Writing Update: March 2016

So my life kinda-sorta fell apart this month. (And then stitched itself back together, thankfully. Loved ones in the hospital, pet’s health declining rapidly, etc.) As such, I’m behind on basically everything. Homework, housework, study abroad forms. . . and of course my writing goals. In fact, I only have two stories to give you updates on. Eek.

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It’s the 23rd as I type this, and I have yet to hit 3,000 words this month out of my 6,000 target. Yikes, am I right? However, now that spring break has wrapped up and now that life isn’t so chaotic, I can hopefully get back into the routine of things. I am however 16+k into THE IMMORTAL at this point, so around 20% of the way to my goal length.

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The In-Between? What the heck is that, another new story?” Alas, no. This one used to go by the title The Cradle, but has been changed to The In-Between on account of it sounding less. . . well, less like a nursery item, and more true to the content of the book.

I’ve also decided to change up this story in a big way. I’ve had the full four page outline for this novel for over two years, but something about it just felt off. Finally I identified what it was, and to fix it requires a big overhaul. Essentially the story lacked a clear goal or tangible end-point for the main character to aim towards. (This is why outlines are great, kids, but I digress.) Before, it was about a guy plagued by ghosts and oddities trying to teach him lessons about his life before it’s too late. Interesting, but a little vague. The outline’s feel reflected that. Now, it’s about him being stuck in limbo and traveling over to Death’s side, only to encounter bizarre beings and events along the way, all of which attempt to turn him back around.

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How has March been treating you? Have you gotten a lot done or have you fallen off the wagon like myself? Comment below!

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Writing Update: February 2016

(It feels so weird to not have a No Angels section of this anymore! I suppose I’ll adjust.)

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My monthly progress with this one has been halting, mostly due to essays and midterms. That being said, I’ve written 13k thus far and plan to be at 15k by the end of the month. It’s still wildly fun to write, but the fact that school has been getting in the way had been less than satisfying. I’ve also missed the previous two writing-treat-weekend sessions because of life’s hiccups. It’ll be nice to feel on-track again!

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Still subbing. Still no response. *Bangs head on desk.* Waiting is just part of the game!

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Again, this one is still out with no response. I’ve been toying with the idea of reworking it a little since my writing has developed over the years and I want to bring it up to par, so next time it comes back that’ll be what I do!

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Ah yes, my sci-fi/horror short. It’s decided to take a very different, more compelling turn from what I originally intended, one that makes for lots of morally-gray areas. (A definite plus!) Again, this one feels halting in its progress, but that’s just how this month is going I suppose. I can tinker with the flow once I have a finished draft!

How is your month going? Are you working on any projects or goals? Comment below!

Stop Giving Me ‘Strong’ Female Characters

I’ve been seeing more female characters lately, which one would think is a good thing. Unfortunately, female characters don’t mean much when they’re barely characters. Instead, they’re often one-dimensional props. You know the type I’m thinking of. Extremely sexy clothing & figure, sarcastic, literally kick ass aaaaaaaand . . . not much else. Deep background? Nuanced characterization? Complexities? Almost nonexistent.

In my experience, this doesn’t pertain as much to books, but then again I tend to mostly read books by female authors who aren’t as guilty of this (because women are *gasp* people!) That’s not to say this isn’t an issue, though. Because it certainly is.

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Damn it, Tifa. You better be glad I love Final Fantasy so much.

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It doesn’t help that Abrams straight-up admitted this scene was solely for the male viewership.

I don’t mind sexy, slim women. Truly I don’t. Physically fit and empowered women are by far my favorite characters to write, and are even inspiring in a way, but women are more than that. They are their backstories, their emotions, their inner conflicts. Instead of saying “okay, we have a walking pair of boobs that throws punches; diversity, check” and stopping there (please, please do not stop there–don’t even go there to begin with), instead give me more Furiosas, more Dana Scullys, more Marthas, and more Eowyns. (Also pls give me more PoC and LGBT+ characters thx.)

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I want women who are developed, fully dimensional characters, with flaws, backstories, and who’s importance isn’t relegated solely to her beauty or sexual prowess.

In short, don’t give me a female character who can throw punches, is therefore considered progressive, and stop there. Don’t give me a physically strong female character, give me a female who has strong characterization. That’s what makes all the difference.

Who are your favorite female characters? What do you like best about them?

Writing Update: January 2016

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At long last, The Final Advent has been published! This brings the No Angels trilogy to a close, which is a bittersweet moment for me. (There’ll be an entire blog post on this later.) This is a huge accomplishment for me, and is a promising way to start off the new year!

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I’ve finally started drafting The Immortal! I plan for the first draft to clock in around 70k, and have already knocked out 6k. To be honest, while first drafts famously suck, I am having a LOT of fun writing it! I hope you guys will like reading it just as much. ;)

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The Stolen Sun

Still subbing away on this one! It’s at Tor right now, a place that can take months to respond, but hey, we’ve all gotta play the game at one time or another, am I right?

Where Gold is Born

Yep, this piece has already been published. I know. But! Since the previous place didn’t have exclusive rights over it (the window for their rights have since expired), I’m trying to squeeze another credit out of this one by subbing it as a reprint.

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My current sci-fi/horror piece! To be honest, drafting this one is . . . laborious. I feel like the story is quite literally dying under my fingers with each sentence, but that’s also how I used to feel about TSS, and look where that is now! I’m holding out hope for this one. I’m aiming for 6k for the first draft, and am at about 2k as it stands.

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Stay tuned, everyone! What progress have you been making on your goals?

My Top 5 Motivators When Writing NO ANGELS

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Life is hard. Writing is harder. When working on multiple books whilst trying to juggle the daily minutiae, it can be hard to stay motivated. Here are the top 5 things I’ve used when writing NO ANGELS that kept me motivated enough to sit my butt in the chair and write.

1 – Watching Fantasy and/or Action Movies

Who hasn’t watched Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, or Harry Potter to get themselves amped up about writing? This is a pretty common trick, but for good reason. Not only does it show the fantastical in rich detail, but it also tickles the notion that your ideas can one day be on the big screen too.

2 – Thinking of my Readers

I love telling stories. If I had to choose between making a living off writing but never really satisfying my readers, or never making a dime but people LOVING my stories, I’d pick the latter every time. I want to deliver. I want to tell a story that enthralls, but to do that I have to actually write.

3 – Fighting/Sparring/Playing with a Variety of Dangerous Things

If you know me, you know that I have a solid history of martial arts training, am always armed in some fashion, and am a card carrying Texan (read: know how to shoot). I’ve cleaned up in many a tournament sparring division, have split a cement brick with a single punch, fired AK-47s (plus many more, obviously) and so on. You get the idea. And all of these activities light an absolute fire in me. Not only are they wildly fun, but I inevitably always start thinking of novel fight scenes while I’m doing drills, cleaning my equipment, etc. Plus, I like to think my experience adds to the energy of the written fight scenes themselves. ;) Try throwing a few punches one day and see how you feel about your next action scene!

4 – Reading Poetry

This one falls much into the same vein as #1; I could have put reading in general, but I feel that’s far too obvious. The personal charm of poetry for me lies in the beauty of each carefully selected word, the arrangement and variation of the lines, how lyrical the language is, and how such a strong image can be imparted with so few words. When in doubt, poetry prevails.

5 – When All Else Fails

Sometimes, nothing you do to motivate yourself will work. I get that. Motivation is rather unnecessary if you ask me, but it does make the job easier. But sometimes life simply isn’t easy. So, when all else fails, here is a fool-proof strategy for writing.

Step 1: Put your butt in the chair.

Step 2: Acquire a writing utensil and paper (NOT A COMPUTER– I see you, internet addicts.)

Step 3: Write. Force yourself to put words on the page. (They do not have to be good. They probably won’t be good.) Literally just put down words and then, look! You’re writing! You might be writing absolute trash, but that’s leaps and bounds ahead of not writing at all.

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What strategies do you use to motivate yourself towards a task, writing-related or otherwise? Comment below!

My 2016 Writing Resolutions

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Read 30 Books

I know 30 books sounds like a meager amount to some, but hear me out. I’m in college full-time, will be drafting an entire novel this year, and will be spending 2+ months abroad with little-to-no access to personal reading material. I’ll likely end up reading beyond 30, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by aiming too high.

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Publish The Final Advent

Okay, so this resolution is sort of a ‘gimme’ considering the book’s is almost totally ready, but it still counts! All I’m waiting for is one beta reader’s feedback, then a read-through with minor edits on my end, then bam! We are done!

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Draft The Immortal 

This resolution was actually on my list for 2015, but with how crazy the year was, it simply didn’t get done. I’ve already started drafting it–by which I mean I’m about 3 pages in–but I have a long ways to go. That being said, I’m SO INCREDIBLY excited to write this. It’s very different from the rest of my work, and hopefully will rip your hearts to shreds. <3

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Complete my Short Horror Story

I worked a bit more on the short sci-fi/horror piece in 2015, but I’ll admit it fell by the wayside as the year spun out of control. Still, I’m chipping away at the thing and am eager to see if anything will come of it! At the very least, it’s a good exercise.

Continue Subbing The Stolen Sun

This resolution is accompanied by a bit of good news! A few months back, I submitted TSS to the Writers of the Future Contest, established by L. Ron Hubbard. It’s an extremely well-regarded contest with big name judges, and tens of thousands of people have entered over the years. While I didn’t place, I received an honorable recognition, which thankfully is not the equivalent of a participation ribbon. Only about the top 5-10% of entrants earn an honorable mention in a given Quarter, which lets me know I’m on the right track! For me it’s at least a nod that I’m doing something right, if not a publication credit. So in 2016 I’ll continue plugging away and see if any publications will bite. ;)

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What are your 2016 writing and/or reading resolutions?