General Status Update 4/7/17

I couldn’t think of a particularly specific topic to blog about this week, so this post will just be a general status update: what I’m working on, current goals, future projects, etc.

I’m trying to wrap up the first draft of Serafima’s Stone in the next month or two. I’m very close to finishing the primary story line, and then have to fill in some secondary plot points. I’m moving into a new house at the end of April, so my free time is a bit limited until then. However, I’ll be setting up a designated writing space (as opposed to my current writing space, aka sitting on the couch with the TV oh-so-temptingly sitting on the other side of the room…) in the new house, and am hoping this distraction-free space will help me focus and increase my productivity. The new house will also have a patio space, so maybe once the weather gets nice I’ll write outside.

In addition to working on Serafima’s Stone, several plot bunnies have been jumping around in my brain. While Serafima’s Stone is of course the highest priority, I have spent some time exploring these other plot bunnies. Follow the muse! Writing something is better than writing nothing, right? Even if it’s not what you meant to work on…

Oh, hai!I'z yer personal plot bunneh fur today!.png

Anyway, these other plot bunnies will form the foundation of novels I’ll work on more specifically once the Gaslight Frontier Series is completed. You can look forward to an urban fantasy novel, a post-apocalyptic/humorous novel, and an epic fantasy novel down the line.

Because I’m moving this month, I’m not officially taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. If you are, though, I’d love to hear about your progress (or struggles!) in the comments!

Plotting vs. Pantsing

Well, another Camp NaNoWriMo has come and gone. I did a slightly better job this time, but still failed to meet my word count. Rather than feel discouraged, this forced me to step back and analyze what I, and my story, really need right now. The answer: stop pantsing and start plotting.

For those unfamiliar with the terms, “pantsing” refers to a style of writing where the author writes “by the seat of their pants”. That is, they don’t plan what they’re going to write. They just write, and see where the story takes them. This method lends itself well to events like NaNoWriMo, where the core purpose is simply to get words on paper.

The other method of writing is plotting. This method involves planning a story ahead of time by outlining beats and story arcs. This is where stories can get nice and complex. Plotting lends itself to stories that involve a lot of world building, mystery/intrigue, etc.

In my own writing life, I find pantsing to be a lot of fun. It gives a sense of freedom and takes away the pressures of a complicated story. I can set my characters free to get into all sorts of trouble. It’s an exceedingly helpful method to break writers block.

However, when it comes to actually creating a cohesive story, I need to plot. I need to have a sense of where I’m going so that I can reel my characters back in and push them in the right direction. Plotting is what gives my characters their drives and purposes, and it ties together all the foreshadowing, easter eggs, histories, connections…

Especially considering my current project, Serafima’s Stone, runs concurrent to Grigory’s Gadget, I can’t have my characters cutting loose and running rampant. Some events are already set in stone. They’re like fixed points in time a la Doctor Who. I can’t change them, and I certainly can’t ignore them. I need to incorporate them, and the best way I know how is to outline, outline, OUTLINE!

And so, now that July has come to an end, I have opened up my Scrivener file and begun getting those characters in line!

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016

So far, so good. As of today, July 8th, I’ve met my word count goal every single day this month!

*loud cheering*

Granted, I made July MUCH easier than I had made April. My daily word count goal is a meager 500 words per day, for a total of 15,500 words by the end of the month. It’s enough writing to keep my story moving forward, and to get me into a solid habit of writing every day. But it’s also far less intimidating than the typical NaNoWriMo goal of 1,667 words per day in November.

If say, you forget about NaNoWriMo until 10pm one night, and then find out that PokemonGO has been released in the US, you can still fit in 500 words before bed! 500 words, a bulbasaur, an eevee, and a weedle.

This is serving as a lesson for me to be realistic about my expectations. Summer is busy – like, REALLY busy. I may not be writing as much as I’d *like* to, but at least I’m writing consistently.

Good luck to any other Campers out there!

Brief Update on Life and Camp NaNoWriMo

My post this week is going to be short and sweet. I’m in the process of moving, so free time doesn’t really exist at the moment. Every spare moment is interjected with “WAIT! You need to pack ALL THE THINGS!”

Some of you know I was participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Some of you  noticed I used the past tense there. Yeah, at most I’ll write 200 words every few days, and that’s the best I can hope for right now. It’s better than nothing, but I won’t be meeting my 30,000 word goal by April 30th. However, I plan to kick things into gear once I’m done moving, and carry my 1,000-words-per-day goal into May. NaNoWiMay? Sure, I’ll go with that.

Are you also struggling with your Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Or are you seeing great success? Let me know in the comments!

Some Inspirational Photos for Serafima’s Stone

I’m currently taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo, writing the first draft of Serafima’s Stone – Book 2 of the Gaslight Frontier Series! The draft is going swimmingly (well, mostly treading water and a little doggy paddling), so I thought I’d give you a little tease in the form of some of my reference images.

Compared to Grigory’s Gadget, the setting of Serafima’s Stone is much more varied! Grigory’s Gadget was pretty water-logged, taking place primarily on ships. In Serafima’s Stone, we’ll see what the landlubbers are up to.

We start here:


That is the Summer Palace of the Royal Family of the Empire of Starzapad. (Actually, it’s Peterhof Palace in Russia, and fun fact, I’ve totally been there! It’s just as cool in person) This is the home of the protagonist of Serafima’s Stone: the Princess Rozaliya.

We don’t stay in the Palace for very long…

(Artist Unkown)

(Artist: Vadim Voitekhovitch)

Well that’s a little different…

Then we do a little MORE traveling:

javier-charro-ss-mb-portada-manual-final-sn(Artist: Javier Charro)

Yeehaw! We’re going Wild West style!

Fun behind-the-scenes fact: I came up with “Starzapad” by combining the Russian words for “Old” (“stariy”) and “West” (“zapad”). Clever or lazy? I like to think both.

Want to learn more about Grigory’s Gadget? Check out Page One Books, N3rdbomber, and The Blonde Bookworm to read reviews of it, or check out the Goodreads page. Grigory’s Gadget is available in paperback at my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.

How to Connect with Other Writers/Readers

Writing and reading are often considered solitary endeavors, and sometimes they are necessarily so. However, sometimes it’s fun and helpful to have a network of other writers and/or readers with whom you can share ideas, get inspiration, critique work, fangirl, etc.

The most ideal situation is to have a network of local people with whom you can meet up on a regular basis. These may be close friends, book clubs, or people you’ve met through local events such as author signings and readings. Unfortunately, sometimes finding such people can be difficult. Maybe you were the only one in your group of friends who enjoyed reading and writing. Maybe you just moved to a new town. Maybe there aren’t any active book clubs reading genres you like. What do you do then?

This is where social media comes in handy. There are lots of social media sites to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Goodreads, and many more. Stick to ones that appeal to you. I personally use Facebook and Twitter the most frequently, and occasionally stop in on Goodreads and Tumblr as well.

On Facebook, you can meet other writers and readers in Facebook Groups. These groups can share discussions, photos and videos, documents, etc. You can search for Facebook Groups by simply using Facebook’s search bar, then selecting “Groups” on the top of the search page. My favorite groups for writers are the Insecure Writers Support Group, Indie Author Group, Fiction Writers, and Rockin’ the Side Gig (this group focuses on writers who have full-time jobs!).

Twitter Chats are another great way to connect with other writers and readers. The idea behind a Twitter Chat is that people who want to partake in the discussion use a designated hashtag, usually at a designated time. You can find Twitter Chats through sites like Twubs. Some of my favorite Twitter chats related to writing are #bbchat, #k8chat, #StoryDam, #LitChat, and #indiechat. Pro tip: using TweetDeck is really handy for keeping track of a Twitter Chat discussion. You can create a column for a hashtag by using the search feature.

As I mentioned early, there’s also Goodreads, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. Explore these social media sites to see what suits you!

As some of you know, today kicked off April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. So go connect with some fellow writers and support each other as you work toward your word count goals!

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo is similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November), except it happens in April and July. Its purpose is to encourage writers to simply get words on paper (or word processor). According to the Camp NaNoWriMo About page:

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and creativity. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, which has a set goal of 50,000 words written in a month. Since Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own goal, I chose to aim for 30,000 words in a month, or 1,000 words per day.

The project I’ll be working on is the sequel to Grigory’s Gadget, currently with the working title Serafima’s Stone. If you get my newsletter, you already know that Serafima’s Stone will actually run concurrent with Grigory’s Gadget. It will tell the story of Princess Rozaliya, Heir Apparent of the Empire of Starzapad, whose disappearance sparks a war between Starzapad and Morozhia.

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo: my wonderful editors over at Writership recently came out with an excellent book for anyone struggling to form a good writing habit and/or hone your craft. It’s called Anchor One – Dreamtime, and it’s full of writing exercises and prompts to get those creative juices flowing!

Want to learn more about Grigory’s Gadget? Click here, here, and here to read reviews of it, or click here for the Goodreads page. Grigory’s Gadget is available in paperback at my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.