Saturday, December 2, 2017

My NaNoWriMo Journey

I realize my blogging has sort of become obsolete...I would apologize for that, except that I know I don't have the largest following anyway so no one is actually going to be disappointed that I haven't blogged. :P

At any rate, I have decided to blog today...whatever that's worth.

I just recently completed my NaNoWriMo journey! For any who might not be aware, National Novel Writing Month is when a bunch of people attempt to write a novel during the month of November.

The whole experience was a lot of fun for me. I loved the community; it was very welcoming and supportive throughout the long month of writing a story. I also just love spending time with like-minded people. Writers are a different breed, and it's so much fun to be around them.

I expected, going into NaNoWriMo, that I would write the novel way faster than the allotted month. The last book I wrote was Queen of Caradale and I wrote that book in all of 9 days. I thought I'd be done in the first couple weeks and spend the rest of the month editing and such-like. I could not have been more mistaken. I did start out the month 5,000 words ahead of the goal...but by week 3 I had fallen behind and on the very last day, November 30, I was 7,000 words behind.

I spent all evening writing on Thursday, desperately trying to write those 7,000 words.

I am an under-writer, so I encountered a problem around 40K which was simply that I had already finished the novel, the story had gone through its full arc and come to a close and I still needed another ten thousand words. Because I'd already finished the story, writing those last 7,000 words on the last day of NaNoWriMo was initially a very big struggle.

I eventually resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to get 50K words, I wasn't going to win NaNoWriMo. And I was okay with that. The point of NaNoWriMo isn't to get that 50K words, it's to write a novel. And I had written a novel. I was content with my progress and okay with not winning.

And then suddenly I found something to work with: I discovered a had a subplot that I had touched on but never fleshed out, so I spent time fleshing out that story arc and then looked up to realized I'd surpassed 50K and had won NaNoWriMo...with about 20 minutes to spare!

And I was so excited! I realized that even though I would have been okay with not winning, because I had actually written a novel, I was more eager to win than I had let myself believe.

I am very excited that I did, in fact, win. I'm even more excited that I got my next novel written! I love this story and I'm excited to eventually be able to share it with the world (I still have two other novels in the editing process right now, so this one will have to wait).

So that was my first ever NaNoWriMo experience. I loved it! I am definitely going to do it again next year!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Return to Sherwood

Now that Queen of Caradale is with my editors, my main focus is my brand new series! The first book in that series is Return to Sherwood.

Today I thought I'd share a little bit about my new project.

This story follows the same characters from my Robin Hood series, with a few new ones added in. It will follow the adventures of Robin Hood and his family, as well as his Merry Men, after the events in Sherwood have long since been over.

Because my version of the Robin Hood story is a little legend and a little history mixed together, their story doesn't end with a happily ever after. According to history, after King Richard the Lion-Heart died, his brother John became King. In my story, as in most others, Prince John was not exactly fond of Robin Hood. So I thought to myself, "what would happen to Robin Hood and his gang if John became King?" And because John did, in fact, become King (historically speaking), I had the perfect opportunity for a new story!

I have spent the last week or two brainstorming, outlining, and preparing to write this new adventure. I have also been doing a lot of research! Because I've been writing my Robin Hood series for five years now, I have that era in history pretty well memorized. However, now I'm writing a new era--if only by a decade--so I have a lot of history to catch up on. Before I began my research, the only thing I knew about John Lackland (aside from his association with Robin Hood legends) was that he signed the Magna Carta. That was the extent of my limited knowledge. I have discovered in the past two weeks that there is a lot more to his reign than just that.

I simply LOVE the research aspect of writing! I have a blast delving into the details and learning new things. I'm also having fun re-assessing my now well-known to me characters. It's been a few years, and people grow and change over time. So it has been fun learning how these characters have changed since their years in Sherwood Forest.

I am also bursting with excitement because it has been a long time since I had a completely new story. I've been writing the Robin Hood series for five years now. And that series is structured in such a way that I basically wrote the exact same story over and over for five years (which got boring). I have also been writing my Finding Hope trilogy, which to date has been my favorite writing experience. But that story has also been with me for more than a couple years. I haven't had anything completely new to work with in a very long time. Now, however, I have a blank slate with all sorts of new directions to go and I am more excited than I can tell!

I do realize I have the same characters, but working with the same characters is not the same as working on the same story. I have a new story, one I don't know yet, to write and I cannot wait for this journey to begin!

Overall, I am quite simply beyond eager to write this story and see where it will take me and my characters! :)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Quarterly Writing Goals #4 [2017]

It's a new month! And more than that, it's a brand new quarter of the year...which means, I'm about to do writing goals!

For those of you who don't know, I make myself a list of goals related to marketing/writing and things of that nature every three months to keep myself motivated and productive.

This is the very last quarter of the year, which I find hard to believe. I know everyone says it, but seriously, time flies, people.

Last quarter my goals were 1) Edit The Tragedy of the Traitor --which I did accomplish, 2) Publish The Tragedy of the Traitor--which I did do, 3) Write Kaelyn's book--this one I didn't finish. I did write in it, but I did not finish the book. 4) Update my previously published works (second editions), out of the 4 I was hoping to update, I did 2 of them, 5) Stay on top of author social media and post weekly vlogs, this one I didn't do so hot with this quarter.

And now for my new goals! This quarter is slightly odd, because November is smack-dab in the middle of it. November, for those of you who are ignorant of this fact, is National Novel Writing Month. This is the month where thousands of people all across the world attempt to write a novel in a 30 days. I've never participated in NaNoWriMo before, but I'm doing it this year. I don't know how my normal writing schedule will be affected by this, and there's also more actual writing related goals than usual because of this.

Edit Queen of Caradale  This book has been written for a while, but because I already had several finished manuscripts, it simply had to wait its turn. Now it's time to send it off to my editors!

Edit The Story of Gisbourne  This one has been written since I was 17 years old. I always wanted it to be the final story in my Robin Hood series, and now I have FINALLY finished writing that series and it is time to get this one edited and published. (The published part will have to wait til next year)

Publish Queen of Caradale  I would like to publish this one in December, but that will depend on my editors.

Finish Kaelyn  If this one doesn't happen I won't be disappointed. I want to write this story, for multiple reasons, but it isn't my main focus.

Second Editions  I still have 2 previously published works to update, so hopefully I can get that done.

Outline Return to Sherwood  Now that I have finished writing the Robin Hood series, and my dystopian trilogy is about to be complete (with the publication of Queen of Caradale), it is time to start a new series. This series will follow the characters from my Robin Hood series, but it has been a few years since the adventures in Sherwood. King Richard is dead, Prince John is now King and he is dead set on finding Robin Hood and his gang and killing them all. This series will focus on the adventures that befell Robin Hood after the legendary events in Sherwood transpired. I'm super excited about this one!

Write Return to Sherwood  This one is the book I'll be writing in November. In October and December I'll hopefully get work done in Kaelyn's book (although October will also be focused on prepping Return to Sherwood so I'm ready to write it in 30 days).

Stay on top of author social media/post weekly vlogs  One of these days I will actually be consistent with this one.

So those are my goals for this next three months! Having them here is a way for me to have some accountability and also a simple way for me to refer to my list. If you are a writer, you should definitely think about doing writing goals. They don't have to be quarterly, just whatever break-down of the year that works for you.

And if you aren't a writer, you should still make goals! Having a list of goals to achieve every month, or quarter, or whatever, tends to make people more productive. So do it! (You can thank me later...)

Happy Writing, everybody!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Learning the Secret of Contentment

"...for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need."
Philippians 4: 11-12

Being content isn't always an easy thing. But it is an important thing to learn, and certainly makes life more enjoyable. When you aren't stressing out or worried, and you aren't wishing for all the things you don't have, you can actually appreciate what you do have and enjoy every moment in life. Even if what you do have is only a little bit or so many moments are filled with darkness, you can still find joy in your life.

Where does that contentment come from?

I've been in a lot of different places in my short life. My near perfect childhood with my parents and my six siblings, growing up in that loving household without a care in the world. Sexually abused and living with a darkness because of that for many years. And more currently, a little stressed about money, or the lack thereof. And yet in every stage of my life, I find myself content, happy even. The how and why behind that peace is relatively simple.


He gives me peace in my life, and my contentment grows from that. From the knowledge that He's going to take care of me, no matter what my life circumstances are. He's good, and He loves me, and I can fully trust Him to have my best at heart. That's where my contentment stems from, and I'd wager the apostle Paul would have a similar answer if you asked him why he was able to find contentment despite everything that went on in his life.

God offers that peace to everyone. We can learn the "secret" of being content when we give all our wants and desires, all our stresses and worries, to the One person who can take care of it all.

Hey, guys. So I know this post is a bit different than what I usually do, but it was pressing on my heart so I knew I had to share it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Naming Characters

Ever wonder how your mother chose her name for you? What made your parents decide to call you what they did? My kids won't ever have to ask such a question...because I've got a formula!

I'm not even kidding.

The most likely outcome, if and when I have children, is that I will use the same method to name them that I have used for all of my creations (novel characters...).

Then again, perhaps not, since my method involves already knowing a bit about the person before giving them a name and it would be unfair to leave a child nameless for a few years until I'd figured out what their personality was like. So I guess they'll have to ask those questions after all.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm going to be talking about naming characters today! :) 

So how do I come up with thousands of names for all these people living inside my head? There are several different ways this tends to transpire.

Number 1: They come with a name. Not even kidding. Most of my Main Characters (henceforth known as MCs) come with a name. I don't know where it comes from, how it gets into my head, but I do know I don't have to find a name. Lucy from the Robin Hood series. Yep. She was just Lucy from beginning. Cassy Wilmark from my dystopian trilogy. Yep. She was Cassy Wilmark from day one. That's how she introduced herself to me.

Number 2: Seeing as option number 1 is limited to only MCs and doesn't even happen for every MC, option number 2 is much more likely. After brainstorming and creating a general outline, I have an idea of who is who in my story. This is when I begin to make character profiles, and this is when I name my characters. Step 1 is to discover what makes these people tick. Who are they? What's they're most dominant character trait? What do people say about them? "This person is sweet"? "This person is the most annoying person you'll ever meet"? Are they a hero type? Based off of their personalities and character traits, I generate a list of names that have meanings that correspond to said character traits. And I pick one of them. Sometimes this means I get a name like Hope, from my dystopian trilogy, which is just an embodiment of who that character is. She is hope for her people, for her sisters. She's the light of Jesus to the world. She's Hope. Or I'll have a character like Dusty in Robin Hood who was so named because she is a warrior and one meaning of Dustin is warrior. (Dustin seemed like a dude's name though, so I made it Dusty)

And of course, there are surnames. This is similar to naming my characters in the sense that I do a little research to get a list of 15-20 names like I do when finding first names. The difference is, I don't look at the meaning of names, I just look at names that I like and more specifically names that I haven't used before (that last part also applies to finding first names. I won't have more MCs named Cassy or Lucy anytime soon). Once I have a list of names, I grab a friend and give them pairings. One name at time. I'm going to use Cassy as an example, even though I didn't do this for Cassy's character.

I'll go to my chosen buddy and say "Do you like the name Cassy Wilmark? Or Cassy Harrison?" And then I run down the list of all the surnames, slowly, and listen to the feedback that I get. Based off of what appeals to me and what appeals to my friend, the list usually gets narrowed down to 5 names. And from there, I choose whichever surname I like best.

So that's how I name characters. It's actually relatively simple. Do a little bit of research and find names with meanings that pertain to the character and then pick one of them. And then find a buddy and play around with surnames. 

And of course there's the random MC who just comes with a pre-ordered name. Seriously, I still don't know where those names come from.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Woes of an Under-Writer

I am an under-writer in the sense that my novels tend to come up short of actual novel length and would more likely be classified as novellas. This isn't always the case, but more often than not, my stories are short.

I have reached a point in writing Queen of Caradale that I have had to put my foot down and say "No. This one won't be a novella." Because let me honest, it isn't even a novella at this point. It's a sad little novelette (yes, there are distinctions in novel length...crazy, I know...).

I don't expect this book to be huge. The first in the trilogy was barely 100 pages, the second under 200. Small is fitting for this particular series. But not this small.

As of right now, it's a sad 75 pages and 26,000 words.

So. I'm doing a major overhaul, something I've never had to do on a story before. We are adding to this story, people.

For the first time in my entire writing career, I am setting myself word count goals. And yesterday, the first day of word count goals, I achieved said goal! :) But the story is still tiny, and I haven't finished my overhaul yet so no celebrating.

Thankfully, there are things that I can easily add to the story without it being forced or ridiculous. I don't want length for length's sake, I want a well-rounded story. I wrote Queen of Caradale in 9 days (yes, you read that correctly). Because of the speed at which I was writing, there a plenty of things I have already discovered that need to be added to the story and I have a list of things that could possibly also be useful although I don't know yet if they're necessary to the plot. We'll see. Having a list of things to add, an actual plan to implement, is very helpful. Because adding to stories is not something I do very often. I don't wax eloquent. I state the obvious and move on.

I'm learning a few new things along this fun little journey I've found myself on for this novel. Growing that word count isn't as easy as some authors led me to believe. Maybe that's because they aren't under-writers like I am.

One of the first things I learned is that the majority of tips to be found online for lengthening stories is for lengthening short stories. Stories that are supposed to be under 3,000 words. That's not helpful. I'm trying to lengthen a novel here, people. Aren't there people out there like me who are trying to reach that 80,000 word mark?

(I'm going to take this moment in the middle of my blog post to muse over the fact that I don't under-write blog posts...just novels...*sigh*)

Playing around with pacing and tension is one thing I've been doing to lengthen Queen of Caradale. Stretching out the build-up and climax of tense moments. I actually think this particular undertaking is helping the overall story arc as well, so that's a wonderful added bonus. :)

Backstory. This is something that will definitely beef my word count because the main character of Queen of Caradale has a full, complicated, and fascinating backstory. I've been working parts of her life's story into the novel and it's been incredibly fun to do so! The problem comes in with POV. This book is written in a first person narrative, and more than that, it is first person present. As in, "I am sitting on my bed, my laptop before me, writing a blog post about the struggles of lengthening word count." You can't have flashback scenes in first person narrative so working in the backstory is a lot of internal dialogue and also tactfully bringing it up in conversations with other characters. It's a complicated business, but I am loving this particular challenge! :)

Adding descriptions. Putting the five senses to good use. This is one of my weakest points as an author in general anyway, so I always have to go back through and add character and setting descriptions in my stories. In this specific story, it's going to help me add to that word count. Descriptions are massively important outside of word count though. They draw the reader into the story, so that's the "real" reason I want to go through my stories and add them. The larger word count is an added (and in this case, needed) bonus.

Today's word count goal is 5,000 words. Hopefully I can make it. And then again tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...

And then, some day soon, I'll have a novel that is novel length and I can finally celebrate. :)

Happy Writing, everyone! (and thanks for listening to my ranting on word count today...)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Well Can You Count to Five?

Apparently even schedules, which I love, aren't enough to keep me consistently blogging. :/ I haven't exactly been keeping up with the blogs I read either. And I can't say I've been terribly busy, because I haven't.

At any rate, I'm here now.

I've been deep in the editing world of late, going through the manuscripts from my editors and fixing up The Tragedy of the Traitor which will be published in just under two weeks. I'm excited for this book to be completed and published! Today though, I don't necessarily want to talk about the editing process or the book itself. I simply want to highlight my amusing mistakes. Because everyone makes mistakes and it's okay to talk about it sometimes. It reminds us that we're all human, that none of us are perfect (and hopefully also reminds us that despite our failings, we have a wonderful God who loves us anyway).

I'm not talking about huge mistakes today. Just some silly editing nonsense.

Mostly counting.

Counting isn't something I would normally say I have a problem with. And until today I was unaware I did have this problem...but, as you shall see...

These are only a few of the instances I came across today where I miscounted a group of characters. I'm pretty sure the one I always seem to forget is Dusty, which is a pity. She's a lovely character and I honestly have no idea why I keep forgetting her. But at the very least, it gave me something to laugh about today. :)