Week In Review 11/24/17 & 12/01/17

Okay, I have to come clean. I meant to update last week, honest! But in the excitement of the holiday I completely forgot to sit down and queue anything up, so I’m going to combine highlights from the last two weeks, and boy were they fun.

Currently Reading/Writing EDITING:

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Overhauling these two categories this week as I took the plunge and printed out the behemoth that is Death Becoming. I’m *loosely* following Susan Dennard’s editing process I mentioned in my earlier post, and I’m loving it. Color coordination galore which pleases my OCD tendencies, and forcing myself to sit down and read DB from front to back has made me feel more in control of the manuscript than I’ve felt in a long time. Feels good, guys, feels real good.

Currently Listening:

HP Symphony

Fangirl Time: I attended the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s production of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and I’ve had the score stuck in my head since last Saturday. It was absolutely phenomenal. I knew John Willams (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the list goes on…) was an amazing composer, but hearing it live took my breath away and gave me chills on numerous occasions. Who knew quidditch could be so intense? Also, whoever plays the xylophone must have thought Christmas had come early when they announced this project. The amount of times the iconic Harry Potter jingle is interwoven throughout the film kept them very busy, haha.

[CD] JG Bluegray

Currently Drinking:

Juan Gil Estates Orowines, 2014 BlueGray: Named for the color of the slate soils, this Priorat is 45% Garnacha, 30% Carinena, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12mo in French Oak. Medium body, firm tannins, lots of bright red fruit on the front followed by ample amounts of yummy autumnal spice and chew. I recommend anything from the Juan Gil portfolio, always. Go to your local Spanish wine section and look for anything with “gfe: gil family estates” on the back label and you’re in for a treat that overdelivers for the price.

Current Life Update:

The past two weeks have been full of family & friends, editing, and LOTS of jasmine tea. My obsession with tea is making its yearly revival, and it’s safe to say I’m roughly 50% tea at all times. Except for on Thanksgiving, when I was 50% mashed potatoes. No shame.

Thanks to Cyber Monday, all my holiday shopping is complete, and I’m excited to sit down with a mug of tea and write out my cards. I have a tendency to get way too into it and make numerous terrible puns that I know will elicit groans from the recipients, but hey, it’s me: What do you expect?

What is your favorite holiday tradition? What are you looking forward to the most in the coming weeks?

Week In Review 11/17/17

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Currently Reading: Across the Formidable Sea by Claire Laminen

The death of her beloved father changes Laura Elliott’s life irrevocably. The spirited young American has barely begun to recover from her loss when her mother remarries – to a British earl. The two of them are whisked across the Atlantic to the green expanses of Coventry, where Laura finds herself adrift in high society, unable to fit in and lonelier than she’s ever been. Then, two new people enter her life and turn her world on its ear. Her stepfather’s new accountant, the handsome and accomplished Graham, shows her the kindness she has been missing since arriving in England. But Sarah Byrne, a modern young woman from the toughest part of Birmingham and youngest sister of its notorious crime family, has intentions of pulling Laura in an entirely different direction. As Laura manages her new friendships, she finds herself faced with the questions that plague twenty-year-olds in every era: who she is, what home means to her, and what the consequences of her choices will be.

I’ve been a bit exhausted with fantasy and all of its tropes as of late, so I picked up Across the Formidable Sea and it has been wildly refreshing. It’s the perfect lazy Sunday or rainy day read (or any day, really). Laminen does a wonderful job of creating a vibrant 1920s backdrop that you can’t help but dive into as her beautifully flawed main character, Laura, navigates the waters of both high society and the dangerously inviting world of Birmingham’s underbelly. Highly recommend for fans of Peaky Blinders and Pride & Prejudice.

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Currently Writing:
Death Becoming

In the home stretch of round two of my edits. I did a full re-write of my “finale” scene, and am currently working on polishing that, which has led to a series of subplot edits in order to make sure everything ties together nicely in the end. But not too nice, because I can’t let my characters off too easy… I can’t say much more than that without spoiling anything, but if you were one of the few to read the original manuscript, say goodbye to your darlings and strap in for an even wilder ride the second time around.

 

ringCurrent Life Update:

I haven’t been on here in ages, so guess I should start with the Big Things™️ first: As of August 11th, we’re engaged! We’re super excited and can’t wait to party it up with friends and family at the wedding… in 2019, haha. We’ve got big plans for 2018, and we’re pretty excited about the future in general, and I’m so lucky to have my rock by my side through it all.

Currently Listening:

I’ve been jamming to this Spotify playlist lately. It’s 16.5 hours of instrumental pop song covers, and it’s pure gold. I’ve always struggled to find a balance between orchestral playlists and modern music for writing playlists, and this is the perfect in-between.

Currently Drinking:

If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of cold weather. But I am a MASSIVE fan of the drinks that come with it. Whiskey? Hot toddies? Red wine? Stouts? Give me all the heavy sippers. Currently sipping: the stout that started it all for me, Oscar Blues Ten Fidy, so named because it’s 10.5%ABV, so sip slowly. But you’re not gonna want to rush through this chocolate, caramel, coffee goodness.

Currently Reading: Across the Formidable Sea

ATFS

The death of her beloved father changes Laura Elliott’s life irrevocably. The spirited young American has barely begun to recover from her loss when her mother remarries – to a British earl. The two of them are whisked across the Atlantic to the green expanses of Coventry, where Laura finds herself adrift in high society, unable to fit in and lonelier than she’s ever been. Then, two new people enter her life and turn her world on its ear. Her stepfather’s new accountant, the handsome and accomplished Graham, shows her the kindness she has been missing since arriving in England. But Sarah Byrne, a modern young woman from the toughest part of Birmingham and youngest sister of its notorious crime family, has intentions of pulling Laura in an entirely different direction. As Laura manages her new friendships, she finds herself faced with the questions that plague twenty-year-olds in every era: who she is, what home means to her, and what the consequences of her choices will be.

Across the Formidable Sea by Claire Laminen

What In the World Did I Just Write

editing

It’s been 10 months since I wrote that elated post about completing Death Becoming. And boy, has it been an editing rollercoaster. Writing? I love. Editing? Not so much. I got about 30,000 words into writing my sequel before I forced myself to stop getting ahead of myself and get back to the nitty gritty of editing what will (hopefully) be my debut. (And without it, the sequel will be dead in the water.)

First, I secured myself a few betas readers via reddit. This has been one of hardest yet most rewarding parts of the editing process. I’ve always had friends read my writing, They’re the best cheerleaders you could ask for, and I couldn’t have gotten to the finish line without them. But… They’re completely biased. Which is where a good beta comes in. Nothing like having a complete stranger rip your baby to shreds, line by line, all while you smile and say thank you. The weirdest part is I enjoyed it. Brutal honesty that makes my story the best it can be? Yes, please!

After getting beta feedback, I went back and did almost a full rewrite of the manuscript. I allowed myself brief glances at scenes before settling in in front of the blank page once more and seeing what stuck and what superfluous storylines went by the wayside. Sounds like a lot of work (it was) but just making line edits felt like I was creating Frankenstein’s monster and somewhere along the way the heart of the story got lost. And in the end, I’m glad I did it.

Now, I didn’t go to school for this, so I’m basically flying by the seat of my pants at all times and hoping no one notices. Every book’s editing process is different, and every writer’s process is different, but I’d love to hear what others are doing. I’ve done JK Rowling’s plot point flow chart and I’ve made countless lists. For my next run through, I’m thinking about tackling Susan Dennard’s hefty, yet beautifully color coded, revision system. Has anyone tried it? Any other methods you find useful?

Four Novels, Four Years

Last night, February 6, 2017, at approximately 11:15PM, I finished my fourth novel, Death Becoming. I can’t fully describe the feeling that accompanies writing the final words of your novel, this digital amassing of letters and words that formed ideas that created characters and plots that often feel more real to you than the earth around you, all accumulating into this world that exists only inside your own brain, spilling out of you onto digital pages in sluggish sentences or unstoppable surges.

I’ve come to describe it as a “writer’s high”, where your hands are shaking with the words itching to burst forth from your fingertips, your vision going blurry at the edges as you tunnel vision into your fictional world. (Though perhaps that’s just my terrible eyesight.)

I had that high as I completely scrapped the final scene of my novel, one that had been sitting unfinished for nearly a month, haunting me like an old ghost. The road ahead is full of editing, rewriting, and the painful process of scrapping scenes near and dear to my heart, but not the plot. But it’s done. It’s all written down.

As “done” as I can feel, considering it’s only the first book in the series. But hey, baby steps. The dreaded final scene is done, and the stage is set for book two. Today, I celebrate.

What do you do when you find yourself stuck on a scene? How do you beat writer’s block? Do you scrap it and start over? Do you force yourself forward, one painstaking word at a time-half of which you delete as you go? Do you have a pre-writing ritual that gets the inspiration flowing? Let’s chat.

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