Tapping out of NaNo, but still writing

I started strong, really strong. While I got behind early in Pedigree, I maintained par in my second story and eventually got caught up here. Alas, life had different plans.

I say life, but I was unable to balance my attention between family business and writing. I don’t talk about my writing with family. I don’t want them involved. But my attention and energy went elsewhere and without having good boundaries established, I fell behind.

Basically, every free moment I found, I filled with nothing. They call that “self-care” now. And while my brain probably needed that break, I would have liked to have kept pace with my writing.

I’ve never won NaNo, for various reasons, so I’m not really disappointed. I’m going to write at least 1K a day in each project (it’s now four with my two Vella stories – Wound, and another starting soon (I think I see my problem)) and I will be publishing early next year once book 3 in Pedigree’s series is written.

Thanks for reading this far, and if you’d like to sample my writing, you can read the first three episodes of Wound for free on Kindle Vella. I’d love your feedback.

Series updates and another thing

Good morning Thursday. Due to my inability to plan correctly, both of my series– The Shape of Us and WOUND: Thirst –are updating today. Chapter 11 of The Shape of Us is one of my quiet favorites and has a lovely bit about ice cream. On the other side, WOUND: Thirst updates with episode 9 and has one of the best sentences I’ve ever written. I wonder if you can tell which one it is.

Also, in the coming days I’ll be finishing up my outline so I can start writing my novel-length thriller, Sanatoria. I want to chart the process of writing in this blog. It’s had stops and starts before, but I’m giving the outline an overhaul so it feels fresh though familiar.

I also think that working on these series has really helped me define the kind of writer I am and want to continue to be. The kind that just keeps on writing, day after day. I hope you like my stories.

Currently running series:
The Shape of Us at Tapas | Wattpad
WOUND: Thirst at Tapas | Webnovel

New Cover for The Shape of Us

Anyway, head over to Tapas to see the new cover (a new episode launches today as well).

There were two moments when I couldn’t contain my emotions while commissioning the cover art for The Shape of Us. The second was the delight I felt when I saw the image. I don’t have a lot of experience working with artists and my fiction, so I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to describe my boys right. Thankfully Andrea (Kumiho_5), my artist, was able to get my meaning. I love, love the result.

The first was the laugh-out-loud sketch I provided for the premise. I’m still laughing at it. Do you want to see it? Perhaps I’ll save that as a bonus at some point. Maybe when the ebook of Season 1 comes out this summer (with two bonus stories from Baron and Sykes’ point of view.) Anyway, head over to Tapas to see the new cover (a new episode launches today as well).

I’ll leave a peek here…

I love them!

Why write serial fiction?

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

I’ve been thinking about this question for a while and I wondered if it should be a blog post. I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer this question for you, but I can come close to an answer for myself, and, perhaps, in there you will find wisdom.

I’ve been struggling to finish projects for a while now and, although I am very close to finishing my first (slight) paranormal romance, I have a thriller that I’ve had outlined for a few years just sitting on the back burner. I like the story, too, and the characters and I want to turn it into a character-based series, but…finishing is hard.

Finishing is the number one piece of advice that successful writers tell new writers. (I don’t have the stats for that but it sounds right and if it’s not right, it should be right.)

The thing is, after all this time, I’m not a new writer. I’ve been writing for decades, but I rarely finish longer works (short stories, flash, and poetry are not an issue). I think my mind starts to wander on a project after about a month, so if I can’t get the writing done in 30 days, then off to greener pastures? I guess.

What about NaNoWriMo, you may ask?

Meh. I’ve never won it. I write under a pen name and don’t have writing friends physically close to me. And this last year has shown that I definitely have an end point to my online stamina. I think it’s a worthwhile thing and maybe I’ll give it a try this year, but, again, meh.

I’m revisiting the “Write a Novel in Three Days” post from Ghostwoods – a post so popular, they made it the 404 page. I do love the idea of working out a lot of the story before writing. Combine that post with Dead Wesley Smith’s resurrection of his pulp writers posts and perhaps the world was speaking to me: “Get all the meat out and then write like the Dickens.”

Which brings me back to my original question (see what I did there), why write serial fiction? Serial fiction allows me the satisfaction of finishing something small on a regular basis, while still fulfilling an overarching storyline. I think building in cliffhangers is energizing as a writer, particularly in my Wound series (at Tapas and Webnovel) as I’m posting it shortly after I write it. I know where I want all my characters to be at the end of the season, but I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to get there. And I am in love with writing it.

Serial writing allows me to play with timing and characterization as well. How much can I deliver to the reader about a person in just one line of dialog? What inner thoughts can I share about them without it feeling like filler? What peril can I put them in at the moment the scene ends? AHAHAHA.

These little thrills give me the motivation to work on the longer pieces. I was going to say they were like warm-ups, but I don’t want to diminish my serials in any way. I just as strongly about these stories as I do the novel-length stories that aren’t finished. The finishing with serials isn’t really the point, not initially. Some publishers suggest you have an endpoint in mind, or the entire piece mapped out – that seems more like novel serialization then serial fiction. That’s fine, but it’s different. Serial fiction is about the chase, the journey, jumping from cliff to cliff to cliff.

There’s an end, sure, but what a ride!

Meet me in the middle

I tend to have trouble with middles and I think this is common. Normally I am a “pants” writing, someone who discovers the story, the characters, the whole package, as they write.

Getting stuck and unstuck in the center of writing.

I tend to have trouble with middles and I think this is common. Normally I am a “pants” writer, someone who discovers the story, the characters, the whole package, as they write. This has typically ended with me getting bored about halfway through and abandoning the project. In the darker moments, I suspected that I was never going to take writing seriously and that it would always be something I played at. I didn’t have the “stamina” to make it through a whole story. I just wasn’t good enough.

Then, after listening to countless podcasts, watching videos, reading blogs of other writers, I realized that I can combine the best of both worlds. The moment I start to feel the enthusiasm wane while discovery writing, I could stop an outline the rest of the story. I expected this to help me through the fear I have about outlining in general: that telling myself the story in an outline would be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t go on to drafting. That is still a fear and I am teetering on the edge of that being a possibility now.

With The Shape of Us, I wanted to experiment with telling a story from an outside point of view. The game from the NPC perspective, as it were. After the first three episodes, I quickly realized that I needed to outline a full story for Sykes and Baron, a true plot in the background that my POV characters were getting a glimpse of. It then became an exercise to see how much of that plot should bleed through to make it relevant to the POV character’s life at that moment, but also allow the reader to piece together the background story. So I plotted out a 14-episode “season” for The Shape of Us and right now we’re at the half-way point.

I didn’t post on Friday because I didn’t write episode 8. I could give a number of excuses, but I wasn’t ready. I felt that having a space at the mid-point would seem intentional (it was not) and comfortable (it was definitely not). Also, not many people are reading this right now, so the insecure part of me thought “who would miss it anyway?”

I did. I missed it. I fell in love with these characters the moment I finished episode 1 and I am determined to give readers glimpses into their lives, one unwilling bystander at a time. Whatever behind-the-scenes method I use for writing these episodes, in the end it won’t matter. What matters is if I’m satisfied with how the story plays out. So far, so good.

The next seven episodes start posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoy them.