18 June 2014

I Don't Write Reviews...

I did something weird the other day. I finished a book (no, that's not the weird part...ok, maybe it is) and I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I almost never do that. I'm sure there are several reasons for this. I think because with most things, I tend to be neutral. I never love or hate anything (with a few exceptions, usually on the love side). If you asked me what my favorite author, band, movie, or TV show was, I probably couldn't answer you. It's hard for me to pick favorites. And honestly, I could count the number of movies I actually despised on one hand. For books, it's even harder. 

If There Be Thorns (Dollanganger, #3)I'm going to go off on a tangent here, I'm sure, but I find it amusing. The book I just finished was If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews, the third book in the Dollanganger series. I got into the series when Lifetime premiered the movie version of the first book, Flowers in the Attic back in January. I just decided to watch it one night and then started the book not too long after. The movie was pretty good considering its length, but the book (of course) was even better. After finishing the first book, I immediately started the second, Petals on the Wind. This I did not get through quite as fast as the first. I just couldn't connect with it--it seemed to drag on forever, so I would often just stop reading it altogether. I took so long, in fact, that Lifetime managed to make a movie out of it--a really, really bad movie. Seriously. I think I could forgive all of the changes they made from the book if it actually turned out to be a decent movie, but no...just, no. 

Where was I? Oh, right! I wasn't even sure if I wanted to continue reading the series, but the description for If There Be Thorns seemed too interesting to pass up. I started it on the plane to Las Vegas and read the whole thing in about a week (I'm actually a slow reader, so this was an accomplishment). I absolutely loved it. It kept me constantly turning the (Kindle) page, gasping at certain moments. I loved the change in voices, as there are two narrators whose voices are very distinct. The first two books were written from one character's perspective, Cathy, and the third changes completely, switching back and forth between her two sons. I thought Andrews' ability to craft these voices was incredible. It was something I hope to achieve in my own writing, since my narrator has a very different voice from my own. 

Here's the thing, though. I didn't write any sort of review after I rated the book. I never write reviews, good or bad, or anywhere in between. I just don't think I'm any good at it. I struggle to come up with anything to say. If I like the book, that's pretty much all I can think of. If I find faults in it, I feel like I don't have the right to point them out, whether it's a book by a well established author or someone new. Especially someone new, actually. I wouldn't want to ruin their day by writing even a sentence that trashed their book. So I don't even bother. 

I have an idea, though! Especially because my Kindle is full of books written by bloggers I know that I haven't even read yet. I'm going to start a recurring post on my blog, probably once a month, that will feature at least a snippet of a review of whatever books I've read by writers I know. They'll probably be short, highlighting what I really liked about the book, and hopefully I'll post these on Goodreads and Amazon once they're posted here. I won't call them reviews, though. I'm thinking of calling it "Hey, I Read Your Book!" and the first installment will be towards the end of next month. I'm thinking maybe the last Monday of every month, and I don't really have enough time to finish any books this month. But look out for it in the future! Maybe this will help me with my review writing phobia. 

I still need three people for the Writing Process blog hop, so if you're interested (and haven't been picked by someone else--this thing is spreading!), leave me a comment with your email and I'll get in touch with you. Thanks!

17 June 2014

Cracking the Whip...On Myself?

Today is the first day of whatever the hell it is I'm doing. My fiance and I got back from Vegas a week ago but he was still on vacation until today, so it was hard for me to really get anything done (we could really use two rooms...). I wanted to blog yesterday but we pretty much spent the whole day putting away groceries, doing dishes, and making tacos (yay!). Today I'm finally all by myself and I have to figure out what exactly I'm doing.

I know I don't want to find a job right away. But I also know I want to be prepared to get one. I need to create a resume, maybe a cover letter, and some kind of writing portfolio. If I'm checking for jobs all the time, even if I'm not expecting to find one, I should be prepared. That way if I find a job that I'm interested in, I can apply for it without worrying about getting everything together. 

I kinda don't even want to think about the *shudders* THIRD DRAFT of my novel. The second draft was more of a line by line rewrite. With this one, I don't have to do so much technical rewriting. It's more about big picture stuff, which, honestly, is even scarier than rewriting. I really want this to be the final draft that I'm going to send out, so I can't avoid any parts that I know need fixing (ugh...setting...). I did go through and highlight the entire Guide to Literary Agents and found a few good matches, and several to research further. So, fingers crossed! Now I just have to write a query letter...

I think my biggest problem is that I don't really know how to structure my work. I've never been good at giving myself a schedule. I've thought about having daily goals, like say, two hours of editing, one hour of blogging, etc. I've thought about devoting each day to one thing. I'm not sure if these ideas are going to work either. But I'm afraid if I don't structure myself I'm just going to get lazy, and without a day job to fall back on, I really can't afford to do that. I have made a list of weekly goals, which I guess is a start. I'll see how much further I want to take it. I think it would be better to start each day with particular goals in mind. 

I definitely need to blog more. And visit other blogs. And just network, network, network. I plan on blogging every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (shh...I know it's Tuesday...). I have some ideas but the thought of coming up with something three times a week is a bit daunting. I have like, sixteen blog hop posts to write. Ok, maybe just two. But I also need to find three people to pass one on to (any volunteers? Huh? You know you want to!), and pick ELEVEN for the other, although this is a bit easier because I just have to nominate people, rather than find someone who is willing to participate. 

Ok, I think I'm done. I swear my future posts will have more of a purpose. I do occasionally come up with ideas for writing tips. What is everyone else up to? 

04 June 2014

Stress Postponed

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click the link to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

I have plenty to be insecure about right now, but I'm not really thinking about it. I'm putting it off until next week because tomorrow I'm getting on a plane to Las Vegas with my fiancĂ©. I'm planning on five days of relaxation and fun, and if I'm lucky, maybe I'll win some money, although I'm certainly not going to try anything but slot machines. Mostly I just want to eat, drink, and lounge by the pool. 

Of course, when we come back next Tuesday, I'm sure reality is going to slap me in the face. Last night was my last shift at my job. It was a weird feeling, because I know I'm going to miss a lot of the people there, but I will not miss actually working there. Not one little bit. I'm sure it's going to be a little bit scary not having a source of income anymore, and to watch my savings go down as I pay my bills. But I'm hoping it will all be worth it in the end. 

I'm also a bit stressed out about my book. Sometimes I'll think, hey I'm almost done! Then I'll think the exact opposite--that there's so much work still to do. Ok, yes, there is a lot of work to do. But I'm not going to do another rewrite, just a lot of editing. I'll also have a lot of time to work on it. I'm thinking I'll work on my book at least three hours every day, as well as looking for freelance work, publishing jobs, and agents to eventually send queries to. My whole focus is going to be on building my writing career. 

So yeah, there's a lot to be stressed about. But I'll worry about that next week. Right now, my bags are packed, my Kindle is charged, all my high heels are shoved into my suitcase. And I've got my second draft and a red pen for the plane ride. :)

26 May 2014

My Blog Turns Three!

I can't believe it's time again for another blog birthday! It's been three whole years since I first started blogging. I can't believe it's actually been that long. I had a slow start, but in the past few months, I've been able to create some more momentum, get a lot of new followers, and meet some great people! Now I just have to keep writing!

I was struggling with coming up with an idea for this post, since I knew I had to celebrate somehow. Well, I caught myself thinking about some of my favorite blog posts that I've shared over the past three years. So I thought, why not share them? A lot of my new followers wouldn't have seen the older ones, plus I think it's good to look back and see what I've accomplished.

So I decided on ten, in chronological order. Here we go!

1. Full Circle: This was my very first blog post, done exactly three years ago. Ok, I may have written it the day before. But I had no idea what I was doing or how to set up a blog. I like this one because I talk about my journey as a writer, having just graduated college, as well as the journey I was starting in turning a short story into a novel. And I've been working on it ever since.

2. How to Write a Sex Scene: This was less of a how-to post and more of a personal journey into being able to write a sex scene at all. I used to have a very hard time writing these kinds of scenes. It's kind of fascinating, really, since I don't have a problem with it at all anymore. To get over my fear, I had to break myself. How? By writing a sex scene, of course!

3. Muse Mondays: The Takeover: This was the very first time I let my muse, Jordan, write a blog post. It inspired the eventual name change to "Jordan Takes Over," which typically happens the first Monday of every month, although he has been slacking lately. I like this one because he talks about what it means to be a muse, and turns out, it's not all that easy.

4. The Fight Scene: This is definitely one of my favorite how-to posts. I talk about writing two types of fight scenes--the physical fight scenes and the verbal ones. It was one of those posts that made me think I actually at least kind of know what I'm doing when it comes to this whole writing thing. Plus, I quote Fight Club.

5. Fun Facts: Volume Two: Every so often I'll do a post that's really a list, usually called "Fun Facts." They're always really fun to write. This one is my favorite because it features a list of things my characters are always doing--you know, sighing, shrugging, sticking tongues out. I thought it was good for a laugh.

6. Bitch Stole My Plot!: This is my favorite post that was done for the IWSG (ok, mostly for the title). I talk about being paranoid about not only someone stealing your book idea, but the idea that everything has already been done before and there are no original ideas. I definitely have my own opinion on the subject.

7. The 100th Blog Post/Jordan's 18th Birthday Extravaganza: My 100th blog post also happened to fall on my muse's 18th birthday (you know, if he was a real person who actually aged). I celebrated by sharing 100 fun facts about my novel. This one was really fun to write, but also kind of difficult since I had to come up with all of those facts! Warning: it's my longest post EVER.

8. When Do You Hold Back?: Another one of my favorite writing tip posts. I often worry that some moments in my book will be too much for people to handle. And did you know you're not supposed to have your characters masturbate until after the third chapter? Yeah, I definitely broke that rule.

9. WIP: The Movie: Probably the best blog hop ever. I thought I was the only one who came up with dream actors for my characters and a playlist for my book. It was lots of fun to share this info. Also, I hate all pictures of myself, even if it's with one of my favorite actors. Burn it! Ok, half of it.

10. B is for a Blue Binder: I did the A to Z Challenge for the first time this year, and this is one of my favorite posts. I'm a bit of perfectionist when it comes to colors and organization. Because my book has colors. What, everyone doesn't do that?

Well, there you have it. I can't wait to see what happens in the next year. Keep stopping by if you want to find out, too. :)

23 May 2014

Endings and Beginnings

Lots of big news! I know I haven't blogged in forever since the A to Z Challenge ended. Lots of reasons for that, I suppose. I'm hoping to blog lots and lots in the near future, possibly even every day. We shall see.

First off, I finished my second draft! Woo! It doesn't feel quite as triumphant as finishing the first draft, but then again, the first draft took me two and a half years to complete, so it was a big accomplishment. But anyway, I finished up the last chapter yesterday afternoon. 142 pages, 82,744 words, and 27 chapters. I guess a lot changed structurally since the first draft only had 20 chapters and 70,900 words. I know I cut a lot of the original chapters down to make the scene transitions less choppy, but I'm not entirely sure where the giant increase in the word count came from. I'll have to look into it.

Side note! If you read all of my silly facts in my 100th post, you'll know that the first draft has 196 f-bombs. Well, I did a search on the second draft and there are...drum roll please...188! Actually, I thought it would be more. I guess I'm learning restraint. I did try to cut the ones that didn't seem necessary. But hey, the narrator is a fifteen-year-old boy, it's gonna pop up now and then.

Other big news! I put in my two weeks notice at work on Tuesday. Ah! It's scary but exciting. Two days after my last day of work, I'll be going to Las Vegas with my fiance (no, we're not getting married). It should be a lot of fun. I'm bringing my second draft with me to edit on the plane, and lots and lots of books to read in front of the pool.

I hope to be querying my book within a few months and am going to try publishing smaller pieces and maybe getting some freelance work. I'm really excited for what the future is going to bring.

07 May 2014

Insecure About Not Being Insecure

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click the link to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

I was struggling to come up with a topic for today's post, mostly because I haven't been feeling very insecure lately. I got through the A to Z challenge, I'm almost done with the second draft of my book, and I'm nervous about leaving my job, but not really insecure. I know in my gut I'm making the right decision. It's still almost a month away so I'm trying not to think about it too much yet. 

I've been thinking about how close I am to trying to get my book published. Once the second draft is done, I'll go through another round of edits, but not a rewrite this time, so it probably won't take very long. There's just a few things to iron out, I think (of course, when I hear back from my readers I may find out how wrong I am...). And then I'll start querying. It's exciting and scary but I'm actually not feeling very insecure about it. 

Here's the thing--I'm not scared of rejection. Not at all. I've already been told by someone that my story is horrible, and I really don't think any agent would respond that way (as long as I do my research and submit to the right agents, of course). I've already been hit with the worst, so even rejection would be better than that. I also accept that fact that I'm going to be rejected. Lots of times. I see it as part of the process. It's going to happen and it's just something to get through. 

My lack of insecurity is actually what worries me. What if I'm wrong about how I feel? What if that first rejection comes and I just break down? What if I can't handle it? Is my lack of fear a good thing or is it setting me up to fall even harder? I guess I won't know until it actually happens. 

05 May 2014

A to Z Challenge Reflections

This April was my first try at doing the A to Z Challenge. While I wish I had done a bit more planning ahead of time, I did end up having a lot of fun. I've always been a procrastinator, so I don't really know what I expected. But anyway, reflections!

I somehow managed to get through the entire challenge, posting every day except Sundays, despite the usual hectic work schedule, a case of strep throat, and also working on the second draft of my novel. I'd like to think that blogging every day helped create some inspiration, and was at least part of the reason why I got so much writing done. I managed to get six chapter rewrites done over the course of the month, creating a momentum that I haven't had in a long time. I'm hoping to completely finish the second draft within a week or two. 

I certainly got a lot more traffic during the month of April. I started the challenge with 79 followers, and now I have 110. Yikes! I met a lot of new blogger buddies and am looking forward to keeping up with their blogs in the future. 

I didn't have a theme this year, but I've already got some ideas for next year! Hopefully by then I'll be writing full time and be able to get the posts done in advance, instead of writing them the day they needed to be posted. Some days I had good ideas, other days the posts were a bit forced. Some days I was too busy writing, working, or suffering horrible throat pain to write more than a couple paragraphs. But I am glad I managed to post every day. 

OH! And if by any chance you remember my second post (feels like forever ago) and my quest for a blue binder, well...I went back to Staples for something else and I GUESS they restocked!

(Surprisingly I don't hate this picture of myself...I know, a first! It's also the first time I've used my webcam. I'm thinking a Blogger/Twitter profile pic redo is in order!)

So, to recap! 
26 posts
6 chapter rewrites
31 new followers
152 work hours to work around
72 cups of coffee
AND 1 blue binder later...

The challenge is complete!