RoW80 Update: Break? What is this Break that you speak of?

Although it hasn’t been a perfectly smooth start back into my new goals, I am proud to say that Sunday was the first day in ages I managed to crush all my daily goals on HabitRPG. Man, that feels good! And it also gives me confidence for a successful and productive second half of this round of RoW80. Let’s have a close look at how I’ve been doing since Sunday, shall we?

Goal One: Submit a Story Every Day. I haven’t been hitting this every day, which I never really expected too much, but I did get the story into Horror Novel Review‘s Horror: Told in 100 Words contest I wanted to write submitted, so there was that. My notebooks with all my submission information have been scattered about due to the moving, but I’m tracking them down so I can get back to tracking what to submit, where to submit it, and all those other details I like to keep a hold on. I’m always on the look-out for new openings or contests, so if you’ve got something, send it my way, I’d love to have a look!

Goal Two: Marketing for Soulless and World Unknown Review. This goal has been interesting, because I’m realizing that I really, really suck at marketing and reaching out and promoting things. I did a guest post over at Lauralynn Elliott‘s, which was pretty cool because I’ve never done that before (that I can recall). I’m doing doing a casualAMA on reddit, though I’m nervous about the potential blow to my ego if no one cares. If anyone does, though, it could be really successful. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking around for advertising opportunities, hopefully on the cheap, and I’m still eager to do interviews or guest posts for anyone else if you’d be interested.

Goal Three: Madeline. I haven’t exactly been busting out a chapter a day, but I’ve been forging ahead pretty steadily, with at least a page under my belt. I should probably make that the goal, it’s much more manageable, though it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m sure I’ll settle into it after a few more attempts to get out a chapter a day. I’m really loving it so far, and I’m interested to see where it goes.

In addition to my goals and moving, I’ve also been blazing through Fallon Brown‘s manuscript for a beta read, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying that. I’ve been squeezing in a bit more reading again, too, which is always really nice. Either way, I’m trying to forge straight on through to the next great thing. How about you? Have you had the chance to check in on any other RoWers here?

Happy writing!

Cat Scratch Fever.

Today is going to be an interesting day. If you’ve been keeping up with any news with me that isn’t Soulless-related, you know that I’m also in the process of moving apartments. I’m finally moving in with the boyfriend (yay!), though not into our own apartment yet (thanks a lot, dumb me four years ago!). On the bright side, rent is going to be super cheap for a year while I wait for this thing on my credit to clear; bad news is that one of the roommate already has two cats and we have no idea how my two cats will get along with them. My two cats are non-negotiable, though. So we’re hoping they’ll all get along, but they’ve tried four cats at this apartment before with less than stellar results. It’s not a huge deal; there’s a door between the living room/my bedroom space and the rest of the apartment, so if they don’t get along, we have that to keep them apart. I just hope they really do. It’ll be a much more peaceful household if they can just coexist together.

So wish me luck on that. I’ve planned it so that I have the next day off, too, so I just can spend time with the cats and make them feel comfortable if the move winds up stressing them the fuck out. Which I’m sure it will at first, but they were cool once they got settled after the move from Michigan, and they got along with the dog, so I’m sure the other two cats (who are old and harmless) won’t be a problem. Finger’s crossed!

I’m also excited to announce that I’ve done my first guest-blogger post over atLauralynn Elliot‘s, talking about the challenges I met with Soulless and the importance of overcoming them. Swing by, say hi, follow Lauralynn if you aren’t already, and have a great day. I’m off to wrangle two cats into a cat carrier…hoo boy. Wish me luck, guys!

From Pantser to Plotter.

While I’m no stranger to sitting down and actually plotting out a book, my most recent efforts have been almost entirety of the pantsing variety. For those less familiar with the nomenclature, plotting is when you sit down and figure out your story from point A to point B before writing it, while pantsing is sort of making it up as you go along, “by the seat of your pants,” as it were. When I wrote Soulless, I had no idea where it would lead me. Even a month before I published Soulless, I wasn’t entirely sure, though I had the main objectives in mind. It turned out okay; I forged through to the end and then worked out the points of plot that didn’t work in the editing stages. This meant taking out scenes, writing up new ones, moving things around and altering details throughout the piece, which worked, but I sometimes wonder if it’s not the easiest way to do things.

So I’ve decided to approach the second book in The Slayer Saga in the complete opposite way, by plotting it out, spending the next few months to outline and plan while using NaNoWriMo to really bust out a rough draft. Part of me thinks I’m crazy for approaching the second book in a different way than the first (how will it change the tone of the books, if at all?), but it just feels right, so I’m going to give it a try. Now, my previous attempts at outlining were pretty simple, reminiscent of outlining for a formal paper, but I’m thinking of somehow incorporating index cards somehow, though it’s all pretty new to me, so who knows how far I’ll delve into that. I think that, as a second book, this more detail-orientated approach will be a big help, because, after all, this is the glue that will hold the two books together. It’ll need to be solid if I want to convince readers to stay on for the long haul.

Who out there is a pantser and who is a plotter? Do you dabble in a little bit of both, and how do you decide which method will be more effective? Anyone have any tricks or protips for someone venturing out into their first real attempt to plot in several years? Let’s get a discussion going.

RoW80 Update: Recalculating…

With The Slayer Saga: Soulless out and ready for the masses (finally!), it’s time for me to sit down and reassess my goals for the remainder of this Round of Words in 80 Days. The thing with something like publishing a book is that it takes all your energy and focus and, once it’s finished, you’re left feeling a bit like an asteroid out in space without an orbit. There’s so much potential in projects, but where do you put your energy now? You’re scattered, distracted, and still wanting to work on something for which there is no more work. So it’s time to buckle down and figure out the big question, “What next?”

At first, I thought I would leap right into book two of The Slayer Saga, Heartless, but I’ve realized, in my many failed attempts to really get it started, that I should let it breathe a little bit. Give it some time before I work on it, and actually (gasp!) outline and plot first. I didn’t do that for Soulless, and it really showed in the first draft. So, instead, I’ve decided to really use NaNoWriMo this year to write up Heartless and use the time until then to plan it out a little bit. This means using the next few months to focus on something new for a while before diving back into the Slayer’s world.

Is it time to start picking at Serpent in a Cage again? I don’t think I’m ready to delve into another big saga until this one is finished, so it will still be out to pasture for the time being. Right now, I’m wavering between returning to Madeline or Rosewood Manor; fall is right around the corner, so I’ve been wanting to work on something spooky and ghostly. So one new goal is going to be decide on which to focus on until November and write at least a page a day on said novel.

Naturally, short stories are going back on the priorities list, especially since all my ships have returned back to harbor with no great luck I've even started a notebook of open submissions and contests to help me keep track of them. So the new goal involves submitting a short story every day. A lofty goal that I rarely keep, but I know that if I ever do manage to pull it off, I’m going to be looking pretty damn good on the short story front.

Going in line with marketing and short stories, I also want to start promoting World Unknown Review pretty heavily, too, though I have to think about how to balance promoting it and Soulless both without seeming like I’m bombarding everyone with spam. However, since it’s a literary review, I can’t do anything with it if I don’t have people who want to be published in it, so I’ll be working different, more writer-influenced places to plug WUR and convince people to submit.

I don’t think it would hurt to do a little marketing and promotion on Soulless now that it’s out there in the world, so I’ll focus on one marketing/promo aspect per day as well. Anything from a shout-out on Twitter to an ad on a website to help spread the word a little further.

Also on my list is to read more, including some beta reading for Fallon Brown, though I’m not making those into hard and fast goals. Over-all, it’s more of the same, just with some differences here and there, but the same has been working for me so far, so I’m going to stick with it.

The last few days have been a little crazy, between publishing a book and moving and not being able to “settle” quite yet. But the guest at the next apartment takes off tomorrow, and hopefully I can finally get into a new routine to match the new living situation. I earned a few days off, but now it’s time to get back to work. How’s everyone else doing? Have you checked out my fellow RoWers here yet? I’m hoping to check in throughout the day myself.

Happy writing! Off to get some new goals all in line again.

Review: Passage.

“‘…The only equal weapon I’ll ever have is my wits. But without knowing things, my wits are like a bow with no arrows. Don’t leave me disarmed.'”

The Sharing Knife Book 3.: Passage” by Lois McMaster Bujold

Of the books in Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife series, the third book Passage is so far my favorite. In a way, the first two books, Beguilement and Legacy, were set-up books: in the first, we were introduced not only to the characters and the world, but to farmer girl Fawn’s way of life, while the second book brought in the intricacies of Lakewalker Dag’s very different society. In Passage, the two worlds are joined together as Fawn, Dag, and a collection of various friends along the way embark on a quest to spread knowledge of the two different peoples. It brings to light a lot of the mysteries of the Lakewalkers, as well as brings in many more character, so the story no longer focuses on just Fawn and Dag, but their new friends from all walks of life, as well.

The pace of this book rather resembles the big, wide, lazy river that its characters are traveling down, sort of languid and relaxed and meandering…and I kind of liked that. At the end, there’s a rather large event that occurs, almost too suddenly, and is resolved just as quickly, almost as if someone thought the tales of traveling the river and spreading knowledge wasn’t enough to make the story strong enough, so there had to be something. Important things do happen, so the even is important to the plot, but it does feel a little tacked on. I can understand why some people might find it boring, but I rather liked how it felt as though I was traveling on that boat with them, and could have traveled on that boat further. I felt fully immersed in this world, finally, and quite content to just visit for a while. I also finally started to feel as though the connection between Fawn and Dag wasn’t so forced; you really see how they’ve come to need each other in this book, and I liked that.

Ultimately, it was a really pleasant book, really extending on the things that made me excited at the end of the last book. It’ll be really interesting to see how things come to a head in this last book, because it’ll likely confirm some of my theories or just prove them to be poppycock. We’ll have to wait and see. Onto the Horizon!

Books read: 011/100.

The Soulless have Arrived!

Are you ready for gruesome zombies and an ambitious quest that reveals more questions than it does answers? I hope so, because The Slayer Saga: Soulless is now available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle! Earlier this year, I set out on a mad quest myself, to take a story I had been struggling through and really focus on getting it published this year, and I made it! It’s the first book in a series of three, each to be released within a year, an ambitious project for a fledgling author, but one I’m eager to take on, especially now that I have the first book available to fuel the fire under my butt to get the second and third books out!

Soulless follows the path of the legendary warrior known as the Slayer of the Soulless, who roams the land defending the people from the zombie-like creatures that have been plaguing them for as long as they can remember. Her effort have not been in vain…until now. When a plot to kill her is revealed among the chaos of an attack on a city that was supposed to be a safe haven, she sets out with a small group of refugees to find the Queen, a benevolent ruler who watches over the world from a flying airship. But, as they travel, they discover there is a great deal at stake here, and what was finally starting to become a peaceful world takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

A swift read at only about 240 pages, The Slayer Saga: Soulless is an exciting adventure that one of my beta readers referred to as “Buffy meets the Hobbit,” a comparison I’ve clung to because it seems so perfect. I’d like to take a moment to thank all the wonderful people how helped make this book a reality. My beta readers, Jody Moller and Denise D. Young, who helped to validate all my suspicions about the weak parts of the book and helped to inspire me to make them better and stronger. When I reached out to Ingrid Pomeroy with a bid for potential cover work, I had never expected I’d be gifted with something so beautiful and unique, as well as sparking a great new professional relationship and friendship. Everyone at A Round of Words in 80 Days has also be a great support through the process…if it weren’t for this group, I would never be where I’m at today. And, of course, there’s my Kickstarter backers, who made me believe that even random strangers would be interested in supporting this project and getting it off the ground. There’s countless others, and I hope not a one of them are disappointed.

There’s also a fantastic sample of Kate Sparkes‘ book Bound included in both versions!
If you feel so inclined, spread the word and let people know about Soulless! I’ve got a free paperback copy in it for one lucky person who spreads the word. I’ll pick a random commentor/ping-backer who includes a link sharing the books or this post with the world within the next few days. Please let me know if you’re interested in a free copy in exchange for a review. Some of you have mentioned it before, and I’m hoping to get all the details of that worked out in the next week.

Happy writing…and reading!

Oh, and if you get the chance, hop on over and see Elaine Jeremiah; she’s got an awesome new release today, too!

RoW80 Check-In: Two More Days!

It’s a little difficult to focus on anything like a RoW80 check in when I’m on the cusp of publishing my second book! The Slayer Saga: Soulless comes out to the world on Friday, and the excitement is getting a little bit nuts. Thankfully, I have at least a shift to work tonight to get my mind off of things, but Thursday will be a lot of wringing my hands and waiting for Friday to get here, especially since the print version is all ready and set (and so, so gorgeous), and Thursday will be mostly combing through the ePub version and making sure it’s all coded properly. I also owe Lauralynn Elliott a post, since she so kindly offered to host me to promote it in the next week or so. If anyone else is interested in helping out, too, let me know, and we’ll put something together!

Leave it to me to already be thinking about the next thing, too. In addition to really breaking in on Heartless (after all, I’ve given myself only 365 short days to publish that one!), I’ll be turning my focus on to World Unknown Review, an annual journal of short stories that I was trying to get launched last year, but fell entirely through the cracks. This year, I feel I’m much better equipped to pursue it, and I’ve got until October 31st to convince enough people to send me their stories that I can make a book out of it and release it by December 31st. I love the idea of helping to promote other people’s work, and so I would love if WUR can get some traction and be a yearly event to spread some short story love.

So, that’s pretty much it! Just two more days, and I’ll have a new book available and I’ll try not to be too obnoxious trying to promote it. I was going to say “talking about it too much,” but, really, it’s all I’ve been talking about. I am a little bit excited to move on to the next great thing. How about you? How’s everyone else doing? Have you check in on any of my fellow RoWers here yet? You should.

Oh, and happy writing!

What a Twist!

The other day, I received an email from one of the many journal’s I’ve submitted to, informing me that they were going to pass on my piece. This is a familiar sight for me, always a little disappointing, but, at the same time, understandable. I did have hopes for this piece because it’s one of my favorites, but it was written for a contest on a website, so there are very few places that will still accept it (thought it’ll likely make its way into this year’s World Unknown Review). What was nice about this particular rejection letter was that the editors still offered some feedback and thoughts on the piece, which I usually find pretty uplifting because it really does boil down to a matter of preferences.

Now, this particular editor praised me for the depth of the characters (yay! And more evidence that I should perhaps consider expanding this story to something more), as well as the uniqueness of the world, but felt that the story lacked an element of surprise. The plot was fairly predictable, foreshadowed in the beginning, and I knew that from the get-go. A reviewer pointed out that a majority of the stories in Bowlful of Bunnies have a little surprising twist at the end, which was not a bad thing, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to find out that I use a twist as a crutch. Did every story have to have a big surprising twist at the end to be good? I didn’t think so, and so I’ve been working on trying to balance out my twisty endings with some straighter ones that fulfill a concept that has stuck with me from a class about myths in college. I can’t remember the exact terminology for the life of me (my Google-fu was weak on this one), but it was something about a classic myth or story creating an expectation and the fulfillment of that expectation.

For all intents and purposes, this story did that. Gave you an expectation, foreshadowed it, fulfilled it. True, no big twist, but still an entertaining yarn (I hope). No where in the classic story structure of “beginning, climax, resolution” does it mention “twist.” A story does not need that element to be good. Granted, this particular editor was looking for something with a surprise and a twist, which made the story unsuitable for a surprising, twist-filled edition, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. But I do think it’s incorrect to believe that a story needs a twist to be good. I think of one of my favorite writers in this case, Ha Jin, and how many of his stories are just stories, telling about certain events. It makes me think of the complaints about The Walking Dead and how “nothing happens!,” or of the Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold, where a lot of it is just about a journey and how people relate to each other rather than big climatic events (though there’s no shortage of those in the books, either).

I like those stories. Sometimes, I just like to escape into a world for a little bit and stay there, all nice and cozy. A big twist can be a lot of fun, but I’m okay without one, too. I got to thinking: surely, I can’t be alone! So I turn it to you, dear readers: what are your thoughts? Do you find a story needs a little twist to be entertaining? Or do you sometimes find comfort in the predictable, in the fulfillment of your expectations? I think we’ve become too dependent on the twist as a whole, and should just get back to some good, solid storytelling.

RoW80 Update: Selling Out.

Things have been a little quiet on my side of the Intrawebz this weekend, despite having the weekend off from my part-time job. Having miraculously been giving a block of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, I took advantage of an actual weekend to hold a very timely yard sale to get rid of some of my junk before I move into a much, much, much smaller apartment with two more roommates than I have at the moment (plus two more cats and a rat). Yeah, I’m moving at the same time I’m planning on releasing a book; that was smart. But, considering that The Slayer Saga: Soulless comes out THIS FRIDAY, I’m back to my usual grind, and back to finalizing the coding so that it’s ready and raring to go on August 15th, which is what this RoW80 update is essentially about.

See, the funny thing with me and deadlines is that I tend to hem and haw a lot in the week before hand, then bust it out last minute. I work best with a deadline, but the thing with Soulless right now is that, yeah, I have so last minute touches here and there, then the coding, which I can bust out pretty quickly, but, other than those things (which I can’t help put off), I’m all set. I just have to click a few buttons. Also, I have Thursday off, too, so whatever I don’t manage to do these next few days, I can devote that day to brushing things up. Unless the boy and I go to the zoo. Because we’re terrible vegans and love the zoo. We’ll probably go to the zoo.

…and then I’ll stay up way too late finishing and poking and prodding, and remembering exactly why I’m so adamant about a deadline when I decide on one. Because if I don’t stick to it, I will never feel it’s ready. Will Soulless go out into the world imperfect and flawed? Ohgodyes. Is that okay? Totally. I will release it into the ether to do its own thing, with its imperfections and flaws and what have you. And the world will go on, and I’ll move on to the next thing, and, soon enough, two books will become three, then four, then five, and so on.

I’ll bet it never gets any easier, though. I’ll bet I got through the same cycle with book thirty as I do book three. At least, I certainly hope I do; that thrill and excitement is part of the wonderful thing about this writing thing, that awful, terrible, wonderful, excited, glorious tumble in your stomach and flutter in your heart as you agonize over not having done a better job while simultaneously glowing over all you’ve accomplished.

This post is going into rambling territory, and I’ve got one more chapter to finally finish (LOL) and infuse into the main document, so I’ll leave you all to it and get back to work. If you get the chance, check out my fellow RoWers here and see how they’re doing.

Happy writing, everyone!

Cover Reveal: Elaine Jeremiah’s “Reunion of the Heart.”

I am very, very, very pleased to be helping out and joining the cover reveal party for Elaine Jeremiah‘s new release, Reunion of the Heart, a romance to be released by the end of August (keep your eyes peeled for the official date!). I think the cover is so stinkin’ cute that it’s gotten me, who is not an avid romance reader by any margin, wanting to get my hands on it and dive in. Have a look!

So what’s this Reunion of the Heart all about, anyway? here’s the blurb:

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell.

But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again.

And about the lovely author?

Elaine Jeremiah has always enjoyed writing, but it’s only in recent years that she’s begun to devote serious time to it. She’s written lots of short stories, one previous novel that will never see the light of day and a novel which has seen the light of day: ‘The Inheritance’ which she published last year. ‘The Inheritance’ is available on Amazon.

You can make contact with Elaine via her blog: and Twitter: @ElaineJeremiah

So, what are you waiting for? Hop on over and congratulate Elaine on this great success!


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