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Wow, this place is dusty. I mean, really dusty. Layers of dirt and cobwebs everywhere. It’s not the first time I’ve taken an unintended break from my writing, letting it fall to the side for more than a month, but I think this is the longest gap I’ve had in posts since starting this blog. Previous breaks from writing were at least peppered with good intentions of trying to return, a day here or there where I’d post, and then still fall back into the break.

But it has been almost 2 full months since I posted even an attempt at keeping up with my writing. Which is because I haven’t attempted to keep up with my writing since February 17th. Looking back through my blog, it was even before that that I really started into this slump. It’s interesting to me, at least, to see the progression. It went something like this:

I finished revising my first novel, “Pithea,” to the point of even being able to send it off to a few publishing companies.

I dove right into revising my second novel, the first draft of which had already been written.

I got a new job on the weekends, which largely affected the rest of the week enough to make finding time and energy to write more difficult.

I hit an early roadblock in revising my second novel, and more time and thinking was required to push past it.

My new job started to ask more of me than I expected, including working during the week for a few weeks, thus exhausting me more and making things more strained at home.

I made a conscious decision to put off revising for a few weeks, dropped my daily writing habit, and let myself be lazy in the evenings (my normal writing time) instead of pushing myself to sit at my desk and get some writing work done.

It’s important to note that I am one who in the past has insisted that even people who lead busy lives should be able to find time to write. And I’m not saying now that it’s not true, but I definitely have more perspective on that now. It only took one change to my life and normal routine to throw me off enough to just give up on writing for a while. It took me two months to get to where I am right now, which is starting to feel a strong enough desire to get back to my writing that I’m willing to put aside the lazy evenings for more structured ones again.

It may take a few weeks to be back to where I was for 9 months before this break, writing almost every day. I don’t know when I’ll have time or ideas for another Write Every Day post. It may even take me a few wasted evenings of going back over what I was last doing in my work before I’m able to make any real progress. But the important thing is that I’m finally feeling up to it again.

Something else that bothers me about this break I took is that I fell away from all things writing and blogging. I haven’t read posts by others that I normally keep up with, and I know there’s no way I can find time to go back through 2 months worth of posts (not that I follow all that many blogs regularly).  I’m going to scan through my WP reader and try to hit the highlights, but I don’t want to take so much time reading that it hurts my attempt to start writing again.

I do want to say that I appreciate those of you who contacted me during the last few months to check in or ask if everything was okay. I’m sorry I didn’t respond at the time. I didn’t mean to be rude or anti-social, I just couldn’t get my head into the right space to think about any of this. Hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I hope things get back to normal around here soon. I miss my story world, and even the blogging world I’d created.

A Little Q&A

These questions come from a post on aliasfaithrivens’ blog. I like reading Q&As like this from people I know, and it’s kind of fun answering them too.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to?
I started writing stories in elementary school. I recently dug up one of my first stories, written when I was 10 years old. I don’t know if the hard copy exists somewhere (I suspect it doesn’t), but I’d typed it into my parents’ old Tandy 1000. This was around 1992.

When I was older—somewhere between twelve and fourteen—I wrote a good start on what I had planned to be the first in a series of books for teenagers. That story I still have in several notebooks tucked away.

But apparently in middle and high school, I left fiction writing behind and turned to poetry. I wrote some good, some bad, some uplifting, some angsty poems. And during a creative writing class in high school, I even went as far as to say (in a reflection paper at the end of the class) that though I’d enjoyed writing the short story required for the class, I didn’t think I’d have a reason to write fiction again in the future.

What genre do you write?
Lately, mostly speculative fiction. My main book series seems to have landed squarely on post-apocalyptic science fiction. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a sci-fi writer, though…just sort of happened that way. Outside of this one series, I write more contemporary fiction, sometimes with a Christian bent.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
It’s actually a weird feeling to not say that my current WIP is “Pithea.” But since that one’s done, it’ll be time to move on soon. I’ll be turning my attention soon to “Pursuit of Power.” This novel is about a young man who becomes suspicious about his dad’s accidental death, starts to dig, and ends up drawing a lot of unwanted attention.

Technically I started working on this in 2009. I wrote most of the first draft during NaNoWriMo that year. Then I re-imagined the story world I’d tried to create and rewrote the story in 2014. The very basics of the original were the same—main characters, their main goals, and a general ending—but it’s a completely different story now.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The NickersonsAs I mentioned above, the first piece I remember writing was when I was 10. It was a story about a couple adopting a 10-year-old girl, along with that girl’s best friend, because the girl they were adopting insisted. It was 186 words long. I started writing a sequel that was supposed to be a bit of a mystery, and though I didn’t finish it, it was already longer than the first story. I still remember what was supposed to happen in that story. Maybe I should finish it.

What’s the best part about writing?
There are so many things about writing that I love. If I had to choose one thing, it would be the discovery. The sudden light bulb when a brand new idea strikes, when a blockage is broken through, or when things suddenly become fun again.

What’s the worst part about writing?
In contrast to the previous answer, I think the worst part of writing is when things just aren’t working out. New ideas aren’t flowing, you can’t break through the block, and you feel downright un-creative.

What’s the name of your favorite character and why?
Though Missy would be the logical choice, as the MC of my first novel and a character who will feature or at least appear in more of the rest of the series than any one character (I’m pretty sure, at least), she is still a second to my favorite. His name is Remiel Azrael, and he is one of the main characters in “Outcast.”  Of everything I have written, “Outcast” remains my favorite piece, which I’m sure is part of the reason he became my favorite. I wrote it as fanfiction 7 years ago, and for the moment, it still only exists as fanfiction. It will eventually take place in the same world as “Pithea,” and in fact Missy is a big character in it too. But I just really love Remiel.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Ideally, I have 2-3 hours per night after my youngest goes to bed. Sometimes bedtime is later, or I have other things I have to get to first. Weekends are sometimes a chance for extra time, and sometimes we’re so busy I can barely get any time in.

Did you go to college for writing?
No, I didn’t get re-interested in writing fiction until I started writing fanfiction after my oldest son was born.

What bothers you more: speeling errors; punctuation, errors, or errors for grammar?
I’m not sure one is more bothersome to me than another.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
Don’t worry about perfection. I’ve read so many articles and blog posts by writers who make it seem like a manuscript will never be ready. It will always need another draft. While it’s true it will never be perfect, just maybe it doesn’t have to be. If I hadn’t read this advice from two different sources, I’m not sure if I would be ready to submit my first novel, or if I’d still be reading through it, looking for things to fix. Or maybe I’d be proceeding like I am, but paranoid that it’s too soon.

What advice would you give to another writer?
Take any writing tips, rules, and advice with a grain of salt. Writing is an art, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. Reading blogs about writing is a good thing. It’s good to find out what works for others, especially when you’re new to writing, because most likely something will resound within you. But if it doesn’t feel right, and you’d have to force yourself to adhere to someone’s suggestions…just don’t do it. (Not referring to grammar rules and such.)

What are your favorite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
I don’t have any sites in particular. I tend to do online searches when I have questions.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I don’t actually have a lot of time for hobbies these days. I enjoy reading, but haven’t finished a book in a while. I like to scrapbook, but that’s been on the backburner for a few years. I don’t even play computer games much anymore. I do like game nights with my family once a month and on holidays, playing board games for hours.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
As I mentioned, I haven’t finished a book in a while. I’ve started several, and hope to get back to some of them soon. (I’ve set up a challenge on Goodreads to finish 25 books this year…I should probably get started on that soon.)

What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
I actually don’t watch all that many movies. And of those I do watch, including ones I watched at home, I’m not sure I can think back and remember them all (using 2015 for the question, rather than the few days of 2016 so far). I’ll go with Jurassic World.

What is your favorite book or series of all time?
The Oath by Frank Peretti is my favorite book of all time, with Thr3e by Ted Dekker coming in a close second.

The Mandie Books series by Lois Gladys Leppard still holds a special place in my heart, as a series I loved as a kid.

Who is your favorite author?
Frank Peretti

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
I’m currently working on submitting my first novel to publishers, and have spent the last week or so getting a novelette self-published. When these two things have settled down some, I play to turn my full attention to the beginning revision stages of “Pursuit of Power.”

Where else can we find you online?
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads (though I created that account only a few days ago)
Amazon Author Page, Story Blog

I never do these tag posts like normal people though, so I’m not tagging anyone. But feel free to share your own answers to any of these questions.

NaNoWriMo Day 30

The Words: 7999 written today. So though I had decided not to push for 100,000 words, once I started writing today, I really started feeling it again and just kept wanting to come back to it. Then I had to stop for a while for normal family life, and started to get antsy to get back to it. I crossed the 100k mark around 11:10 pm! And I finished the climax, and spent some time brainstorming what else should happen. And I think I have a decent idea for the rest of the story, whether I work on that after NaNo or leave it for a long time. The brainstorming being in text, and not just in my mind, will help a lot if I do put it aside for now.

One of the more important things for me, this year, was this:every day
I wanted to make sure that I wrote some words every day of the month, no matter how many or how few. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that during NaNo before.

This weekend my sisters and I are having what we hope will be one final, day-long editing session for “Pithea,” so no matter what I do with the novel I didn’t quite finish for NaNo, I have to work on getting ready for that this week.

For those of you who came to my blog during November, I will continue to post nearly every day. I make it a goal to write or revise a certain amount every day, which I don’t adhere to quite as strictly as I do NaNo, but it still keeps me from falling into huge lazy gaps. This blog was originally started as a place to keep myself accountable for that, and it continues to be such.

The Story: Missy and her husband happen upon Jonathan and his unanticipated nemesis squaring off. A sudden fight breaks out, and who is left on the other side, and how, is completely unexpected. Of course I can’t really say more due to spoilers, but it should be a neat twist! And in my revision someday, I’ll have to make the whole thing much more grand than it turned out.

I think I’ve straightened out my heroes and villains, and even know what’s going to eventually happen between the middle area I last left off at and the climax that I finished today.

Total word count: 100,383

day 30

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 30th And check back tomorrow, because there’s usually one more comic for Dec. 1st!

NaNoWriMo Day 29

The Words: 854 words written today. I realized this evening that I was only writing because I felt like I had to. I had set myself a goal for 100,000 words by the end of the month, and I felt like a failure if I couldn’t reach it. I’m still not thrilled about the idea of letting that goal go, and I may drive myself crazy tomorrow telling myself I should be writing. Maybe I’ll really push for it tomorrow, but I had to make the decision today that I’d only do that if I felt like it, not because I thought I had to. It’s an arbitrary goal, and I’ve already won NaNo whether I make that or not. But it’s been making me feel stressed because things have been more hectic than usual lately with special activities to do, holidays (though that was planned for in advance at least) and a sick kid. So I’m giving myself permission to fall short.

My main goal is to try to get the climax written completely, so I don’t leave that hanging at least (and yes, I jumped to the climax, though I wasn’t actually there in my writing yet).

The Story: Jonathan is confronting the person who is behind everything that’s been going on. He’s starting to realize how much this person has pulled strings for years now. He doesn’t know why yet. (I have no idea how Jonathan got out of jail, but I know he needs to.)

Total word count: 92,385

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 29th

NaNoWriMo Day 28

The Words: 2252 words written today. This was written a few hours after midnight, when my daughter finally went to sleep. I tried to salvage the night’s writing, especially since I knew I’d be busy today. We spent the afternoon decorating the tree, and then went to an escape room this evening. It was one my husband and I had done alone last weekend, but we got others from my family (Mom, Dad, 2 sisters, one sister’s boyfriend, and our own 13-year-old son) to go do the same room. Then the owner let us back into the control room to watch them solve the room! Then afterward, we went out to eat and sat and talked about the room for a while. It was so much fun! Not so good for the last few days of NaNo, but fun! And fun is nice right now.

I have two days left to try to reach my goal of 100,000 words. I will be frustrated if I come this close and fail, but of course it’s not a necessary goal. 4200 each of the next two days will get me there, but we’ll see how they go. My daughter’s still been holding a  low fever today, so she’s a little needy.

The Story: Missy and her husband have been discussing the situation with Jonathan further. Missy gave him a history lesson of how Jonathan and Lark met and fell in love, since he didn’t know all of them at that time. Still more fishing by me, and soon I’m going to have to move on. I may go ahead and dive into the climax tomorrow. I’m just not sure where the players will be at the start of the climax. But I might be able to make it vague enough. Maybe doing that will give me a better idea of where to go next further back in the story.

Total word count: 91,530

day 28

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 28th    This comic… this one is brilliant. However, if you haven’t been keeping up with them, you should maybe read this one first. This is the very spirit of what makes NaNo so amazing.

NaNoWriMo Day 27

The Words: 2009 words written today. I had planned to write a lot between 10 pm and 2 am. But it was not to be. My 5-year-old daughter started feeling unwell around 7 pm, and it escalated throughout the night. I got a couple of 15-minute sprints in before I had to just go lie on the bed with her watching cartoons. It was only ever a fever and headache, which were both mostly gone when she finally went to bed. So she’s okay for now, and we’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow.

Now I go on to get more words in for Saturday, since I have a somewhat busy day ahead, and I don’t actually know what my writing time will look like.

The Story: Continuing on with what I started yesterday, Jonathan has been sitting in his cell thinking through the entire situation. That has turned into some brief recaps of certain storylines from “Pithea.” This is what happens when I start pantsing and don’t know where I’m going.

Total word count: 89,278

day 27

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 27th

NaNoWriMo Day 26

The Words: 45 words written today (well…yesterday, actually, but I’m dating it the 26th because I’m particular enough that I want to see a blog post every day I wrote, not just when I had time to post about it). This is the lowest amount I’ve written all month, but Thanksgiving day (or whatever day my family gets together for Thanksgiving) always is. We always play board games into the night, and I never get home before midnight. Sometimes they’ll play a game that I’d rather not join in on (I often watch instead of play), so I’ll get out my notebook and write at the table while they play. That didn’t happen this time. So at about 11:30, I made sure to at least write something. This is the first year I’ve been so insistent on writing every day during November, even if it’s just 45 words. It might be because of these blog posts (I did this same thing last year, but had very little audience), or it might be because I want the badge for updating every day. Either way, I like that it pushes me to at least think about my writing a little bit on busy days.

The Story: I wrote a paragraph of Jonathan sitting in jail, going over things in his mind. In fact, I’ll just post it right here:
“Jonathan had a lot of time to think during his detainment. The biggest thing on his mind wasn’t the murder he’d been accused of or even the book that was so important to him and had been violated. His mind was constantly on his wife.”

Total word count: 87,269

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 26th (They’re about to start an epic word war!)

NaNoWriMo Day 25

The Words: 3455 words written today. I was distracted for the first hour of my writing time, and I had to really buckle down with sprints to get the words in before midnight. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and I’ll be gone until probably after midnight. I’ll write in a notebook when I can, but I’ve made sure to have a lead pretty much for this very reason.

The Story: Missy went to talk to Jonathan’s wife Larxis about the things she’d said to the investigators. She mostly got told off by Lark, who said they were never friends, only pushed together because of their shared interest in Lark’s husband. Missy sort of caught Lark in a logic trap, which only angered Lark further, and then she promptly quit their War Games team. It wasn’t pretty. Larxis has a temper, that’s for sure.

Total word count: 87,224

day 25

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 25th

 

NaNoWriMo Day 24

The Words: 4976 words written today. I went to the last write-in at my local library tonight. It was a small turnout, but I did get my normal day’s word count done while I was there. Then I went ahead and did one 1k30min with the Twitter feed, and wrote 1600 words during that.

The Story: Jonathan has been detained for the murder of his apprentice. He and Missy are discussing some concerning issues, like what on earth is going on in general, and why Jonathan’s wife Larxis said that he has a temper and that she thinks Missy is in love with Jonathan. He just keeps telling her to trust the justice system, and not to worry over things she can’t control. He wants her to cooperate fully with the investigation, and he’s certain the truth will come out (whatever that even is). I never knew he was so level-headed and trusting. Even I’m starting to wonder if he’s having a mental break-down.

Total word count: 83,769

day 24

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 24th

And episode 4 of the NaNoMusical! Rick falls down, and there’s a sappy love song!

NaNoWriMo Day 23

The Words: 3984 words written today. I started doing word sprints with the Twitter feed around 10 pm, and didn’t look back. I’m really glad to be back into the writing again.

The Story: Jonathan filled Missy in when he was on his way to confront his apprentice, who wasn’t home. Missy, waiting for some sort of report, decided she couldn’t wait anymore, and went to the apprentice’s home too. There she found a dead apprentice and no Jonathan.

Total word count: 78,793

day 23

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 23rd

Week three is over and we have just one week left (and for Americans, it’s Thanksgiving week). How is everyone out there doing? Ready to finish strong? Limping to the end? Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP!