Beep. Boop. Beep.

I have some exciting news. A couple weeks ago, I decided to purchase my own domain and hosting, so I’m in the process of moving everything over to the new site address. Let’s be honest: I’m a little bit of a technophobe, so I’m not sure how long exactly this process will take (or entail), but I hope for it to be finished by the end of the week.

In the meantime, let me suggest some great blogs by fellow author friends for you to check out while you’re waiting:

Paul Macklin
Hugo Esteban Rodriguez
R.R. Virdi
S.E. Anderson
Johnny Worthen

 

 

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Welcome, December.

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Pintrest

I wish I could say my conspicuous absence during November was because I managed to hide away and write for NaNo, but, alas, I didn’t participate this year. [Okay, I managed to write 5,000-something words, but it was only during the first couple hours of the first day.] Instead, I helped a friend edit his manuscript for publication, which was a great experience! I had the extra bonus of getting a chance to read his work, which is always a treat. You can pre-order the book here.

I’m refocusing my energies toward December goals now to see what I can knock off this never-ending to-do list before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

  1. Collaborate with one of my best friends to create magic, also known as a trans-Atlantic literary press.
  2. Write four short stories to submit to three anthologies, one of which I’m putting together.
  3. Officially launch my editing website.
  4. Register for the teaching certificate test.
  5. Figure out my life for 2017.

Okay, that last one is only kind of a goal. (I’m still hopelessly lost when it comes to next year, though, and I think I’m okay with that for now.) The year isn’t over yet. There are still thirty-one days to weave some magic and put out some literary vibes.

‘Tis the season…to write 50,000 words.

It’s always around this time of year that I remember I have a blog, and I start posting with some regularity. So, if you don’t know or haven’t heard, NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. [That’s national novel writing month, even though it should be called international novel writing month since it has basically taken over the world.] During the month of November, writers take the world by storm and write 50,000 words. It sounds intense, and it is. When you break it down to a daily word goal of 1,667 words a day, it becomes much more manageable though. A 50,000 word story, for comparison sake, is roughly the length of “Of Mice and Men,” so it’s not a complete novel but it’s well on its way.

This year, I couldn’t really decide on which of the several ideas I’ve squirreled away that I’d want to do, so I’m going in alphabetical order. (I’m sure there are worse ways of going about it.)

My WIP is called “All the Pretty Girls.” I’d classify it as a YA thriller, but it has elements of mystery and magical realism thrown in too. I’m really excited about this, and I just need to take the time to plan it.

There are two camps in NaNo – planners and pantsers. Planners create an outline and stick to it. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and, essentially, wing it the whole month. I’m somewhere in between the two. I like to have a road map that shows the beginning, middle, and (to a lesser extent) the end as well as a list of characters and their major roles they play. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time planning 2654 scenes in advance – especially when I know that things tend to change while writing the actual story. (Besides, it feels too much like writing the story without having written it, and my mind just gets confused with that.)

This year, I’m going to try something a little different, and I’m going to move slightly closer to the planner camp. Because I have two small children and a limited time resource (maybe an hour or two a day, post midnight), I want to stay 2-3 scenes ahead of the story. On the first day, November 1, I will have my road map plus the first 3 scenes outlined. Before quitting that day’s session, I will add either 2 or 3 more scenes to tackle the next day. What I’m trying to avoid is sitting around wondering what the heck to write while I’m losing precious time. I’ll see how this new system will work. If anything, I’ll learn something new about my writing process. All through November, I’ll be documenting this journey of writing 50,000 words on here. I hope you join me in this literary endeavor!

If you haven’t signed up, do so here. [If you want to follow me on there and track me in real time, find me here.]

Book review: Grave Beginnings by R.R. Virdi

I received Grave Beginnings as a gift in exchange for an honest review, and what a wonderful gift it was. I was wholly unfamiliar with the urban fantasy genre prior to reading it, and I had only discovered the subgenre after I heard about Virdi’s book. I typically run in realistic fiction circles, so fantasy was a breath of fresh air.

4.5 stars

Characterization: 1 point
Vincent Graves, for not knowing who he really is, is fleshed out in significant detail. I think it’s that deep yearning of discovering who he is – don’t we all have the same desire? – that makes his character so appealing. We also see that there’s a chain of command in this supernatural world, and Vincent is only a small player. People like Church and creatures like Gnosis are higher up, give Graves important information, but still bound within that chain of command as well. It looked like Virdi put in some significant time to work out who everyone was and what role they played in the story, and it paid off big time. Everybody that appeared was essential, down to the various monsters that chased Vincent.

Plot: 1 point
Quite frankly, I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did, given that I normally shy away from science fiction and fantasy stories. I was quickly swept into the action. There wasn’t time to figure out anything because conflict after conflict (rather monster after monster) was dealt. The inclusion of the time limit helped pace the story, and while most novels feel like marathons, this was like a 100 yard sprint. Vincent had thirteen hours to solve the mystery of who the deceased was, who killed him, and how to kill that monster. Fortunately, he literally became the deceased during the investigation, so that gave him a good starting point.

Word choice/Grammar: 0.5 points
The only point I docked off was for grammar. Even then, the errors weren’t so distracting to have altered the meaning of the text, and they weren’t anything that a copyeditor couldn’t polish in a quick reading since it was limited to improper punctuation. My one compliment is that they’re all consistent errors, though. Word choice, on the other hand, was exemplary. Virdi used strong verbs to show what was happening, and the level of description made it easy for even me – with little familiarity with supernatural creatures – to envision the horror of what was playing out on the page. The narrative had an easy way about it, and it was almost conversational, as if we were in Vincent’s mind and he was talking to us in real time about what was happening.

Setting/World building: 1 point
The setting is simple – New York City, the capital of what seems to be all superhero stories – but there is more world building on top of that, most of which is implied. There’s a whole other world out there – the supernatural world – that we see only glimmers of. I hope in future stories more of this world is shown to us as readers.

Story concept: 1 point
A caveat here is that I freely admitted I tend to pass on sci-fi/fantasy stories, so the argument could be made that I simply don’t know what’s out there. Even still, I’ve never heard of a story quite like this. The concept is original and captivating. Vincent Graves wakes up in a new body, a body of a person killed by a supernatural being, and he has a time limit to solve their death and right what’s wrong. It’s simple, and everything revolves around that, which makes it so great. Subplots were limited in favor for the main action; all the resources are devoted to Vincent solving this. Grave Beginnings – the story itself – was a great way to start the series since Vincent tells Church, his supernatural boss, if you will, that there are several things that are different in this mission from all the other previous assignments. It’s new, even for Vincent, and that helps propel the story. (Sorry, I’m not giving away any spoilers here!)
I read some writing advice recently that said to make up the biggest lie you can think and make it plausible. Virdi not only did this, but he made it entertaining as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes getting swept up by a good adventure to solve a mystery. A proclivity toward fantasy isn’t needed.

Wrapping up 2015.

In my time zone, it’s 2:18am, which means my computer is letting me know it’s December 30. The thirtieth! How did that happen so quickly? I’m still in shock myself, and I’m feeling the pressures to wrap everything up before the new year. Life doesn’t always work like that, though, and years don’t always fit neatly in boxes. Days tend to bleed into each other, as I so often see since I don’t “start” my night’s work until after midnight, which is, of course, technically a new day.

My goal is still to finish this manuscript before the first, but I would be okay finish until the end of Friday the first. I’m currently sitting at just over 95,000 words, which is more than I’ve ever written on anything, and I only have eight more scenes to write before I reach “The End.” I’m giddy with excitement at the thought of finally finishing something, but I’m also finding that my fingers feel leaden. Motivation has not been my friend the last few days, which is why I’m so behind, even though I’ve wanted to write.

It serves as a good reminder: I can make all the plans in the universe and I can even be excited about them, but unless I take observable action to complete them I will get nowhere.

I suppose I can call that the lesson of 2015.

 

Stay tuned for a post about my goals and intentions for 2016!