As I type this post, I’m looking out the window at one of the very few mild days we get in Southeast Louisiana. The sun’s shining; the wind’s gently rustling the leaves. It’s the kind of day where you can’t help but feel positive. Of course, I’m already leaning this way because I’m full of stories and excited about my writing plans. Who wouldn’t be upbeat?!?
So, what am I writing?
I know it may be a bit confusing if you catch bits and pieces of my social media posts and blog posts to know what I’m working on at the moment. Nonfiction? Fantasy? Literary fiction? Short stories? Anything?
The answer to each is “Yes!” Before you head for the hills and vow to never read another crazy post from me again, I promise it makes sense! My word for 2018 is COMPLETION. As scattered as I appear to be, I will complete at least two books this year in addition to at least 12 short stories. And, here are my writing plans to do just that!
Those of you who have followed this blog since last summer probably remember all about Ashlee and her book and what a joy and privilege it has been for me to work with her family. Her book is still with her parents as they read through it and make notes for me. This is an emotional experience for them as they relive each moment of their ordeal since Ashlee was hit by a drunk driver when she was only 15.
They are doing an amazing job and are one of the most beautiful families I’ve ever known. I will get together with them this month to start filling in some gaps and getting some initial feedback from them. Once they’re ready, I will make all the additions and changes they’d like and fill in any further gaps in the medical details, etc. before final revisions and approvals and then final, final edits before we seek publication!
My little Faerie story, as I lovingly dubbed it, continues to swell in my mind. I have continued to brainstorm and world-build since my delightful writing getaway in December. Because this story will take a great deal of time to do properly, I’ve decided to work on other books alongside it. We’ll find out whether or not I made a wise decision there!
I am setting aside several sessions a month to work on some of my plot questions as well as to continue the world-building process. Of course, answers often come to me at random times while I’m doing other things; so I keep my notebook handy at all times! I’m meeting some amazing writers on Twitter who are in similar stages with their fantasy books and I look forward to learning from them and encouraging one another. Another plan is to explore my characters as well as my world and its mythology and beings through short fiction. I believe I will know when I’m ready to dive in to writing the book itself in earnest.
I shared with you last week how I got back in touch with Why I Write as I chose my next book project. I also promised a few more details for you on this lovely new literary fiction tale! First, what is literary fiction? Well, it’s one of those things I know when I see without a shadow of a doubt; however, I struggle to put it into words. So, I went searching and found this post that really gives a great explanation.
On to more book details! If you receive my newsletter, you may find some of this familiar from our chat a couple weeks ago. I do have a working title that I really love; but it could change. So, for now, I’ll affectionately refer to this story as Beast!
Here’s a quick synopsis:
Jack Calhoun battles Beasts within and condemnation without as he trudges through his life in five acts: recovery, running, rock bottom, restoration and release.
This story came to me a year ago following a tragedy in my community. My mind started to ask a zillion “What ifs?” I sat down and wrote out an in-depth outline and a few lines. It’s been high atop my to-write list, but I haven’t bumped it to #1 for one very ridiculous reason: it scares the mess out of me.
Why? Well, it won’t be easy to write. I’ve already teared up while writing and will many more times. Some of the issues Jack deals with include alcoholism, guilt, suicide, mental illness and PTSD.
Also, I desire to write this well for the countless people who suffer with these Beasts every day; and I will always worry that I’m not a good enough writer to do that. But, I also know this story came to me for a reason; so I’m going to tell it to the best of my ability!
Here is the opening paragraph:
Not everyone finds a happy ending. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes someone else screws us up. Sometimes no one screws up. Life just spirals out of control, and we can’t stop spinning long enough to grab on to the ending we wish we could have.
I’m structuring this book with inspiration from traditional five act plays and look forward to watching it come together as I write! So far, I’ve written the first three chapters and several pieces of later scenes, 10,360 words. I’ve discovered and filled in two big plot holes and identified areas where I need to interview some experts. My goal for this weekend is to keep writing and get through the first of my five acts. That will put me through chapter 5; and I should be between 15,000 and 20,000 words. Letter by letter, word by word—that’s how we tell a tale!
For those of you who love music, I’ve started a song list of music that’s inspiring me as I write. (Think: Imagine Dragons, Collective Soul, Coldplay and The Chainsmokers!) I may have a songlist to share with you guys later this year!
You may remember one of my 2018 goals was to write a short story each month and revise a second. So far, so good! A little later in the year, I plan to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from writing shorter fiction; but I’ve already learned way more than I expected!
Here’s what I’ve completed so far this year:
I revised a story I started in the fall, “Dream Debris.” I will give it one more edit after my two critique partners give me their final thoughts. After that, I’ll be looking to submit it for publication! Honestly, I’m pretty proud of this one and look forward to seeing where it ends up!
My whole family was down with the flu and other seasonal ailments for a couple weeks this month; but I wrote a short story anyway, doggone it! I wrote about my experience at the doctor’s office. (Back story: I’m not a fan of doctors.) I plan to revise this short; however, I don’t have plans to release it in any form. Just because a story doesn’t see the light of day doesn’t mean I can’t learn something from it, though!
February: New and Revision
I planned to write a Mardi Gras/New Orleans-inspired story this month; but I hadn’t planned to revise and release it, too! Now, I typically like to write, let it simmer and then pick a story back up. But, for whatever reason, as I wrote this over two sessions, it just felt good. So, after a brief hesitation, I decided to jump to revisions. In the back of my mind, I knew Mardi Gras was around the corner and it could be a perfect story to gift to my amazing newsletter subscribers; but I didn’t want to push something that wasn’t completely ready.
So, I took it a step at a time; and it came together right in time. The rest is history! I look forward to using this story in other ways in the future as well and have received great feedback from readers on how to make it better. As for now, it’s available for new subscribers, too.
March: It’s a plan!
A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon the lovely and inspiring Rachael Ritchey on Goodreads! Rachael is a fellow Writer Mama who writes YA adventure and sweet romance. This week she launched a short story contest for Science Fiction, Adventure and Fantasy. The top 15-20 submissions will find their way into an anthology.
I’ve already started working on a piece with her contest in mind. To make the March 16 deadline, I will have to revise right away again; however, if I don’t feel like I’ve written a high quality first draft, I’ll just hold on to it. I’d love to enter, but I’ll only do it if I can submit my best quality! Either way, I’ll be keeping an eye out for future opportunities from her and cheering on all the entrants!
I do believe Ashlee’s book and Beast will both be ready for publication before the end of this year. Two details stand in the way of my declaration that they will be published. For Ashlee’s book, I don’t know for sure yet how we’re going to publish—traditional or self. That choice will determine a more firm timeline.
My plan is for Beast to be my first Indie book to publish. So, the only holdup there is money. I also have to do all the legal mess (can you sense I’m not looking forward to this?) to make sure I’m setting myself and my family up for total success. And, I will need to save up whatever legal fees, business costs, etc. that go along with that; plus, I will have editing services, cover design costs, press logos, printing setup fees, ISBN costs and other upfront expenses.
It gets hard to breathe when I start adding it all up! Anyone have a paper bag I can breathe into for a minute? In light of these upcoming costs, I’ll have to adjust my original plan for 2018 and open up some editing slots for new clients. I’ll have more details on that soon. If you’re interested, head over to my Services page and contact me today!
So, after Ashlee’s book and Beast, what are my writing plans? I would like to move right in to one of my nonfiction books. I plan to write one on interviewing for both nonfiction and fiction writing and may do one on editing as well, thanks to a great suggestion from my amazing writing-partner-in-crime, Mea Smith! These books could be a great source of revenue for me. Plus, I would like to transform them into online courses in the future.
That leads us to 2019! Depending on where I am with my Faeries and how successful my first literary fiction attempt is, I will likely begin another literary fiction while I work on completing some children’s picture books and a middle grade fiction book I started years ago. And, if I continue writing short stories, I may put together a book of some of them! The sky’s the limit; and it’s filled with countless tales!
Thank you for following my writing journey! I’m having a blast sharing with you as I learn more about myself and my writing. Can you tell I’m beyond excited for my literary future? What questions do you have for me? Is there anything you’d like to know more about? What projects are you working on this year? You don’t have to be a writer, I’d just love to hear about whatever you’re passionately pursuing!