Monday, March 31, 2014

The secret truth about world building

Ready for this?



Are you sure you want to know?



Really sure?



Okay. You asked for it.




The secret truth about world building is ... it's never done. Crazy right?

Is you might be able to tell, I'm world building again. And the sad truth that I'm only slowly coming to realize is: I'll never be done with it. There will always be more to learn. There will always be more to consider. It's an entire world. I don't even know everything about the real world, and I've lived there my entire life! (Twenty-six years, for those who are counting.)

I think there are some greats out there who have fantastic and well-rounded worlds. J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, even J.R.R. Martin and probably a whole lot more. These are people that have spent a lot of time thinking about the world.

But you know what? I bet there are still questions they have not considered. There are things they have never thought about and may not know the answers to. I'm sure they could think about it, and eventually give us an answer.

But then, that would be more world building, right?

It never ends ...

(What do you think? Am I alone in my never-ending quest to build my world?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When things just don't work (WIP Wednesday)

Stats:


  • Chapters edited: 5 of 44
  • Word count: 101,000
This week I'm struggling with my vision of a chapter, and what readers take away from it. While I know what I want, sometimes getting there is the hard part. 

So what do you do? Go back and do it again. 

This, I think, is one of the hardest parts about writing. You're never done. There will always be more to do. Yes, eventually you have to stop, but up until then it's seemingly endless. 

I'm stuck in that endless part right now. 

I've done and redone my first few chapters several times over the last couple weeks. It sucks, because I just want to let them go. But every time I go back to them, every time I get some comments back from people whose opinions I trust, I'm one step closer to my goal. 

A (close enough to) finished manuscript. 

Keep going. 

What are you all struggling with this week? Do you get disheartened when there's still more to do on chapters? Let me know in the comments. 

Happy writing!

Friday, March 7, 2014

A WHISPERED DARKNESS cover reveal (and giveaway)

Guys! Guys! I have a special treat for you today. One of the amazing new people I met through Maggie Steifvater's Critique Partner Love connection is the lovely Vanessa Barger. I am already convinced of her amazingness. 

But to make sure you have an idea of it, I GET TO HELP REVEAL THE COVER OF HER DEBUT NOVEL TODAY. (Can you tell I'm super excited?)

So without further ado... scroll down to see!


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Blurb: When a soul breaks, it isn’t pretty. The pieces are sharp; they cut and bite and rend at flesh. They seek blood, want vengeance. They congeal, become something more than they were, something dark and beautiful and terrible.

Isn't it gorgeous? I love the font and the pop of the super pink lips. And if that weren't enough, THERE IS A GIVEAWAY. Clicky RIGHT HERE for a chance to win a copy of the book and a $10 Amazon gift card! And don't forget, guys. The book COMES OUT AUGUST 26, 2014.



More about Vanessa:

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in graphic design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance literature, and a Masters in technology education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and she can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Links:

Add the book on Goodreads 
Like Vanessa's Facebook page
Follow Vanessa on Twitter
Vanessa's website
Link to the giveaway (in case you missed it)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The importance of being excited (WIP Wednesday)

Stats:


  • Chapters edited: 2 out of 41
  • Word count: 102,000

I have reached a breakthrough this last week.

A couple of weeks ago, I hit a low with my WIP. I was surly and depressed and considering shelving it. Everything seemed so hard, and the things that needed fixing seemed overwhelming and I wondered if I would ever finish. It also doesn't help that shiny new project seems so much better than old cranky project. (You all know that feeling, right?)

But then something brilliant happened. I participated in Maggie Stiefvater's Critique Partner Love Connection. I exchanged my first three chapters (rough as they were) with a few people, got some good feedback and some not so much my style. I met a couple people who I think I'm going to continue working with. (I'm not naming names yet.)

But most importantly? This experience have given me a renewed excitement about my book. Other people seemed to like it for the most part. Sure there are thing that need fixing, and yes it's going to take me quite a while to fix them. But what I lost sight of is that even though it's hard, I'm making my book better and I'll be one step closer to my dream.

Big revelation.

So, how are your projects going? Did you learn anything new this week?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Holy snow!

I live in Montana, where it's been a hell of a winter. 

We started out fair last fall, but then the EXTREME COLD came. My home state made news for being the coldest place on Earth with temperatures in the negative 30s before windchill — and this was before the whole "polar vortex" that hit most of the rest of the U.S. 

Following that, we had this brief period of, well, really nice weather. It was nearly in the 50s, with sun. The little snow we had was gone, and it was great! It felt like an Arizona winter, which I didn't mind so much. At that point, I was soooo sick of having to scrape my windows every time I wanted to go anywhere.

Then we got snow. Lots of snow. 

Look! Snow!
And then more snow. It's snowed many, many inches now in just Helena, where I live. I couldn't park in my parking space because there was so much snow piled up.

Car? What car?
And then we got a blizzard. In my college town, Missoula, there was an avalanche in a subdivision that destroyed a home and buried three people. (They were all rescued alive.)

This truck hasn't gone anywhere since the beginning. 

 All this snow is crazy, and it makes me really appreciate all we have today. I have a home that is able to heat itself; I have snow plows that allow me to travel places; I don't have to go outside to pee.

So that's what I'm thinking about today. I swear I've been writing. I may even have a new CP soon, which is really exciting.

What's the weather like where you are?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Plot vs. Characters: A writing smackdown

I have to admit something to the world. I'm a plot writer.

Much like plotters and pantsers (and the various degrees of people who fall in between those two), I believe there are two main types of people when it comes to writing: those who dream up vivid characters and then construct plot around them, and those who have fantastic plots in mind and must create characters to play into the story. (Or, as always, those who are a shade of grey and are both.)

For me, I'm a plot person. I like the idea of an interesting story, and those are the things that first grab me when I'm brainstorming my next project. So take DIVERGENT, for instance, a world where people are split into factions based on different ideals. This idea has no specific characters, but it's got the bones of conflict. This is pretty much how I construct all my stories.

Other people may get ideas for characters first. Take Batman: A rich man who lost his parents at a very young age and has a strong sense of justice. We don't really have any conflict yet, but we have a killer character.

So, after we have these initial ideas, we start filling in the holes as writers, right? For me, creating characters that fit into the world/plot, and for many others, creating conflict for the amazing character. I don't think there's a right or a wrong way with plot and characters. Both ways can make great stories. But I think starting with one or the other in mind does create interesting challenges.

I'm currently editing my WIP — the first real editing I've done on a long project. Now I've already redrafted several times to fix the plot issues I had with my first drafts, so I'm now into the developing of the craft, building sentences and paragraphs and chapters in a way that's very close to what I think they'll be in the end.

In the process, because I started with plot, I feel like I'm rediscovering and redefining who my characters are. It's exciting, and also a little scary. I'm learning so much about them that I didn't know in the past. These characters are only just becoming whole in my eyes.

It's a pretty cool experience, actually.

Am I the only one who thinks like this? Do you generally come up with one kind of idea before the other? What challenges do you have with creating plots or creating characters? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Writing is hard

I never really had to question this idea before. But it's come to new light for me.

I have been struggling with my current WIP for more than three years now. Three whole years. I could have a published novel by now, if I would have gotten my butt into gear and got things done.

Several things have hindered this.

First, moving. I have moved three times in those three years. And while every move has been good for me and my life in general, it has wreaked havoc on a decent schedule for writing. I'm still working on that.

Second, I'm still working through learning about writing and about myself. I haven't done any editing on a project longer than a 2,000-word short story ever. In my entire life. So, it's a learning process. I have to figure out how to edit, how it works for me. And that's something that can't be taught. It must be discovered.

Third, I've spent more time dreaming about writing and being an author than putting the work into it. I'm not trying to sugar coat it or hide the fact that I've been lazy. I have. I own up to it. And you know what? I'm going to work on that.

I have a new goal for this year. 

I'm going to finish my book by the end of May. Like, edited and have it sent off to Beta readers while I work on a query letter. It's going to be hard. And I'm seriously going to have to work at it to make that deadline. Because I'm lazy, I told you. But also because I have a full-time job, and full-time weekends with the boyfriend and the kiddo. So busy. But I came to the conclusion yesterday that I wasn't doing enough to ensure the future I want for myself.

And so I'm going to work harder for that future. 

Maybe this is overly honest. And I may or may not be three o'clock in the morning as I write this. (Okay, it is.) But that shouldn't change the truth of the matter, right?

Got any goals you're working toward? Let me know in the comments.