Tag Archives: writers

A Writer’s Freakout Schedule

29 Aug

Between COVID and (insert any number of other awful things happening right now), freakouts are commonplace at the moment. Right? RIGHT???

I don’t know. Maybe you’re not going through it, but I know I’ve certainly had my moments of heightened stress, which is probably why I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the delicate balance of productivity and mindfulness. On one hand, I want to maintain my level of productivity, be successful, follow the dream. On the other, I just want to eat this tub of ice cream and be left alone. So, I guess the solution is to sit here with my ice cream while I write this article. (It’s Cherry Garcia, if you’re wondering.)

Writers are used to wearing a lot of hats. Between day jobs and family, squeezing in time to write is nothing new to the aspiring novelist. Neither is imposter syndrome or writers’ burnout, not to mention writers’ block. But the other day, I finally heard a new one. 

A writers’ freakout schedule.

But first, a little backstory: 

Once a month, I meet up with some fellow writers on ZOOM just to chat about what we’re going through and how we’re handling it. We talk about our projects, but there’s no pressure to exchange pages or anything. If you don’t have something like this in your life, I highly recommend it. I look forward to it every month. 

During one of these monthly calls, I was talking about how bonkers life is at the moment and how to manage all these tectonic plates that are now life, when Jessica Conoley (authorpreneurship coach) mentioned how knowing her “freakout” schedule has helped her manage.

The moment she mentioned it, a lightbulb went off in my head. I had never thought about the concept of a freakout schedule before, but I also recognized how true the sentiment was right away.

Understanding when and how you will react to news, such as a critique or a rejection, can help you stay focused and calm, especially in these strange and twisty times. 

That being said, I wasn’t always aware of my freakout schedule. In fact, I’m pretty sure my roommate had to point it out to me once. (Okay. So, maybe a couple dozen times.) Basically, I used to think I didn’t have a freakout schedule. I would hear criticism or get a rejection and brush it off pretty quickly. Publishing is just business, right? I can adjust and keep trying. And I would. Right away, I would dive into revisions or go about writing life as normal…but two weeks later, the doubt would creep in. Then, the inevitable imposter syndrome. Soon, I’d be asking friends if I was delusional in my capabilities to finish a likeable story. I would threaten to put everything down, eventually declaring, “This is it! I quit!” 

The next day, I’d sit down at my computer, determined to delete it all and never look back…but hey, it couldn’t hurt to read it one last time. Soon, I’d be revising. And reading. And writing like nothing ever happened. 

My freakouts definitely have varying degrees, depending on what caused the situation to spiral. 

A little writers block isn’t going to last as long for me as a brutally honest critique from a trusted colleague. However, for someone else, it might be the complete opposite. Which brings me to my next piece of advice:

Understanding what sets you off—and for how long—is just as important as understanding you’re in a cycle. The cycle will end. 

This is just your freakout schedule.

~SAT

P.S. You may have noticed a new badge on my website. In case you didn’t, I am officially going to co-mentor with Sandra Proudman for Pitch Wars this year. Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more. Learn more at PitchWars.orgOur wishlist will go up right here on September 12!

I’m a Writer with Imposter Syndrome

17 Mar

I have imposter syndrome. For those of you who don’t know, imposter syndrome “is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.” At least according to Wikipedia. (And, yes, I see the humor in starting this article with a quote from Wikipedia, but they honestly had the best to-the-point definition I could find, so…)

I’m surprised I haven’t discussed imposter syndrome before. Or maybe I have and it was archived at one point. Either way, it’s time to discuss it, because imposter syndrome is awful.

Imposter syndrome can also make you feel like you’re not yourself, that you’re hiding something, that you’re failing, hard. But hopefully this will help!

I tend to get imposter syndrome for two reasons:

1. I haven’t had a lot of writing time

This is actually my #1 reason. When I don’t have a lot of time to write, I don’t feel like a writer. I mean, writers write, right? (Say that ten times fast.) While, yes, writers definitely write, that statement bothers a lot of writers, because it puts an unnecessary pressure on them to always be writing, and that’s not always the case. Some writers write every day, sure, and that’s awesome! But some writers only write a few days a week. Or only once a week. And that’s awesome, too! Heck, I know published authors who tend to write-write (meaning putting prose on paper) only a few months out of the year. The other months are strictly for other types of writing (outlining, discussing ideas, researching, etc.). Whatever works for the writer and allows them to meet deadlines (and hopefully feel creative and happy) is what matters. But that doesn’t mean we writers don’t have moments where we don’t feel like we’re doing enough, where we don’t feel like enough. Believe me, I’ve been there. In fact, I’m feeling that way right now. (I’ll get to why in a minute.)

So my tip if you’re going through this: While you’re running errands or driving to and from work, really consider why you don’t have time to write. Do you actually have time that you can clear out on your schedule or are you going through a life change? Don’t be too hard on yourself either way. It’s okay to acknowledge that maybe you have been neglecting your craft. Admitting it is the first step to finding time again. If you haven’t been purposely neglecting anything—and your schedule is just rough—consider whether or not it’s temporary. If it’s temporary, relax. Get done what you need to get done. Communicate with agents, editors, publishers, etc. about what is going on in your life and see if anyone (like betas) can help. If it isn’t temporary, try to figure out what you can give up in your schedule for writing. Maybe you don’t need to watch five television shows a week. Instead, reward yourself with the whole season once you finish your first draft. Tah-dah!

 2. I’m pushing myself too hard

Now this is the other reason I get imposter syndrome. If you didn’t notice, it’s basically the opposite reason I listed above, right? Sort of. Sometimes they can go hand-in-hand. How? Well, because I might be pushing myself too hard somewhere else in my life (and still not getting writing time), and when I get exhausted, I get a little irrational. I start thinking there is 24 hours in a day. What do I mean by that? I mean that I forget basic necessities need to be done in 24 hours. You can’t pack all 24 hours with things to accomplish. You also need to sleep, to eat, to breathe. Pushing myself too hard can mess me up, especially when I’m not finding a lot of time to write, because I feel like I’ve done a lot and done nothing at all at the same time. This happens because I forget that writing is a part of my whole life, not a separated life from my job or home struggles. It’s easy to put writing accomplishments in one basket and everything else in the other, but try to put them in the same basket. That way, you’re acknowledging everything you’re doing in your life right now, not just your writing ups and downs, and you won’t feel like you’re failing when you’re actually working really, really hard.

I’m not going to lie. I think I’m going through both of these at the moment. Adjusting to the new job and still dealing with health issues has been rough. Fun but rough. (Fun fact: I found out I’ve been near-sighted my whole life this week, so I’m getting glasses soon. And hopefully, less headaches.) I definitely haven’t had a lot (if any) time to write between that and editing and marketing my current books (and keeping up on my TBR). Basically, I feel really disconnected to my writing, while also feeling too tired to try to write when I have a little time off. Granted, I should be following my own advice from the article a few weeks ago, Tips For Going Through a Life Change, and allowing myself to have an adjustment period, but let’s be real, easier said than done, right?

What I think triggered the imposter syndrome was meeting a bunch of new (and awesome) people who didn’t know I was an author. People, especially people who work in libraries, tend to get really excited/surprised/interested to hear about it when they first meet you, and while that should feel heartwarming, it feels really overwhelming when I’m not actively able to write as much as I like. It makes me feel like I’m neglecting everything, that I’m not accomplishing anything new, that I’m—you guessed it—an imposter.

But I’m trying to take a step back and remind myself that this is imposter syndrome. Though it feels real, it isn’t. Not really. It’s a construct, a pressure I’ve put on myself, and unhealthy at best.

I’m not quite out of the imposter woods, but admitting it to myself has helped me see the light, so to speak.

I have taken a moment to acknowledge how I feel and why I feel that way and what steps I can take to feel better—mainly rest, allowing myself to adjust to my job, and feeling good when I get a few words down. But the #1 thing I’m reminding myself—that I hope will help you—is an ultimatum I don’t see talked about enough.

As long as you’re not stealing someone’s identity, none of us are imposters. We’re writers. We’re all on a different path to publication, and we’re in this together, on good days and bad days. We aren’t “faking” anything if we are trying, and that’s what matters. Love your journey, always remember why you love writing, and love yourself.

There’s only one of you out there, and trust me, you are not an imposter.

You are a writer.

~SAT

2018 YA Predictions

16 Dec

So I’m feeling a little crazy today, mainly because I write these posts every year…and yet I can’t find my post predicting 2017. Here’s my post predicting 2016, though. (Seriously, I wrote one for 2017, didn’t I? I could’ve sworn…)

Anyway, I like to write these for fun. They aren’t supposed to really mean anything, because, you know, these things are hard to predict. Basically, don’t take my word for it and start scheduling your writing around my predictions.

If you’re interested in the future of YA publishing, I suggest following Publishers Marketplace, MSWL, and joining other groups to get an overall feel for trends. Remember though: Don’t write for the trends. By the time you learn it, it has passed. Write what you want to write.

Without further ado…

Here are three titles I’m waiting on!

Covers & Titles:

I’m expecting to see more diverse portraits. Check out the covers of Dear Martin, Saints and Misfits, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It’s about time our stories get more diverse, and cover art is reflecting that. Because I’m expecting more portrait artwork, I’m thinking fonts/colors/graphics will tone down a little bit in order to focus on the protagonist, but those Trad 5 publishers love their unique fonts, so if anything, I think they’ll hold onto that as well. In the meantime, titles will become more straightforward. For the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of poetic, flowy, and LONG titles, and while I don’t think those are going away completely (especially if they are part of an already-happening series), I think we’ll see shorter titles. In fact, even in fantasy (the genre for notoriously long titles), one-word titles are slowly creeping back: Thunderhead, Shadowsong, Unearthed, etc.

Hot Releases:

Epic fantasy with unique settings and cultural influence is ruling the realm! I don’t think this will change much, and I’m really looking forward to a lot of releases already. (::cough cough:: Children of Blood and Bone.) That being said, I’m still waiting for future-tech to take off more than it already has. We’ve been in epic fantasy for a while now, and as much as I love it (and write it myself), I would like to see something else take over. Dare I say it, I wouldn’t be surprised if vampires made a comeback. In fact, there’s been some timid talk of this already on forums like MSWL. Granted, your vampires will have to be unique, but if you have something unique enough out there, urban fantasy/paranormal might surge up again. Another trend I’ve noticed is duologies. (And I’m not just saying that because my latest series is a duology.) Lots of authors are ditching the trilogies for faster books paired together. Personally, (obviously), I’m a fan of this. It allows authors to try something newer and faster, especially if something isn’t working, and it opens doors for more genres to step in.

More books I cannot wait for!

What Agents/Editors/Publishers Will Be Looking For:

Politically relevant contemporary. If your novels focuses on the challenges of our current political environment—like the #MeToo conversation—your book is needed and necessary. More and more agents are requesting books with relevant discussions, and there are lots of conversations that need to be had. I like that more contemporary books are getting attention here, but it’d be nice to see some of these conversations stretch more into other realms, too. (Maybe some magical realism?)

In regards to everything else?

Who knows? Publishing is a wonderfully, weird, unpredictable place.

I look forward to seeing where it takes us.

~SAT

2017 Favorite Writing Tools

2 Dec

Toward the end of every year, I like to talk about my favorite books, but I thought I’d share my favorite new writing experiences, too. This list is based on tools I tried in 2017, not necessarily tools that released in 2017, but I hope you find it helpful anyway.

Website: MSWL

For those of you querying, MSWL (or Manuscript Wishlist) organizes agents, editors, and publishers by showing what they wish they’d receive in their inbox. Read profiles on the website or do a quick search on Twitter’s #MSWL. Sometimes wishes can get oddly specific, but don’t be discouraged. Specifics are not usually meant to be read as “this is the ONLY thing I want,” but rather a fun way to reach out to those perfect matches. Generalized wishlist items are mainly on the website profiles (and, of course, you should always visit the person’s main website). MSWL is a fun way to see what people are asking for. On top of that, they now have a fantastic newsletter, podcast, and classes. Even online pitch sessions! It’s a tool worth checking out, whether or not you’re querying. Any cons? Sometimes sketchy people show up. Always do further research on the agent, editor, or publisher.

Technology: Alphasmart Neo

After seeing the YA Gal post her Alphasmart Neo on Facebook, I had a flashback to middle school when these wireless keyboards were used in the classroom. I immediately wanted one for myself. Why? Because I spend all day on the computer at my job. My computer screen KILLS my eyes, and sometimes the Internet is too big of a distraction. I bought myself an Alphasmart Neo because I wanted to be able to write away from my technology…and I’ve used it so much it’s stupid. I absolutely love it, and wish I would’ve bought one earlier. Cons? I have major ADD. My mind skips all over the place when I’m writing, and scrolling/organizing can be a little difficult on a screen that only shows four lines at a time, so I’m mainly using it for first drafts/ideas. I also make a lot more spelling mistakes, but that could be because the keyboard is different than the one I’m used to, and, hey, I have to edit everything I write anyway, so no big deal. What’s an additional read-through?

App: SimpleNote

Last year, I downloaded Scrivener for the first time. Well, this year, I wanted to sync my Scrivener to my phone, but, as far as I know, Scrivener doesn’t have a phone app for Andriod yet. I did some research and landed on SimpleNote, which allows me to sync directly with my Scrivener. That way, I always have my books with me. Cons? You have to have some foresight as to what you want to take with you. It doesn’t automatically sync everything. You pick which file you want. But you can always create a new document and upload it later if you forgot to sync the file you want to edit.

Podcast: 88 Cups of Tea

Somehow I just discovered 88 Cups of Tea. How? No idea. Because I love it. If you want to listen to exclusive interviews with some of your favorite, big-name authors, this podcast is for you. It’s both casual and enlightening. Con? Sometimes I find interview titles misleading. Ex. An episode that says it will talk about X but they only discuss X for 10 minutes in a 50-minute episode. But if I could learn how to relax in my workaholic life, I don’t think this is an issue. In fact, being reminded that writers are people is incredibly important, and I appreciate how candid many guests get during discussions. So, if you love personal stories, this podcast is for you.

FB Group: AAYAA

I joined AAYAA this year at the suggestion of a friend, and I LOVE it. If you’re a young adult author, AAYAA is great. There’s a website, Twitter, and Facebook group, but I’ve found the FB to be my favorite place to go. It connects young adult authors together for insight, opportunities, and more. I’ve already made a couple friends, gained some new followers, and learned information that I didn’t know before. Con? Every once in a while, a troll might appear, but hey, that’s the Internet for you.

New Writing Tip?

Just last month, I attended the SCBWI conference. During the breakout session Revision—Preparing Your MG & YA Novel for Submission, Jennifer Soloway discussed so many amazing writing tips, but one in particular really stood out to me: They say to “Show, Don’t Tell”, but sometimes you have to do both. The example she used was a gasping girl with a pounding heart. Even in the context of the scene, a reader could interpret her emotions for fear, excitement, or a health condition. Sometimes it’s okay to say fear paralyzed a person or “I am terrified.” It’s about balance. I’ve been struggling with this a little bit in my writing lately. I have let traditional rules get in the way a little too much. This was a nice reminder. Con? Swinging too much the other way.

So these were my top new writing tools I used this year. Did you try anything out for the first time? Have any tips? Share away!

~SAT

A Writer’s Best Friend is Google

18 Nov

As an author, I LOVE helping fellow writers. In fact, I encourage writers to message me whenever they want with whatever questions they have. But don’t forget, folks.

Google is your best friend.

Recently, maybe due to NaNoWriMo, I’ve received A LOT more messages than usual. The most common one: “How can I get my book published?”

When I search “How can I get my book published?” on Google, the first three articles are actually pretty legit. One is about how to self-publish on Amazon. Another is a list of self-publishing tips by Forbes Magazine. The third is a step-by-step guide on how to get traditionally published. (No results were vanity presses, yay!) My favorite article that popped up toward the top was Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published by Jane Friedman.

If the writers who had emailed me had Googled their question first, they would’ve had these amazing articles at their fingertips…and as much as I wish I could deliver long, thoughtful pieces every time someone messaged me, I simply don’t have the time. I will ALWAYS try to point you in the right direction, but honestly, Google is often better.

Whether I’m researching publishing news or searching for information I’ll use in my books, Google is almost always open on my computer.

Don’t get wrong, though. I get it. I do. Publishing is hard. And there is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming/contradictory/seemingly impossible to navigate on your own. But guess what? 

Learning how to navigate your publishing journey is going to be key to your success.  

Why do I say that? Because I’ve been there. Publishing has confused the hell out of me, too. And I still have days where I get confused, because aspects of publishing constantly change. Knowing how to research and determine what is true/false/helpful/scam is going to save you a lot of time and pain. Asking others might not always work, because others also fall for false information and scams, so you need to be able to sift through information to form your own opinions. But don’t worry. You don’t have to navigate everything alone.

No one can get a book published by themselves. It takes a team to get a book from an idea to a draft to an editor’s pick to a novel on a shelf. There’s beta readers, proofreaders, sensitivity readers, reviewers, and more that will help you get from step one to step infinity. So you will need writer friends. You will even need their help. But before you message an author/editor/publisher, try to answer the question yourself. Why? Because you’ll probably find the answer to “How do I get my book published?” but then come across publishers that—no matter how much you research—you’re still unsure about. THAT is the perfect time to message a fellow writer (preferably a writer who is associated with said publisher) and ask them if they recommend that house.

If you are reaching out, specifics are a lot easier to answer. “Would you recommend this publisher?” is easier for me to give my opinion on than when I’m asked “What type of publishing should I go for?” A lot of questions I’m asked are, quite frankly, not answerable by anyone other than that writer. Choosing how to publish is a very personal choice. I can’t make that decision for you, no matter how much I want to help.

Show initiative in your pursuit of publication. Be brave. Research. But don’t read this article and think you can never reach out ever again.

If you were about to message me about how to publish, I won’t bite your head off. (Maybe just your fingers.) And I’ll still try to point you in the right direction—though there are lots of directions to consider.

Here are some of my favorite resources for writers.

Writer’s Digest: The go-to online resource for writers. If you’re starting out, set a goal to read a couple articles once a week.

Publishers Marketplace: This lists current sales and other important publishing news. Some pages on this website cost money, so if you can’t afford it, sign up for Publisher’s Lunch, which is free.

Janet Reid: She blogs every day about various topics and creates an amazing community of writers to rally behind. I still read her blog every day. It’s how I start my morning.

Pub Rants: A blog by Nelson Literary Agency. One of my all-time favorites. Her Agenting 101 class caught my eye in 2006, and I’ve been following it ever since.

BookEnds Literary Blog: Another blog from a literary agency. They talk about lots of topics as well, but mainly about getting agents and the publishing process afterward.

Query Shark: For learning how to query.

Query Tracker: For keeping track of querying. (This website is free, but you can also pay $25 per year to look at extra information.)

An Alliance of Young Adult Authors: Lots of helpful tips from fellow YA writers, whether you’re self-publishing or going traditional.

Oh! And right here. I try to blog about various writing and publishing topics every single Saturday. Use the search bar at the top of this page to look up topics I’ve discussed in the past. (Because, trust me, I’ve been blogging since 2012, I’ve probably covered it.)

If you have a topic you want to see me blog about, I always take suggestions. I’ll even blog about a topic I’ve discussed before if the article is outdated and/or not detailed enough. (And, yes, you can send the suggestion via email.)

But while you’re online, I suggest opening Google and becoming best friends again.

I think you’ll love the friendship more than you know.

~SAT

Take Notes While Writing a Series

11 Nov

While on Twitter the other day, writer A.J. Forrisi asked an amazing question!

P.S. Give A.J. a follow!

My quick answer? Take notes on your first book, so that writing the sequel isn’t as difficult. (And definitely do a read-through. ) I keep a character bible and chapter summaries for each book in a series. Notes help! But what type of notes should you take? How detailed should they be? Everyone’s method is going to be a little different, but I thought I’d share a couple places to start.

 1. Keep a Character Bible

This should cover all descriptors and main personality traits/issues. Personally, I keep a list of every single person mentioned in the book, even the tiniest characters. Why? Because that side character’s eye color is going to come up in book 1 on page 18 and in book 4 on page 127. It would take forever to read the entire series over and over again every time I need to find a detail. That being said, I still think you should read through your work multiple times. If you want to get fancy, take a note of the page number information is written down. That way, you can always double-check.

2. Organize Chapter Summaries

Sum up each chapter in a couple sentences. What happens? How does it change the book? If your book is heavy on revealing secrets, keeping track of what certain characters know will also help. That way, if those secrets move into book two, you don’t have to skim over and over again to find out where and what they learned. One thing I’m sure to emphasize in my chapter summaries is when certain characters make their first appearances. That way, I know when they entered the story (and the description tends to appear at the same time).

3. Other Notes to Consider

I keep a “General Resources” tab on my Scrivener. This is basically a sheet with links to educational websites on topics covered in book. (You know, in case I need a refresher, especially if I’ve taken a break between books.) I also keep a History sheet that tracks the years leading up to the book. Sometimes these events come up in the book, sometimes they don’t, but it’s good to know how my characters arrived at the first chapter. For fun and inspiration, I also keep a Pinterest board and a list of songs that remind me of my story. That way, if I’m finding it hard to get back into the series, I can connect with that original inspiration quicker.

Do you take notes between books? If so, what types?

Feel free to share your method!

~SAT

World Building: Where to Start, What to Consider, & How to End

17 Jul

I mainly write science fiction and fantasy, and both of those genres tend to come with heavy world building. A few of you have asked me where I begin. How do I start? How do I know when to write? When does world building end? Well, if you read my editing tips series, then you probably know my answer to most of this.

I don’t think it’s that important to have your world building down in your first draft or while you’re outlining. Why? Because you don’t know everything your world needs yet in order to tell your story. All that matters is having your world building down by the end of your drafts. That being said, I tend to spend more time on initial world building than I do with character profiles or plot outlines. Why? Because my world will affect my characters directly—and that tends to be when I start writing.

That’s right. I begin most of my stories with a scene or an idea, and then I world build…and I keep building until the world affects my characters directly. Then I start to write.

So how do I build my worlds?

Extra tip: World build together. Try to explain your world to a friend. If they ask questions you can’t answer, find an answer.

Well, let’s start with the foundation.

Think of the basics. Where are we? What is the climate? Is it temperate, freezing, humid, etc.? What are the seasons like and which season/s is your story taking place in? How does this location relate to the locations around it?

My favorite place to start is clothes. Why? Because clothes tell us about societal structures—like income class, careers, etc.—and also about the land/weather patterns. Are they wearing cotton? If so, where does the cotton come from? Who collects the cotton and uses that cotton to create clothes? How much does it cost, and who would wear it? Example: Throughout history, the upper-class generally wore clothes from far away to emphasize how rich they were; those clothes were expensive because of how far the materials had to travel (and how expensive the upkeep was.)

The next element I consider the most is water. Why? Because water is essential for life, including animal life, which means you’re looking at how people eat, clean up, make medicine, etc. Not to mention that water, like rivers and lakes, have been used as natural borders for a long, long time (along with mountains). So where does the water come from? How were borders decided? Start thinking about other natural materials on your land. What materials are used to make buildings, for instance?

Now time: What year is it, and how does that year in particular define your character/s? I tell new writers to at least understand their main characters and their family structure for three generations back. This information doesn’t have to go into your book, of course, but knowing where your protagonist came from, including how their parents raised them and why, will help you shape their family unit and beliefs. This brings me to my last two topics: Religion and language.

  • With religion, personally, I think the most important part of a person’s religion can be summed up in their burial practices. Start there. Most of the time, burial practices relate to how that person sees life, death, and how both their life and their death is connected to the land. This includes if your characters don’t have a religion at all.
  • When I am building a language, I focus on two elements first: How do people curse and how do people say I love you. Why? Because humans are built on emotion, and hate/love are the two strongest emotions and the biggest umbrellas of emotion out there. By finding out how they express those emotions, both as a culture and as an individual, you can start to shape everything in between.

Please keep in mind that this information—like where materials come from—doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in your book. In fact, I can’t recall a time where I talked about where water came from in most of my books. But it can help to know the simple, basic elements of your world. They are your foundation, after all. And the stronger your foundation, the stronger the rest of your world building will be. In fact, I only covered where I begin. I didn’t even get into magic systems, for instance. (Another favorite topic of mine.)

Build and keep building. Don’t be afraid if you feel intimidated, and don’t get frustrated when your world contradicts itself or doesn’t make sense at all. You have all the time in the world to…well, build your world. Take your time. Take notes. And enjoy the journey of discovering a brand-new place that your characters—and you—will call home.

~SAT

Website Wonders & Four-Year Blogiversary

26 Sep

bloggiversaryFirst, I want to give a shout out to WordPress and everyone I’ve met in the blogosphere! Today is my four-year anniversary with WordPress, and I’m still totally, completely in love with this community. Thanks for having me.

~SAT

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of September’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Fairy Tales, Mysteries, and the Best Person Ever.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

I hope you love these articles as much as I do!

See you next month,

~SAT

Favorite Article: Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF

I feel so strongly about this article. And I completely agree. We can do better. This article is on point.

Writing:

This Book is Broken, and Other Things I Tell Myself While Writing by Victoria Schwab: I really love her honesty in this article. A must-read for writers.

The Five Elements of a Story: Brush up on the basics in a new way.

Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Fairy Tales:

14079612_1189549304445899_2149284556800308199_n15 Fairy Tale Cities That Actually Exists In Real Life: So cute!

Enchanting European Landscapes Inspired by Brothers Grimm Folk Tales Photographed by Kilian Schönberger: Can’t you tell I was feeling in need of a fairy tale this week?

Mysteries:

10 Ancient Books That Teach Supernatural Powers: Looking for book inspiration? Write a tale about one of these.

10 Unbelievable Urban Legends That Are Actually True: Chills

The Best Person Ever:

Man Devotes His Life To Adopting Old Dogs Who Can’t Find Forever Homes: Can we just give this guy a hug? What a wonderful thing to do. Adopt an old dog today.

See you next month!

~SAT

Penned Con 2016

Penned Con 2016

I had a ton of fun at Penned Con in St. Louis this past week! Thanks for coming out and seeing me. Now it’s time to cuddle with my three cats… 😀

#MondayBlogs Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

8 Aug

I love writing from different perspectives. Both my YA series—The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods—are written in first POV but from two different speakers. I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character, especially when a scene would be better from a different perspective. So, I have two protagonists, and of course, there are complications that come along with this. What’s the most common question I am asked?

How do you make each voice unique?

I’ll provide a few aspects to keep in mind, but of course, this journey will be different for every writer and every novel. First, know that every character should have its own distinct voice. A reader should be able to open the novel and know who is speaking immediately. This is more difficult than it sounds, but it can get easier over time.

1. Perspective. 

The most obvious change between one voice to another is their unique perspective. What is their background? How do they feel? Where were they educated? Are they affecting the words, or are you? It’s important that characters have their own voice, and that voice will come out in combination with their personalities and backgrounds. For instance, your character who is a fashion designer would definitely use specific colors and fabrics to describe clothes, but your mechanic character might not.

2. Pay Attention to Diction and Syntax

Just like authors have their own “voice,” so do characters. Because of their backgrounds, characters will have different vocabularies. One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate. Consider their education, where they come from, and what they might know. The way they speak should differ, whether they are talking out loud or explaining the scene inwardly. Sometimes, syntax can be used to emphasize certain speech patterns, but be careful not to overuse syntax. Too many exclamations or repeated habits/phrases can become tedious and boring rather than unique and fun. Sometimes less is more. Little clues are normally enough.

3. Consider Rhythm

Honestly, I think rhythm is often overlooked, but paying attention to subtle changes in sound and length of sentences is important. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so their sentences are longer, while another might make short lists to contain their thoughts. Like everything making up your character, a person’s rhythm will depend on their personality, background, and goals. It could even change from scene to scene, but consistency is key.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Write it from POV 1, and then, rewrite the exact same scene from POV 2. Check to make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but then, compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean? Do they each bring a unique perspective? And out of those perspectives, which one is best to use?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise when starting out, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This exercise helps me understand the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene. (Sometimes, it even helps me choose which scene to use…and worse case scenario, you have an extra scene to release as an extra for your readers.)

Have fun and good luck! 

Original posted March 31, 2013

~SAT

Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE across all eBook platforms right now! (And I’m dutifully working on the next installment, too!) Happy reading. 😀

November Rain

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November Snow, 

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Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book

 

#SATurdate: Book Release, Stranger Things, A Thousand Pieces of You, & Swiss Army Man

23 Jul

What I’m Writing:

First and foremost, Dreammare—my YA fantasy—moved on in Adventure’s in YA Publishing’s Red Light / Green Light writing competition! That means I’m in the TOP FIVE! I am thrilled to be here, and I’ve loved reading everyone’s work so far. Next week, the winner is announced, and honestly, these manuscripts sound bomb. Check them out. Also, you’ll get to see more of what Dreammare is about.

I’m writing Bad Bloods 3—July Thunder/Lightning—and though I’m aiming for it to be one book instead of two this time, the Bad Bloods books are generally 600-800 pages long, which is why it has two titles like November Rain and November Snow. If you’re reading Bad Bloods: November Rain—because it’s OFFICIALLY OUT—then you might pay attention to the wall separating the Highlands and the outskirts. Bad Bloods 3/4 will focus on this part of the political spectrum. If you’ve read Bad Bloods, then you know a huge factor of my latest work was WWII and the horrendous genocide of many types of people. The next Bad Bloods book is no different. I’m definitely influenced by major political events of the world and history, so the Berlin Wall largely affected this next segment. If you want to learn more about the Berlin Wall—because something I quickly realized while writing this book is how much I DON’T know about the Berlin Wall—watch this short documentary. I will try to release new information about the book every week. I’m currently 10,129 words in and on July 4, 2090. Also, I wrote Blake’s origin story for the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad, so if you ever wondered how a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy ended up in the Northern Flock (and how a preteen flock handled it), it will release July 29. My goal is to also have a prequel for July Thunder/Lightning, because trust me, you’re getting a whole new cast of characters there, too.

What I’m Publishing:

RELEASE99cBAD BLOODS: NOVEMBER RAIN IS OUT! (Is all capitals reasonable? I think so!) For release week only, you can get Bad Bloods: November Rain for only .99¢! That’s quite the steal…especially since Bad Blood: November Snow releases THIS Monday!

What is the latest reader saying?

“I was in love with this novel right from the first page. It’s such a page turner and definitely a unique concept. I haven’t read anything like it so far. I love how fast paced and intense it is.” –Teen Book Lit 101

Bad Bloods: November Rain OUT NOW!

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Bad Bloods: November Rain book reviews

Bad Bloods: November Rain book reviews

What I’m Reading:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I picked up and finished A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray in one sitting. This book is sci-fi perfection. I cannot believe I waited so long to finally read it, because it is officially one of my favorite reads so far this year. I already cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel, but I highly recommend this book if you love YA sci-fi, multicultural casts, and romantic subplots. Also, dimensional travel! Are you kidding me? This book is awesome. Basically, you jump from dimension to dimension—worlds only slightly different from ours—and you jump straight into yourself. So, you control your other life…which has some interesting effects. Though the premise and protagonist is interesting enough to propel the story forward, the overhanging mystery of a murder is engaging and thrilling. The ending is satisfying. I absolutely recommend this read. Favorite Quote? I meant it when I said I didn’t believe in love at fight sight. It takes time to really, truly fall for someone. Yet I believe in a moment. A moment when you glimpse the truth within someone, and they glimpse the truth within you. In that moment, you don’t belong to yourself any longer, not completely. Part of you belongs to him; part of him belongs to you. After that, you can’t take it back, no matter how much you want to, no matter how hard you try. Read my full five-star review here.

I’m also starting An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, so expect that review next week.

What I’m Listening To:

The female protagonist of Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lighting picked her favorite song, and she has not let go of it.

What I’m Watching:

Like everyone else this week in the Netflix world, I binge-watched Stranger Things, and I LOVED it. I mean, I wished we had more small town stories in fiction. Considering 90% of the US doesn’t live in Chicago, New York, or LA, I’m amazed that 90% of fiction seems to only take place in the big cities. Watching this Indiana paranormal/horror tale was awesome, and I loved how nostalgic everything felt. Down to the cinematography, Stranger Things FEELS like the 80s. Definitely recommended.

Stranger Things on Netflix

Stranger Things on Netflix

To celebrate release day, I went to the theatre and saw Swiss Army Man. Honestly, I had no clue how I would feel seeing this movie. (Farting is not my type of humor.) But without a doubt, I would recommend this movie to pretty much anyone. It’s hilarious, it revolves around philosophy, and the ending is phenomenal as much as it is emotional. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the ending is both fantastic and sad—and it opens room for really important discussions. A must-see film.

Swiss Army Man movie

Swiss Army Man movie

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

As per tradition, I baked chocolate chip cookies on book release day.

What I’m Wearing:

I wore my Pokemon T-shirt this week, which was really bizarre. I mean, I wear this shirt all the time. I bought it two Halloweens ago, and nearly everyone scoffed at it. Now that Pokemon Go is out, I couldn’t be cooler. I even had a discussion with a stranger at the grocer store about it, which basically went like this.

Stranger: “I mean, everyone’s into this stuff now.”

Me: “I’ve always been into this stuff.”

Stranger: “You don’t look like someone who would be.”

Awkward pause as I considered not responding

Me: “I’m not sure there’s a ‘look’ to someone’s hobbies. I mean, I have a Sailor Moon collection at home.”

Stranger: “REALLY? No way.”

Me: “…Yes. What’s the big deal? Not everyone is going to like Game of Thrones. Not everyone is going to like Pokemon. We can all just like what we like and get over it.”

Stranger: “Good point.”

Conversations like this really throw me off guard. I’ve always loved what I love. I feel sorry for those who don’t. I feel sorry that we live in a society that shames people for liking things like books, arts, and movies.

So, I hope you’re enjoying something you love today.

What I’m Wanting:

Well, obvs. I want Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

There was this magical world divided into four sections, but the ones discussed were basically heaven, hell, and earth, though they didn’t work like our belief system. You could visit any of them at any time, and it had nothing to do with death and life. It was more symbolic than anything. Though, I played the part of this blond girl who’d been turned into a vampire? Which meant I had to live in hell, of course, and my best friend needed to escape to heaven, so we were going to escape together. We built this crazy slingshot, but it only shot him into heaven and I got stuck in hell. Yepp-ee! Eventually, I made more friends, and we moved to earth legally and without any problems, but my best friend didn’t know I was a vampire somehow? So when he came down from heaven to see me, he was shocked but ultimately didn’t care, because his sister was missing. (I know. This makes no sense.) So, we all went on this otherworldly adventure to this fairy’s house, and we had to climb a bunch of gigantic flower pots that had miniature water falls. And the entire time I kept thinking, Of course this would be a fairy’s house…and it’s really not handicap accessible. Which is messed up. But we finally got inside, where the fairy was throwing a birthday party for her daughter. (I also noticed this home plan was completely open, no walls, no room unattached from another.) Most curious of all, the fairy didn’t know why we came in through her garden. The front door was easier. ::facepalm:: I woke up.

What Else Is Going On:

I went to the bookstore to get my hands on Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray, but Barnes & Noble didn’t have it in stock, so I told customer service about it. Why? Because bookstores and libraries largely design their bookshelves based on what readers ask for. If you visit a store and they don’t have a book you want in stock, please tell them! It helps authors, publishers, bookstores, and YOU out. ❤

~SAT

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