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Monday Mentions: Writing Cycles & New Releases

I decided to try out a new feature for the blog. I figured since social media is supposed to be, you know, social, I’d highlight what other people are talking about/have going on. So, I figured I could share some posts that struck me, or cover reveals/new releases. Things like that.

Last week, I read this post by Chuck Wendig and have to say I’ve gone through pretty much all these stages at one time or another. 🙂

Then, yesterday L.S. Engler posted this. And I have to say I agree with a lot of what she says. Particularly this:

Ultimately, all I care about is how my writing makes a person feel. While it would be nice if they didn’t, they can forget exactly what I said, what I created, what techniques I used or what words I put together, as long as they remember how the words made them feel. And I hope they make the reader feel joy and happiness and sadness. I hope they feel an incredible, lingering connection to their soul that sticks with them long after they set the book down, staying there in their hearts and minds even if they’re not consciously aware of it. And then, when they hear my name or see my books, they remember those feelings fondly.

That is what I want. Not seeing my book on a shelf in the store(although that would be nice one day), not even making it on a bestseller list(again, it would be absolutely great if that ever happened). I want to make people feel. I want them to be entertained, to laugh, maybe even to cry. Mostly I want them to enjoy the stories these characters have been telling me.

And this morning, from Lydia Sharp, about seasonal writing cycles. I think we all have these cycles. I do, even if mine isn’t tied to seasonal affective disorder. Although I like the way she explained:

Even during the worst bouts, I still have the ability to function day to day. It’s more like an itch I can’t scratch than a broken hip. Sometimes the itch is all I can focus on, and this hinders me, but it doesn’t cripple me.

I’ve felt like that for years. Never enough to really be considered clinical depression, but still there. My cycle seems to be more geared toward the school year. When I only have one kid at home all day, I can get more done. When both are home, and it’s warm out, I’m being dragged outside to play. Nap time will probably be non-existent this year, since the boy doesn’t like to nap when his sister is home.

I actually looked at last year’s numbers, and my highest was in the second quarter(so April, May, June), still mostly during the school year. My second highest was right in the middle of the summer, and I’m not sure how I managed that. Last year, it was the first quarter that was actually my lowest. But, so far this year, I’ve written over 92,000 words. I think my cycle may be even more affected by what I’m working on and what stage it is in, since I get less words while editing than when I’m first drafting. Still, I’m sure I’ll have to remind myself not to feel guilty if I’m not getting the words in while both kids are home. After all, I only have one more year before they’re both in school at least part time.

And finally, Emergence is here! This is the cover reveal I shared last week. It’s currently available on Amazon and I-tunes. It’s not yet available on Nook or Kobo but should be soon. I’m really excited for this one.

Writing Wednesday: My Writing Process & First Check-In

Time for the first check-in of round 4 already. Not really too much to report as it’s only been a couple days. I think I’m going to keep Wednesday’s check-ins as a more general overview of how I’m doing and have a more in-depth review on Sundays.

Writing: I’ve written a little less than 2000 words so far this week. Monday was good, but haven’t done as well yesterday or today. Hopefully will make up for it during the last part of the week. I’ll have official word counts on Sunday though.

Plotting: I finished brainstorming for the NaNo project which now as a working title of “Healing the Heart”. We’ll see if that stays or changes as I plan more and start to write.

Editing: Haven’t managed a whole lot on this. Last week, I started editing the MS Word version of it, then went to do edits in scrivener this week and decided I’d rather just do it all in Scrivener and not have to deal with Word. So, spent Monday making the edits I’d done before on the Scrivener version as well.

Reading: I finished reading Parallel by Claudia Lefeve on Monday. Started reading Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke and am about 75% through that now.

Social Media: Changed my posting schedule up a bit and got posts up on both Monday and Tuesday. And have commented on 1 blog post. Still need to catch up with those who have commented on my blog this week.

Health: Have kept up with keeping track of calories in/out on My Fitness Pal. Almost forgot to do it at all yesterday. Haven’t done too well at keeping within my budgeted calories, but haven’t gone too far over either. And I’ve walked on the treadmill twice this week. Doing a mile a day this week and will increase that by 1/2 a mile each week.

I did have the rest of this at the top of this post but decided to move it down for anyone who only wanted to read my check-in.

In one of the comments on my goals post, someone suggested writing about my writing process. I figured this being the first check-in and so, a short one, I would include this. I do like the idea of writing about something writing related along with the check-ins instead of just a straight forward I did this and this and this. That won’t include advice, as I’m not much of an advice giver, and as I’m not currently published, don’t feel my advice would hold much weight anyway. So this is really just what seems to be working for me.

Before I even start writing, I do some brainstorming. I’ll already have the idea for plot or at least a character, but usually not much more than that. I’ll start with a mind map of that idea, depending on what it is. For the one I’m writing now, it was a plot idea. So, I did that first, then went on to do some maps for characters as well. The one I’m plotting now, to start on in November, started with an idea for a character from the WiP I just finished in August. So, I started with a map for her character, then went on to brainstorm the plot and a couple other characters.

Once that initial brainstorming phase is complete, which usually takes less than a week, I move on to more in-depth plotting. For me, that starts with the Snowflake Method. I became aware of this last year before starting NaNoWriMo in November. It makes sense for me, since you basically start with a small idea and expand on it. So, I write up a one sentence summary then expand on that to a paragraph. Then comes a one-page summary of the characters with a summary of their story line, their motivation(s), goal(s), conflict(s), and epiphany. After that, I expand the earlier paragraph into about a page, and that into about 5 pages. Each sentence is expanded to a paragraph and each of those paragraphs  into a page of its own. I also like to do the backstory of the main characters from their point of view about this time. There are a couple other steps to this method, but I don’t do them. This can take me up to about 2 weeks to finish.

With my current WiP, Flames of Redemption, I did even more plotting. I used the blueprint and novel notebook templates that Kait Nolan has on her site. It only took me a day or so to fill each in and helped me develop the story a little more.

Once all that plotting is done, I still don’t start writing right away. First, I make out a calendar for the story’s timeline then do note cards for each scene, including the title of the scene, a quick summary of it, the character’s in it, the POV character, setting, and which plotline it goes with. Then, I set up each of those scenes in Scrivener. And then I start a playlist on Spotify for the story. I like to use what fits the mood of what I’m working on, which usually isn’t what I normally listen to(country). For my last WiP, Slow Revenge, I had Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Seether, among others. For my current one, Flames of Redemption, I still have some of that but also soundtracks from the movies “Backdraft” and “Ladder 49” which fit since the WiP deals with firefighters. And then I make up a spreadsheet to keep track of how much I’ve written.

Once that’s done, which in total takes me a little less than a month, I finally start writing. And I start from the beginning. I’ve found that I have difficulty jumping around. I always worry about having to go back and change some big detail I got wrong if I skip some scenes. I do tend to add in quite a few I didn’t have planned as I write though. I added in three between two of my planned scenes for Flames of Redemption right at the beginning.

While I’m writing, I wake up at 4:30 and am usually at the computer by 5. Since my daughter is up at 6 for school, that gives me about an hour of writing time. I can usually get between 500-1000 words written during that time. Sometimes it’s less, and occasionally more. But, I have found that morning is my best writing time. I can usually get some more words out later in the day, but it’s more of a struggle for me. I don’t set an alarm on the weekends, but will write if I wake up before the kids(and the husband). I don’t hold myself to writing those days though, so it’s a bonus. My personal minimum during the week is 500 words a day, although there have been times when I haven’t even made that. I like to keep my average for on days I write to be at least 750 though. I usually have the first draft done in 3-4 months, depending on my speed.

After I have written “The end”(although I don’t usually actually write those words), I set it aside. Work on something else for at least a month. Once that month or more has passed, I open it back up and read over it. I try to read it as quickly as I can, and usually set aside an hour a day in the afternoon for this. I highlight any areas that just don’t sound right. This can take me a couple weeks. That’s as far as I went before sending my last novel to beta readers. I’m going through my novella I wrote this past March now, and I’m going through it several times, checking it over for something different each time. I’m really still working on my editing process though. And right now, I have a project in each of these stages.

 

Writing Wednesday: Second Round, First Check-In

There’s never too much to report for the first check-in of a round, but I like to get into the routine of doing the check-ins each week. And I didn’t post anything on Monday, so I really don’t want to skip another day this week.

Editing:
Spend at least 1 hour a day editing Guarding the Heart
Find beta readers for Guarding the Heart
Send it out to beta readers by 5/11

I spent about half an hour on Guarding the Heart on Monday. Read through the first chapter and highlighted a couple sections to either change or cut completely. Didn’t spend any time at all on this on Tuesday. I wanted to get a knitting project finished before this weekend and sacrificed my editing time to work on that.
Still looking for beta readers.

Plotting:
Decide on the next WiP
Once chosen, apply snowflake method to the story idea
Have story fully plotted and outlined by 4/30

I decided on my next WiP over the weekend. It’s going to be one I wrote back in 2004. I looked at it again recently and it’s not even 50000 words when I finished it back then. Didn’t really have a grasp on the craft of writing back then. Just sat down and wrote without any thought to structure. Hopefully now I can do it some justice.

Applied the idea to the LOCK method(from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure) on Monday and figured out the basic premise. Started step 1 of the snowflake method on Tuesday, so now have a one line summary of it. Finished step 2 of the snowflake method on Wednesday, so I turned the one sentence summary into one paragraph. Not sure that I’m really happy with it. I seem to be having trouble getting this idea from my head onto the screen. But, I can tweak it as I expand on it some more.

Writing:
Write 1 piece of flash fiction/week
By 5/1 start working on next WiP

I wrote a short piece for L.S. Engler’s closing line challenge on Monday and posted it on Tuesday. Haven’t worked on any more flash fiction this week. There is another closing line challenge posted, so I may work on that sometime this week if I can come up with something.

Social Media:
Keep up with my blog schedule
Have posts done at least 1 day in advance

All ready falling behind here. Couldn’t think of anything to post for my Knitting Monday post, so skipped that day. I had Tuesday’s post done and scheduled Monday. Today’s wasn’t finished until this morning though, which isn’t a problem. I did keep adding to it through the week, so I only had to add the last day’s progress to it before I posted. Don’t have any more ready for this week yet though. I like getting them done ahead of time as then I don’t feel rushed to think of something to talk about.

Reading:
Finish reading Plot & Structure and complete the exercises for remaining chapter
Read 2 novels a month or one every 2 weeks.

I’ve read one more chapter in Plot & Structure. Still have 3 more to finish.

The first book I’m reading for this month is Megan’s Way by Melissa Foster. I was 21% into it at the beginning of this round. After Monday, I was at 33%. As of this morning, I was at 77%, so I got quite a bit of reading done yesterday. I may even be able to finish it today.

I am tossing around the idea of only checking in once a week. Checking in twice can be a bit overwhelming, and it seems that I don’t have too much to report twice a week. I think doing a weekly update will be a little easier. So, I think that is what I’m going to go with for right now.

So my goals for next week are:
Read through at least Chapter 5, marking sections that need to be added to or cut/changed.
Be through step 4 of the snowflake method for this new WiP.
Have 1 more flash fiction piece written
Keep my blog up to date
Have at least one more chapter finished, including the exercises.
Start reading the next novel on my list.

How is everyone else doing so far for this round?

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