“How a Book is Made” Tag

typing-fast-jim-carrey

Thanks to The Orang-utan Librarian¬†for yet another interesting tag. In this post, I’ll be exploring all things writing, even including a link where you can test your typing speed–post results in the comments section if you dare. ūüėČ

1. Should you participate in National Novel Writing Month to create a book?

nanowrimo

 

Every writer should participate in NaNoWriMo at least once in zir life. Thirty consecutive days of grinding out as many words as possible establishes consistent writing habits, gets you out of the house, helps you discover great local places to write, creates bonds with other writers, pushes you to allow your imagination run wild and maybe, just maybe, gets you to the point where you can write The End at the end of an actual first draft.

 2. Self-publishing or traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing is what I personally strive for, primarily¬†because the idea of having to add a full-time job of promoting my own book to actually writing books, plus working a day job to make ends meet seems utterly¬†daunting. I’d like to have a publisher who can at least explain to me how best to promote my books.

3. Write one idea at a time or write all the ideas at once?

Capture all ideas that come to you, always. That doesn’t mean you have to turn them into books right away.

4. What genre is the easiest to write?

I’m not sure if it’s¬†the easiest, but the genre that comes most naturally to me is young-adult speculative fiction.

5. Where do you need to write to get the work done?

Wherever there aren’t interruptions, and I’ve been getting better at writing even in environments where there’s some noise.

6. Where do you find your inspiration?

In books! I’m inspired by the stories I read and the way they’re written. Of course, I’m also inspired by events from my life, my perspective on things, and my many interests.

7. What age do you start writing?

I vividly remember writing stories in 1st grade.

8. What’s easiest to write? Short stories, stand-alones, series, etc.

Stand-alones. The idea of planning out a series makes my brain explode.

9. Do you mill your books or take years to write a book?

I can whip out a first draft quickly, maybe in a month or two, but ultimately I think I need a year or two to finish a book.

10. How fast can you type?

According to TypingTest.com, I type 95 words a minute.

11. Do you write in the dark or in the light?

Both.

12. Handwritten or typed?

Typed, but I love those rare occasions when I hand-write because I think the writing flows more organically, and when I type out the handwritten words afterward I’m always surprised by how many more words there are than I expected.

13. Alone or with someone else?

Alone, but I’m open to trying out a collaboration. Why not?

14. Any typing hacks?

Practice a lot.

15. Are you already published?

I had a poem published in an anthology; that’s about it.

16. When did you first consider being an author?

I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an author.

17. How many books do you have in draft form?

Four and a half.

18. Do you outline or no?

Proper outlining is a skill I’ve not yet mastered–but I really want to!

19. What’s your favorite note-keeping strategy?

I keep notes in my smart phone, notebooks, and Google docs.

dscn3888

20. What do you think about writing in different genres?

I love reading multiple genres but, ultimately, I’m most comfortable writing YA speculative. I am, however, totally¬†enamored with the idea of experimenting with writing genre mash-ups.

–Eve Messenger

I Tag:

Rayne Adams
Melanie Noell Bernard
G.L. Jackson @ Dreaming in Character
Mackenzie Bates
Ida Auclond
Daisy in the Willows
Nicolette Elzie
Danielle @ The Caffeinated Writer

 

 

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Eleven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

Dreaming up stories and watching them come to life on the page is pure magic. It really is. I love being a writer. So why is it that some days facing my manuscript is the hardest thing to do in the world?

Because writing good books is HARD.
lisa-simpson-writing.gifWriting and¬†editing can¬†feel¬†like wading through quicksand. Life’s¬†distractions can pull so hard away from the¬†writing desk that it feels¬†impossible to muster the mental energy to write.

That’s when I pull out the big guns.
Image result for cannon firing gif

When my writing resistance is at its highest, I take out my¬†writing motivation¬†checklist.¬†If¬†I’m lucky,¬†I’ll¬†only need to do a couple of items before I feel pumped enough to write. Other times–when¬†writing-resistant inner me throws¬†a particularly nasty tantrum–I might¬†need to hit all ten items on the darn list.

Ultimately, the¬†list helps me overcome resistance to writing. Maybe it will help you, too. And if¬†you’ve discovered other effective ways to motivate yourself to write, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! ūüôā — Eve Messenger

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

CHECKLIST FOR MOTIVATING YOURSELF TO WRITE
by Eve Messenger

#1 Breathe.
So simple yet so effective. You’d¬†be amazed how much the simple act of focused breathing can¬†perk you up to write.

#2 Get your energy up.
-Listen to a song that gets you pumped.
-Do jumping jacks.
-Flap your hands.
-Dance.

#3 Make sure your physical needs are met–hunger, thirst, room temperature, etc.
I’ll admit, sometimes I’m not that self-aware. I might think I’m resisting writing but am¬†actually hungry, so I grab a quick bite and then I’m good to go.

#4 Acknowledge your emotions.
We’re writers; we get down about things, but we can’t let that hold us back from our dreams.¬†If emotions are dragging you down, acknowledge them, call a friend for a quick “attagirl,‚ÄĚ then move on.

#5 Set a specific time to write.
Make sure it’s a block of time that works reasonably within your schedule. When the clock strikes that hour, sit your bottom down in a chair and write. No matter what.

#6 Give yourself a goal to work toward.
For example:
-write 500 words
-edit for one hour
-edit X number of manuscript pages.

#7 Promise yourself a reward.
A bowl of ice cream, a nap, Netflix (and chill?), a new pair of shoes, even a sticker will do. Give yourself something special to look forward to after you’ve tackled your writing goal.

#8¬†Reassure yourself it’s okay to write badly.
As John Greene puts it: “I give myself permission to suck.” What a freeing notion! Even if your first pass at a daunting writing task turns out to be weak, at least you’ve managed it, and more often than not, your efforts won’t turn out badly at all.

#9 “Sprint it out.”
Tell yourself all you have to do is blaze through as many words as you can during a five-minute word sprint. ¬†Even if all you get out are those words, you’ve accomplished writing for the day. More often than not, you’ll find that once the momentum has started, more writing will come.

#10 Block distractions. 
-Block social media.
-Shut off your cell phone.
-Turn off the TV.
-In a noisy environment, use earplugs or noise blocking headphones.
-If your home is one big distraction (AKA kids, chores, bills), get thee to a library or coffee shop. If you can afford it, trains are a super fun place to write. Writing in different locales reduces distractions and can add adventure to the writing process.

#11 Visualize your ultimate goal.
If your passion is to get your stories out into the world, then visualize fans tweeting and emailing to say how much they enjoy your writing. If your dream is to have a successful writing career, see yourself as a successful, published author. Remind yourself you’re worthy of happiness and success. Say your affirmation out loud. Then sidle up to that computer and write your dreams into reality.

Happy writing!

Eve Messenger

***********

September Reads. End of Month Wrap-Up #amreading

september-reads-2016-ver2

Hello, fellow book junkies! In September I had the pleasure of reading¬†ten novels and, though a couple came close, not a single¬†one¬†was a five-star read. Whether that’s a¬†reflection¬†of¬†the books or of me as a reader (returning to work this month¬†was a definite distraction), is¬†hard to say. Every book¬†had strengths and memorable moments. Here’s a recap . . .

YA Paranormal / Urban Fantasy

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin РCreepy in a good way, original (and humid) Miami setting. 4/5 stars

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)¬†by Maggie Stiefvater – Part of what makes me love a book¬†is getting to enter a¬†brilliantly wrought world with outstanding¬†characters. The Dream Thieves had this. So did the first book in the series, The Raven Boys, which I was so enamored with that maybe it was hard to love the second book as much. The Dream Thieves is¬†still great and¬†made me definitely want to read the rest of the¬†series. Since one¬†of my favorite characters is Blue, I’m especially¬†looking forward to the third¬†book,¬†Blue Lily, Lily Blue. 4.5/5 stars

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older 304pp РBrooklyn girl gets caught in a world of ancient spirits who come alive out of painted murals. Intriguing concept, bold characters. 4/5 stars

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey Strong writing (author Melissa Grey graduated from Yale) but the plot’s too¬†reminiscent of¬†Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone. 3.75/5 stars

YA Contemporary-Mental Illness

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia РMuch funnier than I expected. Creative writing style, but not a super memorable plot. Saw the twist coming a mile away. 4/5 stars

YA Fantasy Romance

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh I go into every book with an open mind, but since romance isn’t my favorite genre maybe this¬†wasn’t the right book for me. Disappointing. 3.5/5 stars

YA Suspense

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes ¬†– Gifted teenagers help the FBI track serial killers. Enjoyable characters, interesting premise. I’ve read many¬†suspense novels, so my standards are pretty high and this one was a bit predictable. Still a fun read. 3.75/5 stars

Adult Sci-Fi Horror

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Vividly imagined, quick read, (almost too) screenplay-ready. Memorable story! 4/5 stars

Adult Romance-Humor

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion audiobook¬†Joyful, often hilarious¬†story of a¬†professor with Aspergers who’s on a mission to find a wife. Cleverly written–I love how¬†the MC is often the¬†unintentional¬†superhero of the story. Rosie is a fun¬†character, too.¬†4/5 stars

Adult Historical-Empowered Women

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier audiobook ¬†In the early 19th century,¬†two bright¬†women from different social classes bond over¬†fossil hunting–in the early days when extinct¬†dinosaurs were still thought to be giant crocodiles. Based on a true story.¬†4.25/5 stars

–Eve Messenger

Library-Hopping Adventure #3 #amreading #amwriting

 

Why I Like Writing in Libraries:

  • They’re libraries, as in churches of books.
  • They’re free. No¬†obligation to buy¬†coffee.
  • They’re¬†MUCH quieter than Starbucks.
  • Some are¬†open until as late as 9pm–perfect for evening writing. University libraries have even¬†later hours–much later–often¬†until 2 in the morning. (Thank you,¬†night-owl college students.)
  • For weekend writing, libraries are the best.¬†Most are open on Saturdays, and some even have¬†Sunday hours.¬†Which brings me to this week‚Äôs library-hopping adventure: Newport Beach Central Library.

Newport Beach Central Library¬†is huge, a whopping 71,000 sq. ft.–so big I had to use the panorama¬†feature on my camera to photograph the building facade. And again with the palm trees. Are there any libraries in my county without palm trees? Hmm, that’s a question for the next library-hopping adventure.¬†Ext NB Central Library.jpg

The Good

  • This library is open on Sundays.
  • Because¬†I keep the latest versions of my works in progress¬†on Google Docs, I appreciate¬†that Newport Beach Central Library offers a generous¬†five hours of free internet access–with a library card. So, of course, I signed up for a library card. ūüôā In fact, I want to collect¬†a whole DECK of library cards,¬†one for each of the 33 cities in my county, plus the county library ¬†system (which I already have). So far, at three different cities, I’ve been able to sign up for a library card even though I don’t reside in the actual city.
  • Newport Beach Central Library¬†is super¬†quiet. I got in an hour of uninterrupted writing, and it was very peaceful.

The Good & Bad

Newport Beach Central Library has tons and tons and tons of seating. . . none of it the least bit inviting. And I wished I had a cushion for the hard wooden chair.

Study Table.jpg

The Bad

  • Not that I should be staring¬†out windows while writing,¬†but it’s worth noting that the view–which you’d think would be amazing¬†since this¬†library is located in¬†a¬†beach town–was not very good, just street traffic and overly landscaped parking lots.
  • At the top of the stairs is¬†a large¬†open area with a¬†credit union and a bistro, which totally had¬†the feel of a mall. Call me old-fashioned, but I¬†like my libraries mall-less.

Random Highlight

There’s an¬†8-ft. bunny statue on the lawn. Yes, just sitting out there all by his lonesome, no plaque or anything. No one knows why this is.¬†Maybe the giant bunny is¬†on a library-“hopping” adventure of his own. XD

8 ft rabbit.jpg

–Eve Messenger

Writing a Book is Hard #amwriting

Writing a book is hard. Wait, let me clarify:¬†writing a good book is hard. The thing to remember is that people do it. People actually publish books, good ones–even while working full-time, even while¬†raising families. Publishing a good book is doable and worthwhile. But it takes

A

Lot

Of

Work.

Start Your Book

First you need to come up with a story, something unique that can grab readers (and agents) in an elevator pitch of 15 words or less. Yes, you’ll need to write that elevator pitch and synopsis, but first the book…

You must decide how to start.

If¬†you’re a natural-born plotter¬†and/or smart enough to learn how,¬†you plot your story¬†in great¬†detail before beginning¬†to write the actual book.

On the other hand, if you’re a pantser, your book-writing journey will be much longer. If, like me, the only way you can come up with story ideas is by letting them flow organically while writing, so be it.

In other words, pantsers:

  • write a lot of pages just to get an understanding of the story and characters.
  • Read¬†through all that¬†pre-writing, take¬†notes, plot everything¬†in a way that makes sense.
  • Then write the real first draft.

-You create characters, each with their own quirks, histories, fears, goals, and desires–and conflicts, especially conflicts,¬†both external and internal.

-You write all three acts of your book, yes, all three, even when you reach act two¬†and realize, whoah, a book is big, so super big, way bigger than the original story idea I had. At this point you remind yourself that you are not a bad writer, you are not a bad writer, you are not–that the first draft is always bad.¬†Verify this by reading what all¬†published authors say. (ALL writers say their first drafts are bad.)

-You write all the¬†scenes for your book, all of them, around a hundred. You ensure that¬†each scene has a dramatic arc and an emotional arc and that the pacing is right–not too slow, not too rushed.

-You make sure your book falls within the standard word count for your genre, aware¬†that agents and publishers are more receptive to first books with word counts that fall¬†into the lower range. You remain calm as you logically deduce that the reason¬†publishers prefer¬†shorter books from first-time authors¬†is so they don’t waste as much money on you in case¬†your book bombs.

Revise Your Book

  • You¬†rearrange all the scenes in your novel until the narrative makes sense. You add scenes, delete scenes, and completely rewrite scenes.
  • You make sure dialogue for each and every character is distinctive and packs a punch.
  • You craft¬†your story in such a way that it’s¬†not too ambiguous but also not too on the nose because you’re aware readers like figuring out things on their own.
  • While editing your book, you take multiple passes through it, each time¬†focusing¬†on only one or two elements to avoid becoming¬†mired in an overwhelming mass of details that will make you. . .

Losing mind - businesswoman

Maintain Sanity

Balance is everything. While writing and editing, you maintain your sanity through:

  • social interaction
  • commiserating with¬†fellow writers
  • ¬†physical exercise
  • spiritual whatever.

Work with a Critique Partner (CP)

After you’ve written, revised, and brought out the shine¬†in all elements of your novel, you hand your manuscript over to another person, preferably a critique partner (CP). But first, you must find said CP. This means putting yourself out there on social media, websites, local writers’ groups, workshops, wherever you can¬†find fellow writers/potential CPs who understand your genre and are willing to swap full novel critiques.

You¬†must read other people‚Äôs works in progress (WIPs) so they will read yours. It’s a fair exchange, and the time is well spent. When¬†critiquing someone else’s work, not only are you helping out another writer, you are learning a LOT about what makes a manuscript work.

You make more changes to your novel based on CP feedback. ūüôā

Work with Beta Readers

You send¬†your manuscript out to beta readers. Again, you need to do the legwork first. Interact with fellow book lovers on blogs, Goodreads, wherever readers of¬†your genre dwell in the wild. When your book is ready, summon the courage to ask those people if they’d like to read and¬†provide feedback on your novel.

Make further revisions to your novel based on beta reader feedback. ūüôā

Read, Read, Read

All the while, you read¬†as many published novels¬†as you can, not only because you love to read, but also to gain an understanding of what’s being published in your genre, what the trends are, and to get ideas on what you‚Äôd like to strive for and avoid in your own¬†writing.

Research Literary Agents

In between all the writing, editing, and networking, you also¬†research¬†potential literary agents. And¬†they can’t be just any agents. They must be agents who: represent the kinds of books you write, are good at what they do, are open to queries. Which means:

  • Every time you pick up a novel, you read the acknowledgment page (often it’s the first page you turn to), keeping an eye out¬†for agent shout-outs.
  • You visit promising literary¬†agents’¬†Twitter accounts and blogs, agency websites, and check¬†out their #MSWL (manuscript wish lists). And you do web searches for their¬†interviews to ensure they’re looking for what you’re writing.
  • You create a free¬†account on¬†querytracker.net¬†to¬†check out what other querying writers are saying about agents you’re interested in.
  • You study agents‚Äô submission guidelines and follow them to a¬†T, fully aware (without letting it freak you out) that literary agents are so inundated they‚Äôll look for any reason to reduce their submission load. This¬†means that every detail of the¬†query letter, email, manuscript format, synopsis, etc. that you send prospective agents¬†must¬†exactly conform to their specifications.

Network with Other Writers

You make friends in the writing community who will console¬†you when you’re overwhelmed with how hard it is to write a book,¬†especially when you need¬†to write a synopsis, which means summing up your entire novel up in 1-5 pages.¬†That is really hard.

Follow Your Favorite Authors (not required but, oh, so fun)

Another thing you‚Äôre probably doing‚ÄĒthough not specifically required‚ÄĒis daydreaming and getting ideas for your own writing career by following your favorite authors; seeing what they‚Äôre up to on their blog and tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest,Vine, Goodreads, Facebook, maybe even meeting them at book signings (a thrill every writer and reader should experience).

Maintain an Online Presence

While writing, revising, networking, reading,and researching agents, you also maintain¬†your own blog and social media accounts, hoping that by¬†developing an¬†online presence as an author you’ll look legit to¬†future agents, publishers, and fans.

Whew, good luck. Write and publish that book!

–Eve Messenger

 

 

 

Poor, neglected blog. Time to check in.

I wish I were hoverboarding right now above the river, the wilderness, and the Rusty Ruins just like Tally, the protagonist in Uglies, which I am currently reading (my first Scott Westerfeld novel).

Sometimes life gets so¬†crazy¬†busy that even things that are important to me, like blogging, have to get shoved to the side for a while. There are so many things I want to do in life. Unfortunately, a day job¬†is one of them. I like being a teacher, but I’m in a place right now where I truly, honestly feel¬†that writing full-time is what I need to¬†be doing. But tell that¬†to my bank account.¬†

The good news is I continue to¬†grow and learn¬†as a writer. I’m still mastering the art of completing a polished novel, but with every novel¬†I write I get better and closer to proving to myself (and hopefully to the world) that I have what it takes to make it as a professional writer. I’ve made friends¬†in the writing community, people so far removed from my daily life it’s kind of funny, like¬†I have an alternate life. Which I guess¬†I kind of do. To the rest of the world I’m mom, wife, teacher, friend, errand runner, whatever. But then there’s this inner world apart from all that¬†in which¬†I’m the chick who’s busting her tail to become a successful published author.¬†There are lots of dues to pay.

I try to squeeze in writing¬†500-100¬†words however I can each weekday and then¬†several thousand more on Saturdays and Sundays. A full-time teaching schedule, then a part-time job after school (teaching at a private school and Southern California’s cost of living do not see eye to eye), then tending to family and home doesn’t leave time for hobbies, except for reading, which of course is like calling breathing a hobby.

TV? What’s TV?

One of the only TV shows I have time for is Broad City, which is an effing hilarious show. Genuinely funny women being bawdy and crude makes me happy.

My husband also recently turned me on to a show on Netflix called River, which is pretty great.

All the¬†characters in the series look like real people–a television trend I adore, and it has an intriguing paranormal theme, too. Detective River talks to ghosts who¬†help him solve crimes, kind of like a darker,¬†much more British (it’s set in London, yay!) Medium (remember that show with Patricia Arquette?) The¬†acting is excellent. The writing is, too. In fact, one scene brought tears to my eyes, when River, the downtrodden, ghost-seeing, expert¬†detective says:

‚ÄúI‚Äôm a good officer. But, in this world, that‚Äôs not enough. In this world you have to be able to nod and smile and drink a pint, and say, ‚ÄúHow was your day?‚ÄĚ In this world, no one can be different or strange.¬† Or damaged. Or they lock you up.‚ÄĚ [River (2015), season 1, episode 2]

What was it about this line that got me so choked up? Of course, there was something about what he said that I related to, as in we have things about ourselves¬†that we know are smart or clever or special, but people don’t always see them.¬†The charming people who walk with the most confidence seem to get a lot. People like me who bust our tails don’t necessarily get recognition unless we also know how to play politics. That exhausts me.

Give me writing, reading, and talking to people who love those things, too. And a hoverboard.

–Eve Messenger

Top Three “Author Uniforms” Big-Name Y.A. Male Writers Wear #amwriting #amreading

I am a writer. I daydream. Sometimes I¬†daydream about what it¬†would be like to attend my own book signing or to speak at a conference. (My introvert palms are sweating about¬†that one already.) The obvious question, “What would I wear?” got me browsing through photos of my favorite female Y.A. authors, whose outfits¬†apparently run the gamut ¬†from T-shirts and jeans to designer dresses. No help there. Then I noticed something interesting. Big-name male YA authors sport a kind of “author’s uniform.” If you’re a male (or female) author searching for a good¬†public look, here are three options you might want to consider.

The Rock Star

I challenge anyone to find a photo of Neil Gaiman not dressed in black. (Costumes don’t count.)¬†Gaiman’s “author uniform” (which he totally rocks) consists of a black shirt, black blazer, and black pants. Occasionally, Gaiman mixes things up with a black sweater, black trench coat, or black bomber jacket.¬†Are you detecting a theme here?¬†Gaiman prefers clothing that’s dark like his stories,¬†one of my favorites¬†being The Graveyard Book.
  

The Boy Next Door

Imaginative and prolific author Patrick Ness’s go-to author uniform is a polo shirt with zip-up hoodie and jeans. Hey, whatever works, as long as he keeps writing books like The Knife of Never Letting Go.

https://i0.wp.com/media.shelf-awareness.com/theshelf/2011Content/Patrick_Ness_-_Debbie_Smyth_081811.JPG   

It is worth noting that for gala events, Ness cleans up very nicely. Guys are so lucky to be able to slip on a gorgeous tuxedo and call it a day.

  https://i0.wp.com/www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20130403/ARTICLE/304039990/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20130820143801&MaxW=640&imageVersion=default&AR-304039990.jpg

The Friendly Professor

Yep, that would be John Green, who meets with the public wearing a tieless dress shirt, blazer and jeans.

John_Green_(7492849834).jpg  https://i0.wp.com/www.penguin.com/static/packages/us/yreaders/books4boys/images/authorphotos/johngreen.jpg

Which author uniform is your favorite? If you were to attend an event as an author, what would you wear?

–Eve Messenger