New Year’s Resolutions: Dusting off my shelved manuscripts

As January firmly establishes itself, this might seem a bit late for a resolutions post, but I always planned to take January off from writing and relax some, so you haven’t missed anything.

For me, this is going to be a year of reading, revision, and reflection.

Blogging/Vlogging

I’ve got such a lovely streak going here, I’d hate to break it. So, I’ll continue putting out a new blog/vlog every Thursday on writing tips or writerly musings.

When I have them lined up, I’ll be sharing Author Spotlights or Query Corners on Tuesdays.

Plus, I’m contemplating maybe a picture post on the weekends. I’m debating if Saturday or Sunday is better. Suggestions?

Reading

They say one can’t be a writer without reading. And, finding out what’s new and good in your genre is research, right? Although, that doesn’t mean I won’t do plenty of ‘for fun’ reading.

My goal is to read 26 books this year, one every other week on average. (Although, I tend to read in binges.) I’m looking at taking breaks from writing to focus on downtime and reading in January, MarchMay, and July. And I hope that planning intentional breaks will help fight the feeling of being on a never-ending treadmill, where I fail if I let myself take a break.

So far? I’ve read a couple romances and all 4 books in Charlie Holmberg’s The Paper Magician series. I think I’m off to a good start.

Revising

I’m sitting on a backlog of 4 manuscripts in various states — mostly collecting dust. It’s time to fix that.

I got some great feedback from a critique partner back in November for Manuscript #1 (a secondary world young adult fantasy), but it was kind of a bitter pill to swallow. I have been brainstorming and messaging with the critiquer on ways to fix it. But I took December and January off, partially sulking, partially trying to figure out how to solve the issues mentioned. I’m going to let the ideas percolate a bit more and plan to hold off until February before implementing my fixes.

Then, in April, I’m going to pull out MS #2 — the sequel to MS #1.

In June, I’m going to pull out either MS #3 (my gender-bent Robin Hood) or MS #4 (my middle-grade contemporary fantasy, where the more you connect with what you read, the more your world shifts to be like it… physically!)

Querying

Once MS #1 has been revised, again, I’m marching into the query trenches once more.

Starting in March, I intend to send out 3 queries a week for 4 months, unless I get an R&R. If it goes no where, I’ll contemplate edits in August.

Beta Readers

I’ll be reaching out to beta readers as I wrap up my revisions on MS #2 (May) and MS #3 or #4(July).  Readers for MS #2 will, by necessity, be people who have beta read or critiqued MS #1, but for the others, I’m open to a small pool of new readers.

I like to keep my beta reader pool to no more than 8 readers, typically from different backgrounds. I usually give them separate copies, so that their feedback won’t influence each other.

If my Alpha reader’s schedule permits, I’ll send my manuscripts to her for quick feedback, but otherwise, these may just go straight to my beta readers.

In August and September, I’ve blocked time to incorporate the feedback — at least for MS #2. And perhaps, some updates for MS #1 (either as query feedback suggests, or to better set up MS #2’s plotting).

Conventions

I intend to hit Balticon again (May) and WorldCon (August) in Dublin (!!). I submitted to be a panelist at Balticon… but after they’d already started sending out panel invites, so I may have been too late there. We’ll see. (Keep your fingers crossed!)

Writing

Hmmm, there’s very little actual writing on this project plan, but sometimes, that’s how the cookie crumbles. Besides, I’ve been assured that editing and revising and brainstorming ARE part of the writing process.

Plus? I don’t have a big idea pushing on me right now.

That said, I intend to do OctPoWriMo again — writing a poem a day for all of October. And then NaNoWriMo.

If I don’t have an idea by then, I’ll do a rebel NaNo and revise whichever manuscript hasn’t been touched.


And that’s my plan for the year. If you got a little lost, here’s the plan in chart form.

I’ll be focusing on reading every other month until the last quarter, revising most of my backlog, querying, a couple conventions, and a bit of writing.


What does your plan look like for 2019?

Did you build in flexibility?

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I Can’t Read My Own Writing

I Can’t Read My Own Writing

I really wanted to read my novel before starting on copy edits.

I just wanted to be able to make notes where my attention started to wane, so I’d know what might need heavy editing.

Slower Pace

When I read for fun, I typically read about a hundred pages an hour. I slow down with dense descriptions and war maneuvering, but for the most part, I read quickly. I blame being very plot driven, having an imagination that’s more conceptual than visual, and playing far too much with my grandmother’s “Learn to Speed Read” kit from the ’60s.

When I’m copy-editing my work, I can get through about ten pages an hour.

I thought that it couldn’t possibly take me more than six hours to read my own novel, but I was wrong. I’m not reading as slowly as copy editing, but twenty-five pages an hour is a quarter of my recreational reading pace.

Copious Notes

I’m not the sort of person who typically takes notes while reading recreationally. I’ve done a fair amount of copy-editing and critiquing of peer’s writing, though.

I absolutely cannot read my own work without making notes! Without saying “this part needs rewording” or “that part is awkward.”

Critical of My Own Work

I don’t know if I’m reading it differently or if I’m just being overly critical, but I’m seeing so many more issues with my writing trying to read it as a whole than I did when I was editing it a page at a time.

Clearly, the difference is I’m looking at it like a reader or a critique partner, rather than a writer trying to be done with this draft.

Finishing Reading

I’ve got 50 pages read, 253 to go, wish me luck! I’m hoping being this judgmental is exactly what my novel needs.


Can you read your own work? Do you find that the best way to find the flaws?

Writing Resolutions: 2017

Writing Resolutions

Welcome to all my readers. Thanks for tuning in for my resolutions.

For those of you who don’t know me:

My name is Morgan and I write from my lair in the Washington DC suburbs. I live near a lake and take way too many picture of it, which you can find on my Instagram. I have a twin sister and dote on her daughter. By day, I’m a software engineer. The rest of the time, I’m usually writing. Back in November of 2013, I got serious about my writing and started, for the 3rd time, what is now my first full length novel.

INK AND FLESH is an 89,000 word (~350pg) coming of age novel about Lilyen, a devout tattooist who flees to hide her demon-stains. She struggles with her faith when she learns the clerics are draining her little sister’s life.

INK AND FLESH is about to undergo it’s 5th round of edits, (3rd round of full revisions). During November 2016, I wrote 75,000 words of the sequel, INK AND SNOW, but it’s not done yet.

Last year’s resolutions were a resounding success. Following in there footprints, here are my SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals.

Writing

Most of the goals are getting me towards publication with INK AND FLESH, my original Work-In-Progress (WIP), while some are making sure I progress on the sequel, INK AND SNOW. So, I need to make sure I start querying, keep editing, AND don’t stop writing. I’m bad at multitasking, but good at keeping up momentum, so this chart should help me stay focused.

Reading

I want to make sure I read, though. Plus, I keep hearing the best way to support your fellow writers is to leave reviews on Amazon for them. If I read something and can’t give it more than 3 stars, I’ll probably skip reviewing it. (But don’t assume just because I don’t review it doesn’t mean I disliked it).

Social

I’m involved in far too much social media and not working out nearly enough. I’m going to try and keep my writing blog reading to times when I’m on the treadmill or elliptical. That way, I keep up with people’s blogs AND get off my butt. Because having both my day and night jobs be computer based doesn’t really lend itself towards physical activity.

2017 Goals

1st Quarter:

  • Edit #WIP1 with editor
  • Finish rough draft of #WIP2  [minimum 5k a week until done]
  • Start querying #WIP1 & #PB1 [minimum 3 queries a month, each]
  • Post 3 book reviews on Amazon/Goodreads

2nd Quarter:

  • Edit #WIP2 [minimum 50 pages a week]
  • Send #WIP2 to beta readers
  • Query #WIP1 and #PB1 [minimum 3 queries a month, each]
  • Write a short project
  • Balticon
  • Post 3 book reviews on Amazon/Goodreads

3rd Quarter:

  • Revise #WIP2 [Notecards, tiny manuscript, rip to shreds, rebuild]
  • Keep querying? or R&R if requested? Or accept agent offer….
  • Some-other con
  • Post 3 book reviews on Amazon/Goodreads

4th Quarter:

  • Plan #WIP3
  • NaNoWriMo #WIP3 [50-75k]
  • Revise #WIP1 or #WIP2 as needed
  • Post 3 book reviews on Amazon/Goodreads

D*Con: YA After Dark

I was running a little late for this panel, but it dealt with the issues you can address in YA. And why to use YA.

Using YA stories can help us model ways of dealing with real hard issues that teens might not know how to deal with. You can use it to show teens taking active roles in overcoming trauma.

Why Do We Need YA – and YA that deals with Hard Stuff?

  • So the readers know they’re not alone
  • So the readers can see heroes fighting their own darkness
  • To provide tent poles for teens, with their wild emotions/hormones – teens get subtext
  • As an escape. They can pull the readers out of their own situations and give them the distance they need to examine it more objectively.
  • To model how to process certain things, and can identify things the readers are needing or feeling. Putting into words what they can’t.

Things to Avoid:

  • Don’t just have a quick fix for the issues
  • Don’t treat mental illness or chronic health issues as something that can be cured. Show them being lived with.

For teens who may be worried about a book being too intense or triggering:

  • the Library of Congress text on the Copyright page tells the themes the story will be dealing with.
  • Scholastic books tend to have thematic questions at the back, to demonstrate what themes are addressed
  • Best is a librarian who knows the reader and what they can handle, but responses to hard scenes can be unpredictable.

Book Recommendations:

  • Butter – Erin Jane Lang – Deals w/ obesity, suicide, and social media
  • Rage: A Love Story – Julie Anne Peters – Deals w/ lesbians in an abusive relationship
  • This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales – Deals w/ friendship, identity, and suicide
  • Daughters unto Devils – Amy Lukavics – Deals w/teen pregnancy, miscarriage [Horror]
  • Beautiful Decay – Sylvia Lewis – Deals w/ Alcoholic parent [Zombies]
  • Pretty Girl-13 – Liz Coley – Deals w/ Abuse
  • Chinese Handcuffs – Chris Crutcher – Deals w/ suicide, abuse

 

Closing Thoughts:

YA should always offer hope.

You don’t need to “happily ever after” the book, but end in hope.

D*Con: Fantasy Writing Discussion w/Lackey, Dixon, Paolini, Jackson

How Fantasy Writing Changed My Life

w/ Angelina Adams(mod), Mercedes Lackey, Christopher Paolini, Chris Jackson, and Larry Dixon

Stories about Readers:

  • Lackey gets told all the time how Vanyel touched gay readers
  • Dixon – this is his 263rd panel. “We’re still fans, too.

What book/story would you point to for getting you into SFF?

  • Saucer of Loneliness – Lackey
  • The Ruby Knight by David Eddings – Paolini.
    • SFF tackles the big issues
    • Paolini was a scientist for 20 years, now is a full time writer, it literally changed his life.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon & Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – Jackson
    • – fantasy doesn’t need to be PG
  • Catseye by Andre Norton & Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey – Dixon.
    • “I was very young at a young age”.
    • It showed a time period that was neither period, nor unfamiliar
    • There was a process by which McCaffrey went from his idol to “Annie’s got my art on her guest room wall.

How do you diversify your writing style

  • honing your voice vs learning things to help the original style – Adams
  • It helps to be schizophrenic. It’s vital to stretch. His writing group has a new writing exercise every month – Jackson
  • Variety inspires your writing – Paolini
  • You cannot edit nothing – Jackson
    • NaNoWriMo is good for beginner writers.
    • Ass glue – gorilla ass glue is helpful.
  • Sanderson does vignettes that he says helps keep him from losing his minds – Paolini
    • After Eragon, [my] next dragon would be evil. (Because of burn out)
    • It’s hard to write a story from the villain’s point of view, they won’t BE the villain. (Because you make them sympathetic)

What did you think of the movie? [Eragon]

  • Paolini – Officially? It was the director’s vision and [he] can’t help but be grateful for the millions of new readers it brought in.
  • Unofficially? [He’s] trying to get it remade. The studio didn’t quite understand fantasy [tropes/etc].
  • Lackey – As Bradbury said, “at least I cashed the check.

For gamers- do you write what you game?

  • Dixon – I had to quit a game module, because the GM didn’t let anyone change anything or add anything.

Odds & Ends and Quotes

  • Lackey – Publisher won’t let her write more 500 Kingdom’s because it doesn’t make enough $$$.
  • Getting old ain’t for the weak” – Lackey
  • The books don’t age.” – CP

Who is your favorite character you’ve created?

  • Skandranon Rashkae- The black griffin – Dixon
  • Vreva Jhafae – the Courtesan Spy – Jackson
  • Saphira –  the dragon – Paolini
  • Victoria – romance writer/techno-mage and Joyeaux Charmond – a hunter in a dystopia – but that’s who I’m working on right now… – Lackey