Tag Archives: reading

A Day in the Life of a Summer Writer

I don’t know why I think anyone would care what I do all day, but I get that question a lot for some reason. It’s summer, and I’m a teacher ten months out of the year, which means I get to collect my overtime for two months. (June and July) Save for a few professional development days. I write all year ’round, but during the summer…I’m a full-time writer. And it’s awesome.

Currently, I’m writing Alex and Azalea, the prequel novella to my Underground Trilogy. And I’m editing Ash, the second book in the series. It’s been published, but I’m working on re-editing and re-formatting it.

So, here’s what my summer writing day looks like:

7:30 am– Wake up without an alarm 🙂

(Lay in bed and scroll through all the social media platforms. It’s embarrassing how long I let myself do this.)

8:30 am– Actually go downstairs and make coffee, brew, add cream, clean up coffee grounds, nuke it until it’s scalding. Grab chocolate. (Important step)

8:45 am-Sit in “the writing chair” and open Scrivener, scan the last few paragraphs of what I wrote yesterday, long-hand write what I plan on writing today in a physical journal. (For some reason it helps.)

(Get stuck on Facebook for another five minutes.)

IMG_2204

9:00 am– Using the “Pomodoro Method” write for 25 straight minutes with a timer. (Wrote 750 words during this go.)

9:25 am– 5-minute Break (Nuke coffee again)

9:30 am– Write for 25 more minutes (700 more words)

9:55 am-5 minute Break (Nuke the last of my coffee)

10:00 am– Write for 25 more minutes (Final morning word count = 2029)

IMG_220510:25 am– 5-minute Break

10:30 am– Have a psychotic break and decide it’s a good idea to take a 45-minute walk outside…in the Texas heat. Why? Who knows.

11:20am– Collapse on living room floor. Chug water.

11:30am– Make myself get up off the floor and return to my chair. Open Grammarly and the word document of the novel I’m currently editing (inwardly whine about it) Edit for, like, 20 minutes and decide I’m hungry for lunch.

11:50ish am– Make avocado toast with ricotta cheese (it’s delicious) Open Netflix, watch an episode of Shameless (SO FREAKING GOOD)

IMG_2218

12:45ish pm-Go back to editing

1:30 pm– Decide I’m gross from walking outside and probably need a bath. Grab book, read in the bath, wash hair, etc.

IMG_22202:15 pm– Get mad because I somehow got my book completely soaked. Brush hair, apply lotion, get dressed, go back to “the writing chair”

2:30 pm– Write half of this blog post

3:00 pm– Go back to editing (UGGHHHHH)

IMG_22223:30 pm– Eat a snack. Watch more Shameless. (Because summer.)

4:30 pm– Chat with the HusBen who is now home from work, do some crunches to get that six pack…yeah, contemplate whether I should do more editing now or later.

(Mess around on social media instead)

5:15 pm– Make tea. Edit some more.

IMG_22236:10 pm– Throw computer across the room. Just kidding. But…no more editing for today. Okay? No more.

6:15pm– Make more avocado toast. Because I can have the same meal for lunch and dinner. Shhh. Don’t judge me.

IMG_2224

 

SHAMELESSSSSSSSS

IMG_2225

(Can’t you tell it’s so good ^^^ LOL!)

7:30pm and on– Probably watching more Shameless, finishing and posting this blog, messing around on Pinterest and social media, reading my new book (from my book of the month box!) and hanging with the HusBen.

Tomorrow (after my damn 7am dental appointment) I’ll probably do it all over again in one way or another. But, yeah. In addition to what I wrote, there were also other random things that are too minor or inappropriate to write in a blog. Also, I’m a type one diabetic, so there was, of course, testing of my blood sugar and changing out my insulin and such in between everything.

Do this every day, and you have the completed first draft of a novel (or novella in this case) and an edited novel ready within about two months. (or less)  It works for me. This is my summer. (Sometimes I go to coffee shops and do the writing and editing thing.)

And this is basically what I do during the school year too, only minus the fun Shameless watching and snacks and social media checking breaks. I wake up earlier (5AM!) and write about the same amount, and edit in the evenings. It’s a full-time job wrapped around my other full-time job.

Maybe soon it will be my only one. 😉

Absence Makes the Author’s Heart Grow Fonder

IMG_0383   So, I’ve been working on lots of things lately. Lots and lots. Do you ever have, like, a billion projects going on at once and none of them feels close to being completed? Once upon a time, I used to work on one book at a time. Not so anymore. I’m sure I could if I wanted, but, after publishing the Underground Trilogy, I found myself in a perpetual state of writing, plotting, planning, and editing…all at the same time.

It helps because I like to leave books alone for a little while (like the brilliant Stephen King suggests) so I can stop being so attached to the story and re-read it from a reader’s point of view. I also like to do this with trilogies and series because I have found that when I’m writing them one right after the other, I grow tired of the characters and the world. Not because it’s boring or anything, but because I’m a fickle Gemini that is obsessed with change.

For instance, I’ve been working on a trio of books called the Halo Trilogy, which is about a race of half-angels called, you guessed it, Halos, who’ve been called upon to save the world from the fallen angel known as Caducus. Two of the Halos–Aurora and Gray–find themselves unnaturally attracted to one another. They later find out that it actually has an otherworldly explanation.

I love these two characters. I love them because they are different from what I was used to writing. Aurora is headstrong and tough and, at times, even cruelly cold. For reasons wrapped up in her past. Gray, on the other hand, is gentle and kind and helpful. This is different for me because I was used to writing guys with dark secrets and brooding attitudes. Bad boys who wished they were good and all that. Gray sort of shattered all of those stereotypes. He balanced out Aurora and I loved him for it.

But, for some reason, writing these books began to drain me. I don’t know if it’s the world building or the depth I explore each character, but it has literally taken me three years to get through this trilogy. That may not seem like a lot to some writers, but since I’ve begun plotting, I can write books in only a few month’s time. What I’ve been doing with the Halo Trilogy, though, is finishing the books during NaNoWriMo. Something about the competitiveness and tight deadline helps me finish the novels.

And after this past year’s NaNoWriMo, when I finished the second book and started the third, I was so ready for a break from the Halo world. Now, it’s only July, and I’m so freaking ready to return and finish it. I’ve found myself thinking about Gray and Aurora, hating that I’ve left them hanging. I’m itching to come back to them.

Guess what they say is true. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

So, my advice to you, if you happen to find yourself in a place where you are bored with your characters and story…take a break. Maybe even a long one. Your readers and characters deserve a story you’re excited about. Your boredom will be evident between the lines. So, take a break. Eventually, the story will pull you back to it.

And, if not, maybe you were bored for a reason.

That is SO overdone. (Shut your face.)

You know what annoys me? When people say “stop writing things like this” or “characters like this are overdone.” Then YOU stop writing things like that and YOU write about different characters.IMG_0581

If a writer, especially a new one, wants to write a YA story about a teen girl that gets saved by the dark, handsome, misunderstood, brooding, and totally unrealistic guy…then let them.

I’ve written eight books. My first book is admittedly WAY more juvenile than my eighth. It is riddled with cliches and crappy dialogue. But that’s how you learn to write. By spitting out what you are used to, what you’ve already read in a thousand other books a thousand times. Quit telling people what NOT to write. If they are writing ANYTHING at all, then they should be proud of that. I’m honestly tired of all the articles whining about how nothing is original anymore and that “so and so” characters are tired and overdone. So the eff what? Things like this make new writers second guess their stories and maybe even give up on it entirely.

We can’t all write the next great “wherever you live” novel 100% of the time.

Just write.

Let writers write.

Let’s Talk About Es-Ee-Ex.

So, I’m pretty professional in blog posts for the most part. And I’m not quite sure why because my books are turning pretty mature as I, you know, mature. Like today. I just wrote a sex scene that actually talks about a guy getting hard.IMG_6673

GASP.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal–especially if you are the type to read erotica–but it’s sort of a big deal to me. I love reading that shit. So hot. Love it. Especially fanfiction. Give me some dirty Harry/Draco sex scenes and I’m golden. But writing it is so different. At least it feels different to me. It’s weird. It’s awkward. I’m not a sexpert. I don’t know all the poses and weird words and how the hell you’re supposed to make some of these things sound sexy.

Initially, I wrote YA, which is very “behind closed doors” and I was totally cool with that. But then I started writing older characters (New Adult, I guess) and they were naturally more sexual. As you would expect young twenty-somethings to be. But I still have that “Nooooo. This is naughty. Stop this.” voice inside my head. It’s stupid, I know. But I got my start with YA and my only published books are YA and I’m just picturing all the young readers who enjoyed my Underground Series reading my new books and freaking out.

So, I’m determined to read more books with sex in them. To…I don’t know…make me feel more comfortable. What are your favorites? Doesn’t have to be erotica. In fact, I’d probably prefer to read books that just have sex scenes in them, but the rest of the novel is about other things? IDK. I’m rambling now.

Anyway. Advice? Book suggestions? HELP!?

Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

IMG_5044

Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

IMG_5051 IMG_5053

People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

IMG_5074

Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

IMG_5068

In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

IMG_5064

And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

IMG_5072

On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

IMG_5149

I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

IMG_5170

By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

IMG_5186

As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

IMG_5224
So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.

Revelations

IMG_4904

Hello, all!
This will be a quick post because it’s nearly 1am and I have to wake up bright and early tomorrow morning! We are creeping up on the mid-week-hump of the WTAMU Writers’ Academy (longer post on this later) and I am soaking up every ounce of creative energy I can this week. While plotting my Zodiacal Dystopian story, I had the realization that really had nothing to do with it–or with the story I am currently writing.

Do you ever just feel like a story is calling to you, asking for attention? Well, that’s how I felt today about the third book in The Underground Series, Alder. It’s the last of this series. My favorite of the three. And I feel like I need to dedicate more time to going through it. I think I got so caught up in the whirlwind of this past year. First writing a book in 6 weeks, then writing another book in 3 months, then finishing another book in ONE month (NaNoWriMo). Then, of course, I published Oaken and jumped into editing Ash and getting it ready for publication. All of these things somehow made my writer’s brain think that it always has to be moving forward, pumping out product, delivering something and in a timely manner.

But the fact that Alder is pushing at my brain when I’m really “supposed” to be writing Soren (the second book in The Halo Series) has to be a sign of sorts. I realized…it’s okay to not always be producing. I’m not a machine. I’m not a publishing house. Creativity will run dry like a once-damp rag that’s been aggressively twisted into a tight cord, wringing out all of those juicy ideas. I’ve always been–well, except for my first book–a tight writer. I’m an English teacher and a grammar freak. I make sure that my book is at least grammatically clean the first go around. So, I’ve never done much deep editing.

But I feel like I should take a closer look. Go a little deeper. I feel like Alder is telling me to do that, and I feel like that’s why Soren has been such a pain to write. I don’t think I’m supposed to be writing it this moment. I thought I was supposed to be writing because it’s been a whole–gasp–six months since I’ve completed a novel! That just won’t do! I must write! I must produce! I must deliver! Well, I must also deliver a quality product. Forcing my creativity and skimping on editing in favor of more writing will not deliver quality.

We live in a world where people feel they can demand artists to create for them because they are used to binge watching/reading things now. In the age of Netflix, we crave that. We don’t want to wait. “Give me more books!” “When are you going to put out your next one?!” “Hurry up and write the next one!” But I think instead of saying, “Okay, okay, I’m working on it,” I’ll calmly say, “All in good time.” Because that’s what each of my books deserves. Good time.