Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Vaguely Fae

As a part of the writing/career class I’m taking, the teacher advocated against doing a ton of research/worldbuilding, instead focusing on what’s interesting and what’s important.

On one hand, yes, this can be a horrible, slippery slope, where one disappears into their work and never gets to the actual writing.

But on the other, it feels a bit weird, and, to some extent, a bit disingenuous.

This teacher is a self-acknowledged over-worldbuilder, so I understand why she’s teaching this way, but especially with stories involving mythology, I like to delve into the mythology itself, so I can see what aspects best fit the story, and use it to shape the story itself.

I’m just saying, Shards would be a completely different story if I just said “I’m going to write a book about angels” and went off without doing any more research than what I knew off the top of my head.

But in the interest of trying new things, I’m holding off. So far. I’m strongly considering doing more research (and yes, worldbuilding) because I feel weirdly adrift at the moment and it’s making writing harder than it needs to be.

The story I’m working on for the class involves changelings, and so, by extension, the fae. I’d like to stick to your old world trickster sort of faerie, and a lot of the book will take place in the Otherworld.

Working from memory, I’ve got:

  • allergic to iron or whatever (iron burns)
  • DO NOT ACCEPT GIFTS OR FOOD
  • Time works all weird in the Otherworld
  • Fae are good at illusions
  • DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR NAME
  • Never offer to pay a faerie for anything
  • There’s two courts: seelie (summer)/unseelie (winter)
  • Veil between worlds that’s only passable at certain times/places

(I even have the perfect book to use for research. It’s Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecouteux. I got it out from the library while I was doing my Shards research and liked it so much that I got myself a copy.)

Now, it’s entirely possible that I’ve misunderstood, and that it’s really worldbuilding to be avoiding (beyond identifying what’s interesting and causes conflict) and research is fine. (I mean, what if you were doing historical fiction?) I should probably double check that. Ask in the forums, maybe?

Any good fae mythology to share, squiders? (Especially related to the Otherworld itself.) Or good sources for research, if I give in to my itch?

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Writing a Synopsis When You Don’t Even Have a Book

Afternoon, squiders. The big, mobile one has ANOTHER virtual school day today. I am considering strangling whomever decided that making a parent stay home and teach their child instead of doing a delayed start like EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT was a good idea.

But anyway.

You guys know I’m working through a writing class right now. Well, it’s billed as a “career class,” to also talk about building a writing career and marketing and so forth. And on I go, through the lessons, because I do think it’s beneficial to try everything at least once, because you never know how it’s going to go and what’s going to work for you.

My current lesson is about writing submission material–queries, synopses, etc.–before you have a book. Her (the teacher’s) point is that sometimes you’ve got to sell a book you haven’t written, so knowing how to write these before the book is done (or even started, in some cases) can be beneficial, especially if you’ve already sold a book or two and have editors/publishers who trust you and your work..

It’s an interesting process. A few lessons back we were supposed to outline our stories, but I had a really hard time with the method she wanted us to use (and ended up using a different one after I tried and tried to get the other one to work), and the lesson after we were supposed to start the story. So right now we’re sitting with an opening and a vague (or more detailed, depending on the type of outline we made, since it was open to how many plot points you wanted to do) outline and working on these submission documents.

(My synopsis has issues. But then, they do when the book is written too, so, whatever, I guess.)

I’ve heard authors recommend doing this before writing the book before, but not as a submission/selling too–as a writing tool. The idea is, by having to figure out the core conflict/theme of your story and the main plotline necessary for queries/synopses, that you do yourself a favor by knowing that information before you ever write a word on the page. That it helps you focus on what’s important and makes your story more coherent.

And maybe it will. It will be interesting to see. A side benefit of the experiment, if you will.

In other news, the nonfiction books are going well (though I realized I forgot a section in the common writing mistakes one and had to go back and write it). I’m working on the consistency one now, and also considering putting together a workbook for it. This book is the shortest of all of them, for whatever reason, but it looks like I left more sections post-blog to write than I did with the others, so that may be why.

Happy Thursday, squiders! I’m reading Once & Future right now, which came out last month, and am enjoying it greatly. It’s not a great work of literature, but it is fun, and sometimes it feels like everything takes itself so seriously these days. Are reading anything fun?

Finally Moving

Hooray for April, squiders. The consignment sale is over, the festival is this weekend (and will happen whether or not I do anything specific), and we can focus on being as productive as possible in these last few weeks before it’s summer break.

Some things that are happening:

  • I finally finished the story idea workbook of doom, and I edited the entirety of the outlining nonfiction book, including writing a few new sections.
  • I outlined a new Landsquid picture book and fleshed out more on a second children’s book series (though I’m unsure whether to do it as a picture book or an early reader).
  • I started writing a new novel. I have also realized that said opening scene is bad and have plotted out a new one that is MUCH better, but that’s pretty standard for beginnings.
  • I got through three lessons in my writing class.
  • I’ve outlined a potential class for Skillshare and now need to look at how I want to film/edit it.
  • (WordPress won’t let me get rid of this bullet, so please disregard this aside.)

All in all, not too shabby. But, of course, there’s always more to be done. WriYe is actually proving to be a bit of a distraction here, because I have the three main things I’m focusing on–nonfiction/workbooks/now Skillshare classes, Landsquid picture book(s), and writing class–and some of the monthly challenges are VERY tempting.

For April, for example, the genre stretch sounds awesome–a mix of a college setting with slipstream elements. I definitely want to write something for that. And there’s the addition of a challenge to brush off and improve a project that you’ve abandoned.

The last thing I need is to go into a major revision process. I’ve done so much revision lately that I’m a bit burnt out on the whole thing. But…I think this actually predates the blog…I had a younger YA story I adored. I polished it, I queried it, I entered it in contests–and it never went anywhere, and eventually I shelved it and moved on to other projects. But I still think about it sometimes, and maybe…maybe I could do it justice now? Maybe I could fix it and it could go out into the world?

God, it is tempting. But, goals! And previous commitments!

So I’ve made an agreement with myself. If I get the nonfiction books edited (and any additional workbooks/journals created), then I can read through this YA story. No pressure to revise it or anything. Just read it, see what state it’s in, and see how much work it would take to fix, if it’s fixable. Maybe look at the comments I got from various agents and contests to see what other people saw as problems.

So we’ll see. There’s still 5 more nonfiction books and at least 1 workbook, and April isn’t a very long month.

How is your April going, squider?

WriYe and Writing

New month, squiders, new blog circle questions over at WriYe.

Why did you start writing?

That is quite the question, if you think about it too hard. What do we count as “writing” in this case? Do we count the very first project I wrote back when I was eight? Do we count my fake atlases of made-up places, or the stories I made up for my cousins and I to role-play?

Or do we count with my grown-up writing, when I decided this was something I wanted to make a priority, that I wanted to improve my craft and perhaps put some stories out for people aside from close friends and family to see?

I wrote as a child because I wanted to copy my mother, because I had games and shows and movies that I loved and wanted more stories from, and since they didn’t exist I had to make them up myself. As an adult, I write because I love stories, and I like to see where they go. There is something very satisfying about coming up with a place and characters and getting them through to an ending.

But as to why I started writing–I can’t recall. Storytelling has always been something I did, though writing was just one avenue until I became an adult and it became harder to get people to play pretend with me. And now it’s so tied to my vision of myself I don’t know what I’d do if I stopped. Tell stories some other way, I guess, maybe through pictures or games.

Bonus:
How has your writing improved since you first started? What would you still like to improve?

I hope I’ve improved in ALL ways since I started (with the Seven Special Princesses when I was 8). I know I’m still not fantastic at tension, and I always have to remember to add in description (so it usually goes in in revision, ah well). But I think there’s always room for improvement, that you can always be a better writer, no matter where you are in your writing journey.

(That being said, I also think there’s some good, even if you’re just starting out. While many of my early projects are pretty cringeworthy, there are some good ideas in there.)

Happy April, squiders! It’s starting to really, truly feel like spring. Got big plans?

Trials and Tribulations

March has not been the most productive month around here. We’ve had the car accident, spring break, and now other responsibilities are creeping in.

Here’s what I’ve done the last several days instead of writing:

  • I went to a several hour long meeting for a local Scottish festival, of which I am a council member and also in charge of the FB page and setting up an email list (and then I sent emails and messages and updated things accordingly)
  • (The festival is in two and a half weeks, so)
  • There’s a big children’s consignment sale twice a year at which I am very slowly offloading things the small, mobile ones have gotten too big for. It is in a week. I am not as far along in being ready as I should be due to surgery, car accidents, etc.
  • (I have run out of hangers so that is an issue, but luckily one that is easily fixed.)
  • It is the Scholastic Book Fair at the bigger, mobile one’s school, and I am volunteering, both because I am behind on my volunteer hours for the year (we’re supposed to do 30 hours, ahahahaha) and because I love both books and book fairs.
  • (I spent $35 on books while there yesterday, but in my defense only one is for me.)
  • (It is City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab.)
  • We did go on an overnight trip for spring break to a new, local, giant resort hotel that’s running a special deal for locals. That was nice.
  • I went to a webinar yesterday about creating classes on Skillshare. I had this revelation last week that it didn’t make sense to have a nonfiction series that wasn’t driving people to something, and I’m not sure if I mentioned that I wanted to get out of freelance editing (it takes up the brain power I need to work on my own stuff), but it doesn’t make sense to drive people there if I’m phasing that out. (The self-publishing coaching and book formatting aspects are fine. Ugh, I probably need to change my URL or something.) The Skillshare webinar came to my attention immediately after having this revelation, so there may be something to that.
  • (That being said, if you were going to take a class on a particular aspect of writing, what would it be?)

Plus we’re hosting a den meeting at the house tonight so I have to clean everything, bleeeehhhhh.

I think I’m just going to have to accept that my March goals are going to remain sadly unfinished and just roll the lot of them over into April. I can probably manage a few things around festival/book fair/consignment selling, though:

  • I would like to at least finish Lesson 9 of my writing class. That will give me an outline for the story I’m working on there, which means there SHOULD be writing in the near future, and I’m always up for writing.
  • I would like to finish the Story Ideas workbook (currently 24 pages long), the freebie to go along with it, and edit the common writing mistakes book. That might not all get done–I need to finish the story ideas before going on to the next book, and the workbook is taking longer than expected, though I hope once I get through the individual exercises that it will move faster.
  • maaaaaybe a drabble of some sort? WriYe is having a WriDay on Friday, but the lowest word count section is 2500 words, and my drabbles only run ~1000. (I don’t think it can go much longer and still be a drabble, honestly.) If I’m on to revising the next nonfic book, it might be doable, because I’m adding new sections as I work on those.
  • Finish the complete draft (with drawings) of the first Landsquid picture book and continue my research into the wild world of children book publishing. I’ve gotten the 2019 Childrens’ Market out of my library, which I am very slowly making it through.
  • Finish reading 1, but preferably 2 (or maybe 3!) books.

How’s your March going, Squiders?

Plugging Along

Well, squiders–Lord, is that more yellow? auuughhh–there’s been nothing past the initial contact on the journal class. How long do you think before I ping them? Tomorrow? Or do I need to wait until next week?

(I did check out the other teacher’s class, but it’s $100 and I’m especially not spending $100 on something I have already paid for.)

(Also, it’s my turn to make playdough for the smaller, mobile one’s class, and Goddess, there is nothing I hate more in life than making playdough. We picked yellow, which was a mistake.)

(Also, how am I allowed to make playdough but I am no longer allowed to make cute snacks? Is it because we can pretend the kids aren’t eating the playdough?)

I mean, it’s probably no skin off their backs if they ghost me. It’s not like I can call my credit card and ask them to take off some charge from two years ago. Also, I think I paid with Paypal.

So cross your fingers for me, squiders, that I hear from them soon and that it is good news.

I’ve also collated the posts for the first three books (story ideas, common writing mistakes, and outlining) and put together a list of other things to do:

  • Cover design
  • Find reviewers
  • Create freebie for email list (if you want on my author-specific list, it’s here)
  • Check picture permissions and make sure to attribute them
  • Add thank you pages to the backs of the books
  • Research categories and pricing

I’ve been so busy thinking about writing/revision I forgot about the publishing aspect. Ahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Except now I’ve done that, hooray.

I mean, I still need to do the writing/revision but now I have the big picture in mind.

(If you’ve made workbooks/journals previously, squiders, what software did you use? And did you use normal binding, or a coiled binding, and if you did a coil one, where did you publish it?)

(Stupid missing class.)

Also, it’s the end of February and so I find myself needing to think what I want to spend the next month on. The nonfiction books, yes. They will get done come hell or high water. Four years is more than enough time to spend on a project. But then there’s so many other options–the landsquid picture books (going okay, just procrastinating, which is silly, because it is silly to procrastinate things that are your own ideas that you want to do), maybe a new adult project. I should do some editing on other books, but I’m not feeling motivated. And I’d like to get more feedback before I do anything drastic.

Things to ponder.

Spring looms, squiders. Any plans?

The Dangers of Procrastination

Oh, squiders. I have run into yet another road bump in the nonfiction book writing process.

It has been my intention to release workbooks with some of the nonfiction books (so far the idea generation and the multiple project books, but perhaps more as I continue to finalize things) and, seeing how I’ve been working on this project for about four years now, I bought an online class two years ago about how to make journals and workbooks with the intention of using it when I was a little further along in the process.

Well, now I’m further along, and I’m ready for that class, so I logged in to the website I bought it from and…

Nothing.

It’s not there.

There’s a note on the member dashboard about classes older than 2016 (though I bought this in 2017, so that shouldn’t be an issue), but other than that, everything is blank.

I’ve contacted support, but they seem a little confused about the whole thing too. There was the implication that it would be difficult to prove I had bought the class at this point in time but that they would try (I think they might have rebranded a bit since I bought the class).

I mean, I have my receipt, so hopefully everything should get worked out eventually, but I could have, in theory, done the entire class by now. And it’s hard to focus knowing I don’t have access to something I’m going to want, especially since the first book in the series has an accompanying workbook (or will, eventually).

Do I look for another workbook class? Another teacher I follow actually just put one out, but I am loathe to pay money for something when I have already paid for something similar. I mean, I could probably figure out how to make a workbook–I’ve certainly formatted weirder things for publication–but sometimes it is nice to have someone else do some of the work for you. (Especially if you’ve already paid for it!)

Anyway, this is an argument for doing projects quickly and consistently, I suppose. (Though this has always been a side project, so…)

Anyway, I’m kind of at a loss about what to do. Do I work on the books and come back to the workbooks (and try to remember what exactly was in each specific book)? Do I wait and work on marketing and publishing plans and hope they find the class for me in the next 24 hours? Do I flail around and work on something else entirely (admittedly what I have been doing)?

Well, I’ll have to figure something out. How are you doing, squiders?