Tag Archives: Writing

Roller Coasters, School Starts, and Call for Flash Ideas!

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade, but this particular week I’m working on my one-woman ten-lemon juggling act. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me (start of work, blown head gasket on my ten-year-old Honda, gluten allergy testing, apartment hunting madness, insomnia, and terminal illness of a family pet, just to name a portion). As usual, I’m trying to see the bright spots in a bizarrely heavy last three days.

So the good news: work has been a breeze! Even better, I taught English for the first time on Wednesday—three wonderful sections of Freshman English and you know what? It felt completely natural. Hurray! I enjoyed my Math sections, of course, but I have to say I’m pretty excited to continue on this big English teaching journey!

Other fun news—Nathan Payne over at The Writers Codex nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. I’ll share more about it in my next post but in the meantime, thanks so much, Nathan! 🙂

And now…start your engines! There is exactly one week until the second edition of Third Thursday Flash, when I’ll post a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece I’ve written based on your idea! Please pass along whatever idea you like (it can be a theme, a sentence, a prompt, a couple of words you’d like me to incorporate or use as background—your choice). Send your suggestions to me by email at evariederauthor@gmail.com, or you can also use the handy contact form on my website. Submissions will remain open until Monday the 27th at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, when I will pick one of your great ideas and craft a piece! In your email, please let me know if you would prefer I keep your name anonymous should I pick your idea. You can click here to read the first episode of Third Thursday Flash.

Thanks to everyone who participates, and of course, to all for reading!

And don’t forget, when life gives you lemons… _________ (Fill in the blank in the comment section below!)

🙂


Where Do Ideas Come From?

To write a story, you must first have an idea—a kernel of imagination that blooms from something simple into a whole tale. The real work, of course, comes after the idea, because ideas are abundant in most writers’ minds.

But where do they come from?

I’ve always found it fascinating to hear how other writers form ideas for their stories. Like learning styles, ideas are unique to their bearer; they can come from a visual source, a written source, or even an auditory one. Some will find them in the natural scenes around them, whether it be during a leisurely stroll or standing in the grocery store checkout lane. Others will discover them in the speech of friends, family, or children. A few will lock themselves in a room, letting the quiet that surrounds them swarm their thoughts until nothing becomes something and they’re typing away on the computer. I’ve known some to do random associations, picking words off a page and stringing them together in a theme for their next work. Still others are veritable idea machines, as if a running scroll of them simply churns through their minds.

Sometimes, ideas are past experiences, tweaked just enough to add some creative flair. Others are tales of what could have been instead of what really was. No matter what, though, each writer has his or her own way to light that clever spark and create a story from it.

While my ideas come to me in a variety of ways, I’ve noticed two methods are the most prevalent. The first is through dreams. I’ve been blessed (and sometimes cursed) with extremely vivid dreams for the majority of my life; often they are fantastical in nature and come to me in full color, and fortunately I am able to remember them upon waking. If they aren’t nightmares (that would be the cursed part), they usually provide me with images of creatures or scenes that I am inclined to jot down and save for a later piece.

More common, however, is the method I refer to as the “one liner.” It sparks from something I see or hear around me, a line that forms in my head that will not, for the life of me, go away. Each time it is one single line, whether it be a reaction to what I see, a sentence that will later serve as dialogue, or a clause of imagery. I’ll carry this line with me wherever I’m at—even if it means repeating it to myself the entirety of a gym workout—until I can get in front of a piece of paper or computer. There, I’ll write that one line and run wild with it. This method is the one that’s been the most effective, for me, something that comes blindly out of the air and smacks me with a whole run of a tale.

We all have ideas that we like to use in our writing, and usually we’ve been carrying around a bounty of them over the years. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for how people form them, but I’m curious—where do your ideas come from? Please share! 🙂


New Blog Feature

I learned a lot at the Cascade Writers Workshop last weekend, but one of the most important things I picked up was the necessity of writing more. This is helpful for the obvious reasons, of course—but perhaps the reason that hit me hardest was that to be a successful writer, you must learn to write enough that no one piece becomes your heart and soul. Sure, you can love a piece, but in reality you have a next piece, and a next piece, and then that very next piece, all of which are equally worthy of your attention and love until you write the next one.

I love my first book, Kyresa. I spent many years on it, a fact due largely to a series of breaks that lasted for years at a time. Because of this, the novel became my “baby” of sorts, and sending her off to college (aka sending her out to agents) was a huge deal. But here’s the truth: I am certain that none of my next books will take that long, and I’m delighted for the experience. Will they be just as important to me? Absolutely! Will I pour my heart and soul into them? Yes! But do I need to get so attached that I spend years and years (and years and more years) on them?

That would be a big fat no.

The reason is that writing more will make me a stronger writer, eventually making it easier and faster. This is why I’ve decided that for the next six months, I’d like to devote most of my writing time to crafting short stories. In this way, I will have the experience of starting and finishing, repeatedly, at a quicker pace, before I start my next novel. Will every one of these shorts be amazing? Certainly not. Will they all be good practice in improving my art? Totally, and for that I’m quite excited about this plan.

That said, I’m introducing a new blog feature called THIRD THURSDAY FLASH. Every third Thursday, I will post a flash fiction piece—but there’s a catch.

YOU, dear readers, will be suggesting the themes!

It can simply be an idea, a couple of words you’d like mentioned within the piece, or a prompt, but every time, one of you will suggest it! I think it’s a fun twist on writing flash, and I do hope you’ll participate. 🙂 The person whose theme is selected will also get a shout out to celebrate his or her awesome theme (unless you prefer otherwise). I will put out a call for theme submissions the Thursday before each flash week and will select one from the bunch for the Thursday that follows. The ideas can be zany, cute, fun, wild, intelligent, or whatever you wish, and I’m going to try to put a fantasy or sci-fi spin on them in 500 to 1,000 words.

For the first edition of Third Thursday Flash, I opened the theme up only to my newsletter subscribers. (Not receiving the newsletter yet? You can do so by sending a blank email to EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.) Only one person was brave enough to submit a theme, but it was a goodie. So, let’s get on to business!
 
Thanks to Mari Naomi for the theme of Maliciousness and Road Rage (and what an interesting theme it is!). Here’s what I put together for the first edition of Third Thursday Flash. I hope you enjoy it!
 

DADDY’S BOY

 
Clara popped the bottle back into Max’s tiny mouth, his long-eyelashed blues blinking in forgiveness and his cries quieting to long slurps on the nipple.

She turned forward, the crawl of traffic slow enough to justify her movement. Max had a pair of lungs that could blow an eardrum, and with the toll plaza approaching, she couldn’t handle more than five seconds of it. The sound was a gift from his father, and she shuddered every time Max wailed with the same sentiment of burning rage.

Clara turned the radio dial until she found some music, then took a quick glance in her rearview at the child’s shifting eyes. They’d changed from blue to red and back again in an instant, and she only calmed when he soothed himself on the bottle. She’d made a deal with his daddy, true, but she hadn’t anticipated Max would inherit the same temper.

A sharp sequence of tones broke into the song before a newsflash.

“Traffic alert! Three left lanes of the eastbound Rainen Bridge closed due to an injury accident…”

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” Clara muttered. She glanced at the traffic ahead—all three lanes appeared to be blocked about a mile in front of them, leaving only one lane for every car to funnel into.

She was already late for Max’s daycare drop-off. Late for work, late for her meeting, and now she’d have to explain it all over again. She’d only gone back to work four months ago after a rough first year—how else could she explain the experience with a child like Max—and her boss definitely wasn’t thrilled. This single parent thing meant nothing to him except that she was late all the time.

Late and covered in spit-up and mashed sweet potatoes. And of course paranoid about when Max is going to—

Max let out a wail and Clara spun her head to catch him dropping the bottle on the floor. It rolled under the passenger seat.

“Crap,” she said.

When she spun forward she nearly collided with the blue Dodge in front of her. She shrieked and slammed both feet on the brake, the man in the truck throwing a middle finger out the window.

“Eff you, lady! Don’t you see the traffic? Watch where you’re going!”

“I know, I know!” Yelling probably wasn’t the best option with her window open, but the man kept waving his finger in the air. Max began to howl.

Clara peered into the mirror again, her precious little boy shaking his fists and beginning to remind her even more of the man who’d fathered him. Max’s eyes flashed red and wrinkles formed around his rippling lips. For the millionth time she wished she’d had the sense to say no to his father.

But how could she have? A lifetime of happiness if she’d do him this one little screaming favor….

“Shh, honey, it’s okay.” The traffic continued to merge into the single lane, a ruckus of honks spreading across the freeway. A small crack opened up in the lane beside her and Clara managed to move alongside the Dodge. The man waggled his finger at her and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled.

Didn’t these people know better than to throw their rage around at other drivers? It wasn’t a good idea, especially with Max able to see it all.

But they don’t know that, Clara.

“Shh, baby, come on,” she said, eyeing him. Max’s eyes widened as he cried, his sniffles turning into huffs and snorts. If she couldn’t calm him down, this wouldn’t end well.

A bolt of lightning zipped across the sky. It dipped close to the merging traffic, and when she sucked in a breath, another snapped above the blue Dodge. “Max,” she said, refusing to face her son. “I know you understand me. Don’t you do it. You keep yourself calm, sweetheart.”

She looked over at the Dodge driver and yanked her cheeks up in a bright smile, hoping a little flirtation would work its charm and calm him down.

That’s how I won Max’s father over.

Another bolt ripped inches above the Dodge, and the man threw his head out the window. “What the heck?”

“Hey, look sir, I’m sorry about earlier!” She hated apologizing, but if Max didn’t notice him calm down or hear him apologize…. Clara leaned toward the window. “Really sir, I’m so sorry!”

The man waved her off, distracted by the lightning. He spoke loud enough for her to hear him but kept his focus on the plume of black fog that rolled in over the water. “It’s all good, lady, I’m over it. What’s with this sky? Really, it’s no biggie. Just pay attention, you hear?”

“Of course!” She smiled in the mirror and Max’s cries stilled. “See, honey, he said he was sorry. Take a deep breath. No need to protect mama today.”

Max coughed one last gasp of anger before sticking his finger in his mouth. He suckled it all the way down to his knuckle and the sky turned right back into the sunny skies they’d had five minutes prior.

The radio crackled back to life. “All lanes opening on the Bridge! Great work to the fast clean up crew.”

Clara breathed a sigh as she eyed her child.

***

Thanks for reading the first edition of Third Thursday Flash. The next edition will be in three weeks, and I’ll put a call out for themes a week in advance. Start thinking of your suggestions now! 🙂


Stephen King’s ON WRITING

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. —Stephen King

About a month ago, my friend loaned me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. The friend, Mari Naomi, is a brilliant San Francisco based graphic memoirist and cartoonist, whom I look to as a mentor. The book—well, it is a genius piece of insight that I think every writer should look to as a mentor of sorts.

In my younger years, I read a lot of Stephen King (fun fact: I originally wanted to write YA horror). I tore through his tales because I found his work riveting for content, but also because he used blatant and perfectly concise language. Cut to many years later, and Mr. King completed a book about the craft! It took me a long time to stumble upon it, but thank goodness I did.

Besides a compelling section on the path that led to the King of Horror becoming such, the book contains a thoughtful and articulate take on the writing craft. King shares his views on the “writer’s toolbox,” as well as clarity on things all writers should avoid (for example, excessive use of adverbs or passive voice). His is a lesson in get to the point, and one warranting of every writer’s attention.

Personally, I’m delighted I found the book just before I tore my own apart for its final edit a couple of weeks ago. The advice is invaluable, and it would be a shame to not have checked it out.

I think non-writers can also enjoy the book, both because it reveals some of the work and secrets behind the craft, and because King’s distinctive voice is present throughout—the same clever master of horror we all know and treasure, but this time talking about something personal and craft-based instead of purely fictional.

So, in summary, if you have not yet read this book, I suggest you rush right out to grab it and start. 🙂

Happy reading!


One Amazing Conference!

The Cascade Writers Conference was fantastic! It’s taken me a few days to recover and gather my thoughts—something I’m noticing around the web as a commonality between other attendees of this adventure—but now I’m excited to share how much fun I had!

I found the Cascade Writers workshop by random googling of “fantasy writing conference + summer,” and I can’t be happier at the twist of fate that landed me in Vancouver, Washington this last weekend. I don’t know if I would have had the same experience at any other workshop, but I’m so grateful that this was my first. I met oodles of fantastic people, beautiful minds, and lovely souls, and I came home like a kid bemoaning the end of summer camp!

Critique workshopping was the main focus of the Cascade Conference. Each attendee submitted a 3,750 word story or chapter about six weeks in advance, and was assigned to a group of six to eight people under the guidance of a skilled group leader. We were expected to critique the piece before the conference, where we used the Milford style to share our thoughts. Initially, the task seemed daunting—peers and a leader critiquing our words, and then being expected to professionally, kindly, and thoughtfully do the same for those around us. But the groups were generally warm and friendly, and in my group in particular, quite fun! Ken Scholes, a speculative fiction author, led our group, and we all left feeling as though we’d gained an incredible mentor and friend. After the critiquing, each member had a one-on-one session with mentors to discuss anything about the craft. I’m not sure if this personalized guidance component happens at other conferences, but it certainly helped me!

The event also boasted workshops and seminars on all sorts of pieces to the craft: a playful segment on “Revision and Editing” with Jay Lake, a tremendously helpful piece to “Outline Your Story in 90 Minutes” by Mark Teppo, a creative journey to find “Stories on the Fly” by Ken Scholes, and an informative “Query Letter Workshop” with Michael Carr (the agent with whom I had the opportunity to informally practice chatting about my book). Several other segments filled the time, but these were my favorites for their usefulness and approaches to the topic at hand.

The instructional component through seminars and critique workshops was grand, but one aspect of the conference remained the best experience of them all: that of talking and getting to know other authors. The world is a competitive place, but the writing world is not. There’s no reason for it! Each of us brings something unique to the table, and writers stand out as a tribe of people opening their arms and sharing their craft with one another. I learned so much this weekend, but my favorite part was the chance to get to know these people on a personal level and just hang out. I came home with over two dozen new contacts and friends that I’m delighted to have in my circle. In some cases the connection focused on the craft itself, and in others, it was just about making amazing friends—going to lunch with fifteen-people groups, sharing flash fiction in a hotel room with three great gals in my group, or even closing down the nearby bar talking “life” with the brilliant and fun minds of Patrick Swenson (author, publisher, and editor of speculative fiction) and Mark Teppo (speculative fiction author and conference speaker). I hardly slept, I ate and drank a tad too much, and I came home still feeling warm and fuzzy at the warm mental hugs we all shared.

All in all, would I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.

Can any conference compare to the awesomeness of the Cascade Writers Workshop? I’ve no idea, but I’m looking forward to trying more.

And what were the best things I learned? Write, write, write, and write more, and of course, make lots of new friends. 🙂

A big thank you to Karen Junker, who did a spectacular job of organizing the event. (And also a thank you to the very nice bar server who let us stay well-past closing. 😉 )

Keep writing, everyone!


Off to a Conference!

Well, I’m a day away from attending my very first writing conference, and I’m so excited!

In the past weeks I’ve been hyper-focused on my novel, Kyresa. My goal was to have it finalized, edited, and proofed by the conference, so that I could start querying agents the moment I got home. Goal attained! I can now rest easy knowing the creation part is done…and the hard part—marketing—is about to begin.

Bring it!

Tomorrow I will head off for the Cascade Writers Workshop, where I will get to work with several other writers, as well as a handful of editors and agents. Most of the authors attending also write in the fantasy genre, and I expect it will be a great time. (The numerous hilarious emails flying around between group members are starting to confirm my suspicions!) We will be workshopping, critiquing, socializing, and writing as a group, and I’ll also be pitching Kyresa at a formal pitch session. Fun!

Since I still have a gigantic To Do list to tackle before my flight tomorrow (um, starting with PACKING, sort of important…), I’m going to sign off for now. When I return, I’m sure I’ll have tons of stories to share. Can’t wait!

Also next week: I’ll be settling into a more regular blogging schedule again (TBA) and I’ll share my thoughts on Stephen King’s On Writing. I’ll leave you with one word for now: fantastic.

Stay tuned, and have a splendid rest of the week, everyone! 🙂


How I Edit

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

If I don’t answer my phone today, it’s because I’m editing. Or, I jumped out the window. ~Me
As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission to edit my work in progress, Kyresa. There are some steps left before I can actually call the book “finished,” but I am pleased to announce the editing stage is officially done! Woo hoo!

Editing is a funny thing—it is imperative for crafting a quality piece, but it’s also a grueling, tedious stage that must usually happen several times. While every writer edits, I don’t believe every writer edits in the same manner. Today I thought I’d share the process I used for the most recent edit of Kyresa.

First of all, this last edit was more of an edit/rewrite/edit mashup. I had an idea that I might potentially want to change the ending, but I knew that I couldn’t make that decision until I re-immersed myself in the story. When I started, Kyresa was 111,400 words. That’s about 404 pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. I printed it out 2-sided and put it into a binder that I could tote around wherever I went. I armed myself with three goals:

  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.

Then I set five more goals to work through as I edited:

  • If there’s a simpler way to say it, find it.
  • Lay off the dialogue tags if the speaker is clear. (“You sure do talk a lot, Eva,” THE BLOG READER SAID.)
  • Keep an eye on adverbs, because Mr. Stephen King thinks they’re the devil and he probably knows his devils writing horror and all.
  • Don’t rob the reader of the right to come up with her own image of the person/place/thing by giving too many showing details. (I am a control freak, so over-explanation can happen.) (Like that last parenthetical comment.) (Sorry.)
  • Decide if I want to change the ending. (I wrote a note to myself about 20 pages after where I thought I’d like to end it that said, “Are you feeling an ending change, Eva?”—and yes, this is actually written on the page.)

So, I went through the whole book this way, marking all over it with a variety of pens. Some pages were just a little marked up, and some looked like I had a blue/green/red pen party and just dripped the ink everywhere like a crazy person. And when I made my way to the moment of ending-change decision, I opted to go for it!

This is where the “rewrite” part of the mashup happened. I pulled all the scenes I wanted to delete out of the binder and tucked them in the back, but kept the scenes between that I thought were useful. Then I blared Clannad’s “I Will Find You” two times as theme music before setting off to write the new ending. (I generally do not write to music, but sometimes I will listen to it and run it through my head as I write. Or blurt out singing. Either way works.) I then printed out the new scene and stuck it in the binder, and went back to fix the story where necessary to accommodate my new ending. This involved a lot of scrap paper hole punched and stuck in where appropriate, and lots of lines written over entire margins. I also seriously edited my new scene, since it was freshly written and needed some heavy tuning.

Once I got to the last page, I started to tear up. In fact, I get teary-eyed every time I get to the end of this book. (This means either it’s moving or I’m a complete sap, only time will tell.)

After that, I watched a movie and then cleaned up my office (please reference Clean Space, Fresh Perspective for more info on this, and if you’re feeling a tad more voyeuristic, you can learn about and see what my office space looks like in a guest post I did here), but from then on it was business. I proceeded to enter all the changes into the computer. This took a loooonnnggggg time (days), because along the way I found other little changes, and of course I did all of this knowing there were more to come. Over and over again. And again.

After the changes were in, Kyresa was down to about 101,000 words—I’d say half of this was due to the ending change and the other half to my aforementioned goals. But I still wasn’t done!

Now came the “find and replace” (F&R) game.

I did this with every word I’d noticed as an overused word when I edited, and with others I found through the SmartEdit software I mentioned in my last post. I searched for repeated actions (sighing, for example), passive voice (was, were, to be) and for words we humans tend to overuse without realizing (that, so, few, really, very, just, even, like, and many others). Changing these words didn’t always entail deleting or the simple use of the “replace” function; sometimes the whole sentence needed restructuring. In addition, I went through Every.Single.Adverb that SmartEdit recorded and evaluated its purpose, and ran the dreaded F&R one more time for the word as (which, by the way, I am now seeing everywhere, and it makes me want to throw things).

All of this cut Kyresa way down in unnecessary wordage—to 93,400 words, as a matter of fact!

(Oh my gawd I said “as” and I think I’m going to scream!)

After that, I did a happy dance. This was both to celebrate and to cheer me up, because every time I did the F&R function I went from the beginning to the end of the novel—meaning there were a lot of teary eyes again. Geez…

Lastly, I ran a spellcheck and a computer-version of proofread (which is hilarious for a fantasy novel, by the way: Wench. “Sexist expression. Avoid using this word.”), printed it out, and set it aside for a few days to stew before I proofread it for any glaring grammatical errors, typos, or other oddities that need cutting.

Another thing of note—and I want to mention this because I think it’s important no matter what you’re writing, be it a book, some poetry, or a paper for school—I resave about every 10 minutes, and each day I save the file with a new name. “Kyresa(updated 7-1-12),” then “Kyresa(updated 7-2-12),” etc., so that I can always go back if I change my mind on cutting a scene. And though I have a backup drive, I also email the file to myself every few days (because a backup drive is no good if your house burns down).

Sooooo…there you have it, my editing process. 🙂

Now I’m curious: what’s yours? Please share in the comment section below! I’m sure many of you have some great ideas that the rest of us would like to [steal] know about! Thanks for sharing, and happy editing!


Mi Casa Es Su Casa, or, a Bonus Post!

Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t be back all that often while I’m editing, but after spending over seven hours focused on Kyresa today (woo hoo!), I decided that I ought to reward myself with a teeny tiny addendum post.

You may remember my post last week, Clean Space, Fresh Perspective; I went on a mad cleaning spree after being inspired by Anna Meade’s “A Room of My Own” series. Anna runs the lovely Yearning for Wonderland blog, and after seeing my post, she asked if I’d like to participate and share my room. I was of course delighted to join in!

If you’d like to learn more about where all my writing happens, you can do so here: My Room. (There’s even a picture!) A big thank you to Anna for inviting me to participate in the series. It was fun!

Also, after yesterday’s post, I decided I needed to seal in my reestablished confidence as an author…

So I ordered myself some business cards. 🙂

Have a great week, everyone!


Process, Self-Doubt, and…a Published Piece!

It’s been another solid week of editing…however, this week proved a bit more challenging for a handful of reasons. The first noticeable obstacle was the three-trip adventure to the mechanic for my mysteriously overheating car—sadly, this resulted in a loss of a lot of editing time, and also no verdict on the car (hmph). It also led to a bit of meandering around on foot and thinking, which then rushed me right into the monster obstacle of the week: a giant case of randomly and inconveniently induced self-doubt.

Generally I’m a pretty confident and ambitious person. I mean, it was only 8,000,000* changes, and my years performing circus led me to believe that I’m part Superwoman, so really, how hard could this be?

Ha.

I was editing, then I was up, then I was editing, then I was off in la-la land, then I was editing, and…well, you get the picture. Sure, I suppose I could attribute some of it to my self-diagnosed adult A.D.D., but as I stewed and fretted and wondered “Really, really, can I ever truly finish this book?”, I started thinking maybe it wasn’t the five-year-old trapped in my head after all.

I read some good blogs on getting motivated, and a great post on Letting it Go that I bookmarked and kept referencing (you should too). I had lunch with my talented author and graphic novelist friend MariNaomi, who handed me Stephen King’s On Writing (she’s also the third person to recommend this book to me). I made a deal with myself that I would definitely peruse this memoir right after I entered the 8,000,000* changes in my book but before I gave it a last touch-up read, since I might actually learn something helpful from Mr. King. And then when all that still didn’t seem to make me any calmer, I busted out my Kaiser medical handbook and learned how to belly breathe.

Sadly, all good monster stories tend to contain the really scary moment when the beast goes haywire. And that moment happened. Hard.

I happened to be on the phone with my cousin. I don’t usually like to refer to her as my cousin; she is more of a best friend than a relative, and she is also one of my treasured beta-readers/editors. She’s sassy and smart, and despite our familial connection, she can critically (but kindly) tear apart most any text I throw in front of her. We keep telling her husband that the two of us are going to quit our jobs so he can support us while I write in their basement and she edits for me full-time, but alas, he seems a little slow on follow-through…

All of this aside, the darling dear had something I really needed at that moment: patience and a good ear. I told her my frustrations—because “life” happened, I shelved this book so many times and for such long intervals (read: years) that my first novel had now been with me for the better part of two decades [belly breathe], and I have so many great ideas bouncing around and waiting for me to hurry up and finish that it was distracting and frustrating me [belly breathe], though of course I love the book I’ve been carrying around for more than half my life, but would I ever stop finding things to change on it [belly breathe!], because it simply feels so drastically different from the style I’ve been writing on the side for the last ten years, and how would that ever work? [BELLY BREATHE!]…Wah wah wah, cue violins, play a sad song, and then I dropped to the floor to belly breathe again.

After my cousin ascertained that I was indeed alive and breathing like a normal person, she said, in the wisest and calmest of voices, “Eva, you’re doing fine. It’s your first novel. Of course it’s going to be the hardest. So finish this edit, get it out there to some agents, and then feel good about it no matter what. You owe it to yourself to finish and move on.”

Before I knew it, I was on my feet with that last little sentence on a post-it hanging on my mirror (no I’m not kidding). I was ready to go full-tilt and finish this little baby.

And honestly, I realized the end is not so far away. In fact, here’s a pretty little visual for how many of the 8,000,000* changes I’ve entered:

So close!

I cooed to my cousin for about ten straight minutes with lots of thanks and a threat to send her cookies in the mail, and then I pulled out more pages to enter. Before I started, I checked my email and got the real kick in the pants to cheer up and get to work:

The wonderful anthology that Susi Holliday had worked and slaved over from April’s Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Contest was in print and ready to order!!! I mean, could I get any more inspiration than that?!

So, in summary, I think I need to spout a few great lessons I learned here.

1. Surround yourself with good people.

2. Listen to the wise words of your cousin/friend.

3. Belly breathe. Often.

4. Don’t let the Self-Doubt Beast win when it comes to writing. So the book takes forever, and maybe it doesn’t get published, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if it doesn’t work, okay, move along. In fact,

5. “You owe it to yourself to finish it and move on.”

6. And finally, always celebrate good things—like, for example, my first ever published piece. Yippee!

If you would like your very own copy of this fantastic anthology, you can hop on over to Amazon to order it here: Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales. Edited by S.J.I. Holliday and Anna Meade, this anthology contains 89 tales by brilliant authors on the theme of “Unexpected Fairytales,” and it’s only $3.70 plus shipping. The proceeds beyond production costs even go to charity!

So, I’m off to edit now, with a big smile on my face and no belly breathing necessary. And thanks to all of YOU for going on this journey with me. 🙂

*Special Note: A week later, I am still fessing up to my tendency to exaggerate, often with the number 8. But shhh, don’t tell, or I’ll have to pick another number. 😉


Clean Space, Fresh Perspective

It’s been one full week since I last posted, and it turns out, this time away is incredibly helpful! For those of you just tuning in, I called a Blog Time-Out last Sunday. It’s not entirely a hiatus—me not talking is about as likely as pigs flying while it’s raining cats and dogs on a very cold day in hell—but it is a temporary blogging slow-down while I focus on finally turning Kyresa, my “work in progress,” into a “completed work” instead.

So far, so good! I managed to edit for over 30 hours this week, and I’ve virtually reached my next step: entering all 8,000,000* of my changes into the computer for a final reread. I’ve always been partial to editing on paper, both because staring at a computer screen gives me a headache, and because I prefer being as hands-on as literally possible, but I’ll admit it does tend to lengthen the process. Still, I am far closer to “completed” than before. Hurray!

Last night, when I set my binder beside the keyboard to start entering said 8,000,000* changes, I realized that my desk had gotten completely out of control. I’ve always been a pretty neat person, but after spending seven weeks in a cast a couple years ago, I learned to loosen the reins a bit. This was a wonderful thing to learn because (1) I generally find I need to relax far more than I allow myself to do, and (2) writing is just plain more important than the dishes. While I still clean pretty regularly, I’ve definitely fallen into an old habit: in any given room, and on my desk, there are various piles of things I need to reference. Though I know exactly what is in each pile, I have nowhere to put the items in these piles. I’m sure several of you have this little habit; short of causing a tripping hazard in the middle of the night, it doesn’t seem like such a bad one to have.

But add to this that Anna Meade over at Yearning for Wonderland has been showcasing various author and bloggers’ writing spaces, as well as the glass of wine that was in my hand, and I pretty much lost it over the state of my desk. It didn’t matter that the desk—actually table, there are no drawers on this sad piece of furniture—also served as bill station, supply house, project table, bookshelf, computer hub, and writing place anymore…it had to be cleaned!

So naturally I swooped all my paperwork to the floor (just like in the movies) and started reorganizing. I’m not finished yet, but already, seeing the surface of the table without all the clutter is making me feel better. It has also inspired me to continue into the next stage of Kyresa‘s  final edit! Clean space, fresh perspective, finished project, and very soon, a return to my more regular blog schedule.

In the meantime, I’m going to need to figure out what to do with all the papers I dramatically knocked to the floor. My cat—usually a cuddly sweetheart who thinks she’s a dog—made clear in her extraordinarily devilish look that she has her own plan for them:

Sienna the Troublemaker. Sure…she doesn’t have any plans to mess with this paper stack. At all.

Oh dear…

I’ll be back probably next weekend, folks. Thanks for your patience as I finish this edit, and for reading!

(*Special note: I like to exaggerate. Often with the number 8.)


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