24 May 2017

BEES! (Or, Stupid or Symbolic?)

I hate hate hate all my characters they're terrible they're always doing things that make no sense.

*heavy sigh*

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who's gotten a weird idea during the early stages of a novel. One of the things you should figure out before you start writing are character traits. You'll probably decide on what the character looks like, their hobbies, family members, job, etc. But what details actually should go in the story? And why?

This is what I'm dealing with. The good thing about working on Book 3 while still not even being done with Book 1 is that I have a lot of time to iron out all the kinks. I may get an idea for 3 and I can spend a lot of time figuring out if it'll work or not. But sometimes I get hit with an idea, and I don't know if it's any good. I don't know if it serves a purpose.

So a lot of my brainstorming comes from running endless conversations in my head. I just have my characters talk and talk and talk and if they actually say something good, I write it down. I was picturing two characters on a date and trying to get into some deep conversation (one was very reluctant--GUESS WHO). But then the other character had an interesting response to a question about fears:

          “What are you afraid of?”
          “You mean besides this conversation? Commitment, probably.”
          “That’s not exactly a secret.”
          “Why, what are you afraid of?”
          “Bees.”

Uhhhhh....

BEES?
Bzzzzzzzzzzzz

At first I was like, huh? Then I just thought it was kinda funny and cute. One character talks about being afraid of commitment, then the other says bees. It was good for a chuckle. But then I started thinking about it. Why bees???

I sort of went with the thought process, and thought, well, maybe he's afraid of bees because he's allergic to them. That's a good reason, right? Ok, but why exactly is this important to the story? Is it just something to make him seem vulnerable? Will bees ever show up in the story? Does it somehow parallel the fact that another character puts honey in his tea?

I have no freaking clue. I'm at that weird limbo phase where I'm trying to decide if I should run with it and figure it out, or just cut the idea completely. I can't remember ever reading about a character with an allergy, so I'm not sure what exactly it should be doing for the story. But I think that everything in a story should have a purpose, right? If I mention a bee allergy, don't I have to sting him by the end of the novel? (CHEKHOV'S BEES???) Or can it be something more symbolic?

I guess I'll just put the bees on my to-figure-out list.

Ever had an idea and weren't sure if it would work? Know any characters with an allergy?

22 May 2017

Semi-Productive

So it's Monday which means I'm back to work (say it isn't so!) and the staycation is over. I thought I'd check in with what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish...). My initial goal was to get 11 chapter edits done for Uneven Lines and get to the last 3rd of the book where I'll start completely rewriting.

Did that happen? Of course not. Who do you think you're dealing with here? I don't always make goals, but when I do, they're ridiculous and unobtainable. That doesn't mean I got nothing done, either. I got....some stuff done. Which I'll take as a win because I don't usually get any writing done on days I work.

Editing is not easy, either. You have to figure out what's wrong with the words in front of you and find ways to make it better. Sometimes a scene or a chapter took a lot longer than I thought it would to get through. But the awesome thing is that when I do figure something out, I instantly know when it's the right choice for the book. I think I've just been with this story for so long, I know exactly what it needs. Eventually, of course.

One great thing about working on editing so much is that I got so many blog post ideas! Which I will be utilizing in the coming weeks.

Another thing I had to this past week was finish up the blog tour for the Hero Lost anthology. Before we started, I volunteered to organize the whole thing and do all the communication and setting up the posts. I think this was equal parts wanting to help and really, just being a control freak. I think if you've got too many people working on the same thing, it can get confusing and go very slowly. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know! It was definitely a lot of hard work reaching out to everyone and getting everything we needed. Some people were instantly cooperative and others just completely ignored me for some reason. Oh well! I could write more on it but I think that would be in bad taste. I'm just going to let go and thank the universe that it's over, because I'm exhausted. I'm swimming in interview questions and links and HTML code. The last post is on Wednesday and it's already sent out so YAY!

So, without any further psychotic rambling, drum roll please...

STATS!

Chapters Edited: 3
So, not 11. But still probably way more than I would have gotten done if I was working. Got through Chapters 8, 9, and 10.
New Words Written for UL: 1,893
The three chapters I edited initially had 6,698 words altogether, and now have 8,478. So that means I'm adding a lot as I edit/rewrite, and considering all of my "more" notes, that's a good thing! I also just wrote a random 113 word snippet for waaaaaaaaay later in the book (hooray for ideas!).
Other New Words Written: 3,031
Literally all in Book 3. Most of it at the very very end of the book (I make so much sense!). Also some of an epilogue that I probably won't even use.
Days Spent Complaining About How Hot it Was: 2 
It was in the freaking 90s and we don't have an air conditioner (yet) so there.

Gizmo spent the hot days on the floor where it was cooler :(
New Blog Post Ideas: 6 
Emails Sent: 16 (Honestly, I thought it was more)
Blog Tours Finished: 1 (wooooooohoooooooooooo)

17 May 2017

I'm Writing the Wrong Book!

So I'm on day three of my staycation. Which means I still have four more after today. I feel like I'm not being as productive as I wanted to be, but I guess being lazy for a couple days is to be expected. Sometimes you just need to wind down when you get a break from work.

But that doesn't mean I'm not getting any writing done. Because I am. I finished the edit of Chapter 8 last night. I can't really call that too much of a victory because it's probably the easiest chapter in the whole book to edit. But progress is progress, right?

Well...some progress can be distracting. I have been getting some work done. A decent amount, actually. Not ridiculous, but not minuscule, either. The only problem is that it's not UL I'm working on. It's the still and probably forever unnamed Book 3.

I just can't help myself, really. I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday and I got this idea for a scene at a wedding and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I just had to get the idea down before it disappeared. On Monday night I wrote almost three pages of this scene. It's a bit heartbreaking and I absolutely love it.

So you'd think I'd stop after the scene was done, right? Haha, WRONG. I kept going. I've written a few tidbits for the last chapter of this book before, and I just kept going with it for a bit. But it's not my fault! Sometimes I get slammed with inspiration at the worst times--like when I'm trying to sleep. Like yesterday morning when this little gem popped into my brain:


Notice the 5:00 AM, please. Yes, on my vacation. When I should be sleeping. And do you think I come up with these psychotic lines on my own? Because I don't. They just pop randomly into my head out of nowhere. My muse is real, people. And he's a jerk.

I feel like I can't ignore the inspiration just because it's not the book I want or should be working on. So I should be working on the first book but I can't stop thoughts from the last chapter of the last book (when I haven't even written most of THAT book, either). It doesn't make any sense!

I should ignore it, right? Or maybe create some kind of reward system. Like, finish editing a chapter, let myself write nonsense for a half hour. Something like that. I really don't think the staycation goal of ELEVEN CHAPTER EDITS is going to happen at this point. And I know I should be glad to spend every day writing, which I am. But I really want to get this novel done--the first one. So badly. It's just going so slowly. Distractions don't help! I mean, at least I'm not getting distracted by a different series and different characters (I see you waiting patiently, Shiny New Story), but still.

I just can't help it. Sometimes I have to write what's in my head. Even if it's the wrong book.

15 May 2017

Why I Write from Male Perspectives

I'm continuing with the random ideas that pop in my head because of my short story, "The Last Dragon," in the brand spankin' new IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. But today's topic isn't just about that story. It's about a lot of my stories, at least the ones I've been writing for the past few years. Because they have something in common:

Male protagonists. It seems that every story I come up with is told from a male POV. The fact that these protagonists are also the narrators of their stories probably has more to do with me being more comfortable with first person. It just feels more personal to me; I can dive in more with the characters and really tell what they're experiencing and feeling.

But why the male POVs? Because I'm a girl, some people may think it's weird. They may even think the story is told by a female character until they get some kind of clue that it's not (which I try to do as soon as possible). But first, I think we have to go back in time.

I've come up with a lot of story ideas since I first started writing, but I haven't necessarily committed to writing all of them. One story idea in particular stands out from my earlier writing, though, and that was from a female POV. It was a YA fantasy, with a bit of a Twilight feel, but before Twilight was even a thing (so clearly I was ahead of my time...). I wrote it three times. I really was committed to it. I thought it was my book. But I was 14 when I started. Not everyone is a perfect writer when they're 14. Eventually I abandoned the book. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, maybe not.

But do I think I only wrote a book from a girl's POV because I was supposed to? Because that would be expected? I'm not so sure. I don't think it would have occurred to me at 14 to write as a different gender. I just wasn't experienced enough as a writer to tackle something like that. And I've always believed that my characters speak to me. The protagonist for this story was named Amber, and this was her story. It couldn't be told from someone else's POV. I did have prequel and sequel ideas, some dual-POV ideas with her and her love interest, Drew, but I never got them done.

So I think it's all up to my characters. The idea for Uneven Lines started as a concept, with no concrete characters in mind. I hadn't decided on their genders yet. It really could have gone in so many different directions. But then a few hours later, as I was sitting in my fiction writing class, basically Jordan appeared to me, said something along the lines of, "I'm here, bitch. Here's your story." And the rest was history.

Since then, all of my stories have been from male POVs. Again, I haven't written all of those ideas. But how does this relate to "The Last Dragon"? The protagonist and narrator, Raynor, is a 17-year-old boy. Why was this story from his POV? I could have told it from his sister's POV, or even the actual lost hero, although the story would have been significantly different. I think I chose Raynor because he has the most doubt. His sister Illy is too sure of herself, too confident. I thought the story would be more interesting from his POV. I think he had more to learn, more to discover about himself.

So I don't really know if I've actually answered the question of why I write from male perspectives. I guess it's just that those are the characters who speak to me. They're the ones who want their stories told. And I always listen to my characters.

I think with female characters, I just say, "go forth and kick ass." I'm more protective of my male characters (yes, even Jordan. You haven't seen my outline for Book 2...). They're more troubled. They have more complicated stories to tell. Looking back now, I think Amber was a flat character. Too much of a damsel in distress. I think Illy in "The Last Dragon" is the kind of female character I'd want to write. So maybe I'll change things up at some point. It all just depends on what characters pop up in my head.

12 May 2017

The Ridiculous Staycation Goal

I know, I know, I said I'd post on Wednesday and I'm posting on a Friday. Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I want! *cough*

I mostly wanted to post this today because I have a better post for Monday. And I just came up with this idea so I wanted to write it down before I came to my senses changed my mind.

So starting on Monday, I will be off work for a week. And I'm not going anywhere. Or doing anything. Except seeing my husband's best friend in a play on Thursday night. That is literally the only thing I have planned. So what does this mean?

IT'S WRITING TIME. Wait. I mean, IT'S EDITING TIME. Ok, so not as fun. But still happening!

I've been stuck in Chapter 7 land for weeks, I think. I'm not sure anymore. I should have been done with it a while ago. But guess what? I FINISHED IT YESTERDAY! It's basically a miracle. But now that I got it done, I want to keep going. And I'm not going to stop. Which is why I came up with the ridiculous goal.

I want to get through editing Chapter 18 before the end of my vacation. 

Why Chapter 18? Because it's the beginning of the end! Well, ok. It's the end of the just editing phase. Because I have to completely rewrite the last third of the book. And after Chapter 18, all bets are off. I have no idea what's going to happen. Ok, some idea. But it's going to be tough to get through and figure out.

Everything before the end of Chapter 18 will be a lot easier to edit than everything I have to rewrite after it. But at the pace I'm going, it'll take me another three years just to get there. So I want to take this week to get through the editing, then worry about the rewriting later. That's eleven chapters to get through. ELEVEN. If you didn't already know I was nuts, I think you know now.

Is this crazy? Yes? Will I accomplish it? Probably not. But I'm still going to try and see how far I can get. And if I get a few ideas for that last third, I'll still call it a win.

Do you make crazy goals for yourself? Have you ever accomplished them?

08 May 2017

Girls Who Kick Butt

I'm thinking about switching up my blog schedule this month, maybe even posting more often! We'll see. For Mondays, I want to dive a little deeper into my story "The Last Dragon," from the IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. Then if I have some other writing related nonsense (like if I ever finish Chapter 7 of UL...), I'll post something on Wednesdays. But you know what happens when I promise things...

Anyway! Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite characters. Well, ok, there are really only three characters in "The Last Dragon," so calling one of them "one of my favorites" would seem a bit strange. I love them all, and for different reasons. But the character who's definitely the coolest? In my opinion, at least, it's the MC's twin sister, Irillya. Why? Well, she kicks butt. Ok, maybe not literally. But she's definitely a strong female character.

Even though the story is told from Raynor's point of view, and revolves around the search for their uncle Mikah, there would be no story without Irillya, or Illy, as she's called throughout the story. I have a feeling she actually dislikes her nickname, or at least the fact that it gives her a softer, childlike side that she'd rather not acknowledge. She's tough as nails. She knows what she has to do and she gets it done. Or at least, tries to. Sometimes the way isn't always so clear. But since she has a goal, she knows she has to accomplish it, no matter what.

Illy is Gifted--meaning she has a special power. Her power is seeing visions of the future. In this world, being Gifted is more of a curse than a blessing. But that just gives her more motivation once she has a vision of her uncle fighting a great battle. She knows she has to find him and convince him to fight, even though she's never met him and has no idea how he'll respond. He did disappear, after all. She doesn't know if he still wants to be the hero he once was.

So Illy and her brother Raynor go on their journey, because she wasn't going to take no for an answer. Illy is always seen as the stronger twin. Raynor reflects on how he wishes he had his sister's confidence and strength. The only reason he feels protective of her is because being Gifted is so dangerous. Illy isn't exactly someone who wants to be protected, but the twins are close and they take care of each other.

For reasons that are spoilerific, Illy unfortunately becomes a bit of a damsel in distress, but literally only for half a second. And she's saved by her brother, not some knight in shining armor. She would probably laugh at one of those. She quickly brushes off any trauma she may have faced and is ready to kick butt again. When the final battle approaches, she may not be able to physically take part in it, but her confidence is what fuels her brother and uncle to know that they can face it. So maybe Illy is more of an unsung hero than a lost one.

Do you have a favorite butt-kicking female character? 



Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!


03 May 2017

Rewriting, Research, and a Release!

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


What am I insecure about? So, so, so much. How can I fit it all in one post?? I probably can't. Plus I do kinda want to answer this month's question. Well, I guess I'll just dive in. 

The editing front! Still not done with Chapter 7. I think I'll spend the rest of my life on it, actually. And there is SOOOOOO much dialogue but I think it works for this particular scene. My characters are basically creating a kind of verbal contract, so...they kinda have to talk to each other. I'm actually adding so much more than was in the previous drafts, which is a good thing, because I know this scene was always rushed before. I just wish I could reach the end of it. 

Now for this month's question, which is: What's the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?

I like this question a lot, but I've had a hard time coming up with just one thing that was really weird or really cool. So...I made a list, of course! I didn't think writing a piece of fiction would require SO. MUCH. RESEARCH. But it does! All the little things you need to check out seem to add up over time!

So here are some of the things I've had to research while writing UL. 

- Setting related stuff: streets, landmarks, subway stations, apartment price ranges, THOSE DAMN WINDOWS.
- MATH! (I hate math). I’ve watched YouTube videos on geometric proofs. That scene turned out awesome so it was totally worth it. I also have a geometry textbook.
- Some unsavory things I won't mention here. (Well, you see, I don't have...never mind.)
- FOOD. So much food! Different recipes. How to make fresh pasta. One time I made chocolate chip cookies and then took notes while I ate them. Some of those descriptions are in the book.
- Probably one of the weirdest things I know from writing this book is about age of consent. It goes by state and is from 16-18 (17 in NY where my story takes place). I don't need to know this for real life. It's creepy that I know it. But what can you do? I did need to know it for the story.

And of course, I can't forget the Chapter 3 Valentine's Day cupcakes. Extremely important research, here, people. Very scientific stuff. 

 


And now for something completely different...

In case you missed it (you probably didn't), yesterday the IWSG Anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life was released! Woo hoo! I'm honored to be a part of this great group of authors. Plus, now after my years of insecure ramblings, you actually get to read something I wrote! Something I actually finished! Something the muse says he "let me" write (because it wasn't about him!). 


Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!


01 May 2017

Jordan Takes Over: Character Nicknames

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

So, things are a little different today because I have AN INTRUDER on my post. And you thought I was greedy. But I think you guys like our witty banter or something, so without any further BS...Miss Writer Lady!

What'd I miss???

STAHP. What are we doing here, anyway? I haven't had a cup of tea yet. You know what, never mind the tea, I'm going back to bed.

Nice try! We're going to have some fun with character names today. Or more specifically, character nicknames! And not the ones that you would actually use in a story. Because if any other writers out there are like me...

Psychotic...

*glares* Anyway...you may refer to your own characters with nicknames that you would never actually use in a story. Whether because you love them so much you create gooey sappy nicknames, or you hate them so much you commonly refer to them as something that probably shouldn't be uttered in front of children. So we're gonna have some fun today and go through the characters in Jordan's series and maybe some extra characters will manage to sneak in as well.

Not likely. Why do I have to be here, exactly?

Because I'm guessing you have nicknames for these characters that are probably a bit different than mine...so let's start!

They don't even know who these people are...
SHHHH.

UNEVEN LINES (BOOK ONE) 

Jordan (!)

Jojo!
*rolls eyes* I don't have a nickname for myself. That would be weird
Ok, I get another! Bane of my existence! SASSAFRASS. 
Please stop.

Tom

You whore! We don't talk about him!
He's the second most important character in the book; you had to have seen this coming. 
I want out!
GIVE ME SOMETHING!
Ugh...I think I frequently called him loser. Or like, math geek. Psycho baker! That was a good one. Can we make cookies?

Allison (Mom)

I don't think your readers will appreciate the words I use for her.
You just called me a whore. 
I would never be that nice to her.

Eric

Light of my life.
Badass. 

Brian

A-hole.
Um...yeah, that's accurate. 

Madison

HAG.
I thought that was me?
YOU'RE BOTH HAGS. You can be Queen Hag and she can be Princess Hag.

BOOK TWO

Seth

Sticks! *air drums*
Joe...I mean, Max...I mean, Seth! Seth! He finally has a name! I never thought it would happen.

Adam

Yoko. 
Hair.

Cameron

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
I still say you just change it to Voldemort. It'll save time. 

Abby

A red-haired, blue-eyed, demon child sent straight from hell to torture me.
I thought you adored her.
I do. She's my entire world.

Ben

The guy I wasn't supposed to know about.
Same. Characters are always doing things they're not supposed to be doing. Like existing. 

BOOK THREE

Anthony

That stupid beefed-up queen???
*laughing hysterically* I just wanted to include him so you would say that. 

And now before he notices...CHARACTERS FROM OTHER STORIES WHO SOMEHOW SNUCK INTO MY SUBCONSCIOUS WHEN JOJO WASN’T LOOKING

More like sleeping.

Raynor from "The Last Dragon" 

Ray Ray!
Fire boy.
YOU'RE SPOILING IT!
IT COMES OUT TOMORROW FOR F'S SAKE!

Jason from Shiny New Story

Just J. 
Needs-To-Take-A-Chill-Pill.
He's not that bad. He has a troubled past!
He needs a personality makeover. I'll fix that.
He's not gonna sleep with you. He's in a committed relationship. 
Hey! Did I say I was gonna seduce him? I have various means of persuasion. *cracks knuckles*

Eli from Shiny New Story

My widdle Eli cuddlekins omg I wanna pinch his cheeks.
Calm down, woman! You have a problem. Plus he’s 18, not an infant.
*sticks out tongue* 

Ok, time to wrap this up.
I'm sure we've lost everybody by now. 
I guess we could go make those cookies. 
I'm not gonna make out with you while they bake, though. 
Well that's a relief. 

JP & SF <3

Do you give your characters nicknames that aren't actually in the story?

24 April 2017

Nonsense Pile

I wasn't going to write a blog post at all, but since I skipped last week I thought I'd better try to get through it. So prepare for the nonsense!

What's going on with me? Too much. I think. I can't think straight right now, actually. I'm all over the place. There's always too much I want to get done in a day and not even close to enough time. Especially if I'm working.

Writing stuff! I'm still working on the Chapter 7 edit for UL. It's never ending. I'm pretty much rewriting the last part because the whole scene has always been so rushed before and it really just doesn't make sense that way. I just want to get to Chapter 8 so bad because I know it'll be so so easy and fun. But Chapter 7 is a bitch. This whole novel is a bitch. I've been writing it for 6 years, for crying out loud. Oh well. I trudge on.

I've been trying to read more. I keep picking ridiculously long books, though. And I'm a slow reader. I am trying to read more poetry as well, though. At least those I can get through more quickly.

Speaking of poetry, I think reading it just instinctively makes me want to write it. I just wrote two poems back to back today while I was trying to read. I mean, they're stupid and they're about the same person but maybe I can carve something out of them. I'd like to go back and edit some of my older poems and try to get them published.

Guys, the release date for Hero Lost is a week from tomorrow! Yikes! I'm working on all this blog tour nonsense. Try organizing 12 authors and 17 blog tour stops. But I'm a crazy person and a control freak apparently because I don't want help. Except my Excel spreadsheet. I do have 4 people who signed up who HAVEN'T EMAILED ME BACK AND I'LL BE COMING AFTER YOU and I'm so sorry I think I'm dehydrated. Too much coffee. Check your spam folders, prease.

I've also been cleaning my apartment like a crazy person and my husband has actually been willing to throw stuff away. It's a miracle! We donated two whole trash bags full of old clothes and are throwing out all the junk we don't actually need. It's actually starting to feel like there's space around here!

Ok I think I'm done. I'm so sorry for the nonsense. I think I have a fun collaboration post with you-know-who next Monday and then it's IWSG on Wednesday (after the book release! *GASP*).

No really. I'm done.

10 April 2017

Sometimes You Need "More"


I have a certain note that tends to pop up as I'm editing my novel. 


I'd say I write it at least once on every page. 


No, really, it's a lot. 


That note is, of course, more. Really, I've looked at it so many times I'm not actually sure it's a real word anymore. I guess it's a good thing that I notice the need for more, though. A certain paragraph may not seem clear enough, or not dive deep enough into what's going on or what the characters are thinking or feeling. At least if you know a scene needs more, you can eventually figure out what to put there. But what do you do once you know you need more? How much more do you need? 

For me, the "more" note usually means that I rushed through a scene or a moment. I didn't draw it out enough, give the characters enough to say so that it seemed realistic and got the point across to the reader. Or maybe I had an idea and I got the bare bones of it down but I didn't really give enough to get the point across. Sometimes when you're writing a first (or second) draft, the ideas may not be as concrete as you'd like them to be, but you know there's something there so better to put something down to fix later than nothing at all. 

In the case of that last more more more,  I had definitely rushed the end of the chapter. I don't know how I didn't notice it before. I've literally spent two chapters of one character saying "we should get together somehow," and the other responding with, "no no no absolutely not." Then in less than a page I have him change his mind and say, "yeah, ok." I obviously need to get to that point for the story's sake, but I got there way too quickly. It just doesn't make any sense for the pace of the scene or for that character at all. There needs to be way more thought process and way more discussion for him to suddenly change his mind. Because it shouldn't be sudden at all, it should be gradual. Even if that change of heart happens over the course of one scene, it still needs to be drawn out properly.

Hence all the more. At least I know where it needs to happen. What exactly that "more" needs to be, can be a little bit trickier. But I take it one paragraph at a time.

05 April 2017

So Long, Symbolism!

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


So, it's April. How is it April already??? I know a lot of you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, but I've decided to skip this year. I have a GIANT list of reasons for that (some I'd rather not get into) but the main thing is that I really need to focus on editing my novel and I know doing the Challenge will take away an entire month from that. It is rather relaxing, though, not having to worry about getting posts done and visiting others. Now I just actually have to make good use of the free time.

Recently I was doing some setting research that led me to a heartbreaking realization (ok, I'm exaggerating a little). It really just started out in Chapter 7 with the narrator mentioning a ten minute subway ride to get to another character's apartment. I just wanted to make sure it actually would be ten minutes--turns out, yes, I had that right all along--depending on which station my MC lives closest to, I'm flexible with that. But at least it was believable enough to work.

But for some reason I went into research mode and turned into some kind of psychopath. I've always had a vague idea of what neighborhoods my characters lived in, but I wanted to make sure it was realistic for them to live there. So this leads me to browsing actual apartments and wondering if a character could afford an apartment on the Upper East Side and...well, probably, but said apartment would be a lot smaller than how I pictured it in my brain. But that's not a big deal. Easy fix.

The devastation came because I've always kind of wondered if a certain detail about said character's apartment would actually be realistic. I don't even know why I haven't done the proper research before, but I decided I needed to settle the matter.

So all this nonsense is about windows. I've always had this character's bedroom not have any windows. This was for some pretty heavy symbolism. It was just one of those things that worked and made sense but I wasn't bashing the reader over the head with it too much. I'm pretty sure I only mentioned it twice. But if they're able to read between the lines, it was saying a lot.

The problem? It's actually illegal for a bedroom in an apartment to not have any windows. In New York, at least, and I assume most other places. I know what some of you might say--so what, do it anyway! I'm just not sure it's an important enough plot point to do something that would never happen in the real world. Was it a cool bit of symbolism? Yes! But am I willing to have the reader question if the story is realistic over it? Uhhh...not really.

So, farewell symbolism! You were cool while you lasted. I guess I'll just have to put up curtains.

03 April 2017

Jordan Takes Over: When a Muse Gets Writer's Block

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

I'm gonna have to be honest with you people. And yes, that's a thing I can do. I have no idea what to write about today. But Miss Writer Lady wouldn't let me skip my post so...here I am. I mean, I know you'd be devastated if I skipped this month, but hey, at least being devastated is more interesting than being bored.

I hate being bored. It's literally the worst. This is usually why I end up causing trouble--because I'm bored. It's basically why my novel exists. Hey, you try living pretty much alone at 15 because your mom sucks and doesn't care about you and your friends are lame and you're still in the closet so you don't have a boyfriend. I mean, what do you want from me? I have to find some way to amuse myself.

Anyway, God, why did I go there? We've been working on my book so much lately, I can't help it. I guess that's a good thing. I need attention! Almost as much as I need naps. But when I need naps I just send in Adam to work on some Book 2 or 3 nonsense so if Sarah is complaining, I don't want to hear it. She's got plenty to do.

Did you think this post was going to be coherent? I told you, I have no idea what to write about. And that's ok because I'M NOT ACTUALLY THE WRITER. I don't have to make words. I make the inspiration and then she makes the words. That's my job. Get over it.

I'm not cranky, I swear. And don't listen to Sarah or Adam or any other character in any of my stories who's ever met me on that one. Just trust me.

I'm gonna go ahead and cut this short before it goes down in complete flames (don't make the obvious joke!). So what exactly do you write about when you have no idea what to write about? Or do you just not write? I don't know. I told you--I'm not the writer.

JP

27 March 2017

Edits, Edits, Edits

I don't know if you knew this, but editing is hard. Even when it's easy, it's hard. Basically, editing can at times be easier but never actually easy. Editing never goes at the fast pace that writing can often go at. You know, when words are just flying onto the page. Rewriting and cutting goes at a much slower pace. And it's never as much fun.

Ok, for all this moping, I'm actually very glad to be in my editing cave right now. It means that I'm getting something done. I've temporarily abandoned Shiny New Story and while I occasionally drift into Sequel Land to write a quick little snippet (dammit, Adam! Stop letting Jordan take naps!), my main focus is on editing Uneven Lines. Woo hoo!

Chapter 6 was particularly tricky. It's a very complicated chapter. Getting it right was no easy task. I've actually always had this thought that I should cut the concept this chapter introduces because it was just too much. But I knew if I did that, basically the whole premise of the novel falls apart. I think I was just afraid of writing something controversial. But I guess the only thing worse would be to have a story be controversial and not commit to it. To try to water it down. If this is the story I'm telling, then I just need to go for it, and punch the reader in the face with it. Figuratively, of course.

So I just had to commit to it. For this particular chapter, that meant adding a lot. I ended up adding two whole pages when it was all done. It seems that most of the notes I write myself when taking the red pen to each chapter say something like, "MORE." Sometimes what's there just isn't enough. In this chapter I wrote a lot of "React!" notes because I didn't feel like Jordan was reacting enough to things that were being told to him. And this was some pretty heavy stuff that any normal person would have a rather large reaction to. Even if he wasn't openly reacting so the other character could see, there still needed to be a lot of thought process for the reader to see. I got a bit frustrated with it and wrote "REACT, DAMMIT!" when I had to make the same note several times.

So it was a lot of work. Cutting old stuff and adding new stuff and elaborating and rearranging. But eventually I got it done. At least I think I did. It seems done. I don't think I'll know for sure until I edit the next chapter. Then I thought I'd read through Chapters 5, 6, & 7 and make sure they all flow together nicely. These three chapters have a certain connection in regards to what is going on in the story, so in order for everything to make sense, they have to work together.

The good news is that I've already taken the red pen to Chapter 7. The bad news is that it's a much hotter mess than I thought it was. Observe the numerous markings:


A lot more "more"s to deal with. Oh well. All in a day's work, I suppose. Or several days. 

20 March 2017

Reading Your Own Story

I've kind of always had this idea that if you're not your own story's biggest fan, then you're doing something wrong. When you write something, you're not just telling any story. It's the story that you want to tell. It's something you're passionate about. You love (or hate...or both...) your characters; you want every moment to be absolutely perfect. You wouldn't write something that you wouldn't also want to read.

Unfortunately for me, sometimes reading my work can be distracting, but it has its benefits as well. I usually get into a "my writing is terrible no one will ever want to read it waaaaaaaaaah" mood and then I don't even look at my book for weeks or months. But when I actually go back and start reading, I think, "oh wait, I really like this." So reading serves as a bit of a confidence boost.

That's not to say that everything's perfect. I'm still editing, of course. But I do think the first two thirds of the book are pretty much all set, just need some minor edits along the way. So when I read through those chapters, I actually get sucked into my own story. Sounds silly, right? I mean, I wrote it. I already know what happens. But sometimes I can't help it. Despite all my self doubt and procrastination and lack of motivation, I really do love this story.

So occasionally I get sucked into my own story. Last week I finished my Chapter 5 edit and then I printed the next chapter so I could put the red pen to it. But it was pretty close to bedtime so I didn't really have the brain capacity for editing. I did still have some for reading, though. I read the whole chapter--no editing, just reading. I thought of a few ways to fix it, of course (mostly the fact that it's way too short and rushed) but I didn't write anything down.

The next time I booted up my laptop, I kept reading. I went onto the next chapter. And then the next. I had started reading at Chapter 6 and now I'm on 11. If I hadn't worked all weekend I'd probably be further. I know I should be editing, of course, but it's nice just to enjoy the story, too. It's fun to read lines I forgot about, find parts that make me laugh. I know which parts need a lot of work, and which parts just need some minor edits. And I know once I get past Chapter 17 I'm definitely not going to enjoy it as much. (Because the last third sucks!) But at least I'm enjoying it now.

So should I be trying to edit more? Probably. But at least I know, for now, that I do like my story.

13 March 2017

Playing Catch Up

Hello blogging world! Is everyone still out there? Ok, ok, I did post something last Monday (or someone did, at least), but I've been a bit out of it since then. After working all day then running a million errands, I started to feel very sick. I had a fever off and on from Monday night until about midday on Wednesday. Luckily I had Tuesday off work but I ended up having to call in sick on Wednesday, which is my first time for this job (been there almost a year and a half). Anyway, I didn't do anything for days besides sleep and watch TV and cough my lungs out. I didn't even look at my computer until Saturday.

So I've been playing a bit of catch up. I had to finish up the final anthology story edits because I was procrastinating on that forever before I even got sick (even though I literally had 6 things to fix). I still haven't gotten anywhere with other anthology stuff (writing interview questions, writing posts for the joint blog). I'm trying to form some kind of schedule for myself where I work a little bit on it (and other writing stuff) every day.

Speaking of other writing stuff, I've written about 13,000 words of Shiny New Story so far. Named all the characters but no title so far (no surprise there). I didn't do any writing while I was sick so I lost a bit of the drive I had, but I have gotten a little done over the weekend so I'm hoping it will come back.

Before I got sick, my writing drive did shift gears a little and I was suddenly working on Book 3 for some reason (listening to too much Adele). Don't ask. I spent a day or two on that and wrote about 5 pages. Some of the stuff I really like but I can't tell anybody about it because it's extra spoilerific.

As for editing UL, uhhh.....not so much there. I did glance at Chapter 5 but knowing I have to rewrite the second half of it I just said to myself, "I don't want to. Someone else do it."

I'm hoping I get that crazy writing/editing drive back that I had a couple weeks ago. I was somehow able to work on everything old and new and got a lot done. I would love to be able to do that all the time.

But anyway, enough rambling. If you didn't see it before, the other IWSG anthology authors and I have set up a blog tour during the month of May to coincide with the release. If you'd like to sign up, fill out the form below and we'll get in contact with you soon (something else I still have to do...)!

06 March 2017

Jordan Takes Over: A Crash Course in Musing

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

Ok, people, we're gonna do things a little differently today, so everybody be quiet and pay attention! Because my life apparently isn't crazy enough, I'm here to offer tips to the beginner or wannabe muse. Or for you writers out there, a more in depth look of what exactly is going on with your most favorite (just try and call us) imaginary friends. So! Where are my pupils??

*Adam waves frantically*

Just one??? Oh, by the way, I'm training Adam as my backup for when Sarah's being annoying and I want a nap. She's not going to like it, but, uh, tough something or other.

Adam: We've got a student/teacher thing going on here.

Been there, done that. Ok, one student. *sigh* Fine. First lesson! Let's talk about the ABNs of musing.

Adam: Don't you mean ABCs?

First of all, how about raising a hand when you have a question, Mr. uhhh...do you have a last name yet?

Adam: No.

Of course not. Mr. Perfect Hair. Anyway, no! The ABNs. Always Be Napping. This is crucial. A muse needs his beauty sleep. Or, you know, hers, because I guess most muses are girls but we're working for a psycho over here. Either way, beauty sleep! How can you be providing your best inspiration if you're tired and groggy? I'd say at least 22 hours a day. Are you writing this down?

Adam:....You never said to take notes....

Moving on! The next lesson is about spontaneity. If your writer is getting all their stuff together, finishing her coffee, booting up the laptop, getting the pencils and paper lined up, is that the perfect time to provide inspiration?

Adam: Well, I would think s--

WRONG! Of course not! You can't just give ideas when they're expecting them! Where's the fun in that? Where's the passion? We're not freaking robots over here! It's best to be completely random when providing inspiration. Whenever you feel like it, really, but never when they're expecting it. Now, when are the best times to provide inspiration?

Adam: Oh, wait, I know this! Uh...when she's falling asleep or when she's in the shower.

CORRECT. You've been paying attention!

Adam: ...Why are those the best times, exactly?

That's just the way it is. We don't ask questions about it. Lesson number three: withholding stuff. We can't just give it all away. That would make us sluts, now wouldn't it?

Adam: Uh..........

I mean with muse stuff! Get your mind out of the gutter. Save that for after class. Anyway, you always want to make your writer work for their inspiration and information. It shouldn't always be easy. Got a piece of information that she needs? Don't tell her! Make her think about it for months, maybe even years before you finally give it up. Like our band's name, for example.

Adam: Oh, you mean--

Shhhhhhhhh! Spoilers! We're not there yet!

Finally, lesson number four: something a bit unexpected. The complete and total onslaught of inspiration. This can be fun but also very exhausting. (Just remember lesson one!) When you're feeling up to providing a decent amount of inspiration, just go for the extreme. Hit them with everything you've got. Don't let them sleep or eat or do anything except write. Make it physically painful for them not to be writing. Every single thought and every single second should be about the story. Basically it's a giant torture session but with a really good payoff.

Thus concludes our first class. What have we learned?

Adam: Uh...I think being a muse is basically just being a jerk.

Yeah, pretty much. Until next class! If there is a next class. If I remember. If I'm awake.

JP

01 March 2017

Secure but Overwhelmed

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


This came up on me way too fast. February always seems to end so abruptly that I forget it's even happening. I almost forgot to pay a credit card bill, mail my rent, and yes, write this blog post. Usually you get a few extra days each month but February likes to trick me.

So what the heck do I write about? I'm actually not feeling all that insecure. Overwhelmed at times, maybe, but not insecure. Well, there's always the optional question! This month's is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

No.

CRAP.

Ok, I guess I'll talk about the overwhelming stuff.

I have about a gazillion things to do for the anthology. I have to do my final edits. I haven't written anything for the joint blog yet, and I have interview questions for pretty much everyone to write. Plus we're trying to set up a blog tour and do more marketing stuff.

SPEAKING OF WHICH. We have a sign up form for the blog tour! I literally finished it while writing this post!!! Because I wanted to include it! Look at the exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, click HERE to sign up! The tour is going to run from May 2 through May 31. There are a few different options for posts. If you sign up for a review, we'll hook you up with the publisher to get a review ebook copy.

It can be really hard to balance real life and all of the stuff I need and want to do. I'm halfway through my edit of Chapter 5 for Uneven Lines. The end of the chapter needs a bit of work (which is a little frustrating since the first half was pretty much perfect). So I've kind of been avoiding it since I want a large chunk of time to sit down and figure it out. Usually I have too much to do or I'm just too tired after work.

So I've been working on Shiny New Story quite a bit. I guess I'll take any progress with writing as a win. I really really like it, even though it's super complicated (yeah, because UL is simple *pfft*). I love my characters and I want to hug them. But I swear to God, I cannot write a story without a secret romance to save my life. Can't do it! I've never had nor wanted a secret romance why do I keep doing this???

Well, that's about it. I set my alarm for 5 AM every morning but I always wake up at 4:37. EVERY DAY. I don't know what that is either.

Ever feel overwhelmed? What time do you wake up in the morning? 

27 February 2017

Balancing Multiple POVs (with Flashbacks!)

Things are complicated here in Shiny New Story Land. The good news is that I think I've actually figured a couple things out. It has to do with the order of the chapters. Since I'm dealing with two first-person POV characters, as well as action happening in the present and the past, it seemed a little daunting before I even started planning it.

A big factor about this story is that there's a secret that I want to keep from the reader until about halfway through the book. The thing that bothered me is that it seemed strange for both characters to actively be keeping the secret from the reader. Character A has more people in his life and needs to try harder to keep the secret, so I thought he would be more likely to have his walls up, even to the reader. I think if Character B was by himself, which he often is, he would have no reason to hide it from the reader. Plus, when the secret gets revealed, I thought it would be odd for both of them to suddenly be open about it when they weren't before. They're not the same person so having them act the same way will not help the book.

That's when I realized I didn't actually need Character B's point of view in the present. Not yet, anyway. There's really nothing that happens to him that's very interesting. It's his flashbacks that matter, at least until later on in the story when the more suspenseful moments begin. So I figured out a plan.

Here is what I think I'm going to do. For the first half of the book, it will go:
  • Character A Present
  • Character A Flashback
  • Character B Flashback
And will continue in that order. Character B will only get flashback scenes for the first half of the book. Then when we get about halfway through, the BIG GIANT SECRET REVEAL happens. It will go something like this:
  • Character A Present--secret is heavily implied but not actually stated (if the reader doesn't get it then I haven't done my job, or they have serious problems paying attention)
  • Character A Flashback--origin of secret is stated and discussed 
  • Character B--Present--secret is confirmed again from his point of view 
This is where things switch up. Character B will get his first present POV chapter to basically confirm the secret. From here on out, the chapters will go like this:
  • Character B Present
  • Character B Flashback
  • Character A Present
Basically I'm trading Character A's flashbacks for Character B's present. Ok, that may be a little confusing. Character A's flashbacks were pretty much just leading up to the secret reveal. After that, there really isn't anything to tell from his past. Character B, however, still needs flashbacks because his past story will keep going up until pretty much the very end. But now I need his POV in the present when things start to change. And now he can be open about the secret because it's not a secret anymore (to the reader, at least). 

I still can't decide how I'm going to differentiate between the past and the present chapters. I'm sure the pattern will help a little, but since I'm going to switch it up halfway through, I know I need some more indicators. For the character POVs, I'll most likely just put their name as the chapter name. But for the past vs. present, I'm not so sure. I could write the present chapters in present tense, and past in past tense. But I really just think I suck at present tense so I'm not so sure. 

There are a few other options, I guess. I could put the characters' ages at the beginning of the chapters. A is 18 in the present and B is 23. A's first flashback starts at 16, but B's start when he was 14. Since B's flashbacks cover a long amount of time, I know I have to show when they're happening. Or I could add something like, "9 years ago," "7 years ago." I'm not quite sure yet. I'd like to read some books that have a good amount of flashbacks and see what those authors have done. It won't really affect how I write the different story lines, just how they're formatted, so I can keep writing as I'm figuring it out. 

The good news is that I *think* I've come up with names for my characters. I'm not 100% certain but I'll start writing with them and see if they stick. These characters have been particularly difficult when it comes to giving me their names, and considering the fact that the most difficult character ever gave me his name right away, it's been frustrating. Characters can be jerks. 

Ok, this was probably super confusing since I'm the only one who actually knows what's happening in the book! But what can I do? The characters aren't the only ones who have to keep secrets! ;)

20 February 2017

Don't Avoid the Edits

Do you ever avoid doing something forever because you dread how difficult it's going to be? And then when you finally buckle down and do it, it turns out to be the easiest thing ever? Welcome to my life.

So I literally have on foot in Shiny New Story Land and the other in Editing My Novel City. It's confusing. I shouldn't be doing it. But since both stories are occupying my mind, I figure, what the hell? Go for it. Since most of the time I'm not doing much of anything, I want to take advantage of the sudden surge in creativity.

Last Thursday, I managed to edit Chapter Four of Uneven Lines. I've been avoiding it for quite some time. I can't actually remember when I got through Chapter Three. There was an actual legitimate reason for my avoidance though: MATH. No, really, look. Chapter Four has an actual diagram of angles for a math problem:


Ok, the novel doesn't have Instagram filters (I'm sure that'll be a thing someday, though). But yes, actual math. Here's the thing. I don't like math. I was relatively good at it in high school but I never liked it. And I didn't have to take any math courses in college. So anything that isn't basic everyday knowledge flew out of my brain a long time ago. But I made the fantastic decision to have math be a factor in my novel. Genius, right?? *cough*

So, I thought this chapter was going to be a nightmare to edit. To sum up the chapter, my characters are solving a geometric proof and flirting at the same time (did I mention my book is crazy? I love it). I've always been afraid that it would make no sense to anyone who doesn't have a whole lot of math knowledge (someone like, I dunno, myself). While I adore this chapter and think it does so much for the story, I worry it may not make complete sense to everyone. And that's why I've been avoiding it: I didn't know how to fix it.

Well, when I finally sat down and put red pen to paper, it turns out there really wasn't much to fix. If you look at the same exact scene in the first draft, it is a hot mess. It's just there; it isn't doing anything symbolic or intricate or even moving the story forward, really. When I rewrote it for the second draft, I cracked down on it like a crazy person. I somehow figured out what the scene needed to be doing and made it happen. But somewhere along the way I forgot. Silly me.

I kinda had to trust all the math stuff knowing that when I first wrote it I actually did the work and the research to make sure that actual problem is correct. There are words like "congruent" and "transversal" thrown around in this scene and after being away from it for a while, I'm just like, yeah, sure, ok. Math. Does the reader have to be a math expert to get this scene? I don't think so. I think it's doing way more than just showing you a math problem and that's just what's on the surface to make the scene happen in the first place.

And when I went through every page? Not a whole lot to edit. Some line by line fixes. One page had so many instances of the word "So" that it made my head spin a little. I get why they were there; there is a lot of dialogue that starts like, "So now we..." or "So how do we..." Yada yada. But I neatened it up a bit so that they're only there when necessary. My biggest change of the chapter was actually the very last line. Something about it always bothered me and when I figured out the solution I went a little crazy with joy. It was kind of like it had been staring me in the face the whole time but I couldn't see it.

So maybe from now on I won't avoid editing just because I think it's going to be hard. Because chances are it won't be as bad as I fear. Until I get to the last third of the book which needs to be completely rewritten, of course, but I'll worry about that when I get to it...

14 February 2017

Abducted Life Release Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I'm going to overdose on chocolate and also not go out with the hubby because I used to work in a restaurant and I'm not insane (well...). Today also happens to be the release day for Patricia Josephine's new book, Abducted Life! I've already got it on my Kindle, so once I wander out of Shiny New Story Land, I can't wait to read it! Check it out!

Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

Available for 99cents at Amazon.

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.

You can find her lurking on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad. Find the latest news at her website or sign up for her newsletter. A link to all her books can be found here.

13 February 2017

What to Do About Flashbacks

Greetings from Shiny New Story Land! Where I should definitely not be residing. Where the story is so shiny and so new that the characters don't even have names yet! But they have made out a few times! (Priorities!) But seriously, it kind of feels like being a fugitive on the run. I'm currently hiding from the You-Should-Be-Editing-Your-Novel-Squad and the Federal Bureau of Anthology Blogging and Marketing. I'll have to assume a new identity.

The good news is that I'm actually using Scrivener for this book and trying to plan it out before I really get into writing it. But of course, this story is already complicated and I'm trying to figure out how exactly I should write it. The dual POVs may be tricky at first since I've never actually written that way, but I think once I get the voices down it should go more smoothly. So what I really haven't figured out are the flashbacks.

I'm not sure I've ever written an actual flashback. I've had characters quickly reference things that have happened in the past, maybe even a dream sequence or two, but never an actual whole scene that takes place in the past. It's not really the actual writing of the scene that seems difficult, but how it should be placed alongside the scenes that are taking place in the present. I know they can be distracting and jarring if not done correctly (or even done correctly). But with the way I want to set up this story, I need a lot of them.


I realized that I am basically telling three stories at once. There's everything that's happening in the present, which will be from both characters' points of view. Then there's Character A's flashbacks, which are pretty much all about how the characters met and formed a relationship. Then we have Character B's flashbacks, which are all about his troubled past. They all kind of collide when some people from Character B's past come back to cause some more trouble.

So far I think there will be a lot of flashbacks in the first half of the book, not so many (or perhaps shorter ones) towards the end. I'm just not sure where to place them. Should I break up each chapter into half present action/ half flashback (depending on how long the flashback needs to be). Should each flashback just be its own chapter? Do I put the flashbacks in italics or do I write the present action in present tense and the flashbacks in past? I've never been that good at writing present tense so I'm a little wary of this, although I do think it would make it much clearer for the reader (and reading all those italics could be annoying). And of course, I have to do all this not for one, but two characters.

So how the heck do I tell three stories at once without it being distracting? Am I already setting myself up for failure? I have no idea yet! I think I should find some books that rely on flashbacks as well as some writing tips or articles on the subject. Otherwise I'll just keep mapping out the story and try to figure out what works.

06 February 2017

Jordan Takes Over: Mix it Up (Also, I'm Not a Girl)

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

Look, I feel like there’s been some confusion for people who don’t regularly stop in here (I know the regs know waaaaaaaaaay better. Especially anyone who’s been to a Muse Party and had to deal with my sass in person). But it seems that every so often whenever I make my monthly post, someone comes along and leaves a comment that calls me Miss or Ms. Muse. Well, I’m just gonna have to put my foot down here.  

I’m not a girl. I am, in fact, a guy. I could explain this more graphically if you’d like, but Sarah says I have to keep it PG. And I thought I was allowed PG-13!! Not fair. 

Now I understand where some of the confusion may have started. I don’t really blame you if you just stopped in one day never having heard about me before and just assumed that I’m a girl. Well, first of all, this blog belongs to a girl. Most muses you hear about are also girls. And of course I have a name that could be a girl’s or a guy’s. So sure, fine, I’ll cut you some slack.

Or perhaps you were confused by me talking about a boyfriend or a hot guy or something. Well…you can do math, can’t you? (Let’s not talk about me and math. That’s a looooooooooooong story).

Plus, you can’t actually see me. But remember the Anti-Valentine’s Day Muse Party? With the cartoons? In which I am so clearly a guy?? Remember???? Here, I'll refresh your memory (this is also a fairly accurate representation of my relationship with Sarah): 


She's the one in the pink dress, if that wasn't clear. I don't like pink.

Why does this require an entire blog post, you say? I’m not just whining here, I swear. And it is not because of my "fragile masculinity," no matter what Sarah tells you. Yes, I can have that. Doesn't mean that I do.

Well, because writers can write about whatever the hell they want. And they can write from whatever character’s point of view that they want. So just because a writer is a girl doesn’t mean her first person narrators all have to be girls, too. She can write from a guy’s POV. Or vice versa, of course. If writers could only write about characters who were exactly like them, that would be soooooo boring! Blech. Ugh. No thanks.

That whole "write what you know" advice can be complete crap, really. What, are you all just supposed to write autobiographies? Have a little diversity, people. Mix things up. Write from someone's point of view that's different from you. Write about things that never happened to you. Research exists for a reason, right? I mean, sure, my life story would probably be pretty interesting (not trying to brag or anything), but is everyone's? Who wants a boring story? NO ONE. Duh. 

So, in conclusion: write whatever characters you want. Also, I am not—I repeat—NOT a girl.

JP 

01 February 2017

The Anthology Where It Happens

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


This post is kinda sorta a sequel to another IWSG post called "Wait For It." Ok, so the references will make a lot more sense if you've listened to/seen (you lucky duck! *side eye to my August tickets which may or may not be chained in a briefcase to my wrist*) the musical Hamilton. Because when it comes to my writing, how I go about it, how I deal with motivation, I am, in fact, Aaron Burr. 

Ok, so you may be scratching your head even if you know the musical inside and out. Basically, I would call myself a hesitator. I do not actively seek out inspiration, I don't even push myself very hard to get any writing done--even though I want to, and I do want great things to happen with my writing. And I do get terribly frustrated seeing other writers succeed and thinking, why can't I have that? All the while knowing deep down the answer is that I'm barely even trying. 

Still with me? Horribly depressed now? Don't worry, we'll fix that. This story has a happy ending (and does not end with a duel). 

So, you all know about the IWSG anthology. We'll talk about this year's in a bit. I actually have to go back to last year's anthology to tell this tale. When they first presented it, I thought maybe I would enter. I bounced around a few story ideas but didn't feel that strongly about them, so I didn't write anything and didn't enter. Obviously, you can't win if you don't enter. Of course, I was happy for the authors who won and were published, but I couldn't help thinking, what if? 

I put the thoughts aside for about a year, that is, until they announced the theme and deadline for the second anthology contest. I didn't have a concrete idea in mind right away, but I thought, I have to enter. Why would I want to be on the outside looking in over and over again? I can't get anywhere if I don't even try. So it was a bit of an epiphany. 

(I wanna be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens...err, I mean, anthology. You get it). 

The thing was, once I actually started plotting out my story, I just had this feeling. If I could get it done, and edit the crap out of it, I really did think I stood a chance to get in. And for once I was not horribly wrong. I did get in! It was good! I was no longer on the outside looking in! There may have been some dancing.

And you know why? Because I actually tried. Because not only did I put my mind to it (because ideas come easily to me), but I actually motivated myself until I pulled it off. I didn't just sit around and wait for an opportunity to come to me. I had to actually get it for myself. So, there you have it. 

Click-boom. 

On a related note, all of the authors for the Hero Lost anthology have created a website you can find here! There's lots of info on all of the authors and our stories. We should be adding some regular blog posts pretty soon, too!

30 January 2017

How to Immediately Over-complicate a Story

Do you like a simple story? Something straightforward, completely linear, no fuss, no muss? Well, this post may not be for you! But stick around for some exciting information and maybe you, too, can come up with a ridiculously complicated story before you even write the first word!

Ok, so maybe that's not a great selling point. But over-complicating a story is just kinda what I do. What's unusual this time is that I haven't even started writing it yet.

So getting a new story idea could not come at a worse time for me. I really just want to be working on my third draft for UL, and I've got a lot of anthology nonsense to work on. I just do not have time to be working on something new, or even something different. But the universe had other plans, because I just got a shiny new story idea. And boy, is it shiny! Meaning:terribly distracting.

I actually got this story idea from a dream I had last week. There were two characters who were in an interesting situation, and when I thought about it afterwards, it was like: "Huh. Now why would they be in this situation? What has led up to it? Where do they go from here?" And so I kept thinking. And before I knew it, a plot started rapidly unfolding. The beginning of the story wasn't completely clear, but the middle and end seemed pretty solid, and actually, exciting. I couldn't stop thinking about it (SHINY!!!).


Here's where it gets complicated. Based on the whole interesting-thing-about-my-characters'-relationship-that-makes-me-want-to-know-more-and-hopefully-the-readers-too factor, I know my story actually has to start in the middle. Why? Ok, I'll break it down. Basically one of main characters begins the story by telling the reader that he has two secrets. I'm thinking one of the secrets gets revealed during the first chapter. The other secret, however, I want to keep from the reader until maybe halfway through the book. I'll drop hints, of course, but I want there to be a reveal and have them go, "WAIT. WHAT?" Because why not??

So there's that. So basically the secret happens before the book even begins. I'm thinking there will need to be some flashbacks to explain how my characters got to this point. But that's not the only thing that makes it complicated. I know I have to have two POV characters. I really dislike doing it in most cases and try to pick a character to be the narrator, but in this case, I really think it has to be two. During some of the more suspenseful moments, my characters are split up, so you'll have to know what's going on with each of them. Plus one of my characters has a very complicated past and I know that will be the focus of most of his flashbacks. The other character doesn't really know that much about it but it will be important to the story.

So: two different POVs. Plus flashbacks. For both of them. Sounds easy, right? I don't know why I do these things to myself. But it's soooooooo shiny...