[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] 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?

Ya Can’t Please Everyone, So Ya Got To Please Yourself

For this month’s WriYe Blogging Circle, we go straight to the root of the problem:

Why did you start writing?
Bonus:
How has your writing improved since you first started? What would you still like to improve?

So, let’s get back to the beginning. Why do I write?

Why wouldn’t I write? It’s where I belong, playing out the dreams and imagination that runs rampant in my mind. And it’s not something I can turn off on a whim. No matter how long I step away from it to focus on something else – first triathlon, first marathon, first child – it’s that comforting home I can turn to to find it waiting with open arms. Or blank page, as it may.

It’s like a compulsion. I always have a pocket journal – Field Notes, Log + Jotter, Moleskine – on me to take down notes or plot ideas or breakthroughs. There are more To Be Written plots on my computer than finished novels. I can’t stop and I won’t stop.

The only time I pause is when it is no longer fun. That’s the heart of the entire reason for my writing: fun. I have to enjoy it. To love it. Or else there’s no point in doing it.

That doesn’t mean I have to love it every day. To really become a published writer, writing consistently is important. Dedication over inspiration and all of that. But overall, I have to reach the end of the novel and say “I enjoyed that.”

Bonus

Oh Ancient Gods of My People – yes. I was a passive, telling-because-showing-means-what? novelist as a youth. Which I think is rather normal for most new writers. My characters were either flat or Mary Sues. My dialogue was florid enough to be in a funeral home.

But still, I enjoyed it.

What do I still need to improve? Consistency.

Fixing those muddled middles that are worse than a quagmire.

Most of all? Growing a thick skin. Plums are jealous of my skin’s thinness. But if I am going to be critiqued to improve, I need to actually accept it without pouting. (Or at least without pouting for more than a few hours.)

Still in Peaceful Dreams, I See the Road Leads Back to You

(Today may be a two post day because I have the #reviseandrevive prompt about which I plan to write).

As I think I have harped on about enough, this year is dedicated to shaping up and querying my novel, The Final Rose. The very first draft was written in 2011. The second draft, after it had been through a bit of critiquing, was in 2013. And now, five years after that, I am finally prepared to write the third (and hopefully final) draft.

#reviseandrevive was created to tie into a few projects, one of which is Resurrection April on WriYe. The concept behind that is to look at your older work that remained unfinished or written at the wrong time, and try to restart or finish it.

When I created the challenge years ago, I was hesitant. Sometimes, stories remained unfinished for a reason. Some need to be abandoned for issues involving plot, characters or execution. Major injuries to these can be recovered from with stitches and time; fatal flaws mean the story needs to be put to rest permanently. I’ve had stories ending due to both. Only the former can be revived.

How do you know when a novel is salvageable? This is my little cheat sheet (which I present as salted as the Dead Sea):

  • Do you remember the characters? If you have to reread the novel to get the names of side characters, that doesn’t count as not remembering. What I am talking about here is whether or not you remember your main characters. What did they want? What did they do? Could you slip back into their voice easily?
  • Do you remember the general plot? Again, you don’t need to remember every scene. What was the plot you intended to do? Do you remember the inciting incident? The climax? Does it still excite you?
    • If the answer to this last one is no, can you find a way to fix it that would make it exciting?
    • If the answer is still no, is this the right plot for these characters? Pitch it to a few friends and see if they can help you.
  • Can you re-immerse yourself in that world? This may be for only some writers, but can you jump back in and feel the world? Do you remember the important parts of world-building? The unique qualities that will draw your reader in?
  • Are you looking to write this to avoid something else? Like editing?

That last one is a bit personal.

Those are the things I usually ask myself when I look at reviving a novel (or rewriting). Sometimes, the answer is yes, like the novel I am writing now. Everything was still fresh. I wrote my first added in scene for the revision last night and Task’s voice was as clear is it was the first day I wrote for him. The scenes played before my eyes with a fully constructed setting. And the plot was what I had worked on the whole previous month.

Sometimes, the answer is no. Like a novel that will remain unnamed, but those who have known me awhile have listened to me complain. I tried to write this novel four times. The characters are nebulous, changing between drafts, because I could not pin them down. The setting is strong, but the alchemical/magical system is something that needs improvement.

The plot? Oh the plot. The overarching plot is there. But the inciting incident, the ordinary vs. extraordinary, all if it has never solidified.

Do I think the novel has promise? Yes. I really do. But the problem is either I am not prepared to write this novel, or I am not the right author to write the novel. Every time I try, I come a tiny step closer to distilling the essence. But somewhere along the way, the train jumps the tracks and crashes into the words I’ve previously written.

Will I try again one day? I am going to say no here, but I know it’s a lie. I’ll always go back to trying to fix this bane of my existence.

Until I get it down, though, there are other plots to chase.

[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.

Introduction to my #EditnFriends Project

So, over on a friend’s blog, is a new challenge. Liz has decided that since March is traditionally editing month for WriYe and the WriMo’ers around the world, she would put out a challenge to those of us (me) who need things to edit. Every week, we check in on social media with the #editnfriends (so mostly twitter). In my eyes, this is a quasi-check in to make sure I don’t get lazy.

Now to introduce my novel, which has a bit of information in my Novels tab:

Title: The Final Rose
Genre
: Epic High Fantasy
Word Count: 137,000
Summary: Found here
Series: No

So, throughout this past month, I’ve been rereading the novel as if I were a reader and not the author. It’s hard to do but I’ve tried to separate out my editor/inner critic. With any luck, I’ll have it done and can move onto part one:

Scene Blocking

In which I ask myself: is this scene moving the plot? Is it in the right place? Is it necessary or extraneous? Should it be expanded? Reduced?

To do this, I’m using color coded index cards based on which character arc the scene is for and/or who the POV character is in that particular scene. With luck, I will be able to then make sure every arc has nice progression and conclusion.

Plot Doctoring

Did I skip over parts in the middle? (Probably) Does everything make logical sense and flow? (I hope so) Do I need to add things? Does the plot need tweaking? Is it something that would happen in that setting or have I stretched too far and made it unrealistic? (And therefore unsuspend disbelief)

Revising or Rewriting?

The last part is to choose which parts to just revise and keep and which parts to rewrite. I’ll be marking those with every student’s best friend, the Post-It Flag. Some will be “Major Revision.” Some will be “Minor Revision.” Some will be “WTF?”

What is my end goal?

I want this novel to be set up for its third-ish draft in April. I know where I have problems – there are scenes in the middle that need to be retooled and rewritten. I know that the word count is going to grow (because high fantasy never stays contained) but I have to figure out just where I need to cut it.

And I have this habit of adding in awesome plot ideas midway through writing and telling myself I’ll fix them in the edit. You can take three guesses on whether or not I ever do, and two can be thrown away.

When that is all done? Onto the rest of #Pub2020 to try and achieve that published dream.

How will I report in?

I will report in here every Friday as a separate post with my main post. And then I’ll be complaining on Twitter, as one does. A lovely 280-characters of crying.





[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.

Words and Wyles

Hello, writing world.

It is I, K. A. Wyles, speculative fiction writer (horror and fantasy, mostly) and scientist. But this blog only focuses on one half of that, and it’s not the one with beakers and flasks. More about me will be in the About Me page, so let’s focus on the details here.

It seems I, once again, find myself re-starting this blog. But, fittingly, I am also creating a website to go with it so, win/win. I see that the time I was ever blog-active was 2014, which was the last year I really did any significant writing. The day job ate me up, gave me a second job, and I have finally been able to break the 60+ hour work weeks by having a child.

They’re good for something I guess. (Warning: There may be sarcasm.)

So, back into the groove. I have a story I’m already working on, but surprisingly, I’ve started to finally care about publishing a novel. It’s always been a “side” thing of mine; I write for fun and if something seems good, I’ll publish it. I didn’t want to edit.I just wanted to spit out all the writing in my brain and share with my friends.

But now? Now I want to publish and send my work to strangers. That’s my main focus. Over on WriYe, I’ve started up a group goal known as #Pub2020. It’s just what it sounds like: Get Published (or an Agent, or an Editor, or a Marketable Draft) by the end of 2020.

Is it a stretch goal? Yes. But it’ll get me focused. And having a group of fellow writing friends – new and old – do it with me will motivate me not to quit. I hate failing and I hate failing in front of people more.

Since I’d like to be serious, I’m also going to start taking the whole platform thing serious too. Which means new Twitter focused on writing, potential self-published novella to get my name out there, maybe a website?, and – most important – this blog has to come back to life.

And what better thing to bring it back to life (like the zombies that inspire it) than the January WriYe Blog Circle? That post will follow this one. Then my goal is one post a week about what I’m doing, my opinions on happenings, anything I find interesting, and more. Maybe a few excerpts. And polls on what I should focus on for things like PitchWars.

Here’s to 2019! May it be full of words and wisdom.