the second choice table. It was a little uncomfortable because I didn’t have my laptop and while I can write without it, it was a change in my routine that threw me off. Still, I had my tablet and a spiral so I got to work.

The end of my novel was rearing its head at me. I was half excite and half terrified. Add in being weirded out by how my day was going and I had no clue if I’d be able to write. I did. My first task was to type up a few scenes I’d handwritten, then I wrote a couple more. When it came time for the last scene I realized I’d already written it, weeks ago, by hand. I was hungry by this point and my back started hurting so I went home for lunch and to search for the scene. I never found it. I searched through everything but it was nowhere.

I tried looking on the computer, just in case I’d already typed it up. It wasn’t there either. I searched through all my spirals and notes again, then again. Finally I decided to rewrite it. It irritated me because I liked the way I wrote it originally and I didn’t feel like the new version lived up to it, but I can fix it during revisions.

Then it struck me. I was finished with the first draft! I was so distracted by my odd day and the search for the elusive scene, I hardly noticed my accomplishment. I didn’t feel excited. I felt weird. It was like I couldn’t believe it or something. This day has simply been too weird.

So I must be dreaming, although I hope not because I don’t want to dream about odd tiny naked ladies, and spot stealing men. I certainly don’t want to write that final scene again!

Sidenote: There were several more odd occurrences today. From me leaving the dogs alone to take my son to the store without thinking about it (we never leave them unsupervised) to a woman calling me from the doctor’s office saying I owed $700 I don’t actually owe (which she discovered was an error on their part). I hope nothing else strange happens today. One can only take so much!

Let’s Talk About Social Media

How important do you think social media is to an author? I think it’s a crucial element of self promotion for any author, whether it be one who goes the traditional publishing route or indie publishing. Without a social presence people won’t know about your writing. I’ve read many articles expounding on this, including the need to start your social game well before publishing a first novel.

I agree 100% will all that, but what about the downside? Can social media hurt an author? I think it can. Anything and everything you say on the internet is out there forever. All the time trolls comb through various outlets to bring back unwisely posted items when they want to attack someone. It seems like you have to keep all your opinions to yourself forever if you don’t want to have them thrown in your face somewhere down the road.

On the flip side of that, what about those people who post mean comments or attack people and defend their actions by saying it’s their own personal Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc, they can say what they want. Can they? Yes. Should they? I guess that depends on that down the road issue. I had a writer friend who attacked someone on Facebook. I’ll call her Writer One. Most of the others in our writing group were very unhappy about it and an online battle occurred. It began with another writer (Writer Two) telling her that he thought she was being unprofessional and that it could come back and bite Writer One in the butt later. She said it was her personal Facebook and she could do what she wanted. Writer Two pointed out she used is professionally too. After a lengthy ‘battle’ and some name calling Writer One stated if someone didn’t want to read her work because of what she said on her on account then she didn’t want them as her readers.

I don’t mind telling you, I’m floored by this attitude. While I wouldn’t necessary beg someone who dislikes me to review my work online, I certainly want them to read it. Why? Because I want everyone to be my reader! Obviously not every person out there will like what I write but why alienate ANY potential reader?

I know it sucks to feel like you have to censor yourself all the time but as an author who posts online you are representing yourself and if people don’t like you, they won’t want to read what you write. Even if only for selfish reasons it seems like a good idea to keep it professional.

I feel sorry for Writer One, even while disagreeing with her. Hopefully her online actions won’t come back and smack her later but they can. She could be in a position to have to defend herself rigorously for what might have been a single moment of anger and a couple of bad decisions.

For me it serves as a reminder of the double-edged sword that is social media. What do you all think? I’m choosing to be in the public eye so I will also choose to try my best not to tick people off. Pardon any previous rants, except the one about consent, I’ll never apologize for that one.

That said, I still have a lot to learn about the various social outlets. Facebook is pretty easy but can be time-consuming. Twitter is a bit odd to me but I’m learning. Google plus is completely foreign territory but has a lot of potential. I’ve never been to the LinkedIn website. I have an Instagram but nothing on it yet. Reddit, well, I’m not sure I’ll ever really have that one down but I’m trying.

Any favorites out there? Any you feel are unnecessary or you just don’t like? How do you feel about needing to do self promotion?

Personal Update

I know, I know, I’ve posted a lot of updates lately. I’m doing it again. First and foremost I want to apologize in advance for getting behind on my regular posts. I think it’s safe to assume it will happen. Let me explain.

I signed up for a writing class–How To Think Sideways, by Holly Lisle. This is a 29 week course and I intend to put as much of myself into it as I can. Not only will I be doing weekly lessons but I will be working on my WIP during all of it. I’ve decided to put aside all other projects and concentrate on my main fantasy novel.

I still intend to post regularly to this blog but one can only multitask so much, so if I falter a bit, well, I’ll try to catch up. If I find time I will still write and post flash fiction and hopefully my monthly book review.

As for the class, well I’m super excited about it. I’ve taken a few of Holly’s smaller classes and I gained a lot from them. She has a free flash fiction course that’s wonderful.

She is closing registration for a year, which is part of what motivated me to join the class now. I signed up on Friday as soon as registration opened. I just so happened to be the first confirmed sale so I got some amazing bonuses, including:

  • Three one on one Skype conversations with the author/instructor about the class, or my WIP or whatever.
  • Three workshops, some of which cost close to fifty dollars each.
  • Two smaller courses–like building a culture and building a world, etc.
  • Two group webinars, one for 10 people and the other for 25.

I almost fell out of my chair when I found out I got these bonuses!

So, if it seems like I disappear for a while, this is what I’ll be doing. I’ll do my best to post my regular Wednesday and Saturday prompts, and as mentioned earlier – as much flash fiction as I can fit into my schedule.

If anyone happens to be interested in the classes visit Holly’s website for more information.

I know your sick of ‘year in review’ posts but here’s another one.

How was my year you ask? Pretty good actually, with some bad here and there. The year started off with a funeral. My husband’s Grandfather passed away in January. We drove from Texas to New Jersey in two days to get there as quickly as possible. Life was mostly normal through the summer. There was a bad moment when my dog ate a bunch of rocks and one got stuck at the entrance of his intestines. He had to have surgery to survive. He’s great now and we never let him outside by himself. I wrote fairly, but not as often as I wanted. We went back to NJ to visit in August. Since we knew we could handle a long time in the car, we drove again. This time we took two of the kids with us and spread the drive over three days. We went to the shore, where I somehow managed to not get sunburned. In September the MLs for my Nanowrimo region announced there would be weekly workshops in October to gear up for November. I made the decision to get involved. Last year I lurked a bit in the Facebook group and never worked up the nerve. I didn’t even get close to winning. I went to each of the workshops and they were actually helpful. They were things I already knew how to do but it was nice to see other ways to get to the same point. World building, Characters, Plotting, etc. It was terrifying and wonderful to meet new people. Most of the people I met were as odd as I am so I got comfortable quickly. Getting to know people who do what I do, go through what I do with writing, well that was priceless. Through Nano I met the people who are in my writing group. One of the women invited me to go. I worked up the courage, somehow and went. I am super shy when I first meet people so this was one of those facing my fears kind of thing. It went well and I’ve gone to the group every week since. During November I went to a couple of the nano events. They kept me motivated, although some kept me distracted. Next year maybe only the last write-in is in my best interest. I won Nanowrimo! I absolutely believe it’s because I got involved. Writing is a solitary kind of thing, but motivation can come just by being around others that are in the same boat. It was peer pressure of the very best sort. I write almost every day and that is a direct result of doing Nanowrimo. Also in November, I started this blog. It’s evolving, slowly, but steadily. It mostly chronicles my writing journey, but sometimes I rant and ramble. It keeps me accountable. Hopefully this next year I’ll have all the technical stuff memorized. I started conquering my issues with flash fiction. I’m not doing too bad with that one. I’ve tried more ‘new’ things with writing than ever before.

Some minor things that also happened: I cut my hair off. I grew it out for four years, and I’m glad I did but I didn’t like it that long so I cut nine inches. I got a new printer (on Sunday actually). If you knew how frustrating the old one was you would seriously cheer at this one. I tried hot white tea and fell in love with it. I got a four-foot table to add to my desk area, now I write in a U-shaped nest that I adore. I got a laptop. That shouldn’t go under minor things though. It changed everything. I went into a Starbucks for the first time and didn’t completely hate it. I subscribed to Loot Crate and I will continue to do so. I’m a geek at heart.  That’s pretty much it. Next year will be a much busier one than this one. I plan to get more accomplished. I’ll post my resolutions and goals tomorrow.

Writing Update

I got some writing in yesterday but not as much as I wanted. I’m trying to come up with reasonable writing goals for this week. I want to make them reachable but effort required. At this point I’m unsure if I should use word count or chapter or scene goals or what. Maybe a bit of all those. Word count makes me think of nanowrimo and makes me shudder. However, I got a lot of writing done that month. I would like to have the rough draft complete within two weeks. Another writing goal is to make my main character NOT a Mary Sue. Wish me luck. Happy writing everyone.

Side note: I did write for over an hour yesterday. I may just change my Saturday challenge to an hour permanently.

Re-plotting Update

I’ve been writing out notes but today is the day I buckle down and really get to the business of re-plotting the middle grade story. I already have the beginning and ending (hopefully) that I want. It’s the middle that is giving me so many problems. This is the beginning of a series and there is a lot to introduce. One of the things concerning me is that I’m afraid I have too many characters. It’s pretty much an ensemble but one is The main character. The first story is about her but includes three new friends she makes. As I’ve been working on this even that is making me unsure. There will be one or two new characters in each story. I want to have Tommie the fairy be the common thread. This started out as her story. The problem is as I have written scenes and snippets as they come to me, I keep wondering if she should really be the main character in each book. No matter what I’ll use Tommie to tie everything together but we’ll see what happens. The whole thing could change after today.

Brief Update

I am re-plotting my middle grade fairy story. It was originally my nanowrimo project. After the excitement of winning nano wore off I looked over it and realized that I had melded two separate stories together. I don’t know why I changed my plot in the middle but I’m glad I did. Of course now I have to write the end of the first story and the beginning of book two. Re-plotting is much harder than plotting was the first time. So if I seem to disappear for a while, that is why. I can only hope that I can control the dreaded inner editor long enough to get my thoughts out. I will also intermittently work on my fantasy novel. When I’m not doing that I hope to keep trying my hand at flash fiction and eventually finish the course I started before November blew all my plans out of the water.

Wrong Answer Buddy!

Okay, I thought I wasn’t going to write about Nanowrimo for a year but I was wrong. I recently, as in a few minutes ago, had a Facebook comments conversation with a guy in my Nano region. He stated that he had an idea at 3 am. He kept his pregnant wife up for three hours talking about it. This conversation made him get his inspiration back, but he was disappointed that it happened three days after nanowrimo ended (Yes, I’m overwhelmed by all the 3’s too). Someone said he didn’t need nanowrimo to write a novel. I said he wins at life because he got his writing mojo back. He said –

“But I didn’t win NaNo. That’s the bigger prize.”

WHAT? There is something wrong with that attitude. Winning a made up competition with yourself is a bigger prize than massive inspiration? That’s crazy talk. To my way of thinking you can write a novel any time you want. All you need is an idea, a ton of effort, and at some point, a critical eye. Maybe some sweat, tears and blood, or a tiny piece of your soul. Feeling sorry for yourself because you didn’t write like a crazy person for a single month in the year is ridiculous. I look over my the stuff I wrote during nano and I see a lot of crap writing. I see rushed desperation. I don’t even want to call it a rough draft. It’s a rough rough draft. I’m happy to have it, don’t get me wrong but if I didn’t I certainly don’t think I would feel like that guy does. I’ve failed nanowrimo before. I saw it as a learning opportunity. That’s enough ranting for now. I think I’ll get back to super editing.

Nanowrimo Update

Well I’m behind. I’ve only gotten a little past halfway to my goal. Maybe I should be upset but I feel like I can make it. Yesterday I wrote 3500 words. That may not seem impressive but I had a very busy day. If I can write that many words when I have a lot of other things to do then I have a chance. Last week I felt like I had lost my way a bit in my story but I went to a writer’s discussion group and after a lot of talking and someone asking me a lot of questions I got many new ideas and my inspiration back. I still have to push distractions away, of course. I keep catching myself spending time in book two’s storyline when book one needs to be my priority. Other stories won’t leave me be. New story ideas bombard mercilessly. I’ve taken to jotting down quick notes about anything that intrudes into my thoughts and then I get back to work. I think it’s better to take notes rather than accidentally train myself to stifle good ideas.

Another thing I’ve been doing, which may or may not be wise, is work on one other story occasionally. I work on my nano project until I’m tapped out. Then if the mood strikes I’ll pull up my fantasy story and see what happens. Yesterday, writing magic happened. The day before, I added two sentences. I figure as long as nano is put first, it doesn’t really hurt to sneak in work on other stories here and there. There’s a little danger of that story forcing itself ahead of the other but I decided to risk it. I’m probably a bad nano’er but I can live with that.

Now it’s time for me to figure out how a young fairy can teach herself to fly. Good luck to all the other nano people out there.

What If?

I don’t know about the rest of the writers out there but I find what if questions extremely helpful. If I’m trying to figure out a character, or I’m struck with writer’s block that kind of question is my go-to first step.

I’ll give an example of how it’s helped me. About a year and a half ago I decided to write a middle grade fantasy story. I had this random idea for a story about a fairy that didn’t really fit in with other fairies. I don’t normally like fairy stuff but I went with it. Maybe she would suck at magic or maybe be clumsy when flying. I didn’t like either of those so I started with the what-if’s.

What if she wasn’t good at magic because she couldn’t do magic the way the other fairies wanted her to because her magic worked different? What if all she wanted in life was to become a fairy godmother but failed to achieve that? What if she had no idea if she could fly because fairies didn’t fly anymore? What if she looked different than all the other fairies? What if she made some friends that also wanted to be fairy godmothers but couldn’t for some reason?

I somehow came up with hundreds more. Each what-if made me think of another. Eventually this turned into my nanowrimo project for this year. The idea wasn’t new but I had been working on other things. Plus I was too scared to write it because I had never written something like that before.

So a story idea about a fairy who didn’t fit in turned into more. It is about a fairy named Tomorrow (Tommie) who wants to be a fairy godmother more than anything. In the Fairy Godmother Academy, she learned that magic had to be carefully controlled. Creation magic was forbidden. For centuries the fairy community had used creation magic to change themselves to look more human. They got taller and their wings got smaller until most were born with no wings. No fairy alive could fly. As a whole the fairies were less powerful than that had been. No one remembered why, but everyone agreed that creation magic had been depleted and it was dangerous to use. Then Tommie was born. She was like the fairies of old. She was small, about four feet tall when the rest were near five feet. She had wings that were larger than her body was. She had huge purple eyes. But the biggest difference was that she was more powerful than the rest of her community. A lot more powerful. Controlling her magic only caused chaos and using it the way that came natural to her only got her in trouble. Eventually she has her final exam to become a godmother but failed. Various adventures ensue. Along the way she makes some friends who want to become fairy godparents too. Not one of them is a fairy and each of them is a little different than their families and peers. They start a campaign to change the rules when a bigger problem occurs. The gates to the fairy realm are failing.

Not too bad a base to start with. All of it started with the one what-if question: What if there was a fairy that wasn’t good at magic because hers worked differently than everyone else?

I still have a long way to go and I’ll keep asking my what-if’s until I don’t need them. This is only the beginning of a series. What tricks work for the rest of you? I hear people say ideas are cheap but I’m always looking for new ways to generate them.

Now I know I said I might talk about minotaurs in my last post. That one is in the next book. As I was researching him and making a character sketch, I realized I haven’t quite figured him out. What I know is that he is not evil. He might have evil urges but he’s choosing to be good. He’s got perfect memory. I mean he lived in a labyrinth, he had to be able to find his way around. I think instead of it being just one guy from Greek mythology, he will come from an actual race (maybe a created one). There aren’t that many around though and they are all bad. He might be a vegetarian. Tommie and her friends will meet him in their travels along with a really tall gnome, who was raised by garden gnomes.