Books

What do you do when you don’t like a book?

One of the things I really struggle with is this: what do you do when you don’t like a book?

For a long, long time, I pushed through. I kept reading even if I didn’t like it. And then, I thought, SCREW THIS. LIFE IS SHORT. I’M NOT GONNA WASTE IT ON BAD BOOKS. So I stopped reading when I wasn’t enjoying a book.

Flashforward to when I got my first book published and now, every time I feel like I’m not enjoying a book, I get this gut-wrenching feeling like there is someone not enjoying MY BOOK just like I’m not enjoying the book I’m reading. Once again, I feel like I have to PUSH THROUGH.

But.. for what? What am I hoping for? I was just reading a book last week and I was JUST NOT INTO IT. I didn’t connect with the characters, I wasn’t really invested in the mystery, I just… didn’t care what happened next and I found myself taking a deep sigh and GIRDING MYSELF before I fired up my kindle to start reading.

Was this how I wanted to spend my spare time? NO.

So, I removed the book from my device and my goodreads [I don’t like giving books a bad review! OMG, I KNOW HOW IT FEELS AND I CAN’T]. I feel kind of guilty about not finishing, but mostly, I just feel relieved.

And now I’m back to reading a book I like! I’m currently reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about how quickly we size things up and make decisions. I’m still on a bit of a non-fiction kick at the moment.  I’m much happier now! I look forward to reading again!

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But I thought building a Platform meant like, you know, pieces of wood?

I’ve been into non-fiction books lately, which is NOT like me but I’m always open to my likes/dislikes changing so I’m just going with it. Of course, one of my biggest interests is writing and my book, so I’ve been reading some books on both.

I’m in the middle of Fast Fiction which I’m hoping will help me get faster at actually WRITING. But the clincher is you have to do all your PLANNING before hand. This has always been a sticky point with me. I don’t like prep work. I don’t like to tape shit up before painting, I want to just get to painting. I don’t like moving shit around so I can get organized well, I like to just start organizing. And similarly, I don’t like to start planning too much when I should be writing.

Because planning is HARD. UGH. it involves THINKING AND PLOTTING and sometimes these things aren’t fun. I can lay down the FUN scenes, it’s the little bits in between the fun scenes!

I’ve also been reading about marketing and how ideas spread. All this keeps pointing toward DEVELOPING A PLATFORM. which. Yeah. It must be capslocked. It’s a capslocked kind of thing.

So it’s all social media this and social media that and networking and pimp your work and *SOBS*. I kind of identify as an introvert! I LIKE being at home! I LIKE not talking to people. I LIKE being by myself. Can’t I just know that the book is good and it will eventually take off? Maybe? Someday? with luck? and maybe some black magic or a ritual sacrifice?

The answer has been a resounding NO.

I mean, I’m on social media. I like tumblr, and Pinterest and I do okay with Facebook [although too much FB makes me angry]. So I’m out there, I’m just… Out there for me. I reblog the stuff I like and pin the stuff I like and blog about stuff that’s on my mind and I don’t really worry about ‘creating an authentic brand,’ or if it all has to do with my books.

I wish I could say ain’t nobody got time for that. But I guess I have to make time?

 

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The Plot Thickens….

I’m in plotting mode right now for Book 3 of my Covencraft Series. I admit, I’ve been resting a big on my laurels [such as they are] since I completed the first draft of Book 2 – Counter Hex in December. The Counter-Hex had to go through edits and I wrote about 8000 more words and then edits again. And more edits. GOD THE EDITING. And then I was just happy to be done and decided to take a break!

The problem with doing nothing is it’s hard to tell when you’re done!

I’ve been futzing around with a fanfic as well that’s at 40000 words and NEEDS TO BE FINISHED.

So! LE PLAN!

I’m off on vacation for just under a week and the goals are:

1. 5000 words on the fanfic [More would be GREAT but 5000 is a very realistic goal for me and I can attain that]

2. Plot out the first half of book 3, tentatively titled Double-Sided Witch. I have my ideas but the problem is when they live in my brain they are swirly and round, like clouds and I need to write them out linearly to ensure everything makes sense and sadly, I think once I do that, I may have to get rid of my gorgon idea. IDK, we’ll see. There may still be room for a gorgon. I also have a scene in my brain that I tried to put in Trial by Fire [and I couldn’t fit it in] and I tried to put it in Counter Hex [and I couldn’t fit it in] and it’s already down on my notes for Double-Sided Witch. aaaaaand I’m starting to think it won’t fit in there either BUT DAMMIT. I WANT IT.

For reals, yo. If I never manage to get this scene in one of these books, I’m just going to write it anyway and toss it up on the blog. CONTINUITY BE DAMNED

3. Get a solid 5000 words out on book 3.

 

So! Goal for the week is 10000 words, so that means I have to write ~2000 words a day while I’m away which is doable. I also want to get some reading in and the kindle is all loaded up!

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Jane Eyre Readalong – Jane as a child

As I mentioned in my previous post, I quite often forget the beginning of Jane Eyre when she is a child, focusing mostly on her time at Thornfield when I think about the book.

However, the beginning of the book, as told from Jane’s younger self, is very powerful. I think we get a better sense of Jane and her surroundings because of her youth. Maybe it’s because we assume children are more truthful, or lack the artifice and intelligence to dupe us. But there is definitely something more tangible about how Jane suffers emotionally and physically during her life with the Reeds. In particular, I was struck by this sentence:

“For me, the watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; strained by dread: such dread as children only can feel.”

That sentence really stuck with me. I regularly have nightmares and always have and while there are some from my adult dreaming life that scare the crap out of me, I don’t know that any of them have stuck with me as much as those from my childhood. There was something different about being afraid as a child – maybe it’s because you’re smaller and less able to protect yourself and lack the reasoning that’s often required to pull you out of your fright.

 

 

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My Writing Process!

Hello lovelies!

Bill Blume, a fellow author at Fable Press, has tagged me as part of a blog tour for various authors to talk about, you guessed it, Our Writing process. As part of the tour, I’ll answer four questions, and then tag three other authors I know to do the same.

What questions? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!

1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does my writing process work?
SO! Let’s get down to business!
1. What am I working on?
I’ve just turned in the Final-Final draft of book two of my Covencraft series, titled Counter-Hex. I’m currently plotting out book 3 in the series, which I tentatively have a title for but don’t know if I’m willing to share it yet! I’m also working on a Fanfic that’s a WIP – work in progress, meaning I’m posting it as I go. this has been a REAL change for me as I normally don’t post stuff until it’s finished. It’s a little scary putting stuff out there and having it just be… there – unable to change it as I go along! I also just finished a short story for Jade and Paris [from Covencraft] and am plotting out another short story, possibly set in the same world but about a different character, Yvonne. She can raise the dead. It’s not as cool as it sounds.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This one’s tough because I like a lot of works in my genre and I don’t want to sound like I’m speaking badly of them. I have noticed that in a lot of books in my genre [urban fantasy] there can be real division from the female lead from other female characters, as though the female protagonist has to bring herself up by putting other women down (she gets noted as not being like ‘other’ women, or is only surrounded by men). There also seems to be a lack of women in strong roles AROUND the heroine. I’m hoping that in my work, I bring a more balanced gender representation. Jade has friends of both sexes, and interacts with men and women. In my short story, about Jade meeting the Werewolves, I specifically made my Alpha werewolf a woman because I hadn’t personally read that before! I also hope that I bring my own quirky sense of humor to my work!
3. Why do I write what I do?
You know, writing can be a lonely business. I write what I do because I like it. I write the story I want to tell and I want to read. I try to please myself first. That way if everyone else hates it, at least I can guarantee one person is happy – ME! I also like playing around and making up new and interesting rules or mashing up genres. Urban Fantasy has a lot of leeway to play with and so I feel very free and open to bust in and have at it.
4. How does my writing process work?
I usually keep a notebook in my purse – just a small Moleskine thing that’s light and doesn’t add too much bulk. I make notes as I think of things – scenes, snippets of dialogue, that sort of thing. Then I actually found a 10 step outline that I really like and lately, I’ve been trying to stick to it! The outline is actually how to write a one page synopsis – I found it while trying to do exactly what the title says for Trial by Fire! I was pretty happy to find out, I’d followed the outline without knowing it. For book 2, Counter-Hex, I stuck to it and found it really kept me focused. Then, in my notebook, I journal things that I’m having a hard time with – Plot holes, character development, reasoning. I find if I just sit there and ‘think’ about it, I don’t really get it done. But if I write it out, journal style, I usually come up with a solution! I try to know how the book ends before I start. I may not know how I get there, but I at least know the destination. I also try to have one or two sentences be my ‘focus’ – my answer to “What is this book about?” and I also try to have a solid idea of where my characters are coming from emotionally. That may not always come across in the book, but I feel that knowing it helps me drive it. In Trial by Fire I knew the focus was Jade finding out about her power and wondering if she belonged. At the same time, Paris was learning more about his own past and his Coven [by finding out that someone wanted to steal Jade’s power]. So I saw their ‘arc’s as almost intersecting but opposite – She’s learning about the Coven and deciding if she should join. He’s learning about the Coven and not liking what he finds out. In book two, Counter-Hex, there will be a continuation of that. Jade continues to learn about the Coven and her feelings of belonging [or not] are being fleshed out. Paris is learning there’s more to being a witch than he thought.
And now! Some authors to tag!

First, I’m tagging Tereasa Maillie. Tereasa and I used to work together [some days, could we REALLY call it working, T? lol] and she has a real passion for history and writing! She’s written several plays, most notably an adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma that was put on by Gas and Light Production here in Calgary, and I believe she also did an adaptation of Lady Windermere’s Fan!

Gas and Light Productions

Gas and Light Productions

 

Next! I’m tagging Laurie Lyons, author of the Feather Trilogy.

Laurie Lyons

Laurie Lyons

Book 1 in the Feather Trilogy

Book 1 in the Feather Trilogy

Laurie and I have known each other since high-school [we won’t say how long ago that was!] and used to write longhand in scribblers/notebooks and swap stories. Now we meet up for coffee with our laptops and try to help each other push through the ugly bits of writing – usually edits! The last book of the Feather trilogy, Faith, was just released, so if you’re the type that likes to read all the books of a series all at once, you’re in luck!

 

And! I’m tagging Sarah Madison, author of numerous works, but most recently, The Boys of Summer.

Sarah Madison

Sarah Madison

The Boys of Summer

The Boys of Summer

Sarah and I met on some online forums and we’re fortunate enough to be able to get together with some of our other online friends about once a year and hole up in a room with our laptops and some wine. She just finished the sequel to Unspeakable Words [Dreamspinner] and I believe she’s working on a third installment in that series as well [Am I correct, Sarah?]. Perhaps she’ll talk about it in the follow up to this tag!

 

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Draft 2 of Counter-Hex completed!

Phew! Draft 2 completed! Added another 7500 words bringing our total up to 94000ish.

And! The publishers liked it, which is always a big relief.

Now the final read through. Out loud.

I’m going to need like 12 pots of coffee, tea and some gatorade. And a puppy on my lap.

It should make me slow down enough to catch things that are wonky or don’t work. I also shifted some things during the edit [and added some stuff] so I need to make sure it all still flows.

 

SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH!!!!

 

 

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Covencraft book 2 Udpate – First draft done!

OMG, guys! I just finished the first draft of Book 2 of Covencraft!

Let’s take a moment to CELEBRATE!

Carlton dancing

Now comes the next steps – EDITS!

Unimpressed

I admit, I HATE editing. But I’ve promised Fable Press they will have the book by January 15, so there’s no time to waste if I want it to be read over by my beta readers in time!

So I’ll have a celebratory drink tonight (and by drink, I mean bottle of wine) and then tomorrow, I start editing from the beginning. I already have some notes on things that need tweaking, and I’ll be checking my SPAG as I go. Then it’s off to Donna, Chantal and Ash for review. Although, Donna already has a rough draft without the ending that she’s looking at right now. She’s doing the “Yo, does this have a plot?” read through.

I’m always so happy when I finish a draft! It makes all the really tough parts (the crying, the wailing, the despair, the teeth gnashing, the fingernail biting, DID I MENTION THE DESPAIR??) worth it!

Happy-Dean-supernatural-17876753-392-352

 

 

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Status update – What’s happening on my keyboard ‘write’ now [Oh! so punny!]

So, my summer was not as productive as I would have hoped due to some circumstances that were partially in my control but that I let get away from me for a while.

but! I’m back on track! what’s going on? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED:

I just finished reading “2K to 10K” about writing faster and I got some really good tips! If anyone out there is looking for some ideas on how to punch up their numbers, I recommend it. What does it boil down to? WORK – pre-planning, pre-plotting and knowing what you’re writing before you sit down so that you don’t waste your writing time staring at the keyboard wondering ‘What Happens Next?” I feel like I knew this but I needed to see it written out for me and explained and this book was excellent at that.

I’ve been working on Book 2 of my Covencraft series [working title Counter-Hex] and while I know how it ends, I didn’t have it all fleshed out. To be clear, I don’t like to overplot because I like my characters to have room to do what they may feel is necessary and I won’t always know what that is until I start writing. But I do like to have certain beats to hit and I didn’t have all those set in my head. After reading the 2K book, I sat myself down and started ‘plotting’… and realized I kind of didn’t have a system for it, officially. My first step was to find “the System”

When I submitted Trial by Fire to Fable Press, I had to give a one-page synopsis and I found a great site that helped me do that. So I thought – dayammmmm I should do that for book 2 BEFORE i write it and then poof! I will know what I’m doing. This me be surprising to people who aren’t writers. Like, how did you write a book without knowing what you were doing? Like I said, I know how stuff ends, I just don’t always know how I’m going to get there. It’s worked out for me in the past but it’s been painful at times. I want to write less painfully! so I’m taking steps to make it happen.

I’ve also been playing with another story. I want to put it on Wattpad, but I just don’t know if it’s going to be a YA or if it’s going to be New Adult, or maybe neither? It feels like a YA [when I get the character voice I’m looking for] but then the plot I had in mind for it [which legitimately came from a dream I had] doesn’t work for a YA book, so I’m sort of torn. But I think on Wattpad you can put stuff up and ask for help? IDK, I’m not sure how that all works.

And of course, my other love, fanfic. Yes, lovelies, I’m still writing it. No, you can’t have my fandom name. But if you’re in the fandoms I’m in, you might be able to guess who I am based on my writing/posts.

So that’s what’s happening – 3 WIPs [works in progress] with the possibility of me re-working an existing work.

And that’s all the shrimp there is

 

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Beginning with the End in Mind

Originally posted at http://mymidnightfantasies.blogspot.com/  as part of my blog tour!

 
As part of my day job, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take the workshop, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People [created by Stephen Covey]. It’s really about how to make the most out of what’s important to you. It’s not about being successful, or rich or famous, although if those things matter to you, I guess it could be. The habits are about how to structure your life and your time so that you use it to the best of your abilities and you get what you want – what you consider important. One of the habits talked about was “Beginning with the End in Mind.”  Basically, it’s about knowing what you want to get out of something before you start. Whenever I learn something new in any avenue of my life, I try to sit back and think about how I can apply it to my entire life – work, hobbies, family. In this case, Beginning with the End in Mind, has helped me with structuring and writing my book. Here’s how:

The early stages of developing a story are very exciting! Characters, plots, scenes, dialogue snippets – they’re all swirling and percolating in your mind and your fingers are just ITCHING to start typing. The beginning sometimes seems to just pour out of you – your writing is fast paced, voluminous and you’re happy-happy-happy.

But, do you know where you’re going? If not, you’ll probably be like me and all of a sudden it grinds to a halt and you’re not really sure why. It was going so well! You had a rhythm! There was a flow! And now? NADA.

It could be because you don’t know where you’re going. I don’t necessarily mean you need to have every plot point of your story mapped out in the early stages, but knowing generally what your book is about and how it ends can be a real game-changer for your writing.

So, how do I do that? I try to write the synopsis of my book BEFORE I start the book, or while I’m still working on the first pages – while I’m still in that super-exciting stage. The synopsis is your book jacket or your book’s teaser – it’s what your book is about. It generally doesn’t contain any real spoilers or a step by step plot outline, but it does tell you what to expect.

But, “it’s complicated”, you say, “I’ve a lot going on! This happens and this happens and there’s this woman from the past and we don’t know what her motives are and she’s got connections to the protagonist. It’s all tangled and complex”.

I’m sure it is! That makes for a great book!

But at it’s core, what’s your story about? Who is your story about? What is the essential struggle? Everything else is the ‘dressing’ or the ‘extras.’ If your book is an ice cream sundae, the synopsis is the ice cream. You can add whipped cream, cherries, nuts, sauces and anything else you want to make it as fantastic as possible. But you gotta have the ice cream first! At the risk of mixing my metaphors, I’m going to go so far as to say if your ice cream is NOT readily viewable or noticeable to the reader, they’re going to wonder what all these extra toppings are for.

Also, knowing what your book is about will really help you when you get stuck. I keep my synopsis on a doc that I can see while I write. When I get stuck, I read over it and think, “Is this scene telling that story? Does this moment propel the narrative toward this goal? If not, is that why I’m stuck? Am I telling the same story now that I started out with? What would need to happen next to get me to where I’m going?”

Sometimes, I get really excited about a new set of characters or a scene I want to write and I think, “I’ll just start and the ending will come!” That RARELY works for me. If you can do it, I envy you. I usually end up with some great writing that I’m excited about and then it just peters out and stops at some point and I’m never able to get it going again. Mostly because I don’t know where I’m going with it.

Additionally, if YOU don’t know where you’re story is going, how will the reader? Will they feel the same sense of wandering and disjointedness while reading it that you felt writing it? Probably.

So, while it’s hard and it can be it’s own trial, writing the synopsis of your story before you start can be a great anchor for your work. It lets you know that you know where you’re going. You don’t have to know how to get there, but you do need to have the destination in mind!

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