Holiday Fun

What is this- A writing post? Been a super long time since we had one of these. Anyway…

Segennya has turned over the course of developing Vengeance of Segennya from a small country that’s fairly vacant of any real depth to a world that rivals my husband’s worlds for the Dungeons and Dragon campaigns we run, and trust me the current campaign he’s working on has had about three months of just solid world building going on let alone actual open world adventure- I’ve been a bouncing point for ideas in that regard. But I digress. When Vengeance ended Kakri built upon this world a bit more and so Darkness has to as well. I didn’t want to expand it though in the same way every story but just adding either a new area that we explore via the characters. Sure that’s fun and all, and there’s a ton of twists you can get into with it but still…

So was born the idea of populating the world with holidays and other celebrations which if you go this route in books and especially any novel or story that deals with a world that is far from our own on how far different or not you want to go with it. I started plotting/ writing Darkness around Christmas and won’t deny that I have a love of that holiday so that was my starting point. From there it was a matter of how different to make the holiday and how to add a certain Segennyian twist to it. From here I tossed out modern things I could think of completely, kept it simple- candles, rather plain and simple decorations. (I really don’t dare say more because I imagine those who read my books want to see it there rather than here.)

Now like I said there should be something that somewhat separates it from the known, but at the same time you want a reference. Readers of any story are already suspending disbelief for some of the magical feats or general different physics that might at work to make things work for your story so you don’t want something drastically different. I think in the end I’ll end up with something in the middle, some things that do scream that they are of my world but more typical things like what I said the simple decorations and candles, getting everyone together… the list of possibilities goes on. You don’t have to go completely wild though, but make it fun,

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Monday, Monday, Monday….

I swear now I’ve started a blog post at least five times over the course of the weekend. Of course this weekend was probably an all new low for me as of late. That was more on the writing end though, I created this new facebook page which has turned into yet another place where I share writing/ book related links besides my personal profile but then again I find it nice to break up the stream of status updates/ blog links. I also sent out a crap ton of review requests from non-family members for Vengeance, which probably didn’t help my writing progress at all since now I’m like worried will they hate it? This of course is probably not new at all to any author, except probably the most seasoned who have, at least if some of the things like blogs I’ve read either avoid reviews all together or just figure that reviewer wasn’t part of their audience. If I can ever get to that point, well besides just avoiding reviews I will be one happy lady. Adding to this fun state was the fact that I’m thinking of doing my first book signing too since the paperback is now available at Barnes and Noble- enough said on that one I think, lol.

That being said the review nerves didn’t stop productivity entirely. I managed to assemble some more of Kakri despite it not being anywhere near my normal word counts. How coherent the stuff I managed to get done is and so how much editing I will have to do. I also managed to piece together more of Darkness’s Fury’s outline. I must say I’m torn on length, I’ve hit what I think is officially the climax and intended since now that I’m finding my way much easier in Segennya on how much for Darkness to be longer than Vengeance. Now I wonder if I should try to maintain that goal or just maintain pace so it doesn’t get bogged down by unneeded details. The constant struggle, I swear on how much is too much and how much is too little detail wise. Right now though my current plan is to see where the outline takes me, where actually writing takes me and the revision/ feedback time. Much better than agonizing over it in my opinion, its easy to revise it to flow better later than to add a ton, and by ton I mean pages upon pages because stuff falls short. I did end up adding some details with Vengeance but it took a lot to get the parts to match up and become coherent but of course sometimes this is just unavoidable due to story progression. We’ll see which side wins overall, stay tuned.

 

That One Story….

Okay before I get too far into this post I have to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who have bought, shared and just generally been awesome people in the past year but also especially since Vengeance released. Seriously you all are amazing with your buying the book and support on this journey. Eternal gratitude from me. Words cannot express what it means to see that many coming out in support of this venture. So once again thanks.

Remember that story that you, if you’re like me, have forgotten to the bowels of wherever you keep old stories? The one that is so awful, or so you thought, that you vowed never to speak/ see it again? Yeah, I have several of those and the one in particular is the one that actually got me considering seriously getting a story published because of friend support. I might have if time, money and of course my own fears didn’t get in the way honestly. But I didn’t and after re-reading it shortly after giving up the idea that I would ever be able to revise it I tossed it among other important (and some not so important) papers to vanish from my mind and sight.

But it didn’t- it actually resurfaced a few days ago when I was looking for something else among the papers that were filed away in the same light. Somehow this story has stayed with my belongings after four moves and having absolutely no care at all as to what became of it. Now normally I can’t stand re-reading something that old- at this point its been since the beginning of Vengeance that I last really, really looked at it. I’ve changed as a writer and as a person so seeing what 17-18 year old Tiffany, or younger, wrote isn’t that appealing and I’m quick to see the flaws. Something was different this time though, maybe its that I have one published book under my belt that I can look at my own stuff, regardless of age, and see the flaws and how to fix them instead of tossing them to the side like I had done. As I looked over the pages I remembered how cool I thought the story was- in reality I think it needs a bit more fleshing out, but not too bad. I remembered how much it was partly memoir in a way, chronicling the events of my senior year of high school and people I knew in some way or another. I couldn’t help but to smile reading about a character I named Grandma and had inadvertently made fun of my own in the same sentence, this became a standing joke as she later helped me edit a bit of it and often said I would need to increase the age of the character so it still came true. Then I came to the reason I set it aside in the first place, the most inaccurate trial in history, using a system that could never be used. I know this for sure now after 6 years of college, but even back then it didn’t ring true but I took the stance of: Research?! What is this thing?

As I looked at it though I began to see how I could shift stuff to avoid this issue, cross it somewhat with another story idea I was thinking of to play with to just give my head a break from Segennya with some writing so I don’t burn out on a world I love and have plenty of stories to tell in. The combination basically takes the plots from the story I wrote in high school and places them in this world of higher technology than in the original and up existing tones. So never say never to those old stories you think are unable to be fixed, enough time might just provide solutions to issues you never thought you’d get out of. I’ve heard the advice of sometimes you just have to let stories sit until you have figured this out, but honestly never believed them. How could a simple thing like time and moving onto other stories solve this mountain of trouble in an unrelated one? Of course reaching this solution also makes new issues, like deciding if this revised story idea should be added to my agenda as Darkness’s Fury steams along and Kakri sits over half written. Decisions… Decisions…

The Little Reminders of Why it is Worthwhile

Today was a somewhat quiet Saturday for us anyway, there’s not even the sounds of video games being played on our television due to a friend’s cold or from the computer next to me. Instead my hubby finishes watching his show  before turning in I continue my all day struggle to get something done on Kakri while enjoying the Christmas tree for one of the last nights this season. (Yes I’m having a hard time already taking the damn thing down and am never one to rip it down a day or two after the official end of the holidays.) This was also the case yesterday though it was a different tree I was enjoying since we went over to my in-laws where I delivered a couple signed copies of Vengeance to my sister and mother in law. As we were chatting on the process, sharing with them how I did it since  we never have had a chance to really, really get into the behind the scenes stuff, running this blog, costs, setbacks that drove me up the wall- the list goes on and on but you get the idea. As we chatted my sister in law’s boyfriend’s daughter came upstairs from where they were watching a show  and they showed her the book. .

“Hey look at this,” my in-law’s boyfriend said to her. “You know how you love to write? Do you know who wrote this?”

She shook her head no. “That girl behind you, Tiffany,” he tells her.

She looks at the book then turns to look at me, mouth wide open. “Yup,” I say blushing unable to find much more to say really. She turns back to the book real fast then half looks at me again.

“See,” my sister in law tells her. “If you work hard you might be able to do it too.”

That, ladies and gentlemen is partly why I set out on this journey. To prove you can get past the gatekeepers, chart your own course and with a lot of hard work succeed in this thing that just years ago was essentially crossed off the list to the point of never going to do it. Sure I haven’t hit the whole payoff section of this all, I’m no overnight success but  I did it, I published a book and I’ll publish more. I have stories to tell plain and simple. And in these past few weeks of doing a more aggressive campaign to get word out about Vengeance being released in between holidays and looking forward to how to handle 2014 in that regard and what the year has in store its a nice reminder of partly why I did it in the first place. Hopefully when my son gets a bit older and can understand things a bit better he can take the same lesson away and apply them to his own interests, wherever they lie.

Word Processor Wars- A Battle of Wills.

So Word and I have been having some disagreements lately as I’m going pretty much sentence by sentence in editing Vengeance.  These are just a couple of the exchanges:

*Green line for grammar errors pops up*

Me- No, Word I don’t think that’s wrong.

*Looks at suggestions and debates them*

Me- Okay even if it’s wrong I’m not going to be using either of those.

*Green line disappears for a second then comes back with a vengeance.*

Me- Have you ever tried those suggestions aloud Word?  I tried them both and they sound equally ridiculous.

At this point I swear that green line is just glaring at me with hatred as I move on and ignore it thinking myself victorious in the argument with the program but little did I know Word would have its revenge a few days later.

Me- Alright finally done with this long as hell chapter and fixing the formatting errors.  Now I just need to stick it in the book form document and I’m set.

*Selects all the text and sets about erasing that annoying line in between paragraphs.*

Me- Okay…. I selected the option why are those still there?  Maybe the document is messing up.

*Tries to paste it into the other document, doesn’t fix it and then Word tells me there’s too much.*

Me- Starts cursing

*Restarts Word entirely, gets told again there’s a ton on Clipboard.*

Me- okay let’s try this again.

*Tries the option and finds it already selected.*

Me- Okay that’s odd… *Hits backspace on an empty line* You’ve got to be kidding me Word!  You’re gonna make me delete every single on of these spaces?

*Word at this point is probably laughing hysterically at me if it could as I just trudge through deleting the extra spaces.*

Goes to show you kids, never ignore blatantly what your word processor suggests to you or it will make you do extra and pointless work.  This blog post probably amused at least a couple of you out there besides me, at least I hope it did.

Yup… Still Doing That One Thing.

You know, that one thing.  That one thing that is also called editing- which is why things have been so quiet here.  Good news is we’re getting somewhere and its not all- “This is the worst, most awful thing ever!  Why did you even write this let alone say you were publishing it?!”   I imagine most people, writer/author or not, are familiar with that voice out there.  Oh yeah there are times, mainly lines or paragraphs that cue that response, but then I remember as much as I and basically anyone with a creative passion would love its not going to be done perfect right out of your brain to the page.  You are going to have character moments that all just seems off the wall, the balance is going to be off between them like one gets a bit more of the spotlight than the others, and you are going to definitely have those moments of well this was a cool idea at the time but now it just sucks and needs to be replaced by a cooler idea or one that actually fits in the story.  I mention this stuff because while editing has been talked a thousand times over on various websites and blogs  and so much of these things are mentioned there because honestly I thought I would never be able to do it at all.  I thought I’d never be able to silence that voice that says “you suck,”  that I would never be able to get past the parts in the story that are just bad, go crazy and trigger that voice in some way making it impossible to silence and continue doing what needs to be done.  This is also why five drafts got essentially trashed before this with only a few ideas left intact at least in idea form with one of them not even complete when I did it.  Now keep in mind this isn’t one of those, if you can overcome all this- then you’ll be fine editing your writing yourself.  It is definitely not the solution for everyone though I think it is part of the solution, and for the most part it worked for me.  Now if only I can stop using various parts of grammar almost stupidly much… like commas.

In other news, and please forgive the mom moment for a second here, reached one of the last major milestones with munchkin this week, he started school this past Monday and man do I now feel old.  All in all it wasn’t too bad, he fussed a bit and is still getting used to the routine (he’s never seen daycare or been away too much fro Mom and Dad) and being told more than usual what to do.  At the same time when we drop him off he’s pretty much off and running often trying to go into other classrooms that are there, whether this is just him being eager or they’re just new places to explore still has yet to be seen.  We did the whole first day- hang out a few to see how he does the first day and even when I told him goodbye he was like “See ya- I’m just gonna play in the ball pit.”  So right now Mom is enjoying her time of quiet though seeing dawn again is definitely an adjustment I didn’t think I would have to do so soon after my high school days.

So Back to work and relaxing while I have the opportunity-

Tiffany

The End?- Being Proud and the Next Chapter….

Saturday marked the final words being typed of Vengeance in its mostly current incarnation.  I say mostly since editing has been partly underway for a while and has been launched over the past few days.  Now that its done after being so close to being done so, so many times and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect and celebrate I gotta say it is a one of a kind feeling.  It is crazy just how much relief you have that you won the battle with self doubt and the tears of unruly characters, of world building issues.  Of how much is too much or too little in the first book of a series like this.  Words cannot describe it though what I felt as I leaned back in my chair beaming because of what had been done, then eagerly rushing off to tell everyone and anyone pretty much instantly leaving the blog for further reflection.  So considering that this is Vengeance’s about 5th draft I wanna say, I honestly lost count of how many though I know I have noted it here before, considering how many times I had just stopped it was relief at first, then pride that I had done it.  So in my telling of my world that I had done it- not caring that it was basically midnight so any sane person was likely in bed or close to it and was like “Because I can be proud of this…”  Which is true, whether it’s finishing a 115,000 word novel your first time out, or finishing a short story, or screenplay or anything you pour your blood, sweat and soul into.  You did it and you can be extremely proud of it because that fact that you overcame all that and finished which is most of the battle.

So I spent an hour or so in reflection then as I sat there I realize I had something to do, my NaNoWriMo- which is Book 2.  So I opened a new document and let the words come, then starting thinking of plots, and titles and end goals and it came together so wonderfully it was amazing.  So like any good idea that comes so easily I charged in,  while I have a bit of catch up for the 50,000 word goal of the challenge I gotta say its not a bad start given the total time I’ve typed away at it.  So far it is kinda hard to shut down the editor and just let the ideas come but its a work in progress.  What will Book 2 entail?  Well that’s for me to know at the moment, I can tell you current working title that is very much subject to change but for now is sticking around is Darkness’s Fury.

So as I look back one final time on what I learned while writing Vengeance at least for moment I think on the good times and the bad and take them in so I can apply them to Darkness.  So in the words of advice I told someone who asked the other day I share it with you now (especially if you take this route I have with intending on publishing for sale):

-Write for yourself as you enjoy it, once you worry about what will sell or what will appeal to others it won’t work and will freeze you up.

– Take those advice sites and even this with a grain of salt- you’ll find what works for you.  Some tips can be useful to get out of a tight spot but it’s not universal.

-Don’t stress, once again it will freeze you up.  In the same line don’t let yourself get hung up and keep moving.

– Most Important  Surround yourself with people who will be your cheerleading squad because it WILL be needed at some point.  When that voice that tells you that you suck and what the fuck are you thinking just gets too loud.  To give you the encouragement needed.  Some brutally honest criticism can be useful too since it gives you the needed push in some spots just as much as the cheerleaders, but those that are negative and make you doubt more than you do one take their comments with a grain of salt and maybe vacant their vicinity for awhile cause its not needed and sadly a lot of people are like that.  There’s looking at it realistically (brutally honest) but every time you bring up your novel (the negative) since even the honest people in my experience still look with you to the stars.

So before I vanish into edits, and other things I want to take the opportunity again to thank you all.  Thanks for the support, thanks for hanging around I had hoped this day would have come a lot sooner, but life had other ideas, and thanks for believing with me that this book can reach the stars.

Here’s to the next chapter and moving forward,

Tiffany

Just a Little Off Here, a Little Off There

Well maybe little is an understatement, but lets break this down shall we?  When editing one must expect some scenes won’t make the cut, I’ve already cut several that sounded brilliant at the time but now that all has taken shape and set the scene they just don’t sound as good.  Now this can be an excruciating experience because of course you want it all in, and at times if you’re anything like me you’re cutting out 500+ words at times either completely and leaving it as is or need to replace at least some of this total.   This of course also overlooks the obvious reason as to why this is painful which is that its your writing, your words and your blood, sweat and tears that went into it.  Which makes the following probably absolutely crazy as to what I decided to do the other night:

Vengeance is decreased by chapters, one I preemptively cut and combined two of them together to make a complete chapter, the second was about 2,000 words in before I made the cut.  What in the world was I thinking?  Well, simply put like I said above what sounded cool and a good idea at one time didn’t feel right anymore.   The thing I dedicated a chapter to explaining would be better with much less dedicated to it, and to keep it as it was would only drag on the story and bog the flow down.   Still though I went back and looked at it after reaching the decision to double check and recheck whether it was right or not since after all there were some one of a kind moments in there.  Who knows though some of those lines might sneak in other places or moments so I’m not overly torn they had to be cut, but still second guessed myself a lot about it, not one of the deeper cuts though I’ve had to do since they were incomplete to begin with.

With the cuts though I can officially say we’re about four- call it four and a half chapters away from the end, the book on my end anyway is about halfway at least semi-edited wording, grammar and content wise.  Halfway is probably an understatement but best be safe than sorry when giving amounts on things like that, nothing is worse than when you think you’re farther along than you actually are.  Been there, done that one- not fun.  So what this random babbling translates to- we’ll see the end of this much sooner than I thought well given all the setbacks and trying to allow for time issues.  Cover by the way will hopefully be shown and assembled in the next week or so- weather permitting to get the shots we need.

Okay off to game- I have a goliath and gnoll to keep in line.  We’ll see what trouble we get into this time.

Tiffany

Unruly Characters

Lets start this tangent with how many characters there are in Vengeance not including the minor- we see them for a short time maybe a chapter or two and then they continue on with their lives after the main characters leave them behind-there are twelve of importance though a few of those might fall to more supporting roles.  Because of their roles in the story each character has been mapped out somewhat in detail, their personalities, tastes, basically just shy of what character details one might find for just the main character.  Regardless of planning sometimes still characters feel as though they go astray or fall flat, this  usually can be somewhat easily fixed with revisions farther along especially areas where characters don’t seem as strong, but still at times during the long first process of getting parts of the story together it can be extremely frustrating how cookie- cutter flat they can be.  Off the wall moments when characters just do things on their own unexpected wills is actually less frustrating to me because usually if they do that at, least in my experience, its much easier fixed or even flows better despite the branch away from how you originally thought process on how their character was.

The first issue of being flat is ten times worse for me anyway.  Nothing is worse than having an emotionally charged scene, and a character or two just come up short for what the scene needs.  That or have a character who has an important role and re-reading it the way the character handles itself just won’t click with the reader and seems so much short of how you think it should have happened yet it refuses to behave  like the situation I mentioned or in general.  There are a few ways I’ve at least have chosen how to handle the characters.  One is embrace the flatness, use the qualities that make them seem that way and try to add layers that way- example I was just working on a scene that had most of the major characters in their first real moment of awkwardness and un-comfortableness with one another and one character just wasn’t reacting the way I had hoped.  It basically read like a normal conversation for them and what actual reactions regarding the scene seemed forced in a way for me fishing for anyway to make the scene work.  I was ten seconds from throwing my hands up in the air in defeat, after I re-looked at it though- I turned those forced parts into a different emotion that still fits the character, and the tone of the dialogue that is there, just might need more details to pull off believably.  Another thing to do is when you absolutely cannot find the thing you’re looking for in a character is maybe evaluate role and shift them more to the background.  Sometimes the problem is simply too many focal characters and the trouble one is better suited to remain flat and fade more if only for your own sanity than anything.  Haven’t reached that point myself yet, but it has been considered at times.

You spend so much time with these people its always hard to see them go astray and they need you to reign them back into behaving, and sometimes they are just as much people as flesh and blood. This of course is the goal I think to any author, if they feel that way to you and anyone you have look at the book or short story before it is released to the general populace and after their revealing than I think you’ve done it right.  Sometimes the tangents are necessary to their development, sometimes it takes a lot of altering to make them behave, and believe it or not but this post was simply spawned from one of those times.  So my parting question to you all, if you’re a writer how do you reign in characters to where you want them, and if you’re a reader to the tropes bother you if they’re even used in writing and do you even love the flatter characters?

Until next time,

Tiffany

Trying to Squeeze that Extra Second out

Whether your writing in between a 9-5 job and being a parent or just one of those like myself you still find yourself trying to find that extra second to get a decent way in whatever you’re writing.  This struggle has been more pronounced for me this past month, and while I know its nothing new- I’ve had papers for school I’ve had to put off until way more last second than normal for this very reason, but its been at the forefront of my mind.  It seems every time I sit down with the intent to write someone needs me, munchkin, husband, phone calls (basically insert any number of life related thing here) and with one interruption usually about ten more at least are soon to follow.  At times its almost like some super cosmic force is against me ever finishing this book and I find myself throwing my hands up in the air and going really?

Now I know there really isn’t a force going against me and this book, but it sure can feel like it at times. In my eternal browsing of the internet I’ve found a multitude of different ideas on how to find time and keep focused on writing and while some of these ideas are good they definitely aren’t for everyone.  One of the first ones  is to make and stick to a strict schedule with writing, usually in the morning and basically write a set amount during that time slot each day.  I have tried a variation of this method and must say it didn’t work, woke up with the idea that I would buckle down and focus on writing for at least two hours that day only to actually sit at my desk or computer and find nothing or the dreaded thing called life got in the way once more.  When it was the first reason for not being successful in my attempt, I usually found myself able to finally write at just another time, and that time varied greatly from attempt to attempt- leading me to think that partly this method is impossible for some people and I’m one of them.   Having  a strict schedule also gets me since I don’t believe that you can fully just click your brain into that mode and expect it to churn out so many pages or chapters, train it to somewhat enter that mode at a certain time but overall you’ll be met with a similar results to myself.  Its like outlining to me, some people do it and insist its the only way to go- I don’t touch it except when forced to by school and to have a general idea of A to B to C plot wise.

As far as getting away from life’s distractions and shutting yourself away either in another room or I’ve heard of people going to hotels for a few days, or just somewhere else this one doesn’t work for me either.  There is no option to fully get away for this mom, though I can definitely see the appeal since sometimes especially if you’re stuck somewhere in the story getting out of where your  head has existed for a while can get you free of the spot and if you have no distractions you can follow this new train of thought wherever it might lead you no worries at the same time.

So I’m somewhat resigned to fit writing in where I can and I imagine there are a lot out there like myself basically playing dodge ball with distractions.  Even as I’ve written this post I’ve had to do something for the munchkin five times and come back and resume writing.  I write when the munchkin is asleep, though that’s partly taken up with other things as well and have just taken to doing it whenever I can fit it in.    Still however, it does get frustrating as time goes on and you just need to vent a bit though you’re not alone.  So does anyone do either of the methods I described above or what do you do in order to fit writing anything into those precious hours you get for yourself each day?

-Tiffany