fireflys_locket: (Free Falling (Serah) - whispyr)
Health issues combined with continuing depression about life and the state of the world have made writing scarce these past few weeks. But I opened my windows today for the first time in ages, and I feel like I can breathe again. If you know me well, you'll know I'm not exactly a summer person. I get terribly overheated in the sun, keep my room fans all year, and wear a tank top and shorts if at all possible. (Seriously - middle of the winter, tank top and shorts.) But don't get me wrong, I don't particularly like winter, either. Snow is pretty from indoors, and luckily, I work from home and can stay out of it most of the time. I favor the in-between seasons. Spring and fall. More fall than spring these days, since the arrival of spring just makes me fear the summer and my birthday. But I love the breeze. Jane is an Air Element for a reason.

I just remembered this bit of advice I left when posting a song many years ago, and it still rings true: "And seriously, the biggest piece of advice I have for writers who are in the midst of a huge writer’s block, or have ideas but can't seem to get motivated enough to write... is open your window." Maybe some of you are more drawn to the scent of fresh earth or rain or the ocean, but I feel like most creative people have at least one major connection to nature. And it's good to reconnect.

Anyhow, I spent the day reading with the windows open, and I feel more alive than I have in a while. (I also packed up some copies of Magic Inc. for my next event!) Some of what I was reading was more Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird does have some very interesting things to say about writing, and it's a pleasant read. But I'm only deeply connecting to bits and pieces and not the core of the lessons themselves. For instance, I love the idea that characters will form themselves and that you shouldn't betray their personalities for the sake of plot. Also, that you're more a typist for the story that exists out there in the ether or in some other unconscious part of the brain. But I've realized this book is far more a tool for Pantsers than Plotters. The very idea of writing out a first draft with no idea where I was going is terrifying for me. I always need to know where I'm going. Some curves may surprise me, just like any journey. But the destination is important, too, you know.

I planned the majority of the Magic Inc. series before I even started the first book. Some sections of the journey have bigger empty spots waiting than others (which make me nervous if I think about them too much), but as a whole, I know where the story is going. I know my characters' wants and needs. I know the way their stories weave into my other books. And definitely, where it all ends.

But that's pretty far off, so we can just focus on the journey for now.
fireflys_locket: (Glasses Girl - Collapsingnight)
I am very nearly halfway through the first draft of Magic Inc. Book Two. Well, really, I'm very nearly halfway done with both the first and second drafts of Book Two. Because writing first drafts by computer instead of in a notebook has allowed me to revise sections as I go along. Which I know can be a killer to some writers. Getting all wrapped up in perfecting one small section instead of actually finishing a full draft of their book. I used to be that way when I was a teenager. Forever starting and restarting Dreaming in Shadow and even my fanfiction projects.

But somewhere between then and now, I got into a better relationship with revision. For one, I became more able to do it on my own instead of relying so much on outside opinions of what needed to be changed. I could see more of the flaws with my own eyes. I could also better appreciate which parts needed to stay raw and filled with emotion. The sections that basically spilled out of my soul. So, now, I am writing in scenes as I feel drawn to them and tying everything together later while also revising what I have already. This leaves me with something more resembling a second draft than a first by the time I end each chapter.

Of course, I will need to go over everything again once I finish writing, and I already have noted some scenes that will probably need more additional editing than others, but I feel I'm delivering more polished new chapters by this method. In some ways, I am hoping that streamlining my process will keep me from taking five years to write one book, but it's mostly just the natural progression my writing process has taken.

I've been reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and mostly enjoying it so far in spite of my hesitation to read more writing tips for fear of feeling even more alienated. Anne's writing is witty and relatable. At least when she's simply talking about the many feelings writers go through and not trying to teach something. Which is to say, I still cannot relate to the "shitty first draft" concept.

I always prickle when writers proclaim that all first drafts are garbage. While I've certainly created work that was flawed and in need of excessive editing, I have not (at least for many years) written what I would consider garbage. Maybe it's because I usually spend years writing a story in my head before I even start the first draft. Maybe it's because I only write when I'm inspired, and therefore, haven't forced whole chapters out of myself before I was ready. Maybe I'm just really bad at writing, and have been doing it wrong all along. I mean, that's always a possibility, I suppose. But I think my process just different from the norm.

I spent some time recently on Miss Masquerade, which has gotten very little attention from me since the release of Magic Inc. Book One. It surprised me how I'd forgotten the ease of working on a real second draft, where the plot had been laid out and all I had to do was make everything flow better. I got to just play with words. Be a writer over a storyteller, because the story was already told. Being a storyteller has always been my priority, but it is nice to have the freedom to not worry about that part. This is why I put so much into my first drafts. So that all I have to do later is polish. It baffles me that writers often say the second draft is the hard part. But I guess that makes sense if what you threw together the first time was "garbage" and you have to change the structure of everything drastically.

I'm certainly no stranger to having structural issues to fix in second drafts, though. Part of the reason I'd forgotten how nice it could be to write a second draft was because my other second draft, Dreaming in Shadow, had a major issue. There was a scene I had meant to include in the first draft that had the potential to break the flow of the entire second half of the book if I put it in now. Okay, it probably was not going to do that. But I am an anxious person, so I agonized over how I was going to fix this issue most of last year. And in the end, when I finally came to the part in the second draft where the scene needed to go, it went. Perfectly. There was a pointless scene sitting there, holding a place for it this entire time. Ugh. So much wasted time and energy. But I'm grateful it all worked out. Now, I just hope the second draft will start to flow again.

So, maybe I can't quite relate to the "shitty first draft". But the feelings of self-doubt that often facilitate the need for them - oh, can I ever relate to those! Doubt is really is my biggest threat to staying productive, besides low energy. Part of the fight actually is against the worry that I'm somehow doing all of it wrong because my process is so different from most writers. That's why I don't like to read writer's tips. They all seem to be the same. And there are so many different ways to be a creative writer.

What matters most is the finished book. So, if part of your process is to write a bad first draft where you let yourself write freely, go for it! But I actually enjoy my planning and "perfectionism"... most of the time. I have a fairly good relationship with it when it comes to writing, at least. The combination of planning ahead but waiting for the right inspiration to hit before actually getting the words down is a good balance for me. Part of the reason I pay so much attention to my first drafts is that I don't want to edit heavily later. I want the emotions to stay raw, while fixing the flow of everything else.

I would encourage new(ish) writers to let your work be raw and imperfect. Don't let your fears keep you in an editing loop, if it means you'll never finish. Know that you can fix issues later. But don't be afraid to take your time, either. And instead of considering first drafts as being "shitty", think of them as an unpolished gemstone. It is still beautiful. It still deserves your respect. And with more work, it will shine.
fireflys_locket: (Glasses Girl - Collapsingnight)
This was my first full year as an author, and it feels kind of weird. I've gotten a lot of good work done this year, and I'm grateful for that. I know that finishing my next book is my main mission right now, and that's going fairly well (if slowly). I also did an absolutely terrifying first author event, which took so much personal planning and energy.

But I still feel like so little has changed. Aside from a few moments here and there, I still feel more like a writer scrambling to legitimize her vocation by finishing her first book than an author working on her second. And maybe it's just my predisposition for seeing the negative, but I can't help but be sad that I still don't really have any clue what I'm doing when it comes to marketing and disappointed that Magic Inc. hasn't really found its audience yet.
fireflys_locket: (Lovely Reflection - amethystia)
I was watching Marie Forleo's latest video, and my responses to her questions were getting so long that I decided to turn this into a journal entry. It's been too long, I know. This is only my seventh entry for the whole year. And one was just an excerpt from Magic Inc. But hey, here I am, ready to share more honest, personal thoughts. I suggest you watch the video to understand the questions more in depth, and maybe, make your own list because this felt really cathartic to me. But that's up to you!

1. What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of?
I participated in my first author event/signing. Which was incredibly scary and required a lot of emotional preparation. But I think, considering how hard it is for me to do anything social, I coped well with it. And it was because it was something I really wanted to do, instead of something I felt pressured to do. Plus, I got everything ready ahead of time, which helped calm my anxieties a lot. That could be part of what I learned this year, as well. That giving myself enough time to prepare can really help my anxiety. It won't make it go away, but it does help. I've also put a lot of effort into my second book, and I feel like my writing has improved and I've figured out better ways of working that suit me and my process. It can be hard not to look ahead and see over half a book left to write, but what I have written is some of my best work to date. And it is because I am taking my time with it.

2. What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned?
My mistakes are mostly personal, but I think, as always, I struggle too much with worry about what other people will think. I know myself and what I want, and I don't let anyone change that. I don't hide my true self, and I don't fake anything. But I still get triggered way too often by stuff I read on Facebook and the like that I feel is making a judgment on who I am (which sometimes is true, but is often just my perception). I also still judge myself based on other people's accomplishments far more than I ever spend celebrating my own. But I've never been good at celebrating myself, so I'm not sure how to change that.

3. What’s one thing you’re willing to let go of before the New Year?
I have lots of projects I still feel will find their way in the right timing, so I don't want to let go of them completely. I have been doing a lot of physical clearing in my life, though. Going through old clothes, jewelry, magazines, and various papers I no longer need. As well as making a habit of donating books, DVDs, and CDs I don't see myself revisiting. I'm a collector, so I like having a lot of stuff, but it's still important to check with yourself - will I use this again and/or does it have deep meaning to me? You don't have to save absolutely everything. Along with that, I'm trying to keep myself from feeling committed to finish any book series, video game, or TV series that doesn't really capture me. There are so many beautiful stories that will resonate with you, and there just isn't enough time to waste on stories that don't. I tend to try to see the best in creative works, and I have to remind myself that I don't have to like everything. And my not liking something isn't necessarily saying it's objectively bad, just not my cup of tea.

In terms of resentments and guilt, that's a lot harder to let go of. I've quarreled a lot with relatives in the last few years, finally having to block some truly toxic people. Ideally, you would be able to cut off toxic people without holding onto resentment, just forgive and let go (without letting them back in to cause more damage). But that's rarely the case. And for those people who have hurt you without meaning to? The ones you want to forgive and move on with? Maybe that's even harder. And perhaps worst of all, when you're holding onto anger with a person you are currently stuck living/dealing with. Someone you would cut off for good if you could, but life isn't perfect and you have to deal with people you don't like sometimes. And you feel you can't really let go of that anger because you have to continue guarding against them. But at the same time, that anger is killing you, not them. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Ugh. So true. And yet that doesn't make it easier to let go. At least not for me.

Well, there you have it. I'm not sure I'm completely ready to let go of this year and move into a new one, especially knowing at least one bad thing January has in store. But I do feel like I've opened myself up more and given myself the opportunity to think deeply about all of this. Sometimes even I avoid feeling things if I can manage it. (I usually can't, but if I can... oh, man.) The year ahead scares me. But I encourage you all to follow your heart and intiution. To speak out against injustice. And to be kind. The world desperately needs it right now.
fireflys_locket: (Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket)
Well, it's been a year since Magic Inc. Book One became available for purchase. It has been a very stressful, often traumatic year, so it's hard for me to revisit this milestone with much enthusiasm. However, Magic Inc. represents not only the five years I spent writing it, but the five years of planning before starting it, the many years spent honing my craft before that, and all the passion and pain I felt in my childhood that led to my writing in the first place.

Magic Inc. was my childhood fantasy world. One I never expected to share. One I was scared to invite anyone into. But here it is, one year later. And nothing has exploded. No one has been overly disruptive or unfair in their judgment of the book. But it also hasn't taken off in any big, positive way. Maybe that's what the first year looks like for most indie authors. But it's hard not to get discouraged sometimes. Not to let the success I've yet to find get in the way of writing Book Two. When both your personal life and your "career" are having problems, it is doubly hard to fight off your anxiety and depression.

I do know that, in some ways, I am very lucky. I was able to print my books without putting myself or my parents into any kind of debt. I was able to get a beautiful, personalized cover for my books that some writers could not afford. And my family and old friends have all been supportive of me and my work. Not just now that I have something to show for it, but every step along the way. I mentioned in my last post that I've been reading some of my old fanfiction. I've also been reading some of the reviews I saved from those stories. "I don't doubt you will be an author," my friend, Mallory, says in one comment.

And now, I am. All the work I've put into writing since I was eleven has come together in my first book. First of many, I hope. I certainly have enough ideas to last a lifetime, if not two. Though I still get nervous. What if it just suddenly stops? I don't know how to write from a technical place. I write almost completely based on inspiration and intiution. That actually works for me, in spite of what many other authors will try to advise. I don't really think I could live without writing, but I do worry that I will somehow stop being able to put together whole books. I've already spent a lot of time working on (and worrying about) the outline for Book Three when Book Two isn't even done yet. Ah, I guess that's just life for an anxious writer.

I'd like to take this moment to thank anyone who has read (and particularly reviewed) Magic Inc. Or given me feedback on my writing at any point. It all led up to this. While I became an author only a year ago today, I've been writing for sixteen years. And it was all part of the journey to get to this point. I still have a long way to go, but I will try to step forward with faith that this is the path I am meant to take. When you're a writer, you have to write. It's just who you are.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
I've been thinking about my "writer's journey" a lot the last week. How everything I've ever written or imagined has fed into my current work. I’ve been reading my first fanfiction series, and while the writing is beyond cringe-worthy and full of cheesy clichés, there’s something about it that still resonates with me. I marveled both at how far I've come and how, at the core, I'm still trying to tell the same story. Whether I call the main character Val or Valerie or Jane, I’m still trying to write my truth. And it’s still what feels the most right.

I’m also impressed that my 11 to 13-year-old self was able to write out multiple stories with foreshadowing, a prequel, and mostly original characters and plot elements. Fanfiction is where you can play freely just for fun and/or harness skills for writing your own original work. It was an important step in my journey.

When I was ready to move onto my own original work, I already had a strong sense of what I enjoyed writing about, I had improved technically, and I had already crafted some of how I wanted my version of magic to work. I ended up starting a bunch of stories I was really excited about, and when I discovered I wanted to connect all of them together into a whole universe, everything fit together naturally.

But I ended up abandoning many of those stories (at least temporarily) because I didn’t spend enough time planning them out before I started writing them. They became more a backstory or behind-the-scenes for the few stories that really resonated with me from the start. The ones that basically formed themselves. Even if I never got past five chapters before I went back to fix the beginning again.

And then, I went through a pretty dark period, and I wasn’t writing much at all. Even once I started coming out of the dark period, it took a long time (years) to really recover from that patch of creative block. During the recovery, I was writing again, but I spent more time in my head, playing with new ideas and how they could tie into my current stories. So much came together over the course of those years. But I still didn’t have anything to show for it.

The last six years, I’ve really focused on writing. Fewer new ideas have captured my interest, and instead, most of my inspiration has gone straight into my current projects. It took over five years from writing the first words of Magic Inc. to getting the book published. I also had three other completed first drafts. But I still didn’t feel like I’d done enough.

For a while, I was really frustrated at how long it took me to put my first book out. It still felt like I was years behind and barely keeping up. That feeling took over any sense of accomplishment. Now, looking back at the path I made for myself, I realize the years I took to form my world and hone my writing were crucial. Everything I worked on clearly led to where I am now, and none of it was a waste. I’m proud of my journey and the work I’ve created. And I’m looking forward to sharing even more of the vast universe inside my head with the world.

If only I could hold onto this positive feeling during the darker days… or inject it into other parts of my life.

Healing

Mar. 25th, 2016 12:49 am
fireflys_locket: (Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket)
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the power of art and story. Sharing our stories is an integral part of how humans connect and empathize. There are so many stories that have touched my heart, and I want so much for my stories to be that for my readers. Then I think, can I really finish another book? Particularly one so personal? It's true that I was thinking that about Magic Inc. Book One, as well, but Book Two is even more personal and soul-baring.

That soul-baring part, I believe, is making Book Two an even better novel than Book One (so far). I feel like I'm able to do some of my best work when I'm writing about all the passion and pain inside of me. But that sometimes makes it very difficult emotionally. I'm getting close to writing scenes that represent more of the bullying and isolation that I went through in school. And I'm scared. I'm scared of triggering myself. I'm scared of misrepresenting things that happened to me, because I've blocked out a lot of the details. (But the feeling. Oh, the feeling, I will never forget.)

But other times, I can't get enough of writing my Soul Truth. Especially when I've been going through a lot. And when I'm working on parts in-between, I get frustrated and (almost) bored. The difference? I love writing scenes with Chaz. I love letting Jane be able to open up about how she feels and things that have happened to her. The scenes get emotional, often more than I even plan, but it's more cathartic. When Jane talks to Chaz, she feels safe. And I feel safe. It's not as much reliving the pain as healing it.

The story needs both the experience of the trauma and the healing. But I've been through the trauma already, so I much prefer the healing.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
There's a moment when someone asks that question where my mind begins to panic. You already want another book? Do you know how long it actually takes to write a book? I mean, I know some people can 'write a book in a month', but I am so not one of those people. My first book took over 5 years to finish (not counting the planning stages), and you seriously already want another?

It's such a well-meaning question to freak out over, I know. It's great to think people actually might care about my writing. But it's funny how it's mostly the people who haven't actually read my first book who ask it. People who have read the book only say they're looking forward to the next book. They don't usually ask directly about when the next book will come out. Which is much less stress-inducing.

But when people do ask about the next book, I have to tell them that I don't even know what the next book is. It's totally reasonable to imagine that 6 months later a writer would be working on her next book. And don't get me wrong, I am. It's just, as usual, I'm actually working on several next books. And I don't know which one will actually be the very next. Dreaming in Shadow is the furthest along. But Book Two of Magic Inc. still gets the most attention from me and is catching up. Sound familiar? Well, if you're not aware, I was having this same issue a few years ago. Yeah, Dreaming in Shadow versus Magic Inc. again. I guess it makes more sense now to work on the series I've already started. But back then, it made more sense to finish Dreaming in Shadow first, and that's the opposite of what happened. So, maybe, that will be the case again? Or maybe, I'll be having this conversation again when I'm working on Book Three. :/

All of this is really an non-issue right now, though. I haven't felt well enough to work much lately. So, that's part of why I've been so quiet online. I haven't had much positive stuff to report, so I've kept quiet. But then I remembered that I meant this journal to be an honest look at my life, both good and bad. Just because I have a book out now, doesn't mean everything I write in here has to be part of some marketing dance. In fact, that's the last thing I want. But after announcing the book release, I was so nervous to write my next journal entry... that I let it go on this long.

Now I want to tell you, future authors who also have anxiety/depression, that you are going to go through times where you will struggle to feel well enough to write. Even when you've released a book after years and years of work, you don't magically feel better. You don't get to erase the struggle out of your journey to your next book after you become "a professional". Some things definitely get easier, though. You do know that you can do it; you can make it to the other side. At least, most of the time you know. Sometimes, you look at all the work ahead and get just as overwhelmed as you were the first time around. You look at authors who release a book (or more) a year and have no idea how they do it. But you don't have to be them. You only have to be you.

Sometimes you won't feel well enough to write. But it will come back.

And my next book? It will be out when it's done.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
Interested in checking out my books? Here's the place to go!

Read more... )
fireflys_locket: (Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket)


Jane Roberts never fit in. After years of teasing from her classmates, all she wanted was to blend in and be normal. But on Jane’s first day of fourth grade, her life changes completely when the new girl, Jenny, brings with her arrival the secret of magic. Jane goes into training, where she learns the ins and outs of magic and its great history. But not even magic can top the feeling Jane gets when she meets Chaz Parker, Jenny’s older brother. She’s head-over-heels and wants to be with Chaz forever, but a nine year age difference makes Jane wonder if he’d ever look at her that way. Between learning magic and falling in love, Jane’s year is bound to be anything but normal.

You can now buy a copy of Magic Inc. in eBook! I will continue to update with new links.

Amazon (for Kindle!)
Barnes & Noble (for Nook!)
iTunes (for Apple Devices!)
Smashwords (Most Formats Available!)

fireflys_locket: (Pretty Hachi - girlgamer)
When you get this ask, list 5 things that make you happy, then send it to the last 10 people that liked/reblogged something from you :)

I decided to repost this here since I ended up writing a lot and wanted to share with more people.


So, you may or may not know, but I struggle a lot with the word happy. If I use it, like I did yesterday, I usually say “I’m happy to” or “I’m happy with” not straight up “I’m happy”. Because I have never felt the kind of happiness that gets down deep in your heart. I’ve always felt lonely and scared of being even more alone in my future. And this is getting awfully mopey for my being in a decently good mood. Sorry.

But here are some things that make me happy-ish and have gotten me through hard times:

1. Working on Magic Inc. Writing, in general, feels great as long as I don’t try to force it and just follow my inspiration’s lead. But Magic Inc. feels even more special than my other stories because it allows me to relive my childhood fantasies and work through some of my deepest feelings in text. That also makes it scarier to eventually share that story with other people. (And soon.) But hopefully, it will reach people who can relate to it.

2. The Sims. I love The Sims. I love making characters on there and “work” stuff like that. But I also love just playing. I’m constantly making stories in my head while playing Sims, and occasionally, they end up as some part of my fictional universe. But just being able to create stuff that’s just for me is a good creative exercise. I get to create without any pressure.

3. Giant Bomb. I can’t tell you how much Giant Bomb (and older GameSpot) videos and podcasts have helped me get through rough periods in my life for the past ten years. The Persona 4 Endurance Run is something I go back to time and time again, and I kind of can’t imagine my life without these dudes in it, as silly as that may sound. Losing Ryan Davis was so hard because it felt like he was a distant friend.

4. Having a great therapist/mentor. Jill is a key part of my life. She’s encouraged me to be myself and follow my dreams. There’s no way I’d be getting ready to publish my first book right now without Jill to read everything I’ve written and to give me her honest feedback.

5. Watching through TV shows with my Mom. Since my great emotional crash of 2010, I’ve usually spent a few hours every night, during my most emotionally vulnerable time, watching TV shows with my Mom. This idea has greatly improved as we realized that watching shows from the beginning through DVDs or streaming is much more fun than just seeing what’s on and having to choose from that. We’ve watched through almost 25 shows over the last few years, and we have fun making silly references to each other.
fireflys_locket: (Valerie's Happiness - fireflys_locket)

Just wanted to pop on and share the cover of Magic Inc. drawn by the amazing Giselle Ukardi! Hopefully I'll have some news about a release date soon. Editing is going well, and I'm really excited. Nervous, still, too. But hey, that's how it usually goes. Follow my Facebook and/or Twitter for more news.
fireflys_locket: (Hagu Opens Box - fireflys_locket)
I'm going to try to actually make this a short one since it's getting late, and my eyes are sleepy.

Let's try breaking this up into sections. Here are some things that have been happening the past two weeks...

I finished Magic Inc.'s second draft. I felt sad afterward, but that was bound to happen. I'm not sure there's much else to say than that.

I moved on to seriously editing it. So far, I think it's going well, but the stress of things being near the end has been draining my energy. A lot.

I found an artist. I posted an ad on the Deviantart forums and got an overwhelming amount of responses. Everyone was so talented, but only a few had the style I was looking for, and only one seriously pulled me in. She is such a wonderful artist, and she was willing to really get to know the characters. We've talked about the cover and made some plans, and hopefully, it is all going to work out.

Today, I asked Christen to give me a little makeover for some author pictures. We went to the park, and the sky started sending out these tiny hail stones. But eventually, it calmed down, and we got the pictures. I'm not the most photogenic person, but helped by the makeover, we managed to get some good pictures.

I then came home and made an official Facebook page. Which was the point of those photos.

It's clear, looking at that list, that I've gotten a lot done, but my head's been all over the place. I haven't had a panic attack yet, but I've come pretty close. I keep thinking... what if I do all this and nobody cares? I also haven't been sleeping well. I'm sleepy all morning and afternoon, then restless at night. I mean, I'm tired at night, too. I just have trouble getting to sleep.

All I keep coming back to is that I'm overwhelmed. Even the positive things that are happening are getting translated by my brain into anxiety. But hey, that's nothing new. I just need to calm down and get some rest. Sometimes it's good to just step away from your big project so you can build up some new energy and inspiration to bring to it. I feel like that's what I need to be doing right now. I really want to get this book out by summer, but I have to keep reminding myself that I know better than to push it.

And yeah, this post wasn't particular short either. Oh, well.
fireflys_locket: (Rin Fireflies - fireflys_locket)
It's hard to focus on this last chapter of Magic Inc., mostly because of all the stuff that comes after it. Editing and sharing and formatting, and I still can't figure out what I'm going to do about a cover. I'm partially excited to share this story with people because I've put so much work into it the last five years, but I'm really not sure if I can trust the world to understand my innermost thoughts. And that's what a lot of Magic Inc. (the series) is.

It would be so much easier to put Dreaming in Shadow out there first, because for as much as Jodi and I are similar, she is not me. Her story is not about me. Dreaming in Shadow was always a book, meant to be shared with readers. And I have been sharing that story, in its many versions, for over ten years.

Magic Inc. was never meant to be a book. It was the world that keep me going when there was nothing hopeful in my reality. It is so deeply personal that I keep asking myself, "Why did I decide to make this into a book? They'll never understand it." But it became so key to the rest of my universe that it wouldn't make any sense to take it out now.

I'm very behind living your truth, being yourself completely, and not faking anything. I don't mind sharing my deepest thoughts in blogs or tweets, because I'm not ashamed of my own truth. But it's different with this because people - readers - seem to think they own a story just because it's been shared with them. They don't understand that, at least for some writers, writing is pulling words right out of your soul. Saying a story belongs to the readers, to me, is like trying to claim an experience as your own just because someone confided in you about it. I want to share my world with readers, and I feel like I'm meant to do that. But this story is mine, and it always will be mine. People can like it or dislike it; it's not about that. My fear are the people who'll try to say "it shouldn't be this way" because they think they know better than I do about my own creation. People who will think Jane's feelings aren't realistic, even though they were my own.

It was one thing for someone to not like Jodi and basically say she was a bad person. Jane is me. This story is my story. And anything more than a "this is not for me" is going to hurt a lot worse than criticism for any other story. So, why does it have to be my first book done? Why was there such a pull in me to make this story into something I could share? I seriously feel like there's a chance this series will appeal to NO ONE. Yet I had to write it. More than nearly anything else I've worked on. What does that mean?
fireflys_locket: (Namine Sad - warplanes)
Things change whether you want them to or not. I don't believe that everything changes drastically, like there's nothing consistent or reliable in the world. But everything does shift in some way over time. You hope that there will be good shifts. And sometimes, there are. But more often, it seems harder to tell.

I don’t suffer daily now the way I did when I was in school. I’m not constantly bullied or having to deal with terrifying fear of people’s ridicule. I mostly get to do what I want to do. Work on the things I love. Stay away from painful experiences. Leaving school was a necessary shift in my life. I know that for certain now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I miss. Things I missed. They’d be over now, anyhow. High school is long gone. I’d be where I am now, regardless. But maybe not as far along. I guess it’s impossible to know that for certain, but I know myself pretty well. And I haven’t changed much.

Still, things have shifted in my life. (Just… very slowly.) I’ve been considering changes in my writing plans lately. I mentioned part of that here. I am getting closer and more open to the idea that Magic Inc. might be my first book. That story has actually been part of me the longest and the deepest. Maybe it makes sense. Maybe if I had known eleven years ago that I would be able to turn my secret fantasy world into a series then I wouldn’t have planned Dreaming in Shadow to be my first novel. But at that time, I was still in school, and the idea of sharing that world would have been terrifying. Sometimes, it still is.

But I love it. And I want to share it, even though it’s scary. Magic Inc. is wish fulfillment in a lot of ways. But it’s also the raw and real pain of a girl who often feels lost and alone. Who is bullied into feeling she can never be loved and accepted. And who, eventually, is shown that those fears were wrong. That she has a strength inside of her that makes her important in the world. That she belongs somewhere.

Dreaming in Shadow deals with a lot of those same things. But it was never as personal of a story for me. Oh, I always loved it. Depended on it. Poured my heart into it. Feared its end would break me. By no means do I feel like it is less important for me to put out there. It’s all just a matter of when.

But that’s not the only thing I’ve been thinking about. The past year and nine months, I’ve been working mostly on second drafts. I’ve been typing and revising Magic Inc., Dreaming in Shadow, and even some of Spun of Silver. And I’ve gotten so used to typing. I’ve started to (mostly) make notes in more organized Word files instead of scribbled in notebooks on my desk. And when I’ve occasionally gone back to writing by hand with The Town of Raindrops or Miss Masquerade it all feels so awkward. I used to love writing first drafts in notebooks. But it just doesn’t feel right anymore.

So, what do I do? The idea of writing out Magic Inc. Book Two and any future stories by hand makes me want to cringe. And I’ll be able to edit things more easily and quickly in Word. But I’m scared it won’t be the same. That I need that extra step to properly flesh things out. It worked so well for so long. But if I cling to something that isn’t working anymore, it might suck out the joy of writing new stories. I already feel honestly exhausted thinking about things continuing the way they have been.

I talked to Jill about it. I’d been meaning to for a while, and I finally mentioned it last time. What we both thought was to test it. Raindrops is only a few chapters in. If I start revising what I have now, then pick up the new stuff where I left off, I should be able to see if typing new stuff really works for me. So, that’s my plan for now. I’m still scared. Shifts, even good ones, can feel terrifying. But sometimes, you hold onto things that no longer work for too long, and when you finally let them go, you wonder why you waited. I feel like this might be one of those times. But I guess all we can do is wait and see.
fireflys_locket: (Lilies - fireflys_locket)
I was talking about poetry on Twitter today. I thought I'd copy these thoughts over here since they started to reach blog-length.
~

Trying to understand poetry often leads me to frustration. I feel like my brain just can't comprehend it properly, like it's in another language. It makes me feel stupid, like... "I'm a writer, so I should get this!" I want to get this. But I don't. Still, occasionally, I try again. And while it loses me often, sometimes a certain line stands out with a reverberating truth.

I found a line like that today, that feels like it belongs at the beginning of the last book of Magic Inc. But then, I worry. Am I putting on too much by that if I rarely understand poetry, even the full piece the line is from? Is it too pretentious to use a line by a great poet to describe the end of a YA series that is created with love but probably deeply flawed?

Lots of writers do stuff like this. And I'll admit, at times, I've rolled my eyes at it. Mostly because they use lines that I can't understand, and I feel like they are bragging to their audience. A well placed quote can be a beautiful addition to a story. But I worry about being called a fraud. Especially because I can't defend myself. I don't understand poetry. But does that mean I shouldn't share a line of poetry that struck a chord in me?

I don't know.

I even used to write poetry when I was young, but I left it behind for several reasons. Basically, I was tired of people expecting it from me. Like, I should be able to do it on cue. I created work that held no meaning for me, because it made people notice me. For something good. And that was so, so rare in my childhood. My Lilies poem always makes me feel strange. It was published, and I didn't understand why. What made people think it was so special? It wasn't entirely created out of a need to be noticed. There was something there. But it was like I had somehow tapped into a way to make poetry that impressed people, even if I didn't like it. And that was the result.

What I liked writing were lyrics. I was making up songs and singing them into a tape recorder back as far as I can remember. They often weren't very good, but hey, I was young. And I loved it. The reason why I write about singers so much is that I wanted to be one. Before I stared writing (fan)fiction, I wanted to be a singer. But I had no talent in singing, just as I had no talent for ballet or figure skating (my other two vocational interests as a child). So, I was left just imagining it in the stories I told myself. The stories that keep me alive through bullying and self-hatred. The stories that became Magic Inc.

And it all comes back to that.

The funny thing about writing is that you can be anything. You can write your wildest dreams and make them feel real. I get the chance to be everything I wanted to be. Though when it comes to writing myself, I've chosen to write reality, too. Jane is too scared to sing, even though she loves it. Does she conquer that fear? Sort of. It depends on how you look at it. You'll have to read to find out. She certainly never steps out boldly, the way I'd wished I could. The way Sarah Sparks, or even Jenny, does. But through them, I can live dreams, too.

But back to poetry. I guess I've resented it for so long because I was able to create it and still not able to understand it. I confused myself with my own words. So poetry felt put on and fake. Like everyone only pretended to get it, not just me. And when I read it, whether as it is or used as a quote, I remember that feeling. The memories of that is what echoes in me. It reminds me of a time when I faked who I was. Something I stay far away from now.

When a poem manages to feel real and clear to me, I feel almost awed. And I want to share that. But then, I remember that I don't really understand poetry. And I don't want to be fake. So, I move away from it. But if I pretend this line doesn't mean something to me, that's fake, too. Isn't it? So, I typed the line into my notes. Maybe by the time I reach the end of Magic Inc. I'll feel brave enough to use it.
fireflys_locket: (Ron/Hermione Book Kiss - aivlis88)
I haven't written an entry in a while. I've been kind of busy. Probably not in comparison to anyone reading this, but enough to tire me out. I'm just about finished with what very limited Christmas shopping I was able to do this year, and I'm seriously ready to go into some kind of introvert hibernation. Just me and my books and games and writing. Oh, and music, because my quest in actually owning the music I listen to was aided greatly by online Black Friday sales. (Also there have been incredible sales for anime and manga here, if that's something that interests you.) But back to what I was saying, I've been wearing myself out, and I need a break. I'm behind on so very many things, partially due to my September/October breakdown, and I just want to stay home and do more of those things and less going out, which often exhausts me for days afterward.

But the one thing that has picked up during this tiring time is reading. I think I've read more books this year than I've ever read in a year before (even if you disregard the couple of manga I threw in there). It decimates the past two years that I've been keeping track of. in fact, I've read more this year than those two years combined. I know 25 books isn't much compared to some people, but I feel pretty proud of myself anyhow. And I've mostly read books I really enjoyed, too. I've rated all but two books as four or five stars. I actually can't believe how lucky I've been to find so many amazing books. And the two books competing for my attention now seem likely to hit four or five stars, too. I've also been really wanting to reread some of my favorite series soon, but I'm hoping GoodReads adds an option to count rereads for challenges and such first.

And I have been making some progress with things like writing. I've now revised 26 of 34 chapters of Magic Inc. - versus 7 of (probably) 37 of Dreaming in Shadow. And it's making me really consider going back on my plans to release Dreaming in Shadow first. But I keep wondering why that is. Is it because I really think Magic Inc. should be my first published novel now, or am I just desperate to release something so that I don't feel like such a fake? So that I don't get so sick with jealousy every time I see a writer announce a new book or "brag" about their NaNo success? There's a part of me that knows I have to go at my own pace, but there's another part that says I should have finished something by now. That I'm not a "real" writer until I do. Which is crazy, because there are plenty of talented writers who never publish. And I probably would have published Dreaming in Shadow by now if I weren't working on four other stories and endless outlines at the same time, but I have absolutely no desire to give my multi-story workstyle up. It keeps me always excited about something, instead of dragging through one thing at a time.

So, maybe I will end up publishing Magic Inc. Book One first. But if I do, it has to be for the right reasons. Otherwise, I'm not really staying true to my vision. And that's one of those things I never want to betray. I have to do things my way, at my pace, and with all my heart and soul. Even if that means I have to wait another year or two to release my first novel.
fireflys_locket: (Pretty Penelo - ryfee)
I've been so missing from here lately. You can't really blame me. I've been hard at work on other things. But the halfway point of the year is quickly approaching, and I find myself thinking about a lot of things. Seemed like the right time to make a little update.

My birthday wasn't the colossal disaster it often has been. And just before that, I managed to finish my big cleaning project that I'd been slowly working on for over a year and really focusing on for months. I'm still getting used to it being finished. Sometimes, when I'm sitting around watching stuff on YouTube, I sill get this twitch of guilt that says, "You should be cleaning!" I'm not sure how long it will take until that goes away.

Meanwhile, don't think that means I've just been watching YouTube all the time since I've been done. Well, I've certainly done a lot of that, but I've also been writing quite a bit. While I was focusing on cleaning, it was really hard to switch that focus over to writing. I'd started to think cleaning had become my life, and I no longer felt like a writer. But since I've been finished, everything is flowing nicely again. And it took hardly any time at all to go back to normal. That was such a relief. I always worry when I don't write for a while that it will never come back. That seems crazy, because I can't really survive without creating; it's that much a part of me. But for an anxious person, that's all the more reason to be scared.

But writing's been fine. Maybe better than fine. I reached a milestone last week. I've revised 20 chapters of Magic Inc. so far. Those chapters will still have an editing phase to go through once I've completed the second draft, but I really think most of the chapters I've revised are 90% done. The revision flows so perfectly most of the time, and writing Magic Inc. is now one of my favorite things to do. It just feels right. And there's really only one one bad thing about that...

Dreaming in Shadow. The revision process is so night and day between my two main projects. For now, it stands at 20 revised chapters of Magic Inc. and (almost) 5 of Dreaming in Shadow. Dreaming in Shadow for a long time was the project I could always turn to. The one that felt right. The story destined to be my first novel. And I still want it to be my first release. But working on the second draft is painful. The structure of the early parts is ten years old now, and there's so much to fix. It's exhausting and emotionally draining. I actually do think the revision is turning out nicely so far. Possibly even more polished than Magic Inc. But it's dragging on and on, because it's painful, and I don't have the strength for it most of the time.

I'm holding on to hope that it won't continue to be this bad. That once I've moved onto the more recent writing, it will become less stressful and draining. The oldest writing in Magic Inc. is only four years old versus ten years for Dreaming in Shadow. That's a pretty big difference. Not to mention that I planned out Book One of Magic Inc. a lot longer before I started it. And I've learned that tends to work better for me.

I started to think about goals last week. How far things have come since the beginning of the year, and where things should go next. I actually finished cleaning, which part of me still doesn't believe. And I'm one book away from my little reading goal, which means I've read as many books as I did last year in half the time. (I finished Allegiant today, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet...) Writing is going really well again. So, I started daydreaming. What was a goal I could I reasonably accomplish by the end of the year?

I think could could finish revising Magic Inc. Book One. There are 14 chapters left and about double the weeks left in the year. If I only worked on that story, I could probably finish, and depending on how editing goes, have the story completely done by the end of the year. I could release it early in 2015, and finally, be a published novelist. I honestly think that is a reasonable goal based on what I think I could actually accomplish.

But I'm not going to do that. Why? Because I would hate it. I would hate being confined to one story, even the one I'm enjoying the most. Making a goal like that would drain the life out of me. I like freedom. I like being able to follow my inspiration wherever it wants to take me. That, to me, is what following your passion is about. Not making grand goals and pushing yourself to reach them. But following your heart and soul as they guide you through your bliss. You may disagree, and that's okay. How you follow your passion is up to you. But as I've said before, I am so done with trying to force writing out of me. And yet, it keeps flowing. Just the way it wants to.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)










I was tagged by my friend, LK Hunsaker, to join this writing process chain. I love answering questions and talking about writing, so I happily joined in! Just be forewarned; this may get long.

LK Hunsaker is the author of many books, including The gallery, which was released last year. I actually reviewed The gallery here earlier this year. You can also read about her writing process here. LK has been a big inspiration for me ever since I met her in 2011. She's given me hope that I actually can finish and release my own books.

Onto the questions!




~

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm mainly working on the second drafts of two books, Dreaming in Shadow & Magic Inc. Book One. I've written a lot about Dreaming in Shadow here, but since then, I've finished the first draft. The second draft is coming along well, but it has been a lot of work! On the other hand, Magic Inc.'s second draft has flowed easily most of way through. I've still put a ton of time and effort into it, and I'm currently much further along with it than Dreaming in Shadow, even though I'm planning to release DiS first. These stories are both incredibly close to my heart, and they've gotten me through really hard times. There's a part of me still scared to reach the point where I send these extremely personal stories out into the world, but I'm trying to focus on the excitement of writing and sharing the gift of these stories with other people.

On the side, I'm also working on finishing the very end of the first draft of Miss Masquerade, and the beginning of my newest story, The Town of Raindrops. And then, there are literally a hundred other stories in my head, all in this same same universe. No, seriously, you should see my story list. And those are just the ones with titles. Sometimes, I feel like I have a curse of abundance, because I'll never be able to write all these stories in my lifetime.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
That's an interesting question. There's a lot of YA Fantasy/Romance out there. And I certainly find they tend to focus more on the characters, much like I do, than Adult Fantasy. So, I feel like I'll fit pretty well into that genre. But I do think my plans to include a lot of real teen and young adult issues are something different. A lot of my books will deal with bullying, anxiety, depression, and sexuality, among other issues. I hope to eventually show a variety of characters, and cover some things that professional publishing seems to shy away from. I want to give a voice to those who struggle with feeling different and misunderstood. These are some lofty goals, and to be honest, I'm quite nervous I won't ever reach them. But I believe I was given these stories for a reason, so I will do my absolute best to give them life.

Why do you write what you do?
I've always focused on fantasy, because that's where my soul dreams. I see (and write) magic as a manifestation of strong emotions. My emotions have always been extreme and passionate. Writing characters with the ability to effect the world with their thoughts and energy is an amazing release for me. When it comes to the relationships, I'm just a hopeless romantic. I write about soulmates because I really believe they exist. That doesn't mean everything will be perfect all the time or that those relationships don't take work. And well, there has to be a story to tell, right? Throw magic in with that, and things can get extremely complicated. Still, I believe everyone has person made for them out there, so that's what I write.

How does your writing process work?
I touched on this a bit in my previous entry, but I'll go more in depth here. Way more.

Usually, a new story idea comes to me through a dream or listening to some new music. Occasionally, I get an idea from watching or reading other stories. Recently, I've expanded into finding myself getting attached to sims I've made up personal stories for during the playing of The Sims 2 and turning them into real characters. Whichever way it comes to me, I'm often totally obsessed with a new idea when it comes to me. Well, first, I think, 'Another story idea? How on Earth am I going to be able to get to another new story?' Then, I obsess over how much I love it, and how much I absolutely need to write it. And I struggle with the desire to drop everything else and start the story right away. But I don't, because I've learned that rarely works out for me. So, I just obsess quietly about this new idea, and watch as it blossoms almost by itself. I feel very guided during this time and the rest of the planning stages. It's like the story and characters know themselves completely, and I'm just getting to know them along the way.

Once the obsessive stage is over, that idea joins the rest in waiting. By this time, I usually have a title and main character names. The next stage might sound odd, but it's collecting a soundtrack. Music is intrinsically tied to my writing process. As I gather, sort, and listen to music on my computer, I create a very light outline of the book by linking songs with scenes of the book. This process takes years. The book grows with random progress as new scenes comes to me, mostly through the music. Once I have a large selection of music on the soundtrack, and the book has had plenty of time to grow, I start to think about the next stage.

For a lot the books that I'm currently writing, I went straight from the light music soundtrack outline to the writing stage. I hated the idea of forcing myself to outline my stories, when I already knew them so well. However, last year, I finally got over my resentment and started making more full outlines. This came from anxiety that I'd never have enough drive to write another full book after I'd finished the three I was working on. I did a full outline for The Town of Raindrops, which convinced me that the story really was ready for its first draft, and I really could make it happen. I also have a nearly finished outline for Magic Inc. Book Two, and I've started a few for other stories.

My first draft stage is an incredibly important part of the process. This is how most of the story comes to be. I've heard other writers say that their first draft often varies greatly from the finished book. This has not been my experience in the slightest. The first draft is the core of my story. All the important parts of the plot have already been figured out in the soundtrack and/or outline stage, so all I have to do is write! HeH. I said that like it was easy. Not really the case. The first draft takes years for me to write, because it takes a lot out of me. Now's the time to bring the characters to life, to make sure I hit all the important parts of the plot in the right places, and to make sure I'm instilling emotion into the text. The writing, itself, might be messy and raw, but it has the heart of the story beating within it.

Then, comes the second draft. Phew. By the time I get here with a story, I'm exhausted. I finished three first drafts last year, and it was so hard. In some ways, finishing a first draft is kind of a bittersweet goodbye. Saying goodbye to the story that was yours and yours alone. My stories don't change their core in the second draft, but they do become something I'm writing with the intention to share. I always write for myself every step of the way, but I am starting to make sure what I want to say and show is actually what's coming across to readers. The second draft is a polished version of the story. The wording usually improves greatly over the first draft. I also take this time to expand sections that go by too fast, add details where they are lacking, and try to make explanations clearer. I don't often cut sections out as much as give them a overhaul, if needed. But really, the plot changes very little. It's the same story it always was, just with a new coat of paint.

I've yet to go beyond a second draft, but I expect the rest of the process to be going over the text at least a few times for mistakes and typos. Right now, I'm finishing the revision of each chapter without going back over it at all, so I know I'll have some editing to do when the second draft is finished. Then, it will be tweaking any parts that need it, and hopefully, gathering more friends and acquaintances to read and give opinions. After that, I'll need to get my dear friend, Mallory, to help me put together a cover. And the rest... we'll see when we get there!

~

If anyone wants to join this chain, let me know! I'll post your info down here.

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