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It’s done.

21 Oct

You guys. I have something important to tell you.

You know that novel I’ve been working on for over 10 years now? The one that started back in 2007 as a series of random journal entries that eventually became scenes, which eventually became a novel? The one that I rewrote several times just so I could “get it right” then edited more times than I can recall?

Yeah, well…it’s done.

No, I really mean it. I sent it out to beta readers. Today. Like the whole thing. Completed.

Does that mean it won’t see any more changes? No, but I’ve gotten it as good as I can get it on my own, so now I’m sharing it with others who can help me make it even better.

What Comes Next?

Well, once I’ve gotten feedback from my beta readers (thank you!), I’ll be reading through that then deciding what changes should be made to my story. After which…

See, now that’s where things get fuzzy. Do I get ready to send the thing to literary agents and hope that I can find representation and a publisher, or do I strike out on my own as a self-published author? I’ve been debating this for some time now, and I’m still no closer to an answer. I’ve been telling myself, “Hey, why don’t you do some submissions for a while and see how that goes? If nothing comes of it, you can always self-publish.” Which is fine. But the very designer/creator side of me really likes the idea of having a say in things like the cover and layout design of my first novel.

Besides, I’m hearing it’s tough for self-proclaimed dieselpunk writers to get any representation right now—simply for the fact that they identify their work as “dieselpunk”. And that’s messed up ’cause y’all know I’m all about dieselpunk. I’ve gotten very involved in that community lately on Facebook and am even one of the top profiles that pop up on Twitter when you search for “dieselpunk”. In other words, I’ve been branding myself a certain way and would like to continue doing so.

In any case, I could go back to brainstorming ideas for Book II, which I’ve already started. I might wait a few weeks on that, at least, though. Take a break.

*sighs*

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.

What Are You Working On?

Writing a novel yourself? Or maybe you’ve been reading some good stories lately. I wanna know!

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Beta Reading for The Elementalist: Rise of Hara

25 Aug

So. Since I’m like done-but-not-done with editing The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, it’s almost time for that all-important beta reading stage and I already have a handful of people who’ve been asking to be beta readers. Kinda cool.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been working on putting together a questionnaire for each “part” of my novel (there are 5 in total) to help me capture feedback that I’ll find most useful. For now, I’ve been sending out a Google Forms pre-screening questionnaire to folks who are interested in reading my story. It asks some general questions about reading preferences, the reader’s experience with writing, etc. and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. So if anyone is interested in being a beta reader for TEROH and providing their honest feedback, then definitely fill out that questionnaire, please and thank you. ^_^

After I collect some pre-screens and finish my current read-through, the plan is for me to send out my manuscript in 5 parts to beta readers. I’ll probably send all 5 at once unless otherwise requested so that readers can read and submit feedback at their own pace. This is a longer story, currently sitting at around 213K words; for non-writers, that’s like reading Crime and Punishment or a 700-ish-page novel, depending on formatting. If you don’t like reading longer novels, then you may not want to be a beta reader for this one.

Anyway, beta readers will be welcome to include notes or highlights on the manuscript itself, though I’ll be asking for specific feedback in the questionnaires themselves—mostly along the lines of general thoughts on a particular section up to the end of that section, the reader’s overall interest in my main as well as some minor characters, thoughts on larger plot points, interest in continuing to read the rest of the story at the end of each section…those kinds of things. (See example below.)

Beta Read Questions 1

Overall, I’m mostly interested in readers’ feelings and experiences with the story as they progress through it plus their big-picture thoughts. Though, I’m open to any feedback a reader feels compelled to share—be it grammar stuff, structural suggestions, or whatever. Regardless of what feedback I get, TEROH will definitely be visiting an editor at some point.

Here’s the thing: I need more time to finish this read-through of my manuscript. I’m looking mostly for cadence, tone, and flow while I read now as well as other small things that happen to jump out at me that I failed to notice before. It’s going faster than my last round of edits (much faster), but not as fast as I’d like because I’m a slow reader myself and am scrutinizing all 213K+ of these words one line at a time. *le sigh* Anyway, I’m going to be realistic and give myself until the end of September for now (tracking my progress on the right side of the blog), but I’ll send out an email to anyone who completes my pre-screening when I’m finished so you’ll know for sure.

Sound good? 🙂

Editing Progress & Stuff

6 Aug

So. Guess what? I’ve been making solid progress on the perpetual novel.

As I write this, my progress meter, as measured by completed scenes, reads at 92.37%. Translation: only 9 more scenes to edit then I’m “done.” (Don’t you just love those quotation marks?)

(Almost) Endless Edits

My goal is to complete all of my personal edits by the end of August. The progress meter is for all that remains…to a certain extent. See, I have a stack of notes scribbled on scraps of 1/4 sheets of paper that I’ve been chopping through, making sure each concern is dealt with in a linear fashion—that is, from chapter to chapter, beginning to end. Right now, I’m down to two notes, which means most likely, I don’t have much left in the way of structural edits to worry about. The remaining 9 scenes should go pretty smoothly.

I’ll probably even finish these edits by the end of next weekend.

Now, after that, will that really mean I’m “done” with editing? Not really. See, even after all of these edits, I’ve found it helpful to go back and reread the five “parts” or sections that I’ve divided my novel into because hey, every change potentially brings another problem. Like a disturbance of overall cadence or altogether omitted words.

Yup, can’t catch them all.

So far, I’ve only done this with Part I.  I started Part II but then other changes I made later required tweaking a few things in this section again. So really, I need to do a quick reread of Parts II through V—and I do mean quick ’cause I’m sick of looking at this thing. But like in the best way possible. (It’s funny what your brain picks up when all the major issues have been taken care of versus when you still have those to fix.)

Even after I do a quick reread of my edits, I expect beta readers will still find things because I always find something when I look back. I’m pretty much at the point now where I can’t rely on my eyes anymore. Beta readers will be very helpful for a variety of reasons. (I’m mostly interested to see people’s emotional and intellectual responses to my story, to be honest.) Though, even after I’ve gotten their feedback and taken that into consideration (meaning more edits), I expect I’ll want to hire an editor to look over my work for me—especially if I decide to self-publish.

Then, say I do find representation by a literary agent instead then later a publishing house if I go the traditional route. Naturally, they will require even more edits.

As you can see, “done” isn’t really “done” until the final proof of a novel is submitted for publication, really. As far as I know. In the meantime…

Flash Fiction: ‘Mmm…thought so.’

16 Jul

“Is he here? Is he seeing all of this?” Andre asks, referring to Voi’s clairvoyant handler as he knowingly runs a hand past her stockings, pausing on the garter straps.

She murmurs incoherent noises into his ear, struggling to make sense of words. Chamber music echoes off the walls—waltzes or trots or tangos. She forgets which.

“Mmm…thought so,” Andre says anyway. He stares into Voi’s unfocused eyes, flipping a clip undone with his thumb. Her pupils enlarge suddenly just as a gale bursts through the window.

Andre curses, flinching away.

Obliviously drinking in the fumes of ambrosia with another drag on her cigarette, Voi soon tosses her head back with a manic laugh as she allows herself to slip further from reality, no longer resisting Andre’s attempts to “parley.” All the while, the crowd continues dancing under the spell of the domesticated ball downstairs…

Voi gasps, then breathes.  The wind starts to die down some, and so does her laughter.  She begins humming.

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Voi…” Andre carefully takes the contraband drug from her fingertips now and stares at it.  “Where did you manage to get this from anyway?”

Voi pulls her head upright, peering at him with dark eyes. They no longer seem unfocused.  Instead, she says in a low voice, “Is that really what you came here for, Andre?”

Sometimes, I come across art or music that gives me a very specific idea for a scene in a new novel or, perhaps, one I’m already working on. This painting, “Night Geometry” by Jack Vettriano, is one such piece of art. Actually, a lot of Vettriano’s work has been inspiring scenes for my fantasy series over the past few years. It’s sultry and moody and full of tension, sometimes with noir-ish undertones, and that appeals to me. (Not your typical fantasy stuff, eh?)

Anyway, I had this particular scene in mind for a story that I won’t get to for another three novels from now—The Elementalist: Grand Masquerade, in fact—but hey, gotta catch that inspiration when it strikes, right? Also, my series has been in third-person limited, past tense so far, and sometimes it’s subjective because the narrator will add a bit of whimsical dramatic irony here or there, so I don’t know why I’ve changed forms here in this snippet.  Not even sure what perspective this is in or if it’s consistent! Kinda feels omniscient, in a way—which would be fun to play around with later, given that Voi is apparently playing with drugs at this point in the series…

I guess that’s what happens when you try and wing things.

In other news, I’m about 70% done with my edits on Book I. Kind of a nice feeling, considering. 🙂 Planning on being done by the end of August, at the latest. If I keep making steady progress, I should be able to hit that goal.

Would be nice!

…And here’s a little (not-so) random music to go along with the snippet, just because.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0fw2O8ZuCHgFt6CVvDZZds

Let’s Be Honest

18 Jun

I’ve done it yet again: I’ve fallen into a slump with my novel, TEROH. (Thank God I’m not a career novelist!)

Can I be honest? I’m not a very consistent person. Except at work. Though, when I’m not at work—that is, getting paid for said work—I have a totally different mindset about, well, everything: if it’s not work then it’s basically leisure.

I know, that’s not how real life works (chores, bills and the like), but my brain forever has a hard time accepting that.

Anyway, out of my three big goals for this year, finishing TEROH is the one I’ve yet to cross off the list. (Okay, technically I haven’t started writing the second book yet. Though realistically, I should have set the goal as “start outlining and otherwise conceptualizing the remaining books in the series,” which I’ve done.) Every time I take a break and look back at what I’ve accomplished, I only see how much I’ve left to do. And when I think of the effort it took to get to where I am now, it saps the energy right out of me.

I have tunnel vision when I’m set on something, too, so I get really intense when I do work on my novel. It’s like the only thing I work on (outside of work). Worse, when I’m not in “work” mode, I’m as scatterbrained as they come.

What I’m saying is I don’t know how not to operate at 100% in any one mode, resulting in a spectacular crash-and-burn followed by a complete standstill on certain projects.

So, what have you been doing instead of writing, Tiyana?

Working on my house, apparently.

 

I have a lot of interests outside of writing, so when one thing stumps/overwhelms/bores me I’ll just hop onto something else. Thing is I really don’t want to get to the end of 2017 and not be able to say, “Hey guys, it only took me 10 years, not 11!” (This is not an exaggeration.)

This may be hard to believe, but I do just want to be done with this novel. I also know what will be required of me to get it to its best and it’s still a decent amount of work—less than I’ve had to do in the past but enough to psyche me out every now and then. (Hence the prolonged periods of nothingness.) Up to this point, I’ve been reading the whole thing aloud, but I actually find it effective to do a mixture of things:

  1. First, do a quick read-through of a scene to see if anything glaring sticks out then fix what I need to.
  2. Next, read the scene aloud and edit whatever else jumps out at me.
  3. Third, at a later date, read back through my changes and assess whether things still sit well with me. (Since I’ve divided the novel into five parts, I find it helpful to go back a do a quick re-read of that entire section as a whole once I’ve finished editing all the scenes in it.)

Doing this, I find, helps me finesse over errors that can happen in the middle of editing and makes me feel good about moving on—for good! Something I’ve been able to do with Parts I and II, thankfully. (I’m two super short scenes shy of finishing Part III. I’ve just been putting it off for reasons I don’t entirely understand.)

This is all fine and well, but when do you plan on finishing edits on TEROH?

Honestly, I have no idea how/when I’m going to kick myself into finishing the rest of my edits right now. I just know the goal was to get it done before the end of the year. So instead of pushing myself into these intense sessions where I’m working on it all day during my free time to make insane levels of progress, maybe I should just pace myself a bit slower and take more time.

It’s not like I haven’t taken enough time already.

(Edit: when I say “take more time,” I mean “take more time actively editing” and not “more time doing nothing.”)

How do you get yourself back out of a writing/editing rut?

Oh, yeah—and on a totally unrelated note, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!

Also, is it just me or has WordPress been annoyingly buggy lately? I mean I go to type something then come back later and it’s like I never typed it!

Switching Gears

16 Apr

(Nope, not a steampunk pun. Promise!)

As has probably been evident by my latest blog posts, I’ve been especially inspired to catalog the swarm of ideas for other books in my series that have been coming to me lately. To be honest, that meant putting editing the first book on the back burner for a bit. However, I really think I needed the distraction at the time. I had a lot of words left to sift through (over 100K). New ideas give me a solid reason to push through the rest of my manuscript.

It’s not that I’m not enthused about the words I’ve written; I’ve just been looking at them for a really, really long time. I want to move on.  Though, to do this, I realized I needed to make some big decisions about the future of my series. Now that a lot of those decisions have been made, I feel less vague about where the series is going. (Book V is still something of a blank slate in my mind, despite knowing what key events I’d like to have in it. I’m just not sure how I want to swing the blurb yet. Need to explore more details from the prior books first.)

Lately, I’ve seriously gotten back into the editing of Book I, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Each time I read back through my story, I find myself double-checking some assumptions I’ve made about my understanding of certain things it shares with our world. For example, a knife versus a dagger. One of my characters carries one, another the opposite weapon. It’s always been this way in my mind—probably an aesthetic choice, when I first created their characters—but I never really stopped to ask myself “why?” for practical reasons. Naturally, that required some research and deliberation on my part. (In the end, it turned out not to be a big deal. Still, it’s just one of those things you take for granted, I think, without actively realizing it.)

Anyway, I’m looking to get through a few more scenes this morning before I chill with the parents for Easter—which I don’t actually celebrate, but they do, so… In any case, it’s nice to be making progress again.

Challenging, but nice.

Writing Vlog #1: Plotting & Editing a Fantasy Novel

4 Feb

So today, I decided to post a vlog about where I am with my WIP novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Basically, I discuss the methods I’ve tried, what’s worked for me, what hasn’t, etc…and what that all amounts to: in the end, you just have to try different things and find out what works for you!

 

In other news, today has been a very sad day for me.  I decided it was necessary to put my two kitty cats, Kit Kat and Tigger (shown in the video), to sleep. 😦 I’m incredibly sad about it so won’t go into the details today, but I plan on talking about it in a more appropriately-themed post a few weeks from now.

Anyway, that’s all for now. 🙂 Thanks for reading/watching!

Pantser Special: Using Story Structure Models to Write a Synopsis (& Tighten Your Plot)

14 Jan

Not long ago, while editing my novel, it occurred to me that eventually, I’ll be expected to provide a synopsis of my story whenever I do get around to submitting to agents. (The horror!) As someone who started this ginormous project as a bonafide pantser after failing to produce a likable manuscript going the outlining route, well, the idea of writing a synopsis seemed like a big fat joke…until I realized it really wasn’t.

Without a coherent, logical structure, my story would be DOA.

So…when a YouTuber I follow named Shaelin Bishop posted a video about a 15 Beat Plot Structure this week, I decided to tune in and watch. Perhaps, I reasoned, I could learn something useful.

Boy, did I ever!

Now, I’ve read articles about all sorts of story structures in the past—some more detailed than others—but this “15 Beat” one just seemed to really “click” for me. Maybe because I already had my story pretty much figured out this time around; maybe because it’s actually meant for the visual medium of movies, which I tend to see more than I read, and I’m a very visual person. Anyhow, while listening to Shaelin explain it, I was nodding my head along, mentally listing the ways my story already seemed to align with the plot progressions she was explaining.

Phew! What a relief. I guess, without really thinking about it as “creating a plot structure,” that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along!

Well, this came as a great relief to the-pantser-that-is-me. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should actually try being organized for once and write down this plot of mine now—y’know, just to make sure I’m telling a coherent story. (It certainly is an easier way to examine plot without the multitude of details of worldbuilding and dialogue and what have you getting in the way.) Within a half an hour of drafting my story structure in Word, I realized that this whole little exercise could actually help me tighten my plot.

It could also, potentially, become the starting point for my synopsis! Continue reading

Story Excerpt – The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, Chapter 1

5 Dec

Hello, everyone! So I’m still in Summerlin and had a really, really long night (pulled a 13.5 hour shift). Regardless, it’s been a while since I posted a new video for my YouTube channel, so I decided to record an excerpt of my WIP, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. I actually read it out loud.

Just like I’ve been doing during my edits!

This one starts not at the very beginning of the story but in the protagonist’s first chapter. The story is setup in “parts,” and Part I is told from another main character’s POV to introduce what’s going on elsewhere in the world, leading up to the protagonist’s role–which I introduce in Part II.

I may record the second chapter sometime, as well, as it introduces the shady government agent who approaches the protagonist, Voi. But we’ll see.

I return home in 3 days, after which I’ll be able to get back to my read-out-loud edits. (I’m not doing it during this trip only because I think differently at night and tend to miss things after 10+ hour shifts…)

What did you think?

Do you like the story so far?  Is it something you would be interested in continuing reading?  I have a few people who’ve volunteered to be beta readers already (yay!), whom I’ll be sending out my manuscript to early next year, so it could change based on their feedback. We’ll see.  But that’s what I have for now.

Anyway, thanks for watching/reading/listening!

Editing, Life & Spy Stuff

27 Nov

A lot has been happening in my life over the past couple of weeks, and not much of it has included editing. I flew to Chicago for a week to see my long-distance boyfriend, whom I hadn’t seen in 5 months (we weren’t always long distance); he was a complete gentleman and romantic during my entire stay. Also, one of my cats has not been feeling well and has lost over 6 pounds from his original weight of 16. Then tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Summerlin, Nevada to help open a new furniture store with Living Spaces, where I work as a visual merchandiser. (This will be my 3rd store opening since I started about 6 months ago.)

In other words, I haven’t had much downtime—and I won’t, for some time.

Store openings are a whirlwind and can be a lot of fun, but they’re also stressful at times.  Last time I did one we only had 9 days to set up everything from scratch (10 for the rest of the team, since I left a day before grand opening), which was a record time for the company. This next one I’m doing will be similar. Like the last, this will be another large store, clocking in at 140,ooo square feet. (These store showrooms are comparable to IKEA’s in size, by the way; IKEA just tends to advertise the sizes of their entire building with the warehouses included.)

In other words, it’s pretty big.

Luckily, I’ll get to see the boyfriend again as soon as January rolls around, which will be nice. In between my return from Summerlin on December 8th and the boyfriend’s arrival 4 weeks thereafter, I should be able to get some more “read-out-loud” editing done.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to finish before the end of the year now, unfortunately. Too much has been going on, and my attention has been spread as a result. I’ll have more of a chance to focus on the novel in the upcoming weeks and later in January after the boyfriend has returned to Chicago.

In Other News…

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting some ideas for the next book and keep thinking about a few scenes in particular that have been inspired by some moody, spacey songs I’ve been listening to by a song artist named Koda. (You can find more of his music here.) I also spent a little time tweaking my two ending chapters, as they didn’t quite feel “right” to me—not that they were “wrong,” per se; just not quite “hitting the mark” for me.

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What happens when a drunk air elementalist with claustrophobia tangos with a brooding clairvoyant wrestler at 3AM in a hotel room? Writing about it in a chapter of my fantasy novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, entitled, “Two Tumblers, a Red Dress & a Bottle of Whiskey.” | Image credit: unknown.

Anyway, the second story will be set in new locations inspired by early 20th-century China, Japan, and Saharan regions especially as opposed to the more European-like settings I’m currently writing in.  It will likely be even more espionage-y than the first novel, I’m gathering—mostly because the main characters will be veering off their usual paths and doing a lot more things their governments may/may not approve of (intrigue!), as possibly hinted at by the novel title I have planned: The Elementalist: Revolutionary.

As such, I’ve been gathering inspiration on life in/near the Sahara as well as spies during WWII.

9781447220589the-key-to-rebecca

I started reading an espionage thriller called The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett, which I’m enjoying so far. It mainly follows a German spy who’s been sent to Cairo, Egypt during WWII, as well as his British intelligence counterpart in an intriguing cat-and-mouse game. I’ve also been watching the miniseries version of a book I once read called The Time In Between, also set around the WWII era. I wrote a blog post about this book a while ago; it was one I really enjoyed.

19534027-878783

The TV series is very well done. Sira Quiroga, a Spanish seamstress turned renowned dressmaker turned spy against the Nazis, is a clever and compelling heroine–with an impeccable sense of style, to boot! If my protagonist Voi Román read her story, I think she would like Sira very much and might even consider her a role model, of sorts.


Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to. I still need to pack and get ready for my trip to Summerlin, though hopefully, I can get a little editing done before I go. (Once I’m there, it’s 10+ hour work days, and after moving furniture and bending and crouching all day, I know I won’t have the energy to edit then!)

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, both old and new!