The Benefits of Being VIP

I just wanted to take a moment and talk about some of the benefits of hopping onto the mailing list for this site. I know on WordPress especially, I’m bad about just hitting the Follow button and not thinking about it, but that can really limit you on what access you have and what you’re missing out on! So here’s a quick primer on some ways you can keep up to date and get early access to my content.

What You Get

  • Early Cover Reveals. I’m actually drafting one of these right now. And let me tell you, you won’t want to miss this gorgeous cover!
  • Early access to short fiction. I just released a never before published YA Dark Fantasy piece at the end of July exclusively for my VIP groups (for now). And knowing how slow I am, it’s going to be a while before it’s available on my blog haha.
  • Input on all the bookish decisions. For the Facebook group, you can vote on what short story is coming next, have a say on what kind of book swag is coming, and even get to share in any milestones along the way!

Ways To Follow

  • Join the Mailing List
    • You should see a link to it on the menu for this page! Just drop your email address in, and boom, you get the mailing list delivered right to your inbox. If you just want to be kept up to date on everything, organized in a concise fashion, this is the best option.
  • Join the Moonlight Wanderers
    • If Facebook is more your style and you would rather not have more emails in your inbox (I hear you!), then join the Moonlight Wanderers group on Facebook! This team of amazing fans get to experience the journey as I go, and possibly share a few memes along the way.

So why not try one out? If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe or leave the group. I just like to make sure my fans don’t miss out on exclusive content!

Stitching Scenes Together

Spent some more time this evening hammering out words for Broken! I’m rewriting this section to fit in with the rewrite I’ve done with the introduction, so it takes a bit of time to stitch everything together properly. I’m sure I’m going to be cutting things later too when I do edits, but for now the goal is just to get the words flowing!

Project: Broken

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
8/12 – 1,320

Current Word Count: 11,698

Progress:
Not as much written today as I hoped, but I had to slow down once I reached the areas I had to stitch together. It’s part of being a writer, but it’s definitely more common when you’re a pantser like I am.

Next Up:
Getting past that pride and being given an order.

Commentary:
I’m really loving digging into the environments and the sensations in this world. That’s one of my favorite parts right now, that and untangling all the emotional turmoil these characters are in. Oops, sorry guys.

Starting the Sequel to Stolen

It takes a while for me announce a new WIP, especially when it’s a novel. I like to make sure that I’ve figured out the opening and gotten a good feel for the characters. Working on the sequel for Stolen is no different. It was actually harder to start because I wanted to keep the same style and characterization that I left off with in the previous book. There are whole articles that talk about how difficult it is to get that middle book down in a series, and this was no different. It took me forever to get Shaleigh’s voice in the first book finalized, and it’s taken me a while to grasp how everything in Stolen has changed these characters. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Over the last couple of months, my writing for this book came in fits and spurts. Mostly the flow of creativity got interrupted by responsibilities that I couldn’t ignore, and when I read over the story I had so far, I wasn’t pleased with it.

As an author, I know that if I’m not digging it, my readers won’t either. So I keep revising and revising and revising until I get that introduction and opening as good as I can get it. For me, it’s important to start with a solid ground before I build up. Even though the ground is pretty solid from all that happened in Stolen, there’s still a lot that needed to be sorted out.

I write in a way that’s known as a “Planster”. Yes, I will plan and use an outline, but it’s more of a guide for me. Mostly I’m a “pantser”, letting the story and characters lead me along, making sure I hit those plot markers as I go. Those I already have figured out. Those I figured out back while I was writing on Book 1. I have found that when I get near the ending though, that’s when it’s really important for me to have an outline. Sometimes I’ll drop everything to pinpoint the steps and stages for those final scenes. (And you’ll probably see why when you read Stolen when it comes out in January!) When I was working on The Seeking earlier this year, I was very glad to be using Scrivener too, that way I could easily reorganize scenes if I needed to.

Here’s the start of my next book: Broken. It’s book 2 of the YA Fantasy Stolen series. So far it’s already pretty dark, pretty intense, and pretty darn scary. Did I mention this book will take a dark turn?

Project: Broken

Book 2 of the Shaleigh series

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
6/18 – 4,243
6/19 – 807
6/20 – 482
6/21 – 3611
7/29 – 740
8/7 – 708
8/10 – 2,226

Current Word Count: 10,609

Progress:
Oh my gosh, so much has already happened and I’m only 10k words in! An illness, a revelation, a confession, and even angry outbursts. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Next Up:
Realizing that they need to work together in order to correct this and that they need to keep moving. These two have so much to work through, not just externally but internally as well.

Commentary:
Of course, starting a new novel means putting together a new playlist! Once I get it a bit farther along, I’m looking forward to sharing it. 

Short Stories Series 2: Getting Feedback

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So you finished drafting your short story? Fantastic! Now comes what’s perhaps the hardest part to get used to with writing: getting feedback.

Let me warn you before you go emailing your reader friends for their advice, not everybody knows how to give constructive criticism. And you shouldn’t necessarily listen to all the criticism you come across. A full-time editor friend takes time out of their busy day to give you some feedback? Of course you should weigh their opinions more. But if a friend just gives it back to you, shrugs, and tells you they didn’t like it but it isn’t their preferred genre? I wouldn’t weigh criticisms as heavily. Remember it’s impossible to write a story that everybody will love (unless you’re J.K. Rowling, then maaaaybe).

There are a LOT of genres out there and plenty of different kinds of readers. It’s totally fine if your writing doesn’t work for everybody – that’s why writing is so unique! The more flavors out there, the more different the tastes will be.

So how do you find people willing to critique your work and give useful feedback? Here are some things I’ve tried:

  • Proof it yourself – This may seem kind of silly, but you will be surprised if you shelf that story for a couple of weeks or even a month then get back to it. You’ll find problems you never even noticed. Try reading it aloud – especially the dialogue. Does it sound clunky? Another trick is to read the story backwards. Check each sentence for grammatical errors as you go. It forces you not to get distracted by the story and to really focus on the words. It’s good practice if you find yourself getting distracted by some really juicy scenes.
  • Friends & family – Find the people you may have already been bouncing ideas around with. These people might have even critiqued other writing for you in the past. This is the best way to get detailed feedback, but depending on who you find to do this, it may not always be completely honest. People try to sugar-coat advice when they’re afraid that a friendship will be in jeopardy. Keep that in mind as you get feedback.
  • Scribophile – This is a great place to go, especially for first-time writers, or even writers who haven’t had their work widely read yet. On this site, you critique other peoples’ work, earn credits, then post your own work to be critiqued. You can have your story put into a queue to be read by anybody on the site, or join some of the groups to have reviews from people who might be more interested in the genre, but it’s going to take a long time to get more feedback on. If you’ve never tried it out, it’s definitely worth doing for a bit. Just be careful not to get overwhelmed in editing other peoples’ words. Sometimes you have to take a step back to make time for your writing again.

Once you’re sure your story is as good as it can be, then it’s down to formatting it and sending it off to find a home! I’ll cover where to find the publishers to get your work published.

This is Part 2 of a series on publishing Short Stories. If you find these helpful, please leave a comment or share with your friends!

To find more useful tools, check out my page on Writing Resources.

Short Story Series 1: Getting Started

How to get started writing short stories

First off – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step by doing your research!

I can’t tell you how important that is. As a writer, you should probably get used to doing research. It doesn’t matter if you write pure abstract space fantasies or historically accurate murder mysteries, research is a necessity. So brush up on your search engine and library skills! Let me just preface this by saying that you won’t only need it for story facts and finding that word that’s on the tip of your tongue.

Next up is writing the story. This is of course the biggest hill when you start. How do you find the time to do it? Well there’s a lot of motivational options out there. Here are a few that I’ve either tried or heard works well for others:

  • #5amwritersclub – A Twitter hashtag for all those early risers who try to get their words down before work or before the kids wake up. Grab that cup of coffee (or tea!) and join your fellow authors!
  • NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo – You’re probably thinking wait, aren’t those for writing novels? I’m only ready to tackle short fiction thank you very much. Don’t worry. These challenges are flexible. One Camp NaNo I set my goal to be 20,000 words and I plotted out 4 short stories at around 5,000 words each. And for NaNoWriMo? Set a goal for x number of stories to be written, or get some editing in. Check out the Nano Rebels section on the forums to find others carving their own paths.
  • Inspiration Through Reading – If I’m in a deep writing slump, I’ll go find a good book that discusses the process of writing (Stephen King’s On Writing is a good example). Or I’ll listen to an audiobook of various short stories. I know the library had a whole collection of classic horror authors and their short fiction. There are also respected collections of short fiction online that are available for free, such as The Sirens Call for dark fiction or Heroic Fantasy Quarterly for heroic fantasy.
  • If you can’t really get into a short story, then try listening to others review them. I’m a big fan of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast and have been supporting them for years. They do a great job of breaking down the sometimes complex themes and churning your imagination in the process. If none of those sound appealing, then try listening to authors talk about their processes. There are a bunch of excellent author podcasts out there including The Outer Dark and Deadman’s Tome. I suggest trying each one to see what gets your imagination moving.

Once you have your short story finished, then it’s off to find a home for it. I think I’ll look at covering that in the next session on how to make sure your story is as good as possible.

This is Part 1 of a series on publishing Short Stories. If you find these helpful, please leave a comment or share with your friends!

To find more useful tools, check out my page on Writing Resources.