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?

The End of an Era

Warning: a lengthy post, gif usage, many sappy feelings lie ahead

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The Final Advent has at long last been published. The reality of that still hasn’t quite seeped in for me. Why, you ask?

Turn back the clock to 2005, eleven years ago. For me that meant fourth grade in Mr. Leeland Looper’s class, Girl Scouts, and a crazy amount of playing make-believe.

Mr. Looper always gave us at least thirty minutes each week so we could write whatever came to us. (He was big on childhood literacy. Woohoo!) In those thirty minutes, something came over me and I wrote an eleven page story, the basis of what would become No Angels today. My parents encouraged my writing, and so then I expanded it to thirty pages. Then I wrote a second one, clocking in at 50 pages. You get the idea.

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Actual photo of me after finishing a draft.

Over the course of the next few years, I dreamed up plot ideas and character concepts and so on to flesh out my writings, and in eight grade I completed what would become today’s No Angels. In my sophomore year of high school, I completed Collapsed Cathedrals, and in my freshman year at university, The Final Advent. While all of the aforementioned have undergone a massive amount of editing and reconstruction, still the effort stands and boils down to one truth: working on the No Angels trilogy had been a constant in my life for eleven years, by my side from childhood to adulthood.

Now the last book has been published. I will never again work on No Angels.

It’s immensely satisfying to have seen this project through to the end, yet it’s also bittersweet. Finally I can release this story and continue down my journey’s road, but I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. These characters have become my friends over the years. My own life story has been threaded into the pages. And now it’s time to move on. The phrase “thanks for the memories” has never been more apparent to me than it is now.

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Yet more actual footage of me.

I want to thank everyone who’s helped me reach this point, who’s helped me achieve my still-startling reality of completing and publishing a complete trilogy by age 20. Never in my wildest dreams could I have done it without the following:

JD Hinze – My dad, the person who introduced me to storytelling and fantasy in the first place. He read over eight (horrific) versions of my first book, but with each of his edits I learned and my skills grew. Without his belief in me and his fostering my abilities and telling me to go and just do it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

John Nagle – I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nagle about eight years ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of independent publishing, and has offered his assistance and feedback in many of my efforts to this day. Without his suggestion and encouragement, never would I have taken the plunge into indie publishing.

Elizabeth Wheatley – Elisabeth Wheatley and I met at the Texas Book Festival a few years back, exchanged contact info, and have been writing buddies from then on out. We’ve beta-read one another’s novels, talked about story ideas, and supported one another since. She’s cheered me on and given me incredibly valuable insight for years, plus gave me the confidence and motivation to continue on my journey.

Intisar Khanani – Much like Elisabeth Wheatley, Intisar has beta-read stories of mine and given me great insights into the craft of writing. (Once she even mailed me a signed copy of her novel Sunbolt, which I LOVED.) Without these writing friends, it would have been near impossible to see this trilogy through to the end.

Matthew Bogard – I met Matthew nearly over a year and a half ago, and from day one I knew he was endowed with a sharp wit. I’ll admit to you (we’re close, right?) that we’ve also been dating for just as long. (Anecdote: I wiped the floor with him during a sparring match and he immediately asked me out to dinner.) One of my beta readers was too busy to go over The Final Advent, so Matthew volunteered in their stead. I was hesitant at first (it took him MONTHS to convince me to let him near it), but he ended up being fantastic.  Not only that, but he’s been an incredible source of support throughout my endeavors.

You – Yes, you, reading this right now, long-time reader or complete newbie who just stumbled across this post. Without the support of those in the background (especially my lovely commenters and like-rs!) I’d feel and be fruitless in my efforts, without support save those I’ve mentioned above. Knowing that my blog followers and readers are here makes everything worth it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

For me the publication of The Final Advent marks the end of an era. And so, here’s to the next one, where ever it may take us!

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Find The Final Advent on Amazon.

TFA-Cover-Reveal Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

2015’s Bad Book Compilation

As some of you may know, I don’t do negative book reviews any more. I don’t have the time to invest in something that ultimately does no one any good, nor do I have the mental energy.

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However, as any storyteller knows, negative reviews have one big, fat benefit. They show you what doesn’t work, and you can then in turn look for x, y, or z in your own stories. Since everyone’s trying to improve their craft, it doesn’t make sense to at least not take what we can from an otherwise less-than-positive-reading experience.

Without further ado, here’s what I gleaned from my not-so-great (read: terrible) reads of 2015!

How to Murder a Murder Mystery

  • Don’t leave any clues. ANY.
  • Don’t explore the mind of the killer until the last 5 pages, and, even then, skim.

How to Let You’re Reader Know You’re Smarter than Everyone Else (aka How To  Be Generally Annoying)

  • Abuse and exploit the thesaurus.
  • The more confusing the sentence structure, the better. If your reader doesn’t follow what you’re trying to say, good. It’s their fault for not being as smart as you.
  • Name drop important people and places every other sentence.

How to Write High-Brow Fantasy that Only You are Worldly Enough to Understand

  • Use a plethora of made-up deity and object names without ever explaining or contextualizing them.
  • Never explain or explore the characters’ motives. It’s fantasy; who needs motive when you have magic and monsters?

How to Write a White-Noise Dystopian Novel

  • Combine elements from Hunger Games, Stung, etc. to form a generic world.
  • Your protagonist MUST BE “the special/chosen one” or unique in some discernible way.
  • If there isn’t a love triangle, you might as well quit already.

How to (Not) Write an Action Novel

  • Only ever write action scenes. Leave no room to breathe, no exploration of the character’s psyche, etc. Only fighting, all the time.

Stand-Out Character Guidelines

  • Do not give your characters distinguishable personalities; readers should ONLY be able to tell who’s talking/thinking when you say their name.
  • Making literally every character in the book a straight white old male. (LITERALLY. EVERY. CHARACTER.)
  • Only give teh womens lines like “Oh, goodness Papa!” or “I’m a delicate flower incapable of deep thought!” (Bonus points if they’re breathy exclamations or shy exchanges.)

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The very least a bad read can give you is a writing lesson, so run with it! What lessons did less-than-enjoyable books teach you in 2015?

 

THE FINAL ADVENT Release!

After years of drafting, editing, rewriting, and (of course) more editing, THE FINAL ADVENT has officially been published! Go pick up your copy today of the final installment in the NO ANGELS trilogy, where action, adventure, and intrigue abound. (Only available in eBook format for the time being. It should be available in paperback soon!)

Also, for those of you on Goodreads, add it to your list here!

Getting to this point has been such an incredibly long, toiling, and rewarding journey. Without the support of all those I know and love, never in my wildest dreams would this have been possible. Each and every one of you–yes, YOU reading this right now–have been invaluable to me, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ll cut the sentiments short for now (that’s for a whole different post), but be warned: they’re coming for you!

Thank you so much for following me on my adventures thus far. With the No Angels trilogy wrapped up, it’s time that we take the next steps out into an even bigger, if mysterious, world.

Until next time!

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?