Happy New Year! + 2018 Goals

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by, but it has—and much to my surprise, I’ve pretty much achieved my goals. (This is only surprising to me because usually, I don’t set any goals.)

Last year, I set out to achieve three things: (1) finish editing Book I of my fantasy series, (2) begin planning and writing Book II of said fantasy series, and (3) plan the end of a long-distance relationship I was involved in. (Notice how I used the past tense.)

#1 I’ve done; I’m still not “finished”, per se, but I’m “done” for now. I’ve sent the thing out to beta readers and am currently still getting some feedback to consider. So far so good. (Thought maybe I could be done with the whole beta reader process and edits based on that before now, but that was a joke. Still, I consider this goal “accomplished”.)

#2 I can also check off the list. Barely started actually writing the story just a few days ago so squeaked that one in. (My progress bar on the side of my website now reflects this.) One particular scene was in my head and I just wanted to get it down on paper. Since I’m still waiting on feedback for the first novel, I thought this would be a good time to get the second one going.

As for #3, well, things just didn’t work out with me and the ex-boyfriend. I think we were in very different places in our lives, and our lifestyles were way too different to really coincide. He was a lot more footloose and bohemian than me. Traveled light…that kind of thing. (And here I am collecting vintage furniture I don’t necessarily need.) There’s a certain appeal to that, but if you’re talking about possibly spending the rest of your life together and moving to another state…well, I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

There was also the issue of him changing his tune from “I can see us getting married” and nonchalantly asking me about ring styles to “I’m not sure I want to get married/believe in marriage anymore,” which is enough in and of itself if you ask me. #dealbreaker

That all happened back in February, in addition to having to put down my two very sickly cats of 17 years, and I’ve pretty much been single ever since. Actually, I think I’m a lot happier being single. Looking back on my dating escapades, I think I’ve always been happier single. Doesn’t mean I don’t get curious about men every now and then; I like men. (Well, some of them.) I’m just not sure I ought to be living with one. See, I happen to be responsible with my money, I live a pretty stable life, and I still believe that marriage can be a good thing. Unfortunately, none of those things seem to be en vogue with the guys I run into nowadays. (Because in my past lives, apparently, things were different. </sarcasm>)

I could really go on about this if I’m not careful, but that’s not why I started this post; I’m setting some new goals for the New Year, people. Three of them, to be exact—two that are writing-related and one that’s more personal. After all, that’s what I did last year, so y’know, let’s not get too creative.

Okay, I lied: let’s do two personal goals. There, I’m trying something new now.Read More »

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Let’s Be Honest

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!

‘Does your book have any romance?’

We were sitting in this high-rise apartment, this stranger and I, J, talking about my novel. Sipping on some mixture of pale Moscato and red wine he’d poured, not realizing I wasn’t really into wine.

I like juice and whiskey, I said. Oh, then you might like this, J assured me.

He kept pouring. Turned out the drink was alright.

J was a writer, too. He understood. However, when he asked the question, “Does your book have any romance?” I fell quiet for a moment then gave him this kind of wry, bitter laugh.

That he didn’t understand. He furrowed his brow, so I had to explain.

“The men in the novel aren’t exactly romantic. One tries to be, but it doesn’t come across that way because he’s too forceful; the other’s profession involves manipulating the protagonist to do something she normally wouldn’t do. I can’t really call that romance.”

J didn’t have much to say about that. The night carried on regardless.

Why There Isn’t Any ‘Real’ Romance in My Novel

Photo by Nathan Walker.

Read More »

Editing, Life & Spy Stuff

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.

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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!

One Year Later…

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post here or worked on my novel, but…I actually did some editing today. (Progress bar went from purple to pink!)

I’ve missed it. I’ve missed it a lot. Reading fiction, working on my own, connecting with other writers…

For the past few years I’ve been busy with my interior design business Simplicit Interiors, LLC and figuring out a career as a visual merchandiser working at furniture stores. It takes a lot to be a business owner–more than I may be willing to give, I’ve realized. Which is totally fine. It’s not for everyone. Waiting to see how things play out for the remainder of this year, to be honest.

In the meantime, I decided to get back into the ol’ novel. Picked up on a troublesome chapter I last left off on. Finally tackled it and fixed some big problems I had with it. Wasn’t easy, but…it was worth it.

I’ve remained fairly active on Instagram and Pinterest all this time. Thinking about starting a new Instagram account specifically for my Element 7 project and dieselpunk stuff. It’ll be a fun way to share what inspired me (and keeps inspiring me) to take a crack at this thing called writing and coming back to the world I’ve created. It’s worth the sacrifice of time, I think.

Been popping in on different bloggers’ websites the past couple of days, seeing what’s up. Don’t be surprised if I stop by and say hi!