The Novel-In-Progress: Twins & Swans

Along with hundreds of writers all over the world, I began a new novel earlier this month.

When I chose to write a high fantasy this November, I expected it to be difficult. Self-doubt crept up; I almost chose to work on a series I’m already writing, because the setting would be familiar. High fantasy seemed a daunting challenge; I feared I hadn’t read enough of it to write my own.

Ten days later, I had written the fifty thousands words; the story breathed itself to life. I feel like the characters dictated their journeys, for they use their own voices. Every time I sit down for a writing session, I feel that I’m living a second life.

This month I remembered how it feels to write a new book, exploring new territory. Being a pantser most of the time, I wander without a map. 50k spilled out in ten days because my writing muscle had been neglected for too long.

Since January, I have been editing a book to publish next year; how refreshing it is to be in an unfamiliar world, where I can get lost and make up my own rules.


Things turned interesting when I decided to share snippets of my story on Instagram. I did it because I wanted to try something different; everyone clings to quotes about writing by dead authors, such as that about moonlight on broken glass.

Since it is my Instagram, I thought it would make the scene more personal if the words shared were mine. I wasn’t expecting so many people to enjoy the snippets; I’ve had offers to beta read when the project is done. Knowing that people look forward to the novel as I write it–oh, it keeps me motivated!

The working title for this novel is The Swan, but it is liable to change by the time the book is done.

Having reached the word count goal, I’ve decided to keep writing. I won’t rush it, though. I want to reach a satisfactory ending, since I don’t plan to make it a series; it’s going to be a stand-alone novel, a very long one. When it is on paper, whether traditional or self-published, the weight of those words will bring me joy.

This might be my one great work, or the beginning of many; I only know that the writing process has been a source of joy. It has helped me cope with dark moments as we enter a season plagued by grief.

When I read my draft, I can hardly believe that I wrote it. It’s brilliant, compared to my first books. One day, I hope you will be able to meet the Princesses Tressa and Roisin; they have become two very different sides of me.

The Autumn Prince Novel: Cover & Excerpt

How are your NaNo novels doing?

I am pleased to say that I have reached 32k and have an end in mind, which is more than I can say for other NaNo projects–indeed, more than I can say for any writing projects at all. Also, my friend Kristia made a beautiful cover that I could finally display on the website!


I thought I would share an unedited excerpt from the novel. You guys, I am extremely proud of how it’s turning out–proud that I could turn a short story into something more complex, expanding on beloved characters and adding detail to the environment. Thank you for all the support when it was still a serial; it was that support that encouraged me to make it a novel.

Here’s the excerpt. I can’t wait until you can read the whole thing!

Her eyelids fluttered, but she did not yet wake fully. Dreams pulled her back in; she was running in the leaves with a boy her age, his face glowing as he called her name, “Ginny! Ginny, you’ve got to be faster!”

Her eyelids fluttered again and she thought, I know who that is. “Caspar,” she breathed, not a question but a certainty. Dreams tugged at her once more.

She was chasing the little boy because he’d stolen her button doll. “You’ve got better toys!” he taunted her, but she screamed and threw rocks at him until a tall man in a black coat broke them up.

“Your Highness, Lady Genevieve, that’s no way to behave! You’re supposed to be friends.”

“He took my doll!” she screamed.

The man pried her button doll out of young Caspar’s hand and promptly returned it to her. “Your mother will have to talk to you about stealing things, Prince Caspar,” he’d said, to which the boy scowled.

In the waking world, she felt someone touch her hand. “Lady Kelsea,” said a familiar voice, soft as if he feared she would flee like a spooked horse.

But she wouldn’t. Kelsea finally broke away from those dreams, opening her eyes to blink away more tears. She was still on that armchair, and he sat on his knees before her, eyes shiny with grief.

It felt as though the ground were falling beneath her. She couldn’t question that the memories were real; that very button doll now sat on her bedside table at home.

Caspar knelt before her and waited, almost as if expecting her to strike him. Instead she said in a weak voice, almost a croak, “I knew you were familiar.”

Guest Post: How to Stay Productive and Motivated While Writing


It feels so good to be a published author. I can’t put the feeling into words. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be where I am now, I might have laughed at you. Back then, I had a difficult time staying productive and motivated to put words on the page each and every day. That’s not to say I still don’t have that problem—I’ve just found some ways to move past it.

This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which means many people are setting out to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 short days. Trust me when I say that it can be done, no matter how impossible it seems! Still, in order to cross the finish line, you’ll have to do battle with the monsters of procrastination and lack of motivation. Luckily, I’ve managed to slay both of those beasts, and today I want to share some of my tips with you.

  1. Write or Die. Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog post using Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die program. If you’ve never heard of it before, Write or Die is a web-based program that nags you to keep writing. If you find yourself getting distracted or taking ages to meet daily word counts, this program may be indispensable. Since I started using it, I think I’ve seen a tenfold increase in overall writing productivity. Settings-wise, I recommend trying Normal Mode and Strict Grace Period, with a goal of 300 words every 15 minutes (something I borrowed from author K.M. Weiland). Try out a couple of different presets to discover what works best for you. Seriously, though, if it weren’t for Write or Die, I never would have gotten Blood and Water written.
  1. Establish a compelling “why.” If you want to write a book or just write something every day, you need to have a reason why. It’s not enough to write because someone is pressuring you to or because you feel like you “should”—you have to find something personally rewarding about it, otherwise you’ll never feel motivated to get the work done. Regardless of your rationale, make sure you know exactly why you want to sit down with your writing each day.
  1. Track your progress. I love progress bars, leveling up, and tracking my progress in general. For all my daily tasks, to-dos, and habits, I use Habitica. It’s a RPG-style productivity app that earns you experience points for doing real-world things like cleaning the house and meeting daily word counts. There have been many times I wanted to sit on my butt, and then realized how close I was to leveling up, so I went ahead and did some work. Trust me when I say that this app can change your life. Another great way to stay motivated is by tracking your writing stats. Scrivener will do this for you, but if you want more, check out NaNoWriMo’s word count feature (for the month of November), this nifty progress bar, or (my current favorite) MyWriteClub, which I learned about from Ava Jae. I love watching the progress bar move as I update my word count each day!
  1. Find a writing buddy. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go it alone. I talked about this idea in my most recent vlog. One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on track with your writing goals is to enlist the help of buddies or accountability partners. You can encourage each other, check in, and send updates on your progress. You’d be surprised how much of a difference this strategy makes! If you need a buddy, feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo or MyWriteClub—I’d love to help encourage you!
  1. Treat yourself. If you haven’t seen the Parks and Recreation episode this notion comes from, watch it now. I’ll wait. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is absolutely vital to your progress as a writer. When I finally finished formatting and publishing Blood and Water, I went out and got my nails done. It made me feel fantastic—I never get my nails done—and helped motivate me to start working on my next project. Set up little rewards for daily, weekly, and monthly project goals. Choose things that you don’t do or buy for yourself every day so that you always have something to look forward to.

No matter how you choose to stay motivated and productive, it’s important to find something that works best for your unique process. Feel free to give these suggestions and try and let me know what you think! And if you have any other tips or advice for staying motivated while writing, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

11811491_10152854599546841_8052592134780564109_n (1)Briana Morgan is YA and NA writer, editor, and blogger who loves dark, suspenseful reads, angst-ridden relationships, and complicated characters. Her interest in Jay Gatsby scares her friends and family. You can find her in way too many places online, eating too much popcorn, reading in the corner, or crying about long-dead literary heroes. Visit her website at

Her debut novel Blood and Water is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

NaNoWriMo 2015 & The Autumn Prince

I haven’t officially participated in NaNoWriMo for two years. Instead I would attempt smaller projects for Camp NaNo, none of which I completed; I always seemed to give up right when I gained some momentum.

This year, though, it seems my Muse really took a liking to me; why not give it a try?


For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is a worldwide challenge for writers. The goal? Finish a novel in a month, specifically the month of November. If you win you get prizes and the satisfaction of having completed a book.

Now, I don’t pretend I’m going to finish this book in a month–though my brain seems wired to write more than planned in a sitting. I do hope to make progress and work out some plot issues.

If you’ve followed my Twitter feed for the past two days, you know I had a hard time deciding which novel to write for NaNo. From the start, I wanted to expand on The Autumn Prince. However, I kept reading advice from published authors saying that once you finish a story, you should put it away for a month.

The thing is, though, The Autumn Prince was a short story. What I wrote of it didn’t even scratch 14k. So I don’t think it counts, and for NaNoWriMo I decided to write the novel adaptation of The Autumn Prince.

Not only that, but no two writers are the same. Maybe these published authors need to step away from their work for a while; I find my Muse works differently.

It felt silly to toss aside The Autumn Prince when it’s already so vivid in my mind; why push to the back burner something that’s almost ready? I had considered writing some other plot bunnies which also had potential, but now I’m going to wait–perhaps even try another serial with The Lady of Myrtle Lighthouse. 

Right now, though, I’m making my short story into a book.

For those who are interested in The Autumn Prince, the 2k I wrote so far reveals several new things. Spoiler: We’ll get some scenes from Winston’s POV. Also, there’s more to Kelsea than we thought…more than even she knows.

And Caspar has got a temper in the novel. Of course he does. He’s only going to be awake for a few weeks.

Are you participating in NaNo? Do you have a plot already set, or are you freewriting?