Category: Things That Make You Weep For Your Sanity Page 1 of 2

…And We’re Back.

I forgot to compose a blog post for the last two months, it seems. Writing has just been writing. Sometimes I do it. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I query. Sometimes I don’t. There have been no major revelations or hurdles in my authorial life lately.

I had surgery at the beginning of September and thought I’d spend my prescribed weeks of recovery at home with my feet up, writing thousands of words every day. It turns out I can’t even comprehend reading on morphine and Percocet, much less writing. I haven’t produced a single word in a month. Yes, it’s my old familiar friend, the midpoint blahs. I’m familiar enough with my routine now to know that the stretch from about 30K to 60K words is rough going even when I’m clear-headed.

I’m also indecisive as hell. Sometimes choices paralyze me and I end up doing nothing at all while my brain parses every single pro, con and outcome in an endless chain of inactivity.

Case in point: I find myself preoccupied with what path to take my writing time on going forward.

  1. Continue writing The Unknowing until I’m finished my first draft. I have about 35K words now and I’m aiming for 100Kish. At my pace, this represents another 4-5 months of work. Complete the trilogy and put it to bed, while continuing to query for it. Pros: the satisfaction of finishing something that’s occupied me for close to three years. Cons: those midpoint blahs. Spending more time on a project that so far has not resulted in any promise of publication.
  2. Put The Unknowing aside for now and begin a new story that so far has only a two-page outline and some scattered ideas in various notebooks. Pros: That new book glow writers get. The excitement of developing new characters and plots. Cons: The fear that I’ll lose the voice of my current project. The self-imposed perception of quitting or giving up.

I’ve been mulling for the better part of a month and I just can’t decide, so I’m going to put it to you, the reader, with the aid of the handy poll function I just discovered I can use. I will wait a week and then base my decision on the results.


I’ve often heard other writers say their characters are in control of the story and they’re just along for the ride, that every day writing is an exercise in finding out what they’re going to do next. That is so not me. Even when I was technically a pantser with no outline on paper, I still knew the complete storyline in my head and spent a great deal of time every day plotting out what the next day’s writing would look like.

So imagine my surprise when I realized this week that I, too, don’t seem to have much say in what some of my characters are doing. Two of them keep making out. In my head, I’m all, “okay, here comes a suspenseful and dangerous bit,” and then my fingers hit the keyboard and they proceed to try and take each other’s pants off. I’m at my wit’s end over it. I need things to happen, and those things don’t include kissing. I mean sometimes they do, but only when I say so, dammit!

The last couple books I’ve read have been rather smutty. Maybe that’s the cause. Whatever it is, I need to get things back on track, and I fear my delete button is going to be putting in a lot of work this weekend. Or maybe I’ll just run with it and see how things pan out, because you never know. Maybe sometimes the characters do know best.

The Future of Publishing

Caught you attention with that, didn’t I?

Before I elaborate, a preface: I am possibly the world’s worst texter. My missives are all over DYAC. I’ve reached a certain level of infamy amongst my friends and family. In real life I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to spelling and grammar, but when I’m using my phone and tapping away at the speed of light on that tiny screen, all rules go out the window.

A typical example. (Me on the right)

A typical example (me on the left). Who can tell me what I was trying to say?

More nonsense. More profanity.

More nonsense. More profanity.

But tonight my errant thumbs may have stumbled upon a new way for authors to bring their works to the wider world:

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it's gotta be true, right?

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it’s gotta be true, right?

I mean, at least for SFF, right? But until those elves start accepting queries through normal means, I suppose I’ll keep trying to achieve publication the traditional way. But who knows what the future will hold?

(all opinions on elves, elf- and self-publishing are my own. I admire and applaud those who have the wherewithal to self-publish books either about or not about elves, and take on all the work that’s involved. It’s just not for me.)


Good Idea, Or…

Sending queries on Friday the 13th. Very bad idea? I’ve had a pretty fantastic day so far… in fact there could have been a lot of disasters, but everything’s gone off without a hitch.

I’ve got Grimes and Alt-J cued up and the firepit’s lit. The evening air is warm and the beer is cold. I’m going to try my luck.

Major Awkwardness

I mentioned in my previous post that I had sent out my completed draft of The Unseeing to a few beta readers for opinions and feedback. Pretty standard procedure, right? That group includes a few friends who enjoy the genre I write in, and my parents, who by virtue of raising me and all that, get first dibs on anything I deem share-worthy. And my dad in particular offers pretty good advice.

So what’s the issue?

The issue is, this book has some racy bits. Nudity and suggestive dialogue and the word ‘climax.’ <— That word a lot. Or ‘came.’ NIPPLE even, for god’s sake. You get the point.


Now I know it’s not his first time reading that sort of material (and really, it’s fairly tame). He read 50 Shades, of all things, just to see what the hype was about. That was something I could have been happier not knowing about him, but whatever. The discussion he attempted to have with me about the content was also something I could have lived without. One does not talk about such things with one’s father. But surely it must be different reading those things knowing that your daughter, who you cradled in your arms as a newborn, wrote them.

I am 33 years old. I’ve been married for ten years and have two children. It must not be out of the realm of possibility that I have naughty thoughts from time to time BUT MY DAD DOESN’T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THEM.

Mortifying. You don’t even know.

I just… ugh.

The Book Was Written Passively By Me

I’m elbows deep in editing my current WIP right now, and to my dismay and bafflement, I’m seeing a lot of passive language. I don’t know how I fell into the habit, because it’s not my usual style of writing, but it’s all over the place and it’s been tortuously slow editing it all out and changing it to a more active structure. I have to look at every sentence I wrote and find the subject, verb and noun and make sure they’re in the right order. It’s easy enough with short, simple sentences, but complex ones sometimes make my head ache trying to sort it out. This is going to be a long slog, and I’m sure it’ll take a couple more rounds of revisions than usual to make sure I catch it all.

I did write the first draft much quicker than I did my first one – less thought into sentence structure in an effort to just get it all down on paper may account for it. I wonder if subconsciously it’s not a reflection of what my main character is feeling in this story as well – not in control for a lot of the time, having things done to her instead of doing things herself. With that in mind I’m preserving some of it, rules be damned. It’s told in first person, so sometimes a passive structure feels more appropriate. Just not as extensive as what I apparently wrote.

A couple links I found useful when it comes to passive voice:

Seven Examples of Passive Voice (and how to fix them)

Passive Voice: Linking Verbs and Wordiness

Fiction Writing and Other Oddities: Passive Voice

I found the last one especially useful because I’m writing in first-person, past-tense, which means I do use ‘was’ and ‘had’ in the course of my writing. Differentiating between past-tense and passive writing can be difficult when many resources advise to just look for those two key words (plus a couple more) and delete them. I’m definitely guilty of a lot of ‘was +ing verb’ writing this time around though, which isn’t passive, but is wordy and a lot of times can be changed.

The good news is, I’m getting aggressive with my passive writing.

Face. Meet Keyboard.

And then meet screen. And then meet tabletop.

Query letters are bastards to write. Really there’s no other word. Writing the book was easier. Even editing was easier. Since I wrote the first draft of my query, I’ve done more drafts than I did of my novel (12 vs. 6). It’s also taken the same amount of time as my manuscript revisions took (four months), and nearly as much time as the first draft.

That’s insane.

Now I’m at the point where I’m obsessing over single words. Leave it in or take it out? Where to put the most weight, voice, hook, concept or pacing? And the big one for me, Canadian or American spelling?

I’m losing sleep over it. I’m waking up at 4am to take out a comma or move two sentences around. THE QUERY MUST BE PERFECT YOUR ENTIRE PUBLISHING CAREER IS DEPENDING ON IT the internet screams.

I’m giving myself 48 more hours and then whatever I have at that point is what goes out. Seriously, enough is enough.

Do You Ever Really Stop Rewriting?

I was just minding my own business, looking for some new books to read online (Amazon recommended this one for me and I think in this case it’s very smart) when out of the blue I thought up a way to rewrite my query letter. I’ve sent out around 15 and gotten no bites so far, so I’m actually glad this occurred to me because I think it’s way more interesting.

But then it got me thinking, do you ever reach a point where you’re just done? Like 100%, time-to-file-this-bitch done? I work as a freelance journalist part-time, and I never agonize and rethink my articles the way I have been for this book and this letter. I write them, proofread once and then submit them. With fiction there’s always just one more little thing, and then a few days later, a what-if-I moment comes to mind and I’m back to fiddling with things. It’s never anything major like changing a character’s gender or switching from paranormal to a Western-inspired historical cozy mystery (well once it was, but I thought hard about it for quite some time before I actually made the change and it wasn’t quite as crazy as either of those examples) but these little lightbulbs keep going off in my head. Recently I made two characters related when they hadn’t been previously. Sometimes it’s something as trivial as a single word.

And speaking of rewriting, I’m already almost at my Camp NaNo goal of 20,000 words for the month, and we’re only at the halfway point. It was shockingly easy to achieve, and now I’m feeling like I should have set my goal higher, maybe 30,000. BUT close to everything I’ve written during this time is going to need a massive overhaul in the next draft. What I’ve got now is the roughest framework, a dirty rented scaffolding shoved up against a building that’s about to undergo massive renovations.

Wait, that metaphor isn’t quite right, is it. The book should be the building, so I’m the dirty rented scaffolding? Or maybe my laptop is? Yeah I think it’s the laptop. I’m the bricklayer who spends more time wolf-whistling at all the ladies with the nice getaway sticks than working.

It’s too late to for this shit, I should be in bed.

Here’s a Little Pick-Me-Up For You

Life got you down? Maybe you’re not happy with what you wrote this week, editing is driving you around the bend, you’re fed up waiting for the snow to melt or you just stubbed your toe?

Consider this. I have a part-time job at a natural baby-goods store and one of my responsibilities – and I am absolutely not making this up – is to sniff used (albeit in theory washed) cloth diapers to assess them for consignment.

So if things aren’t going your way, just remember this: at no point today did you have to stick your nose in a diaper and take a big whiff. I did.

You’re welcome.

Panicking. Probably Prematurely.

It seems I’ve decided to take Secret Option C in reference to my last post on whether to keep writing my current work in progress or go back to my completed novel and spend some time editing – that is, to write and schedule a bunch of blog posts instead, thereby avoiding the dilemma altogether.

Anyway. I’m starting to look at my work in progress and what I’ve crossed off on the outline so far, and I’m feeling the  first prickings of concern in the back of my brain. I’m at roughly 23,000 words right now, and I’ve made it through a third of the points on my outline. If things remain consistent, I’m looking at a first draft total of around 75,000 words, which is too short, as far as I’m concerned. And I have absolutely no idea what to do about it, other than wait until I’m finished and see how it all turns out.

This, this here, is the downside of outlining for me. If I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t be obsessing about this right now. It’s utterly pointless, it is. But I can no more stop myself from doing it than I can stop myself from biting my nails or worrying about solar flares.

Some time will definitely be spent this week poring over the outline and seeing if there’s anything I can add to it. I like to have lots of extra words at the end of the first draft so there’s plenty of room for cuts. If I start out with only 75,000, I’m going to end up with a novella.

Frustrating. Ridiculous, but frustrating.


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