Tag: Handful of Wishes

My Writing Process – Blog Hop

Yesterday coverI’ve been tagged by a fellow writer to discuss my writing process.

Samyann is the author of Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation, a historical romance spanning from the Civil War, to the Great Chicago Fire, to modern times, and she tells all about her own process on her blog.

Q. What am I working on?

What am I not working on? I’m finishing up the first draft of my novel A Handful of Wishes, which should be released by Evolved Publishing December 2014. I’m also putting the final touches on a short story collection, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, that’ll be released this summer (maybe; I’ve been trying to finish it for a year). And there are always a dozen short stories floating around, half-written, that I’m trying to work on.

Q. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t write a specific genre; I write what I find interesting. So while The Lone Wolf was literary/women’s fiction, A Handful of Wishes is magical realism. My short stories range from contemporary to horror and paranormal. I focus more on a common theme – love and betrayal, sacrifice and redemption – as opposed to any genre conventions.

Q. Why do I write what I do?

Again, I write what interests me. I’ve always read widely, from everyday fiction to genre stuff like mysteries, sci-fi, and horror, as well as a lot of nonfiction. I try to write stories that’ll elicit a strong emotional response from my readers and stick with them long after they’re done reading.

Q. How does your writing process work?

Poorly, at the moment. Right now my weekday schedule is up at 5:30, work 7-5, class from 5:30-8:30, then home at nine to write papers until about midnight or 1:00, then fall asleep and do it all over the next day. Unfortunately, I’ve been getting a lot of great story ideas but haven’t had a chance to write them, other than brief notes. When I do have time to write, I usually do so fast and furiously, because the stories have been marinating for awhile and are pretty ripe for telling.

Q. Who will we meet next week?Road to Hell cover

I’m going to tag author Christopher Starr, because he’s about two months overdue for a blog post.

He’s the author of the Heaven Falls series, starting with The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer, about Lucifer’s fall from grace.

 

I may be feeling a little overwhelmed

At my university, you don’t have to pay extra for any credits beyond 9 semester hours. Free classes, right? So, in the spirit of insanity, I’m taking 5 classes this semester (although one’s about to end and another start, so it’s just 4 at the same time).

And then I got a full-time job (which I love; although it’s in a field that makes my soul kind of heart I get to play in databases all day) that has mandatory overtime half the year.

And I have family obligations.

Oh, and writing – I’ve decided to go through my publisher, Evolved, for the short story collection I’ve been trying to release for the past year, and it should be released this summer. And I’m trying to finish polishing my next novel, A Handful of Wishes, which will hopefully be released in December.

A fellow grad student tonight, in a similar overload position, described herself tonight as “whelmed,” to which I responded:

How do you keep from being overwhelmed?

Resolutions: 2013 review and 2014 goals

2013

Last year, I set some goals for myself.

  1. Publish my novel, The Lone Wolf.
    Yes! It was just released by Evolved Publishing in December. As of right now, it has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon, from 5 reviews. And a reader told me it made her cry. So, score.
  2. Average a short story acceptance each month, with the majority of them in paying markets.
    No. I had one acceptance this year, probably because I crapped out on submissions after about March.
  3. Put out a short story collection.
    Yes! I released Us, Together: A Short Story Collection in June. It’s 6 stories about the problems teenagers face, from relationships and unplanned pregnancy, to absent parents and poverty, loosely based on stories and students I encountered while teaching at-risk kids.
  4. Get another novel ready to query.
    Kind of. Evolved is scheduled to publish A Handful of Wishes in December 2014, which means I should probably get it all shined up soon.
  5. Read 100 books this year.
    No. I read 72, which isn’t bad considering I was also working and going to grad school and writing and wasting a ton of time on the internet.
  6. Kayak the entire length of the Hennepin Canal.
    No. The closest I came was looking at kayaks at Scheels.

2014

  1. Finish my third novel, tentatively titled On the Other Side, which will be a steampunk political thriller because, well, why not.
  2. Write and submit at least one new short story every month.
  3. Get a short story collection ready for publication (not including The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be out this summer from Evolved). Maybe the stories about India I wrote on my trip?
  4. Self-publish at least two long short stories. I have half a dozen in the works; it’s just a matter of finishing them.
  5. Read 100 books.
  6. Learn a new language – either Spanish, Tamil, Arabic, or Icelandic – to the point I can carry on a basic conversation in it.

Ideally, I’ll have something new coming out every 3-4 months, in addition to more published short stories which will later be compiled into a collection. I think this is doable, but it’ll require massively-focused time management skills that I seem to be lacking.

What are your goals for 2013?

#NaNoWriMo WhyNoMeNo

It’s November, which means that thousands upon thousands of people are sitting down to write a 50,000 word novel as part of NaNoWriMo.

It also means that thousands upon thousands of people are sitting in front of their computers, eying their word counts, and thinking, “Crap, it’s only day seven and I’m how far behind?”

I’m in that second group.

I started off strong. I went to a local write-in on the first day. I sat at a table where a fellow writer took away another NaNo’er’s phone to minimize distractions and may have threatened to disconnect my internet connection. I hit my word count. Days 2, 3, and 4, I hit my word count.

But then on day 5, I came home from my evening class with a migraine/mild diabetic reaction to too much flan, and a bug bite that I had an allergic reaction too (funny story; it’s called Skeeter Syndrome, and it means bites swell up into itchy 3″ in diameter welts). I tried to write, but ended up just going to bed, at 9:00, and sleeping it all off. I planned to catch up today, but between an unexpected trip to the mechanic’s (headlight went out this morning) and my son’s 7th birthday party tonight, I didn’t have time for it.

I’m hoping to catch up soon, but this weekend I’m headed out of town, which means not much writing will get done Friday, Saturday, and possibly Sunday.

And then I have a 20-page policy analysis paper due in a couple weeks, followed by an 8-page paper on my family’s ethnic integration in America. And a book launch in less than a month.

It’s not going to be pretty this month.

If you’re doing NaNo, how’s your progress coming along?

Fall goal review

Every three months or so, I take a look at the progress I’ve made on the goals I set for myself at the start of the year.

  1. Publish my novel, The Lone Wolf.
  2. Average a short story acceptance each month, with the majority of them in paying markets.
  3. Put out a short story collection.
  4. Get another novel ready to query – either 2012’s NaNoWriMo novel, or the one I’ve been working on for a couple years, A Handful of Wishes.
  5. Read 100 books this year.
  6. Kayak the entire length of the Hennepin Canal.

So, how am I doing?

  1. Yes! Evolved Publishing picked it up, and release date is just two months away, on December 2nd.
  2. I’ve pretty much sucked at this. Grad school is taking up a lot of my time (“ambitious” is how one of my thesis committee profs described my academic aspirations), and between reading, class papers, and thesis research, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like, and I don’t even currently have any submissions out.
  3. Us, Together: A Short Story Collection came out in June. I’m really hoping to have another one, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, out by the end of October, and definitely by the time The Lone Wolf launches.
  4. The first chapter of A Handful of Wishes will be included in the back of The Lone Wolf, so I guess I have to keep moving with it. The semester ends at Thanksgiving, so I’ll have a month to really focus on it, then 3-4 months for edits, before the April deadline for a Christmas 2014 release.
  5. I’m at 57 books this year – 16 books behind. Again, I’m hoping to knock a bunch out when the semester ends. I currently have hundreds on my Kindle to choose from, so this shouldn’t be difficult.
  6. Yeah, not happening. No fulltime permanent job = no new vehicle to transport a kayak = no kayak. Grr.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year? 

The 99-day plan

I’ve been a bit swamped the past week, between reading for class and papers and a big project and a thesis proposal and a brief trip out of town. So for today’s post, I’m copying author Christopher C. Starr’s post about ninjas following their dreams in the 99 days left this year.

Basically, it comes down to three questions:

  1. What results do you want to get over the next 99 days?
  2. What sacrifices will you make to get these results?
  3. If something is going to stop you, what will it be?

1. What results do you want to get over the next 99 days? I want to sell a ton of copies of my novel, The Lone Wolf, which comes out December 2nd. I also want to sell a ton of copies of my other stories,”Tim and Sara,” Us, Together: A Short Story Collection, and The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which I’m still editing. Possibly another longer short story as well. Which means I need to write.

2. What sacrifices will you make to get these results? Basically, it comes down to time management. I need to stop wasting so much time on the internet and just write and edit. And I especially need to get this down because after my novel comes out, I’ll need to focus on finishing and editing the next one (due the end of May), as well as really hitting the research on my master’s thesis (due in August).

3. If something is going to stop you, what will it be? Two things, probably: procrastination and just too much going on, especially when I start working again. I’m taking two classes this semester, which generally aren’t bad if I stay on top of them, but that’s the problem; the readings can pile up very quickly.

What’s your 99-day plan?

What motivates you?

As a writer and an educator and a parent with a psychology background, I’m fascinated by motivation. Why do people – characters, kids, students, society – do what they do, and, more importantly, how can we influence it?

What’s important to keep in mind is that there are two kinds of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation comes from within – doing things for the sake of doing them, because you want to, with no expectation of a reward
  • Extrinsic motivation comes from someone or something else – doing things for a reward (something tangible, like money, or praise or acceptance) or to avoid punishment.

In my current WIP, A Handful of Wishes (tentatively scheduled for a December 2014 release), I explore this idea further by following Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

In the first stage, obedience and punishment, people are extrinsically motivated by fear of punishment: I don’t steal the cookie because I know imma get a wuppin’.

The second stage, individualism and exchange, is also all about extrinsic motivation, driven by tangible rewards: If I share my milk with you, you’ll share your cookie with me.

In stage three, interpersonal relationships, the extrinsic motivation takes a bit of a twist, with a social reward: I give you my cookie because then you’ll want to be my friend.

Stage four, maintaining social order, walks the line between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation: I share my cookie because from preschool on we’re taught that in our society, it’s polite to share. I do it because society tells me it’s the right thing; it makes me feel good to do it, and it makes me feel good when society is happy with me.

In stage five, social contract and individual rights, people are intrinsically motivated: I give you my cookie because you don’t have one, and that makes me feel good.

Stage six, universal principles, is the pinnacle: doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

The main character in my novel, Zeke Archer, moves through each of these stages as his life progresses, guided by his genie, Paribanu.

If you’re a writer, how are your characters motivated – intrinsically or extrinsically? Where do they fall on Kohlberg’s list? Where do you fall?

Weekend Writing Warriors 9/8/13 #WeWriWa

Today’s snippet continues on from my novel-in-progress, A Handful of Wishes (due out December 2014).

One afternoon when the school bullies were chasing him, the young protagonist, Zeke, ran into a second-hand store owned by the eccentric Cornelius Zwyklychski (pronounced Zwick-lich-ski – from the Polish word for ordinary), who offered him after-school safety in exchange for working around the shop. Zeke, of course, has been lording it over the school bullies, who finally caught up with him, beat the crap out of him, and left him lying next to some knocked-over trash cans.

Cornelius found him and gave him an old green bottle. Zeke’s now home in his bedroom studying it, and last week, he pulled out the cork.

With a loud pop the cork flew out and his head snapped back, but nothing happened; the smoke stayed in the bottle. He sniffed at the opening. At first there was nothing but then he could make out freshly-cut grass, strawberries, rain, and as the smells surrounded him he began to hear things as well: calliope music, a crowd laughing and cheering, babbling water. It was summer, a perfect summer day he’d always wanted but never had.

He shook his head to clear it of the illusions, not sure what was happening to him, and started when he opened his eyes.

A girl sat on the bed next to him, her long dark hair swept back from her olive skin, a pale blue silk scarf around her neck matching her sleeveless silk blouse and billowy pants. Her brown eyes regarded him, smiled at him, as she extended her hand. “Hello, I’m Paribanu.”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 9/1/13 #WeWriWa

Today’s snippet continues on from my novel-in-progress, A Handful of Wishes (due out December 2014).

One afternoon when the school bullies were chasing him, the young protagonist, Zeke, ran into a second-hand store owned by the eccentric Cornelius Zwyklychski (pronounced Zwick-lich-ski – from the Polish word for ordinary), who offered him after-school safety in exchange for working around the shop. Zeke, of course, has been lording it over the school bullies, who finally caught up with him, beat the crap out of him, and left him lying next to some knocked-over trash cans.

Last week, Cornelius found him and gave him an old green bottle. Zeke’s now home in his bedroom, studying it.

He didn’t know why he’d originally thought that the bottle was green, because now, looking at it, it was definitely a silvery blue, with a dark smoky substance swirling inside. Zeke shook the bottle, trying to gauge its contents before he opened it, and the smoke stopped, suspended in the middle. He held the container steady and the smoke swirled again, completely contrary to what one would expect. The bottle now had a tint of purple to it, and the smoke contained what appeared to be flashes of glitter.

He soon tired of the appearance as his curiosity got the best of him. He pulled on the cork keeping the contents inside, but it wouldn’t budge. He tried again, and again, nothing. One more attempt, the results the same, so he took the cork in his teeth and pulled on the bottle with all his might.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 8/25/13 #WeWriWa

Today’s snippet continues on from my novel-in-progress, A Handful of Wishes, about a kid, Zeke, who gets a wish-granting genie, Paribanu. One afternoon when the school bullies were chasing him, he ran into a second-hand store owned by the eccentric Cornelius Zwyklychski (pronounced Zwick-lich-ski – from the Polish word for ordinary), who offered him after-school safety in exchange for working around the shop. Zeke, of course, has been lording it over the school bullies, who finally catch up with him, beat the crap out of him, and leave him lying next to some knocked-over trash cans.

Last week, Cornelius found him and said he had something for him.

The shopkeeper returned, carrying a dusty green bottle.

“What’s that?” asked Zeke. He’d never seen it in the shop before.

“This, my dear lad, is my most prized possession, something which I treasure as much as life itself. But I am an old man, and my use for it has wained; I believe that the time has come to pass it on to someone new, as it was passed to me as well when I was a boy about your age.”

“What’s in it?” Zeke asked, bounding to his feet in an attempt to satisfy his curiosity, his battle wounds forgotten in his excitement.

“This is a treasure so rare, so wonderful, that you must keep it hidden in a safe place and never tell anyone of it. Not that they’ll believe you anyways,” Cornelius said with a chuckle.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website

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