"I have no status and no place in a magical world, when I have no magic. All I have is my pony," she whispered...
Every story needs a main character, and Aili is the brave adventurer that the Forest Guardians series follows. She's not as alone as she feels, but we don't always remember that when things feel darkest.
A young woman transitioning into adulthood, or at least she would be if she had magic, Aili is confronted with finding her place in the world. We all must do the best we can with what we know, even if we don't know enough and can't see the actions of those around us.
So, what do you do when you don't fit in and you can't see a future you like? You go make your own future, in Aili's opinion. A young woman of surprising non-magical talents, she spent part of her childhood playing in the forest near her home city. With a thirst for knowledge and a love of reading, a girl can learn a lot in a library, when nobody bothers her. After all, what would you say to the girl with no magic?
She grew up with Leya, her faithful pony companion, whom she helped train. Leya let her get deeper into the forest than she ever could on her own, deep enough to meet the wolf pack...
Awkward around people her own age, Aili spent her time with a few adults who taught her skills and talked to her like she mattered. What will she do when she encounters boys and social expectations (book 2, in progress)? Well, Aili would rather never come out of the forest again, but how likely is that, really? Especially considering who her teacher is! And just what is he going to teach her, anyways?
For the past week I’ve had a head cold. Nothing serious, but it has been distracting, for sure. My typing has been a little off and my focus is shorter than normal.
To accommodate my current situation, I’ve needed to make some minor changes to my routine. I don’t sit and work for a few hours anymore without more breaks in between. I drink more tea to stay hydrated. I also stop regularly, every hour or so, and play some video games between to give my focus a break. By changing up what I’m doing, I feel better when I go back to work.
As my books get closer to done, I’m at a fun stage of writing. I’m filling in the story with fun scenes between the main story components. In the erotica novel, I’m in draft three and over halfway done. Now it’s a case of just getting it done, with time at the desk. I spread that out more right now, since my brain is tired with the cold. It works, and I feel better when I go back to work. When I feel better and have more focus, I’ll put in longer bursts over less time again. Until that time comes, I adapt and adjust, making sure I spend time on each book regularly.
Ginger tea, here I come...
What’s the hardest part of writing? Every author will give you their own answer. Mine? Choosing a book title. What the heck am I supposed to call that thing, anyways? How do I make it snappy and something inviting while capturing the essence of the story?
I didn’t know the title to Runaway Magic until the book was done and I was working on the cover. Well, the sequel is well underway. I’m beginning to pick a title for it. What the heck am I going to call it?
I’ve got a file where I keep promotional material for the Forest Guardians series, like possible titles, possible book blurbs, and so on. One method that works is for me to start listing possible titles. I just put out whatever comes to mind and see if something really strikes me as being perfect. The other thing I do is a quick search to see how many other works share the title. I had one I loved for the sequel, but I’d be competing with so many other books that I’d get lost in the mix.
The good news is that I have time to decide. I have until the book gets submitted for publishing, really. While I also have to assign my ISBN number, and I do that myself, again it’s a thing done during the publishing process.
That’s also why the coming soon title on the main page has no title yet. I know the basis of the story, but I don’t yet know what it’ll be called. Oh, well, I do have time!
What’s your writing challenge, your own hardest part?
I adore writing, I really do. Since writing is my primary occupation, though, I spend a lot of time with my stories each day. Sometimes I find if I work hard on one of them for a while, I start to feel a sort of brain tired when I go to work on it. This is also more likely to happen at two stages. The first is around 30 000 words into my first draft, and the second stage I get it is as I’m getting ready to start my third draft.
It’s one of the reasons I like to have more than one story going at a time. I might have up to three stories, but I do best when I’m only actively working on two, I’ve learned. Hey, do what works for you, and don’t be afraid to try things.
By being able to have a story I’m at a good stage with, when I get writers fatigue on the other one, I can still get some really productive writing in. Sometimes if I work on the productive story first, the story that’s tired also goes better.
I generally also try to work on my young adult novels before my erotica, so I can keep everything well separated in my brain. However, some days things need to be done differently.
So, what is it about the 30 000 word mark and the third draft? Well, usually around 30 000 words the story itself is plotted out. The main scenes are written. Now I need to add the fun and games, and the scenes between scenes. Sometimes they just flow and come to me, and other times I don’t know what will happen. One thing that helps is to remember, write the story I want to read. What would I love to see happen?
With the third draft, I’ve now read my story multiple times. I may love my characters, but sometimes as I’m finishing my second draft, my mind gets tired. Often I set everything aside for a little and come back fresh. I’d rather do a good story than rush just to be done, or because I’m so close.
That’s why I usually have a third story at some stage in the process, like the martial arts story right now. I’m about 20 000 words in. I started it while I was getting the first Forest Guardians book published, before I began the sequel. I didn’t feel right working on the erotica while my first book was so close to done, so it got to sit and rest. Now I’m back at it and close to done, so another story is sitting aside.
It’s great always having something to work on. It suits my short attention span. There’s always something I’m excited to write about in at least one of my stories, so I always look forward to writing another day!
Also, by taking a more relaxed schedule on Wednesdays and Saturdays, where I write when I want with as many breaks as I want, I’m more productive.
After a break from working on the erotica, due to life circumstances, I’m back at it. I did not realize how close to done I really was...
Getting my first book published was a crazy whirlwind of excitement and stress. I will admit, it took a lot out of me, in both time and attention. It was thrilling in an “I did a thing” kind of way. I was exhausted for days.
Now that I know what to do and how to do it, I’m more relaxed about my next book coming out. I can take my time and enjoy the experience more easily without the stress of figuring things out.
I have a few scenes to write and some editing to do, then my first romance/erotica will be available to share with people. It will be published under a different pen name, so my young adult readers don’t encounter materials that aren’t suitable for them. It’s exciting, getting a book out to share with people. Some will love it, some will hate it, but I had fun writing it.
I expect to be ready within a couple of weeks. I’m still working on the sequel and the martial arts book, as I enjoy having different projects on the go. I know from finishing my first book that the excitement of being done means I’m not focused enough to start plotting another novel. Having one already going means I can settle into my routine of writing more easily and keep my momentum going. I do love writing.
Still, ALMOST THERE!
Routines are great. They can help us be better writers, triggering our brain into work mode. However, they can also start to wear us down, too. After the last few weeks, which have been a right proper whirlwind, I felt tired and dragging.
Now is the time to take a break. I could do that by taking a day or more completely off, but I really do love writing. Instead, I’m going to change things up so my brain feels fresh and ready to tackle something different.
I love writing about Aili and her adventures, as well as other characters in other books I’ve got on the go, but today was a good day to focus on editing another book I have close to publishing. The editing is going quickly and easily, a wonderful way to change things up. I still worked a little on Aili’s next adventure, but after that I set my stories aside and pulled out the romance novel. The first half is written and the second half is almost done. It’s more like two related stories, so I can tackle them separately.
I also let myself enjoy a different breakfast, just for pleasure, and didn’t start writing right away today. I’m slowly working throughout the day, giving myself as many breaks as I want. It’s a great way to decompress and relax after everything that went into getting my first book out.
Routine is powerful, but shouldn’t be put ahead of the actual writing. Use it to great benefit, but when you need a break, one way to get it is to let your routine change for a day. Write somewhere new, or at a different time. Enjoy a different drink while you write, or whatever you like.
Now, let your imagination play!
To me, the best part of stories is the characters who bring them to life. Without our characters, what’s left? Sometimes a character may even be the wind, or a spirit, or animals, but something always acts in a story. If not, where’s the story?
How do I write characters? First, I imagine who I want to go on an adventure with. Who will I encounter? Who are my allies and who am I unsure about? Who or what am I fighting against? Sure, there’s no secret that my protagonists are based at least loosely on me, either as I am or was. If I write a story I want to read, I’ll get an adventure from it. But...what about everyone else?
Inspiration for characters comes from all over. Who do we know that we admire? What traits do we wish they had? What makes them human, I mean what are their hopes, dreams, fears, and flaws? Without all these, they’re not really real, are they?
Okay, so we’ll take a concrete example right from my first novel. The character of Leya, Aili’s pony. Where did she come from?
For starters, I love ponies. I ride them every chance I get over horses, as they’re quirky and full of personality. I love my horses, too, but there’s something about the ponies that I just do well with. They have enough attitude for a massive horse, all stuffed in those little hairy bodies. I know ponies.
Alright, I know how ponies think and behave, what their likes and dislikes typically are. What now? Well, Leya can’t just be any pony, she needs to be her own pony. What does she specifically like? What does she hate, and who doesn’t she tolerate? In her case I based her off a couple of ponies I actually have in my paddocks here at home. I chose some traits from each that I thought would blend well into one personality...horsinality? I worked out what she fears, what her favourite treats were, where she likes to be scratched. Everything I know about my own ponies, I worked out for her.
This works for human characters as well. While I may not know all my character’s backstory, I learned more about one just this sequel in fact, I know what they like and don’t, what they want, and how they react to things. Readers can discover more as future books progress. Even if much of this information never makes it into a book, it gives me a consistent person to work with. I have a notebook with information on each character, where this gets written down.
So, who are they? Who’re their friends? What are their hobbies? Do they have a favourite food? How well do they read, and what language(s)? Bring them to life and let them play. How do they dress? Are they tidy or messy, clean or dirty? Write a dating profile for them if that helps, or think of a facebook profile to organize what you know. Or do like I do and keep a record in a paper book, leaving room to add more information as they adventure in more stories.
Make a character...Go write!
I took a day and rested yesterday. After all the effort that went into getting the books ready and uploaded, I was tired. I’m still a bit tired, but it’s getting better. Still, I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I feel complete when I’m writing. Today I got back to my regular routine and started writing again.
I’m taking more breaks now, as I am still a bit tired. I’m now a published author! Goal one achieved. Now I want to keep writing and sharing stories.
The longer I write, the more I learn how to make my writing sustainable in my life. I currently take Saturdays off my normal writing routine and write later when I feel like it. Maybe I’ll write on my stories, and maybe it’s my personal writings instead, but I still write. I’m going to add a second day a week of a more relaxed schedule for myself. Probably Wednesday, I think. That way I don’t have to go too long until I get a rest. Many people only work a five day week, and some people work four days. The four day work week has shown to be more productive for many people. I only work about four hours a day, maybe five, so a five day work week sounds ideal.
My stories are coming along well. The sequel is about half done the first/second draft. The martial arts book is a little less complete, and that’s okay. My erotica/romance is back to being worked on and is much closer to being completed. Now that I have my afternoons back, I can work on all three as I want, or any two on any given day.
At any rate, I feel best when I am writing. I want to write. I recognize the importance of rest days and not always pushing hard as I write, but letting the stories flow from me. As I need to, I adjust my schedule and habits to get the best results.
At any rate, I’m an author now!
Today I submitted my files for publishing. I’m starting on Amazon for ease of use. Mid-afternoon I finished the submissions and got everything done. The ebook version is already up for sale. Wow, that was fast. The paperback version is still under review for quality control, but the prescreen showed no issues.
I did a thing! For the past two weeks I had been spending my afternoons preparing the manuscript, learning how to use the converter programs, dealing with cover art, and more. It’s been a journey and an adventure, though not as exciting as what my character goes through. Still, it was exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking, and wonderful.
I can’t wait to have a physical copy of my book, so I can read and enjoy it over and over again, easily looking things up if I need to as I write the next books in the series. I’m almost halfway through writing the second book, so a couple of months and it’ll be up for sale, too.
The most surprising part of the process was seeing the book being turned into an actual print ready file. I got to choose book size and learned how many pages the finished book was going to be. Since it was written in word in normal view, 8.5” x 11”, it wasn’t even 200 pages, though I had the word count right around 80 000 words. Seeing how many pages it was as I played with book size was fascinating.
The software made turning the file into books incredibly easy. I’m pleased with how well it went and how intuitive it was. As I have two more books coming up in the next few months, it’s reassuring to know the publishing stages are so simple. I can focus on making the best book possible and writing stories I love. For now, I rest and celebrate, after two weeks of learning and solid work. CELEBRATE!
I’ve encountered a new issues with writing. I still love the writing and telling stories, and I’m still having a blast doing it. However, I don’t always end my writing time mentally the way I do physically. Yes, I expect to spend some time away from my desk thinking about my stories, that’s not a problem, but it’s also goo d to return to my daily life, too.
See, I gave my characters life. I send them out and let them play, seeing how they react to things. There is a little of me in every main character I write, but some characters have more of me than others. These are the characters I continue to journey with, even after my laptop is closed.
I’ve begun meditating after my writing time, too, to help me transition back into my daily life. One of the traits of my Meyers-Briggs personality type is having a rich inner life. I can say this is very true, I have so many stories in my head that I could stay there forever. That’s not the healthiest way to live, and no way to have a full life, so I’m starting an end of writing ritual to keep my brain focused on the right thing at the right time.
I already have rituals to get into writing space in my head, so I hope this works just as well. Right now it doesn’t help that I return to working on my books in the afternoon, at least working on the one Im getting ready to publish. Any day now, it’ll be ready to submit. So exciting!
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.