[WriYe Blog Circle] New Year, New Me

For some reason, my ability to consistently maintain a blog is less reliable than my ability to write every day (which is pretty unreliable for half of the year). So here I am, restarting again with promises of weekly blogs and that I won’t fall away from it on my tongue (fingers?), but I will not say it.

I will write as much as I can, aiming to do it as often as I can, but… I will fail. I am human. It happens.

But more than that! I have a WriYe Blogging Circle Prompt to do and a return to being an active member of that circle. I’ve stepped in as a mod again at WriYe, which will always be my writing group home, so I hope to do a lot of motivation, support, and inspiring writers of all stripes over there.

(You’ve been warned.)

So, without any more rambles…

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2020? Why did you chose it?
What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

My goal this year is 300,000 words. In 2019, I wrote 600,170 words, which… I really did not think I could attain that level of productivity again now that I have a toddler and I hadn’t written seriously in at least three years. But… there it is. Dedication.

I chose 300,000 words because that’s something I know I can do even if at my most busy. It’s about three first drafts, with various stories or novel starts in there.

I want to do more editing this year so I can get myself querying. It’s well and good to keep writing new novels (and boy, do I…) but if I want to make this a career, I need to move onto that next step.

This is the last year of my self-imposed (and collectively imposed on WriYe) #pub2020 challenge so I have to make a move, and make a move now.

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
It will sound weird, but I’m looking forward to really getting over my fears of editing, beta-ing and submitting. My word for my 2020 writing goals is undaunted because I don’t want to let any trepidation hold me back.

[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.)

[WriYe Blogging Circle] This is How We Do It

It’s that time again! The monthly blogging circle topic. It’s a bit of #editnfriends and a lot of WriYe. Here are the questions:

Describe your editing process. What is your biggest challenge in editing?

I think I’ve mentioned this a few times on here in the past week, but in case I didn’t make it clear: I am overly critical and hate my words. I have low self-esteem when it comes to my own abilities as a writer. And I rely on friends to tell me that I’m being dumb.

Does that mean everything I write is horrendous and need to be burned? No. Wait… No. Right. No.

Have I found things that I like on rereading? If you asked me last year? It’d be no. But I actually reread a novella I wrote back in 2013 and loved it. Again with that long gap.

So what’s my process to avoid this sort of self-loathing? Here’s a bullet point list:

  • Wait a long time. Try to cut that down to a year. Or two years. Stretch goal: just months.
  • Reread as a reader. Not an editor. Not a writer. Just as if I was there to enjoy.
  • Absorb what I read. Drink a few J&Gs. Write anything else.
  • Go back and start to map out scenes and plot. Figure out what the hell my characters were thinking. Tell them to behave and act like real people. No, you cannot just run off and say “forget this.”
  • Take out The Book and The Pen and write down an editing plan
    • How does the plot need to change
    • How do the characters need to change
    • Basic plot arc with subplots noted on the bottom
    • Short description of how each subplot adds to the main plot and how they get all tied up
    • List of words to avoid during rewrite
    • Reassurance that I can survive
  • Get on the computer. And start again. Whether this is full rewrite, partial rewrite, or line edis.

With luck, The Final Rose will be the same way, even with the crazy word count.

Bonus:
Tell us about your ideal critique partner. What do you look for in a critique partner?

Well, I have a few good ones right now. We have a group that we’ve kept going for a number of years. We write different genres, different age levels, and for different audiences.

I think that helps when it comes to critiquing. We have a system where if it is genre-related or we think it might be, we mark it as [GR]. Other than that, writing is writing is writing. And sometimes it’s nice to have my romance-writing friend tell me that she likes scenes of my high fantasy story.

If I had to get a new one, though? I’d probably want someone else who is currently writing in high fantasy. And someone who is currently reading what’s coming out in the genre. I’m a bit far behind thanks to having a Little Monster, but I try to keep up on the trends.

I’d want someone who knew how to couch their harsher critique in the sandwich method (something good – a problem – something else good), as long as I had the bread to make sandwich, so to speak. And someone who would look at what I am asking for and give me that. Usually, I ask a few questions with my critique requests.

I’d want someone who wrote at a similar level to me, who sent me things that have already been self-edited to the best of their ability. I don’t expect perfection; I expect readability. And someone who has a goal with their novel post-me.

I’m always open for more partners, but I warn you: I am slow as a snail in a swimming pool of molasses.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 06/24

Pen refills: 0

Scenes sliced: 2

Planned Scenes to Add: 5

Darlings killed: 0

Tears: 0

Current Concern: Why did I make Ziove’s hand in marriage part of the prize? No.

[WriYe Blog Circle] It’s All Romance

This months’ WriYe Blog Circle question is…

Is romance necessary in all fiction? Why or why not?

Bonus:
If you do have romance in your fiction, tell us about your favorite pairings. Why are they your favorite?


I don’t think romance is necessary, but I think some aspect of it does enrich the story. Romance, as a genre, has been around for a very, very long time. Most genre fiction could be considered a subgenre of “romance,” as the original definition was fictive prose in which marvelous and uncommon things occurred.

But I am going to go with this question a bit more commercially and literally. That two-people-in-love romance. That I-will-do-anything-for-you-while-the-world-stands-between-us romance. The connection between two people that most everyone can understand – whether it be romantic or platonic love – that motivates characters to go beyond their ordinary to fight the extraordinary in order to save/maintain that relationship.

As I said before, I don’t think it is “necessary.” But I also don’t think the story will be quite as touching if there’s not some form of relationship there. There are some fantastic novels that really are focused on more platonic or familial love (I’m thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird and Scout’s love for her father) but that love must still be there. That strong emotion.

Do I include romance in all of my novels? I can’t think of one that didn’t have some sort of aspect of it. Have I written short stories without a focus on romantic love? Sure. One of my novellas has romance as a backdrop (Midsummer’s Reflection) and the other it is a passing bit in the beginning and end (Midwinter’s Choice) because the characters are working on themselves. But still, that sort of romance lingers.

And I think that my readers enjoy having it in there.

Bonus: My favorite pairings are the main pairing in my novel, The Final Rose. Task and Ziove are that star-crossed lover pair that the entire novel revolves around. Task is thrown for a loop when he finds that love sneaks up on him… And his entire world changes for it.

Another is Ros and Kyith from Sub Rosa (my first finished NaNovel which will never see the light of day, if I get my way). I like the whole Tough-Girl-Falling-in-Love trope. I can’t help it.

2019: A Writing Odyssey

January’s WriYe Blogging Circle question reads as follows:

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2019? Why did you choose it? What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

My yearly word count goal is small. Much smaller than past goals have been. For years, I usually aimed for 300,000 words. Seemed a good plan – roughly 1,000 a day where I could miss some – and I was usually successful. In 2014, I banged out close to 700,000 words and finished a lot of novels.

And then I disappeared. I stopped writing. Work got to me and life got to me and I just didn’t focus on writing like I had in the past. I had a few false starts with I think one novel being finished between 2014 and 2017, and then not a single word in 2018. 

So this year – with a new kid, teaching a full load and my new-found love of triathlon and marathoning – I am focusing on quality words and editing. My goal is 120,000 words, meaning roughly 10,000 a month. Not to brag, but I know I can do 10,000 in a day if it comes down to it, so it’s that reassuring fact that will prevent me from feeling like I’ve failed if I don’t write for most of the month.


To be honest, the small word count goal is actually motivating me more. I’ve only missed one day of writing in the novel (I focused instead on research) and I’m already near twice my monthly word count goal. I like what I’m writing. And I’m also re-reading older novellas and novels and enjoying them. Which, for those who have known me, is monumental. I usually hate every word I’ve written

I guess I’ve grown up and matured a bit, huh?

For the accomplish part of the question, I mentioned it in my last post (about fifteen seconds ago) but I want to get published. I want to finally make this hobby of mine into something I do. Something I’m known for outside of the WriYe community. I’ve even told people at work that I write! Hopefully, I’ll see a fraction of success.

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

This is half-writing, half-social… But I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends again. Erin, over at Erin Foster Books, brought me back after disappearing and already I feel that same click with the WriYers that I always have – new and old. And then we connected with old friends from a LiveJournal community and… It’s already shaping up to be a fantastic year for friends, writing, and more.