Monday, 31 August 2015

RSW Update #12

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katie Upperman.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals

Slightly better than last week! I did another editing pass on Darkworld 4, and ended up adding 6000 words and revamping the climactic scenes. I also tweaked some of Darkworld 5, and then my edits on the second book in my YA post-apocalyptic trilogy came in. So I had to project-jump again. I went through my editor's comments and fixed any obvious continuity errors over the weekend, and I'm spending this week on the more in-depth stuff. 

So how did I do overall?
  • Finish drafting the final book in my trilogy (YA post-apocalyptic fantasy). - Yes!
  • Do a read-through of the whole trilogy for continuity. - Yes! I also did several rounds of edits and hired a freelance editor for the first two (I'll be editing Book 3 in September). Success!
  • Start (and hopefully finish) drafting the first in the new fantasy trilogy - I did that, too!
  • Beta revisions, polish and proofread Delinquent: An Alliance Novella. - Yes! And I published it on the 7th August.
  • Send Alliance Book 3 to beta readers and CPs. - Yes! I'll be finishing edits in September.
  • I also did more Darkworld edits after my first round of revisions on Darkworld 4 came in. And I did the final proofread of Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3).
  • And I finished outlining a new YA sci-fi series and started the first book.
What next? Well, I need to finish editing Book 2 in my trilogy and send Book 3 to my editor. I'm also working with a cover artist, planning promotions, and figuring out scheduling for the series.

Meanwhile, I'm aiming to finish edits on Alliance Book 3 in September so I can plan the release in November. And also Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3), out in October.

Emma doesn't do things by halves. ;)

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Story Jenga. That's pretty much how revising feels at the moment--I'm working with books I originally wrote in 2013, and trying to rearrange things without accidentally creating more continuity disasters...

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week

Project-juggling, and again, general disruptions. The roof repairs finish tomorrow (woohoo!), so I should finally have my room back...

5.  Something I love about my WiP

With Darkworld, I like the plot twists. And I like that I finally have release dates. In October, I'll get to share That Plot Twist, the one based on the first story I ever planned, and scenes I've imagined since I was sixteen! ^_^

Sometimes this authoring thing is kind of awesome. :D

August Update: What I've been up to!

This month has absolutely flown by! It's time for my monthly update on all things happening in the Writer's Nest. Firstly: 

What I've been reading

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)

This stunning sci-fi/space opera has one of the most strikingly original concepts I've come across in a while! It's complex and unique, and well worth reading for SF fans. Amazon

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)

I was interested to read Ink and Bone, first and foremost because it's about libraries and books - how could I not want to read it? This is an engaging story based on alternative history that was completely up my alley, and I read it in a day! Amazon

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

I really enjoyed the Legend trilogy, and I was excited to read Marie Lu's new book. The Young Elites is beautifully written and the world-building is well done. The protagonist, Adelina, is more of an antihero than a traditional heroine, which was refreshing. A page-turning read! Amazon

I also picked up this free box set containing some fabulous sci-fi stories. Top favourites included Susan Kaye Quinn's Open Minds, Anthea Sharp's Feyland: The Dark Realm, and P.K. Hrezo's Diary of a Teenage Time-Traveller.

The Duality Bridge (Singularity, #2)

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of The Duality Bridge, the second book in Susan Kaye Quinn's Singularity series (read my review of the first book, The Legacy Human, here!)

The Duality Bridge picks up where the first book left off, and once again, I was hooked from page one. Eli struggles with the aftermath of discovering he's something other than human--or ascender, the advanced human-machine hybrids created in the Singularity. The worldbuilding in this series is complex yet completely engaging.  The series flawlessly combines thought-provoking ideas with a breathtaking pace and three-dimensional characters. I'm thoroughly invested in this series!
Get on Amazon

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)

I finally got to read Lair of Dreams, and I was beyond thrilled to be approved for a Netgalley copy! I've been anticipating this one since 2013, so Lair of Dreams had a tough act to follow after the absolutely fantastic The Diviners. The scope of the narrative widens in the sequel, introducing new characters and adding new dimensions to old ones, and the world of the Diviners grows. Again, a sinister ghost forms the central mystery of the book--this time, people fall victim to a mysterious sleeping sickness, and just as with the first book, the engaging mystery had me turning the pages. As before. the level of historical detail and worldbuilding is stunning and really brings the story and characters to life. I confess I preferred The Diviners, purely because the creepiness factor was higher and I've never found a book quite like it before. But Lair of Dreams is a solid sequel set in a vividly realised alternative history.

What I've been writing

In writing, I did final revisions on Indestructible and another editing pass on the two sequels. I'm currently working on the final major revision round on Book 2 with notes from my editor.

I also did more revisions on Collision (Alliance, #3) after feedback and sent it to more CPs and beta readers.

And I did first-round revisions on Darkworld Book 4. ALL the edits landed in my inbox this month!

And I finished outlining my next trilogy and worked on the first book (still no titles, though).

I have release dates! Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) will be out on the 19th October, and I'll be publishing Collision (Alliance, #3) on the 11th November. Then... 2016 is going to be very exciting. :D

Total words written in August: 15K (+14K added in edits)

What else I've been up to

Delinquent: An Alliance Novella came out!

I went to Lake Como, Italy with my family and my boyfriend, Jed. :)

Plans for September
  • Final edits on Books 2 and 3 in my YA post-apocalyptic series (Book 3 goes to the editor next, and once I'm done with the major revision, I'm going to do a final pass on the whole series to make sure no more continuity errors slipped through!).
  • Final edits on Collision (Alliance, #3) after my last round of feedback.
  • Finish this round of edits on Darkworld 4 and send back to CQ.
  • Continue drafting YA SF Book 1.
...if my workload's anything like August, some of these will probably carry over into October (also depends on the level of changes needed in edits).

Coming up on the blog in September: a long-overdue post on marketing, and another on my thoughts after six months of indie publishing (spoiler: it's awesome). At the end of the month, I'll also be making the official announcement about my YA post-apocalyptic superhero-fantasy series!

And in next month's newsletter: a subscriber-only giveaway and a sneak peek at the covers for Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) and Collision (Alliance, #3)!

Plans for the rest of the year

Once I'm done with edits on my YA post-apocalyptic series, I'll start planning the release properly. I also have cover art scheduled for next month, so it's all getting real! Look out for the series announcement in September!

In October, as I said, Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) releases on the 19th. :) I'm almost done with Round 1 edits on Darkworld 4.

With the Alliance series, I should finish edits on Collision in September, and I'm planning to put the pre-order up in October. Then I'll be going through the usual process--final proofread, formatting, uploading to retailers, ordering proof copies. After the new-release-promo chaos is over, I'll be starting the next round of revisions on Alliance Book 4! At some point I also need to get cover art for Books 4-6, too (probably October, once I've sorted the cover art for my new series).

And of course, I'll still be drafting. I'm hoping to finish the first drafts of all three books in my YA SF trilogy by the end of the year!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

#WIPMarathon August Update

It's time for another #WIPMarathon update, hosted by the lovely Ifeoma Dennis!

Last report wordcount:

I was at 84K of my draft and 2K of the new YA SF WIP.

Current report wordcount: 

I finished my draft at 88K. I'm now at 17K of the YA SF.

I got my edit letter for Indestructible. I added/rewrote 2-3K words and did some pretty big character/plot revisions. Then I did a quick editing pass on the other two books in the trilogy to fix continuity issues.

Delinquent: An Alliance Novella was published! Obviously, I spent release day editing. ;) I did another revision pass on Collision (Alliance, #3) after feedback, cutting around 1000 words, and sent it to more beta readers.

Then I did the final proofread of Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3). It's out on the 19th October! I also got first-round edit notes on Darkworld 4, so I had to switch my brain back to Darkworld mode. I added 5000 words and rewrote the climactic scenes twice.

And I got another editing letter today, so now I'm back in the editing cave with the sequel to Indestructible.

Related: my brain has melted, and I can't read because my Inner Editor is shredding everything in sight.

WIP issues this month: Time, focus and project-juggling. Two rough rounds in the editing cave and the accompanying self-doubt and impostor syndrome because I've written 22 books and still can't write a half-decent first or even third draft. *sigh* This seems to happen every single time, regardless of the genre/category/time spent drafting/level of outlining...

Four things I learned this month in writing:
  • I get a lot more writing done when I'm not juggling a dozen things at once. When I drafted the Alliance series, I didn't work on any other writing projects (apart from a brief break for Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) edits) so I was constantly immersed in the series for about eight months. Jumping projects takes a lot of energy, and even more when it's a jump between drafting and edits. I currently have three series in edits, plus my WIP series... not to mention all the release planning and promotion. This is inevitable, really, but I do miss those 3-6K writing days...
  • Like I mentioned before, I'm now keeping a working chapter-by-chapter outline of my WIP as I write (an outline of what I actually wrote, not the original plan). I'm an idiot for not starting this sooner, because it's exactly how I approach content editing and manuscript appraisals for clients. I find the best way to get a good sense of the overall structure of a story is to write a quick summary of each chapter as I read (as well as a timeline and any issues that crop up). For some reason, it's taken two years to realise I can approach editing my own work in the same way. *headdesk*
  • 2013 Emma was an idiot. (The manuscripts I've been editing were written before I knew how to outline, plot character arcs or write fight scenes, among other things.) *more sighing and headdesking*
  • Related: it's easier to build a new world and story from scratch than to revamp an old one, particularly a series. I'm cleaning up the mess 2013 Emma made of two series, and it's hard to a) remember what in the world I was thinking when I wrote it, and b) add in new stuff without accidentally contradicting old stuff and introducing a flood of continuity errors. It's like playing Story Jenga on top of a conveyor belt...
    What distracted me this month when writing: Everything! The Pitch to Publication deadline was yesterday, and I've been working on that alongside client edits. I had an influx of emails due to the contest, which was awesome, except I decided to publish a book and go on holiday to Italy, too. Then I got another part-time freelance editing job. And I booked cover art and editing for my YA post-apocalyptic series, planned promotions for three series over the next year and a half, and generally flailed around in sleepless lunacy.

    *brain explodes*

    Goal for next month:

    I'm hoping to finish editing my YA post-apocalyptic trilogy, do final revisions on Collision (Alliance, #3), and finish Darkworld revisions. This may be over-ambitious, but we'll see!

    Last 200 words: 

    A rough excerpt from my YA Sci-Fi/Paranormal/Cyberpunk WIP :)

    My head’s down, my hood up, the cuff on my wrist hidden under my sleeve the best I can. Few people are about. This isn’t a place with a vibrant nightlife. Most of the windows are darkened. Houses abandoned when the spirits moved in.
    I turn the last corner, pulse drumming against my cuff. Then I feel it—the sharp tingle that tells me: a spirit’s around here somewhere.
    I walk slowly, then force my pace to quicken. If I can feel the spirit, I must be close, and I can’t afford to hesitate for long. If it’s been hours since the Agency sent in a team, there must be a reason.
    Maybe they’re planning to send in the major agents.
    Breathing slowly, trying to calm down, I ready my ghost light. This street is deserted and at least half the houses are abandoned. I follow the tingling sensation in my left wrist past house after house, waiting for that familiar feeling. Waiting to know there’s a ghost that needs to be exorcised.
    I’ll figure the rest out later.
    Lights flicker as the ghost lamp on the corner comes on under the darkening sky. The shadow stretches like a hand reaching from the dark. My ghost light’s reflected back at me from blackened windows, but underneath, I look like a frightened kid. Not a hunter.

    Monday, 24 August 2015

    RSW Update #11

    Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katie Upperman. It takes place between now and the 31st August.

    1.  How I did on last week’s goals

    I wrote 7K of my draft (total 15K). Then I got my edit letter on Darkworld Book 4, so I retreated into the editing cave again. This one was pretty rough, but I think I dealt with the worst of the problems...

    ...I think...

    2.  My goal(s) for this week

    Finish Darkworld edits, if I can, because I have edits on the second book in my YA post-apocalyptic trilogy scheduled for Thursday. And I need to schedule edits for the final book in my trilogy... somehow. *nervous hysterical laughter*

    3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised


    I think that about sums up my mental state at the moment...

    4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week

    Anxiety. >_< I've been slowly collapsing under a list that never seems to get any shorter, and my office is off-limits because of roof repairs at the moment. Not ideal, because being knocked out of routine/my writing space is setting off my OCD in a major way, which isn't very fun for anyone involved! Especially when it coincided with edits on three novels.

    Obviously, because my brain decided I didn't have enough to worry about, my old friends Self-Doubt About Literally Everything and Stress-Related Panic Attacks came for a visit. 

    Life: 1 Emma: 0.

    5.  Something I love about my WiP

    It's sci-fi (with a paranormal twist). Unlike my other books, I can't use magic to get out of a situation, so I have to find other ways. Granted, in my other series, magic causes more problems than it solves, but it's an interesting (and fun) challenge to have no magic.

    As for Darkworld... I've got nothing. I'm currently walking around singing "Everything is awful" (to the tune of "Everything is awesome"), because really, there's nothing else to do.

    Wednesday, 19 August 2015

    Writing Wednesday

    I'm back to updating on my writing progress each Wednesday! As I said on Monday, the past week's been a little scattered. I started properly drafting my new book on the plane to Italy (I'm now at 12K), only to come home and find proofs for Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) in my inbox... and a release date! 19th October 2015! 

    Which means I have a lot of pre-release planning to do. For three different series. Er... that wasn't supposed to happen. :P

    For the next week, I'm hiding at my boyfriend's while builders fix our roof (right above my office. >_<). Hopefully that'll have finished by the time I get home, because I have edits on the second book in my YA post-apocalyptic trilogy scheduled for the 27th! I'm also making plans for cover art for the series (*bounces excitedly*) - that's scheduled for September. Yay!

    Meanwhile, Collision (Alliance, #3) is with more CPs and beta readers. I'll be focusing on that once I'm done with edits on my YA series! I'll most likely be releasing it in the second week of November, and the pre-order will go up in October. :)

    On a non-writing note, I'm organising a Thunderclap promo for Adamant's next 99c sale (12th September). I'd really appreciate any support! :)

    Monday, 17 August 2015

    RSW Update #10

    Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katie Upperman. It takes place between now and the 31st August.

    1.  How I did on last week’s goals

    I was on holiday at Lake Como, Italy. :)

    But I finally managed to get some words down on my new draft. :) I wrote 6K this week, and I'm at 8K total.

    Then I came back to find the PDF proof of Demon Heart (Darkworld, #3) had landed in my inbox - and I have a release date! The third Darkworld novel will be published on the 19th October 2015!

    I spent the weekend checking the proof for errors. Eek! :D

    2.  My goal(s) for this week

    Write some more words on my draft! I'm trying to get back into a routine, but this summer's all over the place. And I'm being turfed out of my office this week due to roof repairs (I live in the attic, so you can imagine how disruptive this is...).

    3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

    Scattered. I have trouble concentrating on writing when I'm not at my desk, and juggling multiple competing deadlines. I also came to the obvious conclusion that I get a LOT more writing done when I'm focusing exclusively on one project (like when I was drafting the Alliance series). Unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen again any time soon!

    4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week

    Not being at my computer, and recovering from post-book release stress (not being able to write is usually a sign I'm overly stressed, because writing is my escape!). So I was glad to get back into drafting after a shaky couple of months. Even though I have a lot more distractions coming up!

    5.  Something I love about my WiP

    It's weirdly genre-bending, like all my books. YA paranormal dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi... yeah. :P

    On reviewing as a writer

    Some of you may have noticed I don't often post reviews on the blog any more. This is mostly because of lack of time--obviously, I don't get paid for blogging, and I already juggle two demanding careers. But the second reason is the one sometimes tiptoed around: how can you review honestly while taking care not to alienate fellow writers? The publishing community is small, and bridges are easily burned. Because of this, I only leave a review when I liked or really liked the book, and I've been removing my lower rated reviews from Goodreads (I never leave reviews below 4 stars on Amazon).

    Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but as an indie author, I'm acutely tuned into how customer reviews affect my ability to sell and market my books. Most of the biggest promo sites require a minimum of 10 or 20 reviews, with a 4 star average. BookBub, considered the best of all the promo sites out there, had a dramatic effect on my sales when Darkness Watching was featured there. One lower rating, though, and my book would have been knocked out of the running. This time last year, I was selling a book a month. Being picked up by BookBub literally changed my career.

    I'm never dishonest in my reviews, but I've become more aware that there's a time and a place for critical feedback from a writer's perspective on how to "improve" a book, and that isn't in a customer review. As writers, we receive continual feedback on our work: from critique partners, beta readers, and editors. When the book is published, however, it's out of our hands. So how are we supposed to react to reviews saying we "should" have written the book a different way? Obviously, everything's subjective, and it's impossible to please every reader. But writer-readers tend to be the most critical, and post-publication feedback posted in a public place for potential readers to see can feel uncomfortable at best. Before publishing, I ask other writers and editors to rip my writing to pieces so I can improve it. But after publishing? A different story.

    I read as a writer. I'm an author, editor and English Literature graduate, and of course I'm a critical reader. I enjoy picking stories apart. But posting a review on retailer sites to this effect sends an entirely different message to the author. Publishing a book is an emotional rollercoaster, and where do authors turn to find encouragement and support? The writing community. Authors are expected to be thick-skinned and ignore reviews, but it's difficult to avoid seeing critical views of our work - again, especially indie authors, because we're responsible for creating and updating our own GR/Amazon book pages. I'd hate for a fellow writer to feel unwelcome in what's supposed to be a supportive environment. Maybe I'm being overly careful, but I've been ostracised from once-supportive writing groups before, and to be honest, it hurts like hell.

    I'm still posting mini-reviews in my monthly roundups and I review honestly for NetGalley, but I'm refraining from posting any less-than-complimentary reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. I find I'm being more picky about what I choose to read in the first place, which means my ratings are naturally higher than average. I'd never condemn another writer for choosing to review critically, but I feel my super-analytical, nitpicky inner grammar nerd is better suited for editing and beta reading.

    What do you think, fellow writers?