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Revisions and Releases

I never mentioned it on here, but back in February I finished the first draft of the third Silver Moon Saga novel! It took me over three months to write (it’s very long), so it was a relief to finally reach the end. After giving myself some time off, I started revising in the beginning of March. I have a few issues with parts of the story, so I’ve been ripping whole chapters out and completely rewriting them. The process is slow, but I’ve done this before with other novels, so I’m not too worried. After I finish, I’m going to reread it one more time before passing it on to my beta, just to make sure everything makes sense. I’m excited to see how the new additions work (or don’t work, which means even more revising)!

We are less than a month away from the release of The Soul Healer! I’ve been sharing snippets and fun Silver Moon facts over on my Facebook Page, so if you haven’t liked the page already, make sure you do that! I’ve also unlocked The Soul Healer Pinterest Board. See if you can figure out what’s going to happen in the second Silver Moon Saga book! You can drool over the pictures of desserts while you’re at it. And you can always find me on Twitter!

As you can see, between revisions and preparing for my upcoming release, I have my hands full! Hopefully that means you’ll forgive me for neglecting my poor blog? 🙂

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What I wrote in 2013

In my last post, I discussed what I read in 2013. In this post, I’m going to talk about my writing!

My biggest accomplishment, of course, was publishing my first novel, The Sight Seer, in June. That was both exciting and scary, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I have always, always wanted to be a published writer, and to finally hold a book of my own in my hands? It’s amazing.

I thought that was going to be it for me this year, in terms of books being published, but then the fates aligned and An Autumn Dream came out in November! I don’t know how it works for others, but when I write something, I hope it’ll be published, but I’m realistic and know that it’s never guaranteed. I felt that way with The Sight Seer, and I felt it even more with the novella. It was just a few little stories that I wrote for myself because it was hard for me to let the characters. So to have this one out there as well? It’s even more meaningful.

In terms of writing, I wrote the sequel to The Sight Seer over the summer, from June 8th to August 12th. The first draft was 78,442 words, and the current draft is 79,416 words. After I finished the sequel, I wrote the third short story for the novella. And then, starting November 11th and still going strong, I began writing the third book in the Silver Moon Saga. It’s currently 58,374 words, and I have a ways to go. I had been hoping to finish it before the year ended, but I quickly learned that writing during the holidays is a very bad idea. At least now I know for next year!

In 2014 I hope to completely finish that series before venturing into something new. I’ve had an idea for a fairy tale since May that I’m itching to write, along with an idea for a contemporary. There’s always something, but never enough time to write it all. I’m excited to see what I come up with in the new year!

Have a wonderful 2014!

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A Much Needed Update.

Oh no, I’ve been neglecting this poor blog! But I think you guys know by now that when I’m not writing on here, that means I’m writing somewhere else. And it’s true! I’m working on the third Silver Moon Saga book! I started the first draft November 3rd (not for NaNoWriMo, I just decided to write when everyone else was writing in hopes that it would inspire me!), and I’m about 35,000 words into it so far. So, not even close to being done. It’s going to be a long one, you guys. I do love writing first drafts, but part of me wishes I was done with it already. This is a bad time of year to write; normally I like to write every single day, but because I’m so busy doing other things, I’ve been skipping days more and more. But as long as I don’t neglect it for days at a time, it’s okay. And seriously, even if I only write hundreds of words a day, I’m okay with that. Eventually, I’ll get to the end, right?

What else… Oh, the paperback version of An Autumn Dream is now available! I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy. Once it comes, I’ll share some photos with you! I can’t wait to hold both that and The Sight Seer in my hands, and have them side by side on my bookshelf!

I think that’s it for now. I’ll try not to let so much time pass between updates! But like I said, once I start a first draft, I tend to disappear from the world.

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How I Edit

Well, hello there. I think it’s time I gave you guys a proper post, don’t you agree? I’m sorry for the silence, but silence means I’m working on things. Lots and lots of things that I think you will enjoy. Mainly, I wrote the sequel to The Sight Seer! Yep, from June 8th to August 12th, I was hard at work on the first draft. It took me longer to write than Seer did, and I had my moments of, “THIS IS SO BAD WHAT AM I DOING?!” but that always happens. To every writer. You just can’t let it get to you. In the end, I kept plugging along, and I’m pleased with the results.

So what happens after I finish a first draft? Revisions! Lots and lots of revisions! Every author is different, of course, but I thought I could share my process with all of you. The first thing I do after finishing a first draft is take a break! Writing takes its toll on me; I have trouble sleeping (I have lots of crazy, vivid dreams), and sometimes it’s difficult for me to form coherent sentences. My brain obviously needs some time off, so that’s exactly what I do. Watch some TV. Read a book or two. Relax. Don’t even think about the manuscript that’s sitting on my computer, ready to be revised. This time around, I had something else to work on, so I finished that first, and then started on my edits. For the first time ever, I loaded my first draft on my Kindle, and read it off of there. And what a difference it makes! I do not enjoy staring at a computer screen for hours on end, so when I edit, I can only do a few chapters at a time. Plus, you know, there’s tons of things to distract me (Twitter, email, Facebook etc.). My Kindle has no distractions, and the screen does not hurt my eyes at all, so I can easily edit a huge chunk at a time. And I think it’s easier for me to find typos (missing/incorrect words, especially). Because my computer is full of distractions, I end up writing any changes I want to make in a notebook. I’m probably doing double work here, because then, later, I have to open the document and find the spot I want to change, rather than change it the moment I see it, but like I said, DISTRACTIONS. This way, I’m avoiding them altogether. Searching the document for the changes isn’t that horrible, in all honestly. I’m going to continue using my notebook (I even took advantage of a great back-to-school sale and bought a new one!), because that method works the best for me.

So I do this for the entire manuscript. What’s next? Sending it off to my beta. She reads it, fixes any typos, and tells me what does and doesn’t work. After she finishes, we discuss what doesn’t work in detail, and I will rewrite whole scenes if I have to. I send her those newly written scenes, and we hammer them out until we both agree they finally work. In a perfect world, I would just send her the manuscript and she would read it and say, “Everything is great, no changes are necessary!” But of course that would never happen. Sometimes, I can’t get a scene the way I want it until I discuss it with her. I’m very thankful to her and all her helpful input!

After I receive all of her edits, I then go back to my manuscript and start making changes (I should mention that these are all saved on my computer as different files. The first draft is the raw, unedited version. The second draft is the one I make corrections to. The third draft is the one I make corrections to using her suggestions. I like looking at the different drafts; sometimes there will be something in the first draft that I deleted for the second one, but decided to put back in the third draft. You don’t want to lose this stuff forever, because you never know when you might need it again!). This doesn’t take as long, and doesn’t require my Kindle. However, once those changes are in place, I will reread it one more time (with my trusty notebook by my side)! It’s only after that do I start passing it on to other people.

It’s a long process, as you can see. I’ve been asked about the sequel, and I wish I had a date, but as of right now, I do not have one. The story needs to be edited and approved and all that fun stuff before I’m given a date. As soon as I know it, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, it’s back to work! And hopefully I’ll remember to post more often.

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Book Birthday Weekend

BalloonCelebrated my book’s birthday this weekend. I got a balloon!

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And so many beautiful flowers! Some of these (the two pictures on the right) are from my grandpa’s garden, wow!

I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone for tweeting, blogging, posting, commenting, buying, and reading The Sight Seer. It means the absolute world to me, and also inspires me to work even harder on my next projects. *squishes everyone*

Make sure you enter for a chance to win a signed paperback copy!

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Busy Times

I keep planning all these great posts to write, but there’s never any time to write them! I’ve been working on a few, small projects, but they’re enough to keep me occupied! Recently, I sent my agent Novel Number Nine, which she read and sent back with edits/suggestions. I got to write a new scene! Which, at first, I was a little nervous about (“What if I’ve forgotten how these characters speak/act?” I asked myself), but once I started writing, I realized there was nothing to worry about. I’m quite happy with the new scene, too. I also wrote a synopsis, which was ugh, not as much fun as I remembered. Did I once say I actually liked writing them? What was wrong with me? Finally, I’ve been working on a couple of outlines (and by couple I mean FOUR). Writing a few from scratch, tweaking others that were already written… I still haven’t figured out everything, but I’m sure it’ll come to me. Eventually.

I also want to write another entirely new book (or two *coughs*), but that’s nothing new. I always want to write *something*.

And of course I’ve been reading. Books, lots and lots books! I’m super psyched for Book Expo (one month away!), where I’ll come home with even more books!

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The Outline

Here’s a confession: I don’t enjoy outlining. I’m not one of those people who sits down and HAS to know what happens BEFORE writing the story. Oh no, I make things up on the fly. While writing my latest manuscript, I kept telling Amy, “Yeah, I’ll figure out the ending when I get there!” Which I eventually did, although it took me a couple of tries to get it right (not just the ending, I mean. The whole manuscript!). This is perfectly normal, and I highly doubt an outline would have helped me get the story to the place where I wanted it to be.

One time I spent a summer outlining a story I knew I was going to write for National Novel Writing Month. I was commuting to college and spent my time on the train writing out every single thing. By the time November rolled around and I sat down to write the actual story, I was bored out of my mind. I had basically written the thing already, now I was just adding in the details. I already knew the story, and had no desire to, in effect, write it again. Lesson learned, I never outlined like that again.

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When I’m writing, I keep notes in whatever notebook is closest to me at the moment. I do take notes on the computer as well, but there’s just something more satisfying about grabbing a notebook and curling up in bed to scribble down names, descriptions, and plot points. It feels more real to me. And it’s convenient. Maybe I’m trying to fall asleep, and I suddenly think up an important plot point. It’s much easier for me to grab my notebook than my computer. Again, this is just to take notes, or maybe quickly write out a scene or dialogue I just know I’ll forget the next morning when I wake up.

For potential sequels, however, I do try to outline the plot because I know I’m not going to go back to the story, the universe, the characters, for months, maybe years, and I don’t want to forget what I had planned. But again, it’s all very basic, because I WANT to give myself the chance to fill in the plotholes as I’m writing. I’m not sure how other people outline, but mine look a bit like this:

A and B go to the movies

  • A suddenly screams and says she saw a ghost(?)
  • B tells her she’s crazy, there’s no such thing as ghosts
  • A gets mad and storms out(?) or maybe she stays, and gets mad at B later(?)

That’s exactly how I do it. Characters are reduced to the first letter of their first name, and question marks for anything I’m not sure about. The question marks don’t bother me, because I know once I’m writing the story, I’ll figure it out. I just list the basics, no little details. And, of course, the outlines are NOT permanent. They’re just there as a guide, a reminder of what I want to happen. But the possibility of me changing things halfway through the story is more than likely.

I have outlined while in the middle of writing a story. With one manuscript, the beginning was far too long and plodding, so I ended up starting over again, deleting a huge chunk of it as I revised. To help keep myself focused, I outlined the middle and end, and followed those notes (again, my summaries for chapters were ONE sentence each. No excessive detail!) as I wrote. I’ve noticed, also, that when I’m creeping towards the end, I will outline what I want to happen as a way of encouraging myself, to show that the end is in sight and I just need to keep at it a little bit longer. I guess I don’t have a set method when it comes to outlining, besides knowing that I cannot plot out the entire thing in extreme detail and still be interested in actually writing it.

Do you outline? If so, is your method similar to mine, or do you have you own way of doing it?

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The Perfectionist Problem.

Being a bit of a perfectionist, it’s impossible for me to send my beta an incomplete manuscript. Oh no, I need to have the whole thing written, edited, revised, and edited again before I can send it to her. And even then, if it’s not quite where I want it to be, I get all nervous, knowing she’s reading something that’s not, well, perfect.

Which is so ridiculous.

Take my current manuscript. Novel Number Nine. I wrote the first draft and then went back and proceeded to rewrite a huge chunk of it. There are still a few parts that I’m not completely happy with, but after writing some chapters two, three times, I knew I needed a fresh pair of eyes to look at it. She’s currently reading through it for the first time, letting me know which parts don’t work. Those parts are usually the ones I had problems with, and after emailing one another back and forth, I’m able to finally turn the scenes into what I want them to be. The whole process is actually a lot of fun, too!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write a chapter and pass it on to her just like that, without having the rest of the story written. Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist. But at least I’m now able to pass along a flawed story without feeling (too) uneasy about it!

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An update on the WIP.

Still working on the first draft of the WIP! I say still like I’ve been slaving away at this thing for months and months when, in fact, it’s only been forty-three days of consecutive writing (I’ve been keeping track). I was hoping to finish it last week, but after 17300 words, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m hoping it’ll be done in the next couple of days; the end is in sight, which is very exciting!

After I finish, I plan on letting it sit for awhile before I start revising. A few days of not staring at the computer screen until my eyes hurt will be nice, you know? I have a big pile of books to read, TV shows to watch (in addition to becoming hooked on The Big Bang Theory, I’m now watching Modern Family! And all of my regular favorites are starting their new seasons, yay!), and a bunch of fun events planned in the upcoming weeks. But I know throughout it all the revisions will be calling to me, and I won’t be able to resist for too long!

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The Emotional First Draft.

I always experience a multitude of emotions when writing a first draft. It usually beings with excitement:

“YAY, I’m starting a new story with new characters and a new world!! I can’t wait to write all day long!”

But then, somewhere around the middle, it hits me:

“WAH this is terrible, I hate it, I can’t show it to anyone!!”

Suddenly, writing becomes a struggle. I want to give up. I want to throw the draft away and never think about it again. I hate myself for being such a poor writer. Luckily, I’m also incredibly stubborn, and always have a fierce desire to see things through to the end. So I keep writing and eventually, I get over that middle hump, which means it’s time for the ending:

“I love the ending, the endings are always so much fun, ooh I can’t wait to write this part and that part and…”

And before you know it, I’m done. And happy again. Until it’s time for edits:

“I hate editing arghhhh–oh wait, this part is actually better than I thought, let me just read a little bit more…”

Writing. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish.