Writing Goals for 2021

Writing Goals for 2021

This is not a New Year’s Resolution for writers. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions for anything. These are simply things I hope to achieve by the end of this year, because I have dogged determination to be a writer/author despite being in physical therapy school. I pretty much could not balance a single thing, which is why WHEN STARS DIE has been on a bit of pause with my publisher. In any case, here are my plans:

  1. Have WHEN STARS DIE released. I don’t know how possible this is, not because I can’t manage it, but because I don’t know what the publishing schedule is like for this year for my publisher. Perhaps a more realistic goal would be to nail down a publication date. Once that’s nailed down, the true work begins, and I’ll have no choice but to get my writing chops in gear.
  2. Finish THE STARS ARE INFINITE copy edits. I lost a thumb drive over a year ago that contained the original, final manuscript from my last publisher. Thinking it’d be in my gmail, I started looking through everything mentioning TSAI, but unfortunately I could not find the final Word document manuscript that I sent off. However, I did find one containing copy edits, and I’ve been going through that and making the appropriate changes as well as changes that tighten the manuscript more, ones that did not exist in the published version. I’m actually almost done with this, so this is entirely feasible.
  3. Start re-outlining ALL STARS ALIGN. Originally Amelia from WHEN STARS DIE was going to be the main character for the final book in THE STARS TRILOGY, but I did write out an entire draft using her perspective, and she could not resonate with me the way she did the first time I introduced her in WSD. I felt her story had already been told, and that story is over with. There is nothing more to be said about her. In fact, her fixation is with her younger brother, Nathaniel, and it’s hard to create a story from that, even though I do give her a critical role that only she can play in ASA. Nathaniel, on the other hand, was introduced in WSD, played a major role in TSAI, and his perspective has not been told yet. The stakes are so much higher for him because of his love for Alice, the MC from TSAI. So I aim to re-do the outline with his perspective and change the story entirely. I hope by doing this, it’ll reinvigorate my passion for this trilogy.
  4. Start writing ALL STARS ALIGN. I hope to finish the outline before the year is out so that way I can get started on the first draft of ASA. After all, TSAI is ready for submission once WSD is out in the world again, so, if possible, I’d like to have ASA ready for the same once TSAI is back out in the world.

So what will I do after my trilogy? Well, I’ve already outlined the beginning of either a duology or trilogy that I hope my current publisher will be interested in later down the road. I have borrowed from the magical girl genre popularized in Japan (America does have its own magical girl genre, though it’s not explicitly called that). Obviously it’s going to have to make sense within the context of a novel because magical girl transformations only make sense in visual formats. I also have a contemporary LGBTQ+ novel that I started five years ago that I may try to seek an agent for–or just stick with the house I’m with. I’m not quite sure how I feel about traditional publishing anymore, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out once the time comes.

My Current Writing Projects

My Current Writing Projects

While When Stars Die is still on sub, I not only finished hardcore revisions of a contemporary novel I started several years ago, but I also finished outlining an entire novel in the paranormal romance genre, a genre I didn’t think I was going to ever visit again. Not only that, but I have made a major change to the third book in The Stars Trilogy. But before I get to that, I want to talk about my contemporary novel a little bit.

It was originally called The Glorious In-Between because the story focused more on the queer-platonic relationship between two asexual characters, but after receiving some feedback that the protagonist didn’t really push the story along, that stuff happened to her but she didn’t make much happen, I had to completely tear the plot apart and redo it. There’s still a queer-platonic relationship in it, but it’s not the main focus. Instead the focus is on something entirely different, and I hope that new focus means my MC is now the one making things happen. That one is currently being critiqued.

As for the novel whose outline I finished, it is currently untitled; a title won’t come until I’ve actually started putting the story itself on paper. However, what I can say about it is that it’s a magical girl story (sans transformations), something I’ve always wanted to write since watching Puella Magi Madoka Magika for the first time. I was fascinated with how that show turned the magical girl trope on its head and ultimately turned into something dark and delicious. Being drawn to magical girls myself and the concept of girls/women having incredible powers inaccessible to boys/men, I knew I wanted to transition this concept to novel format. Of course, they won’t be called magical girls. It’ll be a play on words.

Like The Stars Trilogy, it’ll take place in the 19th century. But unlike my trilogy, it’ll take place in our world instead of a made-up one.

I don’t know when I’ll able to start writing this. I’m hoping to hear some good news about When Stars Die soon, so that’ll have to take precedence. And also, I start PT school officially tomorrow. I’m hoping I can fit my writing life into it as well as take care of my mental health.

As for the third book in my trilogy, All Stars Align, it’s been several years in the making. I outlined it once, did have the draft written, started re-writes, but I just wasn’t happy with it. The entire novel was from Amelia’s perspective because a reader of mine recommended I do that; however, I wasn’t feeling it with her perspective–I wasn’t close to it. It seemed wrong because the stakes weren’t high enough for her. Her primary concern has always been her younger brother, Nathaniel, and her story had already been told in When Stars Die. Alice’s story is told in the sequel. It’s time for someone else to have the spotlight.

So I’ll be re-doing the outline and giving that spotlight to Nathaniel because the stakes are highest for him. I won’t reveal any spoilers as to why this is.

But that’s what’s going on, and I ask that you all wish me luck!

Where I’m At With My Writing

Where I’m At With My Writing

Five years ago I finished a novel currently titled The Glorious In-Between, which originally concentrated on what it meant to be asexual as a teen. Then it evolved from there because you can’t have only that defining a book. Sexuality itself isn’t a story. It’s a defining characteristic that can complicate a story, so I’ve built it in layers over the years. 2018 was the last time I touched the book, and then this pandemic hit, I got furloughed from work, and I found myself with plenty of time to sit down and get back to it. I said I was going to prioritize the third book in The Stars Trilogy, but the future of my current publisher is unknown thanks to COVID, so my books can only be purchased through Lulu or in print on Amazon.

Well, now I’m going to have plenty of time for the foreseeable future since my position as a personal trainer was eliminated entirely; I am without work. It’s honestly been gutting because I loved that job. It also doesn’t help to see “essentials” teasing “non-essentials” when, in reality, essentials aren’t any safer. After all, people in my husband’s industry (trucking) have been losing their jobs and having pay cuts. Physical therapists are also essential, but many have been furloughed, depending on where they work.

Since receiving that news, it’s been hard keeping a regular writing schedule. I am at a chicken-or-the-egg scenario right now. It’s hard to know if depression is stemming entirely from the loss of a job I was passionate about, or if my bipolar disorder is tipping downward (again), or if it’s a mixture of both and the job loss sped up the process. I’m also undergoing a dosage change with my Depakote and am currently waiting on confirmation about whether or not I have hypothyroidism, most likely caused by my Lithium.

There’s really no point in guessing. All I can do is accept that this is how I feel.

I am the type of person who experiences her emotions all at once when disappointment strikes, and so my heartbreak doesn’t last long because I’m not trying to push away the pain. Yet, anyone else would look in on and me and be convinced I’m taking the loss of my job extra hard. After all, I am in a much better place than others who have lost a job since I live at home with my parents. They’re not putting any pressure on me. All of my debt has also been paid off, so I owe nothing for the foreseeable future. I have PT school to look forward to, which could, for all I know, make holding any job impossible anyway, even though it is a flex program.

I was born anxious. It doesn’t take much to flare it, and it’s been my fuel lately.

While I am done with the first round of revisions of TGIB, I have been struggling with that hollowness common with depression, which has made doing further work on it difficult. But I added a new plot thread to up the stakes for my MC since my query letter on AbsoluteWrite was torn to shreds and revealed a rather glaring flaw in the storyline itself–at least in my opinion. Now my second pass will be checking to make sure the plot thread has been developed appropriately, along with adding a few other things to add some color to the story (McMansions, anyone?). Then another pass through to cut down on words and probably, hopefully, one more for proofreading. It has been beta read in the past, so I might seek out one more, unless having the synopsis looked over is a sufficient enough guide for any further edits the book itself might need.

A secret I don’t think I ever told anyone is When Stars Die only ever had one beta reader.

Hopefully all of that will take about a month or less.

Right now I am gaining distance from TGIB, but it’s been hard to do anything at all productive otherwise. I should be making notes of things to keep an eye out for in TGIB. I should also be coming up with another title because TGIB no longer accurately describes the book. I should also be preparing my query letter and synopsis for When Stars Die, just in case things do fall through with my current publisher. I’ll see what small presses are out there. Otherwise, self-publishing it is.

I also finished outlining a brand new novel, although now I’m going to have to edit the outline itself because I decided to change who my protagonist is going to be. So that’s another thing I should be working on but is hard to do.

I get it. It’s an uncertain time for everyone and rough for some. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. It’s just maddening, as usual, that you have things that can keep you productive, but you’re being held back by the voice of mental illness living in your mind.

At least I have made progress since this all started.

 

Writer Thoughts Thursday: Writer Anxieties

Writer Thoughts Thursday: Writer Anxieties

kTHicdtAEvery day I am, for a brief moment (thank goodness), plagued by anxieties about my career as an author. As a poet, it’s just beginning, but as a novelist, it’s stalled due to the closing of AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc., forcing When Stars Die to become an orphaned book. Along with these anxieties, jealousy briefly pricks a minute hole in my heart.

I am not bitter that AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. had to close its doors. What I hate is that my novel has yet to find a home, despite every publisher I’ve sent it to requesting a full, then rejecting it. It’s like holding out a bag of Swedish Fish to me, then yanking it away. I received an acceptance–finally!–but the contract fell through, which was very unfortunate. Yes, my novel is with a publisher who allowed me to skip the entire process, which looks promising, but it’s still part of the waiting game I wish I no longer had to play. It’s been four months since I requested my rights back and my book removed from all retail sites. Other AEC authors decided to self-publish their books, and one received a contract from a publisher about two months ago. This is where jealousy pricks my heart and makes me wonder when or if my book will ever find a new home. I hope the publisher it’s with will take it. I sense promise, but I also cannot presume anything, just because the publisher took charge of the book instead of the acquisitions editor, who is actually the one who rejects or accepts a book.

It’s especially difficult when you detail the journey of your book, and when you talk about your rejections, those who have read and loved your book reassure you that your book will find a home–and then you wonder. It isn’t enough to have a decent amount of ratings on Goodreads with an overall good rating; the publisher still has to love your book to want to work with it. So this is just a lesson that you’re always in the same boat as unpublished authors. Always. Unless you’re Stephen King or some other massively popular author.

Unfortunately, rejection is part of the game. To me, it’s simply harder when you have two houses who wanted your book, one it was published with and another that didn’t work out. I would feel differently if When Stars Die had never been published, but I don’t, so I feel like the waiting game is much more agonizing than it is for unpublished authors. It’s especially agonizing, as my options for publishers are limited since not every one will take on a previously published book. I am exceptionally grateful for those that do. All beautiful, well-loved books deserve a second chance. I also keep in mind that publishers who accept books are probably just as anxious for writers to accept their contracts as the authors are for waiting to hear back from a publisher.

Luckily, I am keeping busy by writing, so it’s not as if I’m sitting around doing absolutely nothing. I’ve finished the revisions for 39 poems I’m including in my collection. I have chapter one outlined for the novella that will begin this collection. I have two places in mind to submit it to. I have two poems being published and appearing May 2nd. I’m also slowly copy editing a finished novel with two publishers–thus far–in mind to submit it to, though one publisher doesn’t want simultaneous submissions, so that will be my first publisher of choice. Reading helps, too, and I have been reading plenty of novels and poetry.

All I can do is keep carrying on. No matter what happens, When Stars Die will see itself back in print. I will not let The Stars Trilogy die.

Being a Bad Author–But for a Reason

Being a Bad Author–But for a Reason

I’m going to admit I have been a bad author lately. Not bad in that I’m not doing any writing, but bad in that I need to do content edits for The Stars Are Infinite, the sequel to When Stars Die. I got them from my publisher and the C.O.O. However, while I have three projects–including this one–going on, I can’t juggle all of them at the same time.

AEC recently advised we submit short stories to magazines that fall in our genre, and that they would do a complementary copy edit. The truth is that I don’t want to do any more paranormal stories after The Stars Trilogy, and I was not in the least bit interested writing a paranormal short story. (I will be doing a novella pertaining to The Stars Trilogy.) Even so, I said I wanted to do it, with a story already burning in my mind. When I looked up who I wanted to submit to, Harmony Ink Press immediately made my list because some magazines do consider 15,000 words short stories, but they consider that a novella. I thought, ‘Hey, this is  a great opportunity to get my foot in their door, because I have this other, bigger novel I’m also doing that I want them to consider, and if AEC approves of doing a complementary edit for a 15,000 word thing, then that’s great!’ But as I began to outline it, the more I began to realize I wanted this to turn into something more because HIP put out a call for a very specific type of work they’re looking for: books with asexual/aromantic characters.

When I saw that on their blog, I knew it was going to be longer than 15,ooo, that it had to be, because I want to represent some of the struggles asexuals face, some of the struggles people are completely unaware of, even among those who are asexual. But the book is far more than that. In fact, the MC finds out she’s asexual not even a quarter of the way through the book, and even before that readers know just what is going to define the book, that it is not her asexuality. However, I’m going to start talking more about this in issue 3 of my newsletter and will not start talking about it more until I hopefully get a contract from them. And even if I don’t get the contract, I will be subbing to other places seeking material along these lines. So if you want the scoop before anyone else, it’d be awesome if you signed up for my newsletter. Issue 2 comes out tomorrow.  I am super crossing my fingers at this time because I have more faith in it than the other book with an asexual character. I have so much faith in it that I’m going to send Mariah, now a freelance editor, the draft of it when I start content edits for TSAI. I usually revise a book before sending out the draft, and while it’s definitely not perfect, I think it’s something she can handle without her eyes bleeding.

In any case, as I began delving into this book, I was originally going to make it a novella, but HIP doesn’t pay advances for novellas–and you only get published in electronic format and not print. This is when I knew I could push it to be a short novel. This is when I knew that I had to, partly for selfish reasons to get an advance, but also because I really wanted to develop the characters and the main theme of the book. I want to make it just as sweet and heartbreaking as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. (For the record, there is no cancer.)

But I am also binge writing about 8,000 words a day, so I’m ALMOST 40,000 words into the book, having started it just last week. Just 3,000 words away. The climax will be coming in about a chapter or two, that will last probably one or two chapters or so, and then the resolution, which will be about 2 to 3 chapters. I am absolutely positive that I can get it finished this week. Then content edits for TSAI WILL absolutely occur, because they have to occur, especially if I hope for an end-of-year release or at the most the beginning of 2015.

So I am ultimately prioritizing the draft of this book because HIP put out a call for these very specific characters that I’m writing about. They don’t have any books with asexual characters. In fact, YA doesn’t have too many books with asexual characters you don’t have to analyze to know they’re asexual.

I will I will I will start content edits for TSAI and try to get those done in a week, too.

In other news, I just want to mention that When Stars Die has 78 ratings and 49 reviews, on Goodreads at a 4.29 rating. If you haven’t picked up your copy, what are you waiting for? It’s a YA paranormal that can be best compared to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, especially because of the extreme religious fanaticism expressed in Amelia’s world.

Screenshot (1)The sequel, I am most positive, is going to be absolutely stellar.