12 April 2021

A Sea of "Was"

I said last week that I needed to get better at blogging. And what's the first step? Write a blog post! I also have to read more blog posts. I feel bad because I didn't visit a single blog for IWSG last week. I was just really exhausted and every time I tried, I could just not get my brain to focus enough to read any posts or come up with a comment. But it's a new week! So...baby steps! 

I'm still not actually writing, but I am EDITING! I have a love/hate relationship with editing. I hate doing it, but I love the results. It just feels so good to figure something out, or to rewrite a sentence to make it better. But getting there isn't always easy.

My big project right now is doing a search through all of the chapters of Uneven Lines for "WAS." Using forms of "to be" can often mean weak writing, so I'm trying to get rid of as many as I can. But here's the thing...there are a lot! I actually didn't even look at the number when I started (damn!) but here's a pretty typical looking page in my manuscript: 

YIKES.

I felt very sluggish when I started my first sweep. I didn't even want to look at my writing. I guess part of that is because I hate the first few pages and want to completely rewrite them anyway. But it did take me a while to actually get into the swing of editing. I would just stare at every single "was" and have no idea how to fix it. Sure, there were easy ones...something like "I was feeling," just change to "I felt." Easy peasy. But they're not all like that. 

A lot of these "was" instances just show me that the sentence could be rewritten to be more showing than telling. For instance, there's a whole paragraph in Chapter 4 where Jordan is describing a cupcake he's eating. One sentence that popped up in my search was, "There was a tang mixed in with the sweetness that I couldn’t quite figure out." I know this sentence could be better. In fact, I never liked it, but I couldn't really figure out WHY until I did my search. I realized it was a very telling sentence. I think "tang" is a good word for showing (maybe, I'll probably change that, too...), but the rest of the sentence is garbage. 

So all I'm doing right now is going through each "was," page by page, fixing the ones where the solution comes to me right away, but not getting stuck staring at each one and feeling lost in a sea of "was." I think I'll do several sweeps before I consider this task done. If I can't figure one out, I move on to the next. It will certainly still be there when I do my next Ctrl+F. 

07 April 2021

When Controversy Strikes

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!


I almost forgot to write this post! Luckily, I looked in my planner last night and saw that today was IWSG Day! I really need to get better at blogging. And writing. But I am trying! One of my three month goals is to work on *something* writing related every single day, even if it's a tiny thing. I did already screw up and forgot to do something on Monday...oops. I was sleep deprived, ok? (It was the cat's fault!) I'm gonna do some extra work on one day to make up for it. 

Anyhoo, this month's optional question is: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

Let's see...my main WIP is about a relationship between a 15-year-old and a 28-year-old, so....YES. I wouldn't say I seek out controversial ideas. Most ideas I've had have just kind of hit me out of nowhere. And it's definitely tricky to do. You don't even want to know how many times I've told myself that no one is going to read my book. One of the many things that has held me back over the years, but I do keep going. Slowly. I do think the time has helped me understand the story better though, and where it was when I first started would not have been good. It was more of a forbidden romance at first, but with a lot of time and work, it's become a lot more complicated, in a way that I hope will make someone want to read it. 

When I started writing it, Jordan was definitely a unique choice of narrator for me as well. I'd pretty much only written female main characters before him. I feel like when it comes to writing, I'll try anything once. If an idea I like strikes me, then I run with it.

I think I'll cut this short since, you know...almost forgot to write the thing...I'll leave you with a picture of the cupcakes I made for Easter! I tried a tricolor frosting technique for the first time and I think it came out pretty good!



03 March 2021

Writing Adjacent Activities

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 month, I'm a co-host! The other fabulous co-hosts are Jacqui MurrayChemist KenVictoria Marie LeesNatalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

This month's optional question is: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

While I think my favorite genres to read are also the ones I like to write (mainly fantasy or LGBT), I'll read pretty much anything if it sounds interesting to me. I like to read classic novels but I would never in a million years attempt historical fiction. I like the occasional sci-fi novel, but would never try writing one of those, either. When it comes to reading, I'll try anything once. 

Onto this month's insecurities! While I do wish I was actually writing, I feel like I'm getting there. Slowly. Like I'm on the road to writing--it's long and treacherous and filled with many obstacles and road side distractions, but at least I'm on it. I'm thinking about writing. And I'm doing some...let's call them writing adjacent activities. 

Last year, hubby and I signed up for a year's subscription to MasterClass, and like most things, I procrastinated and only started watching one a few weeks ago. I'll probably have to sign up for another year because there are so many writers! I started with Margaret Atwood's class, and I've written down some ideas it's inspired and some quotes, like this one that I really, really need to live by:

It's always better to actually do something--sit down at the keyboard, pick up the pen--rather than to brood about the fact that you're not doing it. Do it however crummy you think the result may be. At least you're moving. 

Other writing adjacent activities include a plan to make the ULTIMATE Uneven Lines Playlist. What makes it ultimate, you might ask. Well, I already have my main playlist, of course, but those aren't the only songs that I associate with UL. In fact, I've come to realize that there are quite a few songs that I associate with it. So I want to go chapter by chapter, putting those songs in order so they span the entire book. Will I have a song for every scene? Probably not, but it'll be close, and I think it will be a lot of fun. 

I also want to get back into editing, because at least that would mean accomplishing something. I really want to do a search for "was," and get rid of as many as possible. I've been avoiding it for a while because I knew it was going to be a BIG task (there are a lot of them...), but I think making the existing writing stronger will be a big accomplishment. And then hopefully it will lead to some actual writing. 

What kind of writing adjacent activities are you up to right now? Or are you actually writing??

15 February 2021

Ten Years Later...

I know it's a holiday (even though I have to work!), but I thought if I didn't post something, I may be cursed with ten years of writer's block! 

It's February 15, which is, of course, the MUSIVERSARY! Aka the anniversary of the day I first came up with the idea for Uneven Lines...or more accurately, the day Jordan birthed himself out of my brain and chucked his story at my head like a brick. 

And this year's a big one. Yup, it's been ten years since that fateful day when after watching some trashy daytime television, I decided I wanted to write a story about a student-teacher relationship (because I'm an idiot!), and a few hours later, the aforementioned brick was hurled at me. I spent the next week in a writing frenzy, busting out the first draft of said story (a short story at the time) at a remarkable pace, and honestly, I've been chasing that high ever since. 

It hasn't been easy. Life has gotten in the way. Writer's block, lack of motivation, being told I shouldn't be writing this story at all. Having people tell me they want to read it and when I actually send it to them, they don't. 

I certainly wish I had finished this story years ago. I can't believe it's been so long, actually. I somehow feel like I've worked SO MUCH on this story, but also not enough. A ton has changed since that first draft, and for the better, but I've still got a lot to figure out. I really do love this story, even if parts of it aren't where they need to be. 

I honestly have felt out of touch with Jordan for a while. It took me a long time to realize that. That drive to write just isn't as strong as it used to be. I know it might sound crazy to actually have a relationship with your character, but it felt that way. I used to talk to him--we had inside jokes and little fights like brother and sister. He'd never miss an opportunity for a "that's what (s)he said" kind of quip. I've come to realize that I miss him. I don't want to lose what I used to have with this story because it's been too hard, or I've gotten too distracted or depressed to 

When I started writing this post, I didn't think I would end up talking about all this. I thought I was going to say how I couldn't believe it had been ten years, and that I'd be celebrating with cupcakes (I am, though...it's a musiversary requirement!). I guess I just needed to write down what I was feeling on this occasion, because it's definitely bittersweet. 

There is a glimmer of hope, I think. A couple days ago, I was struck with inspiration for my last chapter (at 3 AM of course). I'm hoping to actually celebrate with some writing today! I really just want to bust through the rest of the third draft, go back and fix the things I know need to be fixed, and then maybe get some readers so I can get some thoughts on what I can't seem to figure out. That's my newest plan, anyway. I'll just take it one step at a time.

I still love this picture XD 


08 February 2021

You're Out of Touch

I have about a million reasons for avoiding my writing. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating. A little. I haven't really been working on Uneven Lines for months now, and there really are several reasons. It's hard. I don't know how to wrap it up properly. It's too long but I don't know what to cut. No one in their right mind is ever going to want to read it. I'm writing a book with a teenage protagonist that really is a book for adult readers. Wait a second...do I even know how to write realistic teenagers??

When I started this book almost 10 years (yes, 10, literally next week, don't remind me) ago, I was 23. Not exactly a teenager, but certainly closer to my teenage years than I am now. The teenagers back then probably weren't that different than the teenager I had been. But in ten years, a lot can change. I'm not sure if my teenage characters are characters who would really exist today. 

Now, I think certain aspects of teenagers never really changes. You know, certain behaviors and attitudes. I'm not even talking about language, because I don't really want to use any type of slang in my book because that would set it in a very specific time. I don't really want to commit to a specific year (just not 2020. In fact, I think it takes place in an alternate universe where 2020 never happened), maybe because I don't know when I'll actually finish and publish the thing, but I'd like it to not feel dated not long after it's finished. 

It's more the little things I think about. When I started this story, I had just gotten my first smartphone. Emojis weren't even a thing. A lot of the social media that exists now didn't exist back then. I really don't know anything about Snapchat or TikTok. I would assume my characters would be using these platforms religiously. But how do you find that balance that feels realistic? If I mention these things too much, doesn't it seem forced or make it very obvious that I don't know what I'm talking about. But if I don't mention them at all, doesn't that feel unrealistic? 

My characters use their phones. A lot. Texting is definitely a thing in the book. I don't know if I'm overthinking all of this. I know that Jordan is the type of person who wouldn't post too much on social media even if he did have accounts, at least not at the beginning of the book. He's an aloof and closed off person, but he also says he's popular. Does that make any sense at all? What makes a person popular these days? I even worry his coming out subplot feels dated. Part of me feels like a real teenager in Jordan's specific circumstances would never feel the need to be in the closet in the first place. But changing that up would mean changing A LOT of the book, main plot included. 

Also, I keep seeing that teenagers on TikTok are saying that skinny jeans are out, and you can pry Jordan's skinny jeans off his cold, dead legs. 

I know what you're probably screaming at your computer screen: RESEARCH, SARAH! RESEARCH! I should read more about social media, about what teen's lives are really like these days. I know, I know. I think I just worry that I'm not going to get it right no matter what I do. And having been working on this story for so long, the idea of figuring out so much stuff is exhausting. But I suppose I have to do it if I ever want to actually finish the thing. 

How do you keep your characters/ideas current? Do you use Snapchat or TikTok and can you explain it to me XD ?? Ok that was a joke. Kind of. 

03 February 2021

Shake Things Up

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!


Since I'm struggling a bit figuring out what to write about, I thought I'd start with this month's optional question:

Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

I'd definitely like to think I've made a few friends through the blogosphere! While I've never met any of my blogger buddies in person, we keep in contact through other social media besides just reading each other's blogs. I think the type of friends you make through blogging are very important to have. You have a lot in common as writers and can lift each other's spirits in ways that people in your "real" life may not be able to. 

So back to my struggling to write...it isn't limited to blog post ideas. Despite all my efforts to make goals and get back into writing this year, I haven't written anything yet. The closest thing I've done to writing is putting together a book playlist that's been on my mind for a while. Whenever I set a writing goal, I just avoid it. Every time I start thinking about UL, I get discouraged thinking about all the work I still have to put into it. I've even thought about completely rethinking the last third of the book AGAIN. I know I should focus on the things I know have to be fixed before trying to figure out the rest, but I just feel burnt out with the whole thing. I want to find a way to shake myself out of this slump. 

Part of me thinks I need to write something fun. Something with absolutely no pressure. I feel like that was kind of the idea behind my Sexy Fluff stories, but they kind of got away from me. Maybe I've just thought about them too much. I think I need something simple, or maybe something really different. Try a different genre. Maybe try some poetry again! 

I feel like I just need SOMETHING to jump start my drive to write, because sitting around avoiding it isn't making me feel very good. 

How do you get out of a writing slump? 


25 January 2021

When Does Story Structure Become Predictable?

I've recently been reading the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo. I've always had a soft spot for fantasy. I previously read the Six of Crows duology that takes place in the same universe, which I absolutely loved. I'm a sucker for really strong characters, and those books were chock full of them. While I preferred Six of Crows, I am still enjoying Shadow and Bone, and I'm definitely going to watch the upcoming Netflix series. But I digress...

While reading the first book in the series, Shadow and Bone, something occurred to me. I was around page 300 of 356, and while things weren't great for the main characters, there was a brief moment of hope. That's when it hit me: 

Something bad is about to happen. 

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder calls it the "All Is Lost" point. I can't tell you how many movies and books I've notice this moment in since reading Save the Cat. This is the point story where it seems like the hero has been defeated, that all hope is lost, only to lead of the climax of the story that eventually results in the hero's triumph. 

Just as I get this feeling, sure enough, the bad guy shows up, the thing the main character has most feared actually happens, and it feels like all is lost. That's when a question entered my mind: have I learned so much about story structure as a writer that nothing can surprise me as a reader? 

Which led me to another question: does every story have to follow this basic story structure? 

I guess it's not a 100% yes or no answer. Not every story is going to follow the story structure (such as outlined in Save the Cat) with every moment of its plot. But on the other hand, keeping to this story structure is often expected of writers if they want to have a compelling story. 

I think about story structure a lot, actually, especially when I'm trying to figure out all those missing pieces in Uneven Lines. The part that has always vexed me is the third act. I've gutted it and rewritten it and rethought it more times than I can count, but I still feel like I'm missing something. And whenever I've read anything about story structure, the first two thirds of UL follow it perfectly. I even have an "all is lost moment" in Chapter 18. But rather than wrapping up a few chapters later, the story keeps going for about ten more chapters. So, obviously, it doesn't follow that story structure that we've come to expect. But is that a bad thing? 

Of course, I'm not saying my book is the perfect example to break story structure. Maybe it will be when I actually figure it out. I just wonder how much creativity and freedom we can actually have as writers if every single story is supposed to follow the same basic structure.

In the end, I think there's a middle ground. Does UL have to follow that perfect Save the Cat structure? Maybe not. But will learning about it help me figure out what's really necessary, and to trim down my long third act? Maybe. It can't hurt to learn. But I just have to keep brainstorming and rethinking while I learn, too. And maybe at some point it will all click. 

21 January 2021

Chrys Fey's A Fighting Chance Playlist

Today, I'm very happy to welcome Chrys Fey, who's here to talk about the playlist for her new release in the Disaster Crimes series, A Fighting Chance. I love to create playlists for my books, too, and I'm actually working on one for Book 2 right now, so I love this topic! 


Sarah’s Question: What music did you listen to while writing A Fighting Chance?


Chrys Fey’s Answer: I love to listen to music when I write. Most of the time, I look for songs that fit the scenes I’m writing or the theme of the story. Or I hunt for an artist with the vibe I am going for, like I’ll listen to Evanescence while writing paranormal.

On Spotify, I now have playlists for each book in the Disaster Crimes series, as well as my current works-in-progress. There are even four playlists for what I lovingly call my Secret Book Baby Series…books that I view as my life’s work.

While I wrote A Fighting Chance, I kept track of the songs I listened to for scenes and that reminded me of my characters.

 

Here they are:

Face Down – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Bruises – Lewis Capaldi

Skyscraper – Demi Lovato

Crawling – J2, I AM WILLOW

What About Now – Daughtry

Waiting for Superman – Daughtry

The Sound of Silence – Disturbed

Hurricane Girl – Alexz Johnson

Creep – Daniela Andrade

Every Breath You Take – Denmark + Winter

One Way or Another – Until the Ribbon Breaks

Halo – J2, I AM WILLOW

Feels like Tonight – Daughtry

Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Denmark + Winter

Warrior – Demi Lovato

Blown Away – Carrie Underwood

 

Take a listen to the playlist on Spotify. CLICK HERE.

Pages: 154

Genre: Romantic-Suspense

Heat Rating: Hot

 

BLURB:

*A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.*

Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he's worried the truth will frighten her away.

And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending.

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

 

Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

 

EXCERPT:

Amanda looked up from the current list of up-to-date payments for classes. A movement outside the glass storefront caught her eye. She tilted her head to see a man coming up the sidewalk from the side where the picnic bench sat. Through the vertical blinds, she glimpsed a square face—a short, rugged beard and long, dark hair pulled into a man bun. Her breath fled from her lungs. Her body went from icy cold to flaming hot in the span of a millisecond. She dropped to the floor and slid under the counter, beneath the ledge where they put their purses and cell phones.

“What—” Beth peeked at the windows. Then she snapped her fingers at April and pointed at the stools.

April jumped into action. She pushed the stools in so they blocked Amanda. The bell attached to the door jingled as April removed the jacket she wore and draped it across the stools, creating a curtain to shield Amanda.

From a crack, Amanda watched Beth move to stand in front of the twins, who were in their walkers playing peacefully. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be closing.”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m here for Amanda.”

The sound of Damon’s voice had her heart beating even harder. That voice had haunted her nightmares, had come back to life in her memories.

Beth cocked her head to the side. “Who? There’s no one by that name here.”

“Don’t bullshit me. I know she works here.”

His voice was closer now.

 

 

***FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME***

THE DISASTER CURSE

Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*

 

The Disaster Crimes Series:

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)

Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1)

Seismic Crimes (#2)

Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5)

Tsunami Crimes (#3)

Flaming Crimes (#4)

Frozen Crimes (#5)

A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6)

The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.

 

 

***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE***

TheFightingChance.org is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.

 

 

***GIVEAWAY***

Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/23d974a92670/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press. https://www.chrysfey.com

Author Links:

 Newsletter / Website / Facebook Group /Blog / BookBub

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

11 January 2021

Another New Year, Another New Planner

What's going on here? I'm posting on a non-IWSG day?? As you probably guessed, one of my goals for the new year is to blog more! Hence the...blogging...

So, if you remember the beginning of last year, I got a fancy new planner to log all of my writing and non-writing goals. It was a great idea to help me be productive and motivated. And then somewhere around...oh, let's say, March...we were hit with a....let's call it a PANDEMIC...where everyone's goals and plans went straight into the garbage. Seriously, one of my goals was to go to the gym five days a week, and guess what?? The gym closed!!! And you'd think with all this time staying at home I'd get lots of writing done? Lol you thought! I work in a hospital, which on one hand is great, because I kept my full time job the whole time, but on the other hand, is SUPER STRESSFULL during aforementioned PANDEMIC. 

Anyhoo...it's a new year, I'm two weeks away from getting my second dose of the vaccine, and I have a NEWER, FANCIER planner. 

BEHOLD (no I will not stop using the caps lock...)


I got the new planner for Christmas, along with an extra set of stickers to make the planning more fun. It's actually much bigger than last years planner, with more detailed spots for goals and planning. And since I didn't think that was enough, I bought MORE STICKERS!!!


So, how does this help me? Well, on top of my daily goals (gym, cleaning, etc.), it also allows me to create weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. I'm trying to work slowly into my writing related goals since I've avoided writing for about two months. But like I said in my last post, I'm focusing more on specific tasks for each week, rather than trying to write every day. 


I'm the kind of person who likes to make lists and track things (this is why Weight Watchers really works for me when I actually commit to it...all the tracking!), so I think something like this will help a lot. I've been doing really well with my daily goals, so I think I just need to figure out when and how to work in writing to my schedule. I did accomplish a lot in the first week with my planner, but not so much when it comes to writing. Then hopefully, I'll start to feel motivated again. 

Do you use a planner? How do you stay motivated? 

06 January 2021

Where's My Motivation?

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!


Well, it's a new year (finally! so long 2020! you won't be missed!), and with a new year usually comes a new surge of motivation. I've got a brand new fancy planner, even bigger and fancier than last year's. I do certainly feel motivated about certain things--continuing to eat healthy and lose weight (I gained two pounds over Christmas and New Year's, but that's not too bad, right?), getting back into productive habits, like cleaning every day, drinking lots of water, READING MORE (I only read 18 books last year). 

But do you know where I still have zero motivation? Writing. 

I don't know what it is. For the past couple months, I have just completely lost my desire to write. I don't even want to think about any of my stories. I realized recently that I used to always fall asleep thinking about one scene or another, but lately I haven't found anything that piques my interest. I've scanned over every story idea, every sequel, every self-indulgent never actually going to write it moment that I could possibly think of and...nope. Don't want to think about it anymore. 

I obviously don't want to be done with writing, but I also don't know how to get that motivation back. I've really always struggled with motivation, but there was always a tiny glimmer of that desire to write underneath whatever else was holding me back. Now, I don't even feel that. 

Maybe I've just been avoiding writing too much? Real life has certainly been stressful and exhausting for a while. Maybe if I just try to work on writing, eventually I'll begin to feel that spark again. 

I'm planning on trying a new tactic. For a while, I was trying to work on writing (or editing, brainstorming, etc.) for thirty minutes every day. I don't know if I responded well to that kind of pressure. If I couldn't think of anything to focus on, or if I just had too many other tasks, it was usually the one goal of my day that was incomplete. So I've decided instead to pick a few specific writing tasks that I want to get done each week. Most of them relate to UL, but I'll try to throw in a different story idea or a sequel to keep things interesting, and hopefully spark some motivation. This way, I can choose what time is best for getting a task done, and if I go a day or two without writing, I won't have to feel guilty about it.

How do you find motivation? Do you write every day?