Enjoy. Or don’t! That much is entirely up to you. My work here is done. Sorry about the vertical orientation–I do not have enough time or motivation to re-film it at the moment. Ah well! In the meantime, I’ll just leave you with this:
Stay wonderful. Stay in touch. I’ll see you on the other side of the wor(ld)!
Hello all! Hope everyone is enjoying this lovely, last official day of summer. Tomorrow is the equinox and officially the last day of fall… which is a bittersweet thought for me. On one hand, summer is my favorite season of all… on the other, fall is a darn close second.
So while a tiny part of me can’t wait for soups and boots and sweaters and leaves and apple picking, the rest of me will soak up the last few rays of the summer sun with a shameless grin. And in keeping with that/in commemoration of my favorite season I am going to sprinkle this post with picture highlights of this summer. Enjoy!
Life: As alluded to last week (okay fine, as I was shouting over social media to anyone listening or not) I had an absolutely fabulous time at my “cabin in the woods.”
Being out west, in the middle of mountains, with clear air, plenty of hikes/outdoors available, and no life demands pressing down on my calendar was nothing short of amazing. I cleared my head, I read, I breathed that beautiful fresh air deeply, and… I wrote. A lot.
Being out there was so needed, so inspiring, and so good for my soul. Also, thanks Amanda for hanging out with me/saving me from complete hermitdom!
Reading: So I may or may not have stayed up wayyyyy too late one of my last nights in the “cabin” reading Queen of Shadows… Like, definitely not until the sky looked like this:
Oops. Sorry, but not really at all sorry because that book was amazing and had me on a wild and deathgrip-on-book-level-of-suspense-like roller coaster until the very. last. page.
I won’t risk spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the series (if you like fantasy at all, DO!/where have you been the last few years if you haven’t??) but I’ll just say that once again, Sarah Maas doesn’t disappoint. QoS had me hooked, heart racing, until the end. And mourning the fact that I have to wait another year for the fifth book. Seriously, trying not to think about that part!!
Writing: Ahhh so much to say, coming off this fabulous week of writing nonstop, but I’ll focus on one main thought for now, namely: getting deeper with main characters. This is something I spent a lot of time doing the past two weeks.
***Non-writers: feel free to skip this part, as it might be boring! Though of course you’re welcome to give it a look :-).
So, as promised last week, here’s a glimpse into how I go to deeper levels with my characters (not new characters – old, familiar ones who I’ve already been working with for a while). Last week in particular I was focusing on my main character, Partho.
Even though I’ve been writing books (three) in large part from his perspective for the last year and a half (and planning his story for longer than that), I realized that in some ways, I know his backstory much less than I do the backstories of other characters who play far smaller roles. I had always assumed I knew his so well, it wasn’t necessary, but I finally decided that this assumption and lack of fleshing out his formative years up until the main story starts was unfair to him, and that my story could only get stronger from my knowing him even better.
So, with this decided, I set out to dive deeper into Partho and his past than I ever have before. How, you may ask, did I go deeper? I’m a big fan of trying lots of methods when in doubt, so I tried a few, namely:
I talked to myself! More than usual…. But actually! I literally talked to myself, as I tried out voice memos this past week.
Why I tried it: I’m an auditory learner in many ways, but I also think I need a combination of different methods – so talking out loud (for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour an half) while also scribbling ideas in my notebook sounded like it might help me sort out the knots I’d had trouble working out solely in my head/on paper.
Example: One convo with self went something like this – “Okay, so today I want to talk about Partho and the most pivotal moments of his childhood. Different ideas I’m toying with – A) The time his brother comes to work at the forge for a day, and it’s a disaster B) The times that Maignee comes home late and he’s still up listening to stories C) Confrontation with a magistrate at mandated kingdom lessons apprenticeship…” And then I talked out all those options, letting them take me wherever they did (sometimes far off original topic, but I went with it!).
Verdict: I loved this method! Definitely going to use it again. And ended up using it for general plot planning as well.
Another method I’ve used before and tried again: writing memories/backstory in first person.
Why I tried it: like I mentioned, I’ve tried this approach before and it’s worked well for me. Something about heaving to tell a character’s story through their own eyes, even if it’s in a child’s voice, helps me really get into their head.
Example: In Partho’s case, I ended up writing a story he is telling to his mother, still as a child, about an encounter he had with one of the magistrates teaching lessons about their kingdom.
Verdict: I’m still having trouble getting into first person with Partho for some reason, but that struggling through was helpful. I definitely need to try it again some more.
Last thing I tried was poetry!
Why I tried it: I love playing around with new mediums! Even if they don’t lead to anything that will see the light of day, new styles can sometimes help bring back my “play” mentality and spark some magic.
Example: Seriously, I just composed an impromptu, terrible set of sonnets spoken about Partho.
Verdict: I always love this method, and it definitely helped this time too!
Okay, that’s all for now! Hope this was helpful/at all interesting. Writers – how do you get deeper/more in touch with your characters? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Up next week: diving into world building with a vengeance! Be well all,
Hello all! Quick update for you this week, as I have a book and a spot of scotch tea to get back to! And who said a cabin in the woods couldn’t be fun?
Life: Well, just in case you don’t follow me on other social media/haven’t read my last two posts… I’m in a cabin in the woods. Kinda. Mountains. Mountains with woods. Houselike cabin. Close enough! Suffice it to say – the mountain/forest/cabin air is clearing my head so much. And wow is that wonderful. I’ll write more on it next week, but I’ll leave you with a few pictures for now (sorry to anyone who’s already seen these). In summary – life is absolutely wonderful!
Books: Just the one, but it was so satisfying, I’m still digesting it with a purring smile. As I mentioned last week, Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman came out September 1, so I brought it with me to the cabin…. and I was not disappointed.
I didn’t think I liked westerns, but wow did Erin prove me wrong. The story hooked me so quickly, the world was so gritty, the characters so raw and real and captivating, I read it in a day. I put this on my goodreads review, but seriously – books that make me fall in love with their setting so much I need to visit it tomorrow are some of my favorites. I finished Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and instantly wanted to visit Sweden, and I was hardly halfway through Vengeance Road before I developed this burning desire to go to Arizona and trek across the desert. Thanks for the awesome read, Erin – I highly recommend it!
Writing: Oh man. Getting back in the grove is hard, but so worth it. I’ve rewritten this chapter one probably 20 times by now, but these two rewrites I’ve done in the past week… Guys, they feel SO CLOSE to where I want them to be! It is such an exciting feeling to finally feel a book you’ve put so much heart into coming together… and seriously, this book has my heart three times over. I’ll talk more about what has helped me get to this place of the book finally feeling right next week (hint – involves getting to know my main characters at an even deeper level than I ever have) but now the book, and my wonderful bladesmith and his complex, crazy family are calling me. Be well all!
For All Those Who Wander – this blog is officially dedicated to you.
To explain this dedication and new blog title, here is a story:
A few weeks ago, I came home in a funk. As a writer, an occasional hermit, and a self proclaimed grandma (coincidentally I think my own grandmother is more in this century), I get into all sort of funks. But this funk was particular. I knew where it came from – I’ve had it many times before. In fact, it’s less of a funk and more of a yearning.
See, as far as cities go, I love Chicago. It’s a beautiful blend of cultures and distinct neighborhoods, and yet you always seem to have room to breath. I know so many people in this city, many of whom I love dearly. And yet… I am so not a city girl.
My heart is not buried between skyscrapers. It’s in the middle of mountains.
So when my family asked me how my time in the city was, I answered, “A lot of fun, but… I’m also more sure than ever that this – Chicago – isn’t where I want to end up full-time. Because ultimately, I am so much happier when surrounded by nature, space, and mountains. So I think someday, a move may be in my future.”
My mom was sad then. She was quiet for a time, and finally she remarked, “Well, we all have to find our paths, honey.”
I thought about it for a minute. Finally I answered, “No, that’s not quite it. I know my path right now – it’s writing. I know what I want to be doing for the foreseeable future, and I’m doing it. I’m already on that path. It’s just… finding the best routes along the way.”
And I would choose the scenic route, no matter how long it takes me to find it.
And mom – once I’m there (with my own cabin the wood, wherever that is)…. which will probably take a while… you are SO welcome to come visit me in those mountains, and bring alllllll of your many books with you!
So to all my wanderers, I leave you with the brilliant words of J.R.R. Tolkien – and a blog that I will aim to take in the direction of this poem. Let me know what you think.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Which is all to say that I will be king of the world!!!! Muhhahaha!
Okay, maybe not that last part. But you get the picture. ❤
Life: Hello all! I have A normal(ish) update for you at last. The past few weeks have been packed for me “life”-wise, with a family friend’s wedding, family in town, hosting a slew of dinners/labor day bbqs, and generally everything piling up at once, as sometimes happens. But, it was wonderful to see family, and now I have a very clear week ahead…. more to come on that note ;).
Reading: Gahh I’ve been so good all year about tracking my reading, and now I’ve fallen behind a bit! From what I remember I’ve recently read Percy Jackson and the Olympians (awesome book – Rick Riordan nails middle grade/the world/his own amazing style of storytelling) and… started a lot of other books :/. Next few weeks task – finish those half started books. Note: this may be made more difficult by the fact that I just started Queen of Shadows – and it’s a brick of my book that may occupy a good deal of my reading energies for a while. Andddd I started Venegence Road by Erin Bowman (they both came out last week, and both are already proving to be awesome. Lalalala, book-cave here I come!!!
Writing: So. Good news, bad news. Bad news(ish) – I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that, despite having already rewritten my WIP (work in progress) once… It still has major plot problems, and it may not even be starting in the right place. In short, it is not the book I set out to write.
But that’s not entirely bad news, because while it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to rewrite (and then revise) again, I know it will be worth it to have a better finished product – one I’m really, truly, wholeheartedly proud of.
Now, onto the really fun news. Some of you (*cough* anyone who has talked to me in the past year or five *cough*) may know that I have a burning ambition… to find a cabin in the woods and live there in peace/hermit-dom as I write away my days. Well, I’m not quite there yet… but I did have a wonderful family friend offer me up their family’s vacation home to visit so I can have a little quiet time and finish this book! And said house is kinda in the woods/mountains so…. basically I’ve died and gone to heaven.
😛 That’s all. Talk to you next week. I have woods to enjoy now!!! And I will hopefully have an sizzling update for you then! In the meantime, be well everyone, and enjoy those final days of summer (which is not technically over until September 22 and no one will tell me otherwise lalalalala!).
I am sad to say there will be no book updates this week, but that is because last week was SUCH a crazy writing push for me – literally went from 7AM to 11PM (or 12AM, or 1AM, as the week went on) doing revisions work….Which led up this miraculous moment below, that for four months I wondered if I would ever reach, which I rolled into around 10AM on July 4th….
In case you can’t see it, those lovely, tiny, two words on the screen say – drumroll please – THE END. As in, I have officially made it to the end of this monstrous rewrite and finished round 1 of revisions of Palace of Moonlight!!! It has been a long ride, and I am so happy to have reached this milestone!
A huge thank you to all who have been amazing cheerleaders every step of the way – my family, my critique partners (looking at you and your perpetually inspiring text messages/tweets/care packages Akshaya and Janella!).
Speaking of care packages…. here are the Filipino bracelet and mini monkey that came as part of our mid-revisions care packages from Janella!! Fun fact – my package was addressed to Jasmine and Raja. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s Jasmine, Raja and even Abu ;P
And a special thanks to one wonderful Susan Dennard for her roadmap to revisions which gave me a flashlight in the murky haze of muddling through my unwieldy MS! Link to the start of her guide below.
Could not have done it without you all. Thank you, thank you. And of course, to the writer cat…. you might be annoying when you walk on my keyboard, but I love you anyways 🙂 and at least you put up with my gollumness! I am currently on a weeklong break from revisions (while convenient recovering from my gollum-like/cave-creature-inflictions in beautiful, nature rich Vermont) so more to come next week on round 2 of revisions and hopefully new books. In the meantime let me just finish on a slightly ridiculous note… namely, writer cat meets catnip. I call it the catniption fit. You’re welcome.
Life: Hello again blog world! After a crazy few weeks of travel, I am almost on my way back to Chicago – for the foreseeable future!! I know, I know, weird thing to be excited about, but truly, although the travels of the last month (two? eek) have been incredible… I am so ready to be home for a while. Things on the homebody’s horizon – revisions, organizing beautiful RT books on bookshelves, revisions, eating normal meals again, revisions, reading said fab RT books… did I mention revisions? On that note –
Writing: Has been happening slowly. I think I’ve mentioned before that the revisions process is my arch-nemesis. The same is still true :0. However, I have to say that some of my slowness of revisions over the last two months mayyy have had something to do with the near incessant travel I piled onto my life this spring. But… on the moving forward in the writing process side of things… the RT Booklovers Convention (a huge readers and writers con with lots of authors, workshops, book pitching opportunities and general ridiculousness) was AMAZING. I cannot begin to say enough about the crazy helpful advice from writing panels, the sheer kindness of the authors, or how wonderful it was to finally hang out in person with my fabulous critique partners. So let me just say here – thank you Dallas, thank you RT, thank you everyone we met there… and Janella & Akshaya, we have sooo many skype CP dates in our future because I about to miss you like crazy!
Reading: On the RT topic – just books on books on books. I think I am coming home with… 50? Maybe more? And around 300 free ebooks. So… yeah. And a lot of them signed! So if you don’t here from me for a while, I might be in a book cave. Oops. And in the last month… I’ve read a whole lot of J.R. Ward (still amazing) and a couple of other books but not sure I’ve finished any of them. Be on the lookout for a whole lot of new things in the next few weeks though. My book pile is now more than waist high. But actually. And until next time… happy almost summer!!!! 😘
Sorry it’s been two weeks! Travel took over life for a while, in the best way possible. 🙂
Life: Like I mentioned, lots of travel, but I’m finally back in the good old, bipolar spring-inclined Midwest. It was a wonderful few weeks, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to work. Hence this post being another short one! Also, I’ve included a few pictures below.
Reading: Ahem. Okay. The other reason I haven’t posted in two weeks. I like to read I travel. Shamelessly. So here goes nothing: about 6 romances… I think! A couple of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the second of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series. And also read Anne Bishop’s The Invisible Ring and Melina Marchetta’s Froi of the Exiles. All were great, and all were by author’s whose work I’ve read before.
In particular, Froi of the Exiles blew me away. I think I am actually going to need some time away from the trilogy before I read the last book (Quintana of Charyn). It just reached into my head and rattled my brain that much. High fantasy, pretty dark, but seriously good – great characters and incredible twists.
Writing: …Did I mention I’ve been binge-reading and traveling for the last two weeks? Oops. So yeah. A bit of rewriting and overall character/timeline planning happened… but now it’s time to get down to work for real. So without further ado… I’m gonna go write some things!!
Life: Hello from Lucerne, Switzerland! It will be a quick post today because, well, it’s Switzerland and there’s hiking to be done, mountains to be seen, chocolate and cheese to be eaten, etc.… 😉 And I still need to do a little bit of work before we take off for a hike! But, I’ll just say that it is beautiful here, even in the rain, and more pictures will follow.
Writing: Still knee deep in revisions! I am going to try and do at least an hour a day even with the travels, because I’d like to have my MS ready to go by this summer. There are several reasons for this timeline, one of which is the RT convention in Dallas this May. I am so excited for it, in no small part because my lovely CPs, Akshaya and Janella, will be there! Also, there will be lots of published authors, aspiring writers, avid readers, and… editors and agents who could potentially request a full manuscript if they like the sound of your story. So it’s exciting. But slightly terrifying. But exciting. Did I mention I should probably get back to revisions now?
Books: Finished Erin Bowman’s Taken and Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound this week. Both were excellent. Well written dystopian and dragon filled romance – need I say more? Really though, I’m not usually a big fan of dystopian, but I thought Taken was very well done – and great characters/captivating family relationships (though I may be biased because my own books revolve around close family ties as well). And Dragon Bound was so wonderful – such a quirky, unapologetic, original voice. Plus I love dragons. A lot. Reading about five books at the moment though (I may have a bit of book ADD) so should have more for next week. Be well everyone and happy Easter/Passover/Palm Sunday for Greeks/Orthodox Christians!
Life: Hello from New Orleans! This is my life news for the week – visiting Louisiana these next few days with my wonderful mom. I’ll post a few pictures below. Overall, a few things I’m looking froward to: wandering the neighborhoods, eating beignets, and seeing the Bayous!!
Writing: Revisions are marching on! Entered into week 4 of revisions, and am diving into making the actual changes on my manuscript. Sometimes this is frustrating… like when it becomes clear that a rewrite is necessary/more efficient than trying to change two out of every three sentences. But hey, I like the drafting process more than the revising process, so rewriting is more up my alley. And as always, Susan Dennard’s website/step-by-step guide to revising is incredible, and so are my critique partners. They are the only reason that revisions have not completely eaten my soul.
Books: Mmm I think I’ve finished a few in the last week. The three that I’m certain about are: Maggie Stievfater’s Shiver, Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, and Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen of Attolia. All well-known YA books with some gorgeous writing. The Queen of Attolia in particular was incredible – I still feel kinda like a tornado ran through my mind and left an enchanting mess in its wake. It’s the kind of book you just keep thinking about for days afterwards. So satisfying. Definitely recommend!!!
And without further ado… a view of the city from above, a beautiful tree in the French Quarter, and the beads of Bourbon Street. Next stop – alligators. 😉