Goals for ROW80 Round 2 & Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello gentle reader,

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Monday 1st April 2013 (that’s today!) is the official start date for Round 2 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). I have decided to join this writing challenge for the fifth time. Created by Kait Nolan, ROW80 is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life”, or “the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” Each ROW80 round runs for 80 days and the participating writers have to set themselves writing goals for that time. The idea is to form writing habits that writers will hopefully continue once the challenge is over.

As you may know if you follow this blog, my daily life is pretty crazy. I have a day job that keeps me extremely busy, I travel a lot and I read tons of books. Fitting some writing time in my schedule is a challenge, but I’m still very intent on getting published one day. So here is my goal for this round (and yes, it is the same as the last round’s…) :

Write or edit every day

This Second Round starts today and will end on Monday 17th June.

If you would like to join in this writing challenge and become a part of the ROW80 community, here are the rules:

  1. Post a goals post in which you lay out your goals for this round.
  2. Post a check-in post every Wednesday and/or Sunday, in which you share your progress with the other ROW80 participants.
  3. Comment on other participants’ check-in posts.

Here is the Linky for the other participants’ posts. If you decide to join in the ROW80 fun, you may want to take part in our Twitter sprints as well, hosted by the ever awesome Lauren Garafalo under the #ROW80 hashtag.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

But this Spring, I have a novel to finish, and I’ve decided (prompted by Lauren!) that ROW80 won’t be enough of a writing challenge to get me where I need to be by June. So I have also decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMoBased on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo “provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help writers write a novel in a month… other than November!” Thus my goal is to finish writing LILY IN THE SHADOWS by 30th April. We’ll see if that happens…

What are your ROW80 goals for this round? Are you joining Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know your writing plans in the comments below!

ROW80 Check-In 1- Writing a first novel by Marie Lu

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Hello gentle reader,

It is time for my first ROW80 check-in of this round. As a reminder, my goal for this round is simply to Write or edit every day.

I don’t know about you, but this week went by really quickly to me. I started my new position at my day job and it was quite time-consuming. In my spare time I wrote a couple of blog posts, went to see Les Miserables at the theatre and rewrote my query letter. But I didn’t find the time to work on my novels, which I intend to do this week. Finally my blog received the Lovely Blog Award and you can read all about it here.

Now if you’re new to this blog, know that each Sunday, I share an inspiring story with you to keep us motivated for the week to come. This week I’m sharing YA author Marie Lu‘s tale of her Very First Novel. She published this post on Publishing Crawl in November 2012 and I thought you might find it interesting… Enjoy!

Marie Lu-Legend

“I’m talking about my very, very, very first novel. You only have one first novel–not your first published novel, but the first one that you are able to write “The End” on. I know that for the most part (unless you are Stephenie Meyer!), first novels don’t end up going anywhere except for the back of your closet or the Archives folder on some old hard drive. And for the most part, this is a good thing. But I’ve always felt a certain rosy fondness for first novels–not just for my own, but for others’. It’s usually that first novel, however bad (or good), that teaches us that we want to become writers. It’s the one that makes us realize that we can do it. The dream is possible, at least according to our word count.

 Here’s the story behind my first. […]

That first novel was a high fantasy titled The Wings of Heaven. I’m still not sure why I called it that, since it had nothing to do with the story. It was about a young, orphaned (of course) knight’s apprentice named Pher (pronounced “Fair”) Artemsrough who aspired to become a knight and who loved the kingdom’s red-haired princess. One day, a beautiful woman came to the kingdom and told him that he was the Chosen One, and that she was on a quest to bring him to the far reaches of the world so that they could find a shiny ancient object that would tell her what his role in a prophecy was. I can’t even remember who the bad guys were in this story, but there were definitely some bad guys. I think. Along the way, the beautiful woman and Pher picked up a ragtag team of elves, thieves, and assassins that all happily joined them on this quest. There were also some children that could breathe fire, some powerful sorceresses, and a snowy cave called The Dark of Night.

It was 160,000 words. Yeah, I know.

Of course, fifteen year old Marie was completely oblivious to all of this thing’s flaws. I worked on it obsessively. Every night, I’d set my alarm clock for 2 AM, wake up, stuff a bathrobe under my door so that my parents wouldn’t see lamplight leaking from the bottom of the door, and then write quietly until the hour right before dawn. I wrote notes in my schoolwork and drew pictures of my characters on the margins of my homework. I posted chapters of it onto a personal site that I shared with my closest childhood friend. I spent a great deal of time lost in the whimsical haze of First Book Euphoria. I promised myself that I would finish it. I will never forget typing “The End” on that manuscript–I leaned back in my bedroom chair at 3:30 AM, stretched my arms up high, and smiled so hard that I thought I might break.

It was a terribly written story. I loved it with all my heart. I learned from The Wings of Heaven that I could finish a novel-length book, that I could carry characters from point A to point B (however badly), and that I could keep a promise to myself. I learned that if I wanted something badly enough, I would find the time to work on it–even if it was in the middle of the night.

Of course I went on to submit it to over a hundred literary agents, and of course they all soundly rejected it. I don’t think I even had a single request for sample chapters–that should tell you something about my query-writing skills. I remember crying over some of those rejections, laughing over others, stuffing them all in a big manila envelope (which I still have), and then pushing stubbornly onward. The thing is, looking back, my naivety was probably my greatest advantage. Had I actually known how difficult it would be to get published, I might never have finished that manuscript. I never might have been able to face getting rejected. And writing another manuscript. And getting rejected. And writing another. And getting rejected. And another. And another. If I hadn’t been so naive, I might have stopped right there. But I was so young, arrogant, optimistic, ignorant, and hopeful, and because of that, I was able to convince myself to write “just one more.” Most importantly, I was able to figure out over time that I wanted to write stories regardless of publication, that I loved it and that it was a permanent part of me.

This is why I love first novels, in all their imperfection and wonder.”

What was your very first novel like? Did you try and get it published? And how are you other ROWers doing after this first week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Here is the Linky to cheer the other ROWers on if you wish to do so.

ROW80 Round 1 – Goals!

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Hello gentle reader,

January 7th, 2013 (that’s today!) is the official start date for Round 1 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). I have decided to join this writing challenge for the fourth time. Created by Kait Nolan, ROW80 is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life”, or “the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” Unlike NaNoWriMo which runs for only a month, each ROW80 round runs for 80 days and the participating writers have to set themselves writing goals for that time. Each Wednesday and Sunday, we check in and let the others know how we are doing. The idea is to form writing habits that writers will hopefully continue once the challenge is over.

As you may know if you follow this blog, my daily life is pretty crazy. I have a day job that keeps me extremely busy, I travel a lot and I read tons of books. Fitting some writing time in my schedule is a challenge, but I’m still very intent on getting published one day.

So here are my goals for this round (and yes, I know they are the same as the last round’s, but if at first you don’t succeed…) :

Write or edit every day

Writing – Write a short story, and continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King

Editing – I’m currently querying The Last Queen, and I keep this goal in case someone (!) asks for a revision…

This First Round starts today and will end on Thursday, March 28th. Every Sunday I post about an author’s successful journey into publishing. Make sure to stop by if you need motivation to keep writing!

If you would like to join in this writing challenge and become a part of the ROW80 community, here are the rules:

  1. Post a goals post in which you lay out your goals for this round.
  2. Post a check-in post every Wednesday and/or Sunday, in which you share your progress with the other ROW80 participants.
  3. Comment on other participants’ check-in posts.

Here is the Linky for the other participants’ posts. What are your ROW80 goals for this round?

ROW80: Final Check-In

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Hello gentle reader,

And we’ve come to the end of this 4th round of A Round Of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80). My goal for this round was to write or edit every day and I’m pleased to say this has been my most productive round so far (this was my third participation). For at least 6 weeks I had a 100% sucess rate and even in the last few weeks, when work really got crazy and I couldn’t find the time to write every day, I did get a lot done.

So this round, I have:

– edited my WIP The Last Queen (thanks to a few awesome CPs and beta readers) and started querying it.

– added a few chapters to my two other WIPs.

– took part in the launch of a new blog along some writerly friends. The blog is called There And Draft Again and you can check it out here.

Here I’d like to thank Juliana Haygert and Lauren Garafalo for cheering me along during the Twitter sprints. You ladies are awesome!

See you all next round!

In the meantime, keep writing…

ROW80 Check-In 6 & Sunshine Award

Hello gentle reader,

So I had a crazy week, and for the first time since the beginning of this round, I didn’t meet my ROW80 goal, which is to: Write or edit every day. You also won’t find an inspiring story along with this post, simply because I didn’t have the time to find one.

Here is my week in numbers:

Number of hours spent editing/writing this week: 4

Number of hours spent at my day job: 54

Number of work-related dinner parties I attended: 2

Number of pest control interventions because of a wasp invasion in my kitchen: 1

Number of YA authors interviewed on my blog: 1 (you can read the interview here)

Number of writing contests I entered: 1

Number of awards my blog received: 1

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet was kind enough to pass on to me the Sunshine Award. This award is for “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Although I am very flattered to receive this award, I am not going to answer the questions that go with it simply because they are all about my favourite food, my favourite colour and my favourite flower, and I don’t see how this can be interesting for you, gentle reader. I am also supposed to nominate 10 bloggers for this award, so I’ll just say: if you’re reading this and you’re doing ROW80, consider yourself (and your blog) nominated.

Hope you all have a great week! Here is the Linky to support each other.

ROW80 Check-In 3: Bree Despain’s Writing Tips

 

Hello gentle reader,

And it is time for a third ROW80 check-in! My goals for this fourth round are as follows:

Write or edit every day

Editing – Finish my current round of editing for The Last Queen, get my manuscript critiqued and beat-read, then edit some more.

I haven’t done any editing this week since I’m waiting to hear back from my CPs and beta readers.

Writing – Write a short story, and continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King

DONE : I worked on The Cursed King but progress was slow this week, although I did write every day except for Wednesday.

So this was again a good writing week for me and I don’t feel that I need to adjust my goals. This week I also managed to read one book and I kept my blog alive by taking part in The Next Big Thing blog hop: feel free to have a look if you want to know more about my WIP.

Now, on to an inspiring story to keep us going this coming week. Today I’m quoting bestselling YA author Bree Despain. I found the following on her website. Bree is an American author who has a degree in creative writing. She started writing full-time after being involved in a car accident and she has written three novels in her DARK DIVINE series.

Writing Tips

  1. Be a sponge. The more knowledge you can soak up, the better your writing will become. Take writing classes, attend writing conferences, and read as much as you can. There are plenty of online resources for writing classes, but if you can, take an in-person class at a local university or writing conference. There is something very energizing about sitting in a room with a bunch of other writers. And you will probably learn more from in-class debates, and critiquing other writer’s stuff, than you will from reading a computer screen filled with writing tips . . . hey, wait a second . . .hehe. Keep reading anyway 😀
  2. Don’t forget to write. Okay, that sounds silly . . . but really, it happens. Sometimes we get so absorbed in the task of learning about our craft, that we don’t actually ever sit down and do the writing. Or sometimes, we experience “information overload” and we get so overwhelmed we just need to unplug from the world in order to start writing. Remember—no amount of reading, class taking, networking, or schmoozing, etc. is going to get you anywhere if you don’t actually write. Write every day if you can. Carry a notebook to capture ideas when they strike you. I actually wrote the prologue for The Dark Divine on the back of a program during church.
  3. Join a critique group. Like I said, there is something magical about being in a room with other writers. And a critique group is a fun, inexpensive way to get feedback, advice, and brainstorming help. Plus, some of my favorite people in the world are my writing chicas.
  4. Let your writing sit for a bit. Like a good piece of cheese, let your writing “age” for a while before you send it out. Stick your manuscript in a drawer for a couple of weeks and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Let your critique group read it over and offer feedback. Sometimes, you may even need to put something away for a long time before you can really see the kinks that need to be worked out. After sending out the original version of The Dark Divine (unsuccessfully) to a few agents back in 2006, I realized that the manuscript needed a major overhaul—but I didn’t know how to do it. I ended up putting that book in a drawer (figuratively speaking) for over a year. I moved on to other projects, and then one day, the answers to my problems with The Dark Divine just started to work themselves out in my mind. I pulled the manuscript out again and spent the next year overhauling it, let it sit for a month, and then sent it out to agents again . . . and a few weeks later I landed the fabulous Agent Ted!
  5. Don’t be unwilling to revise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: GREAT BOOKS AREN’T WRITTEN—THEY’RE REVISED! Revising is just part of writing, and a major part at that. Hardly anything you write will be golden the first time you put it down on paper. You will tweak and revise on your own, with your critique group, in writing classes, at writing conferences, then take your stuff home and revise, revise, and revise it again. And then you’ll send it out to agents, and more likely than not, you’ll end up tweaking and revising your book even more based on the rejections you get. Then you’ll send it out again, and when you land an agent—guess what? He/she’s going to make you revise it some more before it goes out on submissions. And then when you sell your novel . . . well, that’s when the REAL revising starts. And then when you think you can’t possibly revise that darn freaking manuscript one more time . . . they’ll send it to copy editing where you’ll find out that apparently the language you’ve been speaking all your life isn’t actually English . . .Okay, okay, you get my point? Sorry to say it, but you won’t make it anywhere in the publishing biz if you aren’t willing to revise your writing.
  6. Don’t do all of the revisions people suggest to you. I know, I know, I’m such a hypocrite. I just went on telling you that you MUST revise your book, and now I’m saying not to? Okay, before you kick me in the pants, let me explain. You will get a lot of advice on your book, and a lot of critique suggestions—a lot of them will be good suggestions, some . . . well . . . not so much. Or some suggestions might work well for someone else’s story, but don’t jive with your vision for your book. You will even run into a few people who will pretty much want to write your book for you. But remember, you are the author. This is your baby. Take every revision suggestion with a grain of salt. At first, some revision suggestions seem impossible, or highly improbable, or just plain not right for your story. I always sit on revision notes for a few days (sometimes a few weeks) before I implement them. With a little time and perspective, you will be able to sift out the good suggestions from the bad. And sometimes, an impossible suggestion will suddenly click in your head and it will make a huge difference in the quality of your book. But, if after a little time, a revision suggestion still seems off to you—well then, it probably is. Go with your gut, and do what’s right for your story. But always consider WHY a certain suggestion was made. Did a critiquer want you to change Z into X, but that doesn’t sit well with you? Well, then maybe the reason for Z happening is just not clear enough to your reader. Or perhaps after evaluating the suggestion you will realize that Z actually needs to be changed into Y rather than X. I often find that many revisions are a matter of making things clearer. Does that make any sense?
  7. Accept the fact that becoming an author takes time—and a lot of it. Yes, there are those fluke cases where someone writes a book and then has a multi-million-dollar debut book deal six months later. But for the other 99.9% of us, it takes several years to become an author. Ask just about any published author (including Sara Zarr and Laurie Halse Anderson) and they’ll tell you that it takes about 10 years to make a name for yourself in this biz. And most of us are better off because of the time it took to strengthen our writing. I thank my lucky stars that my first novel never sold. I’m extremely grateful that the original version of The Dark Divine was rejected by every agent I sent it to. Your writing may not be ready for publication right now, but if you keep working, and learning, and reading, and writing, it WILL get there someday. Good Luck!
  8. Remember that authors are real people too! I loved telling stories and writing when I was kid. But I seriously thought that authors were this special breed of people, and someone ordinary like me could never become one. I wish I would have figured out a long time ago that anyone—with enough drive and hard work—can become an author. Even a mild mannered citizen like myself :D.

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!

ROW80 Check-In 1: Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for my first ROW80 check-in! My goals for this fourth round are as follows:

Write or edit every day

Editing – Finish my current round of editing for The Last Queen, get my manuscript critiqued and beat-read, then edit some more.

Writing – Write a short story, and continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King

I’m happy to report that I’ve had a great writing week, since I did manage to write or edit every day! Some days (Tuesday and Friday) were tough because I got home from work very late, but I still stuck to the routine. I also managed to read two books for my upcoming Halloween post and I kept my blog alive with an interview with YA author Meagan Spooner. Check it out if you want to know how she got published.

If you’re new to this blog, know that I always add an inspiring story to my ROW80 check-ins. This week, I’m sharing Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing that I found on the Guardian website. Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors and his writing advice is worth a read.

Image by Kimberly Butler

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!