Tag: crazy

Writing in a New Direction

Which-Way-is-the-Right-way-for-Satellite-Web-Browsing-Sometimes directions are clear: “Turn left at the next stop light.” Other times, the directions can be convoluted: “Take the next right. Keep left.” (My GPS often says this, in fact. Amazingly unhelpful.)

In 2013, I started in a new direction. I quit my job with the school district to pursue a writing career full-time. I finished my bachelor’s degree and wanted a change.

Immediately thereafter, I finished my first young adult fantasy novel and had begun writing its sequel. I took a class on antagonists from Writing Jedi Master Kristen Lamb. When we spoke on the phone about my story, I learned it was gobbledygook without a clear purpose.

Back to the drawing board. For another young adult fantasy series, which Kristen and I had discussed during the heart-shattering call. Her advice: write the entire series before going back to edit book one. That way I’d know what the “real” story of the series was by the time I was rewriting.

Six months later, I had three complete novels in very rough first draft form. The summer of 2014, I attempted to market the first book in the series. By the time I’d gotten the final rejection back, I knew the first book was crap needed work.

But I had this amazing idea for a contemporary young adult fantasy. Dragons, erupting volcanoes, teenagers with special powers and the end of the world at stake. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

Or maybe the question should be: who wants to read it?

I’m still waiting for the rest of the rejection letters to roll in, but I think I finally figured something out.

What I Can Sell

As much as I love young adult fantasy, I’m not going to break into publishing with those stories.

No, I’m not giving up. I’m not copping out.

I’m being realistic.

Young adult is the fastest growing and most competitive fictional market right now. And fantasy has to have a certain bent to even get a look.

Sadly, dragons aren’t it.

Dragons: so TEN years ago.

Short fiction: I have sold three short stories. Two of them are sweet romances written to a new adult audience. The third is a young adult dark biblical retelling.

Bible studies: These are independently published by me, and I don’t price them to make a bundle. However, I do have a small following who enjoys my quirky teaching style.

Writing that Grows Me

In the end, writing the biblical fictionalization and Bible study books challenge me as a person. They require a slightly different writing voice and tons more research than most of my fiction stories.

In short, they stretch me out of my comfort zone.

And if people will buy them, I should produce them.

My Big Dream

During November, I wrote the first book in another young adult series.

I know. I know. I never learn.

What’s different about this book? It uses the short story I’ve already sold as a springboard into my post-apocalyptic universe. I continued the story of Scisco Irons, a sixteen-year-old blacksmith who dreams of discovering the technology destroyed in his homeland during the Demon Wars. And escaping the backward region he’s lived in forever.

I introduced a snarky teenage girl with major trust issues. Added in a “mentor” character with a pile of his own secrets.

The best part, I pitched the outline to the publisher of the short story (at her request, because she liked the world introduced in that story and saw potential for the story to continue). She wants to see it.

I have a professional editor who will help me content edit the first draft and polish the second draft to get it ready for submission. She’s employed by the publisher but has offered to help me because she believes in my story.

The dream:

I submit this manuscript in May 2016. The publisher adores it and offers me a three-book contract (that will finish out the series as I’ve envisioned it).

During our conversations, I mention my four other manuscripts. She asks for outlines of each of them. Why not, right? It doesn’t cost her anything.

She sees the potential in all of them and offers me another contract on Doomsday Dragons and asks to see the first Gates of Astrya book before deciding on that series.

Of course, the Age of Apocalypse series will appear in bookstores everywhere during 2017-2019. I’ll have an enormous fan base. They’ll scarf up anything I write.

The rest is J.K. Rowling’s history.

Where I’m Going Now

As often as I’ve been accused of being a dreamer, I’ll argue that point. I’m a realist. Yes, I’m a realistic optimist, but I know better than to float on the puffy vapors of “hope it happens.”

I’m going forward. I have a novella releasing in a collection with nine other independent romance writers in February. And I’ll say this, romance rolls from my heart onto the page. Nearly effortlessly (and then the editing torture begins).

All those years of sneaking my mom’s romance novels into my room to read when I should have been sleeping are paying off. Unfortunately, those royalties aren’t buying too much at the moment.

I have another study book in the works. There are ideas for sequels to Reflections from a Pondering Heart, but I’m not convinced that’s where I should invest my time.

My biggest project idea is a grief memoir/Bible study combination. I’ve got this baby outlined, and I’ve started amassing research. Am I ready to tap into my personal losses for the memoir vignettes? That’s the big unknown.

I’ll keep subbing short stories to anthologies – romance, young adult and fantasy. My crazy ideas will find their way into the spiral notebook I have dedicated for them.

Writing is more than my passion or my dream. I’m convinced it’s my calling.

And I’m saying “yes.” Even if I’m unsure of the direction it will take me.

Any advice? What would you like to read from me?

Training my Dragon during NaNoWriMo

During NaNoWriMo, I trained my Dragon. I know you are thinking: “NaNoWriMo is supposed to be about writing words.” Silly you.

I got Dragon Naturally Speaking software a couple years ago. My husband knew I wanted to try speaking my writing. The next year, he bought me a new computer which had the Microsoft version of voice control, whatever it’s called.

To this day, I don’t use either of these tools.

Hey, it’s not my fault! I tried to train this silly Dragon, but not as regularly as I should have. I let it import my emails, my documents, and anything else it wanted in order to help it learn my writing style. Too bad it didn’t learn too much from that.

Several people recommended that I just read some of my writing to it. Because, yeah, I’ve got lots of time for recreational reading aloud. Don’t they know I’m supposed to be writing?

A few weeks ago, I saw this book titled 5000 Words per Hour. I thought the author must be crazy insane. But no, he had even managed 6000 words in an hour to add to his manuscript-all using Dragon software.

Okay, I write 1000 words per hour. I know this is a professional writer pace because I know professional writers who tell me that’s how much they write per hour. Shouldn’t I be happy with a thousand words per hour?

And then I remember that I have this awesome tool. The same tool Chris Fox, the amazing 6000 words per hour man, uses to do so much incredible writing. Shouldn’t I use this tool?

Obvious answer: yes.

So I decided to give it another try. That was on October 29. Yes the same October 29 that is exactly THREE days before National Novel Writing Month.

I must be insane. And why not? November, when I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, is all about insanity, isn’t it?

As soon as I got done with my Skype meeting with the amazing Chris Fox, I tried to use the Bluetooth headset that came with my Dragon Naturally Speaking. I never actually used it before, and apparently my computer did not recognize it.

So I pulled out my old Logitech headset and plugged it into the USB port. Aren’t Í cute?

And then I started talking. These are the words I said. Can you tell this by looking at them?

I think not.

While they were coming up on the screen, I felt so foolish. Shouldn’t I be typing? Isn’t that the way I get my words on the page?

While I speak, Dragon pad doesn’t tell me how many words I’ve spoken. I tend to think that I don’t know how long I’ve talked, but I could’ve typed it all faster.

dragonsRrealIn any case, I agreed with the masterful Chris Fox to give myself a goal every day during November and use Dragon.

Starting Monday, I will speak into this dictation box for ten minutes (slightly less time than it took me to speak this blog post). Then I’ll copy and paste my lovely words into Scrivener. And I’ll start the real writing (a.k.a. typing).

Depending on how well it goes, I will increase the number of minutes that I use Dragon every day. After all, I can’t get better if I don’t use it, right?

What’s your bet on this situation, reader? Will my Dragon be well-trained enough by the end of November that I can use him for my regular writing?

Maybe you already use Dragon. If so, give me your advice. It’s pretty apparent that I need it.

It’s Nearly November. You know what that means!

October waxes and wanes. Or is that the moon?

Either way, in just a few days the most insane month of the year will be upon us. If you’ve been following me for a least a year, you know what I’m talking about.

National Novel Writing Month

What is it?

November has been adopted by a group of industrious writers. They want to encourage and motivate everyone who has ever said, “I’d like to write a novel one day” do just that.

PrintSo they offer up a challenge: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

For further details, check out their website.

In short, the project you begin on November 1 must be completely original. You’re welcome to have outlines, character sketches and other planning tools in place. You aren’t allowed to use any of those words to count toward the 50,000-word goal.

If you “win” (which means you write 50,000 words before midnight on November 30th), there are many sponsors who offer up prizes. My favorite scores: Scrivener for half price and a free upgraded membership at Scribophile.

What this means for my blog

This will be the third year I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (the acronym for this event).

In 2013, I wrote the second book of my now-abandoned series Gates of Astrya. I wrote the entire first draft, about 63,000 words, in twenty-three days.

Twist of Lime CoverLast year, I was a NaNo Rebel. I wrote a collection of short stories, rather than a novel. If you recall, I hadn’t planned to participate at all.

And then my writing friend laid a guilt trip convinced me it was in the best interest of everyone if I did participate. Since I had set a goal of writing and attempting to find publishing homes for six short stories, I decided to use that creative time to write short stories. I made 50,000 words in twenty-one days.

This year, I’ll be crafting a novel. It’s the novel I mentioned a few weeks ago. The one that has its roots in a short story to be published in February by Month9Books. Since you haven’t seen me screaming about how the publisher loved the idea I outlined, it will probably be the book I’m polishing and trying to market next year.

Except I’ve got a few new plans and goals for writing in 2016. But more on that later. After the crunch of NaNoWriMo.

Since I’ll be spending all my words, energy and creativity on writing a novel in November, I’m only going to post on Mondays. That’s still five posts. My goal is to have all of them written even before you read these words.

Yes, most of them will be about NaNo. To all of my non-writing followers, I apologize. I’ll try to keep the posts short. Right now they have titles like “Finding a Novel Idea” and “Five Ways to Get Unstuck during NaNo.”

I hope you’ll stick with me during this blindingly creative season. On the other side, I might even have some wisdom to share.

Or at least some humorous anecdotes.

Talk about a Dysfunctional Family

Working in a middle school in a town that is the county seat in a state with an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average, I see plenty of dysfunctional families. Who would have thought I would have been amazed by the crazy family dynamics of a play written in 1605.

Things I see in my everyday student interactions include:

  1. Students with four sets of parents
  2. Students whose parents are in jail
  3. Students who live with their grandparents or aunt and uncle
  4. Students with hyphenated last names because of their parental marriage situation
  5. Students who don’t have enough food, clean clothes or their own bed to sleep in
  6. Homelessness

I could continue, but just writing this down is depressing me.

In King Lear, we have a crazy king with three daughters (no one knows what happened to Mrs. Lear) and a lord who has two sons. None of these people live happily ever after.

The king disowns his youngest daughter for no apparent reason and bequeaths his worldly goods to the other two (and their spouses) with the stipulation that he will reside a month at a time at either of their estates. He will arrive to the oldest daughter’s home with his retinue of 100 knights shortly.

These loving daughters turn him away. He can’t stay unless he gives up his knights. How could they possibly support such a hoard of hungry men? Oh, I wonder. Using the money you just inherited from the very father you’re denying perhaps?

From USAToday

Our other model family is Lord Gloucester and his sons. His oldest son seems somewhat dense but fiercely loyal. His youngest son is illegitimate and weary of being overlooked. Big brother gets all the strokes and carries around dad’s name. He decides to betray them both.

First, he manufactures a plot against his father and says his brother planned it. He sends the brother away, claiming he will take up his cause with their father. Not a chance. Later, he allows the father’s eyes to be gouged out and the brother to wander aimlessly.

In the end, they all die. After all, this is Shakespeare. The two older sisters fight over the illegitimate son and poison each other. The older brother kills the younger brother in a duel. The disowned daughter is murdered and the king dies of a broken heart.

It’s worse than any soap opera aired today. Exponentially worse.

Do you feel that Shakespeare needed to kill so many of his major characters to get his point across? Do people have to die for a story to be considered tragic? I’d love to hear from you.