FINISHED! Book 2 done!

I just finished the first draft of Steel Heart, book two in my litRPG series.

I finished the first book, Steel Soul, in June, and the second book today. That’s two months of writing. I’m getting a little faster.

Both books would be in the novella category at the moment, about 100 pages I think. Each is a full story on its own, but part of a bigger story. I’m going to go over them one more time, add in some details, some foreshadowing, and other plot things that I can add now (since I haven’t published them yet) which will add a few thousand more words to them both. I expect they will both still fall in the novella range, but I’m okay with that. A story should be as long as a story wants to be, and each of theses has a definite end point.

I’ve already started book three, which I might be calling “Steel Trap”, I haven’t decided yet. I also know this isn’t the final episode in the story. They are finally going to meet someone pulling all the strings, but it won’t be the end of the matter by any means. In fact…the game might start falling out into the real world. We’ll have to see. I’m still discovering the plot as I go as well.

Also, I wanted to let you know that The Ring is free this weekend. I won’t be putting short stories, or any litRPG into KU anymore, I’ll be taking them wide, so this will be he last time this particular story is available for free for a while. I will probably make a few of my short stories perma-free just because it might a few more eyes on my books, but for now I’m just writing more, and saving releasing them all at the end of the year. Look for that!

Currently ready to be edited:
Steel Soul
Steel Heart
Costume Shop

Working on:
Half Blood Sorceress book 2
Steel Trap

If I can get everything done….I’m working on it! I know that Costume Shop needs to come out on October 1st since it’s a Halloween story. I would like to release a book a month every month after that. I’ve got three so far!

One more day

Yesterday I finished writing Costume Shop, which I’ve been working on for a couple years. It’s a Halloween story, so I always worked on it in the fall. I’d write a few paragraphs then Halloween would be over and I’d move on to something else.

This year I had the beautiful art done by my daughter to spur me on. I really wanted to get it done, and out, so that everyone could see it. So I finally finished it.

Which brings us to the next part; editing. And I only have one more day to do that before we get in a car for a week long journey to LA, and twitchcon.

I’ve already done a bunch of editing, so it’s only a matter of going back over it once or twice and cleaning it up, but still…. I have to actually do it.

If I manage it Costume Shop will be available this weekend. It is an RL Stein style chapter book for younger readers. I might even do a few more in this style…. We will see.

For now I am mostly packed for twitchcon. Gregg has a few finishing touches to do tomorrow, and then we start driving. Well I start driving. I’m sure he’ll take the wheel after a much needed nap.

Values

I wrote a post on Quora today that iIthought would be fitting here. 

Question: How do I write a character to contradict their values. 

My answer: What is the value? What value do they hold higher than that? They will make a choice.

Example, they value life and think guns are bad. But they value their life and their child’s life more. So when a masked guy breaks into their home and somehow the main character gets a gun in their hand they have a choice…. Die and hold the value that guns are evil, or use it against the bad guy.

We make choices like this all the time. Sometimes it’s as simple as “don’t hurt bugs” until the creepy spider shows up in your bathtub. Sometimes it’s something bigger. There is always the question of what is more important to them.

How did you get that scar?

I have many scars on my body. After 40 years of life it isn’t unusual. I have a scar from a motorcycle burn when I wore shorts and didn’t pay attention to where I was putting my leg. I have a thin scar on a knuckle from where I cut myself as a child. I have a big dent in my forehead from chickenpox, and a scar on my elbow from running into a door frame.

But there are two scars that are unusual. One; a large scar on the back of my hand that is sharp at the tip, and blunt at the bottom. The perfect shape of a knife blade. Two; a cigarette burn on my neck.

When I was fifteen I had to ride the bus to school. It was an hour long bus trip each way with a lot of kids, most of which really didn’t care about me. We lived far from town because land was cheaper out there, and there were no cops to but into anyone’s business. And many of the families took advantage of that. Not all of them, mind you, but there were a few.

Not long before summer we were on our way home. The day was hot, and all the windows were down letting in a constant blast of wind and noise. I was sitting with my hand on the seat in front of me, leaning forward to see something.

I did not notice the boy behind me lean over the back of my seat, I just felt my hand erupt into searing pain. I screamed, yanking my hand away, and saw him jerk a knife back over the seat.

On the back of my hand was a burn the exact same of a knife tip. The skin had been burned away. Third degree burns, and I still carry the scar. I suspect he was lighting the tip with a lighter. It didn’t really matter. My hand was already damaged.

Worse, I didn’t say a thing. The bus driver assumed it was just normal teenage shenanigans, and I didn’t want to get someone else in trouble so I didn’t say anything. It took me a long time to learn to stand up for myself.

My hand healed, but it’s a reminder to me. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t sit back and just let people hurt you if you have a way of fighting back. One of the more painful lessons I’ve had.

And the other scar? I guess that’s a story for another time.

Day 17: Full Time Author

I’m not writing enough. I’m writing more than I did before this month, but not enough.

“Enough” is purely subjective, of course, but I feel like I’ve been wasting more time then I should have been. Watching youtube, playing games, reading… okay reading I need to do because that feeds my creativity, but the rest? Maybe not so much. Youtube, especially, distracts me from writing. I’ve had to cut back to just listening to music while writing. But it’s so tempting to just click that button and go see what else is out there!

Monday is only a couple days away and I’ll be going back to a regular job. It kind of disappoints me, which is crazy because at first I was all scared about not having a job for a month. Now I almost feel like I let myself down. Here I was with this perfect opportunity to prove to myself I was self motivated enough to write full time, and I didn’t.

Well, I wrote, and I wrote a lot more then usual, but I didn’t write enough for my taste. And I have no excuses, no one to blame except for myself. There might have been a couple of days where other things took priority, but the vast majority were days that I could have written double, or triple what I did.

So, looking back on that, I wrote double what I had planned to write tonight. I’m still going to bed earlier than usual because… well… I start work in a couple days. But I do feel more accomplished today than I have in a week. And I’ve got another chapter close to finished.

I also worked on getting the print version of Witch’s Curse and Witch’s Stand up…and then realized I had messed up a few things in the last version so I have to edit them, and redo it. Thankfully it was just little things, like putting “kindle edition” instead of “print edition” in the copyright notice, and a miss spelling in the authors note. Small things, but they annoy me anyway.

On the plus side, I got the cover fixed, and at the correct dimensions. Now on to Witch’s Stand.

Back tracking

zombie miniA while ago I started working on a short story called Zombie Swarm. I even came up with a cover that I really liked.

So why isn’t it out? Because as much as I liked the concept and several of the scenes of that story, it just wasn’t good enough.

The biggest problem was easy to fix. I added a few more characters. The whole situation wasn’t very convincing or suspenseful enough so it ended up falling a little flat. Most of the story takes place inside of once little lab, but with only two people working in a lab you don’t have a lot to work with. I added three more people and suddenly things started coming together. There were more issues between characters, more problems, and more strife. Then the creature they are dealing with, I didn’t have to change it much, but I did have to add a few more scenes to the original plot, and a lot more detail.

So it meant going back, completely reworking the original plot line, and rewriting it. I threw away the 6000 words I’d already written to start all over again. But I know I’m going to have a better story because I did that, even if it really REALLY sucked throwing away 6k words that I wrote. I’m also expecting the finished story to be twice as long, at least, so that’s a plus.

Don’t be afraid to throw it out and start all over again.

Creative Blocks

So today I did my Vlog about frustrations of finishing, and publishing, SOMETHING. Anything. Well, especially my trilogy that I’ve been working on for all of 2014.

Well, it’s 2015, and I guess I needed a break. My boyfriend gave me a little pep talk (Crissy, you need to write, stop making excuses.) and I sat down to do so. But I couldn’t face my trilogy again. Not after all that time spent on it. So I switched to another project, the one that I was actually going to work on once this trilogy was finished. And what do you know, in 15 minutes I’d already written 500 words.

Sometimes you need to take a break. Sometimes you need to mope for a few minutes and get your frustrations out. And sometimes you just need to shelf the project for a little while and work on something else. So that’s what I’m doing. Mermaid’s Curse won’t be shelved forever, but it will probably be a week or two before I get back to it. A month at most. Till then I have to work on something. So I’m working on Eternal Tapestry book 1. (You know, the book that comes before Forgotten Ones. Can I never write anything in order?)

(BTW, I finished with 750 for the night since it’s already midnight and I have work tomorrow. But that’s way better then zero.)

Around the Web

Welcome to the world wide web. Pull up a chair, view a few pictures, and enjoy the view. I’ve got articles, photos, videos, and more. Enjoy.

Penguin to publish the “lost” Schönwerth fairy tales.

Rowling release 12 new short stories for Christmas. Sign up for Pottermore to find them.

Thousands of Einstein documents now open source, and just one click away.

Beautiful redesign of the Harry Potter books.

Books made into beautiful art

Scientists translate monkey language

DC’s comics parody famous old film art.

First underground park. (Inspiration for you Sci-fi authors.)

Also, my boyfriend Gregg and I started doing a new project. We’re calling it Nano-Files, and it is us telling some crazy stories using a deck of cards. You can check out it out here. You can also catch up on my semi daily vlog here.

Aaaaand DONE!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileI finished writing 50,023 words for my book, “Mermaid’s Curse” at 8:35 am the morning of Nov 30th. I am kind of shocked that I was able to finish so early. Not only that, but I only had 1300 words to write that morning.

Every year that I’ve done NaNoWriMo before I’ve been faced with the last day rush to get words. 8000 one year, 10000 another. It got to the point where I just threw words at the page hoping to see what stuck later in editing, and most of it was terrible.

First drafts are suppose to be terrible. But it isn’t always good to feel like nothing you write has any value except words on a page either. When you’re so tired you are holding your eyes open with toothpicks, and your back and neck hurt from all the typing, all you want to do is curl into bed and sleep, that’s when your writing suffers the most.

So, this year I’m going to share what made a real difference. Why did this year feel different from every other year? And why doesn’t it feel like I am so exhausted and sick of writing that I can’t pick up the keyboard this month?

Practice and Reality

dataFor the last two years I’ve been trying to write every day. That hasn’t always worked. I could give you lots of excuses as to why this hasn’t always worked, and of course there are days when things came up, or I was sick, or there was a lot going on… But the truth is most of the days I failed to write I just didn’t feel like writing. I was lazy. I didn’t take my writing seriously enough.

In October, for the first time, I actually started realizing how important writing was to me. I wrote a bit about this earlier this month, and the two things that really seemed to help. This was my reality check. I had to decide this thing, this writing, was important to me. More important than the job I go to 5 days of the week. More important than video games, or board games, or long soaks in the tub. (not that I can give up or stop doing all of those things, just that I had to decide what was more important.)

Once I got the reality check I started practicing writing every day in earnest. That meant that when NaNoWriMo came along I was willing and able to take up my own challenge and slay some writers block demons. And do so with excitement because “This was my story, and I loved it, and I wanted to see it finished!”

Be prepared for distraction

Things will get in the way. My daughter made an unexpected trip home. There was Thanksgiving, and a day where I felt sick. I had a day when I was literally so exhausted I almost feel asleep at the keyboard.

These things are going to happen. Prepare for them. I did this by always striving for 2k a day from day one. I wrote 2k a day more than half of the month. That’s what allowed me to finish NaNoWriMo that morning without stressing over it. I only had 1300 words and two hours before work. No problem because I had already been putting in 2k a day most of the month. This morning it was just the pure excitement of “OMG I’M ALMOST DONE” that got me to do it so quickly.

Listen to your body

I had a few days where I couldn’t quite reach 2k for the day because I was so tired. Being tired does not help your writing. When I was exhausted I tended to write much slower, and the words I wrote were far more likely to be deleted the next day. The next morning I still had work, and I was still exhausted. When I got home that night I would get to write and find myself doing even worse than the day before.

About a week in I decided that I wasn’t going to play that merry game of chasing my tail anymore. Nope, time to listen to my body. My body said sleep, I was going to sleep, darn it, and forget about writing that day. Each time I got to about 400-500 words and started feeling my eyes start to droop I’d close the programs, turn off the PC, and go to bed. The next day I would almost always manage to get 2.5k words out in a few hours.

Small Steps

I also talked a bit here about how I would listen when my brain started to wander and then I’d go do something else. After a bit I’d come back and write some more.

I’ve learned that I can do about 500 words in thirty minutes. Then after a short break I could come back and do it all over again. Four thirty minute sessions got me the 2k words I wanted for the day.

They are small steps, each step carving out a little more of the story, sharing it. And adding it to the already piled up masses of FINISHED chapters.

Take Joy in Small Accomplishments

About a week and a half from the end of NaNoWriMo I started to have a few new challenges. I was getting to the point where I had lots of words, but nothing finished. The chapters were in pieces, with lots of connecting sentences that read “and they did this and this until this happened” before going on to the next scene that I had been able to write. I needed to finish those connecting pieces so that I had a complete chapter.

So I got out my scrivener file and I just sat down and started on page one. Working my way down the page I filled in all those little pieces, and after half an hour I had a finished chapter. I added a little asterisk to the title of that chapter and went onto the next chapter.

After a couple of days the asterisks started adding up. I am done with the first twelve chapters of Mermaid’s Curse 3, and the rest of them are mostly finished. Each time I added that asterisk that said “this is done, it just needs and edit” I felt buoyed and wanted to keep going. It was awesome.

Take joy in the small accomplishments, because they eventually add up.

I have about 15,000 words to go to complete this novel, and then I will have a completed trilogy to send off to the editor. I think I’m incredibly excited! NaNoWriMo was a success for me!

Mermaid’s Curse

Over on G+ a lot of authors started doing #SaturdayScenes. That’s where we showcase one scene from one story we are either working on, or have published. I’ve showcased mainly stories from my published books so far. Footprints, Forgotten Ones, Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites. Yesterday I posted the first snippet from the novel I’ve been working on, and talking about, since October. “Mermaid’s Curse“.

Google Plus is a great community. Lots of authors around. A lot of readers looking for their authors. But… not everyone is on G+. In fact I’ve met people who were violently opposed to going to G+. Somehow I just realized this morning that I should have been sharing these here, on my blog, as well, to compensate for that.

So I’m going to post the excerpt from Mermaid’s Curse here, as well as links to all of the other snippets. If you’d like to read any of them then you’ll have to head over to G+. (sorry).

Now… on with the scenes!

Prophecy by Barlight
Touch Me Not (A complete short story from Small Bites)
Footprints
Battle on the Walls (from Forgotten Ones)

****************

Mermaid’s Curse

“Little Mother!”

The sudden, unmistakably masculine, voice pulled Marizza out of her studies. Surely she was mistaken. No one could have been on the little island that the mother, Salvia, had taken her to. The nearest island was a day’s journey, and very few were willing to brave the empty seas with the threat of the kraken so close at hand.

“Little Mother? Are you here?”

Strong, deep, and resonating. The voice seemed to draw her, and she thrust the forgotten book aside running to the door. Pressing her ear to the rough wood, she listened.

Salvia warned her to avoid others. Her abilities were still raw, wild, and untamed. With her magic tied to her emotions, she had already destroyed several small items with a miss placed spell during a fit of rage. Marizza figured out it wasn’t her abilities the Little Mother was trying to temper; it was her own emotional outburst. It would have been easier to temper the magic.

She pressed an ear to the door. She hadn’t heard another person in months, and the solitude was wearing on her. Use to busy streets, and a bakery bustling with towns folk, the utter silence of the forgotten island pressed in on her like a thick fog, smothering her. That voice, with its deep timber and melodic chime, rang through her, dispersing the fog for a bright moment.

“Little Mother! I’ve brought the things you asked for!”

Closer. She could hear the slap of bare feet as the man-made his way up the dirt path. A sailor? Many of them were known to walk unshod. It helped them feel the movement of the sea, they said.

There was more to his voice though. Now that he was closer she could hear a magical aura slipping in through the chiming cadence. Whoever he was, he resonated with a latent power. Another witch? Someone she could be around safely?

The cabin began to feel claustrophobic around her as she heard his footsteps nearing the door. Her fingers wrapped around the cold iron door latch, her curiosity gnawing at her. She could hear his footfalls quicken, feel his vibrant aura of strength just beyond the door.

She yanked the offending wood open—

And came face to face with the most beautiful man she had ever witnessed. His eyes were a startling shade of ice blue, his skin a milky white, almost translucent in the morning sunlight. His black hair hung in wet braids down to his bare shoulders.

Flushing bright red, Marizza lowered her gaze only to be greeted by the stark evidence of his complete nudity. A naked, wet god had emerged from the waters only to torment her.