Posts Tagged ‘WriYe’

WriYe and 2020

Morning, squiders! (Now evening cuz our Internet crapped out all day.) If you were around last year, you’ll know I kept pretty active in an online community known as WriYe (Writing Year, formally NaNoWriYe when I joined waaaaay back in 2006). Each year, you pick a word count goal for the entire year, and the community provides companionship, challenges, and a host of other motivators to help you get there.

It worked so well last year (I wrote 110K with a goal of 75K) that I’m doing it again this year. So you’ll continue to see a blog post a month dedicated to whatever the topic of the month is.

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2020? Why did you chose it?

I chose 100K for this year, for a couple of different reasons. One, I breezed through 75K last year (though, admittedly, that included Nano, and I don’t know if I’ll be participating this year yet). Two, I have four unfinished drafts that need finishing, and I hate having unfinished drafts sitting around. We’re probably looking at close to 200K to finish said drafts, so I hope I’m actually aiming a little low.

Three, part of my education-themed year is writing to try out new stuff and new techniques (as well as just practicing), so I wanted to have room for that as well.

What are your plans for the year? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?

We’ve talked about this already this month, but I would like to take time this year to learn and grow, and focus more on craft than publishing and marketing (though no doubt some of that will still leak in).

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

Uhhhh? Hm. Writing-wise? Hard to say. I’m, in general, looking forward to my projects for the year (except that Changeling story needs a major overhaul of some sort so I’m more interested in it. Dragons, maybe.) and am tentatively optimistic about everything.

Non-writing wise, we’ve got a couple of cool trips planned out (well, one is unplanned, but I’m working on it. It is approximately the same amount of time to drive from my house to Oregon, Minnesota, or Tennessee, which has helped the decision-making part of this not at all). The small, mobile ones will both be in school full-time come the fall, as well. That is both exciting and terrifying.

But who knows what’s to come? It could literally be anything. But fingers crossed for good things.

How about you, squider? What are your plans/things you’re looking forward to in 2020?

WriYe and Character Names

Time’s gotten away from me today, squiders, so we get November’s blog prompt instead of what I had planned, and hopefully we’ll get there next week.

Nano is still going well! I do feel a little wander-y, here, and not sure I like this plotting method I’m trying. We’ll have to see if it solidifies as we get farther into the plot.

But without further ado:

Names: How do you come up with character names? Do you find it hard to come up with the perfect name?

Ah, names.

I am a firm believer that the right name makes the character, and that if you don’t have the right one, they’re not going to turn out how you like. A lot of times if a character doesn’t seem to be properly inhabiting their story, a name change can be the solution.

That being said, my naming conventions are wide and varied. In some cases, like when I’m working with mythology, the characters come with their names and there’s not a lot to be done there (though nicknames are a thing). In others, a character shows up with their name, which is most convenient, because hey, less work for me.

Most of the time I troll about on Behind the Name, which is my favorite naming website, because you can search by meaning. In the case of a main character, I might go through until I have five or so potential names, and then see what feels right. Side characters I tend to match to the main characters (so, for example, in my Nano, I had a few characters end up with Swedish names, so now I troll those first when I need a new name).

Bonus:
What is your favorite character name that you have come up with?

That’s hard. I’m very fond of most of my characters, and by extensions, their names.

Cass, I suppose, is a favorite. I think I’ve got three different characters in different stories with the name. And I’m always pleased when I pick a name and it ends up matching a character’s personality meaning-wise.

And I will admit to be more than a little too pleased with myself whenever I come up with a good nickname. This is probably just me, but I am very fond of nicknames, and I am fond of calling people I like nicknames. So I am also fond of the convention where what you call someone denotes how close you are to them.

I am also fond of short names.

Hm. A favorite name? That’s hard.

I will say that I am quite pleased with the names I have in my Nano, which are a mixture of my favorite tropes (nicknames, related names, personality-matching names). My favorite is probably Eadwine (an Anglo-Saxon form of Edwin, which means “rich friend”).

Anyway! I could talk names forever, and you guys probably don’t need or want the story behind every one. So I shall spare you.

Have a good weekend, squiders!

WriYe and NaNoWriMo

Ha, the title makes me laugh, because I came to WriYe (it was NaNoWriYe back then), oh so many years ago, through NaNoWriMo.

(As an aside, the third Writers’ Motivation book is up for pre-order now.)

This is actually October’s prompt, but it didn’t get posted in time for me to actually do it in October, but we’re here now.

To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

No one is surprised that it is a Nano-themed question. Nano kind of invades everything remotely writing-related, come October. I’ve been doing Nano for so long–if I had done it straight through, this would be my 17th year–that sometimes I still remember it as this tiny thing of a few thousand people and then am eternally surprised at its reach.

But, to actually answer the question, this year, YES, to Nano. But not always. I think, maybe, if I were still in the hobby writing phase, then it makes more sense to do it every year. But now it doesn’t always make sense, not if I’m on a deadline for another project, or focusing elsewhere. And there is something to be said about having too many first drafts floating around.

But it’s been five years since I’ve done Nano, most of my first drafts have either been second or third drafted, or even published, and there’s only so much revision you can do in a row before you want to light things on fire.

If you participate, what type of prep do you do before the start? Are you excited for this year?

I am excited, because it’s been so long (and I do have fond memories of it, and I’ve met some wonderful friends at write-ins over the years) and (because it’s actually November) it’s still week one, which traditionally is when everyone is still very upbeat about the whole endeavor, and where it’s still feasible to come from behind if you’re dragging.

I don’t do a ton of prep-work, which I think I’ve talked about before. Well, I mean, I do and I don’t. This year’s story takes place primarily on an ocean-faring ship, so five years ago when I first developed this idea I did a ton of research on ships–how big it needed to be for an ocean voyage, how many people would crew it, what technology would be available at various equivalent time periods (it’s fantasy, so, I mean, I can take some liberty, but it’s good to have a starting point). That took a while at the time, but it did mean I didn’t need to do it now.

Plot wise I went through the new Nano Prep program they put out this year, to see what I thought of it, and did the plotting method (out of 5) it recommended to me. I normally work off of 12 plot points/sections (6 acts, each ended by a plot point), and Nano recommended a 9-point system based on the Hero’s Journey. Not sure what I think of it yet. I kind of wish it had percentages, cuz my pacing is bad and I tend to bunch plot points if left to my own devices.

I also did character arcs for my three main characters and two side characters, and then promptly had another character who I did not plan for show up and make himself at home once I started writing, so debating on whether to go back and do one for him as well.

So, that’s me! General plot and character arc shapes, and then I let the rest fill itself in.

How is your November going, squiders? Are you Nanoing? Other big plans for the month if not?

WriYe and Publishing

Oh good Lord, it’s September.

I mean, I like September. Autumn starts, in theory, which is my favorite season. But it also means we’re getting into holiday season shortly, which is always a bit hectic.

Also my normal con gave me an Authors’ Row table, which I don’t think I signed up for, so I do need to email them and make sure I’m on the co-op table list instead.

Anyway, new month, new WriYe prompt.

Publishing: Is it something you aim for? Why or why not?

Ha! The easy answer is yes. And I have done so. Because…why not? I honestly think that’s what I thought before my first story came out in 2007.

Bonus:
Which route would you choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing? Why?

I do a mixture of self and traditional publishing, because there’s benefits to both, and while I have been publishing for a while, I still consider myself to be in an experimental phase.

The nice thing about self-publishing is that you have full control of the final product–the cover, the price, the distribution channels–and can set your own schedule. If I want to publish every two months, great! As long as I’m maintaining quality and so forth, I’m free to do that.

The nice thing about traditional publishing is that you have other people helping you to put out the best product you can, and, in theory, you have people helping you with the less intuitive stuff, like the marketing. Plus there is still a small stigma attached to self-publishing in some circles, so there is a bit more legitimacy.

Will I settle on a single one at some point? Probably not!

Big plans for September, squiders? If all goes according to plan, my first nonfiction book and its associated workbooks will come out this month! (Which means the outlining one will be out next month, just in time for Nano.) Plus I’ve got to get ready for MileHiCon and cosplaying for next month and then, fingers crossed, I think I’ll actually get to do Nano this year.

Oh! And if you missed Friday’s post with the nonfiction covers, please pop over there and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!

See you Thursday!

WriYe and Experience

Happy Wednesday, squiders! My week’s off to a pretty good start–getting a ton written, which feels amazing. I’m really enjoying my 7DN novella, which is a scifi horror story about a falling apart space station. Also finishing up a story for an anthology. But I’ve written more this week than some months this year already.

Anyway, new month, new WriYe blog prompt.

We’ve all heard “Write What You Know”. What do you think? Truth or fallacy?

I wrote a blog post about this back in 2016 while I was working on the blog tour for the release of City of Hope and Ruin. That post is here. But basically, I think this idiom is one that’s not very well understood. People take it very literally, like, “I am a college student, so my characters must also be college students” or “I have never jumped out of a plane and so my character can’t either.”

Which is wrong, sorry.

“Write What You Know” means that you should pull from your own life where applicable to help make the situations and characters in your book feel more realistic. You may not have faced down a dragon, but you’ve been scared before. You may not have lost a child, but you’ve been sad before.

So, yes, I think it’s true. But I do think you need to understand what it’s really saying.

Bonus:
Do you write what you know?

I mean, I write 95% speculative fiction, so, kind of?

Going back to what I said above, I try to make the feelings and tone throughout my stories as realistic as I can by drawing on my own feelings and experiences, which is really the best you can do, I think.

Luckily, there are not really evil mechanical people or haunted space stations or immortal archnemeses to deal with in my life, for which I am eternally grateful.

WriYe and Zombies

Still going strong over at WriYe, though I am a little behind on my word count for the year, but not so badly that a couple strong months won’t catch me up.

So on to this month’s blog prompt. Along with the monthly challenges (this month’s genre stretch looks fun–epistolary + Gothic romance), there’s also certain months set aside for certain types of stories. May was mermaids (MerMay) and July is apparently zombies.

(I haven’t done either. May was, well, May, and I am not a zombie person.)

Zombies are a July tradition here at WriYe. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?

I don’t really have writing traditions. I used to, but as I began to write more regularly I couldn’t be sure of being in the right spot at a particular time, and I’ve learned to be more fluid in my plans.

I used to do Nanowrimo religiously–did it for nine years straight–but with the small, mobile ones in the picture, it’s been harder to devote the time to the challenge. I’ve only committed myself to it once in the past seven years, though I am tempted to try again this year. We’ll have to see how we’re doing/where we are when November rolls around.

And I suppose there were other monthly challenges as well. April Fools in April, though that one has gone defunct. Camp in April and July, though I am less committed to that than a normal Nano. (I also find it’s less helpful in terms of dragging you along in a creative stupor.) But this particular brand of challenge has grown less useful over the years.

Other than that, I don’t think I have any.

Bonus:
Tell us about your favorite non writing traditions!

My family has an Easter tradition known as the Egg War. And I am notoriously terrible at it. I’ve won twice in my life. The small, mobile ones have almost caught up to my record at this point.

The Egg War takes place after all the Easter eggs have been found. These are real eggs, hard-boiled and dyed. The eggs are laid out in open egg cartons, and everyone selects an egg. You then partner up and proceed to smack the eggs together (there is a particular way to hold the egg, and you hit “points” or “butts” together).

Last egg standing wins, and there’s typically prizes for first and second place. We do two rounds every year, and if you win the first round you can’t win the second, though you’re still allowed to play if you would like.

(My problem is that I’ve never figured out how to tell if an egg is structurally sound or not. Shape doesn’t seem to have much to do with it, nor does placement of wax decorations on the shell. If you can find one where the air bubble is on the side rather than one of the edges, you’re on the right track, but I don’t know how you tell that just by looking.)

Anyway, I love the Egg War even though I am godawful at it. And I appreciate it because it’s one of the few traditions that we still do from my childhood with my extended family.

Do you have writing or otherwise awesome traditions, squiders? I’d love to hear them!

WriYe and Pen Names

Man, this week, squiders. The small, mobile ones have summer camps at the museum/zoo, which are conveniently next to each other, but are inconveniently an hour drive from our house. So I either have to stay here all day (and I have the smaller one for half the day, because she’s not old enough for full day), or I have to drive up, drop one, drive home, drive back, drop the other, get both, and then drive home again.

I am so, so sick of driving the same stretch of road.

And I’ve had to go back, because I have been sick. Apparently I have contracted tonsillitis from goodness knows where, and so I have had to go to the doctor’s, to make sure my tonsils don’t need to be removed. Yay.

(It’s excellent timing, as I’m supposed to be teaching songs to kids next week and can barely talk at the moment. Yay. I am so thrilled.)

But enough about that. Ugh, seriously.

Though I realize we’re most of the way through June, here’s the WriYe blog prompt for the month.

Real name vs pen name? Is one better than the other? Why or why not?

This is a question I struggle with all the time. Should I write under a pen name? Should I have multiple pen names for different genres? For adult stuff versus kid stuff?

It’s actually a subject I routinely bring up in discussions with other writers, who are probably all sick of me asking.

I’ve heard arguments both ways. Your real name is easily to maintain legally, if someone’s pirating you. Pen names help separate your real life from your public life. Using one name lets you show the breadth of your work, whereas using pen names lets you target specific reader groups so they know they’re going to get something they like.

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and to be honest, still have no clue. Right now I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Bonus:
Which would you use? Real or pen name? Why?

Well, I do use my real name right now. It is nice and alliterative (I had another writer at a conference ask me if it were real once), and it’s also nicely gender neutral, which can be a plus when writing speculative fiction.

But I am still on the fence.

Next week I should have more time, squiders, so I’ll see you then!

WriYe and Life

Another month, and I’m still keeping up with WriYe, which may be a miracle. April was really good from a productivity standpoint, and I’m almost done with revising the nonfiction books (and writing the parts I didn’t blog) and creating the workbooks. Hopefully we’ll have more or the same here in May.

That said, on to the prompts for the month.

Life is busy, sometimes often insane. How do you find the time to write within your life?

I laughed since, you know, this is literally one of the nonfiction books I’ve been working on (the second to last one I revised, in fact).

But basically, it comes down to the fact that you have to make time for writing. You can normally fit some in, no matter what else is going on, whether you’re using diction while you’re breastfeeding or getting up early or dedicating one night a week as writing time. You’ll have to sacrifice something, but that might just be television time or a little bit of sleep.

That being said, there are times when you just don’t have the mental capacity to write on top of everything else, and it is okay to accept that and try writing again later when your circumstances have changed.

Me personally, I write while the small, mobile ones are at school, and I can normally make one or two writing group meetings a month, where writing can also occur. And one day each weekend I normally get up an hour early and get something done.

Bonus:
How do you deal with procrastination? What are your favorite tips/tricks to stay on track?

Ahahahahahaha I am the worst procrastinator. The current issue is games on my phone (and the dreaded podcasts, but mostly the games). I deal with this by using an app called Forest that locks out your phone for a specific amount of time (that you set), and if you successfully leave your phone alone, you get a bush or tree for your forest (more time gets more impressive plants). I also purposefully leave my phone in a different room where it’s out of sight, out of mind.

And if I do need a mental break, I’ll try to remember to set a timer before I get the phone or dive into the Internet, so the break doesn’t get out of control.

Hope April was good for you too, squiders! I’m in the middle of 50 million books and need to start finishing some (and stop starting new ones).

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?

WriYe and Editing

First of all, fantastic news, squiders! They found my journal/workbook class for me! Hallelujah! Words can describe how happy I am about this development. (Now to get on it.)

It’s editing month at WriYe (probably to line up with NaNoEdMo–National Novel Editing Month–is that still a thing? I’ve been in the online monthly challenge community for so long I can’t keep track anymore.) and so this month’s blog circle questions have to do with that.

(While, technically, revision is the process of changing story elements–writing new scenes, removing old ones, changing character arcs, etc.–and editing is technically stuff like fixing punctuation, grammar, and the fact that the character’s eye color went from hazel to brown on page 15, we’re going to follow general convention and equate editing to “the act of changing a story, hopefully for the better.”)

Describe your editing process. What is your biggest challenge in editing? 

I think I’ve talked about my editing process in great detail before here on the blog, but if I haven’t, essentially I do several months of analytical work, looking at plot and character arcs, which scenes are essential and which are not working, if there’s characters that should be removed or combined, if there’s confusing parts or if a prop comes out of nowhere or if some aspect of worldbuilding is falling apart.

And THEN I outline the story, put each scene on a color-coded note card, and start the revision/rewriting process.

That typically gets rid of the major issues, and if the story still needs some work, it’s mostly minor things.

Bonus:
Tell us about your ideal critique partner. What do you look for in a critique partner?

Ha! If we’re going for ideal, someone who reads the chapter/story quickly, who points out things that are good along with the things that are bad, and someone who can look at a chapter as part of a larger story and make insightful comments on character and story arcs. Oh, and someone who is into your writing and loves to get it.

But I’ll take what I can get. If I get feedback eventually and it’s at all insightful, I consider it a win. 😛

Happy Thursday, squiders! I hope you didn’t get bomb cycloned yesterday like I did. (But all the trees are still upright and we didn’t go without power overnight, so it wasn’t terrible.)