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How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

12 Nov

Announcements:

Today is a guest post for all those who want tips with editing after NaNoWriMo comes to an end, but he wrote an introduction, so without further ado:

How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

Written by Steve Aedy, ghost author and writer for Fresh Essays – team of professionals who provide writing help and editing aid. Steve is an avid reader and wants to try himself in fiction writing. Follow him on Google+.

Well, congratulations, you’ve made through the 30 day NaNoWriMo Challenge! And you’ve survived. However, now you face the somewhat daunting task of editing those 50,000 words.

Can you feel your internal heels digging in at the thought? After all, you know what you wrote. And you recall vividly the gibberish that was typed at the end of those all-nighters, just to hit the day’s word count.

If editing your NaNoWriMo novel seems like an insurmountable task, fear not. Because we’re about to share some advice from the authorities on how to get through the equally challenging task of editing your novel. And, coming out sane on the other end!

If you managed to complete all 50,000 words of the Challenge, then you already know something about how to tackle editing your work. Whatever techniques you used for planning, organization and hitting daily targets in writing your novel will work for editing as well. So, you can simply reverse engineer the process and apply the same steps.

However, if you’re not clear about how to handle editing your opus, follow along the steps described below.

Editing

Start at the Start

Perhaps the biggest challenge in even getting started with editing is the seeming enormity of the project. If this is your first time at self-editing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as though you’re being swallowed in words. As with writing, this is where using a deadline can play an important part.

Without a deadline an editing project seems never-ending, numbing the mind into inaction. With no end in sight, it may be difficult to generate the enthusiasm needed for editing and a deadline will provide the incentive to complete this next, important step. Motivation comes from the daily achievement of your editing tasks and builds momentum as you go along.

The NaNoWriMo forum Now What? takes place during the months of January and February, with a break over December. If you participate, you’ll enjoy all the benefits and support of the other writers, as well as expert advice and ongoing interaction with agents, editors and publishing staff. And of course, the “buddy system” inherent in a forum is a great tool for staying accountable.

The Steps to Editorial Achievement

Take the time to plan the steps you need to meet your editorial deadline. Schedule your time accordingly and decide on the software or editing tools you may want to use. Check out the editing apps and software recommended on Lifehacker for some ideas.

Start with the outline. Hopefully you’ve followed your outline somewhat in the writing stage. Continuing to do so during editing will help to keep your ideas moving, you’ll be able to spot opportunities to introduce foreshadowing and your pacing and rhythm will be smoother.

Do a little warm up by reviewing character studies and research notes, or reading yesterday’s work. This is like priming the pump and pulls your focus and attention into alignment with the day’s editing goals.

Edit daily. The best tactic for staying on top of your editing is to do some of it every day. As part of your plan, have a daily word count or page count that you’re committed to reaching. Celebrate when you do hit your goal, and adjust for improvement when you don’t. It’s only a yardstick, but effective in clocking progress which will keep motivation topped up.

Print a copy for editorial notes. After your initial proofreading, print a copy and write out your editorial notes on the pages. Revise with these initial improvements to prepare for a critical read through by beta readers.

Have your work critiqued with beta readers. The NaNoWriMo forum is excellent for this purpose. And you can always enlist the help of friends, if they can be impartial and give an honest opinion.

Edit and revise again. After your work has gone through the initial beta reading, edit and revise again based on the feedback received.

Proofread, print a fresh copy and edit once again.

Repeat as necessary until you’re satisfied.

Or, if you’re not interested in self-editing or simply don’t have the time, you can always hire the professional services of an editor. You can find some good recommendations and resources for finding editors in this piece at thecreativepenn.com. Hiring an experienced editor has many benefits, a few of which are:

  • A professional editor will be experienced with an objective eye.
  • Editors have insider tips and tricks to smooth out your draft.
  • They’ll have an eye for specifics within your genre, which an inexperienced self-editor may miss.
  • They’ll review your plot and structure with a view to making your novel more publishable.

And to help in the actual process of editing, some tips from the pros:

  • Always run a spell check to catch the basic errors in spelling and grammar.
  • The initial proofread is also the time to watch for mistakes with homonyms: to, too, two etc.
  • The readthrough is a good time to correct any inconsistencies in tense. Double check your dialogue to ensure it remains aligned with the correct tense.
  • With your editors’ specs on, watch for repetition of words and ideas. Try using your word processors “find and replace” tab in the editing toolbar to help catch redundancies.
  • Remove and replace the “to be” verbs with an active voice to give strength to your writing. Remember to show, not tell.
  • Editing is a good time to rediscover your voice, and to ensure it’s well represented in your work. After all, it’s your novel, and should be written in your voice, not someone else’s.
  • Find your rhythm by reading aloud. Reading out loud will help to find the cadence of your words. Make adjustments to maintain consistency when irregularities in tempo occur.
  • Spot check by selecting random chapters to edit. Taken out of context, random reading helps to see your work more objectively and makes it easier to spot errors.

And there you have the basic steps on how to manage the editing of your NaNoWriMo novel. Like the writing Challenge itself, take it one day at a time, keep your sights on the end goal and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating another major achievement on your path to writing success.

Finding Interesting Quotes

10 Nov

Announcements:

Bookstore Browser reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “The book sets up a great world, with interesting characters and storyline as a great start to the trilogy.” Check out the entire review by clicking here.

Finding Interesting Quotes

Quotes. We love them. I rarely log onto any social media site without seeing some quote being shared via photos or tweets or simple statuses. We find a lot of meaning in quotes because we can relate to quotes, and being able to explain how we feel or think by sharing a line or two is a wonderful way to communicate with friends, family, and other followers.

One of the most wonderful times of being an author is when a reader quotes you. The first time I saw this happen, I could hardly believe it. I probably rubbed my eyes, closed my computer, reopened my computer, and blinked before I accepted that somebody had shared a few words of mine with the world. Now – it happens pretty regularly, and every time, I am just as happy as the first time. Why am I mentioning this?

Recently, a fellow author asked me how they could increase their chances of being quoted by their readers. Now – while I wish I could say there is a simple formula – I don’t know if there is, but I do know how you can find quotes in your own work that you can use for marketing purposes. So…here are a few ways to start your treasure hunt!

Figure out your themes:

I think this is the easiest way to find potential quotes in your own work. For instance, The Timely Death Trilogy revolves around the light vs. dark theme, but it’s also a romance, so I can search for words associated with that. Examples would include dark, shadows, love, hate, etc. This is handy because it serves two purposes: sharing a quote and sharing a theme from the novel. For instance, if I shared the favorited Seconds Before Sunrise quote, “Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of love.” it appeals to readers who might want to read about love, destiny, and drama. It’s also short enough to fit on Twitter.

city

Read book reviews:

Readers will often point out their favorite quotes in book reviews. But – by the holy reading gods – do not respond to the book review. I think we all know how horribly that can go. While I generally let readers add quotes to Goodreads, this is a place where I’ve added a few quotes myself after a book reviewer shared one but didn’t add it. Book reviews can be a gold mine for finding quotes, but the only downside is the fact that you won’t have the quotes until after the book releases. If you need quotes beforehand, this method will have to be used later.

Google Yourself:

I know. I know. I just said that. But – seriously – I found photos people took and edited just for the quotes inside my novels. I even found quote websites and new social media websites where I could connect with readers. In fact, this is one of the reasons I ended up on Pinterest. When I searched for my name, most of the photos I found with my quotes on them were on Pinterest.

Now that you have quotes to use, use them! Create photos, tweet them out, post them on Facebook. There are plenty of ways to pick out those one-liners to share, but make sure you’re having fun with it! Create images, tweet out to readers, “like” photos fans create. Post them on your website!

There are no limitations to sharing words, and who knows who will share yours next?

~SAT

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

3 Nov

Announcements:

Everyone can expect a cover reveal of Death Before Daylight on November 6th – this also means I will not have a blog post on the 5th. I need an extra day to prep everything, but I hope your excitement will make the wait!

My latest interview and review has been posted on the Book Gannet! I talk about future works, current works, and why I dislike prophecies despite having one in The Timely Death Trilogy. Click the links to check them out!

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

The other night, I was browsing Facebook when a few readers brought up the discussion of insta-love. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “insta-love” is more-or-less love at first sight, and it is becoming widely debated among book blogs, readers, and authors alike. There are even entire lists on Goodreads dedicated to insta-love books. (Funny fact: “Instalove” started as a hashtag on Instagram for new couples. The reason I’m using a dash will make more sense as we continue on.)

Now, I may be sticking my neck out by saying this, but I don’t really think “insta-love” exists. But – please – hear me out.

I think insta-love is sometimes confused with insta-lust and insta-infatuation. Yep. I said that. Just because two characters are interacting, holding hands, kissing, or even sleeping together, does not mean the book is full of insta-love. I would even go so far as to say just because two characters say “I love you” does not mean they are, in fact, in love. How many people do you know that were in a long-term relationship, said, “I love you” a hundred times, and eventually broke up only to say they knew they didn’t love them? How many people get “swept off their feet” or think, “that’s the one” only to later realize that neither were true in the first place.

Before calling it “insta-love”, let’s talk about real life scenarios that happen in books. In fact, I’m going to give three:

Scenario One: (The meet-and-greet love)

Two characters walk into a bar. They meet, hookup, and go on for the rest of the book loving each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean it was insta-love. It just means it started off as insta-lust and turned into love eventually. I feel like this happens often in books – two characters meet quickly but they are not seen as characters that grew over time because they did something that society deems inappropriate for two strangers to do. This happens in various forms, but I think the most common “insta-love” complaint is when two characters immediately open up or lean on one another when they are complete strangers. Why? I know plenty of people who open up to strangers the second they meet someone. In fact, I’m fairly certain there are entire groups of people out there that are more likely to open up to strangers than friends. Trust me. I used to ride the city bus every morning and evening. It happened more than I could ever explain.

insta

Scenario Two: (One-sided love affairs)

A guy is head-over-heels in love with someone who barely cares about him back. One might call it love, but many people label this as infatuation. I think this happens a lot in “insta-love” scenarios – where one character has very intense emotions for another character without it being reciprocated until later on. Think Fifty Shades of Grey. Many people have said it is insta-love, but in reality, he literally pushes her away emotionally for most of the novel until she breaks up with him. That isn’t love. That’s lust, infatuation, and confusion mixed with novel-drama.

Scenario Three: (Love Triangles)

Oh, the all-too common emotional toll in books: love triangles. This is when one character (generally the protagonist) is confused about their love toward two different characters. This might be a personal thing – I can admit that I am not a fan of love triangles – but I cannot fathom calling it “love” when a character cannot pick between two people. To me, that is something else. That is having very strong and caring emotions about two people but not love. (And perhaps having one word in the English language for romantic love is the major problem here.) But I’m aware that this is a personal opinion of love, not necessarily everyone’s opinion, but that brings me to my next point:

In the end, I honestly believe insta-love is based on the readers’ personal preferences of what love means to them, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I want to clarify that I believe there is nothing wrong with mentioning insta-love in a book review, especially if the reasoning is explained for future readers to contemplate. It’s a widely accepted term, after all.

People fall in love differently, at different times, and often with different people or even without knowing who they have fallen for. We’ve all heard of the couple who saw each other from across the room, fell in love at first sight, and seriously stayed together for the rest of their lives. And we’ve met the couples that thought they were those couples until they became heartbroken and separated. Love shifts overtime. It changes and morphs and grows and – unfortunately – dies for many, but love can be a wonderful emotion to read about because it resides in hope and trust. Love is an emotion of acceptance. So why should we judge love at all?

Insta-love or not, love is different for all, and perhaps, that is why it is so beautiful.

~SAT

When to Stop Writing

26 Oct

When to Stop Writing

This post is inspired by a comment that happened on my Facebook Author Page recently. The other day, writer – Angie Neto – asked me a fantastic question I’m sure all writers can relate to:

“Were you nervous when you published your first novel? I have edited, rewritten and changed chapters so many times now and still doing last minute searches for errors. When do you say enough?”

My Facebook answer:

“I still get nervous. I think that’s natural. You’re working hard to share your intellectual creation. It’s nerve-racking, knowing you will be judged off of it, but it’s well worth it. But I do think – at some point – you have to step away and have beta readers and editors deal with it, and eventually, you have to turn the manuscript in, and one day, you have to know you can’t change anything anymore (even though you’ll be dying to!)”

Special shout out to Angie Neto! Because of this conversation, I wanted to expand on this topic. That being said, I believe writing is always unique to the writer. Hemingway liked to drink while writing. I couldn’t write drunk if I wanted to. But I have been found writing in a dark closet before. (Don’t ask.) So I want to take a moment to share three times that I stop writing.

1. When I’ve spent WAY too much time editing and re-editing and re-editing

I’m only starting with this one because that was the main reason of writing this post. Editing is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also be destructive, and I know this because I’ve been there before. I’ve hauled myself page over page over page over year over year – only to realize I’ve been editing this manuscript to death. At this point, I’ve basically butchered the entire manuscript because I’ve sliced my confidence apart a million times. What I mean to say…well, let me describe a sad recollection of events: Shannon writes book, Shannon edits book halfway through, Shannon decides to rewrite the entire script, Shannon edits that book, Shannon edits it again, Shannon edits again, Shannon still finds the wrong “you’re” in a sentence, and Shannon breaks down about how awful of a writer she could be to miss such an editing mistake five times in a row, and now Shannon believes the entire manuscript is this way, so she deletes it and starts over…Do not – and I repeat – DO NOT do this to yourself. Edit it as many times as you want to, but always remember that other editors are out there for a reason. Let them assess it. Let them help you. Breathe. Put down the red pen. It will be okay. If we don’t learn when to stop editing, we will – literally – never stop editing. A manuscript is like a person. It will never be perfect. The imperfections give it character. (Just don’t give it too much character if you know what I mean.)

notestop

 2. When I’m physically ill

Sadly, I do not mean that I have the flu. I can admit that I – in fact – have found a pen in my hand when I was bedridden. Safe? Healthy? Probably not. But I’m a writing addict. That being said, I don’t actually mean to say the flu is the problem. The problem is when I CAUSE the flu to happen in the first place because I’ve stressed myself out so much over writing that I stop taking care of myself and – in turn – I get ill. Stress ill. Headaches and body pains from sitting at my desk for too long ill. Don’t do that to yourself. In this case, strain is not gain. Strain is sickness that will only put you behind schedule even more, and it will only cause more pain.

 3.  When I start losing my love for writing

I never lose my love for writing – not entirely anyway. But I do have days where I step back, and I realize that I am struggling. In fact, I can confess that I went through this yesterday. I’ve been so focused on the edits of Death Before Daylight that I have forgotten to give myself time to write in a current novel I am very much emotionally involved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m involved in Death Before Daylight as well. Very involved. But working on something new is quite the refreshing energy boost that I need to keep powering through edits of a novel. Although I love editing, working on the same project for long periods of time can be draining, especially since I’m more focused on the publishing side of things rather than the writing side of things, so I have to return to the “just writing to write” part of me often because that part of me is the most important in terms of enjoying my writing. I only have to remind myself of that.

In the end, you might have noticed that I don’t necessarily “stop” writing. I simply change my focus of writing or a take a moment to step back in order to relax. In fact, I was very serious when I said I’m going through the last one right now. Between my car and my laptop breaking down this week, my stress level peaked (and not in a good way at all). Writing is my coping mechanism, but working on edits was the last thing I needed. I had to shelve Death Before Daylight, and I had to do what I wanted to do the most desperately, so I worked on a new novel I’ve referred to before on here as TGO, and I felt much better afterward – almost like I learned to breathe again, and in all honesty, I might have to do this again next week. I’m still not sure I’m over it. All that matters is getting back on my feet again one way or another.

Do you have any times that you stop writing?

Feel free to share below! It’s also that time again – expect Website Wonders and October’s Ketchup to be posting soon.

~SAT

Why Most of my Characters are Male

8 Oct

Announcements:

Red Sands Reviewz read Seconds Before Sunrise and wrote, “You know how they say sequels aren’t as good as the first? This is not the case. It was fun to read from the start to finish.” And now you can read her review from start to finish by clicking here.

Krazy Reads reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read the entire review by clicking here, but this review inspired my blog post today, so I will be referring to it throughout my post! Even then, here’s a small quote, “Unlike most dystopian novels, this one felt the most real to me. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE all dystopian novels, but for me, this seemed the most likely to actually happen.” Check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here.

Thank you, Krazy Reads.

Why Most of my Characters are Male

I’m doing something today that I have sworn to myself I would never, EVER do. I am responding to a book review. (Oh, the taboo!) Don’t worry. I have Krazy Reads permission, and it’s more or less not a response. It’s a deeper explanation that was inspired by a single section she wrote about my latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow:

Most of the characters are male, and while some people may say that seems unbalanced, to me, it fits perfectly. In the novel, the boys are fighting for a cause, they break laws, set bombs, and carry out rescue missions, so having most of the characters male fits, and I like how there are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

It’s true. I’m guilty. My latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, has more male character than female characters, and before I explain why, I would like to clarify that I’m specifically talking about Take Me Tomorrow in this post. My other novels are not like this, and there will be minor spoilers throughout this piece. That being said, I am going to have to hold back on some explanations due to the fact that the sequel will deepen many of these explanations, and I don’t want to spoil major parts of the first novel. But I’m going to do my best to explain why I have more male characters than female characters, and I want to explain this because I have received dozens of emails asking me why Take Me Tomorrow is full of boys.

The main reason is, perhaps, the most important one: it was never a conscious decision. It just sort of happened, and it happened naturally. This is the same reason I ultimately never changed it, despite the fact that I had one beta reader in particular suggest it. Don’t get me wrong. I thought about it a lot. I did. I considered each and every character and their gender, but here’s what it ultimately came down to: it was never about their gender. It was about them, and here are the two main reasons, I believe, they were boys in the first place:

Their Past

Although some of the past is seen in Take Me Tomorrow, more is explained in the sequel – Take Me Yesterday (hence the title). But I am going to explain what I can. First of all, a lot of it has to do with how the society works. Even though boys and girls can see each other and go to school together, there are subtle hints the society subconsciously encourages them to be separate. For instance, the boys are more likely to be thrown in military for punishment, while the girls are generally thrown into the correctional houses – and the correctional houses that are blatantly separated by gender. The other subtle part was the dance. Sophia describes it as one of the only instances students from separate schools can meet. Socializing is definitely not encouraged, but let’s get down to physical relationships: Noah and Broden met as children, and although I cannot giveaway their full circumstances, they didn’t just become friends because their parents were friends or that they happened to be the same age. I don’t want to spoil the novel so I won’t explain Tony or the flashback of Liam too much, but those two boys were more or less a reflection of what could’ve happened to Noah if he were older. Pierson is explained in the sequel. (I’m sorry for how cryptic this is.) But I can talk about Miles. If no one noticed, the twins – Miles and Lily – don’t have a father, and again, more details will come in Take Me Yesterday, but I will say this: Miles was very attracted to Broden and Noah, the first two guys that gave him friendship. Lily, too (as explained in the book), but Miles pushed his sister away. I have an older brother. This happened to me. But that’s for my next section.

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

My Personal Life

After my mother died, I was practically raised by my older brother. (My dad, too, but he traveled a lot.) So I spent a lot of time with my brother and all of his friends, and – you guessed it – they were mostly guys, especially his best friends. We went hunting and off-roading and ate sandwiches by the lake when we fished. But – during some point – we didn’t hang out as much, and that just happens sometimes. I got friends of my own, but (you might have guessed again) most of my friends were guys. I was comfortable with guys. I was used to spending time with them, and there was no romance there. A girl can be, in fact, just friends with guys. So I think that leaked out with Sophia, but I think it happened because of Lily. That’s right. Because of Lily. Sophia is best friends with Lily, and Lily is the one who introduces Sophia to Miles and Broden. Sophia gets her guys friends by default, and if you read the story, you also might have noticed that Sophia is not a social butterfly like Lily is. Sophia would rather stay home with her dog and read. She was perfectly satisfied with Lily’s company, and Miles and Broden were just extra buddies she gained. And, yes, you will learn even more about all of their pasts, specifically with Broden, Lyn, and Sophia’s mother…oh, and Miles and Lily. Pretty much everyone. But now that we’re talking about the girls…

As an extra, I want to talk about the girls, and I want to start this section off by re-quoting what Krazy Reads said, “I like how they’re are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

Sure, the guys appear to be running things, but sometimes, as an author, I struggle to understand whether certain aspects are forgotten just because gender gets focused on. For instance, Miles is so terrified in the beginning, that he runs away, and Sophia – a girl – takes his place. That’s just one instance where the girls come to the rescue, and yes, there are more rescues and reasons, but sometimes, I worry that literature has trained us readers to focus more on boys rather than girls, which is no one’s fault. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But just because there are more boys does not mean that boys are more important, and in Take Me Tomorrow, they definitely cannot survive without the girls in their lives.

In fact, even though there are more boys in the novel, the numbers should not take away from the importance of Lily, Sophia, Lyn, and later on, Rinley. I wish I could explain what these girls do throughout the novel, but those pesky spoilers prevent me. That being said, these girls – as well as more girls – are seen in the sequel. (And, yes, the boys will be there as well.) But Take Me Tomorrow isn’t about how many boys or how many girls are present. It’s about drug use, abuse, addiction, immigration, tragedy, love, and war. And everyone can go through that, no matter what their gender is.

But – just for kick’s sake – here’s a list of reasons I have more male characters than female characters:

I was true to story.

~SAT

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

6 Oct

Announcements: 

Today’s HUGE thank you goes out to DJ FRESH, one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy yesterday afternoon. Moments like these are unforgettable, especially since I have some wonderful music to follow!

fresh4

tmtinst

Rebekka.B’s Instagram photo

Also, I would like to thank Rebekka.B for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow on her Instagram. Not only is her picture beautiful, her review is wonderfully written, and she compared my latest novel to the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. Here’s why: “The strength and power that the characters have are so on point and well written. I could relate to every one of them in a different way. At the end of the book you can only state that they are true warriors that fight for hope, justice and love…It’s a powerful book with powerful people who live in a powerful world.” Check out her full review by clicking here or read a preview of my book by clicking here. Either way, be sure to follow her book reviews!

In other news, I found out that two of my poems will be published in a literary journal at the end of November, but that is all I can say for now! Be on the look out for more news later this month.

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

Being an author is one-part writing, twenty-parts managing everything else. By “everything else”, I mean editing, social media, interviews, organizing covers, and so much more. Marketing is generally where most of my time goes, especially if you consider any type of social media marketing. That being said, a wise woman once told me that I have to remember that I am always an author first. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Getting caught up in marketing is a slippery slope I’m sure almost all authors have fallen on once or twice before. One way I avoid that (and remind myself that I NEED to make time for just my author life) is by setting deadlines for myself. Sure, my publisher suggests timeframes as well, but today, I’m focusing on personally setting deadlines for oneself and what kind of benefits and disadvantages it can have.

Pro: It keeps you motivated

Even though passion can be the basis of writing, there are still days where authors just don’t want to write. Maybe we’re tired from our day job. Maybe our favorite T.V. show has returned for another season. Maybe we just don’t want to. And maybe it is okay to take a break. Not writing for a day is perfectly fine, but not writing for day after day after day? You’ll find yourself in a writer’s slump faster than you realized. This can also turn into the horrors of writer’s block. Having a circled date that says, “Hit 20,000 words” can help motivate you to keep your off-days in check. You don’t even have to force yourself to write in something you don’t want to. But having a time set aside to write SOMETHING can help you get somewhere much faster than you realized.

Con: It can make that motivation feel more like pressure

To me, motivation should always be a positive thing. It shouldn’t stress someone out unless it’s “good” stress (which I am told is an actual thing). If this motivation starts pushing you down or making you write less or pressuring you to rush or causing you to fret about dates, word count, and publication dates, then, don’t do it. That being said, I’ve failed at meeting a goal, and it was perfectly okay. I simply understood my timing a little better, and I started pushing my goals back a few weeks. Understanding my writing time has actually helped me understand my calendar a lot. For instance, I can more accurately guess when I will finish content edits so I know when to start talking to my editors and cover artist. A perfect example of this hit me recently. Originally, Death Before Daylight was supposed to come out in late 2014, but it’s now reschedule for January of 2015. That being said, I estimated the novel would be 80,000 words after content edits, and I’ve already surpassed that, so it might be pushed back again. But I can’t dwell on it. I have to move forward and keep editing the content so I can get it in the hands of readers.

Pro: use kitty stickers on your calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: use kitty stickers on your kitty calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: Achieving small goals can give a burst in energy

For me, actually hitting the exact goal I planned (or hitting it beforehand) brings so much excitement to writing. Think of it like a video game or a puzzle. Moving onto the next level can be energizing, and that burst of energy can assist in trying to get to the next one and the next one after that. As many of you know, I keep progress bars on the right side of my website, but you don’t know that I keep all of my progress bars on my laptop. They are dated, and if I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, I like to scroll through them in order to see just how much I’ve gotten done in the past few months. I always feel much better after.

Con: Having unrealistic goals can be disheartening

Sometimes, I think writers can set unreasonable expectations for themselves, but that’s also because every writer is different. I’ve known an author who can write a book in one month – and a good one – but that doesn’t mean every author out there should try to accomplish that. Setting deadlines is not about finishing quickly. The goal relies in writing well rather than writing fast, and setting a deadline can be that reminder to give yourself the needed amount of time to write well. Don’t let it turn into a reminder that you’re not writing fast enough or that you’re not keeping up with everyone else. It’s not about them or their deadlines. It’s about you, and your passion, and your love for writing.

In Conclusion:

Deadlines are not for everyone. They work for me. They keep me organized and feeling accomplished in-between publications, but I have also been known to put too much pressure on myself, so I also need to know to be aware of when deadlines become deadly to my writing life. It doesn’t happen often, but I do keep checking in with myself, and if I need to take a break – by, God, I do. I step away, hit the road, and crank Elvis through my Mazda’s radio until the sun sets. At some point, I return, and at some point, I set another deadline, and at some point, I complete another deadline before I make another one. But the goal goes beyond deadlines. The goal disappears somewhere in those words strung together into sentences put together in paragraphs for pages upon pages.

The deadline, whether it is met or not, will still become a book, and in the end, that is what matters most.

What do you think? Do you set deadlines for yourself? What were the pros and cons for you? Comment, like, and share below!

~SAT

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