March Madness!

So this past week was the start of March Madness. Every year I participate in the Tournament Challenge by entering a bracket. To be honest, I don’t really follow college basketball, but (and I’m sure some of you know this) I have a bit of a thing for gambling.

The bracket costs $30 to play. Winner takes home some money, obviously, and that’s pretty much why I enjoy participate. Just the chance of winning even though I don’t know anything about college basketball. And hey! It’s all a toss up anyway, and hardly anyone wins with a perfect bracket.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of writing for book two of The Continuous War. I decided to put down the novella for a bit. It actually served its purpose–kept me writing while my book two ideas simmered–but I’m definitely going to pick it up again once I’m done with the novel.

As for book one–I should be getting some drafts for the cover soon. I might share that with ya’ll to see if there is one you guys prefer over the other. We’ll see how it goes. I’m actually kind of excited as I let the contractor do their thing. I’m interested with what they’re going to come up with without my hovering over their shoulder.

Alrighty, that’s it for me this week. I hope you guys have a good one!

Writing pains…

Hello people! How’s everyone doing? Good I hope. I’ll have ya’ll know–Texas is weird. The weather, that is. One day it’s in the 30s and the next it’s 80 degrees. It’s enough to give a lady whiplash–I never know if I need to wear a winter coat or not.

In other news, I’m slowly chipping away at the novella. I re-read a few pages this weekend and I know that I’m going to need to do some extensive edits when I’m done. It just needs to be tighter structure wise. And I’m the sort that hates editing. Like really, really hate it. But it has to be done. “Kill your darlings” and all that. Sometimes I feel like I need to kill the whole thing, but that’s when it’s time to maybe write about something else. Take my mind off of the story for a bit and let it rest.

Other times it takes all my will power to sit down and work on a story. With all the other things going on in life writing is the last thing I feel like doing. And I suppose that’s exactly the time I should be writing. When it’s hard.

But the more I do this, the more I wonder how some writers are able to crank out several books a year. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those writers. I take too long to get things done, and when I am done, I take even longer with the editing process. And I have a buddy that reads my stuff and helps me out with content. She takes a little while to get back to me as well. So all around, my process is sloooooow.

But I guess in the end it doesn’t matter how slow or fast you are, as long as you write the best story you can.

Choosing to self-publish

When I decided to self-publish my novel I had no idea how much effort it would take. First, I decided early on that I would put out a book that was comparable to something a publishing house would distribute. That meant a professional editor, proofreader, and book cover artist. Also, other expenses as well that popped up depending on my personal preference that not every self-published author chooses to pay for, such as purchasing an ISBN, Copyright, etc.

Second, which is the largest effort other than writing the book itself, is the marketing. This includes self-promoting my book. For me, this will be the biggest learning experience since I have very little experience with marketing, and to be honest–I really don’t want to shell out the cash to hire a professional. So I’ve decided to keep things simple: I created this website to grow my readership, and to keep those that are interested up-to-date with everything going on with me. I’ve linked it to other social media like Facebook and Twitter so that my posts are displayed on those sites as well.

I’ve also decided to send my book off to get reviewed by bloggers a few months before its release.  I’m planning a budget to pay for a few promotions when the book releases to urge a successful book launch. And I’m hoping to have a few book giveaways as well.

So that’s pretty much my plan. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Writing through the holidays

Writing is hard. I’m in the middle of writing book two and it hasn’t progressed as far as I would hope. But I suppose it’s to be expected. Interest wanes for me, especially this time of year when I have the holidays to distract me. Every weekend is pretty much something festive to do with the family. Whether its decorating, baking cookies, putting up the Christmas tree–it’s pretty much all the things I want to do that take priority over writing.

That’s not to say I don’t try. I certainly do, I just don’t get much done. Maybe a few pages here and there. And my attention is a bit divided so that when I reread the copy I don’t remember it all. That ever happen to you? You reread something and you have no recollection of writing it in the first place? That’s where I am right now. I re-read a chapter and thought: “Damn, who wrote this? They sure are good!”

Okay, that only happens sometimes. And when it does happen I spend a lot of time laughing at myself. Because I’m just a jolly person. And that’s what this time of year is about, right?

Of course it is.

art blurred blurry bokeh
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Six Flags and the NBA…

We’ve had a bit of bad weather here in south Texas. It’s been raining pretty much all week except for today, so my brother decided to take a trip to Six Flags to experience all the Halloween Spectacular stuff–which is pretty fun, especially for the kiddos.

I had originally intended to go but had to pass because yesterday I spent the evening at the Navy Ball, and this old lady is tired and can’t possibly have two late nights in a row. So instead I decided to stay in and relax.

I’m also watching some NBA basketball, which is my first favorite sport after football. If anyone out there cares, I’m a huge Spurs fan. And although San Antonio traded their number one player, I’m still very hopeful that they will do well this season. And I hope that they demolish Toronto the two times this year they will play them.

In other news, its been a slow writing week. I had a lot going on in my personal life, and it has pulled me out of the mood to write. As we all know–it happens. We all go through it, but I’m hoping that things will calm down, and I can get back to trying to get some good writing done.

But if not, I’ll be wasting my time watching NBA games. Or trying to ignore my brother while he gives me a hard time for not going to Six Flags like I promised.

All in all, it’s not the worst way to waste my time.

Resting and its benefits

I’ve been going through the proof-read copy of my novel. It’s been awhile since I have read it that the whole thing seems new. Well, newish. Which brings me to a new topic when it comes to writing: resting.

There are some writers out there that are so quick with their writing–so full of ideas, that they develop their stories with immediacy, and then release them just as quickly out to the public. I am not one of those writers. It takes me forever to finish my stories, and then once I do, they sit for a little while.

There are many benefits to letting your story rest. The most significant is it gives you time to put distance between you and your work so that you may look upon it with fresh eyes. It’s only when we’ve put that distance that we can recognize what needs work and what doesn’t.

Personally, it helps me pick out the aspects of my prose that doesn’t match the tone I’m shooting for. It also helps with dialogue and plot, because many times, something that made perfect sense while I was writing could actually be quite confusing when I re-read it after I’ve rested my story for awhile.

So what do you guys think? Are you fans of resting your stories as well?

Inspiration and when it strikes.

Inspiration is a funny thing–at least to me. The oddest things will inspire me to write. Sometimes its something mundane, like taking a walk outside. Something in the air will just put me in the mood to grab my laptop and type away.

Other times, it’s when I’m eavesdropping on conversations (Don’t judge me, but eavesdropping is one of my favorite things to do. And hey! If people don’t want to be overhead, then they should have their conversations somewhere private). Sometimes the dynamic people have–the camaraderie between good friends, that’s something that moves me to write as well. Because that’s actually something I try to capture with my characters. I want them to strike a chord with readers. I want my characters to feel real, and their conversations authentic.

When it comes to emotions–well this is going to sound basic, but I get that from real life. My life. I try to remember not only how I felt, but those around me in certain situations. Weddings, funerals, vigils. Church, holidays, get togethers. All the good, the bad–those are the kind of situations that I pull emotions from, and I try to transfer them into my characters.

For settings–well, it’s usually places I’ve been. I recently took a trip to DC and Virginia, and just being in Old Alexandria put me in the mood to write. If you’ve never been, it’s really beautiful. So beautiful I decided to write a novella that takes place in Virginia in a town a lot similar to Old Alexandria.

So there you go. Just a small list of the things that inspire me to write. So what kind of things inspire you?

person typing on typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Weighing writing…

Sometimes its hard to find time to read. I’ve been working on finishing book 8 of the Wheel of Time series for years. My brother gives me such shit about it, because I started reading the series before him, was even four books in, and he surpassed me and finished the whole thing. But the truth is, something had to give–there are only so many hours in the day, and so many things we can do with those hours. I choose to write.

Prioritizing your life is hard when you’re a writer and you have a full time job, family, and all the other things in life. But it has to be done. You need to chisel out time in your day to actually do some writing. It was hard for me (and still can be), because my life is so full, but I decided it had to be done. I needed to cut the fat from my life.

The things that I had to spend less time doing were binge watching TV and reading books. Those two things took huge chunks of my time, so they had to go. Not watching so much TV isn’t a bad thing. I hardly miss it. But my books! Oh, I miss them. I miss immersing myself in someone else’s world. It’s the best! Especially when the author does it so well. But with work and life and all those other things, I have to choose writing over reading my epics.

I’m sure there are other writers that have made the same decision, and cut certain things out of their life to make time for their writing. It’s a difficult thing to do, because lets face it, sometimes writing is hard. It’s easy to be distracted and do something else. But you know its gone too far when three months have gone by and you’ve done absolutely nothing. Nothing to move your story forward. At this point, you might as well be in quick sand, trying to pull yourself from being stuck, only to sink further. It happens–you lose interest in your story, and start putting it off, and before you know it, it’s shelved.

So this is the importance of prioritizing your time to write. So many bad things happen when you don’t. So make a plan and stick to it, and you’ll be a much better writer for it.

 

The need for “otherness”

The other day I sent a friend a copy of a rough draft of a novella that I’m working on. When she was done reading it, the first thing she said to me was, “You really work in those gays whenever you can.”

Yes. Yes, I do.

I do this with people of color, too. Because really, there isn’t enough representation out there for gay people, or Latinos, or any other ethnic group that is not white. But, I’m not going to sit here and complain about it. I’d rather change it, and encourage other writers to change it as well.

Try to make your writing colorful and full of all types of people from all types of backgrounds. I believe it’ll make your writing more rich and deep. And more in tuned with what we see everyday outside our windows.

I know I can get some push back, obviously my friend felt the need to voice the fact that I write in gay people at every opportunity, but I’m not going to let that deter me from writing about them.

But I also don’t want you to get the wrong idea about my friend. She’s supportive of the LGBT community and minorities, but she’s an older woman who’s old school. She isn’t used to reading stories that have diverse characters. Which is the point of this post. I think it’d be great if we can get to a point where not just novels but also movies and TV shows, are more representative of the diversity we see in this country.

I mean really, wouldn’t that be grand?

 

Writer’s block?

So it took me a long time to finish writing the first draft of my novel. Like, years. Why did it take me so long? Well, some of it was life. Things happened and pulled me in a direction where I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write. And we all need to be in the right frame of mind to write. Otherwise, it’s probably going to be crap.

But there were other times where I had legit writer’s block. Where I was stuck and couldn’t write a word for months. I’m glad I had these moments as I learned how to manage my blocks and how to get past them.

I’ll be honest, I have bad habits. I don’t outline. I don’t brain storm very much. What I do is let the characters live in my head for a few years, and when I feel like I have a good idea of who they are, what their purpose is, who their adversaries are, what the climax of my story will be, and how my story will end–that is when I start writing. I don’t have diagrams or flo-charts or any of that stuff. Maybe some notes I’ve written here and there, but they’re flimsy, because I’m probably the laziest writer you’ll ever meet.

But I do have three parts to my story. A: the beginning, B: the climax, and C: the resolution. And the block comes in when I’ve written myself into a corner, and I can’t see how I’m going to get to from point A to B, or B to C. This is when I have legit writer’s block. The first few times it happened, I let weeks go by as I tried to figure out how I was going to proceed. After awhile, I realized that the best thing to do was to cut. Cut those last few paragraphs or pages and write something else, take my story in a different direction–because it doesn’t matter how I get to point B, as long as I get there.

And that’s something I recommend writers doing if they ever find themselves with writer’s block. Try putting the car in reverse and taking a different road to your destination. And enjoy the ride. I know I do.