Category Archives: My Works

Writing Progress Report.

I haven’t posted an update on my various writing projects in a while, so I think I’m overdue for one, especially since I will be starting a new first draft for NaNoWriMo 2015. So here is what I am working on, what I set aside to grow and mature, and what I had to shelve until better times.

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THINGS I’M WORKING ON NOW:

Of Broken Things

This is the first story I had ever finished, and like any first book, it needs A LOT of work to transform from a messy disjointed first draft into something I wouldn’t be too ashamed to put out into the world.

I have been doing edits and rewrites on it off and on for the past two years, with long interruptions to focus on something else, because otherwise I get the desire to pull my hair out, bang my head on the wall, and laugh hysterically. The good news is that two out of three parts are now fully rewritten. The bad news is that Part 3 will require a MAJOR rewrite. I’m kinda dreading that one, actually, because I’m pretty sure it will bring me to the brink of a nervous breakdown by the time I’m done with it. So that story will remain on the shelf until I’m done with NaNo and the revision of Choices.

But I discovered one good thing about going back to edit a story I wrote two years ago. I can see just how much I’ve grown as a writer. It’s easy to get discouraged in the writing process, because the changes are so gradual that they often get unnoticed. Sometimes we even feel like we are regressing instead of improving. That’s when you should pick up one of your old drafts, because you look at it and you think, “Wow, I’ve really come a long way! This is ghastly… but I know exactly how to make it better.”

The Choices we Make.

I had tried to write this story down several times during the years and gave up, but I finished the first draft during NaNo 2014. Well, in January 2015 after that Nano, to be precise. But I haven’t touched it since then. This is the second book I’ve ever finished so it doesn’t need as much work as Of Broken Things, but I will still need to do a pretty significant rewrite of Part 3.

This is a recurring trend for me, I’m afraid – I tend to drop the ball in the third part of the story. I get cold feet and decide not to follow the conflict to its logical resolution. I am too nice to my characters to make them suffer, even if it’s necessary to the story. So the climax and resolution of the main conflict falls short of the expectations.  I know exactly what I need to change to bring this story to the next level, so Choices are in the first place in my editing pipeline after I’m done with NaNo.

After all, my beta extraordinaire and most ruthless critique partner says that once this story is fixed, it’s good enough to try querying agents for traditional publishing with. Coming from her, it’s A HUGE compliment.

Blue blood on the page!
Blue blood on the page!

Mists of the Crossworlds.

This novella is fully rewritten. The story is as good as it will be plot and character-wise. Now I just need to tighten up the prose and hunt down all the pesky grammatical and spelling errors.  And find an editor who wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I think about self-publishing this story sometimes in the December – January timeframe. This will likely be an adventure on its own, so expect a few blog post about that particular endeavor.

Shadow Hunters.

This is my new project. I’m planning on hammering down the first draft during NaNo and after it (and be done with it by the end of January at the latest). As of today, the worldbuilding is done, and all the main characters have complete bios. I am working on the outline, which promises to be 25k words long all on its own, the longest outline I’ve written yet. I’m done with Parts 1 and 2, but I still need to outline parts 3 and 4 before November. I can feel the stress levels rising.

 

WHAT I PLAN TO WORK ON IN THE NEXT COUPLE YEARS:

Ghost and the Good Doctor (temporary title).

This is a novel-length story that popped into my head after listening to the k-pop group BigBang’s song Monster.

I have written down the scene that sprung into my mind during the song and jotted down some details about my protagonist, Ghost, as well as some other characters. I barely scratched the surface on the worldbuilding front though. This will probably become my NaNoWriMo 2016 project, because I have too many things to edit to be able to start working on another full-scale novel until then. It’s hopping around my plot bunny enclosure right now, growing fat on fresh grass and the corpses of other, weaker plot bunnies.

Eye of the Norns Cycle:

After I had published the first short story about Ryssa in this anthology, I got the idea to write several more stories about her journeys and put them in chronological order. I have written the next story in the cycle, but haven’t had time to edit it yet. I have also outlined one more story and have ideas for at least 3 more. This might be a project I work off and on in between the revisions of Choices next year.

Breathless.

This short story will be a companion piece to Of Broken Things and will take place 15 years before the events of the novel. I know exactly what it will be about, but I haven’t done any outlining on it yet. I’m not in a hurry on this one because the novel itself still needs a lot of work.

The Price we pay.

Sequel to Choices, taking place a few months after the first book ends. It will follow a different set of protagonists, because Sky and Selena’s story was resolved by the end of book 1, but the story of the Free Kingdom is only just beginning. But do not fear, Sky and Selena will still make an appearance, because they aren’t going anywhere.

I haven’t even started brainstorming this story yet. I have a vague idea where I want it to go and who my protagonists will be, but nothing beyond that. So I might get around to it in 2016, but 2017 would be more optimistic.

 

 

Of course, this list is not set in stone, because plot bunnies can attack me at any time and just not let go until I write them. This year I got Shadow Hunters and Ghost and the Good Doctor like that, seemingly out of nowhere, so who knows what next year brings me.

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What I love about starting a new story – worldbuilding.

Creating new worlds.
Creating new worlds.

I have taken yet another break from editing because I got bitten by a rabid plot bunny that just WOULDN’T LET ME BE! It was stomping all over my poor brain until I finally gave in and decided to work on it in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2015. On minus side – Of Broken Things are sitting in a drawer again. On the plus side, I have another exciting story to tell!

So today I want to talk about what I absolutely love in the process of developing a new story – the worldbuilding. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than grabbing the newly born story idea and pulling on it. It feels like I’m slowly unraveling a big messy ball of yarn and knitting a beautiful blanket with it… or a sweater… or a piece of art… you see the picture lol.

In the case of this new story, the premise is simple – boy meets girl. She shakes up his small and familiar world and makes him question his believes and his place in this world. It’s been done almost to death before, I know. But the important thing is not what the premise is, but how it’s presented and brought to life.

That’s where worldbuilding is so important. This boy can’t exist in a vacuum. What world does he live in? What does he believe in? What family does he come from? Who are his friends and his enemies? What does he want in life? Who is this girl and why does she challenge him so much?

All those questions need to be answered before I can even begin to think about the story itself. And all those questions bring with them even more questions, all of which serve to slowly paint the picture of a bright new and hopefully unique world. And I feel like an adventurer setting foot on virgin soil. I’m the first one looking at that world. Nobody has ever been here before! It’s a heady feeling.

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I usually write up to 40k words in worldbuilding alone, and most of those will never be included in the actual story, because they are for my eyes alone. But I never consider that a waste of time. To me, it’s one of the most interesting parts of working on a story. I get to write anything that strikes my fancy.

So my protagonists are from different social backgrounds, but what exactly are those backgrounds? After a few hours of surfing the Internet and lots of writing and rewriting, I came up with a whole new caste system where the first letter of your First Name and your Surname immediately indicates which caste you belong to, whether you were born into it or joined it later  in your life, as well as what family you married into and what family you came from. So in this world people know almost everything about you social status as soon as they hear your name.

Then I got to thinking what kind of world would such a rigid set of social and naming rules exist in and that netted me another 10k words in backstory and world description alone. And it was absolutely fascinating.

It’s a world where most of the land is a wilderness that belongs to spirits and humans live on specially allocated territories with rigid borders. There are only so many roads connecting different human lands and straying from them into the wilderness without a special guide is equivalent to suicide.

The spirits in this world are not like the ghosts we have in our Western culture. They are more similar to the definition in Japanese Shinto religion. They aren’t good or bad, they just are. A bit like rain and snow, summer heat or a wild fire and a tornado. In this sense, they are very similar to the mushi from this excellent Manga. Some spirits are completely alien in their forms and their mentality, some are more similar to humans. Some are interested in human affairs and even help sometimes. Some are absolutely indifferent as long as humans don’t infringe on their lands.

The human lands each have a ruling family that derives their power and authority from the Mandate they have signed with the spirits. It’s a lot similar to the Mandate of Heaven from the Chinese mythology. Only in this world, the Mandate has a tangible confirmation in the form of a glowing Stone placed in the Temple of each Capital. As long as the Stone is unbroken, the ruler (and the country) have the spirit’s favor. But once it’s broken… let’s just say that wilderness can claim a valley in less than a day.

The Shadow Hunters are people who went through the initiation and became more than human, but not entirely spirit. They act as intermediaries between humans and spirits, since they are the only ones who can understand the spirits. They are also the only ones who can travel through the wilderness unharmed. In exchange, they act as guards, protectors and “game keepers” for both the wilderness and the human lands, striving to preserve the balance of this complex ecosystem.

good-luck-road-sign

That is the world in which my next story will unfold, and it’s different than anything I’ve written before. The more I find out about it, the more fascinated I get. Now I just need to sit down and figure out what story I really want to tell that would be as interesting and captivating as the world it takes place in.

That’s a work in progress, so stay tuned.

Keep Writing – you get better even if you don’t feel like you do.

Last week, I finally finished the first draft of Mists of the Crossworlds… again. Yes, I’ve had to rewrite this story three times now and each time it nearly doubled in size. So it went from a 6k words short story to a 20k words novella and now, at almost 50k words, it’s a novel. Hopefully, I have finally told the whole story and I won’t have to go through this process again.

 

Anyway, I feel drained and rather low every time I finish a new first draft. I can’t help but feel like everything I have written is complete and utter s%$t and why did I even bother finishing it in the first place?

 

I know that feeling now. It happens all the time. So instead of panicking and sending the whole Scrivener folder into the Recycle bin or putting the printed copy into the furthest drawer, I sent it off to my favorite beta and most vocal supporter and decided to forget about it for a few weeks. Once she is done reading, she’ll come back to me with a long list of problems and some much needed praise, and I will try to make the story better.

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So while I wait on her to suffer through the murk of my first draft, I decided to come back to editing Of Broken Things, the very first novel I managed to write from beginning to end. I had finished the first draft in January 2014, had started editing it in March 2014 and hadn’t touched it since about July 2014. Back then, I managed to edit about half of the manuscript and got burned out. Considering that I had to rewrite about 80% of Part 1 and change almost everything, It was probably normal.

 

Anyway, I had put the manuscript aside and wrote a couple short stories, did my first revision / extension of Mists and then got busy with the NaNoWriMo project which became The Choices we Make. After I finished that one, I jumped into yet another revision of Mists, so I never got a chance to get back to Broken Things before.

 

Well, I can tell you that what I discovered when I opened that manuscript again after almost a year took me by surprise. The first thing I thought was “Holy s%$t, I can write better than this now!” And that was a very empowering thought, especially since I was feeling low after finishing my first draft of Mists. So that’s and observation I really wanted to share with my readers.

 

We spend so much time in our current project that sometimes we lack the perspective. First drafts can be soul-eating and draining. They look more like Quasimodo than Prince Charming, and we sometimes end up hating them by the time we are done. And we can start feeling like nothing we write is worth reading, that nothing is good enough. Worse, that we’re not improving, that we’re not moving forward.

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What I discovered when I picked up Broken Things again is that it’s not true.  I have written a little over 200k words since the day I finished that manuscript, and I can see that they have made a difference. I have gotten better. I have grown more confident in my voice and my abilities as a storyteller and it shows. That doesn’t mean that this old manuscript is bad. It just means that I have a much better idea of how to improve it. And editing goes a lot faster than it used to!

 

So my advice to everyone who is feeling low at the moment; who feels like their craft is not improving – dig out an old manuscript of yours and re-read it. I guarantee that you will see the difference. You are improving with every word you write, with every story you finish, but sometimes you need a little perspective to see that.

 

Don’t give up. Keep writing. Finish what you started, even if it feels like you’re just smearing manure on the paper.

PS. If you are interested in checking Of Broken Things out, I am posting it on Wattpad.

Mists of the Crossworlds – the story changes yet again.

Not over

First of all, I wanted to thank all the wonderful people who had agreed to beta read this story. Your advice was priceless and very insightful, and I owe you big time! You took the time out of your busy life to journey with Lori through the mists of the crossworlds and bring back your impressions, and the story will only get better because of them.

… and the result of it is that the story will change yet again. Oh, all of my beta readers loved the Mists in its present iteration, and I could probably publish this novella as it is, but upon reading the comments, I realized that there was yet another layer to the story that begged to be explored. So I decided to postpone the release to see where else this story could take me.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you probably know that Mists is one of my works that had undergone the most transformation since its inception a year ago. It had started as a measly 4k words short story which described how Lori lead a caravan through the crossworlds. Then It grew to 8k and sent Lori looking for her friend and bringing him home. But then I decided that Theo wasn’t a lot puppy and that having him brought back home safely wasn’t really the end, so they went on another wild adventure that jumped the word count of Mists to 20k and transformed it from a short story into a novella. And now this new layer will add at least another 10k on top of that.

I’m afraid that by the time I’m finally done with them, Mists would have grown to the size of a novel. I am a bit baffled. I have NEVER encountered a story that just kept throwing new content at me every time I thought I was done with it before. It’s almost like it doesn’t want to be finished or something…

Bangs her head on the desk

Sobs hysterically in a corner

Goes back to the drawing board to outline the rest of the story

So yep, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this one. Now the tentative release date for Mists is June 1st.

On the bright side, I finally found a beautiful cover for it once it’s done and ready to go out into the world, and you are the first to see it. Ta-da!!!!

 

Mists of the Crossworlds.
Mists of the Crossworlds.

Isn’t it beautiful?

And now I’m going back to my dark writing cave to put some more words on the page. I have a vague idea where this story wants to go, so I need to work out the details. Hopefully, once I’m done with this rewrite, Mists will be truly and finally finished and ready to be published. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that though, since I’ve said that at least twice before…

A call for Beta Readers.

helpwanted

Those of you who follow my blog more or less regularly know that I have several projects in various stages of competition.

I’ve just finished the first draft of The Choices we Make, a 110k words novel, so I needed to relax and switch focus for a bit. This I have been editing and outlining smaller projects, like the short stories in my Eye of the Norns Cycle.

I have concentrated most of my efforts on my novella Mists of the Crosswords, and I have taken it as far as I can take it on my own. But before I start looking for a professional editor to go over it with a fine tooth comb and fix my wonky grammar and punctuation, I need a fresh set of eyes on the story. This is where you come in.

This is a call for a few brave souls dedicated beta readers. I am looking for someone who will take the time to go over my story and tell me what works and what doesn’t, whether I left a plot hole big enough to drive a truck through, or if the actions of my characters stopped making sense all of a sudden. In other words, anything that jumps at you from the page and that I just don’t see anymore because I went over this story so many times.

I would like to point out that accepting to beta read is a hard job and can’t be taken lightly. Yes, you get to read a brand new book before anybody else, but I expect you to put some effort into it and give me constructive feedback. And I will need that feedback before the deadline.

The Mists of the Crossworlds is a fantasy novella aimed mostly towards Young Adults. Here is the blurb:

Lori has the ability to shift into the crossworlds, the strange plane that connects different words together. She guides merchant caravans for the Guild who has absolute monopoly on crossworld travel. But one day, her best friend goes missing and the mists start calling her name. Lori is faced with a though choice:  will she hide from those voices in the safety of the Guild Tower, or will she dare step off the beaten path in order to save the person that matters to her the most?

  •  All beta readers will receive a .docx file and a Beta Reader’s questionnaire that should help them focus on the areas I need most feedback with.
  • Please write your comments and suggestions directly in the file using Track Changes.
  • I would need all feedback and questionnaires sent back to me by March 9th. The novella is only 22k words long, so I think two weeks should be plenty of time.

All beta readers who accept this task and provide constructive feedback will be mentioned in the  Acknowledgement section once the book is published. They will also receive a free short story as a thank you gift.

If you are interested in beta reading it for me, please either put your email address in the comments to this post, or email me directly at elorenalory@gmail.com.

January is almost over and I have some accomplishments to share!

fireworks

January has been a surprisingly busy month for me and resulted in a few interesting news that I am happy to share with my readers.

1. New site.

First of all, I finally took the plunge and moved the blog to my own site. I must admit that the endeavor had seemed daunting and almost impossible at first. After all,  I know virtually nothing about web hosting, or web design, or site building and maintenance. Plus I managed to build a small following for my blog on wordress.com, and I didn’t want to lose it. I wanted to keep my blog theme and migrate my posts and try to accomplish all that without pulling too many hairs and having a screaming match with the computer screen.

I googled several web hosting providers that had so many options with so many different price plans that I got instantly lost. Thankfully, the excellent people on #myWANA channel on Twitter pointed me in the direction of Jay Donovan from Tech Surgeons, who had been more than helpful. He walked me through the entire process, and moved the entirety of my blog, theme, posts, links AND followers to my new domain in the space of a single evening.

So I am now the proud owner of elenalinville.com and I don’t have to worry about my blog disappearing if anything happens to WordPress. As long as I pay for my web hosting, my blog isn’t going anywhere.

For everyone following me through WordPress, there is nothing you need to do. WordPress will automatically redirect you to my new site (another neat little feature I didn’t’ know about).  Those who subscribe to my blog should also still receive updates.

2. Of Broken Things on Wattpad.

Of Broken Things

I have heard about Wattpad before, but I have never looked at the site myself. Well, this year I decided to do a little experiment and created a profile. I decided to put the first major edit of my first novel, Of Broken Things, on Wattpad.

First of all, I wantto share it with a larger readership than just a couple beta readers, but I also want to see if there is an audience for this story. It’s my first novel, after all. I  know it still needs a lot of work and the version I’m posting is by no means final, but if you are interested to check it out. Here is the link for it.

I will be posting one scene at a time twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays until the whole novel is up there. You are more than welcome to read it and leave me some feedback. In fact, I would love feedback!

3. The Choices We Make is finished!

Finish what you start!
Finish what you start!

Today I have officially finished the first draft of my second novel The Choices We Make (and I have already celebrated with a glass of wine  or two, so pardon me if most of this post doesn’t make sense). So as of today, I’m not only a real writer who can finish her s@#t, but also a serial finisher! (or a repeat finisher? Not sure, confused now. As I said, much wine has been had)

I must admit that the feeling that you get once you finish something as big as a novel is absolutely exhilarating. I was on could nine when I was done with Of Broken Things, and I’m back there right now as well. Of course, I will be back into editing hell soon enough with both, but for now, I’m celebrating.

I have also realized something else while I was working on the first draft of Choices – this is by no means a stand alone book. This is the first book in a series, and I even already have the main idea for the next book.

A year ago, if you had asked me if I would ever write a series, I would have laughed at your face. I thought myself incapable of sticking with a story for longer than a single book (heck, before last year, I thought myself incapable of finishing a story at all).

Now I KNOW there will be at least one more book based in this world and telling the story of these characters, and maybe even a third one. The plan is to get to work on it for NaNoWriMo 2015.

4. I’m on The Indie View Reviewer List.

Last but not least, I have joined the Reviewer list on The Indie View, a site that helps indie authors find bloggers willing to read and review their books. I have joined this list because I know how important reviews are for book sales. Reviews (and word of mouth) sell books better than any expensive advertising campaign ever will. I always read a couple reviews on Amazon or Goodreads before I decide to purchase a book. I also know how difficult it can be to get those first few dozen reviews, especially for an indie author.

I have received a surprising amount of email since I joined the list. Some books weren’t really in the genres I am interested in, but a lot are books that I am very excited to read and review. So to all the authors who contacted me and whose books I agreed to review, I want to say, thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your book! I will post a review, I promise, I’m just a bit overwhelmed with the demand right now. I’m slowly working through my list though.

 

Well, that’s all the news for now, folks. All in all, it’s been an exciting January. Hopefully the rest of the year will be full of great and exciting things as well.

Writing woes – the dreaded middle.

snoopy-writing

I have been diligently plugging away at the first draft of my new fantasy novel The Choices we make. I had started it as a NaNoWriMo 2014 project, but 50k words only took it to the middle of part 2, so I have been slowly adding words to it all December long. My goals is to finish it by January 15.

A week ago I have hit what I call the dreaded middle. It’s that state when you are already a long way away from the beginning of your story, where the idea was shiny and exciting and the characters spoke to you. But you are also equally away from the final resolution and those two wonderful words – THE END. You are in the middle, drudging through the mire of words with your final destination still miles away. That’s when I feel my motivation faltering.

When it happened for the first time while I was writing Of Broken Things, I panicked. I almost abandoned the story altogether. It felt like there was no point going on: my characters were flat and uninteresting, my story had plot holes so big you could fly a spaceship through, and I absolutely hated all the words I put on the page.

Good thing that I turned to the internet writing community before I tossed my unfinished draft out of the window. Because I discovered something both scary and reassuring. Yep, both at the same time.

Lack of Motivation
Lack of Motivation

I have discovered that everyone experiences something similar somewhere during their first draft. Not exactly at the same place in the draft as I am though. Some stress out about the beginning, while their story is not yet fully formed and the characters not yet defined. Others hit that mire closer to the end when the story is almost done and the thought of wrapping it up neatly because daunting.

It’s scary because it means that no matter how many books you write or how successful you are, there will still be days, weeks, or even months, when you will absolutely hate your draft. Even if it goes to become a best-seller, there would have been a period when you felt like putting words on the page was equivalent to shoveling crap. And then it will happen again with the first draft of the next book, and the next, and the next…

But it’s also reassuring because Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, of John Scalzi go through the same pains and doubts time after time. That means that the draft you feel like tearing into tiny scraps might not be as horrible as you think, that this feeling is probably inherent to the creative process. I don’t know about you, but discovering that even successful writers have those doubts motivates me to keep going.

I hit exactly the same roadblock in the middle of The Choices we make, but this time I knew it would happen, so I didn’t panic and I didn’t let it deter me from writing. So even when the fatigue sets in, when the motivation hits the lowest mark ever, and I can suddenly come up with a thousand things I can do instead of writing, I force myself to put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. I put words on the page. Maybe 400, maybe 600, or 1000 on a good day. I don’t look back, I don’t re-read. I press on.

As a result, I’m one chapter away from finishing Part 2, and I’m glad to say that the fog is finally lifting! I left the dreaded middle behind. I can see the road to the finish line. I feel excited and motivated about my book again!

Finish what you start!
Finish what you start!

So here is a question for my fellow writers. Do you experience the same symptoms during your first draft? When does it occur? The beginning? The middle? Closer to the end? Or more than once during the creative process? I want to hear from you!