Checking In!

It's been pretty quiet around this blog because we've been settling in to our new apartment and dealing with a very busy work schedule! Oh, and did I mention that we're also planning a last minute wedding for February 2013? Yikes!

I have two full weeks from work starting December 21st and I am looking forward to it! I already have my ending to my mystery story, I just need to write it. The plan is to write the ending and start arranging it so I can edit it successfully.

Two things that I want to work on with this manuscript are:

1) Getting through editing quicker. At 50-60,000 words, it shouldn't take me months on end to edit. Now that I've found an editing checklist that works for me, hopefully I can get through it within 2-3 months. And...

2) Perfecting my Kindle formatting. Okay, The Two Worlds was a nightmare. And it's STILL not perfect. I wrote it on various Word versions across a period of seven years. The formatting was all messed up and didn't want to cooperate when it was time to put it on Amazon. But since I will be charging for the mystery story, I need to deliver formatting perfection.

All in all, I think wrapping up the draft for the unnamed mystery is a great way to spend my holiday vacation. What about you? Do you have any writing goals to hit during the holiday season?

(P.S.- Check out my review of Witchling by Ari Harper on Urban Girl Reader!)

Dabbling in the Mysteries

I'm indecisive. While cleaning out my Google Docs queue, I found an old NaNoWriMo manuscript that I had put aside and never looked at again. It's a mystery, something that I had never written before and had a great time writing during NaNoWriMo. After reading it, I decided it was too good to toss back into the shoe box and am now thinking about finishing it, then writing my paranormal romance then turning back to YA fantasy.

I know, I know. Indecisive.

The beautiful thing about me being an amateur writer is that I have total freedom to do things like pick and choose the projects that I want to work on. I'm not bound to a publishing contract, and I don't have a slew of fans chomping at the bit to find out what happens next with a character. I'm also not sure if I want to deviate from the self publishing route right now. So I can create my own writing schedule and as long as I finish the project that I'm working on, I have no qualms.

Of course, this type of mentality works best when you're not trying to make a living writing. :) My goals are to continue finishing manuscripts (edited, published, marketed) for the next few years. I want to get better at ALL aspects of producing work and that comes with practice. If I snag an unsuspecting agent, awesome. If I *gasp* get a publishing contract, fantastic. But it's not on the top of the to do list.

That type of thinking is freeing and inspiring all at the same time.
My mother gave me sound advice a few weeks ago when I was fretting over not being able to do everything at once and it fits my writing attitude perfectly: "It's your life, dummy. You make the rules."

Good point Mom.

The Two Worlds is Live!

Did you have a Happy Thanksgiving? I can't believe we're in the holiday season already. Christmas songs are already playing on the radio, yikes!

The Two Worlds went live on November 23rd as planned, despite me being very sick (stupid head cold) and moving to a new place. Talk about dedication!

Now that The Two Worlds is out in the real world, I can focus the majority of my attentions to my next paranormal romance. I'm super excited! It was tough choosing between the second installment of The Two Worlds or a new story all together. But I think after working on my first novella for almost seven years (yes, you read that right), it's time for me to try my hand at a novel.

For those who have published a novel or novella already, how hard was it for you to start your second book?


The Two Worlds is almost live! It'll hit an Amazon shelf near you on Nov. 23!
Now that I'm 99.9% done with this book, I find myself thinking about writing another one. But, I'm having a hard time getting motivated. I already have two chapters written for a paranormal romance book that I'm interested in finishing.  It's such hard work!
I think I'll start working on a book after we move to our new apartment December 1st. So, I'll start getting down and dirty December 3rd.
Part of my hesitation is being unsure whether the road for the next book will be as rough as The Two Worlds. I had to learn as I went, and it sucked. Sorry other newbie writers, no sugar coating here! I tore my hair out trying to get that story out and had to grow up along the way a bit.
Now that I know how to outline, edit, and submit for beta reading, I feel slightly more confident. But the act of writing still terrifies me a little bit.
I think my best bet will be to just not think about it too much and just do it. Que sera, sera, right?

Balancing Writing and Living

"I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles."-Zig Ziglar

Over the last few years I've matured quite a bit. This isn't to say I don't have a lot more growing up to do (because I do, trust me!!). But I'm learning what it means to actually LIVE life. I mentioned in the previous post that I was only sticking to two goals for 2013 so I wouldn't stress myself out. Let me explain that decision:
When I decided to take writing seriously a few years ago, I was more focused on blogging. Everywhere you looked, there were posts and articles about the "secrets of successful bloggers". I had been blogging successfully already since 2005, but when 2009 came rolling around, I threw out all of my knowledge from experience and started focusing on making money from blogging based on what the experts were saying. From there, I also started focusing on writing for money as well.
Big mistake.
In my experience, any time you take a creative thing that you love and try to force it to make a profit (painting, music, writing, etc.), it's going to backfire. In one of my favorite books, Boss Lady by OmarTyree, his main character Tracey reminisces, 'And those who create for the love of ART are CONSISTENTLY getting better, but those who create for the love of money...those guys are forever getting worse.'
I had to learn that the hard way.
I threw out passion and went with writing what sold. I started cooking/lifestyle blogs even though I had nothing to say about those topics. I tried writing personal finance, even though I was still trying to fine tune my own personal finance. I tried freelance writing but  I wasn't committed enough. Each time I failed and became more discouraged. But much like dieting, instead of taking a step back and reevaluating why I was failing, I just blindly jumped back on the bandwagon and hoped the next time would be different.
It wasn't.
I was stressed and stretched too thin. On top of being 1000% focused on different writing goals, I was also trying to get healthier and have more of a social/personal life. Needless to say, I was failing in those arenas too.
The situation reached a boiling point when I stopped writing a few months ago. I stopped working on The Two Worlds, stopped blogging, stopped writing articles. I was sick of writing and was seriously thinking of giving it up. What was the point? I was beginning to hate the whole act of creating.
That mental break was the best thing that I could have done, whether I knew it at the time or not. It gave me time to recharge my batteries and think long and hard about what I wanted to do with myself. I toyed with other career venues (such as being an archivist), but kept coming back to writing fiction. And so, I decided to pick back up my pen and get to writing characters the way I wanted to, not the way the experts were telling me.
I'm still learning, of course. Writing faster and more efficiently, editing with more accuracy, and marketing are all areas that need improvement. But I'm not killing myself to get there. That comes with time, not a hundred goals per month.
This new attitude has just recently spilled over into other aspects of my life--such as working out (I was trying to go from having two knee injuries to running in a race within a very short time and it wasn't working) and my personal finances (I'm 25 years old, not going to be a millionaire anytime soon!).
I'm just trying to live for life, not for goals or to-do lists. And this type of thinking is inspiring me in more ways that I ever would have imagined.

Goals for 2013

I love numbers. Seriously. If I wasn't so interested in writing, I would be in banking. As a matter of fact, my first job out of college was in insurance. In a year's time, I was promoted twice and federally licensed to sell annuity products and insurance.

I also love goals. Anything that will push me towards a successful future is right up my alley! Which is why every year, I sit down and write out my career goals for the next year. Some years I'm successful, other years I'm not.

For 2013, I'm sticking to my earlier resolve and not over-extending myself.  I decided my goals are:

1) To write one book (or novella)
2) To post to this blog twice a month

Very, very low key goals for myself. Usually I have a five page plan with charts, market research and LOTS of numbers, but I'm wanting to keep my stress down in 2013. (More on that later...)

I figure if I have easy goals, I will still feel challenged enough (writing a book is not easy after all) but able to accomplish my goal.  It's the basic idea behind S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What about you? What are your writing or personal goals for 2013?

November is Upon Us!

NaNoWrimo is upon us and despite all of my excitement, I decided not to participate. I was a bit disappointed, but also very relieved. I have so many things going on in my non-writing life, I felt like it would be a disservice to The Two Worlds and myself to focus on yet another project before my current ones were wrapped up.

That being said, The Two Worlds is scheduled for release on November 23! I'm so excited! Things that are on the to-do list are:

-Amp up my marketing. I really want my friends, family and followers to know about my debut release! My goals are to create a Facebook page, and finalize my Amazon author page.

-Throw a debut celebration! It's right around Thanksgiving and I'm already planning on spending it with friends. So the timing is perfect, I just need to finalize a few details...

-Interact with more bloggers and writers. I'm thinking of taking a few weeks off to recharge my batteries before starting the second installment of The Two Worlds (or my first romance novel, not sure yet). It would be nice to catch up on my reading and interact with other fabulous bloggers.

For those that are participating in NaNoWriMo 2012, good luck!

Check In- 10/26/12

Brrrrrr! It's been a bit chilly out, which is great because I love fall weather! It's the perfect temp for snuggling up with a warm cat in my lap and tapping out a few hundred words or so! :)

I received Beta Reader #2's feedback and was super happy with it. She gave some really good advice, and pointed out the few spelling errors I couldn't find on my own. She gave me good pointers adding to the depth of my book and she's an avid YA Fantasy reader, so I trust her. I have a feeling that her feedback is going to bump my manuscript's word count up by 10,000. Which means I may not be able to "legally" participate in NaNoWriMo. Hmmm....

In other news, my model is not coming through with photos for the book cover, so I think I might have to create something on my own. I'm drawing inspiration from the lovely people at and I'm excited to try my hand with Gimp (too poor for Photoshop). 

Wish me luck!

My First Beta Reader Experience

This morning I awoke to an email in my inbox that I had been waiting for. It was my first beta reader giving feedback on The Two Worlds. Excited, I opened the email and read quickly through what she had to say.

It wasn't all good.

She liked the way the story flowed, but she felt that it read almost like a screenplay (stupid film-making degree!). She also felt like I was putting all of my cards on the table and not leaving enough mystery for the reader.


I had a flicker of disappointment, but then a thought dawned on me.

She read my story!

I jumped out of bed with a grin on my face. Someone had actually taken time out of their busy day to read my book!

It felt great.

Of course, I have to wait for my other beta reader to finish reading before I can start editing. But Beta 1's feedback was just what I needed to hear. I'm off to research the advice she gave me and of course, I'll get back to you on what I've learned.

Have you had a beta reader experience yet? What was your reaction?

Finding a Writing Schedule That Works For You

I'm a stickler--I find advice and try to stick to it, even if it's not working for me. When I decided to get serious about writing, I was told that a writing schedule was the way to go. "You'll develop discipline," experts said. "You'll form habits!"


After creating mutiple schedules and not sticking to them, I finally got to the final stages of The Two Worlds and am ready to self-publish it. How?

I stopped trying to fit myself into a neat little box. Shit happens. Things go awry in life. And feeling as though you should jump off a bridge because you failed to meet a couple of self-imposed deadline is for the birds.

So, I tossed my daily word counts and weekly to-do lists and stuck to basics. Here's my plan for the next few months:

November 2012:

-Publish The Two Worlds (currently in beta land)

The Two Worlds: Jarem's Revenge 

 -Write in November

 -Edit in December

 -Publish in January (Jan. 31)

The Waking Moon (romance novel)

 -Write in December

 -Edit in January

 -Publish in February (Feb. 28)

Here's 3 things that I've learned:

1) Having one broad goal with one target date is the only way I won't have a panic attack every time I open Google Tasks. Panic attacks = procrastination = not getting shit done.  Before, I would make SMART goals and then break them down into steps. From there, I would have multiple task lists. It was insane! I would spend hours crafting these lists that were supposed to make me more efficient when all it was really doing was taking away from my writing. Never again.

2) I know my writing capabilities now. I've been writing actively for about a year now and I know that I can crank out 2,000 words an hour...without really trying. I can also crank out 50,000 words in 30 days (thanks NaNoWriMo!).

3) I know my editing strengths and weaknesses. It took me awhile to figure out how to edit and how long it takes. I tried different methods at different times. Thanks to Tamera Kraft's advice, I finished up The Two Worlds and put it in beta readers' inboxes. This is the method I will be sticking to from now on.

The above schedule probably won't work for many folks. That's ok. Writing is an individual sport, so you can tweak your schedule anyway you like.

What about you? Do you have a writing schedule that works for you?

A Little Bit About This Blog...

       I'm a Google fanatic. I'm naturally inquisitive (I suppose that's a trait of writers), and since Google arrived on the scene back in '98 I've been hooked. When I decided to start being serious about my writing I automatically went on a Google binge! I researched every aspect of writing, from setting deadlines to getting published. I spent hours reading articles about writer's block and getting through the 'dreaded middle'. I frequented forums, stalked blogs and harassed my other writer friends.

      But what I couldn't find easily were blogs where the authors gave the honest, nitty gritty truth about getting published. I read lots of the same advice on various websites and blogs, but no one really gave a play-by-play of the struggle. Not to be outdone, I kept searching in vain, constantly thinking "Yes, that's nice, but what's it really like?"

      Everywhere I looked, published writers and experts advised newbie professional writers such as myself to have a website and a blog. "Post frequently!" they said. "Make sure you drive traffic!"

      I tried and failed. I didn't have anything 'fluffy' to talk about. I'm still learning and didn't feel comfortable writing 'how-to' articles. I didn't eat, sleep and breathe writing and therefore couldn't provide multiple posts about the industry's happenings.

So I gave up.

     Fortunately, whenever I give up it doesn't stick. I decided I would create a blog that would let other newbie writers know that they're not alone. I will chronicle my failures and celebrate my triumphs. If I find a method that works, I will share it...and I will share those that don't work, too.

     My goals is to let other newbie authors realize that they are not alone and provide resources for their struggle to.

Till next time!