With New Year's Eve tomorrow, I thought it would be a good practice to reflect on 2019 as a whole and to create loose goals--not resolutions I'll never stick to.
The lows of 2019:
I lost a great colleague and friend this year. It was one of those situations that blindsides you, as you spoke with him and the next day he was gone. Within that week, I lost an acquaintance too, one who edited my novel Quiver. Compounded, these deaths greatly affected me and were inescapable since I was prepping for the next semester, while editing Quiver with my publisher, keeping the deaths of both men fresh in my mind. Not long after, my husband had a landscaping accident almost cutting off two of his fingers and needed surgery. Next, my special needs son had a hard time at a new school who refused to accommodate his needs and wondered why he misbehaved. I had to get an advocate and fight the system on many fronts. In all, it was a rough six months. Money, health, school, and grief caused anxiety and depression, the latter worse than it been in years.
The highs of 2019:
It began well. The first few months were uneventful and blissfully boring. Then we went to Disney World and Universal Studios for vacation, and my son finally got some therapy after a long waitlist--even if it was only for the summer. I finally got money for the paperbacks Amazon was lagging behind paying after they had switched to KDP. My second book launched. I had my first book signing. I joined a writers' group and found new friends who could talk about the craft and critique each other's work. A new occupational therapy place opened and my son got a permanent slot. I got a lot of writing done, slayed NaNoWriMo, and edited two manuscripts. By the end of the year, my mental health has improved.
Overall, I have had better years. I cannot complain since 2018 and 2017 were some of the best years of my life--buying my dream house, becoming a published author, and finally getting a correct diagnosis for my son. But what 2019 reminded me is that we need the lows to make the highs so much better. Also, that I need to make some changes in my life to better prepare myself for stress, grief, and overall mental health.
Goals for 2020:
When it comes to life, I need to continue delegating things to others in my family when things are too much and find a better way to deal with my stress such as exercising. I also need to be more social, set up a schedule to get out of the house so my mental health isn't affected by idleness in the summer or overload during the school year.
When it comes to writing, I will finish book 3 of Celestial Spheres (only a couple chapters left), concluding the trilogy, and submit it. This will happen because I do have a publisher deadline--very useful motivation. I will make the difficult decision of whether I will continue the series with different characters in a spin off or move on. I will work on book 3 of The Immortal Transcripts after this; a rough draft is already handwritten, so I feel confident I can get it done in a timely fashion. Last, I want to see if I can finish a children's chapter book that I have half written and get it in querying shape for 2021. On top of life and work, this is a lot, but I know I'll great 2/3 finished for sure.
In all, 2019 was full of highs, lows, and lots of lessons. Happy New Year!
YA Book Review:
Kismet and Karma
This is technically book 2--although it completely overlaps the timeline--that follows Fate and Fortune. Complete spoiler alert, so if interested in these books, then go back and read my review on book 1 here.
If you stayed, this is not a continuation of book one but basically how all of book 1 was pulled off, which is what I was wondering the entire time I read it. However, separating the books was a great move on the author's part because a huge reveal would've taken away from the romance aspect. At the end of Fate and Fortune, we are left wondering if Bryce and Paige are destined to be together and whether magic exists or if there was some elaborate hoax going on. Realists would say the latter, but how on Earth could such a stunt be pulled off? In their group of friends, a matchmaker wants to set the couple up and soon the entire group--with their own love interests, subplots, and motivations--is pulled into the scheme. Only it seems like it might be too difficult to pull off as Bryce and Paige both become suspicious. Do they pull it off or get caught in the act of the biggest love hoax of the century?
What is great about this novel is we are no longer in Bryce and Paige's heads, but in everyone else's. Each character has a unique voice, personality, and subplot of what they are dealing with. I thought it would be repetitive to hear about the same events, but not at all. Between crushes, new love interests, and a hidden relationship--Paige and Bryce become the backdrop, not the main feature. I am in awe of how Daniels was able to keep track of such intricate plots about how the group performed everything in book one while being able to weave new story lines in so seamlessly that nothing was confusing and everything made so much sense (considering both books, I mean). The close-calls and the fear of being caught makes this a real page-turner. Again, the characterization of them all was spot-on realistic and we got to see more into their heads, along with a new character in the mix. It was nice to get to see the depth to their characters we weren't privy to in book one.
This was masterfully done and I suggest reading it because you are truly getting another novel despite how it depicts some already told events. The close-calls and idea of getting caught will keep you turning the pages.
If you read the first one, seriously pick this one up; you won't regret it: buy here.
to the Attack on Pantsers
Dear Writing Community,
We need to have a talk. Our wonderful community is usually very supportive and kind, but as of late, there have been vitriolic camps springing up within us. Often I see writers questioning or rejecting views about writing that are unlike their own, reminding me very much of politics. News flash. Your writing methods are not the "right" way, nor are they the only way. They simply work for you. Writers are a diverse group of people who can crank out a book through different methods to achieve the same result: a good book.
I'm writing this in response to a Twitter incident where an author, who shall remain nameless, wrote a scathing post attacking pantsers--that we should label our books as not plotted, so she could avoid buying them. You can imagine the backlash. What was more unsettling were the people who agreed with her. They were dragging great authors through the mud for bad endings and other sins they insisted were only "pantser problems."
Another obvious problem is she is attacking a group of people. Never a good thing to do. I would guess she was purposely doing this to garner attention and followers, but it appears she actually didn't expect backlash of this magnitude. How could someone be unaware that insulting others might not be a good thing to do? It's a blindness of some, a lack of empathy. Some of us are unable to place ourselves in others' shoes to try to understand them. When we can't understand it, we reject it. After the rejection, we scapegoat it or blame it for unrelated things. This is what happened. A lack of empathy is part of the human condition and the enemy of diversity. Unfortunately, I see this daily in how my special needs child is treated by others, including adults.
In the end, there are only a couple small plot holes, and I miraculously see that I have character arcs, symbolism, foreshadowing, etc. and a SOUND plot. Haters will scoff at this, but if you have the building blocks of writing down, they can become subconscious. Of course, I do revise and edit, but the majority doesn't change much. This is how my mind crafts. I pants because it works for me, not because I am unable to plot, but simply because it is not as effective for me. So writing community, let's move back to supporting each other, strive to understand others, and make a more harmonious place that embraces diversity of every kind. Instead of rejecting a method unlike ours, let's seek to understand it. As I tell my special needs son daily--some of us are different, no better no worse.
E.L. Reedy & A.M. Wade
Reid is a good-natured 16-year-old farm kid. He loves his little brother and his parents, and he does okay in school. But he has issues. He can’t understand why the neighbor girl looks at him that way, or the way it makes him feel. He sees visions of places far and near, in the now and in the past. And in his free time, he practices magic—gifts handed over for 10,000 years in a Druidic tribe that serves an ancient Goddess. Lukas just wants to figure it all out, to just be a normal kid, but…
A war is coming between Lukas’ Goddess and an ancient Demon King. The tragic death of his parents shakes his faith, and with the sudden loss of his remaining family it is shattered. Blinded by rage, Lukas turns away from his friends and trains under a deceptive, yet formidable master to hone his magic and prevent the demon’s final objective--obliteration of all life on earth.
War begins! A forged weapon, Lukas rejoins his friends and sets after the Demon King. From a hidden crypt, where evil lies waiting, to the Iowa countryside, they battle to prevent the end of all they know. Lukas must overcome his doubts and allow the Light to work through him--to defeat both the foe of his Goddess and a new more familiar one.
Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
What inspired you to write Soul Dark: Chosen?
"It started with a concept – evil hides in plain sight. However, the one idea gave birth to two more: who/what will rise before it? And at what cost? It was easy coming up with the setting (rural Iowa), and our Grandparent’s real farm, which sadly ceased to exist years ago. We write in several of the Young Adult categories, so character creation was tough – choosing who would and would not make it until the end."
Are you a plotter or pantser? Tell us your process.
"We are, I guess you would say, “Plantsers.” We start with an idea, find it’s theme, and create the main characters. We then decide the beginning, middle, and end. Everything in between though comes out all willy-nilly and more often than not forces us to change, you guessed it, the beginning, middle, and end."
What is your preferred category and genre to write? Why?
"We focus our energies in Young Adult realm (13-20ish). The actual adult world has enough real drama: raising kids, paying bills, work, taxes, politics, etc. So we create stories in a fantasy world, but we have learned through our writing and our own youth that the challenges facing young people are just as real and difficult for them. And sometimes they can surprise us with their strength, fortitude, and at times, their wisdom. Like in the real world today, where the young lady, Greta Thunberg is leading the world in a race to save our planet from polluters and government inaction. Agree with her or not that takes a rare sort of courage."
What’s next for you?
"We’ve written the first part of book two in the Soul Dark series, but sometimes you need a break, so I’m focusing on rewriting my first creation from many years ago – an epic fantasy that asks a simple question: How far would a parent go to save their child from themselves?"
I love the sound of this one too!
You can find E.L. Reedy and A.M. Wade through these links
I love the sound of this one too!
You can find E.L. Reedy and A.M. Wade through these links
So NaNoWriMo2019 came to a close. If you are unsure what I'm talking about see here for an explanation and here for my last check in. In short, it is a writing self-challenge for authors.The month is over and the totals are in. I managed just over 50,000 words, despite housework, child-rearing, and lots of grading--including the last week of the month being dedicated completely to grading research papers. Therefore, instead of a month, I only had three weeks. Not bad, huh?
I had started with a beginning and an end due to my weird writing order and organization of 18k. What I wrote during NaNo was the middle and more onto the end, skipping around to what scenes or concepts came to me, skipping around when I felt stuck. What I have left to do to complete a full rough draft is one chapter of a war that needed some research and to flesh out certain chapters that were mostly dialogue and action to propel the plot forward. This is usually how I write: get the story down, add more description and fix inconsistencies during draft two. So while my story is now 100 words shy of 70,000 words, it probably will end up with a final word counter of 80-90k.
Is NaNo for you? Not necessarily. I saw a lot of authors who were depressed and self-loathing because they couldn't do it. It is not meant to shame you for not writing fast. Perhaps you work better at a slower pace and can write a better book than someone like me who can pound it out quickly. "Fast" doesn't always equate with "good" when it comes to writing. I believe NaNo is more for pansters (who do not need a plan at all) or plotters who have thoroughly prepped all October to the point they can write freely. As a pantser who has been writing every day almost my entire life before bed as a way to unwind, NaNo is made for me. If you don't have a set routine like mine, NaNo can help establish it.
If NaNo is not for you, there is a summer camp one where you set your own writing goals--not necessarily word count, but could be outlining, editing, a number of chapters, etc. I have the summers off work, so this one is better for me and might be for you. Check it out here.
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