21 October 2019

A Very Good Bad Idea

So...I got this crazy idea...

It all started when I finished Chapter 27. [Holds for applause]. Yes, finally! But I'll talk about that more another time. Once I finished the chapter, I wanted to give myself a break by writing something fun and easy. Now, I don't know if it was because of the book I just finished reading, or knowing what I have to write for the next chapter (and I need some no pressure practice), or just because this idea was in my head, I decided to write some SEXY FLUFF.

You know sexy fluff, right? Just something that's like, cute lovey dovey with a moderate amount of sex and a dash of angst. I don't read a lot of romance novels, but the ones I typically read are like this. The thing I started writing actually happens between Books 2 & 3 in my series, and no one will ever read it besides me, so I could just do whatever I want with it.

But I realized something as I was writing. The words were flowing rather easily. Now, I wasn't trying very hard to make the words perfect like I usually do, but I was writing PAGES. And so fast! I was just staring at the screen wondering, what is this sorcery??

My story ideas are usually ridiculously complicated. UL has taken me over 8 years and I'm still not done. Even Shiny New Story, while a lot lighter than UL, is still pretty complicated. Since the fluff was coming along at such a rapid pace, I wondered, am I doing this all wrong? Should I just be writing sexy fluff all the time??

That's when the idea hit. What if I *did* try writing sexy fluff? It's not my usual style, but I could totally do it. And I would have fun doing it. I even thought, hey, what if I wrote my fluff under a pen name?? Then my super complicated novels could be under my real name. And since it was a Saturday night, I was home alone, and I'd had a few cocktails...naturally I started researching romance novel tropes and brainstorming my pen name.

Half of my brain was like, I AM SO DOING THIS, while the other half said, PUMP THE BRAKES, SISTER. But I could not shake off this idea of, what if I could bust out sexy fluff novel after sexy fluff novel and ACTUALLY MAKE MONEY DOING IT?? The only downside being, for the love of God and all that is holy, I really need to finish Uneven Lines. I can't be distracted by all the shiny.

But then I thought, what if I just spent one day a week working on fluff? Or, I could use it for those times I'm feeling blocked, or just feeling depressed because the writing isn't happening. Maybe the fluff could fuel my work on UL when it's stalled (as it typically is). I even came up with an idea for a book! (Eeek!) I liked the idea of enemies to lovers, so my brain just kept thinking and thinking and suddenly I've got a full fledged plot, about a couple of former high school rivals who then become work rivals years later which naturally leads to sexytimes. And now I can't stop thinking about it *facepalm*.

I know I shouldn't do this, but part of me thinks it's a good idea. If I can find the right balance between these projects, anyway, where I'm still devoting most of my time to UL. Part of me just wants to see how fast I could bust out a fluff novel (don't NaNo @ me).

So...will I do it? I don't know. I'll probably write this first fluff story at some point, at least. But like SNS, I'm putting it on a back burner. Or, more accurately, in a glass case labeled TO BE USED IN CASE OF WRITER'S BLOCK.

BTW, I decided for my pen name I would use initials. My middle name is Anne, but for some reason I didn't want to use S.A. So I thought of S.J. (I got that exactly where you think I got it). Then I started thinking about a fake last name. First I thought of S.J. Adams, which gave me a chuckle. But then I thought of S.J. Gray, which sounds totally fake but I also like. Feel free to vote or suggest something new! Or talk me out of it!!!

07 October 2019

In the Pie of the Beholder

If you're like me (crazy), you like to sneak symbolism and themes and all that literary nonsense (that you swore writers never did on purpose when you read Lord of the Flies in sophomore year) into your books. You think it gives your story more depth, and gives the reader more to think about. Or you just worry your book would be a massive trash pile without it. Either way, is it possible to have too much symbolism? When is enough enough?

Ok, so A LOT of tiny little details in UL are totally planned. I've got symbolism, parallel lines, parallel characters. You name it, I probably have it. So when I come across something that doesn't have some sort of double meaning, I wonder if it should.

Chapter 1 ends with Jordan eating an entire pie in one sitting. I have no worries about the act itself, it really works, it has different layers and whatnot. The thing that keeps nagging at my brain is the type of pie. This is some serious literature here, right?? When the type of pie you wrote doesn't feel quite right...

Ok, so since the dawn of time, aka, when I started writing this book, the pie in question has ALWAYS been key lime. HOWEVER...I had absolutely no reason for making it a key lime pie. There is no double meaning, no symbolism. If I ever publish this book and someone asked me, "why key lime??" I wouldn't have an answer. So I wonder if I should have a more symbolic flavor of pie (words I didn't ever think I'd be saying).

I've thought of a few. There's cherry, which could totally have some sexual symbolism (I think...?). Plus red is a color I use symbolically throughout the book, so diving into a cherry pie and making a mess of it would seem more meaningful.

Then there's apple pie. My obvious thought is the whole apple/forbidden fruit idea, which would totally work in the book itself. But I also know I'm throwing in a lot of Garden of Eden themed symbols in Book 3, so this could also connect to that.

But then I also wonder...does it really matter? Should I just keep it key lime because that's what it's always been? Or because I already have enough symbolism in my book? Do I really need ANOTHER THING??? I also think eating a whole key lime pie in one sitting would be way more doable than an apple or cherry pie, but I also don't have a teenage boy's metabolism.

So what do you think? Does the pie really matter? Or am I overthinking this way too much? Or are you all just hungry now??

02 October 2019

Let Crappy First Drafts Lie

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, another month has passed and where am I on my third draft progress? Err...about the same place I was last month. Ok, ok, not exactly the same place! For my last IWSG post, I said I had written 3 pages for Chapter 27. So, good news...I currently just went onto page 11! So, obviously, words are happening. Just very slowly. And we will ignore my concerns that this chapter is turning out way too long and I'll probably have to split it but that will leave me with 30 chapters and I need them to be UNEVEN, hello??? *deep breath* Yes, ignoring that for now. 

I know one of the big reasons this chapter is taking forever is the fact that I don't often make myself just sit there and write it. Especially on a work day, I just kinda want to sit there watching TV and go to bed early. But another problem is that when I actually do sit down to write, I find it very difficult to actually get the words out. I know it's because I want those words to be perfect, and sometimes it's just hard to make it that way. Probably the worst thing I do is that I won't even write a sentence down until it's perfect in my head. So when perfection isn't happening, words aren't happening, either. 

But I think something kinda clicked. At one point while working on 27, I said to myself, "UGH. This feels so first drafty." Then I realized...well, it basically IS a first draft. While I'm working on the third draft of the novel as a whole, almost everything I've written past Chapter 19 has been brand spankin' new. Not rewritten, like everything before it, but completely new stuff that never even happened in the first two drafts. So the words I'm writing right now are essentially a first draft. And can you make a first draft perfect? HELL NO!

It's difficult to part with that idea of finishing this draft and basically having it ready to go, but I think if I keep clinging to it, I'll never even get to the end. I just have to put the words down and if they're kinda crappy, just let it be. I can always go back and fix it. I just have to look at everything before Chapter 19 to see how great things can turn out if you just keep working at it. But you can't fix what isn't there. And trying to make it perfect before it's written will just lead to a whole lot more waiting. 

So I'm plowing through this chapter. Even if I think some moments are illogical. If I think two characters should have gone deeper with a certain conversation but can't quite figure that out right now. If some moments were too drawn out, but others were rushed. I may not know how to fix certain things, but I'll at least know what needs to be fixed. And maybe some time and distance will make the figuring out much easier.

23 September 2019

Think, Think, Think

Being a writer means you spend a lot of time thinking. That kind of goes without saying. The stories and all the words that go into them come straight from our brains. Sometimes you're lucky enough to have the ideas and words flow so fast and easily that it doesn't feel like you're thinking much at all. Other times, it's not so easy. Sometimes, you have to do a whole lot of thinking. 

That's pretty much where I am right now. Ok, I still haven't finished Chapter 27 yet, but I'm chipping away at it. The major thinking I need to do there is just find the right words. I already know every scene and event that needs to happen. But once I get done with this chapter, that's when things will get tricky. 

I'm in this weird predicament where I do know what needs to happen, but at the same time, I feel like I don't. I haven't quite figured out how to get my characters there to make it a satisfying ending. And I know I can't draw out the story any longer, either, because it will start to get boring and lose the momentum of the last few chapters. The end is so close, and yet still feels so far away. 

So what's my strategy to figure it all out? Think. A lot. 

Maybe thinking about something in order to figure it out is a bit obvious. But it feels like the only thing I can do. I want to spend as much time as possible just considering everything. I think one of my problems with the ending is that I have always pictured it the same way. For years. So I'm trying to get out of that corner, start going about it a different way. It helps that the events leading up to it are a lot different than previous drafts. I've already come up with a few little tweaks that I never would have even considered when writing the first draft, so I think it helps to keep an open mind. 

I just feel like the ending is missing something. Some type of punch-the-reader-in-the-face type moment. There is going to be a bit of a reveal because my MC has been hiding things even from the reader, but that part still doesn't feel like it's quite strong enough to me. There needs to be something else. Maybe he realizes something about himself that he never considered. Maybe both characters are finally confronted not only with the lies they tell each other, but the ones they tell themselves. 

I think I'm slowly getting there. I try to indulge every thought that crosses my mind, see where it takes me. Even if it doesn't work out, at least I've ruled something out, and who knows? Maybe a bad idea could trigger a good one. You never know what you could figure out if just let the thoughts flow.

16 September 2019

Doing More Stuff

Do not attempt to adjust your screens! I am really writing a non-IWSG post! For the first time in...exactly a year! Yup, September 17 of last year was the last time I wrote a regular blog post. Not the same date, but the exact same Monday. That's actually just a weird coincidence, because this blog post wasn't even a thought in my head until yesterday afternoon. Well, because I've been doing a bit of thinking...

I realized I don't really do enough stuff. Writing, you say? Well, yes, but you already knew that. But, I mean, online stuff. Blogging and networking and such. I have my toes in the water but I feel like I've fizzled out. I used to blog three times a week! Well, I don't think I had a job when I did that. But like I said above, my only posts are for IWSG. But blogging isn't the only thing. So I'm trying to come up with some ideas to get me out there more, doing more stuff! And maybe the stuff will fuel the writing, and vice versa.

1. Blogging

Obviously! Or this post wouldn't exist. I'd really like to get back to posting something every Monday. I think I've stopped not only because of motivation, but because I don't feel like I have any good ideas to write about. But I want to start paying attention to any thought that pops in my head. If I think it'll make for a halfway decent post, I will write it immediately!

I also don't visit other blogs enough. Like writing my own posts, I only visit others on IWSG day. I usually feel out of the loop with other bloggers' news, blog tours, book releases, etc. I have no idea what's going on! And if I can hop on some blog tours, that covers writing my own posts, too! Two birds, one stone, people.

I could also possibly let Jordan write his monthly posts again?? That would be fun. I may change when they happen, since I found whenever the first Monday of the month was the same week as the first Wednesday (IWSG day), I got less traffic, which was disheartening. Maybe the last Monday of the month? There could be overlap there but I think it happens less often. I'll figure it out. Now I just have to wake up Jordan and convince him to do it...

2. Twitter/Instagram 

Twitter drives me nuts sometimes because I have about 2,800 followers but I feel like I get hardly any interactions. So I think two main things need to happen--I need to tweet more, especially writing related stuff, and I need to interact more with others' tweets. Hopefully if I just keep putting myself out there more, it'll start to come back.

Instagram is a little more tricky, because I feel like I don't have a lot of things to post. I can only post so many pictures of my cat, right? So maybe with this, I need to do some more research first about what other writers tend to post, and start figuring out what I can do. For now, I'll just continue with the cat.

Ok, I thought I had more major things but maybe that's it? Of course, those aren't the only things I want to accomplish...

Frightening tasks that I may or may not attempt in a more distant future:

- writing book reviews and posting them on Amazon and Goodreads
- trying to get some of my poetry published/write more poems
- try to write a short story or two (yeah right, they'll just turn into more novels)
- figure out the whole Goodreads Author thing. It looks tricky. Especially since I've only been published in anthologies.
- find more anthologies/contests to submit to
- set up an Amazon author page (I've been putting this off forever)
- updating my LinkedIn page and trying to get some actual writing jobs!!

Since blogging is one of my major goals, and this blog post is now DONE, I guess I'm off to a good start? But I should probably get back to actual writing now...

04 September 2019

I'll Figure It Out Eventually

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 this month? Well, probably the fact that I haven't been doing much writing. At all. For those of you keeping score at home, I'm still on Chapter 27. I don't know what is so difficult about it. It's not really difficult at all. I know exactly what needs to happen. I even made an outline for it! And I'm a die-hard pantser, so you can imagine how difficult that was for me. It's just, for some reason, actually sitting down and making myself write just isn't happening. 

I guess I can't be too hard on myself because I have *occasionally* gotten some words down. I've got 3 pages done on Chapter 27, which is something, at least, but I don't feel like I've gotten very far with it. I think it's going to be a very long chapter. I'll get through one chunk of it and then get stuck, and just stay stuck for days. 

I've been working on Shiny New Story a bit as well, which I swear will get a title someday, especially since it's not really new anymore, but is still very shiny. Sometimes I like to dive into that when I'm feeling blocked, to try and get the creative juices flowing a bit. It helps to work on something that's a first draft and I don't have to think so much about getting all the words perfect. I just wish it would lead me back to my main project. 

Something I'm not insecure about? The aha moments! One of my favorite things about writing is figuring things out. When you have a problem that you can't see your way out of and eventually it comes to you. I was working on Shiny's first chapter and I was trying to create this suspense between my two main characters, like you think they're just friends and there's a reveal where you realize they're actually a couple (which is probably silly because the blurb would totally give that away, but I digress...). My problem was that I was starting the chapter with the characters not seeing each other for a week. Wouldn't they immediately run into each other's arms and start smooching? That sort of killed my suspense. But since the scene took place on a farm, I had one character working on something, and figured out...his hands could be dirty! The character has to wash up first, which gives time for the two characters to talk before anything romantic happens. It was such a simple idea but I think it really made the scene work the way I wanted. 

I love those moments because it makes me think I'll always be able to figure things out eventually, no matter how impossible they may seem. I just would like that to be sooner rather than later when it comes to the rest of Uneven Lines. Please?? I'm talking to you, brain. 

Here's some really good news! I'm on vacation starting this Friday for a week and a half. Another vacation?? you're probably asking. Yeah, I took a lot of time off this year because I always have way too many hours accumulated by the end of the year. But anyway, that is lots and lots and lots of writing time! I'm hoping it'll be like my boot camp for Chapter 26 back in June, where I just spent all day every day (mostly) working on it. Maybe I could even...dare I say...finish the whole third draft? No way, right???

07 August 2019

Full of Surprises

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'm on vacation from work so that means I can visit many many blogs today at a reasonable hour. It also means I'm going to actually try to get some writing done. I mean, yesterday was my lazy recovery day and today is blogging day, so...

I'm still working on Chapter 27. Actually, I haven't been working on it much at all. I don't know the exact reason. I just haven't felt like it. Maybe writing Chapter 26 took a lot out of me, but I think it's been way too long for that to still be an excuse. I guess I'm just having a motivation problem. I know everything that needs to happen in this chapter, so it's not like I have anything to figure out. I just have to actually make with the words.

Well, since I'm not at work this week, I can't use being tired as an excuse. Bring on the words!

Onto this month's optional question: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

Uhh, literally everything? Seriously, go tell my teenage self about the story I'm writing. She'll think you're crazy, and she'll wonder where the vampires are.

Sometimes I'm surprised by random lines, like there's no way I could have come up with them on my own (because Jordan is writing the book, not me, duh). There's one in particular that always comes to mind, but it involves a bad word. Well, ok. I took "whatever floats your boat" but replaced "boat" with a male body part. One of the many lines that I didn't write. And yes, I know that makes it not rhyme anymore. It still works, trust me.

My biggest surprise is actually my entire idea for Book 3. It involves something that I swore would never happen. I'm so secretive about it, which I know is silly since I haven't even published Book 1, but I am keeping this concept locked up in my brain. I did tell my husband, but he probably forgot. When I first got the idea, I thought, wait, this wasn't supposed to happen. But the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea.

So if I ever finish this book, maybe someday I'll get to that surprise book idea.