Adventures in French


They say to pay attention to what interests you most, because it is part of you. In the past, if asked what my passion was in life, I would likely have responded, “Writing.” I would have said without hesitation that I lived for story, nothing more and nothing less, but as we grow, we learn.

My recent interest in French seems to have come from a mix of things–the convenience of Duolingo, the lovely sound of the language, and my own stubbornness. I didn’t go into it thinking it was a passion, though: usually it doesn’t take long for me to quit a new hobby. This time, things were different.

For almost a month now I’ve been obsessively learning words and phrases in French, using not only Duolingo but Memrise and even Tumblr. (Of the three, Tumblr makes learning more enjoyable; it helps to see regular people blog in their native language.)

Though I cannot speak it aloud with ease yet, I’m getting the hang of reading it, and if I keep going at this rate–well, I can feel very optimistic. I already know Spanish because my mother is Peruvian, and she taught me. It will be nice to speak a third language now. This makes the world so much bigger for me, and also makes me wonder if my passion really was story all along.

chris-coudron-133542.jpgCould it be that my passion is really language–that I am in love with the art of words, and not the stories they tell? Do I have the heart of a writer or a linguist? Am I a storyteller, or do I collect vocabulary used in lovely poems?

I have no plan on what I’m going to do with my French. I hope to learn well enough to write short pieces in the language; I most certainly hope to read French classics in their native languages. I enjoy meeting people who speak it–I’ve made many good friends since my journey began.

In the end, do we really need a reason to learn new things–to explore and see the world differently, even if it’s through the way things are said? I have no reason not to learn a new language, and as I slowly piece words together in the form of sentences, I feel myself changing as a soul.

I am growing, and the French might not be the only reason, but it certainly shows how I as a person have become stronger. I’ve lost 13lbs since August and I wrote a new book; I’m learning a new language and enjoying the process. For the first time in a while, I am comfortable with myself.

C’est la vie. I will keep you updated–and maybe one day I’ll have a blog in French!

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The Book Inspired by Peru


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It took a few weeks, but I was right: a new environment will inspire you with dozens of ideas. My idea for a book set in new territory has finally come to me!

When we first arrived in Peru back in December, I knew it would happen. Perhaps I would meet a person who wanted to be a character, or hear of a historical event that needed to be written, or describe a beautiful street.

Now I have a new book waiting its turn to be written. It’s still in the brainstorming stage, but it’s different from my other work, inspired by the sights, smells, and sounds of the busy Peruvian streets. I’ve been writing quick descriptions of every place I go so I can use them as reference when the time comes to write.

I don’t know yet if the story is going to be set in Lima or in a fictional place similar to it. I have a “filler” character name so I can build a backstory for the MC, but that name is likely to change. I don’t know much about the setting—what time of the year will it be? Winter or summer? How detailed do I want to be? Will I mix in Peruvian folklore to give it more personality?

This is the time for taking notes, character building, and seeing. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up the first draft of Allie’s third adventure (it’s currently at 44k, and it’s going to be the longest book in the series so far.) I also write short stories when I have the time, because I’m planning to put together an anthology (it’ll keep the plot bunnies happy.)

Back in December I decided 2017 would be a year for writing new material. Rather than scrambling to edit and publish new work, I’m going to spend the next twelve months practicing the craft, improving my prose and developing ideas. If something happens and I realize I have a manuscript ready later on, perhaps I’ll think of releasing it.

However, my fingers itch to increase the word count every day—I write 2,000 words before bedtime, and it may not seem like much at first, but look at my manuscript now! 44k!

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The book set in “Lima” is going to take some time. Since there is research involved, I don’t think I’ll be able to throw out 2,000 words every night—not if I want them to be good words. It’s fantasy, but not everything is going to be just made up. I want to stay as true as possible to my experiences and memories walking the streets myself.

I can’t even tell you what it’s going to be about yet—only that it is original and outside of my comfort zone. It’s going to be a challenge.

A visit to the Museum of Peruvian Literature doubled my motivation for this. I don’t have illusions of my work making it into this museum, but it helped me gain perspective. I will read Peruvian literature, study their folklore, pay attention to the people—I still have time.

I will work hard this year to produce a piece that’ll do justice to this wonderful adventure I’m living. I hope you will enjoy it!

Being a Traveling Pantser


DSCN9349.JPGI will always be a pantser, no matter where in the world I’m writing.

I had a loose outline for the third book of my series. I even made index cards by taking a notebook and cutting its pages into rectangles – I guess it’s easier for me to use index cards that aren’t real and not be afraid I’m wasting money?

Anyway, it’s a good thing I didn’t spend money on index cards, because the outline I made on these makeshift cards turned out to be a waste. I’m 20k into the first draft, and it’s nothing like I’d planned. At least for the Fallen Faery Tales, I will always be a pantser.

The story is coming along so easily! Words are spilling onto the page (or into the document) and I’m resisting the urge to edit, meaning I make faster progress. I think it’s the different location that keeps my Muse busy, making her feel generous.

dscn9350I’ve been trying to start a bullet journal, and though it isn’t pretty (certainly not Pinterest worthy!) my favorite feature is a writing goal tracker. At the end of the day, I fill in a box with the daily word count goal. I keep the goal small, just 2k a day, and have been able to fill in all of the little boxes since January 1. I hope to finish a new draft by the end of January, and if it winds up longer than the first two books, I’ll still be filling in little boxes come February.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading (The Count of Monte Cristo is quite a feat!) or enjoying the Peruvian summer (if it’s not too hot to enjoy.) We’ve gone to the beach and seen different parts of the city. All this helps with my projects.

Travel is a great for any artist. If you can get somewhere new, just for a little while, do it. Your story will thank you, your Muse will love you, and even if you don’t write during the vacation, there’ll be plenty of material to work with at home!

On Mermaid Tales & Short Stories


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I may have completed edits for Serenade (which I still expect to release sometime in October,) but that doesn’t mean I’ve stepped away from these characters and their adventures.

It has been a fun week of world-building and character profiling. My personal copy of Dissonance is currently full of sticky notes! They were placed to mark facts I would like to expand on in future books. The first book focused more on characters than setting, leaving plenty of room for creativity in future installments.

In the process of taking notes for backstory and character personalities, I accidentally worked out a rough outline for Book 3. I have always wanted to write a world involving mermaids, and can finally get to that when I work on Allie’s next adventure. With the help of some friends, I have worked out some of mermaid culture, and it’s more complex than I had anticipated.

It would seem backstory is a lot easier to work on than a blurb for Serenade. I will try to have it ready this weekend, though; in the past I have been very good at procrastinating, but want to change that. There will never be a blurb if I don’t sit to type it up.

Another habit I’ve been working on is writing a little every day; a lot of that random fiction has been shared on this blog. It’s a way to control plot bunnies and make sure my Muse doesn’t get bored. Short stories are an interesting new form of writing; I look forward to practicing and getting better. I’ve been reading collections of short stories, starting with a book of Mark Twain’s work, and for Halloween I’m going to try Lovecraft.

How have your stories been treating you? Do you have a specific method for world-building? Do you work on detailed character profiles?

I would love to hear your advice!

Writing Update: On Short Novels


I’m taking another break from editing Serenade, and thought this an appropriate time for an update. I get so caught up in the editing process that I forget to tell people how I’m doing.

I’ve learned many things since editing began, but perhaps the biggest lesson is that my books tend to be short. It’s been a cause of frustration, since I’ve always thought books should be longer as the series progresses (looking at Harry Potter as an example.)

It means I fell into the comparison trap. If the Fallen Faery Tale series winds up being a collection of short, well-written books, I’ll be happy. Future readers will be happy, too!

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about what to do for my word count to increase. Whenever I focus on my book length, the story quality decreases. Not only that, I stop enjoying  the storytelling process.

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What should I do? I’m going to let the story be. I can’t make a tale longer than it wants to be. It takes away from the magic of writing! Besides, some of the best books written are short.

I’ve created a rule I’m struggling to follow: I’ll only worry about writing the amount of words required to tell a good story. It is not my goal to write a long story, but a good one.

Don’t get me wrong—long books are wonderful, too. I just haven’t come up with a plot that could comfortably stretch into one. There are some plot bunnies whispering “it’ll be me!” but I’m refusing to look at them yet, as they would become distractions.

My goal right now is to release Serenade. I’ve been working hard, which is why my blog lost momentum in the last two weeks. It’s all for a good cause.

Until Serenade is ready, why not give Dissonance a try? Find it here!

The Start of Serenade Beta


Well, guys–it’s begun.

Earlier this year I completed a draft of Serenade coherent enough to show other people, but since it’s still a little rusty, it’s time to enter the beta reading phase. What is beta reading? It means I find people I trust who are willing to give me some of their time in order to help make Serenade the best it can be.

This is a frightening phase for the writer. I’m second-guessing every scene I wrote and was proud of; I’m afraid the characters are unrealistic or that the entire storyline will come off as a joke. When I slip into moments of such panic, I have to remind myself that beta readers are here to help mend any such errors. I have to trust that they’ll help make this book into a diamond.

It hasn’t been a year since I published Dissonance, and already I am weaving together the next adventure for my beloved characters. Serenade still won’t be out for a while (and there’s the possibility of a title change by the time all this is finished.) Using the notes my beta readers take, I’ll be working on it again in the autumn and arranging for publication in the winter.

I remember when four years ago I wanted nothing but to be an author. Now I am, and it never really gets easier, but with friends to help and support me–as well as the lovely reviews I get, even honest ones!–it’s totally worth it.

While beta readers tackle Serenade, I’m working on a few other projects, including my next blog serial expected to launch in the summer, and musehollow–a collection of shorter fiction. I want to learn to write good stories, short stories, and poetry. Yesterday I published the first musehollow tale here!

I’m living the dream–even the editing, the work, is part of the dream. Thanks for being with me through all of this, and I can’t wait until you can read Serenade too!

 

“my blood is a mix of coffee & tea”


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Recently I spoke to a friend about writing, specifically poetry. A couple of verses I wrote came to mind, verses I feel define me:

my blood is a mix of coffee & tea
and words from authors long dead

I wondered, how much of me is made of the words of authors long dead? Where do their voices end so mine can begin?

The question hit me because I’ve been trying my hand at poetry. Perhaps this is a case of Poet’s Block (a new phenomena to me) but when I try tapping into my deepest emotions–I rarely find words.

It’s easier for me to write poems about quarrels with my muse. I’m a creative being, but I don’t have secrets to spin poetry from–it’s all about writing, arguing with the elusive muse. I wonder if somehow I’ve set myself aside.

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How do I absorb every book I read without canceling myself out? I’d already set this year aside as one for self-reflection; I know a writer is a thousand people in one, but it feels like I’ve made my own voice less audible.

It’s why I’ve gone back to keeping a journal. The root of the problem might be that I hadn’t kept a journal for the entirety of 2015. Journals help us keep in touch with our inner selves.

I know there’s a person in me aside from the books I write, because I encounter her in my old journals.

A writer might be a thousand people in one, but there’s still the soul who types the story. Things we read and experience shape a unique voice. In a bizarre way, I’m eager to find out what I have to say.

How can we use our unique voices if we don’t know what they sound like? There’s no problem living by truths taught in books–that’s what they’re for, and one of the reasons they’re beautiful!–but. As people, we are unique and have new truths to tell.

Keep a journal–you’ll learn so much about yourself, and years later will be glad you made the effort!

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wordstorms


Write.

A very important word. I should put it on a sticky note on my computer to remind me to write. But I shouldn’t need a reminder–I mean, that’s what I do, right? Right?

It’s been literally years since I’ve kept a personal journal consistently (meaning I wrote at least one entry per month.) For some reason I can’t think of anything to write when I sit down with a fancy leather journal. It’s all about the novels; I suppose that’s normal, since some of the writer goes into the characters.

The thing is, I consider myself a thinker. If I set an alarm on my phone to let me know it was time to look at words closely…write something related to my own life…but then, that can’t be forced.

Can it?

After all, writing is hard to achieve without habits.

And if I were to write down a fraction of the epiphanies that go on in my head when I stare at the wall overthinking, maybe I could figure out why these topics are so important to me.

My New Year’s Resolution for this coming year is to find my voice again–my voice–to set an alarm, a reminder, and look away from the novel for a while so I can transfer the storm of words in my head onto paper. Maybe even a blog post. Perhaps some words only come out if they know they’ll have an audience. Perhaps I need the Publish button to feel it was worth writing the wordstorm, worth sorting out these questions and ideas and epiphanies.

I can keep a journal of sorts on here. I need you, readers, to keep me going. Even if you don’t comment, knowing I have an audience might help settle this ever restless, loud Muse…maybe sometimes you could comment and opine, or remind me via tweetspam to keep blogging.

My blog theme this year is the sky and the universe because that reminds me of the infinite supply of ideas we have. Sometimes we choose Writer’s Block, because there is really so much to write about…so much. Look at the sky next time you get Writer’s Block and pick a star. Then close your eyes and choose an idea and grasp onto it, stick to it, follow it everywhere. Really, there’s no stopping you…only fear can keep you blocked for too long.

2016’s goal is pay attention to wordstorms.

There’s always something to say.

Celebrate October with The Autumn Prince + Serenade is Getting Closer!


October is going to be a very interesting, exciting month on the blog.

If you’ve been following me on any social networks, you’ve probably heard of The Autumn Prince. It’s a short story I wrote in three days–14k–with the purpose of sharing with you guys my twist of a Halloween story. I wanted to pour some romance into a holiday known for monsters.

Also, I wanted to share with you the adorably naive, lonely Autumn Prince.

This’ll be my last personal blog post for a few weeks. Coming up on Friday is my interview with author Jackie Lea Sommers! I recently reviewed her book, Truest, one of the novels that impressed me most this year. She was amazing and answered some questions I had regarding her powerful, poignant novel.

After that, it’ll be serial time.

Starting October 5, I will be sharing The Autumn Prince–bit by bit–every weekday until Halloween. It is my goal to edit this story so it’s worth your time; I’m so keen on sharing it. I haven’t been this passionate about something since publishing Dissonance.

Speaking of Dissonance, fans might be glad to know I finished the first really coherent draft of its sequel. Book two of the Fallen Faery Tales series will be called Serenade. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be renamed; Elegy has been pushed off as a working title for the third installment.

Serenade completed at 62,000 words, meaning it’s a bit longer than Dissonance. I don’t know if it’s going to grow or shrink when I finish revisions, but they’re definitely not far from one another length-wise. I pumped more drama and heartbreak into Serenade, enjoying the challenge of seeing Allie grow into a mature, troubled young lady of 16.

I’ve put away the draft for Serenade and plan to begin revisions on November. After that, we enter beta mode. There will be slots open for volunteers, if anyone wants to help!

After October ends and The Autumn Prince has had his chance to shine, I have more exciting things planned! However, those plans are still in the making. Just know that there’ll be more activity on life, literature, & coffee because I’ve forced myself to learn organization, and have some amazing friends who are going to help me keep up.

Happy October! It is my favorite month of the year, because our imaginations can really go wild. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will, and Happy Halloween in advance!

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How Travel Improves Your Writing


So you want to write a book? That’s great! Get out your pen and paper, but I feel the need to ask you have you had an adventure? Have you left your comfort zone?

Many underestimate the importance of travel when it comes to writing. The solitary author bent over her desk is nothing but a stereotype. To have a story, you must live where the wild plot bunnies are–even if that means venturing across the street.

Everything you see and do could turn into a story. It’s fun to sit at home and read, but don’t forget to experience things first-hand. I used to think differently, but now I say you can’t live life to its fullest hiding behind a book! It’s a tragic mistake to make if you want to write a novel.

Learning the craft involves feeling wind in your hair and the ocean underfoot–even the sunburn you’ll get later!

A novel always has some form of the author between the lines. It happened by accident, but Dissonance became a mirror. In it I see myself, subtle but present. The story wouldn’t have existed if I never left the house, because most of it was inspired by the ocean.

Some might argue that life is boring and there’s nowhere to have an adventure–but that’s not true. Take a new route the next time you go for a walk, or visit a different coffee shop. There’s always somewhere new to go, a different way to see the world.

If you want to write a book, you need to witness people at their best and worst. You can’t barricade yourself where the Muse will have trouble finding you. It’s hard contacting your Muse in the first place, so don’t complicate things more!

When’s the last time you had a new experience that brought forth a story? Do you have a memory from a vacation you’d like to share?