7DN on WriYe

The summer of half-baked writing challenges is officially over, and I challenged some of my fellow writers to go out with a bang. So after #50in5 and after double novel July (to go hand in hand with Camp NaNoWriMo), I challenged them to:

7 Day Novel(la)

It’s based off of the 3DN (3 Day Novel) that very few want to participate in, especially around Labor Day. So I thought that I could get more crazy people on board if I raised the day count to seven and lowered the word count requirement to 15,000 words.

I was right.

The WriYe 7DN ran from Sunday, August 4th until Saturday, August 10th. I, of course, had to participate. And it was a success.

I wrote a novel called The Seventh Pretty Maid based off of the fairytale The Elf Knight (or one of it many other names). There were a few planning parties that I had with my fellow WriYers in the months leading up to sort through our plots, our characters, and figure out just how long the novel(la) might be.

During it, I made an outline via a method erin had devised years ago. And I did something new with it that I hadn’t tried before. Instead of figuring a word count goal per day (though, let’s be honest, I had one), I figured out the number of plot points on my 30 point outline that I wanted to finish.

So far, this is is the best method I have found.

Here’s a glimpse of my process, with some word counts included:

Those were my first five plot points for day one. Dividing the novel into five per day gave me six full days of writing, which meant I ended on Friday. Yesterday, I added in two scenes that I needed to make the novel feel complete. And then I called it a complete zero/first draft.

Things I enjoyed: Finishing a novel in a week because, c’mon. If I could write that quickly every time? I could be more prolific than Stephen King.

Things I did not enjoy: I took off from work this week and made the mistake of letting family know. I had my days booked with activity Tuesday and Wednesday, which did not help my writing. So there were some days when I felt like I was ignoring the spouse and child just to hit word counts.

I do not like doing that.

I purposely schedule my time so that I can devote whatever the toddler needs to the toddler and to help around the house with things. My spouse didn’t seem to mind, but I did.

Things I fear: Editing this thing. I sent it to a few writing friends (who seemed excited to read it) and we’ll see how quickly they’ll throw it back with “WTF?”

I edited briefly first, of course. No spelling or grammar mistakes I could find on the read through (not an in-depth one). But I have a feeling I can hear some of their comments already…

Next Steps: Editing it and seeing if maybe this is something worth preparing for query instead of something that was a fun experiment.

Stats

Total Count: 66,335
Highest Word Count Day: Monday, August 5th (12,129)
Lowest Word Count Day: Wednesday, August 7th (8,006)
Favorite Character: Prince Kenelm
Least Favorite Character: Queen Ysabel (I have to work on her)

July, July, July! It Never Seemed so Strange

And now it is August. Which means I have one month left before my day job kicks me in the pants and tells me to get going. This is the lull at the university where we have no allocated budget yet, no labs running, but I have to do some inventory, requisitions and preparations for the incoming storm.

Something that came out of this crazy July experiment of #50in5 was that I’ve convinced at least three people to do this insanity with me and they want to do it during other months. We had already planned November (because of NaNoWriMo) but now we will add January and March along for the ride. With new postcards specifically for those challenges.

(At least officially.)

As promised, here is the completed #50in5 card (sans stickers at the moment):

The front
The Back

But enough of that. Let’s talk about…

July Wrap Up

Words Written: 143,524
Days Written: 31/31
Drafts Finished: 2
Shift: 79,019
Shard of Sea: 113,183
Short Stories Written: 1
-“Wedding Gifts” – 1,524
Challenges Complete: 2
-#50in5
-Camp NaNoWriMo (July)

Highest Word Count Day: 7/21 (13,202)
Lowest Word Count Day: 7/31 (855)

Favorite Accomplishment: Finishing the thriller, Shift. That trilogy is complete. It also spawned a potential duology surrounding two of the other agents so it looks like I’m not done with the DPMS yet.

Least Favorite Moment: The blackout ruining my original plans to finish Shard of Sea. I still did it, by the grace of my laptop battery, but it really threw me off kilter.

[Camp NaNoWriMo] Week Four Wrap Up

In which I finish things.

Just three days left in Camp NaNoWriMo but I don’t want to break my Sunday tradition. I’ll have a short wrap up on Wednesday also including my overall Yays and Nays.

I finished #50in5 on Friday. On those five days only, I wrote 55,167 words between two novels. I finished my first draft of Shard of Sea and am maybe 10,000 words away from finishing the first draft of The Lies of Jade and Ivory. If I can finish that up by Wednesday, I will consider myself all set writing-wise until the beginning of the semester in September.

Draft one of my thriller is also finished! I finished it around 3:30 pm, after a series of sprints. There’s a lot to do to make it a little more coherent (I had gone off tangent once or twice) but overall, I am pleased.

It’s a strange feeling, finishing up a trilogy. I know there are subplots I carried through all three that are now concluded. There’s a twist that I liked at the end, that I think I foreshadowed in the first novel. And the story of Mae reaches a satisfying conclusion to readers, I hope. She never succumbed to the monster inside.

Things I’ve Noticed During Week Four

July is my writing month.

The Wrap Up

Words Written: 30,587
The Lies of Jade and Ivory: 10,076
Thriller: 19,013
Shard of Sea: 1,498 (last minute clean up)

Total So Far: 134,185

Favorite Scenes:
The Lies of Jade and Ivory: The confrontation in the throne room
Thriller: Bay finally seeing Mae’s true eye color.

Biggest Concern:
The Lies of Jade and Ivory: Figuring out how to tie the ending together. I wrote something too soon, I think, and it will take a bit to catch the rest of the plot up.
Thriller: Editing. The whole trilogy.

Biggest Celebration:
The Lies of Jade and Ivory: Hitting the climax and now moving to the big battle.
Thriller: It’s Done!

Goals for the Last Few Days:
Words: 6,000 words
Challenges: Finish up Camp!
The Lies of Jade and Ivory: Try to get to the battle scene.

[WriYe Blogging Circle] I Heard That Zombies Ate Her Brain

So, continuing my quest to catch up on the WriYe Blog Circle, I’m going to do this month’s prompt during this month!

Main:
ZOMBIES are a July tradition here at WriYe. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?

As one of the founders of WriYe’s annual Zombie July, this is definitely a writing tradition of mine. Every July, one of my novels has something to do with zombies, or things that could be considered undead/zombie-like. The first year was the first installment in my thriller series that I’m finishing this year, and other novels have included a desert-themed fantasy story with undead monsters, a Victorian romance with a zombie twist, and various short stories involving the brain eaters.

That all started because more than one of us had a zombie novel planned so why not make it a challenge? If you are over on WriYe, you’ll notice that I make a lot of challenges. They’re all selfish. I want to do something or achieve something, so I drag all willing participants with me with the promise of a shiny winner’s badge/banner.

When I finish #50in5 you’ll see the postcard with which I tempted people. And when I reveal that, I’ll reveal the further plans for #50in5, so stay tuned!

Now, non-zombie related, July is really my traditional month to try and finish two novels in one go. Usually one is partially done (in this case, Shard of Sea) and one is new. Because I teach at a university, but I am still administration there, summer is the calmest of my work seasons with July being the month I take most of my vacation during.

However, this year I taught all of July. So I wasn’t sure if I could manage to keep my tradition strong. #50in5 definitely kept me motivated, helping me finish Shard of Sea, and I think with the 6 days left in Camp NaNoWriMo I can finish the thriller series. It was sheer dedication to not letting that tradition fail.

Bonus:
Tell us about your favorite non writing traditions!

There’s non-writing?

In all seriousness, a few non-writing traditions that I keep up:

  • Running the NYC Marathon
  • Having an annual holiday/thank you party for my student workers with a Secret Santa (they ask for it)
  • Monthly escape room. It keeps the brain working. (You know, so the zombies can eat it later.)

I Hate These Word Crimes…

The Yeas and Nays of Building Beta Armor

This year, I participated in an anonymous beta event over on Absolute Write. They’re an excellent resource, even though I don’t say much on there. The Bewares forum is my go-to whenever there are #pitmads or magazines I want to submit to.

I participated in the beta project because right now, with how the non-writing life is going, I can’t commit to a long-term CP swap. I tried and I just cannot find the time between the child, the ever-changing work situation, and the extra classes I picked up to teach to afford reason one. My time is limited and I’m not very good at balancing critiquing and writing (oh, and editing).

This involved a mandatory three crits on the first 750 words (and the hook, if you wanted to) and that’s it. You could do more if you wanted, or you could stop at three. If you wanted to request something to beta, you were free to during or after the crits were submitted. It sounded perfect: minimal commitment to stretch those critiquing skills and an opportunity to be exposed to many critiquing styles.

Now, a little known fact about me: I am an origami crane.

My skin is as thin as paper. I don’t think it’s because I think my writing is immutable, magnificent art. I think it stems back to a feeling of not being good enough mixed with perfectionism. When people point things out, I experience this strange mix of acute embarrassment and shame.

Why didn’t I see that to fix? Why did I think that was good enough? I should rewrite this entire novel. Every word is bad.

I was hoping the beta project would help me stop that cycle of thoughts. It’s anonymous, which let people say whatever they’d like without it being attached to their names and reputation. It’s also something on a short amount: my first 750 words.

The amazing organizer of the event (who deserves a bottle of her favorite liquor and a few spa days after this) posted last night and my group of writing friends and I read/skimmed through them. I won’t lie: I skimmed and then went to erin and asked if any would make me angry. She said no, and she was honest.

Thank you for preserving my safe space, erin.

So I went back, in between rounds of being Grandma and Grandpa Shark because my daughter cannot curl her fingers to do that part of the Baby Shark dance, and read through them.

All of the critiques had solid advice. I saw where I had confused people. I saw where I had some iffy grammar and paragraph styles. I had one person do a lot of line edits, which I wasn’t so interested in this round because I’m still fiddling around developmentally, but s/he said that my writing was good so I’ll take that.

I even was able to see the common denominator and come up with was to improve it (where I started the start).

Did I feel that acute shame?

A little, to be honest. But nothing like I have in the past.

Did I see some that I scoffed at and went, “You just don’t get it!”?

Sure. And I’m sure when I look back, I’ll put that reaction aside and be able to see the good in it.

Did it help thicken my skin?

I think so. I’m nowhere near alligator (at least theoretically) and maybe haven’t even moved into chinchilla stage, but this is another attempt at putting myself out there that I can count as successful.

Will I do it again?

Yes. And I’ll look for CPs when I have a better time management and/or more time. And I’ll always ask for beta readers. Because even if I have that initial reaction, the benefit of having more eyes on a project and more brains helping me work through the sticky bits, the better the project is.

And if I want to publish someway, somehow, this is vital.

Anyone else have any fun beta stories to pass along? Horror stories and/or celebrations?

[Camp NaNo] Week Three Wrap Up

(Sorry this is late. I went to update on Sunday and we had a major blackout. We’re still without power so this is sneaky work writing.)

It’s almost over! Camp NaNoWriMo has been successful this month, as July usually is for me, despite the two lab classes I’m teaching. My last day of classes is Tuesday, so I expect to be able to finish off the two novels I am working on sometime next week, provided the parents and the in-laws are still willing to babysit (they are loving it and I would never want to deny them…).

I have technically beaten both of my Camp goals:

60,000 words in my Thriller
30,000 words in Shard of Sea

But that last one was meant to finish that novel. Shard of Sea is being stubborn, having great scenes come to my mind that I need to include. But it’s nearly done and I expect it to be so.

The thriller wasn’t meant to be finished, but it very well might be. This series has always written very fast for me because the MC’s voice and head is easy to slip inside and write. I hit my goal faster than expected and with ten-ish days yet of 3k planned a day, I can finish that one off as well.

And then I take a shot of whiskey and get ready for edits…

The Wrap Up

Words Written: 39,706
Shard of Sea: 23,286 (and the novel is finished!)
Thriller: 16,420 (and the novel is not finished!)

Total So Far: 103,720

Favorite Scenes:
Shard of Sea: Battling a Sea of skeletons in the eye of a hurricane-like magical storm.
Thriller: Striking Kerrington… with a car.

Biggest Concern:
Shard of Sea: Well over 90k now. The concern is to find the plot of the third book and tie in all the loose ends.
Thriller: Wrapping this thing up…

Biggest Celebration:
Shard of Sea: IT’S FINISHED! Draft One Done!
Thriller: I think I figured out how I should move forward and who will die. Blackouts are helpful.

Goals for Next Week:
Words: 25,000 words
Challenges: The last day of #50in5
Shard of Sea: 0 – Replacing with…
Lies of Jade and Ivory: Figure out where I was…
Thriller: Get to the 80% mark!

[Camp NaNo] Week Two Wrap Up

Beating those Week 2 Blues.

I’m writing this before my writing for the day is done, so the numbers will probably increase later. We’re doing a challenge over on WriYe to Write Like a Pro every week and this week is Stephen King. I expect at least 3,000 words to be added somewhere…

But this week hasn’t been bad. I had some day job issues (128 high school students, 8 classes, two days!) but I managed to still get my words done. I thank the child for that; she taught me to sneak writing in wherever I can on whatever amount of sleep I might have gotten.

I did my second #50in5 on Friday, sick as hell, but done. Shard of Sea most likely has ten to fifteen thousand words left so I think draft one will be done by the end of this week. And then I can go back to the first draft of Lies of Jade and Ivory for the last two #50in5 days (one of which I am going to do alongside Mandi Lynn’s 10k Challenge).

So, here’s the breakdown:

The Split

Again, my main focus is on my thriller novel, Shift. I really want to finish that trilogy and get it all sorted and ready for a series-style edit. It’s quick to write because the POV character and I think very similarly. Except for the fact that she’s currently infected with a killer virus.

Shard of Sea is coming together, all plot threads weaving into a whole. I don’t think I’ll start the third in the trilogy – Ash of Cloud – until next year though. What I have to do after finishing this is reread the series in total (including book one!) so I know what is still lingering for book three.

Things I’ve Noticed During Week Two

I think, because I was so busy, I didn’t have the normal week two blues that come with writing NaNoWriMo novels. Not having my writing at the forefront of my mind made it that “reward” I received when I finished the day-to-day requirements (i.e. Work and Child). So having the mindset of “I get to write now” as opposed to “I have to write now” kept me afloat, I think.

I also learned that even with insanity at work, I can get fit words in. Which negates most of my excuse making in November…

The Wrap Up

Words Written: 30,615
Shard of Sea: 20,332
Thriller: 43,684

Total So Far: 64,016

Favorite Scenes:
Shard of Sea: The Vrolki-human duo finding the hidden sandstone cavern
Thriller: Mae confronting Beth about her infection… or is she?

Biggest Concern:
Shard of Sea: Wrapping this all up. I’m at nearly 90k already and I might go to 120k…
Thriller: I know who the Big Bad is. But now it is revealing him with a good bit of foreshadowing.

Biggest Celebration:
Shard of Sea: Finding my plot notes from January and realizing I wrote just what I had originally planned!
Thriller: Creating a new character that seamlessly (I hope) fit into the role I hadn’t known I needed.

Goals for Next Week:
Words: 28,000 words
Challenges: Two Days of #50in5 (One coinciding with #10kWritingChallenge)
Shard of Sea: Discover the Shard
Thriller: Explain the Evolved/Find Kerrington

[WriYe Blogging Circle] Time is On My Side…

Main Prompt:
Life is busy, sometimes often insane. How do you find the time to write within your life?

The title is a lie; time is not on my side. And that, I think, is why I am successful at writing or finding the time to write.

Let me give you a little glimpse of my day-to-day:

During the Semester:
6:00 am – Wake Up
7:30 am – Leave for train after getting myself and the 16 month old ready
8:50 am – Meet up with babysitter
9:15 am – Get to work and begin work on Jobs 1 and 2 (Administration and FT Adjunct)
4:30 pm (most days) – Leave for Home
6:00 pm -Arrive home and take care of child
8:00 pm – Child to sleep
8:05 pm until sleep – Try to write

(One day a week: Teaching until 7:00 pm, get home at 9:00 pm, see if I have life left to write. Usually not).

Summer: All of the above except I leave work at 2:30 pm and get home by 4:00 pm. Which means more time to write.

So finding time can be tough. Especially with another person needing me at most hours of the day (and refusing spouse because why not?). But what I find helps is either writing while she’s napping, doing short sprints (10-15 minutes) when she’s distracted with Baby Shark or another toy, or just waiting until she’s asleep.

Luckily, I do have a decently fast typing speed so I’m able to do my minimum word count most nights during the summer. I can do a few 15 or 12 minute sprints and be done with whatever the goal is (if it’s not for #50in5, of course). During the semester, I tend to forego a daily word count and instead focus on monthly or weekly.

My weekends I take full advantage of however I can. My spouse is great about taking the baby out for a few hours if I need it. My in-laws or my parents will visit, but never for the entire day (thank the gods) which means I still can fit in words when possible.

This sort of rigid day-to-day really pays off with scheduling when I do have the time to write. Since I have to use any moment I have free to write during my busy time, during my not-as-busy time I can usually bring that same focus and feeling of “It’s now or never!” and be doubly productive.

For example, if I am doing a 10,000 word day, I can usually be done before dinner. I think the last time I had one, I wrote from 7 am until 2 pm and was finished. Then, since I had time after dinner, I wrote in my Camp NaNo novel because I still had motivation to write.

Now is that every day? No. A thousand times no.

Do I let it stop me? Some days. I stopped worrying about writing every day this year and have focused on writing as much as I can when I can write. It’s been successful so far.

Do I push through the lack of motivation? Yes.

Just like with running (which I’ll talk about in another post), it’s not motivation but dedication. If this is what you want to do – whether it’s writing a novel or running a marathon – you push through the suck. You do it. Because you are dedicated to that end goal. And when you cross the finish line and get the medal, you’ll forget the suck. I promise.

Bonus:
How do you deal with procrastination? What are your favorite tips/tricks to stay on track?

I love word wars and sprints for moments when I find myself losing focus. If I can be laser sharp for ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes, I will eventually hit a scene where I want to write it. And then I’ll lose track of time!

Stats:

Words Written: 40,310
Shard of Sea: 10,291
Thriller: 30,019

Chapters Completed:
7
Shard of Sea: 2.5
Thriller: 5.75

Favorite Scene Since Last Update:

Shard of Sea: N/A (yet!)
Thriller: Kerrington’s escape.

[WriYe Blogging Circle] A Rose By Any Other Name

Topic:

Real name vs pen name? Is one better than the other? Why or why not?

For me, it depends on a few things:

  1. How hard is your name to spell, pronounce and remember. You can use your real name if it is hard to spell, pronounce and remember! I always support people who go for it and make others learn because it is your name and you deserve to have it spelled and said correctly. However, I can’t fault anyone who might want to use a different family name, a shortened name or even a new name for their own.
  2. Do you want anonymity? If you have a work life that shouldn’t mix with your creative life, maybe you want to keep it separate. Maybe you don’t want your family knowing what you write. Maybe being a famous writer isn’t your deal. Alls’ fair there.
  3. Are you already established in another genre? If you write multiple genres, you may want to have a pen name for new books in the new genre. Reason being, these are new audiences. New people that will want to read your books. Maybe some will overlap, maybe some won’t, but it would be nice to have a following that isn’t disappointed that your next book out is sci-fi when you usually write romance.
  4. Do you want one? Then go for it.

Bonus:
Which would you use? Real name or pen name? Why?

Right now, I use a combination of my real name and pen names. Right now, I am thinking I will have four distinct pen names:

This one, for my adult fantasy (and maybe my YA fantasy, but I waffle on this).

One for my horror/thriller/suspense stories.

One for the series I might end up self-publishing.

And the last possibility is to have a separate YA pen name all together.

The reason I want to have three is because I think that fantasy and horror have some overlapping audience but not enough that if I were to get published by a trade (knock on wood), I wouldn’t want my readers to hear I was putting out a new book only to find out it’s in the opposite genre.

It’s the one reason I lean toward having a separate YA pen name. I tend to write novels quickly, so I think I might be able (if all goes according to my dream plan) to publish under each pen name at least once every 18 months. That should keep a good cycle going.

The self-publishing pen name is strictly for business reasons. If I do end up self-publishing a series (and erin really tries to turn me to that side with all she learns about it!), I’d want it under a different name in case it goes belly-up.

This pen name is basically my real name with acronyms and my last name shortened. It allows me to keep some anonymity – which I really want at this point in my writing career – but also has enough of me in it that I don’t feel like I’m someone else. That’s why I use it for my favorite, main genre of fantasy.

My horror/thriller/suspense name is a family surname with my middle name. I think it would fit in the genre conventions and is short and catchy enough to be memorable. That and no one else seems to have a name quite like it yet so, gold.

Stats:

Words Written: 10,050 words (all in the thriller)
Chapters Completed:
3
Favorite Scene so Far:
Mae once again getting into a car with Vince. When will she learn that she can’t keep her lunch down with his driving?

[Camp NaNo] Hello Muddah. Hello Faddah.

Here I am at Camp NaNo July! (I hope that song is stuck in your head forever now.)

As I mentioned in my last post (about #50in5), I have decided to work on two different novels during this session of Camp. One is under a different pen name and will be the last novel in a trilogy.

The. Last.

I have never finished a trilogy before so it’s actually really exciting that it’ll be done. And at the same time, I think it’ll be sad. Which is why the first thing I did this morning for camp was to write the first paragraph and the very last paragraph. The ending 50-or-so words that will cinch the rest of the series together with a callback to something the character said in the first book.

So if you’re into thriller/suspense following a federal agent, let me know. I’ll give you that NaNo name.

The other novel I am working on would be under this pen name. It’s title, for now, is Shard of Sea, part of the Albica trilogy, as I will call it for now. I’m using that for #50in5 (which, pst, if you want goodies…). With luck, it will be every Friday along with July 21st, to coincide with Mandi Lynn’s #10kWritingChallenge.

Shard of Sea already has ~65k written in it, so I expect I should be around 60% done with the novel, if not further along. It follows Lady Thilda Rouk, who is the leader of the quickly-going-bankrupt nation of Lasiris. What’s even worse than that is the hints that the Lich who killed her mother and sister, and caused her father’s death in war, has returned. So she, along with her guardian Sir Auciet and her lover, Sir Rylis, go to the Vrolki for help.

The Vrolki tell her two things: first, she has to collect and repair the Lightbreaker; second, they’re sending emissaries along with her. These are their stories. (dun dun)

The only downside of working on this novel is that I haven’t touched it since 2016/2017. Many family events happened – good and bad – so I left writing for awhile. Coming back, it is a joy to read but some of the subtle things I was weaving in are still lost to me.

But that’s why I have planning documents and plot journals. So if I don’t figure out the few things I was hinting at by the end of my re-read, I’ll have to search out which journal all the details are in.

So, I will be taking a page out of erin‘s book and trying to check in weekly here. Maybe I can get back into the blogging swing of things…

Stats:

Words Written: 2,514 words
Chapters Completed:
0
Favorite Scene so Far:
The only one I have written so far, haha.