Pondering a Series Bible

I’ve heard about series bibles before, but I’ve never really considered making one. A series bible, for those unfamiliar with the terminology, is a document where you keep all your information relating to a series, such as character information, worldbuilding, plot summaries, etc.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know I don’t tend to write series. In fact, aside from my trilogy and the Fractured World universe, I’ve never written multiple stories in the same universe (aside from little scenes here and there for my own edification). So while series bibles have sounded interesting, they’ve never seemed like they would be much use to me.

However, today I was working on one of those little scenes I mentioned above. These are little vignettes related to the main story that aren’t meant for any specific except to help me flesh out character and worldbuilding. Most of them are backstory, though some of them are scenes from alternate points of view. But, anyway, I was working on one related to the trilogy, since I’m still running it through the critique marathon and will be working on it again shortly.

And I ran into some issues where I couldn’t remember some of my worldbuilding. Or if I’d done that particular worldbuilding.

And then I had to do said worldbuilding, which slowed down the process, and made more work of random little scenes than I wanted.

So maybe it wouldn’t hurt to consolidate all my notes in one place, where I can find everything when I need it. I mean, I do this for individual books, so it makes sense to move all the stuff from the whole trilogy into one place, right? Or copy it over, maybe, so the information is still in place for the individual book and I don’t have to dig through everything to find it.

Have you guys used a series bible? How many stories are necessary in a world before you start up a bible? What do you use?

(In the interest of full transparency, I do have a bible for the Fractured World stories. Because the Fractured World is designed to have multiple authors telling stories in it, I made a governing document so that everyone’s worldbuilding is consistent.)

Being Limber

I’ve been so excited for this week, squiders. The small, mobile ones are back in school (cross your fingers) and I have hours to myself every day to Do Things. And I thought I was going to be so productive! Writing, drawing, editing, you name it, it was getting done.

But here it is Thursday, and I haven’t written at all, I’ve drawn and inked (and half colored) a single picture, and I’m not really sure what I’ve done with the rest of my time.

(I am on top of the critiquing marathon, so that’s something, at least.)

Like today! Today got off to such a great start. I got up and started this blog post, then took both small, mobile ones to their respective schools. And then I picked something up from one of the schools, and ran errands at Target…

…at which point I realized I was 15 minutes late for my blood donation appointment.

I think a lot of it might be because my spouse has been like, oh, great, now you can fertilize the lawn and call the concrete company and clean the kitchen and figure out the doctor and so on and so forth. And I feel like I need to do his stuff, since he asked, but I also resent his taking up all my time with awful chores that were his in the first place because he’s the one with the skills that match those (talking on the phone makes me anxious), so I just mess around and nothing’s getting done.

I realize, of course, that if I would just do things and not stress out about them, things would get done.

ANYWAY

As you might imagine, I’ve been a bit high strung this week due to the difference in preconceived ideas of how the week was going to go versus how it has gone. But it is what it is, and instead of stressing about it, I’ve got to adapt.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. As the meme goes.

Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that things don’t go according to plan most of the time, and you’ve just got to deal with it.

Be limber. Be flexible.

Normally over the summer I wake up early to write before everyone else gets up, but I can’t do that now unless I get up REALLY early. Which might still be a possibility. My first thought was to write as soon as the small, mobile ones were out, but that’s a really convenient errand time since I’m already out.

I might pick a time and try stopping what I’m doing and going then. Or just whenever I get home.

Anyway, it’ll get sorted, at least until the next schedule change, and then we’ll have to start all over again.

Oh well!

How’s your week going, squiders?

Thoughts On the Writing Journal

Well, it’s been about two months since I started my writing journal, and, as I know this is a recommended writing habit among writers, I thought it might help to hear how it’s going.

I’ve talked about it quite a bit lately, but in case you’ve missed it somehow, a writing journal is kind of like a normal journal, except you focus on writing-related things. A lot of people write a couple of pages in them first thing in the morning.

You can plot out bits of story, draw maps, keep track of bits and pieces that were interesting but don’t fit in what you’re currently writing, do backstory, etc.

I will admit to some trepidation about the idea, mostly because it’s on paper.

Story time!

A million years ago, I had a spiral-bound steno notebook that I used to take with me everywhere. I’d plot in it, write segments of stories in it, do worldbuilding, etc. Kind of like a writing journal, except I just kind of worked wherever and it wasn’t a consistent practice.

(Actually I had two. I still have one of them–I think–which is falling apart at this point and is covered with many, many years of Nano stickers.)

I used to keep it by my bed so I could write down dream ideas in it. One night, I had a dream that would eventually be turned into Shards. I woke up, and wrote down everything.

And the notebook went AWOL. I mean, I never saw it again. To this day, I have no idea where it could have gone. I thought we’d find it when we moved, that it would emerge from wherever it’d fallen or whatever, but nope.

It’s been over ten years since that notebook disappeared. I did go ahead and write Shards, obviously, but I’ve always felt that I missed something from the initial idea that would have been really neat.

(Not that I dislike Shards or its world at all! Just that I am aware that what I ended up with from the vague memory of the dream is not what I would have ended up with had I had access to my original notes.)

So the idea of having a notebook where important ideas are stored and which is not backed up elsewhere makes me a little anxious. But, on the other hand, I think much better on paper, and I have almost always plotted and worldbuilt on paper. There is something about drawing and writing things out by hand that gets my creativity flowing.

I will admit I am not using it consistently. I’ll go for a few days at a time then take a few days off, normally to catch up to where I’ve gotten idea-wise. But when I do use it…it’s amazing. Aside from the realization that I have been actively avoiding my main goal for the last five year, it’s just been great for figuring out the next bits on World’s Edge and working through other things.

So I guess I do recommend the practice, with the caveat that any really important things might be worth copying over to a back-up somewhere.

What do you think, squiders? Do you use a writing/creativity journal? What practices do you find work for you?

WriYe and Getting Started

Oof, squiders, sorry I’m flaky this week. My basement has flooded TWICE in THREE DAYS. At least we’ve figured out the problem this time, as opposed to two days ago when we thought we’d figured the problem out and were obviously wrong.

(God, we’d better be right this time.)

Did you know if you have a wet/dry vacuum you can just vacuum up water? For some reason this is very strange to me.

ANYWAY.

Normally I like to leave the WriYe prompts til a little later in the month, but man, this has been a week, and I’m too tired to figure things out otherwise.

Describe your writing beginnings. How did you get started?

I started writing when I was about eight, and mostly because my mother was a writer. Emulating her and all that. This is back in the olden days, when we had CorelWrites and WordPerfect and you had to know the key shortcuts to do things. Or sometimes I wrote on an electric typewriter.

I started, like many people, using my favorite things as a base, changing a character here, a premise there. I had some picture and puzzle books I made my own versions of, plus I made up roleplaying situations for me and my cousins to do based on my favorite shows and video games, and I made a fashion book based on the Wizard of Oz, and other bizarre creative things only children ever think of.

I mainly focused on roleplaying throughout my teens, aside from writing a few short stories and starting a dozen novels that never went anywhere. In college Nanowrimo started, and that’s when I switched more to writing from roleplaying.

What was your “a-ha” moment that made you realize this was something you wanted to pursue?

So I started doing Nanowrimo in 2003, which was fun! I really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the friends I met through the event. But I mostly only wrote during November. I would finish my drafts slowly throughout the rest of the year (my last year I snuck off to a tea shop called The Tea Spot at least once a week, where I wrote and ate scones and also fancy chocolates) but it was just a hobby.

In 2006 we moved to California, where I knew no one. I didn’t have a job for the first few months and I was super, super depressed and isolated. I think I’ve told you guys this story before.

Anyway, I recognized that things were going poorly and decided that I needed to do something to keep me occupied, and I decided that I wanted to write full-time and maybe try to do something more formal with everything, so I joined a bunch of writing groups (some of which I still belong to today, including WriYe, actually) which gave me some much needed social interaction and got me going on something until I got a job and started to find my place in my new home.

And here we still are, I guess. Nothing big. Just a decision, once upon a time.

Anyway, pray for my basement, squiders. If nothing else, then for my state of mind.

See you next week!

The Depths of Summer

Hey hey, squiders! Look I’m remembering to post twice this week. It’s a miracle! Or something.

I’m actually feeling pretty good. Yes, this summer has been a bit of a mess in terms of, you know, productivity or consistency, but the last week has actually been really good. It’s like examining my goals actually helped me focus or something.

Funny how that works.

We’re into my second week in the critiquing marathon and, unfortunately, the last week. That’s my own fault for not being on top of things, though being super busy/out of town for all June would not have made it so I could participate anyway. So far the feedback I’m getting seems positive, so that’s good! Encouraging even.

Last week I also wrote the second part of a serial story I’m writing for Turtleduck Press, about a scientist in an underwater station after the surface of the Earth has become unlivable. That’ll go live on Sunday, and my editors on that were very complimentary, so maybe I’m not a hack after all.

This week I’ve been focusing on World’s Edge so I can hit my camp goal of 10K. I’m at 9K on it, so just need to do another thousand tomorrow, which is doable. I’m at about 87K on the draft out of a planned 100K, so we’re almost done!

I’ve got the whole thing detail outlined to the end, so it should be fairly easy going, unless I get into that weird mood where I’m almost done with a draft and hence cannot focus at all. Which is a distinct possibility, but maybe we can just push past it for once.

I will need to plan out what I’m going to do after the draft is done. I need to plot out and write a novella for Turtleduck Press, but I should also focus on editing Book One so I can, you know, stop hiding from it.

I might be able to do both at once, if I compartmentalize, but it might be worth it to just focus on one thing. But do I outline the novella first, or focus on the edit first? I know from experience if I bounce back and forth I’m not going to get anywhere.

Maybe I could do a really intensive edit through August and then do the novella in September. Maybe I’ll plan on that until I have reason to do otherwise.

How are you guys doing? Hopefully it’s not too hot where you are. It has been very hot here and I do not like it. But I maintain hope that we shall see the end of summer soon, and that it’s not one of those years where it’s hot into November.

Promo: The Message on the 13th Floor by Winter Lawrence

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got an excerpt for you from an intriguing sounding novel! (Scroll down to the bottom for the excerpt part.)


YA Paranormal Mystery

Date Published: May 25, 2021

Publisher: Fire & Ice Young Adult & New Adult Books


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When Meghan’s mother suddenly disappears without a trace, she and her two little sisters are the first to notice, and the only ones who seem to care…

The problem, of course, is that her mother likes to party, so when she goes missing, Meghan not only has to take care of everything at home, but she also has to search for her, because her mom has a bad habit of disappearing, so no one else is officially looking. That is until Meghan begins to receive mysterious messages, almost as if someone or something is guiding her to a haunted hotel in Manhattan, where people say an elevator game will take riders to the mysterious 13th floor. Some say it’s an entrance to hell, others a portal to another dimension. Either way, Meghan must brave the game in hopes of discovering the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.



About the Author

Winter is an award-winning author who lives in the moment and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her family, her fur-babies, and a ton of great reads! When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she’s usually thinking up far away, fantastical worlds or she’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

Because of her love for all things literary, Winter pursued a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Professionally, she is a manuscript editor and, in her spare time, she enjoys posting book and movie reviews.

In her private time, she is an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romances, and one day she hopes to inspire young readers in the same way her favorite authors continue to inspire her today.

 

Contact Links

Amazon Author Central

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Purchase Links

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Excerpt:

Before we head out to leave, I make a pitstop at the bathroom. As I go about my business, my mind is so acutely focused on where we need to stop I don’t notice the water turning on until it’s on maximum pressure, the hot water coming out in spurts. I quickly finish taking care of business before I hurry over to the sink, my heart pounding painfully against my chest.

“Mom?” I whisper as I search the reflection in the mirror for any sign of her.

Steam begins to form, so I lean forward, waiting for the inevitable message.

A fingertip impression appears, the sight of it causing my heart to race into overdrive. I grab onto the sides of the sink for support, since the sudden rush of blood makes me dizzy. I blink several times to clear my focus, and then I watch on, always in awe, as my mother’s cursive handwriting appears out of thin air.

It says, “Go with him.”

I read those three words several times before I turn to search the bathroom, hoping to catch a glimpse of her once again. “Go with who? Matt?” I’m so tired of the riddles. “Mom…can you…where are you?” I ask, pleading. “Just give me a straight answer and I’ll go to you! Please.” That last part comes out as a sob.

Icy tendrils begin to wrap themselves around my arm, almost as if someone is grabbing onto my forearm and tugging on it. I turn to face the mirror and gasp when I look upon my mother’s beautiful, radiant face. She smiles lovingly and then disappears, the word “Bowery” replacing her image. I reach out to touch it, for some reason hoping I can feel her, but it’s just a mirror, and with the hot water losing steam, the message begins to fade.

~*~*~*~*~

Anyway, squiders, if this sounds interesting to you, check it out!

WriYe and Writing Tips

How’s it going, squiders? I did put my first chapter of my trilogy up for the summer marathon and hence have fallen behind on my other writing stuff, since part of the deal is critiquing other people’s stuff.

Of course, this is week 7 out of 8 of the marathon, so everyone else is several chapters into their stories and thus far I am mostly confused. Oh well.

I hope to finish a serial story bit for TDP either tonight or in the morning, and then it’s back to World’s Edge full speed ahead and whatnot.

Anyway, let’s do the July blog prompt over at WriYe.

Quick! Name your top 7 writing tips of all time.

Seven feels like a weird number to me, but, uh, okay.

  1. Make time for writing. If you don’t plan your writing in (and I find the earlier in the day the better) it’s hard to get to it.
  2. Don’t focus on perfection in a first draft. Worry about getting the story done before you worry about whether it’s any good.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. That way lies madness.
  4. Also, don’t make your goals dependent on other people. Madness lies that way too. Plus it just makes you frustrated. I guess that’s more of a life tip than writing specifically.
  5. All progress is good progress. Sure, 100 words a day doesn’t feel like much, but it’s still better than nothing, and even planning gets you closer to a finished story even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere right now.
  6. Don’t get weird with speech tags. Make sure it’s something you can actually do with your mouth.
  7. When revising, do big picture fixes before easier polishes. Nothing sucks more than spending a bunch of time on a scene that gets cut out.

Why those 7?

Uh, cuz those are the ones I thought of? I’ve actually been avoiding this prompt, because it has felt very intimidating. Are these my best writing tips? Probably not. But these are kind of general tips that are useful in most situations.

And a lot of them are good outside writing too! So, yay me or something.

How are you guys doing? Thoughts on my tips? Tips of your own?

Re-Evaluating Writing Goals

Well, guys, I’m back from camp, and, in theory, I can rev up my engines, or some metaphor that makes sense.

Last week we talked about my writing journal and also how it’s July and my word for the year, Polish, just has not been happening. The idea being that I would use said writing journal to look at my goals for the year and either figure out how to re-focus on Polish or change the focus for the year to be something that fit in better with what I’m actually working on.

However, it turns out it’s kind of hard to get going on re-evaluating your goals. So, eventually I decided to ask myself a pointed, direct question:

What do I want, more than anything else?

If I can only accomplish one thing, what do I want it to be?

And the answer was that I want to get my fantasy trilogy published.

Which led me to the revelation that maybe the reason that I have my fingers in so many pots is because I am avoiding working toward this particular goal.

Hold on, let me see if I can clarify.

I have been working on the Trilogy for SO LONG. It’s been 17 years since I wrote the first draft, 22 since I first came up with the idea. I have written the first book, in its entirety, three times. It holds a special place in my heart as the first book I ever finished, and at this point I know the characters like I know my family. It’s near and dear to my heart.

BUT when something is so important to you, it’s hard to put it out there, to be rejected. So I think I write other things, work on other projects, because if they fail, oh well. Or maybe I’m putting other things out there because if they work, then it shows that I’m good enough, my stories are good enough, and I can risk putting out the Trilogy.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m all over the place–other novels, trying out new genres, working on the nonfiction stuff–because I’m avoiding fully committing to the Trilogy and potentially getting hurt.

Oof. It was a realization, I tell you what.

It seems logical what I should do now. If the Trilogy is what really matters to me, I should switch over to it. “Get the Trilogy published” isn’t a good goal, because as we’ve talked about before, any goals that rely on other people are frustrating and leave you without control, but “Polish the Trilogy and get it ready for submission” is a perfectly good goal.

But I’ve got to tell you, dropping the defensive behavior is not easy. When I even thought the idea it made me wildly anxious. Landsquid knows how long I’ve been doing this. Years, at least.

So I’m going to compromise with myself. I’m going to take steps toward the main goal. There’s two weeks left of the summer critiquing marathon over in one of my writing groups, so I can at least get feedback on the first and maybe the second chapter. I have beta comments from previous critiques that I’ve already put into my document. So, in theory, I should have enough feedback to get going on the next step after the end of the marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m still going to work on finishing this draft of World’s Edge. It’s the same world as the Trilogy, so it’s arguably related. I’ve got a couple of commitments that need fulfilling as well–the next part of a serial for TDP, and a novella that needs to be written over the next few months. Those need to be done.

But I’ve got to finally commit to the Trilogy–really commit–or it’s never going to go anywhere.

Blah. Scary. Stupid journal, revealing all my deepest secrets to myself.

Anyway, how are you?

Ah, Summer

I hate summer. Sorry. I really do. It’s hot, and I despise being hot. There’s no rhyme or reason to the days, there’s too much going on, there’s too much going on and yet it’s too hot to do anything…

Also it thunderstorms but so rarely rains.

ANYWAY, this is a long way to say I’m sorry about missing last week here at the blog. I blame it on coming back from a 16-day road trip (I hope you liked my story ideas!) and then immediately having to teach songs/dances to children for three hours a day.

When you dance outside for three hours a day, in the sun, it takes a surprising amount out of you. I honestly don’t know what I did any afternoon last week.

And I apologize again because this will probably be the only post this week. There’s the off-chance I’ll manage to put something together, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Writing-wise, June was, well, not impressive. Most of that is because of the 16-day trip immediately followed by the dancing. I think I managed 1100 words during the trip, on a few mornings where I snuck out of a hotel and found a coffee shop.

For June I also started working on a writing journal, but I ran into issues pretty fast. It was great the first few days, planning out the long-term and immediate next parts of the draft of World’s Edge. Then I planned out the blog posts for while I was gone, and I did a couple entries about being frustrated about my current lack of writing time, and one about a mystery short story idea.

But then…it got weird. Because I wasn’t working on World’s Edge actively, I kind of ran out of things to talk about. I mean, I could plan out a wealth of short stories, or things along those lines, but without doing the writing part, it felt like spinning my wheels. So that kind of died off too.

But now we’re back, and after this weekend, things should settle into something of a routine, at least enough that I should be able to get momentum again.

It’s July now, and I signed up for 10K for Camp. This is my sweet spot–I can almost always get 10K for Camp Nanowrimo–though I’d like to finish my draft. We’ll see. My first couple days of the month were very productive, and then there was birthday madness that I won’t bore you guys with.

I think I will use my journal for refocusing my year. If you remember, I picked Polish for my word for the year, with the intention of editing the drafts I have sitting around. And here we are, halfway through the year, and aside from poking impotently at Book One for the first couple of months of the year, I’ve made no progress along those lines.

So it won’t hurt to re-evaluate and see if I can refocus on something else. Or see if there’s a way to switch gears. Things to do in the writing journal.

Oh! Did I tell you guys I finally submitted my Landsquid picture book to a few agents? Thus far nothing’s happening over there, but it does feel like a threshold has been passed. And I’m debating signing up for a spot in the Art Show at MileHiCon in October, if I can put together some nicer pieces.

So many plans, not enough time, too easily distracted by YouTube.

Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well! Do you hate summer too? Got any big plans?

See you next week, if nothing else!

Stories I’d Like to Write: Fantasy That’s Really Scifi

Okay! This is the last one of these for now.

I love fantasy that is high fantasy, but as you get further into the book or series, hints start to be dropped. Ruins that sound familiar, or hints that there was a previous civilization that has since collapsed.

I think this may be because my very first high fantasy series–the Shannara books, by Terry Brooks–does this. But it’s very subtle. You can read most of the Shannara books without this being obvious. It’s only when you take the series as a whole that it becomes more apparent.

But also, yes, lots of other series do this. Some more obviously than others, some more successfully for others. The Pern series, for example. Dragons! Adventure! But all happening on what’s essentially a failed human colony, Pern standing for “Parallel Earth, Resources Negligble.”

I have actually done this a bit myself already, though not quite how I would like. In City of Hope and Ruin there’s talk of an older civilization, a more powerful civilization, that collapsed because of war (more specifically the bioengineering and biological warfare tactics of that war, though that’s beyond the characters’ understanding, at least for that book). But that’s a completely secondary world.

I feel like to do this trope properly, it’s got to be Earth in the future. An Earth where humanity causes (or, I guess, experiences at the very least) some great calamity, something that has society collapse and humanity change. It’s dystopian, but not exactly. Like, the fact that this is our world and something happened to it isn’t normally important to the plot of the story. It’s background. It’s setting. Maybe some artifacts or something might feature in the plot every now and then, but for the most part it is a fantasy world, doing fantasy things.

And I like that! I like that it’s not necessarily important, it just is. It’s like…an extra dimension to the world.

That being said, I do think you can overdo this. And it may be a bit overplayed as a trope, especially recently where everything has to be dark. You know what I mean. I recently finished the first season of the Shannara TV series, and the post-apocalyptic parts were pushed much more than I remember. Maybe they were always there, and I just skimmed over them in the text, or maybe it as just more apparent because, you know, visual medium and all that jazz.

How do you feel about this trope, squider? Overdone? Fun worldbuilding? Favorite example?