Writing

Readers Wanted

I can’t believe it’s December already. While I am not normally a big fan of the holidays, this year I’m trying hard to get in the mood. Today was ugly sweater day at work, which is one of the few holiday traditions that I always appreciate.

78843155_10105274344139285_3791603803287977984_o

Now that NaNoWriMo is over I suppose I should start focusing on whatever comes next in terms of getting my book published. That means I need your help, lovely readers. I know that some of you regularly act as beta readers for other bloggers and authors. Well, now I guess it’s my turn to ask for your assistance. To be honest, I am terrified to let others read my work due to my own heavy self-criticism (I’m sure plenty of you can relate), but I know it’s an important step in the writing process, so I’m trying to push past it. Up to this point, I’ve only had a couple of people read my manuscript from start to finish. There have been others who offered to beta read for me but ended up not having enough time to finish the job. That’s why I am asking for a few beta readers who are committed to actually finishing my novel and are willing to provide constructive criticism and feedback.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

– Someone (preferably someone familiar with the fantasy and/or YA genres) willing to read my manuscript within a relatively short period (3-4 weeks). I know the holidays are coming up and that people get busy, so if you don’t think you will be able to finish reading the book within a month, please don’t volunteer.

-Feedback on various aspects of the book:

  • Does the story flow well?
  • Did you get bored while reading this?
  • Were there any major plot gaps?
  • Can you relate to the characters?
  • What did you like/dislike?

Please keep in mind, I am asking for your help because I value your opinions, so any other feedback you wish to provide will be welcome.

If you’d like to volunteer to be a beta reader for me, please leave me a comment (or send me a DM on Twitter).

Books · Writing

NaNoWriMo: We Did It!

As we’ve reached the final day of November, it’s time to say goodbye to another year of NaNoWriMo. How did everyone do this year? Did you meet your goals? Fall in love with your new project? I’d love to hear more about what some of you have achieved this month, whether it was what you initially intended or not.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, but not in the most traditional sense. While lots of other people use NaNo as a motivator to rack up their word count, I used it as an excuse to push myself harder and to get more work done than I normally would. I didn’t count words or start a whole new project, but I did make further progress on my second book, started/finished some short stories, and read/edited book one in its entirety for the third time. Considering how long it took me to do the last two rounds of rereading, the fact that I did it again in about two weeks feels like a major victory for me.

So what’s next?

Obviously, I will continue to work on book two and my short stories. (Thank you to those of you who left comments on the teaser story I posted last week. Don’t worry, more will be coming soon. 😉 ) Now that I am done editing book one again, I feel like it’s time to get some more eyes on it – maybe some beta readers and, hopefully, a developmental editor. Then it’s time to potentially start pitching the book to some smaller publishing companies and see if anyone is interested. It still feels like I have a ton of work to do before this series is ever ready to be seen by the public, but I’m still pushing along.

Cheers to everyone who participated in NaNo this month. Whether you wrote 5,000 or 50,000 words, you should be proud of yourself for participating.

invisiblehigh5

Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Writing

Parade of Lies

“The faeries are coming, the faeries are coming! Mommy, look! The faeries are coming.”

“I know, sweetheart.” Clarice Mayberry smiled sweetly at her daughter before taking a hearty swig from the flask hidden within the depths of her coat. Of course she knew about the faeries. It wasn’t like it had been Jenny’s idea to get up at the ass crack of dawn and take a train all the way to midtown just to see a couple of rubes wearing polyester wings. It had been her idea; she had only planted it in Jenny’s mind and used the poor girl as her excuse for getting up so early.

They’d only been waiting a quarter of an hour, but their fingers and noses had already turned red from the cold. Whoever thought it a good plan to host a parade in the middle of February was clearly a sadist or someone who just hated children. Or, rather, the parents of those children who’d been forced to escort them out to the streets of New York at eight a.m. on a Saturday.

“Mommy, can the faeries see us?” Jenny’s big blue eyes were rounder than usual, threatening to pop from her tiny porcelain face. She could hardly contain her excitement during the train ride. Her six year old mind could barely wrap itself around the fact that the characters from her favorite show were about to collide with her own reality. Clarice didn’t have the heart to tell her that the faeries about to parade down 43rd street weren’t even real.

“Of course they can see us, dear. Why shouldn’t they be able to?” she asked, but by the time the words came out, the girl had fixated her attention elsewhere. After another sip of “mommy juice” and a glance at her watch, Clarice finally relinquished her dignity and plopped down on the curb among the other chattering children.

People were beginning to pack in tightly on the sidewalks. Police and security guards paced back and forth along the street, keeping a close eye on the growing crowd, although none seemed particularly concerned that the group before them was the dangerous type. Clarice sniggered at the thought. Teens wearing brightly colored tutus and matching wigs tossed handfuls of free candy towards the spectators. Finally, at a quarter after nine, a man dressed in head-to-toe in blue came prancing up and down the street with a megaphone, announcing that the show was about to begin.

Clarice stood and took a tight hold of her daughter’s hand. Jenny bounced up and down on the heels of her feet with that crazed look in her eye that only a child intoxicated with copious amounts of sugar could possess. The ground beneath them pulsed with life as music blared from every direction. The children shrieked at the sudden appearance of hundreds of performers in leotards and cheaply made wings. They bounded down the street, waving impossibly long streamers, throwing confetti, and doing back flips over one another. Clarice’s stomach roiled at the sight of it all – at the “faeries” and the obnoxious theatrics. She still couldn’t fathom why the Cirque du Fae was so popular. Even as a television show, it was ghastly. She wished she could find the moron who created it and wrap her pretty little fingers around their neck. Yet, despite her disdain for the popular program, she showed up year after year to observe the annual parade celebrating all things faerie.

A woman with wings painted to look like a monarch butterfly’s came right up to Jenny and handed her a plastic flower from the basket slung over her arm. “Look, Mommy! I got a flower,” she waved the cheap decoration wildly in front of her mother’s face.

But Clarice was hardly paying her any mind. “That’s great, honey,” she muttered, keeping her eyes fixed on the throng around them. She craned her neck to scan the faces behind her, her brow knit in deep concentration. It was impossible to see properly, however, with candy and confetti constantly pelting her in the head. She squeezed herself closer to the barrier blocking the crowd and stared into the faces of every performer that passed, but they were all far too young.

“They have to be here,” she muttered. Forty-five minutes had passed already, meaning she was nearly out of time. “Come on, come on.” Her foot tapped nervously without her realizing. To anyone else, she simply looked like she was moving in time with the music.

“Ladies and gentleman. Children and faeries of all ages.” The echoing voice boomed from the loudspeaker from every direction. Clarice could hardly imagine just how much the tenants of the surrounding buildings must be enjoying the festivities at such an early hour. “Prepare yourselves for the grand finale!”

Within seconds a pink haze was creeping its way towards them, temporarily blocking view of the street and causing everyone’s eyes to water. “Oooh, it’s like the cotton candy clouds on the show!” Jenny declared. Clarice gripped the girl’s hand tighter to prevent her from wandering off and trying to taste the smoke to determine if it did, in fact, taste like cotton candy. Fortunately, the fog faded almost as quickly as it appeared, revealing the parade’s main attraction.

Jenny was rendered speechless as a giant castle rolled towards them, towering several stories high. The bottom portion of the float was designed to look like fluffy white clouds to give the illusion that the castle was flying among them. From each of the windows a faerie or other mythical creature popped its head out and waved. A clear platform jutted out over the crowd from halfway up the castle where a dozen dancers and acrobats performed tricks at once. Even Clarice, who had been doing her best to avoid the entire spectacle paused in her search to gaze up at the nerve wracking display. A female performer, the star of the show, came out and sent the children into a wild frenzy. With a graceful bow she opened her arms wide and revealed the papery wings that attached from her shoulders to her wrist. She looked more like a bat than a faerie, Clarice thought, just as the young woman dove head first from the platform and did a flip in the air.

Suddenly, an ear-piercing scream cut through the air, drowning out the music and laughter surrounding them. Clarice’s head whipped up towards one of the balconies overlooking the parade, where a man and a woman were engaged in a performance of their own. No, not a woman, Clarice observed. A faerie. Not a faerie like the imposters in the parade, but a real faerie. At first glance, she hardly recognized the female up on the balcony. Her appearance had changed a great deal since they’d last seen each other – her hair, once long and lush, had been cut to her chin and had thinned considerably. Everything about her was haggard and covered in filth. Even the large flesh-colored wings that protruded from her back looked like they had seen better days. Clarice’s hand covered her mouth as she watched the dark haired man struggle to restrain the faerie and pull her back through the window from which she came. Even from street level, she could see the fierce blue of the pendant around the man’s neck, bright and mocking her.

The next scream came from Clarice’s own mouth as she let go of Jenny’s hand and pushed her way through the thick crowd, through the candy, glitter, and bullshit. “NOOOOO!” she screeched as the female on the balcony finally freed herself of the man and took a flying leap off the balcony and towards the shocked crowd and the sidewalk below.

“Not again,” Clarice cried. Once again, she was too late.

Books · Writing

What’s Next

tenor

Greetings, fellow book lovers, bloggers, and writers! It’s been a long and productive weekend. Since finishing my post about NaNoWriMo I’ve been plugging away at the keys and hitting my research hard. There’s so much to learn about the writing process and, even more so, the business of publishing. While I embark on my journey of trying to get my novel published, I figured I’d start sharing tidbits of it with my readers. I know that several of you are also writers, so I thought you might like to chat with me about this big, scary notion of putting your book out there for others to read. At the very least, we can all support each other and navigate this bumpy road together.

I’ve also decided that I need to start sharing my writing with more people. People like you. Up until this point only a small handful of people have read my book (I’ll be asking for more beta readers very soon). Even if my novel is not ready for the entire world to see yet, I’ve been working on some short stories, set in the world of my book, that I would like to share. So, stay tuned for some more posts on writing, the book industry, and short stories! Plus, new book reviews. It’s been far too long since I’ve done a book review, hasn’t it?

 

Books · Life · travel

BookCon 2019 Weekend!

 

This past weekend was an amazing one. Not only did I get to spend some time in one of my favorite cities in the world (New York), but I got to attend BookCon for the second year in a row. 🙂 I got tickets for both Saturday and Sunday this year and I’m sooo glad I did because there was too many fun things to do to be able to squeeze it all into one day.

I attended 5-6 panels over the weekend, featuring both super popular and lesser known authors. I saw V.E. Schwab (again), Cassandra Clare, Renee Ahdieh, Stephanie Garber, Mason Deaver…to name a few. For me, the panels are one of the best parts of BookCon because of all the inspiration and ideas it gives me for my own writing. I spent hours wandering the floor, checking out (and buying) tons of amazing books, graphic novels, book-themed apparel and accessories, games, etc. I skipped the autographing this year. There were too many panels I wanted to attend that I couldn’t figure out how to fit them in. Check out some of the haul I brought home:

61972900_10104855275191815_3319926191284027392_n

One of my favorite things about BookCon is the amazing peopleI have honestly never felt more like I was among “my people” than I have at BookCon the past two years. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by people who truly love reading and are not afraid to show it. Regardless of what category you put yourself under (if any), you’ll find it represented there – nerds, female, male, LGBTQ, black, white, people with hair in every shade of the rainbow, cosplayers, writers, gamers, etc. It’s such a beautiful and wonderful group of people and I am always so proud to be among them.

I already can’t wait to go back next year. ❤

(More about the rest of my trip coming soon!)

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Writing

How YOU Doin?

tumblr_or4asiihdb1suqfifo1_400

I know, I know. I kinda suck at blogging as of late. Fortunately, we’ve finally finished up our crazy season at work, so I should be able to find more time for reading and blogging again. Now that we’e done with all that nonsense, I decided to take some time off to relax.

Bwahahahaha.

Just kidding. I’m terrible at relaxing. I actually decided to celebrate by beginning the rereading and editing process for the book I wrote! Since finishing the first draft  back in January (it feels like it was so long ago) I’ve been itching to reread the the entire thing from the beginning. Everyone advised me to give it time though, so that I can look at things with a fresher perspective. They were right, of course, and I’m glad I did wait. Hopefully I won’t run into too many snags while editing!

I’ve still been reading, even though I’ve been busy. I started book three in the Farseer trilogy this week and I’m already sad because I don’t want the series to end. I tried getting into King of Scars, as well, but I wasn’t feeling it and set it aside for now.

So how YOU doin’? What are you currently reading?

Life · mental health · Writing

There’s Underwear In My Shoe

I feel like a bit of a mess lately. No, maybe mess is the wrong word. Blob is a better one.

Greetings, from the Blob Monster!

On my drive to work this morning I realized that I had underwear in my shoe. This would have been highly perplexing had I not remembered putting said underwear in my shoe yesterday. What is perplexing, however, is why I didn’t take them out before putting my shoes on.

I’m struggling a bit this week. Work has been a nightmare lately and even though I’m excited to have finished the first draft of my book, I’m finding that I have too much time on my hands now. Before, I was so absorbed in getting the story finished that I wasn’t giving my brain much down time. You’d think that having some down time now would be good, right? As someone with mental health issues, too much idle time leaves room for my depression and anxiety to creep back in. That’s kinda what’s been happening the last week. I get home from work and find that I don’t have anything to do, so I start thinking about everything and nothing at once, then I get overwhelmed and just go to bed really early.

And that’s how you become so blob-like that you end up with underwear in your shoe. I’m going to sit down tonight and start working on book two. Otherwise, I’ll end up with a bra in my ear tomorrow.

(I have no idea where this post was meant to go. Please excuse my rambling.)

Books · Writing

Achievement Unlocked

GOOD MORNING! I am not usually one to be chipper and excited on Monday mornings, but this week is an exception. For starters, I don’t have to work today, which automatically bumps the day up to a Friday’s level of joy. Secondly, something really exciting happened yesterday, which is precisely why I am writing this post. Who better to share my happy news with than a group of people who can appreciate it?

For the past eight months I’ve been mentioning the fact that I’ve been working on my first novel. Well…as of yesterday afternoon, after spending the majority of my weekend cranking out the final scenes, I finished the first draft of my book! 😀 😀 😀

giphy

You guys, I am so excited I don’t even know what do with myself. Seriously, I got up and came to the coffee shop this morning (like I always do on days off), but I don’t know what to do with myself because I don’t have the book to work on. Obviously, I’ll have to start editing it at some point, but that won’t be for a little while, sooooo what do I do in the mean time?

Since I’ve yet to share any details about the book and its contents, I’m going to be nice and finally share a little hint with you. But just one.

I guess it’s time to start working on ideas for the second book now. 😀

Life · mental health · Writing

Fits of Gratitude

Well, WordPress has somehow deleted the Top 5 Tuesday post that I wrote yesterday. *sigh* I don’t know why this periodically happens, but it is somewhat frustrating, as I’m sure you can imagine.

How are all of you doing this week? All of us in North Carolina are currently bracing ourselves for hurricane Florence. Don’t worry, we’re all stocked up on the essentials: bread, chocolate, coffee, and lots of books. I had actually been planning to spend the night in Asheville this weekend, but, alas, that is not going to happen now because of the weather.

Rather than sit here and be bummed about cancelling my trip or pissed about my deleted post, I’m going to make the best of it. With health issues and the ongoing mental health struggle, it’s not always easy to be positive. I’m trying though! Fortunately, given how much better I’ve been feeling these last few months, it’s getting easier.

Since I’m trying to be less negative, I’m going to share some of the things in my life that I am grateful for instead.

IMG_20180812_121003_618.jpg

Food – A little while back I wrote about how my trip to New York had helped me get over the last hump in my eating disorder recovery. Since then my relationship with food has only gotten better. I’m cooking and baking constantly, trying out new recipes and making beloved favorites. I’ve rekindled my love of French cuisine and classic cooking techniques, making everything from bouillabase to meringue to pate choux. Ironically, despite the strained relationship I’ve had with food the last few years, this one, this passion for gastronomy is the one that feels right. It’s nice to be back where I belong again.

IMG_20180908_191141_996.jpg

The Coffee House – My weekend routine has become quite different the last couple of months. Instead of staying home and getting the sleep that I covet during the work week, I set my alarm and typically get up around 6:30 every Saturday and Sunday. By 7:00 I am seated in one of the nooks in my favorite local coffee shop (still quiet at that hour) with an almond latte and my laptop in front of me. I have found that I can focus better on my writing early in the morning and when I am outside the house, for whatever reason. I’ve been making lots of great progress on my book at that little coffee shop and I am really excited about it.

20180819_080919.jpg

What have you been grateful for lately?

Books · Writing

Tuesday Tidbits

(I know it’s Wednesday, but I wrote this on Tues and feel asleep before I could post it. Besides, it’s my blog. That means it can be Tuesday on Wednesday if I want it to be. 😛)

Greetings, humanoids! How’s everyone’s week going so far? Mine has involved some fun and exciting training for our new software system at work.

*Narrator voice*: “It was not, in fact, fun or exciting.”

I was pleased to finish and start another chapter in my book this weekend. We actually had Friday off, so I got a whole extra day to work on it.

Two of the days that I was off I woke up early and dragged my butt to one of my favorite coffee shops. I find that my brain functions a lot better first thing in the morning, making it an ideal time to write. It’s also, conveniently, pretty quiet that early in the morning. Ironically, getting up that early in the morning to go to my normal job makes me want to cry. Hmm…

Random question for you writers out there: When/where do you prefer to get your writing done?

With a whole extra day off, I had some more time for reading, also! I’m still working my way through The Goblin Emperor and I also started City of Bones.

Honestly, I have no idea whay compelled me to pick up City of Bones. For years I’ve brushed it off as something that I wasn’t interested in, then I found a used copy at the store last week and I randomly changed my mind. Maybe it’s the beginning of another identity crisis. Who knows.