Writing all the Things–Except in this Blog

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written here. My recent ideas have been circulating my novels and the blog got lost. Well, I’m back, and hopefully will take a shorter vacation from here in the future.

I’ve been writing a ton in my novels! I just finished the second book in the trilogy I’m working on. It’s going very well I think. Both MSs need plenty of editing of course, but it’s nice to be in a groove. With the second book done my plan is to go back to the first book, make sure everything flows together, and then start adding more details to the scenery to both books. I love writing dialog, but my time period and place struggles in my early MSs. The trilogy takes place in an iron-age type setting. Knights, horses, mule carts, swords, and dragons. However, the writing is pretty contemporary so I need to be sure the setting is clear enough to understand.

I’m hoping to start querying agents in the next couple months. As much as I want to start now, I know I need to focus on revisions. Editing is fun, sometimes, and hopefully the more I read over and edit the clearer I’ll make the characters and setting and maybe get ideas for the third book. My biggest fear is the third book falling short and becoming a repetition of what’s happened. There are several series where the third book is essentially the same as the first book but with a couple new characters. I want some of the same themes to be consistent, but I don’t want the same conflicts coming back again and again. Flow and pacing is key. All I need are a few more new ideas, some returning characters, dramatic events, and I’ll be fine. Easy. (Yeah…right…)

What is everyone else working on? Any tips for writing series books?

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Morning Jolt

The past few weeks I’ve really hit my writing stride! I don’t know if it’s the spring weather or if my inspiration from the Fox Cities Book Festival has kicked in or both!

I like to write in the morning. I’ve been trying to write after breakfast and then edit after lunch. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but I at least get something done every day. I’m working on the second book in my trilogy and ideas keep coming! I’m enjoying this book so much that writing gives me energy to last for a good part of the day. It’s so satisfying to get my morning jolt from a good writing session. There are days when I have to drag myself to the computer, but this week has been awesome.

May spring bring you good fortune in your writing as well! When do other people like to write? Does anyone else have those awesome days where you’re excited and happy after a good day with your book? I’d love to hear your stories.

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Fox Cities Book Festival!

Today was the first day of the FCBF. There are so many great authors attending, including Leonard Pitts Jr., Michael Perry, and Jacqueline Mitchard to name a few. I want to attend at least one event a day while also spending my week in WI with my family and friends from college.

I saw Leonard Pitts today and, although for me it wasn’t an eye-opening speech, it was a good talk. Most of what he talked about I have heard or experienced before, but it was fun to hear of another author whose characters wrote the story for him. My characters always have surprises in store for me. They get in fights, form relationships/bonds with someone unexpected, die, etc. A true writer lets the characters run the show. (They know without them we as writers are helpless!)

I am gearing up for my presentation on Friday afternoon (3pm at the Kaukauna Public Library.) I don’t know every author on the list for the week but I know I’m on the young scale, if not the youngest author. It’s pretty intimidating being among authors who have made names for themselves, but it’s also a huge honor. I was asked to present because the Kaukauna librarians loved my event I did with their students a year ago. You never know what kinds of connections you’re going to make.

Hope to see some of you around this week!

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Rubbed the Wrong Way

I recently finished the first draft of a new MG novel and I was eager to get some help with it. I know it’s a first draft and it probably needed more time with me before I sent it out, but I wanted to see if anyone was interested in doing a MS swap anyway. I found someone at SCBWI who was interested. I explained it needed help/was a first draft in my email when I sent it along.

I got an email from this person with critiques. They were honest and helpful about specifics I should be aware of for MG writing, but at the end of the list this person admit that they didn’t finish my MS because I needed to get the basics right first. I went through the attachment they sent and it looks like they only read 16 pages of the MS.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this feels rude. I am reading this person’s full MS, regardless of what condition it is in, because that is what we agreed to do. There was a full disclaimer that my novel was in the infant stages yet this person took a brief look and decided it wasn’t worth their time. I expect that from agents/editors but not from a fellow writer.

The comments they wrote made sense. I know I need to get to the action quicker, and there was a good point on how I should make the protagonist younger to fit the age of my audience. However, if I were critiquing the MS, I would put examples of good action and how to connect the dots. I would have read more to get a sense of the whole plot arc; to get a better idea of what was working in addition to what needed work. Reading 16 pages out of a 150 page MS is not enough. I don’t know this person’s views on what parts work for the age range since most of the action happens later. This person has written a couple MG books, but I can’t say I was helped since I don’t know what’s working. Why not say how long it took until you were engaged in the story instead of bowing out after chapter 3?

The basics I need to change (according to this person) include: age of character, getting to action faster/hook, and keeping interest in a first person POV. I don’t know if this is enough. These are things that can be improved, but it also sounds like problems with the beginning. What about the middle when more happens? How can I get there faster? What is too old/young for the age group in future events? I have so many things I want to know but I won’t get to because this person never critiqued the whole story. I can handle tough critique, I just can’t handle not fulfilling a promise of a full critique.

Am I justified in being upset and frustrated? Has anyone else had a critique partner who did a similar thing?

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One Novella and One Novel

I’ve decided that Charley’s Dragons is going to stay a novella. I think it’s working as a shorter work and I don’t want to try and add more than it needs. As much as I want to have it be a novel it’s not up to me. Like a child, a MS will decide on its own what it wants to be when it grows up. I will return to it soon to continue editing and maybe even paring it down a little more in places I tried to boost the word count. I’ve already started researching novella contests and journals to hopefully get it published in the future.

My last post I went to another MS in process and that was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Despite getting sick (AGAIN!!!) I have gone through the whole MS, edited the parts that were written, filled in the middle, and COMPLETED the first draft this morning! I’m so excited to have another book done! It’s a middle grade fantasy so it’s shorter than an adult novel, but it’s in the upper range for MG which is great since I can see eighth graders especially enjoying my bad@$$ character.

This is going to be the first book in a trilogy following a young girl on her path to becoming a Dragon Rider. (Obviously I’m a little obsessed with dragons in most of my books…) I never considered myself to be a series writer, but when I started working on this book I realized I had too many ideas for one novel. Spreading it out and developing the character over three books I think is going to help the story. Yet another example of how a MS will decide what the writer is going to do.

I’m sure you’ve heard authors say that books write themselves and it’s absolutely true. Since I started writing as a little girl my characters told me what their futures will be. Sometimes I argued with them, but the characters win. Listen to your characters, feel what your MS wants, and enjoy writing. It’s a journey, and much like life, the path to finishing a book is never a straight line.

(Image Source: MotivatigGiraffe.com

 

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Filed under Editing, word count, writing

Change of Scenery

It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve returned to my blog. Thank you for coming back and reading! I’m hoping to be back more often.

I’ve been focusing on writing Charley’s Dragons so much I’ve grinded to a halt. The book is “done” in terms of story, but it’s still very short to qualify for a YA novel. I’ve been going through it adding bit by bit, but I’ve learned that I’m great at cutting and not as great adding! I took a break from writing for a couple weeks (being sick also encouraged my novel-neglect) and I decided it was time to write something else to help get my creative juices flowing.

I went back to a middle grade novel I started a year ago and re-acquainted myself with the story and my badass main character. It’s another fantasy (surprise surprise) yet the main character is my favorite part of this manuscript. She’s determined, strong, and speaks her mind–even when it gets her in trouble. Honestly, I’m using her as a vehicle to vent my frustrations with women’s rights, but she’s fun and exciting.

When I returned to my MG novel (Book One of a trilogy I think) I had the first part and the last part written with a huge gap to fill. Even though I had trouble adding to Charley’s Dragons, I’ve been writing profusely with Book One. The gap is filling nicely and I’m getting into my other characters and having fun world-building.

Yesterday I decided to check the word count for Book One and it’s at 34,000 words, right in the sweet spot for MG fiction. I still have to fill in the gap, but my MS is at novel length! I’m very excited to be so close to finishing another book. Of course it will need to go through extensive editing, but editing is fun. (Sometimes writing is harder than the editing!)

I’m getting back into a writing-groove and I hope that stays true for my blog as well! Even though I want to finish Charley’s Dragons, I know that the best thing a writer can do for her novel is to put it in a drawer for several weeks. Once I’m at a good stopping point for Book One I’ll return to Charley’s Dragons with fresh eyes and a better idea of what the MS needs.

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The Writer’s Loft

Last night I went to the Writer’s Loft for their first class. This class was taught for over 20 years by Jerry Cleaver and is now run by Mary Carter. The first class is free and comes with Jerry’s first book. However, I am still debating if I want to commit to the class.

I have an amazing critique group right now that is inspiring and helps me stay motivated, but this workshop is not a critique. It is open to anyone at any stage in their writing and offers tools to write, inspire, and get published. A lot of what was talked about yesterday was information I already knew, but there were some things that were either new or good to hear out loud again. One of my concerns about the class is that this particular class has many people who are new to writing. I think, however, that this will be alright since the class is about tools to improve writing and not worrying about my work being critiqued by people new to writing. I was hoping that more advanced writers would be in the class, but as Jerry (or someone else famous) said: A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit. I cannot judge anyone in the class because, honestly, I am also just starting out. I may already have a self-published book, but writing is a never ending learning curve.

Honestly, the biggest issue right now is the cost. It’s $575 for the 6 weeks which is not too bad, but I’m on a budget and I have a sick rabbit to think about. I want to invest the money only if I know for sure that this will help me and right now I am not sure. The website is optimistic and the teacher believes in Jerry’s teaching and methods. I want to know if anyone reading this knows of this class or has taken it/knows someone who took it. I want my time and money to be well-spent. I think the first class is a tricky one since it is a long introduction to what will be taught. It’s hard to know how the class will go based on reviewing a syllabus, main points, and a writing exercise.

I’m reaching out to ask for advice. This workshop is well known and the teacher has published several books and worked personally with Jerry to learn to teach this course. There are so many reasons to take it but I am still worried about the investment. I have one week to decide whether or not to show up to class. Please help me out! A conversation about the pros and cons from current and aspiring authors would help me out immensely.

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Word Count

I have the strangest problem–my novel is too short! Most novelists I have encountered or read blogs on have the opposite problem. My first novel The Healing Pool was CRAZY long and I had to cut it down about 20,000 words. My current project has the whole story written but needs at least 11,000 more words to make the minimum word count for YA novels.

I enjoy cutting back. Finding redundancies and adverbs and lags in the story and slicing them down is satisfying, although also a little sad. Adding words has been a slow and tedious process. I wanted NaNoWriMo to be my motivation to beef up this novel, but if we’re being honest I got only about 5,000 words in. In my mind any adding is great, but it’s frustrating how hard it is to add to this novel. The story line is finished. It makes sense from point A to point B and could work as a novella, but I want this to be novel length. I am proud of this story and I want to have a wider audience to enjoy it. I don’t know anyone who reads novellas. The only reason I know they exist is because we talked about the different kinds of creative writing in High school! I have nothing against novellas, but I wish I knew of more people who were interested in reading them.

Part of my trouble is time and short attention span. Since graduating college I can honestly say I no longer have the stamina to sit and write a paper for 2-3 hours in one sitting. I have no idea how I managed to write as much as I did in school, never mind sit in class for 5 hours a day! Working 52 hours doesn’t help either. Luckily my work hours are going down starting in the new year. Maybe with that extra time I will try to write a little bit more each day. I can only hope Netflix will not beckon me over….

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Free Book Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving! Tomorrow November 27th is The Healing Pool‘s first birthday. To celebrate I am having a book giveaway through my author facebook page. Like the page and comment about why you love reading and a random participant will win a free signed copy of The Healing Pool. I hope you join me in sharing your love of books. 😀

https://www.facebook.com/Linnea-Garc%C3%ADa-1549500411938421/

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Getting there!

I finally made it through Charley’s Dragons! I’m at a (not so) whopping 32,000 words but I’m feeling okay. The next step is going through it again and beefing up the story now that the plot skeleton is in place. I’m hoping it will be easier than I think it’s going to be!

I noticed as I was going through CD that my genre changed. It was originally New Adult/Adult Fiction, but now it has a YA feel. It covers some heavy topics such as childhood mental illness, but the voice is a child and the dialog with the psychiatrist is accessible for a younger audience. The genre shift has helped the story and also my sanity. The perspective I removed was heavy-handed, dark, but not always engaging. I wanted to write this for an adult, but honestly why force it? The book works much better now and it’s totally fine that it’s YA. My first book and other MSs in process are MG so it makes sense that my writing gravitates for younger readers. Besides, adults love YA fiction! Writing for children is getting better and better and adults love a good story even it is about teenagers.

I’m still hoping to meet my goal and get another 25,000 words done but it’s not the biggest deal if it’s not finished. I wanted NaNo to be the big push, but my writing style works in bursts of inspiration–the downside being that the bursts come at infrequent times at inconsistent lengths. Today was a good day: 1200 words! Tomorrow is my day off so we’ll see if I get anywhere…

How’s everyone else doing with NaNoWriMo? Any great MSs in progress or at least fun brain-dump stories you want to share?

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