Thursday, December 18, 2014

Books on Editing - What I'm Re-reading



Mr. Happy

Hi Friends!

The office was buzzing with excitement today. The holidays and the start of a glorious two-week shutdown is only a day away. I am so grateful for the firm's generosity. I don't talk about my full-time job much but it needs to be said: I couldn't have landed a better opportunity. It's been five months into my new job and all I can say is "wow."

No really.

I'm not one to just drink the company cool-aide so I can fit in--having always felt like a misfit, it would have been an easy thing to do--but quite honestly the high level of work, the fast-pace, the client relationships, and the company perks make this gig just right.

It's been a blessing to be able to take breaks in my writing and getting lost in another form of work that I can be equally passionate about. There are times where I want to keep writing and never stop, and tearful wishes that I had more energy after work to write, but most days it's a nice reprieve. (And a consistent paycheck does well to ease the artist conscience...)

Most of my writing is done on weekends. Uninterrupted 4-5 hours (sometimes 6-8!) lost in my fictional world. With the first draft of Snow Dolls complete, I've been waiting for a long vacation so I can dive into the editing with little to no interruption. Even with the holidays (*rolls eyes* I say that like I'm sad the holidays are intruding on my two-week vacation), I'm going to have the uninterrupted hours I need to focus.

In preparation, I'm rereading a few of my favorites books on writing:
  1. Thanks, But This Isn't For Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What's Wrong with Your Writing
  2. Words That Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing
  3. Self Editing for Fiction Writers
  4. How Not to Write a Novel
As you can guess from some of the titles, I enjoy reading the more humorous works on writing. It's serious stuff, but it doesn't need to feel like boring, painful homework. I actually remember the content in these books. These titles are filled with realistic expectations, soft (and some not-so-soft) chastisement, and a healthy dose of encouragement. Check out my other favorite writing books listed on my Goodreads shelf.

Happy aka Golden-eyed Surprise

In Other Awesome News...


Happy is the sweetest kitten, and we are definitely in love. We found out recently that the poor guy had Giardia, a pretty nasty parasite in his intestines which caused him to have terrible diarrhea--and likely the cause of his noxious, head-rearing farts. He's being treated for it now and we can't wait for it to be out of his system completely.

And speaking of my firm's generosity: they are multiplying all donations made this month by up to four times (4x). So I made a donation of $200 to Nine Lives Foundation (Happy's previous home), and am excited to see the possibility of them getting up to $800 in addition to my donation! Thanks for everyone who purchased a book a in November and December and made the donation to NLF even meatier. December's not over yet, so you can still help us add to the donation!

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season! :)


Fitz wants to know if you got him something for Christmas. Preferably not another kitten. Because he's not convinced the last one was a kitten at all. He thinks we took home a small black squirrel which we refuse to allow him to eat.

Oh you didn't get him anything? He's going to check anyway. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Writing, My Latest Insecurities



Durham, North Carolina - Duke University 

There's a wonderful group IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group), led by author and blogger, Alex J. Cavanaugh, where every first Wednesday of the month, writers come together to express their fears and doubts.  

I was late to join this December which is no surprise because it seems like my writing is late, late, late on nearly every facet. My current novel-in-progress is trudging along excruciatingly slow because the world is big, the p--------------------------
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Sorry, that was my kitten standing on my keyboard. 

As I was saying about my latest work: it's progressing slowly, but I am so very proud of how far it's come. And that feeling of pride and certainty is why I'm okay with a little delay. Quality is what's important and not worth sacrificing for the sake of a soft deadline. I'm polishing the first draft of the current title, Snow Dolls, and working hard to tie everything together, adding in all the pertinent details, answers to questions readers would have, and important touches to help paint a vivid story. I slog through about 1-5 chapters a weekend, depending on how rough the chapter is. My day job has a two-week holiday shutdown and that means uninterrupted time for editing, editing, and more editing! I'm about halfway through with nearly twenty chapters left to tackle. Wish me luck! 

The topic of insecurity is what led me to consider today's post. It's been a long time since I talked of anything but writing, but that's my life, and the ultimate purpose of this blog. However, over the years it has served as a journal, a chronicle of moments in my life I wanted to share, to ponder, to mourn over, and to cherish. What a phenomenal journey it has been. With the impending New Year celebrations, I find myself thinking about time and just how much I have learned to embrace it rather than fight it--or race through it. Which has only been marginally successful. These past 2-3 years, I fled through the days and months, running faster and farther than I ever dared. Get me as far away from the past, I prayed. Layering one moment of happiness on top of another until the scars of the hurt I endured gave me no more pain than a pin prick on my finger and a dull headache. And still, I ran harder. At the same time my arms were spread wide, my fingers grasping at the threads of my dreams hoping they could catch up with me. That I hadn't severed any in my hurry for I had so many dreams yet to fulfill

Why the race? All these twenty-nine years and I am still uncomfortable in my skin. I am a walking vessel of internal conflict. Oh, the fizz and pressure has reduced slightly, but I'm no less itching at the seams, ready to step out of my skin at any moment. And still, I wonder if that feeling will ever truly go away. An old colleague once told me that it wasn't until she turned thirty when things began to change for her; the years when she finally grew to understand herself and embraced every puzzling and remarkable piece.

Next year, I turn thirty. And though I'm certain to be running at a fast pace, I am aching to slow down. It's going to be hard to beat the awesomeness (yes, I used that word--I am most definitely from California) of this last year, but I look forward to every second of it. I am toasting early to the New Year. Doh! I'm doing it again: anticipating the future instead of consciously existing in the present. Oh well...Rome wasn't built in a day... 

p-------------------------------]]]]]]]]

Kitty says, goodnight. 

~A


*     *     *

In other news:

In my previous blog, I announced my support for Nine Lives Foundation by donating a portion of the sales of Violet StormNine Lives Foundation is a no-kill shelter (they even care for older, unwanted cats with illnesses). They are determined to care for cats and kittens, and protect them from high-kill shelters and at-risk situations. Nine Lives Foundation does not receive any funding from any local, city, or state government agency or major corporation, and relies solely on private donations, adoption fees and funds generated through the clinic. All donations go directly to the cats and kittens in their facility.

All the books sold in November and December will qualify, and I will personally match the donation (thereby doubling the amount). Please help me in this endeavor and give the gift of reading this holiday season by getting Violet Storm for that special book-lover in your life.

Purchase options: 

Meet Happy. We adopted him from the Nine Lives Foundation this past weekend! Happy has a long road of healing and recovery, but we are no less excited to welcome him to the family! Fitz now has a little brother whom he swats more than he cuddles…but we still think he's happy about it. Heh, get it? 0_o  Happy is an unfortunate farting machine…we're working on that. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Website! + Nine Lives Foundation




Lots of really great things are happening that I'm excited to update everyone on. First, is my new website. My blog exists on blogger as "If You Wish to be A Writer" - www.ifyouwishtobeawriter.blogspot.com (as it has for the last five or so years). I had used Blogger as my primary author website for some time until I could gather the time and resources to build a proper website. Now if you click on www.annasoliveres.com you'll find yourself in my new author website! Yay! I am so very excited to launch this and I believe it does a better job providing information on me and my books.

The next awesome news is that I have decided to spread the gift of giving this season by donating a portion of the sales of Violet Storm to a worthy cause: Nine Lives Foundation, an amazing community-based non-profit in my neighborhood. Why Nine Lives Foundation? Well, it's no secret that I love animals. Back before finding Fitz (my suspected demon-possessed kitty), I knew I wanted to adopt a kitten from a shelter. Nine Lives Foundation was recommended to me by a friend because it was a no-kill shelter (they even care for older, unwanted cats with illnesses). They are determined to care for cats and kittens, and protect them from high-kill shelters and at-risk situations. Nine Lives Foundation does not receive any funding from any local, city, or state government agency or major corporation, and relies solely on private donations, adoption fees and funds generated through the clinic. All donations go directly to the cats and kittens in their facility.

Because I am so passionate about their mission, I am determined to support them. All the books sold between now and the end of December will qualify, and I will personally match the donation (thereby doubling the amount). Please help me in this endeavor and give the gift of reading this holiday season by getting Violet Storm for that special book-lover in your life.

Purchase options: 

Updates on the next book(s):
  • Snow Dolls Working super hard to get the first draft polished for my beta readers. I've had to extend the timeline of completion to early next year. The world of Illumera and the practice of  Purification is very complex and I want to make sure I've done the story and the characters justice! 
  • Crimson Earth - With the delay of Snow Dolls, I'm pushing out out the next Modi novel's completion to end of next year. I've begun plotting and mapping out scenes so there's definitely progress and work being done to get this lined up for next year. 

Feel free to share this banner to help spread the word!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nook Press Print! Nook in the Print-on-Demand Space

I just got an email from Nook Press informing me about their new print-on-demand service called Nook Press Print. I was previously selling Violet Storm on their platform (Nook Press) before I decided to make it Amazon exclusive so I could partake is some of the cool KDP Select's features. 


Photo from GeekWire

According to Nook Press Print: "Users can pick from a variety of materials and formats, including hardcover and softcover books, in a number of different sizes. Authors can get their texts published in full color or black and white, and select different paper materials." 

Back when I was researching the best self-publishing platform to go with, I had seriously considered Lightning Source. Unfortunately, there was a setup fee, something around $300. Ouch! CreateSpace just seemed so much simpler. No setup fee. Easy upload. And it looked to be an all around user-friendly platform. 


If I could do it all over again, I would probably go with Lightning Source because their platform is more appealing to bookstores (mostly due to their return policy). And self-publishing more than one novel (which I intended to), the one-time setup fee would have become nominal in the long-run. 

Back to Nook Press Print: it appears that they won't be a division of B&N for much longer as they have plans for branching off into their own company. 

This announcement of Nook Press Print comes at an interesting time with it being NaNoWriMo!
Read more on GeekWire

What do you, my fellow authors, think about this?





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's NaNoWriMo! Plus Updates on the Next Book!


It's November and that means many writers are competing in NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month). I'm using this time as an opportunity to finish the first draft of Snow Dolls. I'll be honest here, there hasn't been many days with the kind of progress I' was hoping for. I'm at 78,000 words and the minimum goal I had in mind was closer to 85,000. I'm about two chapters away from writing The End. But it's grueling work. These are the chapters that matter...really, really matter, and I have to get them right. But that's where the problem lies. I keep thinking they're the most important chapters and I can't screw them up because the whole story will fall apart like ice turned to water, and as I sit there and try to finish the damn thing, all I end up doing is psyching myself out. Fingers frozen over the keyboard realizing that my heart is fluttering in my chest, and that eating ice cream would make me feel better, so I should go and do that, or better yet, just stop and catch up on all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls...

Snow Dolls has been two to three years in the making. Most of those years were spent building the world and the characters, and figuring out the plot. It meant a lot to me to finish Violet Storm, despite the fact that I did not believe in it as much as I did in Snow Dolls. Even so, it was important for me to finish. The hardest part about being a novelist is getting from one tough hurdle to the next, beginning with the idea, finishing the first draft, and then revising over and over again as you poke at every part, finding and fixing plot holes, character flaws, and of course sharpening the writing. There's structure and pacing to consider, character appeal and development, and good lord, does the story make sense? Is the ending right or will people want to scream and throw things at me? And how do I know everything works?

I try not to cry often. But seriously. They're more tears of joy.

Writing a full-length novel is a lot like trying to get to the end of a rainbow by wading through a river of tar. People do triathlons, compete in Iron Man's and Tough Mudder. Me, I write novels. Try that competition on for size.

But I couldn't do it alone. And I just want to say Thank You. Thank you SO MUCH for all the support with Violet Storm. From the amazing family and friends who are the book's biggest cheerleaders, to my fellow bloggers and friends, to the awesome Book Blog Tour, and editorial reviews, to the artists who helped me bring the story to life, it's been a tremendous journey.

And I can't wait to do it all over again. I hope to spend this month getting Snow Dolls ready to query to agents and then it's on to Crimson Earth, book two of the Modi Series!


Writer's Digest held their annual Self-Published Book Awards and the following is their rating for Violet Storm: (1-5 rating, 5 being great): 
- Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4
- Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
- Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
- Plot and Story Appeal: 4
- Character Appeal and Development: 5
- Voice and Writing Style: 5

Not bad! I wish I'd placed, but I'm just happy they gave it such high marks. :)

If you've been waiting to get the book, you can get a copy on Kindle for $3.99. There's a few paperbacks left that I can personalize and ship. :) Just click here to check out that option

And Fitz says "Hi." Sort of.  



Friday, August 29, 2014

Hicklebee's Author Signing & Meeting My Favorite Author


I had my very first official Author Signing at Hicklebee's Bookstores last weekend, and boy was it nerve-wracking. But that is no surprise. (I saw my favorite author, Brent Weeks last night for his #BrokenEyeTour and was so nervous, I was sweating through my shirt.) Right. So…I've come to accept that many things make me anxious. Even other peoples book signings. To my credit, it was a little like meeting a celebrity, got to shake his hand, and take a photo with him and everything, so I was quite nervous the whole time. Anyhow, my natural high-anxiety is why I'm much more comfortable at home, relaxing to a movie, a book, and snuggled in with my boyfriend and cat, rather than being out and about at social events.

I organize events for a living, that's my job to put it simply. And that's more than enough socializing for me. I work with University students, helping them get connected to Tech Startups to hopefully land them a job opportunity. It's so much fun! And it is incredibly emotionally draining. You see, nobody believes me when I say that I'm an introvert. Yep, I can already see your eyes narrowing with doubt. Because I am a cheerful, energetic little busy bee, always smiling, giggling, and getting work done. That's me. So how, you ask? How can I be an introvert and not keel over and die from the stress and anxiety of pretending to be an extrovert?

I recently switched jobs and took a new role at a different company knowing I'd have to be on the phone with different people all the time--talking more than I ever have since I was in high school (remember those days when you'd be on the phone for hours with your BFF talking about…everything and nothing?). The answer to the question above is that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to keep growing and keep challenging myself. And that's exactly what's happened. I'm able to put myself out there one small measure at a time because one experience after another makes it a little less scary.

It doesn't come without a cost. And what a price that is...I am run ragged. All the time. No energy what-so-ever for after-work evening social events, unless it involves a heavy amount of wine, and even then my gaze will avert to my watch knowing instinctively when it's 9pm and that it's officially late. And that one minute more and I will never get enough quiet time and sleep to recharge my introvert batteries.

Well…there's that. Suffice to say that it took me a whole day and night to recover after the Author Signing, spending most of it in solitude so I could gear up for a whole week of my endlessly talking and socializing job. :) It's fun. I swear.

The Author Signing at Hicklebee's was amazing. I was last on the roster (out of six authors) to give a ten minute speech about myself and the book. Talk about sweating bullets. I started off with a firm, "So…let me say that I'm definitely a writer and not a public speaker." To which the audience smiled and chuckled, and the rest is sort of a mystery because my mind went into self-preservation mode and sort of just forgot the whole traumatic event. It went well, so I was told. It was worth the discomfort for all the books that were purchased and all the wonderful people I met. I was most warmed by the mom's and young teenage girls who were inspired by the character Aeva and the story of how she came to be.

Sort of a like a dream come true. :)

I don't really want to willingly do that again in the future. But one does what one must in order to fulfill their dreams.

Here are a few photos of me at the event!

Can you see the fear in my eyes? 

And the rest of the speech went pretty smoothly. I'd recommend folks print out or write notecards to help them with their speeches! It certainly helped me. 

I got to meet so many people who got a copy of Violet Storm!


This is right before I started speaking. A friend told me that the best thing to do is just smile. Keep smiling and the rest will follow. 

Here's a photo of me and author, Brent Weeks last night at Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco. It was such a pleasure. He's written the wildly successful Night Angel Trilogy and the Lightbringer Series. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Reviews & Marketing Ideas for Newbies

Fitz says HI!
Hi All,

I just wanted share with you the ideas and resources I've collected over the months as I took the journey to becoming a self-published author. I wish I knew these before I published Violet Storm, but it's never too late to learn.

It's not an easy workload. The hardest part is undoubtedly writing, editing, and polishing your novel, but after that comes marketing and advertising. Many of us are fortunate to have publishers who can help in this area, but even then, a lot of the work is pushed by the author to help spread the word.

Here are a few things on my massive list that have worked well, including some that have not:

  1. Editorial Review services that I pursued: 
    • San Francisco Book Reviews: (cost $125, 8-10 weeks) - Great service, quick to respond, and the review was amazing. They gave VS 4 stars! See the review here
    • Readers' Favorite: (cost $129 for 3 reviews, 2-3 weeks) - Great service, super fast, and the review was amazing. You can choose to have 1 review for a cheaper cost. I benefited from purchasing 3 reviews because the second reviewer loved my book and gave it a phenomenal 5-star rating! The other two rated it 4 stars. See the reviews here
    • Publishers Weekly: (cost $149, 8-10 weeks) - I would not recommend PW to other indie authors because although you pay to submit your novel, it is not guaranteed that they will read and review it. Which happened in my case. I lost two novels (which the submission required plus a hefty $149). They mentioned VS online here. That was what $149 and 2 books purchased…
    • Why pay for editorial reviews? I found them to be a great way to get renowned editorial magazines to give honest reviews. Plus it also included advertising. Review + advertising equalled a good investment for unknown author like me. 
    • Other editorial reviewers to consider: Kirkus ($425, 7-9 weeks), BlueInk Review ($395, 7-9 weeks), Self-Publishing Review ($59, $109, or $249). I did not pursue Kirkus or BlueInk because they were absurdly expensive and didn't seem worth the cost when considering my budget.
  2. Competitions that I pursued: 
    • Writer's Digest 2014 Self-published Book Awards (cost $110)
    • There are a few others I'm considering for 2015 which I'll list at a later date
  3. Book Signings:
    • These were terrifying and by far the most anxiety ridden. I've hosted two book signings with the help of my family and friends and sold close to fifty books. Plus who knows if it generated any additional leads. 
  4. Bookstores:
    • Some bookstores have programs for local indie authors. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if it feels daunting or embarrassing. I went to a renowned local children's bookstore, Hicklebee's and they agreed to put my books on the shelf. For a small fee they advertise and host a local author event that is sure to generate some buzz. I'll keep you posted on how that goes! The Author Event is slated for Aug. 23rd. 
  5. Blog Tours:
    • I first learned of blog tours through my good author friend, Meradeth Houston, for her latest publication, "Surrender the Sky." After Googling top Blog Tour sites, I decided on Xpress Book Tours. Giselle is great to work with and I feel like my tour is in good hands. 

I have a long list of ideas that I didn't pursue but am keeping on my radar. I'll share those on another blog. 

Other creative endeavors in the area of marketing and advertising:
  1. Author Interview Videos: check out my Facebook Page for examples. They were quick 2-4 min. videos on various topics. They give the readers a chance to get to know the author and their creative process, as well as talk about the novel. 
  2. Promotional material: I used Moo and worked with an artist and a graphic designer to help create polished material. This sounds expensive, and to some extent it was. But utilize your network (friends and family) who can give you a discount on their services. :) It never hurts to ask for help!
    • Flyers and Promotional cards, both of which I try to keep with me at all times and hand out and post them up when the opportunity arises. I was recommended by a fellow blogger and author to mail them to libraries with a personalized note. 
    • Want to work with a great illustrator and/or a graphic designer? Reach out to Kyle Van Meurs (kwvanmeurs@gmail.com) for great art, and Jason Rought (jasonrought@gmail.com) for graphic design. Let them know I referred you! I worked with them in individual capacities on my book cover, promo materials, flyers, and even my logo!
  3. Rafflecopter: it has been so useful in engaging readers of my blog and gaining new interest from fellow blog hoppers. 
  4. Excerpts: create short excerpts and even meme's, using a well designed app. I use Chisel, and I love it!
  5. Newsletters: I'm signed up with MailChimp, I haven't utilized it much, but my designer was able to create a beautiful newsletter with the same theme as my flyer.  
  6. Lookbooks: after visiting fellow bloggers SashandEm I was inspired to create my own looks for my characters. Check out: Aeva, Karth
That's my list for now. Check out fellow blogger, Leandra Wallace, who's written a list of creative "Things She Would Do" to market and advertise her current WIP. 

Promo Card #1
Promo Card #2

My flyer (back and front). And of course Fitz wants to inspect them. 
Here's a sample of what I've created using Chisel. It's SO easy. 

Would LOVE to hear from my fellow authors and bloggers on any other avenues that benefited them. I am always on the lookout for new ideas. Thanks in advance! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life & Writing + A VIDEO Interview!

Life has been hectic lately. The first week of July led to some pretty big changes in my life that pulled me away from writing. I don't mind these writing breaks like I used to. Some things in life take precedence and I can't get upset over the time I have to spend on important matters in life like health, happiness, love, and real-life adventures.

In the first week of July I moved into a new apartment, started a new job, said goodbye to amazing friends at my old job, and got a tiny kitten named, Fitz. It's amazing how all these "fun" new changes in life can turn out to be some of the most mind-numbingly, stressful events that only time and unrealistic amounts of optimism and patience can get you through.

July is finally coming to an end and with it, some much needed calm. I'm going to need it with a September full of back-to-back work travel and a VIOLET STORM marketing blitz. I've pulled out SNOW DOLLS and have begun writing daily again. To all the fans of VIOLET STORM, I stand by my promise that I'll get to work on the second book, CRIMSON EARTH once SD is in the hands of my editor.

I've received overwhelming positive reviews and feedback on VIOLET STORM and it truly warms my heart and feeds my creative soul. Thank you to everyone for all your tremendous support and encouragement. Big hugs and shout out to all the people who've been spreading the word and encouraging their family and friends to check out the book!

Here are a couple updates I'm pretty excited about!


EDITORIAL REVIEWS: 

  • "Violet Storm is a delightful read and well worth the effort. I devoured it in one sitting and have since recommended it to many friends and coworkers. I can't wait for the next book in the series to be released, I'm sure I will love it just as much!" -San Francisco Book Reviews (Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)

EVENTS: 

OTHE FUN NEWS:

  • I'm pretty excited for the half-page flyers designer, Jason Rought is working on this week in preparation for the upcoming marketing initiatives I'm working on. I'll share them with you soon!
  • The Author Interview I did a few months back with my good friend Anthony Lew is back in the works! We'd love to show you segments of the interview focusing on specific topics. Today's topic is Discovering Writing, Part I. 
  • Check back on my Facebook Page to catch a new segment daily! 


Here's a photo of our new digs at sunset! Breathtaking!


And meet our little guy, Fitzwilliam Darcy--Fitz for short. ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's my Birthday & I Want to Travel Back in Time

Birthday dinner at Medieval Times!
I've been away for some time, hiding from the small limelight created by the release of my novel. I've spent the days recuperating, learning, and biding my time for more things to come. I've sent VIOLET STORM off to San Francisco Book Reviews and Publishers Weekly to get their honest reviews. Depending on how they turn out, I'll use them in various media to help relaunch my marketing efforts come mid-July. Woohoo!

My birthday was two weeks ago, and the event felt like I was being catapulted into a new reality. The first moments of the last year of my twenties...One or two panic attacks later, I found myself reminiscing on old ambitions and dreams. I thought of the past and all the things I would alter if I had the chance to go back. When and what age, you ask? I thought about the period that I could affect the most change: high school. Definitely high school. Shivers.

My version of time travel included the ability to bring back one piece of luggage filled with things I needed to help me change the future. Hey, it's my time traveling dream, I can bring whatever I want! The first thing I thought of was my hair straightener (no more bad high school photos), and all the little gadgets I could no longer live without, my laptop, favorite books, makeup, my favorite push-up bra, shoes, and yes, acne products (because puberty--gah!), and of course, my manuscript. I wanted to alter the paths I'd taken so that I'd find my way to becoming a novelist earlier in my life. I could see the person I wanted to be: I'd have been a better student, a more patient daughter, a more attentive granddaughter. I'd have stopped flirting with fire and saved myself the heartaches, and accepted that I was not going to grow any taller and that my boobs would meet the same sad fate. 

I wondered what would have happened if I'd majored in English Lit instead of Business, maybe even pursued my masters. I dreamed of being more focused in my earlier years, and perhaps breaking a few less hearts. Including my own.

See us in the back? On point with our personalities...
But no matter what, there were great moments that I loved and couldn't part with: my traveling adventures, my career and the jobs I'd had, and the life-long friends I'd made. One of the most important moments in my life was when I met Kyle. And I wouldn't trade anything to lose that life-altering event. Everything up to that point: good, bad, and definitely ugly, was meant to mold me to become the woman I was at that moment, placed on the path I needed to be, and to prepare me for the adventures I was going to have. If I'd gone back in time and changed the course of my life, I wondered how I would search for Kyle and if I would risk the chance that he'd be with someone else and completely out of my reach. 

That ended my time traveling fantasy. I've got to live with the choices I've made, and accept me for who I am--just as I am. And like the ratty pages of an old journal, I closed those ugly chapters of my life and decided I had plenty more to write about. I needed to stop reliving those dark memories, and start filling in the blank pages of the new life I now have. 


Hardship builds knowledge. It opens us up and challenges us to the point of breaking so that we can appreciate who we've become and all that we've overcome. 


I look at everything I have to today--pushing away all the lingering anger and shadows of my past--and I embrace the present.


I am twenty-nine.

One year closer to being thirty, flirty, and thriving (get the reference?). I may not have reached some of the goals I wanted to have achieved at this age, but I am happy. And that is all that matters.


To all of you, I wish you a happy dreaming and thank you for all the birthday wishes!

~A




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Writing Process Plus Updates on the Next Book!

 



I was tagged by the awesome Liz Blocker to talk about my writing process in this weeks' Writing Process Blog Tour.

Thank you Liz!

I'm going to focus on just a couple questions. Questions that I feel like some of my non-writer friends AND writer friends would both be interested in.

What am I working on now?

I am plugging away at SNOW DOLLS, a story that I've fallen head over heels with and just can't stop obsessing over. It's been a couple years in the making (mostly in the concept phase). But now it's time to flesh this story out. I hope to have it ready for readers by the end of the year.

For fans of VIOLET STORM, I promise I've got the skeleton written out for the next book in the Modi series! I will promptly begin working on it as soon as I've finished SNOW DOLLS.

 

How does my book differ from others within the genre? 

I think what makes SNOW DOLLS different is how multifaceted it is. It involves, cultural and religious brainwashing, gender bias, and political intrigue. It centers around a very disturbing religious practice known as Purification, the process by which every girl at the age of sixteen is made into a doll. Dolls are subservient, unemotional, and complacent. The land is called Illumera, and it takes place in a parallel world like Earth.

The story centers around three main characters who narrate the struggle of their day-to-day lives living in a world where every woman of age is made into a doll. On the surface, Illumera is vibrant and flourishing. It is a blessed land with little crime, illness, and political turmoil. But underground, breeds another story, and it exposes just how unethical and deceiving Purification truly is.

I'd love to say more, but I promise to do so when I've written more of the story!

 

What does my writing process consist of?

I am struggling to write every day. With a full-time job it's hard to find a lot of time in the day. But that's not really the issue. The problem is that I love the story I'm working on, the world I'm building, and the plot and subplots just get me giddy! Should be pretty fun and easy to write...right? But for all those reasons and more, I get a little intimidated by the work itself. I've started to change my day-to-day writing process because sometimes that pressure can be too great and I feel like I'm creating my own proverbial block. Hand me that brick will ya?

So how have I gotten around that?

Writing at Cafe La Tartine, Redwood City
I started writing free-hand on a plain spiral-bound notebook. I used to just write chapter outlines on it but now I'm writing entire scenes, verse by verse. Suddenly I'm tacking on 5K words a week easy-peasy and I'm able to write anywhere. Whereas I'd struggle to write 500 words here and there and felt like I had to be at x,y, z to be in the writing zone. Having my laptop open, watching my cursor blink and constantly eyeballing the word count felt like a big enough block to prevent me from making progress.

So now I've started to write in free-hand. When I'm done with a chapter or two, I'll open up my Scrivener document and add in the chapters, and any new content I've added to the world. It also gives me another chance to edit, build, and reshape a scene.

I love that I can literally take the story with me anywhere and not feel like I am bound by a particular process.

Consistency is great when it comes to writing. It helps to produce a routine that your mind and body can easily adopt, but I find that my muse can get bored too quickly. I can get uncomfortable and suddenly there's a reason--or three, five, ten--for why I can't write.

Hope this helps other writers out there who may be in the same boat!

Now it's time for me to tag a few others: Julie Luek and Meradeth Houston. Hopefully you haven't already been tagged (I'm a little late in the game here), but if not feel free to explore!

In other news...

Thank you for all the support on VIOLET STORM. We've sold almost 190 books! Seriously. WOW.
If you enjoyed the story, please don't forget to review on Goodreads and Amazon! :)  



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